Minimising Stress in the Landscaping Busy Season
It’s easy to succumb to stress in the landscaping busy season. Here are some tips from a seasoned landscaper on managing your workload and staying healthy.
- Buy the best tools you can and keep them in good condition
- Keep a close eye on costs – make sure you are quoting enough for each project
- Delegate, delegate, delegate – and that includes outsourcing
- Have a contingency plan for every possible hiccup
Every good landscaping business has peaks and troughs during the course of the working year. At times you wonder if you’ll have enough money coming in to cover the wages. Other times you feel as though if there were 36 hours in a day and 14 days in week, there still wouldn’t be enough time to do everything on your wish list.
I’m writing this article towards the back end of March. This is normally the beginning of the landscaping busy season and already the phone is ringing off the hook with enquiries. But this year I have promised myself less stress and more time with the family. So I’m taking all the lessons I’ve learned in almost three decades of running a landscaping business and I’m going to apply them.
Buy the best tools you can afford and look after them well
Sounds obvious, but you can save yourself hours on every project, just by having the right equipment. No faffing about trying to start the digger, razor sharp blades = fewer cracked slabs -and even a bigger wheelbarrow can help to get the job done quicker. No budget for new stuff? Don’t be too proud to hire machinery and equipment. Just make sure you’ve quoted enough to covers your costs.
Keep your eye on the costs
Being busy is awesome – although you’re physically tired, it feels good to know that there’s plenty of work on the horizon. However, don’t let yourself become a busy fool. There’s no sense whatsoever in putting in a low quote to make sure you get a job, and then finding that you’ve made next to no profit at the end of the year. Take time away from the tools at least once a week and check that your costs are not running away with themselves. And I don’t just mean materials and labour ….. if your business pays for your vehicles, your yard and your tools, (ie your fixed costs) make sure that you’ve factored them into every quote. If not, you’ll end the year exhausted and broke – and where’s the sense in that?
Delegate, delegate, delegate
Delegation and outsourcing are hard to do. Even during the landscaping busy season. It’s like trusting a stranger with your baby. But actually, for your own sanity, you need to decide which tasks can be done by somebody else.
I used to take the attitude that I’d never pay someone else to do jobs I’m capable of doing myself. In truth though, just because I can do something, doesn’t mean I should. There are only so many hours in a day and I need to fit eating, sleeping, and family time into some of them.
I would never advise putting off admin and marketing tasks until you have more time. That day might not come for a long time! The time to work on your marketing is when you’re business is busy – at least that’s my tactic for making sure I don’t have too many weeks in the year when there’s no work.
Invest in trusted suppliers who can help minimise the stress of running a business during the landscaping busy season.
What can you delegate?
Have a think about your bookkeeping, marketing, social media, vehicle maintenance, procurement, garden design, phone answering. They all need to be done – but not necessarily by you personally. You need to oversee the work, of course you do, but there are some brilliant people out there who can help you. You’ll be able to offset the cost of hiring a freelancer by using the time they free up to work more efficiently at what you’re good at.
I will admit to working with a freelance writer to keep my website and social media up to date during the landscaping busy season (She’s even writing this blog for me!). This blog cost me a five minute phone call to brief the writer, and modest fee. While she is doing the typing and some of the thinking, I’m designing a client’s garden.
I’m also pretty impressed with the quoting tools on the Arbour Landscape Solutions website. They can literally save hours when pricing a job, and if you save the quote, it only takes one click to order the materials you need. I don’t always use the service but in busy times it’s easier than contacting 5 or 6 different suppliers.
My Garden Design will save you many a head-scratching hour too – simply upload the client brief and the site survey details and your clients garden design will land in your inbox within 3 weeks or so. You don’t need to sit up late designing, get some rest instead. That way you can be happy, smiley and positive when you present the design to your client. Meaning you’re more likely to win the work.
Have a contingency plan for emergencies
Oh no! I hear you cry – not another kind of risk assessment?! Kind of ….. at busy times like this, who picks up the tools when your labourer goes off sick? We all hope it doesn’t happen, but let’s face it nobody is invincible and it can put your work schedule all to pot if you’re a man (or woman!) down.
Always have a plan B – understand everyone’s skill sets and know who you can pull in to help if needs be. That might mean handing the phone to somebody who can chase up deliveries while you work on the tools. Try to think outside of the box and don’t get stressed.
Recognise the signs of stress in yourself
If you feel yourself getting stressed or anxious, the worst thing you can do is ignore it and try to push on through. Seek help. There are some fantastic charities out there who will help you to manage your mental health through the busy periods. Take a look at Perennial’s mental health service.
For business management advice, I can heartily recommend Neville Stein – he’ll help you decide which tasks to delegate, which to defer and which to stay on top of landscaping busy season. Visit Neville’s website here.
Delegating garden design
My Garden Design is an online garden design service especially for landscapers. It can save you hours of work, reduce stress and impress your prospective clients. So it’s good for you and good for your business.