Savvy contractors understand that trends, locally or globally, can significantly impact their business. Moreover, they recognize that these shifts can have an immediate or long-term impact on the bottom line.
Noticing those changes and responding strategically rather than with knee-jerk reactions in part determines how long their business will be around. These are the landscape and irrigation trends you need to watch for leading a sustainable, profitable business into the new year and beyond.
Supply Chain Issues Linger
Whether it’s domestic freight or overseas shipping containers, we’re not going to see an end to supply chain backups anytime soon. As a result, supplies that were once readily available may not be on the shelf the moment you need them.
Until recently, contractors have enjoyed the convenience of buying on-demand by the job. Purchasing as you go is not likely to be a viable option in 2022. Try these strategies to deal with supply challenges you might encounter.
- Call ahead. Find out if what you need is in stock before making the drive.
- Plan ahead. Order supplies 30 to 60 days in advance of installation dates.
- Consider substitutes. For example, pressure-regulating irrigation products are more readily available than standard heads.
- Avoid binge buying.
- Ask for extended terms.
Finding quality labor is the second-highest business concern among contractors, according to the 2021 State of the Industry Report. Securing materials doesn’t matter much if you don’t have the workforce to install them.
Now more than ever, you must protect your labor force from getting poached by competitors. It’s time to get creative and look to other industries for retention ideas. Companies in all sectors are offering returning bonuses and flex schedules to recruit and retain employees. Paying a livable wage — one someone can afford a mortgage on — is key to attracting and keeping employees.
Financial incentives like higher wages only go so far. Investing in employees includes technical and leadership management training. Offering training shows employees you are committed to their personal and career growth rather than seeing them as temporary or transitional workers.
Labor shortages are nothing new for irrigation and landscape contractors, though the pandemic has worsened the situation. Recruiting locally, focusing on company culture, and emphasizing benefits can help you hire even when workers are in short supply.
Rising Product Prices
In the past, volatile crude oil prices were responsible for pricing spikes that eventually leveled out over time. However, what’s happening today is unprecedented — both in the size of the increases and that they are not limited to one core product. It’s happening in every single aspect of the industry.
Polyethylene prices rose ~60% in 2021. Lumber prices have dropped since record highs, but western fires are once again putting pressure on the overall supply and keeping upward pressure on prices. In addition, grills and outdoor kitchen appliances are in short supply and pricier.
Check in with your supplier and ask what they are hearing from manufacturers. Sign up for industry newsletters and follow our supply chain updates to stay on top of changes that sometimes happen overnight.
Despite inflation, customers are still buying. According to the “Wall Street Journal,” consumers are willing to pay $11 for a burrito. It’s time to get over the fear of raising your prices, too. If you don’t, there is a good chance your business may not survive to see the end of this cycle.
Also, take the time to measure out a job rather than relying solely on experience. Walk the site to confirm the job size, the materials, and the time needed for installation.
Know Your Company’s Worth
Procuring materials is essential, but looking at the bigger picture is critical. For example, nearly 25% of irrigation and landscape contractors are thinking of selling their business in the next decade, according to the 2021 State of the Industry Report.
Contractors tend to have higher perceived values of their company than the actual worth in a buyer’s eyes. Don’t wait to find out that your asking price doesn’t match what someone is willing to pay.
Ewing ProAdvantage Customers have access to the Value Builder System™ to learn exactly where their company stands in the view of a potential buyer. First, you get an overall score based on 0 to 100. Then, you receive recommendations strengthening operations to increase value to buyers.
The Bottom Line
The biggest trends used to be the newest, “coolest” product, often supporting water efficiency and sustainability. Trends have moved beyond products to operational efficiencies that look at the bigger picture of running a business.
It’s going to be a tough 12 months to navigate, but we’re here to support you with real-time updates and access to benefits like the Value Builder System™ that help you plan for the future.