After visiting with this year’s Landscaper of the Year finalists on trips and the cruise, there are five key things that I took away.
1. Industry bouncing back
Our finalists are located all across the country, and every year the topic of the economy always comes up in discussions. This year, we heard over and over again that the economy seemed to be strengthening in the landscaping industry. When the economy takes a bad turn, landscaping is always the first thing to go from people’s budgets, and landscapers are also the last ones on the job where the budget might have run out. However, it seems the economy is bouncing back and there’s more work than a lot of landscapers can handle.
2. Throwing spaghetti to see what sticks
Many of our finalists are still growing and learning like any other small business out there. Sometimes small businesses have a hard time staying afloat, and one thing I heard over and over is landscapers are always willing to try out new things. If something isn’t working, fix it. Our finalists have tried different design software, different technologies, different pieces of equipment, different business structures and they’re not stopping anytime soon.
3. Equipment is everything
Having the right equipment on the job means less downtime and more productivity to our finalists. Many don’t buy the same types of equipment and really just go for what works for their company at that time. One thing that stood out was the finalists were not the ones testing the machines. In fact, if they get a machine or are looking at machines, they have their foreman or crew leaders testing the equipment to see what they like best.
4. Surround yourself with skillful people
It is not possible for a landscaper to be skillful in every aspect on the jobsite. Many of our finalists over the years have surrounded themselves with skillful people who can take their company to the next level. Whether it’s hiring foreman with horticulture degrees or acquiring a skilled stonemason, our finalists are constantly surrounding themselves with talented employees.
5. Go with your gut
There are many tough decisions landscapers have to make in the field. Whether it’s letting an employee go or saying no to a client, our finalists have said over and over that they go with their gut at the end of the day. By going with their gut, our finalists have seen fewer regrets in the long run.