As economic activity rebounds from the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, consumers and businesses will have a renewed ability to pay for professional landscaping (woot woot!). We've outlined four key opportunities to take advantage of to keep you excited and motivated for the year ahead.
Whether you've found your rhythm working from home, or you're struggling to get the most of out your day, we wanted to share some tools we'd recommend to keep you organized, communicating effectively, and collaborating with your team with ease. Even if you aren't working from home, you may find some of these tools helpful regardless. At LandscapeHub, we particularly love the money and time-saving tool, Grasshopper, included in our list below.
Whether you're a landscape contractor, nursery professional, or a retail garden center employee, you work on deadlines with customers depending on you to hit those important dates. To help you manage your time efficiently, consider these proven productivity hacks that will bring you more time in your day.
We’ve all been there. While you’re swamped with day-to-day operations and trying to keep ahead of work during the crazy busy season, your company’s trying to update its website with your latest, greatest projects—but clients’ work takes priority, your forté isn’t web design, and you’d rather not spend your weekend figuring out how to code. We get it. Now, more than ever, companies are very aware of how their businesses look online, and are more invested in spending time to make sure they can be found easily and leave a good impression. In addition to joining a marketplace like LandscapeHub to increase visibility, you may find time in hiring a freelancer or two to take on a couple of projects to update your website or social channels. Luckily, there’s an easy solution to find tech support to keep your business functioning and your online presence fresh and relevant.
It can be challenging to stay up-to-date on all the trends and happenings in an industry that continues to grow and change. Especially now, when all of us outdoorsy types are spending more time than ever at home, it's essential to stay inspired by the world around us. We thought it would help share some of the resources we turn to time and time again when we want the scoop on the latest innovations and new products coming to the market.
As a buyer considering participating in an online market need only look at his or her current sourcing model. Do any of these statements sound familiar?
Digital sales channels (such as e-commerce websites, amazon, content marketing, affiliate marketing) aren’t new, but because of a variety of factors (time, money, knowledge), you might not have ventured far into exploring solutions for your business. As discussed in last week's post, it can require a huge investment to travel that path on your own. With the right strategy, however, using digital channels for your nursery and landscape supply business can turn into a successful venture.
If you do currently offer online sales, you can attest to the complexity of it. When the channel is something you have to maintain yourself, you find out that it is more complicated than putting photos of products with prices on your website. You also have to consider payment methods and set up merchant accounts. You have to make sure your website is secure. And that’s just the beginning! While there is value in having your own e-commerce site, maintaining your own e-commerce site is not always the most efficient way to do it. Costs and the ability to connect to others in the supply chain limit what you can do on your own.
Advantages of Online Marketplaces Over Individual E-Commerce Efforts
Operating on a marketplace is different than sustaining your own e-commerce market on your own website. On your own, you’d have to foot the bill for the technology and features you need. That’s not all, though.
Joining a Marketplace Allows You to Grow without Massive Investments of Time and Money
Getting your product in front of buyers is actually the hardest part of the whole enterprise. Even if you put together an e-commerce site, you’re limited to your existing buyers and the few new buyers you can attract to your website. Growing your digital audience (and pool of customers) involves sophisticated digital strategy. You can’t just expect to “build it and they will come.”
When you become part of a marketplace, your business automatically reaches more buyers. But, it won’t be your investment in marketing that boosts revenue, but the platform’s investment. This is beneficial because you’re a landscape supplier, not a tech company. When you join a specialized marketplace like LandscapeHub, where the company that created it is a technology company that also has expertise in landscaping, everyone wins, because everyone is working in their area of expertise. You can concentrate on supplying great product and the marketplace can concentrate on growing the customer base.
Benefits of Marketplaces
Well-constructed marketplaces heal broken supply chains, which improves the experience for all stakeholders.
In addition to growing without your own massive investments, marketplaces offer these advantages:Online platforms assist you with delivery. It’s not solely up to you to figure out how to get things. This functionality allows logistics to be much smoother.
You receive data that you can leverage to better respond to the market.
You may learn from your platform transactions that certain plants are in greater demand than others. You might notice trends before others. This information could help you optimize your pricing and influence your product offering, giving you a tremendous competitive edge over those not on the platform.
All buyers are vetted.
A marketplace evaluates the buyers just as they do the sellers. You can be assured that those on the platform are legitimate companies.
Ordering and fulfillment is streamlined.
