By John Corban –
Turning away work, not enough workers, time poor! How to deal with the post pandemic boom.
2021 started with a bang. Every landscaper, horticulturist and nursery owner around the country is experiencing a significant increase in sales and enquiries at the moment and that should be a great thing, right? Well it seems to be a double-edged sword. On one hand, COVID-19 has sparked a mini boom that we would not be experiencing had the pandemic not happened. On the other hand, it is also causing other problems like business owners being run off their feet with a record numbers of enquiries and quoting, and very few or no new quality recruitment candidates responding to the endless number of jobs being advertised.
So how can we take full advantage of this boom?
A positive perspective
Firstly, let’s get things into perspective. It’s a great situation to be in when there is so much work you can pick and choose which projects and customers will best suit your business. Just twelve months ago, no-one knew whether our businesses would be operational due to the pandemic, so let’s be grateful for the boom.
Qualify your enquiries
You don’t want all the sales and projects that could potentially come your way, just the ones that suit your business, right? Every new enquiry needs to be qualified, so setting up a process to do that is important so you or your sales team aren’t wasting their time on a lengthy process that isn’t right for your business anyway. A past client requesting a new quote will still need to be qualified.
For contractors and horticulturists: You can set up a qualifying document and email it to the prospect asking them to answer your questions. You can also have qualifying questions on the contact page on your website. Include some specific details you will require from your prospects so you can decide if the job could suit you. The qualifying process can also be delegated to someone in your office or outsourced, once you have the document set up properly.
For nurseries: Qualifying a customer and understanding their needs is important for walk in customers. The online and website enquiry page could be revised to extract more details from prospects to help you decide whether the enquiry is suitable.
Your time is important, so once you qualify the prospect thoroughly, and you know a potential project or sale doesn’t suit you, be polite and say something such as
“Now that I have an understanding of what you require, unfortunately this isn’t the type of project we are best suited to, so I suggest you seek a local contractor/horticulturist to quote your project. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.”
Finding new employees is possible
I am hearing repeatedly, I am stressed, I can’t find quality workers. I have written about this several times. It’s tough finding new employees, but not impossible. Some of my clients have hired quality employees over the past 3 months, so it is possible to find the employees you require. It just takes perseverance, a plan, and a sound recruiting process so you hire a candidate whose work ethic, disposition and attitude suits your culture. Working on retaining your existing team is also very important.
Don’t rush or it will come back to bite you
The important message is don’t rush your processes and execution of tasks. Successful businesses are built on consistency and repetition of processes and systems that work. Rushing projects to squeeze in more work or rushing a quote because you are under pressure will only come back to bite you, so you and your team members should take the time you usually take to execute work thoroughly.
Automating and outsourcing tasks
The pandemic has forced all businesses to look at their communication and operational processes, and refine them, use less personnel or outsource tasks. This supports a business in many ways by removing the inefficiencies of a system or process. Outsourcing helps by looking at your greater team and seeing who could be executing the task when you currently do not have enough employees.
2021 will be a strong year for the landscaping, horticulture and nursery industries, so go ahead with a planned, organised and methodical approach and maintain quality in all that you offer.
Business Coach for Landscapers,
Horticulturists and Nursery owners
M: 0433 27 1980