Last week we had the great pleasure of exhibiting at the annual GIE+EXPO in Louisville, KY. With thousands of visitors and hundreds of exhibitors in attendance, there was no shortage of people to meet, things to do, and stuff to see. Being WorkWave’s 4th consecutive year participating in the event, we looked forward to the chance to connect with our customers and hear what they’ve been up to, how the industry is changing, and the challenges they are looking to overcome to take their businesses to the next level. Here are some of our key takeaways:
The dawn of the green age for lawn and landscape businesses is officially upon us. In years past, the advent of “green” tools felt more conceptual than practical solutions for landscaping contractors. Fears of reduced battery life, lack of horsepower, and longevity loomed, leaving many to question if green technologies would be a viable solution. But with strong advancements in the capabilities of lithium ion-powered tools and autonomous machines, many are no longer questioning if green technologies are a sustainable option; rather they are questioning when to take the plunge. If you haven’t taken a look in a while, it might be worth another glance. With industry-leading OEMs making large investments (and advancements) to add this technology to their line-ups, it might be time to reconsider evaluating next-gen battery and autonomous machines.
Investing in Your Business
From one-man shows to those with hundreds of crews in the field, one common thread we encountered was the continual need to invest in your business. Many told success and horror stories of how properly (or not properly) investing impacted their business. And while we particularly love talking about how finding the right software can improve your business, investments do come in all shapes in sizes. From taking the time to cultivate rock-solid dealer relationships to cross-training employees, upgrading equipment, and educating workers on emerging trends in the industry, landscape professionals are continually looking for new ways to improve their businesses. As one customer eloquently said, “We make investments to keep things exceptionally simple. Stop investing in your business, and they quickly become exceptionally hard.”
For years, lawn and landscape businesses have experimented with offering new services during their off-season. Many are motivated to keep a constant flow of revenue coming in the door, others are looking for ways to keep their people employed year-round, and some enjoy trying their hand at something new. For the overwhelming majority, snow removal was the answer. However, the emergence of niche service markets is lending new ways for landscapers to stay busy (and profitable) during the winter months. Here are just three of our non-weather-dependent favorites:
- Dog waste removal – Go ahead and laugh! But when you come up for air, give it a second thought. With homeowners becoming busier and busier, some just don’t have time to pick up after Fido anymore. And with no additional investments in equipment needed, the barriers to entering this surprisingly lucrative market remain low.
- Holiday decoration services – This one needs no explanation. Holiday decorating services were once perceived to be a luxury service, but not anymore. In fact, one contractor told us that after starting his holiday decorating seasonal business 4 years ago, he has seen a sharp increase in demand for such services across a number of demographics. And after he almost tripled the size of his decoration business last year, it’s not showing any signs of slowing down.
- Clean-ups – From removing fall leaves to cleaning gutters, covering shrubs, and pressure washing, clean-up, and winterization services give businesses the ability to keep crews busy as weather changes. And with little upfront investment or advanced skills needed, these services have become increasingly attractive to landscape professionals.
Finding Reliable Talent
Whether speaking with seasoned veterans or new industry professionals, we heard a resounding amount of companies struggling to conquer the same challenge: finding reliable employees. What happens when my crews leave the office? Are they where they said they would be? Are they abusing company vehicles or equipment? All are reasonable questions and concerns. And with major advancements in GPS tracking and driver behavior software (much like the capabilities offered with WorkWave Service), lawn and landscape businesses are relying on technology to increase accountability and visibility in their mobile operations.
With another GIE+EXPO in the books, we are already looking ahead to the 2019 conference, which is sure to be even bigger and better than before. Did you attend the GIE+EXPO? Tell us what you learned by tweeting @WorkWave!