Quoting, ordering, payments, and delivery managed in one place saves time, which earns you money. If you spend less time chasing e-commerce challenges, you have more time to do important things for the health and growth of your business.
Receive benefits of aggregation and cooperation.
Being a supplier on a marketplace increases your ability to reach more potential buyers, which means more orders.
With all these clear benefits, it’s easy to see why the nursery and landscape supply industry is shifting to online marketplaces. These are the same benefits that successful marketplaces in other industries such as Uber, Airbnb, and Amazon bestow on participants.
An industry-built marketplace like LandscapeHub brings this to the green industry and helps both buyers and sellers.
Tune in next week for part three of our series where we'll be covering marketplace advantages for buyers!
This past fall, we partnered with LandOne Takeoff Service to make project management even easier for LandscapeHub users. The cloud-based software was founded by Josh Martin, who, after years of working in the green industry, wanted to provide a more simple, easy-to-use, cost-effective solution for managing the bid process. He looked around and found nothing, so he built LandOne to make bidding and materials acquisition easier. (Sound familiar?)
As a green industry professional, your clients look to you for the best advice, whether creating an outdoor living room or installing seasonal containers. And, when you're well-versed on the latest horticultural trends, it's easy to leverage your expertise to increase sales and expand your customer base. After all, understanding trends help you select plants, products, or services your customers desire—whether they realize it yet or not! Even focusing on a few specific trends helps show your clients that you're knowledgeable and prepared to keep their landscapes and installations fresh and trend-setting. And, if you're a supplier, understanding the latest trends ensures that you'll stock the "it" plants and products to meet your customers' demands.
But where do you begin? How do you know which trends have legs—and which become the "pet rock" of 2020? We have a couple of ideas to get you started...
Trend: Urban Greening
More than half of the world's population lives in cities—and by 2050, that number is expected to climb to 70 percent. But city-dwellers long for nature: tranquil, plant-filled spaces to relax, meet friends, entertain the kids, and post to Instagram. "Green Recreational Districts" and green infrastructure continues to grow as a priority. In fact, America in Bloom launched "Growing Vibrant Communities"—a program that measures a community's commitment and progress toward creating green, environmentally friendly spaces filled with flowers, urban trees, and vibrant landscapes. That's where you come in.
By understanding the rise in urban greening, you can focus proposals on urban-specific designs, city-appropriate plants, and green space hardscape elements to wow your prospective clients. As a supplier, you'll know to boost your inventory of plants appropriate for cityscapes. Trees under 30-feet tall, such as Acer campestre (Hedge Maple), Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud), and Amelanchier spp. (Serviceberry) work beautifully in urban environments under low utility lines or restricted spaces, for instance. Well-placed and well-managed urban-appropriate trees control stormwater runoff, sequester carbon, and reduce energy consumption—shading buildings during hot summers and reducing cold winds in winter. But trees aren't the only green needs. Gorgeous grasses, pretty perennials, and low-maintenance shrubs—choosing the best varieties for an urban setting gives you an advantage over the competition when you can sell the benefits of this trend to your clients. When a city issues an RFP for greenscape designs, you'll be ready, because you understand the needs for urban greening.
Or perhaps creating green roofscapes is your forte. Use the trend of urban greening to encourage your commercial clients to develop green escapes—above the city. By sharing your knowledge with developers and showing how green roofs will attract buyers or renters, your clients will look to you as a knowledgeable green partner. And, if you're a supplier, you can be ready for an increased demand for plant material that withstands elevated temperatures, wind exposure, and intense sunlight.
Trend: Plant Parenting
As you create proposals for urban greening, don't forget another trend: plant parenting. You've most likely seen the slew of books and social media accounts geared toward plant parents—millennials who pay top dollar for unique houseplants. However, why not extend the houseplant-love trend by marketing a growing "family" of plants—a green balcony oasis for houseplant parents! Creating small-space designs that utilize containers on an apartment or condo balcony gives an urban dweller a private green escape. Small-statured evergreens that provide continuous, year-round color married with seasonal tropical plants, annuals, and perennials look cohesive and refreshing when designed and installed by you. Consider suggesting a subscription service for ongoing maintenance, allowing your green balcony clients to enjoy the space without the stress.
By encouraging millennials' love of houseplants and showing urban dwellers how to extend plant parenting to balcony gardening, you've created new gardening customers. (The industry thanks you!)
