Landscapers' Biggest Challenges: The Kitchen Sink

In an article posted earlier this fall, landscape contractors talked about what they feel are their biggest opportunities in 2012. The top three are: improve sales and marketing, expand, and improve the workforce. These three biggest opportunities mirror the three biggest challenges which contractors also cited: intense competitive climate, ultra-tight customer budgets, and labor uncertainty.

In the fourth and final installment this series, colorful comments point to several additional issues that are weighing heavily on the minds of landscape contractors—directly from the mouths of Green Industry PRO readers. Take a look and see if you feel the same way, and feel free to post your own comments at the end of the article or on our forum.

Overall Economic Conditions

“There’s a lot of uncertainty with the healthcare mandates. It could prove to be devastating to our bottom line. I’m also still worried about the potential for a double-dip recession.”

“People are still afraid of what might happen, so there’s no real new construction or home building going on.”

“The general state of economic affairs is causing anxiety among consumers. There’s this attitude that businesses should be willing to perform work for little to no profit.”

The Government

“I fear the unknown. What is Washington going to do with regard to taxes, healthcare, etc.?”

“There’s a lot of uncertainty caused by government regulation—because it’s helping drive my costs up.”

“Regulation from the DOT and others seems lopsided in my area. I’m the only contractor in west central Arkansas that has been set upon by the US DOT. I’ve talked to other operators and none have been contacted. There are also a lot of unlicensed pesticide applicators in business here. It’s hard to compete with the unlicensed and uninsured.”

“Simple: We have an ineffective leader in the White House.”

“We have an uncertain economy because of the current guy in the White House. I hope he doesn’t get back in or all of us small businesspeople are screwed.”

Rising Overhead, Fuel Costs, etc.

“The fluctuating, high cost of fuel makes it hard to predict and bid correctly.”

“The high cost of benefits to keep employees happy and secure is getting tougher.”

“General and administrative costs are hurting, and taxes are eroding our profit margin.”

“My costs are increasing, but because of the current economic conditions I can’t pass them onto customers.”

Working Capital and Cash Flow

“Generating cash flow under the present margins is very difficult.”

“Customers who can’t, or don’t, pay their bills on time puts me behind, too.”

“I’m having a hard time finding good used equipment.”

“I can only speak for myself, and I know the economy is tough, but the area we are in is still pretty strong due to our military installations and other diverse businesses that surround it. Our problem is our growth rate and working capital to maintain the request for additional services. We’ve doubled in size and have already landed several new contracts and projects for next year.”

Watch for other installments of this series right here at