Every month, before an issue of Lawn & Landscape goes to the printer, a group of us get in a room and look through a printout of every page to make any final changes. For the first time in my nearly ten years here, we didn’t do that, opting instead for a remote final walkthrough because of COVID-19.
The world has changed because of the virus, and by the time you read this, the world will probably have changed even more.
Obviously, this pandemic has every industry’s attention and the green industry is no different. I know this because of a survey we sent out the morning of March 22. A good response to a survey is 200-300 valid responses in a 3-week span. The COVID-19 survey had more than 800 valid responses in 4 hours.
In the survey, more than 400 of you took time to give us your feedback on how all of this will affect your businesses. Some were thoughtful responses about cancelled jobs, or short-term pain but an optimistic outlook. Others were to the point – “this just sucks” said one respondent.
We will probably send a similar survey out again in mid-April to see how the numbers have changed, but initial figures indicate that customers are canceling or delaying projects (if you search COVID-19 on lawnandlandscape.com, we’ll have some of these results posted there).
One characteristic I’ve always admired about this industry is the willingness of its individuals to help each other - even if they’re competitors.
We asked: Has anyone told you directly they are canceling a job because of the economy’s downturn/COVID-19. The results showed 51% said yes, while 49% said no. The numbers also showed the segment to get hit the hardest is residential design/build.
Most say that companies in the industry learned from the Great Recession not to put all of their eggs in the residential design/build basket – but if you do, you better have a back-up plan. Let’s hope the lessons learned from the 2008 downturn help the industry absorb the fallout from the coronavirus.
One characteristic I’ve always admired about this industry is the willingness of its individuals to help each other – even if they’re competitors. The attitude that helping the company down the street become a better company only improves the industry as a whole.
It’s understandable as the consumer pinches pennies that attitude may wane a little, but let’s hope it doesn’t disappear. It’s what makes this industry great, and a big part of why it will always recover even when it’s knocked down. – Brian Horn