Making the Most of the Off Season
Many landscaping companies schedule their winter seasons with snow removal operations as a way to ensure a year-round revenue stream. But what about all the days in between snow events or those businesses that choose not to offer snow and ice services? Regardless of how you choose to operate, there are a number of ways to utilize the winter months to better prepare your business for the fast approaching spring.
Looking for a boost in revenue, but don’t want to outfit your operation for snow services? Over the years, landscape contractors have experienced success with a few different add-ons to their hardscape businesses.
Winter Landscape Maintenance
For some homeowners, the outdoor aesthetic of the home is just as important in winter as it is in summer. At the beginning of winter, any plants that have died or are on their last leg can be removed and replaced with appropriate deciduous plants like rosebushes or small trees. Then, in late winter, you can come back to prune these shrubs and trees, perfecting the winter look of the home (Source). No new equipment is required for this task, so you won’t be spending additional money on items that are only used three months out of the year. A landscaper from Conshohocken, PA says:
“There is plenty of work in the Northeast during the winter months. You just have to go get it. It is a great time of year to cut shrubs back hard, meaning reduce the size by more than half. If you drive around, you can see this issue from the street. Just knock on the door, give them a price, and boom – you have $100 in your pocket in no time. Five quick jobs a day will make your week. Go out and hustle up some winter work, and it will turn into spring work. If you have a good winter, you will have a better-than-good year.” (Source)
Another popular business endeavor among landscapers in the winter is firewood delivery (Source). This is a great way to provide a service to clients on a matter in which you have expertise. With some research and studying, you can understand and recommend the best types of firewood for each region and individual home. It requires minimal staffing, limited equipment, and can supplement your revenue during the winter. Plus, it also maintains a bridge between your business and your summer clients so that, come spring, they have not forgotten about your company.
It is no secret that holiday season outdoor lighting can be a hassle for homeowners. By offering holiday season lighting as a winter service, your business can save clients the risk of injury, the tangle of endless strings of lights, and the frustration of being out in the cold. This service requires very limited additional equipment, if any. Seasonal lighting is a unique niche in the winter landscaping market that very few businesses are taking advantage of. In fact, a landscaper from Central New York says:
“I personally feel that [seasonal lighting] is a market in our area that hasn’t been tapped much. People love to see lots of lights. I bet if you asked anyone if they like putting up/taking down their lights, they will say ‘no.’ And, if you asked that same person if they would want a nicer, more professional display, they would say ‘yes.’ It’s just a matter of hitting their price point and finding your niche in that market.” (Source)
Like firewood delivery, this winter service keeps your business’ name relevant during the off-season – a crucial necessity for landscaping companies in competitive markets. It also provides amazing photo opportunities to showcase your company’s diversity of services.
Internal Business Development
Rather than investing time and money into short-term revenue initiatives, it may be a better route, depending on the size and nature of your business, to simply organize, prepare, and improve before the next busy hardscaping season.
Equipment maintenance is one of the most important projects to undertake during the landscaping off-season. A landscaper from Memphis, TN says, “Winter is oil change time. All my equipment is on extended oil/filter change intervals, so all oil/filter changes have been moved to the off-season.” (Source)
Whether it is changing the oil for machines or getting tune-ups for trucks, winter is the perfect time of year to prepare equipment for the spring crush. Also, if any new equipment or upgrades need to be purchased, winter months, when work is slow, is the perfect time to do it. Dedicate down time to properly researching the best equipment for your business within your budget. Plus, the winter provides time to test out new machinery and educate team members on proper operation techniques.
Further Education & Training
The landscaping industry is constantly developing new methods for best practices and releasing new, cutting-edge materials. The off-season is the perfect time to educate yourself and your team on what is best for your business and for clients. Taking courses, attending seminars, and receiving certifications provide substantial trust signals to clients that your team is the right choice. Also, the winter months are a good time to sit down with team members and practice proper installation techniques and processes so that they don’t become rusty before spring.
3D Landscape Design
Using the off-season to focus on landscape design is another great way to learn new skills that will help generate increased revenue in the future. If you are not yet familiar with landscape design software, the winter months are the perfect time to learn. Uvision 3D Landscape Creator is easy for landscape contractors to pick up and master during their off-season. Being able to perfect beautiful landscape designs for clients will be a game-changer come spring. Plus, next winter, you can continue designing spring landscapes for customers to save time once things get busy.
Marketing & Advertising
Relevance is one of the toughest qualities to retain for professionals in the landscape industry. In order to ensure customers don’t forget about you over the winter, provide reminders through focused marketing and advertising initiatives. Try sending out a winter newsletter, just to keep clients updated on all the upgrades being made during the off-season. If your team is receiving a new certification or training credential, mention it – anything to remind customers that your company will be more than ready when spring comes is helpful.
Whether you offer snow and ice management or are strictly a hardscape outfit, the off-season can help ensure your business is a year round success. Sit down with your team and discuss the possibilities for increased winter revenue. Also, discuss the many ways to invest this time and energy into transforming the business into the most successful, streamlined operation possible so you are prepared long before spring arrives.