As seen on National Association of Landscape Professionals, April 10, 2020
In the fourth free COVID-19 webinar hosted by NALP, CEO Britt Wood talked with industry executives Shayne Newman, president of YardScapes, Inc. and NALP President-Elect, John Guth, vice president of lawn at Green Lawn Fertilizing, LLC and Todd Pugh, CEO and founder of Enviroscapes, who shared their strategies for running a business in the middle of a pandemic.
Adaptation is the New “Planning”
As for how COVID-19 has changed how they are operating their business, Newman and Pugh say they have had to change their planning to a weekly and almost daily basis in order to keep their staff safe with the ever-changing safety guidelines provided from health officials.
Newman says a lot of his job has become reassuring his team during this time of anxiety. Pugh says he still tries to look for the wins the company is accomplishing and is looking towards the future.
Guth adds that for his company, they’ve had to change their entire business setup, having never worked remotely before. They’ve also become more lenient with their attendance policy in light of the current situation.
The current major hurdles the panelists say they’re dealing with is balancing care and commitment and managing the different levels of anxiety among their staff.
Pugh says the biggest hurdle he expects to face in the near future is simply the unknown. He advises against companies making absolute statements. He says his own company early on announced it would check its employees’ temperatures, before realizing they could not find any thermometers in the state of Ohio.
He says it’s far more important to be flexible and be able to pivot quickly. Newman and Guth add that cash flow and communication will also be challenges in the coming months.
All three panelists say they have been accessing NALP’s COVID-19 resources in order to stay on top of regulations and guidance surrounding the Coronavirus. Pugh says he’s been looking at how other industries have been responding as well. Newman adds that talking to peer groups can help members realize they are not alone in this situation.
When asked about what processes they have implemented to keep crews safe, Newman says they have been following the 6’ rule and providing their employees with hand sanitizer, disinfectants, cleaning wipes and have limited one person per truck.
It’s Important to Be Creative
He says they’ve also been coaching employees on the importance of personal hygiene. When it comes to finding the necessary cleaning supplies, Pugh says you have to get creative and look in locations you wouldn’t normally think of, such as an agricultural supply company. He says his company has spent $18,000 in cleaning supplies alone during the pandemic. He’s created a separate cost account for all COVID-19 related expenses and suggests others do the same.
When it comes to processes that the companies will keep in place even afterwards, Guth says they will probably continue having their check-in process done over the phone and focus on accounts receivable. Pugh says they’ve increased their labor efficiency by 12 to 15 percent by eliminating unnecessary processes.
With the matter of customer relations, it is a moving target, but the panelists say they have found taking an individualistic approach and having account managers check in on their clients has been more effective than sending out a mass email.
Newman says that while they have backed off marketing their services, they have received more landscape maintenance service requests from customers during this time.
Pugh says an individualistic approach should also be taken when communicating with your staff. Newman says that while anxiety levels are high, it’s important to maintain a calm and positive attitude.
Guth says one way he has kept morale up is by not micromanaging employees and celebrating the company wins. Green Lawn Fertilizing is even providing bonuses to its workers who have been employed for the last two weeks as a sign of appreciation.
To listen to this webinar or the other COVID-19 related webinars at NALP, click here.