Do you feel that thrill every March and April when the calls come in, and your landscaping seasonal business calendar gets filled up?
Do you keep riding that wave until September, when things start slowing down? Or do you have plenty of business to finish out the fall season?
Depending on your location, your landscaping business will have definitive starts, slowing down, and stops because the green industry is seasonal in most areas of the U.S.
Understanding Seasonal Business Fluctuations and Their Impact on Your Landscaping Company
As you know, the green industry—lawn care, landscaping, and outdoor living—is based on the seasons, spring, summer, and fall, in that order. You notice the uptick in March when homeowners are getting ready to have their yards and landscapes cleaned up.
Then, it’s time to start putting down pre-emergent weed control, overseeding bare areas in the lawn, and fertilizing turfgrass for the spring for cool season grass. In the south and west, the opposite is where you aerate and overseed lawns in the spring.
Read more: Sustainable Landscape Design Using Native Plants and More
But one thing all lawn and landscape maintenance companies have in common is that spring starts strong, stays level throughout the summer, and starts slowing down come the fall.
How to ride the wave of seasonal business fluctuations
To survive and thrive with seasonal business fluctuations, you must design your landscaping company to prepare for those slow times that will come through budgeting, projecting, and long-term planning.
Here are some areas that will need meticulous long-term planning:
Balanced cash flow throughout the year
Small business loans and sound budgeting will help you stay in the black throughout the year. Also, ensure you have a cash flow regarding operating the company, investing correctly, and using smart financing opportunities to keep your company afloat for the entire year.
Hire seasonal employees but still have a skeletal staff during the lean months.
One of the challenges of a seasonal business is hiring temporary and permanent employees.
Let your temporary employees know that the season lasts from early spring through fall. If you hire students for summer breaks, you know they’ll leave in early August to return to school.
Other temporary employees can pick up the extra hours, but let everyone know before the season starts that you may lay off temps if the work slows down at the end of the summer.
Of course, you’ll want to ensure your crew leaders and supervisors have enough work to last them throughout the season. And if you provide holiday decorations or snow services during the winter, reassure your temps that they may have additional work over the winter.
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Plan on marketing all year—not just during the growing season
- Stay in touch with your current client base throughout the year. It’s essential to keep your landscaping company front and center from December through February by blogging, sending out email newsletters, and staying active on social media.
- Optimize the selling season – You want your salespeople to kick it up a notch during the selling season.
Strategies for Managing Seasonal Business Fluctuations
Stay in front of your prospects by marketing your business 365 days a year.
The off-season is a great time to educate readers on your landscaping services, such as yard clean-ups, hardscaping, landscaping, and lawn care services. Explain in your blogs why homeowners need to invest in green industry services.
Blog topics can include
- Why your lawn needs pre-emergent weed control
- How walkways provide cohesion for your outdoor living space
- Think about what hardscapes will improve your outdoor living space
- Why investing in a 5-step fertilization program transforms your lawn from blah to beautiful.
How to Plan Financially with a Seasonal Business
Cash flow can get tricky during the slow months of December, January, and February unless you supply snow and ice management or holiday lighting services.
A seasonal business article at Entrepreneur.com says you must plan for six months.
“Look ahead at least six months to plant appropriately. To carry the business through slower periods (the shoulder season) and complete lulls (the off-season), consider socking away cash reserves during the busy months,” the article says.
Seasonal Business Operational Strategies
You may need to stretch your dollars and other investments to last the year—to pay for staff, equipment maintenance, and trade shows. Remember, you’ll also need money on hand for stocking up on turfgrass seed, fertilizer, and other products needed throughout the growing season.
You can waste your company dollars when you have too much inventory—especially if it’s parts for landscaping equipment you don’t own anymore.
Here are tips to help you get a handle on your inventory from LawnandLandscape.com’s article, Bring Order to Inventory Chaos:
- Clean out your maintenance storage area. What can you get rid of, and what needs to stay?
- Invest in landscaping software that has an inventory management app
- Clean out trucks to take stock of SKUs
- Buy only what you need to service your clients for the season; don’t overbuy
- Develop inventory management relationships with your vendors so you can order “just in time.”
- Buy a select few equipment brands so you can combine parts purchases and save money
- Downsize your storage capacity, or you’ll be tempted to buy more products and parts to fill out ample storage space.
When it comes to hiring employees, landscaping companies are presented with many challenges. You need temporary employees to cover you during the busy season and full-time staff to keep your business running during the lull.
Here are some staffing tips for the off-season:
- Decide whether to add services during the winter months – Should you consider going to a yearly schedule by adding commercial snow and ice management or holiday lighting?
- Use the winter months for trade shows, re-certifications, and other CEUs – Do you have enough cash to pay your staff to attend trade shows, re-certification courses, and additional coursework over the wintertime?
- Manage staff hires and training during the winter – If you live in a low snow area, you can still bring in an income from snow and ice management that leaves time for your techs to take CEU courses and exams.
It’s a challenge when you’re a seasonal business in the green industry. The ebb and flow of work demands and the winter slowdown make it hard to keep cash flow positive, manage employees, and take care of every aspect of your landscaping company.
Let Spyker Spreaders Help You with Your Seasonal Business This Year
Our spreaders, lawn rollers, and sprayers keep your landscaping business running efficiently. You’ll want to invest in the ERGO-PRO Ice Melt Winter Spreaders if you provide snow and ice management services.
You can find our Spyker lawn sprayers and other landscaping products at your local dealer, online, or at the Spyker store.
Spyker Customer Service: For warranty, service parts, or help at any time, reach out to our team by calling our toll-free number (800-972-6130) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Replacement parts can also be ordered online at Spyker’s website.
Blog.Adobe.com, Anticipating and Addressing Obstacles for Your Seasonal Business.
Entrepreneur.com, 7 Tips for Managing a Seasonal Business.
FieldCircle.com, Grow Your Landscaping Business: Solutions to 10 Biggest Challenges.
LawnandLandscaping.com, Bring Order to Inventory Chaos.