Coronavirus Pandemic Impact On The Lawn Care Industry

Photo Credit: Katie Williams

The coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S with a great deal of surprise creating rapid health and economic turmoil. COVID-19 could cost the global economy $2.7 trillion.

The COVID-19 is believed to have started at a wet market in Wuhan, China, suggesting animal-to-person spread. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared a global pandemic because of COVID-19, which is now affecting 179 countries across the globe with more than 240,000 reported cases as of March 19th.

Impact On The Lawn Care Industry

The assumption from many economists is that consumer spending and investor confidence will continue to fall significantly while unemployment will increase significantly. Less consumer spending, lost money on investments, and many people being laid off will certainly result in some level of impact on all industries.

In the lawn care industry, I’m predicting that the services that will be most affected are larger jobs with higher ticket prices such as hardscaping and other installs while recurring jobs such as lawn care maintenance will continue to do well. This is because lawn care maintenance has become more of a necessity than what used to be a luxury to many and luxurious expenses such as a new patio will have far less of demand during bad economic times.

The companies in the industry that I think will be most affected are the companies who underbid jobs, overprice jobs, lack professionalism & good customer service, produce poor quality work, unreliable, cut corners, don't have systems in place, and companies who have over-invested.

I believe the companies that run lean operations as well as having good systems in place will have a very minimal impact on their business as they continue to retain their customers.

Companies with great marketing & digital presence, produce impressive work, and can differentiate themselves from other lawn care companies are the ones that will be able to continue to grow their business.

Photo Credit: Moe Mow's

How Can Your Business Succeed During The Pandemic?

The best thing you can do is take care of the health and safety of you and your team. Implementing as much social distancing as possible between you, employees, and even customers while also increasing high levels of good sanitation and hygiene is critical. All transactions should occur electronically as well. Any workers that may have any signs should take off from work immediately to self-isolate. If symptoms worsen, they should contact their health professional.

Take care of your existing customers and invest in them rather than focusing so much on investing in acquiring new customers.

Any Marketing should be focused on long term objectives rather than short term objectives. Your marketing efforts & strategy should be altered significantly while also being very mindful. Marketing is going to be far less effective during times when consumers are focusing on saving. If we are talking about marketing right now, it will be exceedingly hard to gain consumer attention as everyone is consuming information pertaining to the coronavirus and not on marketing so creativity is a must.

Lawn care industry has had a hard time in the last few years due to the labor shortage. This could be a great time to create new job opportunities for someone who may have recently been laid off.

We probably have all heard Warren Buffet’s saying before “Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.” This is a great time to move some of your lawn care profits over and take advantage of the down market by investing in the stock market or diversifying your portfolio even more if you can.

Emergency Funding

The federal government has announced a partnership to help the Small Business Administration (SBA) to help keep the small to medium-sized business afloat, and sometimes offer ultra-low rates that are subsidized by the government. The government has also talked with banks to help their clients with financial hardships in the short term.

Taxes filing and payments have been extended to July 15th, 2020. It is recommended to file early if you will be receiving a refund.IRS

Work Share Programs are available in some states to let businesses temporarily reduce employee hours without having to let them go. Specifically, employees will get compensated by the state with reduced unemployment benefits.

Americans could be getting two $1,000 checks as part of the $1 trillion stimulus bill.

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Economic Impact (brief but detailed)

The American economy was strong going until the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been on the longest bull market since the recovery from the financial crisis in 2008-2009. This is not like a normal market correction, it is very common for the stock market to drop 10-15% every few years, and is healthy. When we go into a technical recession meaning two-quarters of negative GDP, the stock market usually enters what is called a bear market. Bear markets are when the major indices the Dow and S&P 500 are 20% below their recent highs. Right now the Dow and S&P are down about 30% and 25% respectively.

This is usually met with economic stimulus from the government and the federal reserve, called fiscal stimulus and monetary stimulus, to help the economy get moving again. The coronavirus has flipped the tables, now stimulus is aimed to help those in the economy who are hurting because of recommended and mandatory slowdowns in certain parts of the economy. The American consumer represents about two-thirds of the economy, which has been strong because of record-low unemployment around 3.5%. Workers and employers in the services industries: airlines, gig economy (Uber/Lyft), restaurants, manufacturing, and others that require physical proximity to others, are suffering because of the attempts to slow down the spread of the virus.

The main factor of the economic impact of this virus is how well we can slow the spread, and how quickly treatments and vaccines can be developed to defeat the pandemic. Most economics believe if we “defeat” the virus in 2020, and resume normal economic activity by the last four months of the year, the impact on the global economy will be recoverable. Of course, different industries will be disrupted at different levels, being too early to tell how effective the economic stimulus planned/implemented will be at curbing financial damage to those most impacted, the best thing we all can do is help take care of each other and do our part in mitigating the spread of the virus by social distancing.