Cream of the Crop features a rotating panel from the Harvest Group, a landscape business consulting company.

Before spring services set in, we all look forward to catching our breath after a long and busy season and taking some time off to recharge your batteries. That is definitely needed and well-deserved. For those of you in the northern parts of the country, this is truly the slow time of the year – except for the occasional snow event. You can deal with the slow time of the year in one of two ways:

Way #1: Put your business on autopilot and coast from now until it is time to start gearing up for your spring rush.

Way #2: Develop and then attack your “Winter Checklist.” We suggest you follow Way #2! Here’s the start of a good winter checklist:

Administration:  

  • Hold a strategic planning session to forecast out three or five years to determine where your company is headed. 
  • Establish an operational plan to map out how you will be doing business in 2020. 
  • Create a rolling budget for 2020 and then spread it over 12 months. 
  • Assign team members to oversee each line item on the budget to make sure you are meeting budgetary goals and not over-spending. 
  • Establish an on-boarding program so you are ready to greet and bring on new employees in the spring.

Operations:  

  • Check tool complements for each crew. 
  • Order missing tools. 
  • Set up a tool tracking program for each of your crews to create accountability. 
  • Assess your large equipment (review hours, condition, etc.) against your budget for the upcoming year. 
  • Create a “wish list” of all equipment that you would like to buy. Assess your capital expenditure budget to see what you can afford to purchase. 
  • Explore equipment leasing programs to see if they will work for your company. 
  • Perform preventive maintenance on all equipment. 
  • Build relationships with several equipment dealers to set up a long-term equipment purchasing plan. 
  • Review production labor needs against your budget for direct labor hours. 
  • Establish a recruiting and hiring plan to attract the labor you will need. 
  • Investigate the H-2B program or update your paperwork for labor needs if already part of the H-2B program. 
  • Establish a safety program if you have not already created one. 
  • Assign a champion to head the program and perform safety training.

Sales and Marketing: 

  • Review sales goals for the upcoming year against your budget. 
  • Review or establish a sales pipeline report. 
  • Assign winter sales goals for each salesperson and consider some rewards for meeting or exceeding those goals. 
  • Assess your sales team and perform year-end performance reviews. 
  • Review/set up/budget for your marketing plan for 2020. 
  • Contact your existing and past clients. Offer to walk the property with the clients. 
  • Perform an analysis of all of the key properties that you maintain. Suggest enhancements for these properties in a bound presentation package separated into primary, secondary and tertiary areas. This will serve as a great budgeting tool for the property manager that you are working with. 
  • Follow up on Phase II and Phase III of design/build projects. Have budget numbers ready to show clients. 
  • Consider reduced price incentives for work that can be performed in early spring (i.e. construction work, large trees, etc.)

This is a short list of what I consider the most important things to accomplish during slower times of the year. I know that there are many more points that we could add to the checklist. I challenge all of you to create your own list that addresses your company’s most critical needs. I invite you to send me additional points to add to the list and make it a working document.

Please be sure to send me what you consider the most critical items at judson@harvestlandscapeconsulting.com.

I will accumulate all of your responses and send out an updated checklist by the end of the year to all of you that responded to me.

Contact Jud Griggs at judson@harvestlandscapeconsulting.com