Understandably, there is a lot of uncertainty and concern around COVID-19 and what it means for green industry businesses. That’s why we hosted a webinar this week titled: “COVID-19 - How The Green Industry is responding”. We turned to five green industry leaders: Matt Lowe of Swift Straw, Heather Dirksen of Arbor Masters, Matt Shepayo of Preservation Tree Care, Jack Harder of Harder Services, and Ross Day of Oasis Landscape and Irrigation to get their insight into how their businesses are responding to the global pandemic.
The panel discussed topics like changes to operations, how to safely continue performing estimates, the federal stimulus, and how COVID-19 is impacting their topline.
If you missed the webinar, no worries. Here’s a recap (though we recommend you watch the entire recording to get the most out of it).
Impact on operations
We started the webinar with an attendee poll question on their operating situations.
For 48% of respondents, their businesses have remained fully operational, while 43% have had to cut back on some services, and 9% have had to completely shut down.
Impact on topline
We then asked a follow up poll question about top line.
For 77% of respondents, COVID-19 has negatively affected their top line, while 23% stated they saw no change.
Impact by Vertical
Tree Care and PHC
“Tree and PHC work has slowed down the last couple of weeks, but this past week we saw an upswing in requests for estimates. I think now, people are at home, spending time in their backyards, and they are getting paid the same or sometimes even more if they are on unemployment. Spring is coming around here in Oklahoma, Kansas, and definitely down in Texas so we are seeing an increase in our requests for estimates. We are seeing a decline in our municipality work because the contract managers are not around to do the work orders.” - Heather Dirksen (Arbor Masters)
"Spring hasn’t quite sprung here, but we are about even from last year, just waiting on spring to kick off to increase our businesses. One of the municipalities we work with is on a spending freeze so we won’t see any work from them likely until May. But as far as commercial and residential work, it’s pretty much the same." - Matt Shepayo (Preservation Tree Care)
“We’ve seen a negative impact. Not as big as we expected, but about two weeks ago we had to shut down all operations in New York City. Locally, we’ve been maintaining our maintenance crews and doing utility tree trims. Luckily, our customers are still paying bills online- so money is still coming in. That helps keep things at some level of normal." - Jack Harder (Harder Services)
Landscape Maintenance Design and Build
“People are at home. We’ve seen an uptick for proposals on design and build, backyard projects and that kind of stuff. Maintenance hasn’t dropped at all for us yet. My main concern is collecting payment for it. Although the workflow side of things hasn’t changed at all, I do have concerns about the collections side of things.” - Ross Day (Oasis Landscape and Irrigation)
Enhancements, Supply and Install
“The install division has been hit the hardest. We’ve seen cancellations from customers that have been shut down- schools, churches, events, etc. On the distribution side of things, it has been consistent. It’s more consumer facing. We contribute that to when all of these people are at home, they are more likely to do some home projects. So we are still moving a lot of straw." - Matt Lowe (Swift Straw)
“We’ve set up social distancing rules. In the office, it’s constant hand washing. I’m actually on Clorox duty, wiping everything down. It was difficult at first. Things are starting to normalize. It’s become a routine at this point.” - Jack Harder (Harder Services)
“Everybody has appreciated the new processes and are happy we are still working. We have noticed because customers are all at home, they are more critical than usual but at the end of the day we're just happy we are at work. As far as crew transportation is concerned, we are allowing crew members to follow in separate cars to the job site, and reimbursing them for mileage. We are cleaning and sanitizing our truck multiple times a day. We also make our crew members take a health screening at the beginning of each day." - Ross Day (Oasis Landscape and Irrigation)
"It all goes back to communication. We’ve doubled down on our technology resources so we can keep minute to minute data to ensure our customers that orders are still being placed and requests for work are still coming. Providing that data to our customers can give them some peace of mind." - Matt Lowe (Swift Straw)
"We’ve been communicating how we are still open for business but changing our operations to ensure the safety of our customers and our team" - Matt Shepayo (Preservation Tree Care)
“We sent out an email, and instead of selling- we just told them that because we were an essential business and able to go out and about, we would be willing to do deliveries for their groceries, medicine, etc. We’ve never seen a response to an email like that. It just meant a lot to everyone that we are all in this together.” - Ross Day (Oasis Landscape and Irrigation)
Understanding the Federal Stimulus
Towards the end of the webinar, we polled attendees to see how they felt the recent federal stimulus would affect their businesses.
80% of respondents said they found the stimulus difficult to understand and were unsure how it would affect their business.
Responding to COVID-19 | 10 helpful steps to take
- Stay positive, and project that positivity to your team. This is where a family oriented approach is more important than ever.
- Embrace cleaning and sanitary measures. Wipe down everything. Religiously wash hands, etc. Make sure your team stays healthy.
- Set up proper social distancing measures for your office. Try meeting outside and stand six feet apart. Work from home if possible.
- Take advantage of technologies like Slack, Zoom, and business management software for operations and team communication.
- For your crews, allow them to follow the truck in their own vehicle. Reimburse them for mileage. Regularly clean all trucks.
- Communicate with your customers. Let them know the precautionary steps you are taking for their betterment, and how you are still there to serve them.
- Offer other services to your customer base like grocery and medicine delivery.
- Provide estimates digitally to prevent unnecessary touch points for your customers.
- Implement processes to receive payment online to improve collections.
- Get your Federal Stimulus application in as soon as possible for payroll protection.
To watch the entire recording of this webinar go to: singleops.com/covidwebinar
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