Although it may seem like the mowing season is a long way off, it’s never too soon to start planning for a busy spring. With labor shortages a near constant in the landscaping industry and with new innovations in equipment, planning for the 2024 season should be creative.
Your first step is to consider the jobs you’ve already sold. This is your baseline. Ensuring you have the labor and equipment to meet those needs is the first step, but you will also have to consider your business growth plans. Three points to consider when developing your 2024 business plan are as follows:
It’s no secret that there has been a labor shortage for quite some time. Working outside in the elements is not everyone’s cup of tea, and there is a common misconception that landscaping isn’t lucrative or fulfilling.
If you’ve never considered hiring migrant workers, you may not know the intricacies of dealing with the federal government. Landscaping companies can offer good working conditions and benefits to migrant workers, but to legally be allowed to hire many of these employees, you may need to consult an H-2A or H-2B visa consultant to help you maneuver within these programs.
Certain visa programs allow employers to hire non-agricultural temporary workers. The workers are allowed to live and work in the United States on a temporary basis. But there is a cap on the number of visas issued each fiscal year, so preparing for the upcoming busy season must be done early to secure enough workers, and there is no guarantee you will be approved.
And this still may not be enough to fill your open positions. That’s why it is imperative that you get creative in your recruiting. While you may have already considered recruiting at your local high schools, tech schools and horticulture programs, there are several other ways to attract qualified applicants. These include:
Offering incentives to current employees. Offer them a bonus for referrals that get hired and stay on for a certain period of time.
Advertising. Although there still are job listing sections in your local newspaper, you need to go where the job seekers are. This includes advertising on billboards, on local radio stations and even on the sides of your company trucks.
Social media. Studies have shown that 90% of young people use social media and more than half of those people visit at least one social media site a day. Make sure you are getting word out about your job openings on your social media channels.
You should also consider implementing an ongoing training program. Investing in good training programs shows your employees that you value their work. Whether you’re training them in the latest safety protocols or showing them new ways to do old tasks, employees who receive the proper training are more likely to stay with your company.
Keep in mind that you are also competing against other landscaping companies in your area for this dwindling labor, so ensuring your pay is commensurate with your competitors and that you offer training, advancement and a welcoming company culture also helps you recruit and retain employees.
Even if you recruit the labor, you will need to meet customer demand. To do this, you must have the equipment to get the work done.
If you have already looked at the work you’ve sold, you know what equipment you need. If you’re looking to grow your business, you may need to consider budgeting for more technologically advanced equipment that will help you with labor shortages or intricate jobs.
Consider investing in compact loaders with a range of attachments, as well as autonomous or robotic mowers to help overcome labor shortages. These tools can help free up your employees to work on other tasks, allowing for more efficient workdays.
3. Business growth
If you want to grow your business, you will need to consider your sales and marketing budget when developing your 2024 business plan.
Before planning your marketing budget, it’s a good idea to know what your team excels at and what you’d like to offer clients in the future. Knowing the capabilities of your team helps you plan where and when to spend your marketing dollars.
You should also spend time developing your ideal customer. These are the customers that you would like to have: they pay on time, they want what your team offers, and they listen to your suggestions.
Once you understand your brand and your ideal customer, you can then begin to plan the best ways to advertise. Why develop a successful marketing campaign only to waste it on reaching people who don’t want or need your services?
But marketing isn’t always about advertising. You should also train your supervisors to take the time to get in front of the customer.
Talking with the customer allows you to better understand their wants and explain to them their needs. You’re in their lawns and green spaces often and know what landscaping features would improve their home or business’s appearance.
You should also make sure your team is provided with clean equipment, clean uniforms and clean trucks. Landscaping is a dirty business, but showing up to a customer’s home or business looking your most professional makes the best impression. This improves word-of-mouth advertising.
The point is that your company will not grow without effective communication – either with potential clients or with the customers you currently serve.
Planning for 2024 does not have to be daunting but it needs to be done. Simply opening for business when the grass starts growing won’t draw the employees you need, the equipment you want or the customers you desire. Start planning today.
As its senior autonomous product specialist, Colin Busse helps RC Mowers manage the product strategy for its new Autonomous Mowing Robots line of mowing equipment. Busse, a graduate of Ohio State University, has extensive experience in the landscaping industry, serving as the Midwest regional manager for Electric Sheep Robotics and as the commercial account manager for BrightView Landscapes. For more information, visit www.rcmowersusa.com.