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

Yes, these are indeed challenging times. In fact, in many ways, today’s challenges can be considered some of the greatest adversities in landscape industry history. We are certainly being challenged in many areas these days, including:

Workforce – It’s clearly an employee’s market. There are plenty of jobs available, but not so many people interested or willing to consistently perform our type of work. More and more, people are choosing to work from home or, in some cases, are being paid to stay at home. Without a doubt, this is clearly the biggest labor challenge we have been faced for decades.

Costs – Everywhere you look, costs are going up. Workforce costs have increased by 30% over the past three years, the cost of fuel is rising, materials are going up and inflation is arriving at a fast pace.

COVID – Changing laws and regulations and hospitalizations going back up makes this an ongoing business challenge and an continuing adversity.

Inflation is on the horizon – Virtually all costs are increasing along with rising interest rates and slowing home starts.

Government involvement – H2B, immigration, taxes, regulations and laws, just to name a few.

Climate – The usual, and in some cases highly unusual, weather and drought conditions along with water shortages.

However, with all of the adversity comes opportunity. Honest! Here’s how to deal with adversity and convert it to opportunity in the key areas that affect your business the most.

Leadership – Now is the time for leaders to truly be leaders. Spend some focused time engaging your team members, encouraging them even when there are some hiccups along the way, and always do this with positive energy. Remember what author John Maxwell said: “People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.”

Your team members watch where you spend your time and believe wherever you are spending your time must be important. So spend your time with your people by engaging them, encouraging them and being positive. This is a great place to start. This should be in the neighborhood of 30-40% of where your time is spent.

Facing challenges is an inevitable part of doing business. To make it through, focus on how you lead, solve customers’ problems and innovate.

Remember, it all starts and stops with the leaders of an organization. Behave and have the attitude of a true leader.

Culture – Take a good look at your culture. Every company has a culture whether it has been formalized or not. What three to five words best describe your culture now? Do these words match up with what you want your culture to be? Decide the culture you want to have and start building or tuning up your Vision – Mission – Core Values – Success Behaviors. This will also serve as one of your best recruiting and retention tools for team members. Take the culture quiz in the Web Extra section on lawnandlandscape.com.

People – Clearly this is the biggest challenge landscapers face today. Stop whining about this and pursue this area as the most critical part of the success equation for all landscape companies. Listen and learn from others by attending this year’s National Association of Landscape Professionals’ LANDSCAPES conference in Louisville. Attend the Harvest Group’s presentation on recruiting. Join a peer group and learn as a team in this area. Get really creative and innovative with this opportunity to build an even stronger team. Spend more time and resources solving this challenge than complaining about it. Remember the number one success ingredient is the organizations’ ability to find, attract, get on board, keep and grow the right people. The companies that have mastery in this one area will be the dominate force in your market period.

Marketing and Sales – Know your market. Know it really well. Decide on what revenue streams and customers you want to go after, and stop trying to be everything to everyone. Landscape installs are going great guns now, but will that be the case in the next two to three years?

Know your existing and targeted customers. Know their pains and solve their pains. Create a solving-the-pain approach vs. a sales approach with your customers. Decide on all the ways you can make their pains go away. Make their lives and jobs easier and make them look good to their customers and their stakeholders. Create a compelling reason for prospects to pick your organization vs. your competition. Take a good look at your marketing and sales campaigns including website, social media and video testimonials to name a few.

Change, Adapt and Innovate – One thing that never changes is change. Ask yourselves, what is the most innovative addition or change that you’ve implemented in your business over the last year? List the areas where you have truly been innovative including retention, recruiting, operational efficiency, technology, equipment, training, marketing and sales. Remember, an organization needs to change, adapt and innovate or they will be changed … changed out.

Adversity or opportunity? It’s your choice.