In our 2019 industry trends report, the overarching message for landscaping and lawn care pros was to get back to basics: make sure you have an online presence, build a strong team, and start automating every day operations.
2020 is a whole new game.
You already know the basics. It’s time to build on that foundation and get serious about your business’ growth and potential.
After all, this isn’t a side hustle or summer job: your business is your legacy. And your clients and employees are depending on you to think ahead.
To help you get there, here are the top landscaping and lawn care industry trends for 2020, based on conversations and surveys with top industry professionals.
The Top 7 Landscaping and Lawn Care Industry Trends in 2020
Trend #1: Hiring, Scheduling, and Pricing Remain the Biggest Sticking Points
Despite new technologies, home service businesses still face the same challenges we see year after year.
According to our 2020 home services trend survey, 55% of landscaping and lawn care professionals said hiring and retaining good employees is their #1 business challenge.
Next up was efficient scheduling (43%) and accurate pricing (38%).
Whatever stage your business is in, these are deep-rooted challenges that won’t be fixed overnight. But that doesn’t mean they’re impossible to solve. The key is to identify what’s broken and start building systems that work.
For example, hiring great lawn care employees isn’t just about paying the highest salary.
It’s about knowing what you’re looking for and recruiting year round.
“We’re constantly hiring in our company, we’re constantly recruiting. We’re recruiting even when we’re full, because the problem is most companies wait until they need people and then they go out and start looking for people and at that point you have a two-week, three-week, sometimes four-week window. And then you’re short-staffed.”
– Kory Ballard, Ballard Inc.
Another (seemingly) easy fix? Don’t let your ego get in the way.
“You need to have people and systems in place that allow your business to keep running, even if you’re not there. A lot of guys let their ego get in the way. They don’t understand the power of delegation and creating a team they believe in. Replace yourself in the field, start building systems, and start delegating—immediately.”
– Stanley “DirtMonkey” Genadek
Trend #2: Lowballers get Left Behind
We all want our businesses to be profitable.
But you don’t have to undercut your competition or undermine your value just to win more bids.
As we enter 2020, service businesses who understand survival and sustainability will implement smart pricing strategies. These include value-based pricing, where services are priced based on the benefits they offer and not just what they cost.
These strategies will help you demonstrate value, charge a premium, and boost your lawn care margins.
“You’ve got to systematize every component of your business. You shouldn’t be figuring out pricing details on every job site. Come up with a pricing structure that you can re-use and modify. For example, when I’m demolishing a house, I don’t try to figure out the pricing details of each and every house. I look at what I did to the last three houses that looked like this house. Then I determine the average price for those last three houses. Boom. That’s my price. Don’t second guess your own decisions.”– Stanley “DirtMonkey” Genadek
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Trend #3: Professionalism Wins the Bid
Flashy flyers and deep discounts might get you a few good leads here and there. But as consumers become more educated and their expectations for great service increase, you can’t rely on gimmicks to grow.
Time and again, it’s your professionalism that wins the bid.
But what exactly makes you look like a professional in your clients’ eyes?
According to our survey of over 1,000 U.S. consumers, the top 3 answers to this question are:
- positive online reviews (46%)
- branded uniforms (42%)
- and the ability to accept different forms of payment (32%)
In 2020, take a good hard look at your business practices and look for ways to improve your professionalism.
Answering calls, showing up on time, and clean, clear communication are table stakes.
“Customers always ask me: ‘How do we pay you for your services?’ I simply tell them they will get an email after we are done, with a link for them to pay. They comment each and every time, saying, “That is so professional and convenient!” They also say that the reason they chose me over other competitors is due to the quick response and professionalism of our quotes.” – Ramona Mullins, Mullins Lawn Enforcement
Trend #4: Marketing Becomes a Year-Round Activity
It’s not enough to work hard during the spring and summer months and ignore the quieter periods. If you want to guarantee cash flow and steady work for your team, you need to learn how to master marketing year-round, including the off-season.
In 2020, use your time to learn about smart lawn care marketing ideas that will help you grow your business while your competitors are sleeping.
