landscape building pros overflow
Business Now Versus the Start of the PandemicThis spring, some landscape pros faced mandatory shutdowns while others were able to continue working remotely. We asked the pros to share what their businesses look like now compared to those early days. John Algozzini of KD Landscape in Chicago: “The virus certainly created a void early in the season, and then all of a sudden families decided that if they were going to be at home they were going to spend some money and enjoy themselves in an improved landscape environment. About the third week of April our phone, website and Houzz account volume really made a significant jump relative to most years.”Catherine Bosler of Bosler Earth Design in Los Angeles: “Business was very good in the early stages of the pandemic, and now it is exceptionally good. Everyone is fixing up their home and landscape for the long haul and their sanity.”
Shelby Hallman Mailloux of Earth and Sole in Toronto: “We couldn’t operate at the beginning of our spring season due to the lockdown. Our landscaping business runs nine months a year, so missing the first eight weeks was challenging. When we finally got started we were behind schedule. Wood and plant material were also in high demand because a lot of homeowners were [attempting] DIY projects and restaurants were building streetside patios.” Sifford: “We had to briefly shut down in the spring. Additionally, the uncertainty of the spring had several clients cancel or delay projects due to fears about employment and money flow.”Prideaux: “We are busier than ever. I attribute this to the amount of time that people are spending at home. Many clients are looking to tackle big projects that they have wanted for some time — especially pools or landscape remodels.”Blake Tubby of Arbordale Landscaping in Toronto: “We’ve been sold out since spring for the entire summer. Now we’re getting to the people we told we would be able to do work for in fall. At this point we’re mitigating client expectations,” Tubby says, as new safety precautions, high demand and other business practice changes have ...
How They’re Planning for 2021Pros shared the preparations or changes they are making now for what will likely be another unusual year. Bosler: “Refreshing our website design for 2021 is in our plans.”Brooks: “We will be expanding our office space this winter and hiring additional staff for 2021. We’re hiring an additional two to three designers — at least one intern or entry-level designer and one with experience in sales and design — and reorganizing our management team to have a better balance of sales and management responsibilities.”Sifford: “I’m planning on moving forward at a brisk pace in 2021. I’ve just purchased two new trucks and hired three new employees. If times slow, I’ll have the opportunity to thin out the most unproductive employees from my group.”
Przygoda-Montgomery: “We are working on some new product lines with a few companies for outdoor fire pit designs and have designed a few fiberglass pool inserts with another company.”Drzewiecki: “We are actually pre-scheduling our design clients with our landscape contractors for the spring of 2021, which is new for us. We are [also] considering using a part time person to help us with our backlog of work.”Prideaux: “We have been maintaining a waitlist that will carry us into 2021. We didn’t want to turn clients away outright, so we are pleased that many potential projects were able to wait for us.”Algozzini: “We have embarked on new marketing services and also added a landscape architect to staff this year. Clearly, our view is that we will have a sustained, if not enhanced, volume of business in 2021.”
Landscape Pros’ Biggest Takeaways From 2020We asked the landscape design and building pros to tell us what the year has taught them as it pertains to their business. Bosler: “Be safe, thoughtful and continue to work hard.”Martin: “To be so grateful and to be flexible and resilient.”Sifford: “2020 has taught me that I have to believe in myself and my mission more than ever. Clinging to that belief helped me through the emotionally turbulent times of spring 2020.”Przygoda-Montgomery: “Pivot, pivot and pivot again. Be flexible and honest with clients with lead times on products and installation times. Most people are understanding when you are honest with them about what is going on.”
Drzewiecki: “I am really proud that [the other landscape designer in my firm] and I were able to handle working separately for about three months without losing a lot of ground in terms of getting projects done. We are prepared to work remotely if the need should ever arise again.”Prideaux: “[Video meeting tools] have actually been incredibly efficient and productive. It just makes so much more sense to do this rather than spend half of our day driving to home sites. We still do site checks during construction, of course, but the design process is actually quite effective using online tools and formats to share and discuss drawings and ideas.” (Houzz Pro subscribers can use Video Meetings to collaborate with clients remotely.)Algozzini: “Be prepared for all scenarios!”Tubby: “Nothing is predictable, and you have to be adaptable. You have to be ready to jump. You also have to listen to your employees as it pertains to safety and protocol.”Mailloux: “We feel lucky that we work outside and are still able to operate under some lockdown orders and that our business is booking partly due to COVID-19,” she says. “Being a small business owner, we really feel for the businesses negatively a...