How confident are you in the future, in these times of change?
It is my responsibility to bring you insight into where the landscape industry, market, and economy are headed.
To do this, I plugged myself into many different networks.
The biggest is within my own community of landscape professionals. It is quite active, discussing trends and opportunities.
Plus, I am tapped into some large professional communities outside the landscape world (consulting, global finance, etc.).
Based on current information, here are my seven predictions of Future Trends and how our industry will be shaped.
Prediction #1 – The Economy will recover within 18-24 months.
The economy is starting to make improvements, and it will bounce upward until it finally regains what it lost. Some parts of the economy will take longer, and other parts will recover much more quickly.
I believe this because:
- The government and the Fed continue to support recovery.
- Europe has gotten its act together and is doing an excellent job in both COVID and market support. A global effort will lift up all boats.
- I assume we will find a vaccine by next Spring.
What does this mean to you? Because all markets have a local aspect to their economy, you still have to watch what’s going on in your region and make decisions based on your local prospects.
Prediction #2 – The residential cocooning trend will grow stronger than ever.
We have been experiencing a cocooning trend for almost 40 years, and it will continue to grow stronger. The residential market will continue to benefit as people work from home.
There has been a large peak in many parts of the country in residential landscaping. Some of you were caught by surprise at the surge, and you are having to play your A-game to staff up and take advantage. Remote services (see below), subs and the right equipment will help you fill the gaps.
Prediction #3 – Freelance remote services from national and global suppliers will fill local needs.
The President recently decided to stop temporary immigrant workers, and that will further shift the trend to hiring local, but in this century people can live anywhere in the world and still work for you.
You can hire designers, accountants, receptionists, estimators, and many more roles from people living anywhere.
In my community, I am helping landscape entrepreneurs make this a reality. You should be focused on this too, and start by using freelance websites like Upwork.
By the way, by the end of the decade, I predict remotely operated equipment will become a reality!
Prediction #4 – The Pandemic will likely continue, but don’t get down about it.
It could take up to another 20 months for this virus to run its course. This is reasonable based on how pandemics work. Areas that were not initially impacted by COVID will see their time come. Don’t fret, just be prepared.
The one hopeful caveat is vaccine; my guess and hope are that we will see one by next Spring!
What should you do?
- Internalize your lessons from this past round of closures, be clear on what worked well and what didn’t.
- Get your operational software systems up to par and working well, so you can shift to remote work quickly and smoothly as needed.
Prediction #5 – The government will provide additional support this year.
I believe the government will provide an additional round of support. It will not mimic what they did in the first round, but rather they will learn what worked and what didn’t and make an adjustment.
Having said that, you should operate as if that won’t happen. Do the following two things:
- Treat your PPP money as a loan, and not as revenue or profit or a windfall.
- Make sure your “operating cash flow” is positive each month and quarter, i.e. continue to find ways to upgrade your profitability and cash flow, and measure it ongoing.
Prediction #6 – More and better employees will enter the green industry.
The better companies realize they should recruit the best employees. Not the best landscape employees, but the best people, period.
How do you best take advantage of this?
- Create a “Values/Skills/Results” scorecard to score the people you are interviewing, to make sure you are clear on who you are looking for, and to avoid making emotional hiring decisions.
- Continue to gamify your company, so that the better employees will see how they can ‘win’ in your company.
- Implement “Train the trainer”, so you have your best people armed to do their best training. Don’t assume good people know how to train. Pick the people who are best at training, and show them how to become expert trainers.
Prediction #7 – The companies that professionalize will own the market.
With so much professional money (e.g. private equity) entering the green industry, there is increased pressure to compete at a higher and more professional level.
It will be harder in the future for a mom-and-pop firm to compete without taking steps to operate their businesses as a professional enterprise.
You have to learn to excel in your professional management approach: numbers, metrics, team building, coaching, organizing for growth… and ultimately, in planning for a smooth exit even before you are ready to exit.
Take advantage of these trends while remaining nimble as events continue to evolve and new future trends come into view.
Discuss these trends with your team and identify the opportunities that exist now for your company to keep growing and improving during these next two years.