Whenever you have to preface a statement with “all things considered,” there’s a good chance that statement is not an expression of overwhelming satisfaction.

Fortunately, for the industry, a lot of companies had banner years from what we’ve been told. And that’s not considering all things – that’s based off what they budgeted before things went sideways. Even if it wasn’t a record year, or even above average, there were lessons learned and positive changes made.

Brian Horn, editor, Lawn & Landscape

Recently, we conducted our 2020 State of the Industry webinar where I hosted a panel with Laurie Broccolo, CEO of Broccolo Tree & Lawn Care, Justin Crocker, CEO of EarthTones Design and Maurice Dowell, president of Dowco Enterprises.

We talked about the chaos of 2020, along with some non-chaotic moments of the year, and what to expect in 2021. Here are a few takeaways from the panel. You can view it by entering bit.ly/2020lawnsoi into your web browser.

Communication in tough times.

When shutdowns began, Crocker’s first step was to assess the financials and communicate to employees where the company stood. While his company was on solid footing, it’s a reminder to stay in touch with employees in good times, but especially when there is uneasiness.

More ways to pay.

With cash flow a concern, Dowell said he created multiple payment options for customers. Customers could prepay and get a 3% discount, sign a contract from January until August and get billed monthly, or keep a credit card on file and have it charged a day after services were provided.

“Even if it wasn’t a record year, or even above average, there were lessons learned and positive changes made.”

No other choice.

For years, Broccolo wanted crews to meet at the jobsite, but foremen couldn’t get organized enough the night before. Once COVID-19 set in, the crews had no choice. “We mandated that everybody meet at the job and we saved hundreds of hours,” she said.

New labor and landscapers.

With so many people out of work, the initial thinking was that it would increase the labor pool as well as the amount of “mow and blow” contractors. Dowell and Broccolo both found an employee from the hospitality industry, while Broccolo noticed more contractors without company names mowing lawns.

Since her company doesn’t mow, she wanted to work with some of them. “If it looks like they have the right character and presence about them, we are approaching them to have them work with us for edging and mulching and pruning for next year,” she said. – Brian Horn