Success doesn’t happen by accident. It’s the result of intelligent planning and a focused effort on the right things.
In 2019, careful planning and precise execution will help your company reap the rewards of a booming market while avoiding the pitfalls of rising costs and a tight labor pool. We can help you!
We’ve asked our experts to share some of the most important trends you need to consider in your 2019 plans:
1. Take Manual Labor Out of Tasks.
Finding skilled laborers is our industry’s #1 challenge. It’s not going away anytime soon. Savvy contractors are doing all they can to reduce the need for manual labor on their job sites. Their strategies include:
- Use equipment to reduce shovel-work. Multi-use machines like the Toro Dingo have dozens of attachments that can be quickly interchanged to trench, dig holes, bore under walkways, backfill. These machines offer outstanding return-on-investment even for the small firm. In addition, contractor owners report that having better machines is their best retention tool, as employees are less fatigued and more motivated.
- Leverage pre-fabrication. By using rain days to pre-assemble common components in a controlled and productive indoor environment, contractors can reduce time-consuming fabrication on-site. When components arrive ready-to-install, crew members can move from task-to-task rapidly. They don’t have to stop to tighten fittings or assemble light fixtures. “We’re not using peak time on-site to unbox fixtures and build manifolds” said one contractor.
- Use new multi-purpose products. Under many maintenance contracts, contractors are compensated for results, not on the number of trips they make to the job site. Reducing trips (and hours) needed to achieve results becomes a big opportunity to boost profitability without sacrificing customer satisfaction. Of special interest are new chemical products that reduce the number of applications. For example, a slow-release fertilizer that also includes season-long weed and grub control, combining 3 applications into one.
2. Get Ahead of the Labor Shortage.
Companies in our industry are struggling to fill critical jobs. Candidates who can make an immediate impact are in short supply. Many companies are looking to fill the same positions at the same time, adding to the battle over good applicants. Candidates are increasingly picky not just about pay but also company culture and work environment. Smart contractors are:
- Expand your marketing strategy for candidate recruiting. Industry marketing consultant Jeff Carowitz reports he’s worked with over a dozen large contractors on better candidate marketing including better advertisements, website enhancements, electronic recruiting resources and “creative places to look”.
- Improve training and on-boarding. Simply relying on “on the job training” further burdens overworked crew leaders. You need to establish a recipe of classroom training, one-on-one coaching/mentoring and simulated experiences to rapidly convert your rookies into pros. It’s not as simple as sitting them in front of an on-line webinar (too many cover “products”, not “hands on skills”). Establish your training schedule / outline BEFORE you make new hires.
3. Raise Your Prices.
Change your thinking about how you price. When you have plenty of work, worry less about outguessing the competition and being the low bidder. Focus more on your rising costs and your already-full workload.
- Your best customers are willing to pay a little more. Stop being afraid to adjust pricing when you’re facing increasing costs in every area of your business.
- You need to reinvest in your business. Adding routing / scheduling software, digital timekeeping, GPS tracking of vehicles and other improvements costs money, but can repay significant dividends in improvements to efficiency and customer experience.
Central is offering new resources to help you tackle each of these challenges in the coming season.
Schedule a winter planning meeting with your Central representative to review our “2019 Market Opportunity Guide”. For a small time investment, you’ll be rewarded with dozens of new ideas and free tools.