Trend: Small-Space Edibles
There's nothing as delicious as a homegrown tomato—and growing food continues to surge in popularity. In the past, urban gardeners and apartment dwellers lamented their lack of space to grow tomatoes, melons, berries, and squash—all well-known space hogs. However, plant breeders listened—and new, compact fruit and vegetable varieties give small-space gardeners the perfect garden-to-table solution!
Introduce your clients to small-space edibles. Dwarf plants like Jelly Bean® Blueberry, Raspberry Shortcake®, or Baby Cakes™ Blackberry grow beautifully in containers on a porch or balcony. For a client with a small space garden, select a dwarf apple tree appropriate for the zone and espalier it along a wall.
Help your customers create a veggie container garden with new varieties appropriate for small spaces. Tomato varieties like 'Little Napoli' Compact Roma tomato, which grows just 2-3 feet tall, or Red Robin Cherry, which grows only 8-12 inches high, are perfect solutions for limited space. Likewise, 'Astia' French bush zucchini, bred for small space and container gardens, looks gorgeous on a balcony. And, if your client craves the sweet taste of watermelon but thinks growing it in a small space is impossible, introduce them to Sugar Pot—a watermelon that produces 8-10 pound fruit on vines only 18-20 inches long.
Whether you're a garden coach, designer, or installer, your knowledge of small space edibles will wow your clients, convincing them that yes—they can enjoy a "mini-farm" on the balcony, patio, or small backyard!
Trend: Wildlife Sensitive Environments
The reports of climate change—from the steep decline of North American birds in the past 50 years to wildfires, flooding, and melting Arctic ice—makes ecological, kinder, more "gentle" gardening top the trends list.
It's a good trend for the green industry to promote and practice.
Wildlife sensitive environments use fewer chemicals, focus on soil health, and include tough plants that are naturally pest and disease resistant. Savvy home gardeners and environmentally responsible companies embrace the trend, planting for pollinators and avoiding high maintenance shrubs, trees, and flowers that require chemicals for best performance.
Part of creating a wildlife sensitive environment includes incorporating plants your clients love—but selecting the most environmentally friendly, low maintenance cultivars. For instance, if your client adores roses, consider incorporating Earth-Kind roses or other cultivars with high pest- and disease-resistance to avoid chemical use. If your client requests a backyard wildlife habitat installation, include natives, like American beech, flowering dogwood, trumpet honeysuckle, goldenrod, viburnum, and spicebush in your designs. By giving your client a gorgeous design based on sound environmental practices, it's a win-win: you've created a happy client and protected the environment.
Trend: Water-wise Gardening
Along with the move towards environmental sustainability, water-wise plants and landscapes increase in popularity each year. Sales of succulents continue to grow, representing the most significant proportion of houseplants sold—and the trend expands into landscapes. With the increased awareness of climate change, xeric designs, and water-saving plants, top trends lists—and it's not going away.
Why should it? With so many stunning drought-tolerant, water-wise plants, your imagination can run wild, creating fabulous installations for clients. Plus, your clients will adore you for creating low-maintenance, lovely landscapes that will look great for years—while helping them feel good about their low environmental impact.
As a supplier, make sure to keep water-wise plants well stocked. This trend will continue to grow.
Trend: Pantone Color of the Year
Do you know that 2020 is the year of "Classic Blue"? For the past two decades, global color guru Pantone® proclaimed a "Color of the Year"—and trend followers everywhere quickly updated their wardrobes and interior décor with splashes of the anointed "it" color. By leveraging the Classic Blue trend, you can help your clients refresh their gardens with a bright burst of on-trend color with "Classic Blue" blooms!
Give your container subscription clients a stylish refresh with fabulous flowers like Geranium Rozanne. Add Eryngium' Big Blue' into your design plans, both for its on-trend color appeal as well as its multi-season interest. Source Classic Blue containers and cushions for outdoor living spaces. And brighten shady beds with the perfect blue flowers and variegated foliage of Polemonium Brise d'Anjou. Using "Classic Blue" to update beds, borders, and containers give your clients a fun, trendy refresh—and increased business for you!
Knowing the Color of the Year also benefits you as a supplier. Make sure to keep Classic Blue plants in inventory.
Whether you embrace one or all of the latest gardening trends, it's always fun to be on top of trends—especially when they can benefit both your business—and your clients!