COVID-19 vaccine will change the landscaping industry all over again. What you need to know to be prepared.
The pandemic set off a domino effect in the landscaping industry. Plant shortages, labor issues, work closures, and unprecedented demand due to staycationers are just a few things landscapers have dealt with in the last year and a half.
Now the vaccination rates are on the rise and it looks like the green industry is on it’s way back to normal. Will this be a new normal though, or can we expect a return to the good old ways?
The labor market should improve with more vaccinations. The pandemic amplified the labor shortage issue that has challenged the industry for years. Worker numbers will likely surge though, as more foreign and local workers return to the job.
Immigrant Worker Visas Resuming
Many landscaping businesses rely on immigrant workers coming in under H-2B visas.
As COVID-19 broke out, the government suspended these temporary worker visas in an effort to close borders and slow the spread of the virus. Now they feel safe enough to open borders and loosen immigration restrictions.
In late April 2021, the Department of Homeland Security announced an increase of 22,000 visas for the H-2B program . This influx of visas will fill key gaps in landscaping industry employment over the summer.
Local Laborers Returning to Work
In a survey of landscaping businesses done by the Green Industry Pros, “approximately 35% of respondents reported that some employees had voluntarily chosen not to work due to concerns about COVID-19.”
Many employers claim that government support payments deterred employees from returning to work.
The U.S CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) entitled eligible workers to an extra $600 a week on top of their unemployment benefits. These benefits gave certain workers more money than they earned in normal wages.
It’s too soon to know whether this fear is substantiated. Be that as it may, with vaccination rates improving, we expect to see local laborers returning to work for two reasons.
- Landscaping employees who stopped working out of concern for the virus should feel safe returning now that infection rates are low.
- As covid support ends, workers receiving financial relief will need to secure steady employment.
Whether its foreign workers who can come in to work, or local laborers who have renewed interest in resuming their jobs, the landscaping industry should expect a small labor surge.
Landscaping Demand Soars
Borders are opening up and travel is back on the table, but governments are hesitating to completely lift travel restrictions. New Covid variants are further compounding the problem.
The slow move to open borders will drive the demand in outdoor, nature-centered domestic tourism.
The hospitality industry and local attractions will need to offer outdoor options for people eager to leave their homes.
This is the perfect time for your landscaping business to approach local venues and present new installation services, overhaul projects, or regular maintenance options to keep their grounds attractive.
Landscaping Plant Supply When COVID Ends
Landscaping plant supply shortages have been caused by reduced labor, increased DIY gardeners, and the big freeze in Texas.
Social distancing measures in greenhouses and forced closures of businesses have also contributed.
When plant supplies are available, employees cannot put orders together fast enough due to social distancing restrictions.
Plant shortages could persist for the next year or two as nursery, seed and plug productions adjust. Prices may increase between 5 and 25% to offset this shortage.
Ideally, your prices will increase as well to cover these cost increases. If you have locked in on prices, you can still find ways to optimize your costs and boost your prices.
Good vaccine rollout is key for landscaping material supply. Order fulfilment shouldn’t be as challenging next year and will ease supply issues.
Gomaterials provided materials for this original story.
To read more about what the vaccine rollout means for landscapers, read here.