What a year it has been. In the great province of Ontario, the first case of COVID-19 was found in January, and we all recently got to celebrate the one-year anniversary of "two weeks to kill the curve". It has been hard on all of us, but one of the most affected areas are those in the landscaping industry.
Some may scoff at that statement, but it's true. The coronavirus pandemic has broken a lot of businesses in a major way, but the landscaping industry especially has taken a huge hit. How you ask? Well, there are many ways:
There has been a major impact to the landscaping industry this pandemic. A study by the people at Green Industry Pros found that after doing a survey of 249 landscaping companies:
"More than 50% of the respondents indicated that the pandemic had already impacted their revenue in some way and 11% noted no impact. Another 20% reported that it would start to have a substantial impact if it lasts another 30 days and the remainder suggesting the impact would be felt if the situation extended beyond the next 30 days."
The bottom line is a lot of people have lost money, but more importantly, they have lost time.
Now we know why the landscaping business was hit so hard by COVID-19, what can we do to rectify it? In other words, what can landscapers do to come out ahead in this unprecedented time? The sad truth is that isn't much that anyone can do really, we are at the mercy of our government and our scientific leaders. However, there are a couple of things that a landscaper can do to try and recoup some of the losses they have suffered.
1) Stick within the laws
Just like the rest of the world, the landscaping industry is subject to the laws put into place by our government when it comes to COVID-19 safety. There may be a lot of confusion these days, considering new laws are brought out seemingly every day, but as of the time of writing, here are what landscapers need to keep in mind, these are verbatim from the OALA (Ontario Association of Landscape Architects):
- Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are restricted to five people, with limited exceptions
- Individuals are required to wear a mask or face-covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations
- Wearing a mask or face covering is recommended outdoors when physical distancing is not possible
- All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m.
- Construction not deemed essential is shut down.
Keep in mind, as we previously discussed, these laws are subject to change. Keep updated on the OALA website, check daily if need be.
Staying within the laws seems obvious, but it can mean a lot of suffering for a company. Those that don't stick within the laws are going to be subject to two things that will kill a company: fines and sickness.
The powers that be have to ensure that everyone is abiding by the safety rules, so they have decided to give out fines to those who aren't following them. This can be a fine of $750, and that is just for an individual who is violating an emergency order. According to the Global News website: "corporations which violate an emergency order could face a fine up to $10,000,000". Landscapers who own small businesses will obviously not be able to pay such a hefty fine, which is why following the laws is so important.
We all need to keep in mind that while these laws may be a pain, they are there for a reason: to prevent sickness. Those that don't follow the coronavirus-related laws are going to be more vulnerable to sickness, which could be devastating for a company's bottom line. A sick worker might not only mean that the worker has to take a couple of weeks off, but the company could be shut down as they have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus. Perhaps even more devastating is the prospect of a sick client. Not only have you endangered your client, but you can also bet that they won't give a good review to their friends.
Staying within the laws during these unprecedented times is crucial for the landscaping industry, not just so that they can avoid losing money but also so that they can keep their communities safe. Not only that, but the sooner the laws are obeyed by everyone the sooner we can all return to normal.
2) Work when you can.
It can be tempting to take this time off and sit around the house, but it's crucial for the landscaping industry to work when they have the chance. Whenever the restrictions are lifted, try to work as much as possible to make as much capital as you can. This also can work with scheduling– try to schedule work for when you're sure that restrictions are going to be lifted, so that you can go right to work when it is possible.
Keep in mind this isn't a call for anyone to do anything dangerous– the first part of this "coming out on top" section is to stay within the laws. But when it is legal, a landscaper should do as much work as they possibly can.
Times are hard. It looks like for the foreseeable future, they aren't going to get easier either. However, if we all work together, if we all keep up our chin and our masks on, soon we will be able to go back to the prosperity that is the landscaping industry. So remember– keep an ear to the ground about your restrictions and when you can work, then work as much as possible. And above all– try to hang in there.