Fall business can make a good year even better. Clients are looking to improve their properties before winter and will be more attentive to your proposals now that temperatures are moderating and they’re spending more time outdoors with their families and entertaining. It’s also the best time to line up business for the next season.
Step up contract renewals
Some contractors say they delay renewal discussions with clients until late in the year. I don’t think this is wise. It’s better to know in September or October if the clients plan on renewing with you rather than have them cancel or refuse to renew in December or January.
While client communication is important year-round, it is especially important in the weeks before you propose renewals. Maintaining contact with clients gives you a better chance of heading off bad situations in the weeks leading up to contract renewals.
Consider tree work
There are only two ways to increase business: adding services for existing clients or adding new clients. Often, slight changes in your operations can make a service you don’t currently offer possible.
Tree and shrub care services aren’t that different from each other, and tree care is profitable. You don’t need to invest in bucket trucks to do tree work; you just have to offer to do jobs you can complete safely and profitably. Be on the lookout for tree work, but be selective in what you do. Pick a manager you see as a potential leader and offer them job-specific training.
Get on your 2016 budget
Many large companies are putting together their 2016 budgets now. Some contractors say they want to delay budgeting until they’ve completed renewals. That’s the cautious approach. Are they being too cautious in today’s economy? Maybe.
Many of you can safely assume you will grow your companies in 2016, so why not begin factoring that into your plan now? If you are planning a 10 percent increase in business, why wait until January or February to enact plans for that? Set your goals and your budgeted revenue and identify what you have to do this fall to achieve those goals in 2016.
You could experience a flat year for one service and a 15 percent increase in another, based on realistic expectations. By knowing this in the early fall you’re more likely to reach your goals. Also, your banker will appreciate seeing your budget in the fall and hearing how you intend to meet or exceed your budget. Regardless of when you develop your budget, you should always be prepared to revise it as the year develops.
Safety saves money
Too many contractors don’t give employee safety the appreciation it deserves. Regardless of your company’s size or services, maintaining a safe work environment is just plain smart business. What you do this fall in terms of safety training can reduce your insurance expenses for next year.
Start by making a safety director part of your management team. Then partner with your insurance carrier or agent in reducing accident potentials and reducing coverage costs. Ask your agent about the Mod Master Report and learn all you can about providing a safe work place. Know your ERM and plan to get it down below a 1 rating next year to reduce your workers’ compensation costs.
The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) has scheduled a four-hour OSHA-approved safety workshop on Oct. 22 in Louisville, Kentucky, at LANDSCAPES (formerly known as the GIC). Attendees will receive a certificate.
Another NALP safety program is the STARS Safe Company Program. STARS is a safety initiative designed for companies to set the precedent for safety in the landscape industry. For information on the NALP Safety Workshop or Stars Safe Company Program visit www.landscapeprofessionals.org.