Brooke Inzerella is a licensed landscape horticulturist and owner of Horticare Landscape Company in Lafayette, Louisiana. horticarelandscape.com
During the cold and rainy months ahead, it’s natural to want to slow down a bit, relax and just hibernate a little—especially after the year we just had. But now’s the time to really gear up and get your business prepared and poised for the busy year ahead.
With the holiday rush behind us, use this time for planning and organizing for the busy times ahead. Even though these efforts may not be billable to clients, they always save us over the long haul.
Here are three things you can do during the “usually” slower months of January and February.
Equipment Maintenance and Inventory
Although we don’t normally get snow or multiple hard freeze days in Louisiana or much of the South, we generally will have our fair share of cold, wet conditions, which is perfect for really thorough equipment maintenance. I have a prepared checklist of routine monthly maintenance for all of our equipment, but this is the time we tackle bigger items that need to be done annually like re-painting trailers, updating logo decals on equipment, cleaning the warehouse, pressure-washing the facility, organizing our digital and paper files and clearing out any clutter. Same goes for checking inventory and ensuring our supplies of soil additives, irrigation and lighting equipment, as well as materials such as fertilizers are properly organized and ready for us to hit the ground running in the spring. We also use this time to update and order pool material displays as well as hardscape sample boards.
Training and Professional Development
I find this is the best season to spend the time and resources on one- to two-hour training sessions with our team. I will bring in vendors to give mini-presentations on their new products and services. Having seasoned team leaders share best practices with the rest of the group is another valuable use of time.
In addition, this is the best time of year to have mini-sessions reviewing your company values and non-negotiables. Be prepared to discuss your goals for the upcoming year with the entire team. Getting everyone on board and working in the same direction is absolutely critical to your success.
Marketing and Strategic Planning
As the business owner, it’s your responsibility to stay on top of emerging trends and forecasts for the year and beyond. Spend these two months wisely researching important conferences and trade shows that you should attend.
Spend one full day developing a plan for marketing your services this year. A written plan with timelines and tactics that you can commit to will help keep you on track once the weather warms and you’re inundated again.
This is also a good time for reaching out to important referral sources like contractors, interior designers, real estate agents, etc. Staying top-of-mind with other professionals in a position to refer you to their own clients is key and well worth the effort.