“Email marketing allows you to personalize and launch an email to 1,000 customers in one click. You can plan out a year’s work of emails during your slow season and schedule them to go out automatically on a regular basis. So now, you’ll get phone calls from leads even when you’re on a job site, and you’ve completely forgotten about the campaign you set up all those months ago.” – Keith Kalfas, Kalfas Landscaping
Trend #5: Investing in Your Brand = Investing in Your Business
In the United States, there are currently 90,000 to 100,000 landscaping businesses of between 3 and 6 employees.
If you fall in that category, then you absolutely need to know: What sets you apart, and why would a customer choose you over the thousands of other options?
In 2020, we expect to see more service businesses investing in their brands to set themselves apart and attract more of the customers they want, not just the customers they can get.
Just make sure that when you do build your brand that you don’t only focus on your website and logo. Your brand is so much more than that, and it can help (or harm) your business in unexpected ways:
The two things we hear most from new clients are: 1) I read your reviews and 2) I’ve seen your pictures and all of your equipment is always clean. The first one is easy to understand, but the second one took us by surprise. How is clean equipment part of our brand? What we learned is that high end clients don’t want to see some kind of Mad Max rat trap sitting beside their house. Now we keep our equipment clean for functional purposes, but it’s also morphed into part of our known brand.” – Brian Boase, MIL-SPEC Landscaping
Trend #6: Lean Into Customer Education
According to the same consumer survey of 1,000 consumers, 41% of U.S. homeowners have never received lawn care advice. Those who do, rely on friends and family, garden centers, or TV.
This means there’s a significant gap in your customers’ knowledge, and a massive opportunity for you in 2020.
By educating your customers and becoming a partner in their projects, you gain their trust and a customer for life.
How exactly will you do this? Stanley Genadek, once again, chimes in:
“You don’t hand your customers a quote and walk away. You become their partner on the project. You take the weight off their shoulders. You put the weight on your shoulders. You become the authority on that job site.
For instance, I can engineer a retaining wall while I stand there with the customer. I can explain:
- the entire process from how many blocks we’re going to embed to what the geogrid lengths are,
- how many layers of geogrid are in there,
- and why that’s important to the customer.
What I’ve done is become an authority. And when you get the confidence to relay that to the customer, they become confident that they don’t have to make any more decisions except for when to write your deposit check.”
“What I’ve done is become an authority. And when you get the confidence to relay that to the customer, they become confident that they don’t have to make any more decisions except for when to write your deposit check.” – Stanley “DirtMonkey” Genadek
Trend #7: It Pays to Know your Demographic
Finally, our consumer survey revealed that 41% of respondents aged 18-24 are concerned about the environmental impact of watering lawns, followed closely by age groups 25-34 and 35-44 (both 37%).
The region most concerned about this issue, with a percentage of 41%, is the Northeast.
If you service those demographics, you need to listen up.
These concerns indicate what your customers care about, what services they’ll pay for, and which companies they’ll ultimately hire.
So, what does this mean for you? How should you adapt? There’s no single answer, but here are a few solutions you could implement in 2020:
- Give clients the option of artificial lawns or low-water lawns
- Offer drought-tolerant plants or ones that require little water
- Provide water-saving tips to people when on the job to become an authority.
For example, you could encourage clients to only water during the evenings. As you may know, watering during midday means lots of water is lost due to evaporation. You could even hand out a small information pack on how to save water with every new job you tackle. This can be an easy-to-create one-page flyer with several tips.
This all ties in with the previous trends of becoming a trusted partner, it’s and something we strongly believe all lawn and landscaping business owners should pay more attention to in 2020.
You Don’t Have to Tackle 2020 Alone
2020 is all about building upon your foundation and maintaining a long-term perspective so that you can create a sustainable, successful business.
Tapping into these 7 landscaping and lawn care industry trends will help you get there.
Just remember to be patient and look for support along the way. You don’t have to go at it alone. Talk to your team, rely on your systems, and find support in your peers.
Tell us what you’re doing differently in 2020 and beyond.
We’re here to help you grow and succeed.
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