The Monday after the GIE+EXPO and LANDSCAPES is always an interesting day. Your feet are still hurting a little bit after walking the 500,000 square feet of exhibits and 20 acres of outdoor area, but there’s a sense of relief that all the preparation to get the most out of the show was worth it.

For those of you who attend the trade show and educational event in Louisville at the end of October, you know what I’m talking about. For those who don’t, what are you waiting for?

That Monday is also a great time to write a column because everything is still fresh in my head.

No surprise, lack of quality labor was the No. 1 topic for most people I talked to. Everyone is looking for a solution, especially in the maintenance world. Even paying more isn’t working, which you can read more about it in our 2018 Benchmarking Your Business report.

Then again, maybe you aren’t paying enough because you aren’t charging enough. I heard about one contractor who provides both commercial and residential services, and raised his maintenance hourly charge from $45 to $48 at the beginning of this year.

A few months later, he bumped it up to $55. Then, last month, he raised it to $65. Yep, that’s $20 in less than a year. And he didn’t receive one cancellation. His thinking is with higher prices, he can pay more, which would mean a more skilled labor pool. It’ll be interesting to see how it works.

Speaking of labor, the vibe I got was the robots will be solving all of your hiring and retention problems in the near future. OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I heard more about robotic mowers at this year’s show than in previous years (and we write about the trend).

One contractor I spoke with had a manufacturer offer to install the hardware and lend him a mower for free to try out at their location. He took the offer and liked it so much that he is going to buy 15 of them and see how they work in his business. If they do, who knows how many he’ll buy.

It seemed that software and technology companies in general were better represented this year. There were more of them and bigger booth space for the ones in attendance.

So that’s some of what I heard in Louisville. You can check out our coverage of the show by visiting bit.ly/LLEXPO or by searching “LANDSCAPES” or “GIE+EXPO” at lawnandlandscape.com.

Oh, and if there is a trend in your market we’re missing, or you want to add to one I mentioned above, please shoot me an email at the address above. I look forward to hearing from you. Now, I’m going to look for a bucket of ice for my feet. – Brian Horn