The National Association of Landscape Professionals conducted a survey in July of 170 landscape contractor companies to see how their businesses were fairing mid-year. The overall picture is optimistic. Companies are almost evenly split as to whether they are doing better or worse than projected, and when they are doing worse – most are only down by a small margin – most aren’t feeling significant negative financial impacts.
When asked if revenue is up or down at this point in the year, it is a mixed bag with 51 percent of contractors saying their revenue is up, while 49 percent report lower than expected revenues.
Of the companies that reported better than expected revenue, 49 percent have seen a 10 to 25 percent increase, while 13 percent reported a 25 to 50 percent increase. For the companies whose revenue is down this year, 45 percent have seen a 1 to 10 percent decrease in revenue, and 38 percent had a 10 to 25 percent decrease in revenue.
Lawn Care Operators Still Fairing Best
Lawn care companies are experiencing the most significant revenue gains this year. Sixty-two percent reported that they beat expectations while only 53 percent of landscape maintenance firms and 50 percent of design/build firms reported better than expected revenues.
As for where they think their revenue will be at by the end of the year, 54 percent forecast their revenue will be up and while 46 percent believe it will be lower than expected revenues.
Residential Services are Strong
Residential services are performing stronger than commercial services in the current economy, with 60 percent of residential contractors seeing revenues beating expectations for this year, versus 40 percent of commercial contractors. The most significant increases in residential services were in landscape installations and design/build installations.
Eighty percent of residential companies reported increases in spending on enhancement. 55 percent said 1 to 10 percent of their clients spent more on enhancements and upgrades while 25 percent of respondents said 11 to 25 percent of their clients spent more on enhancements and upgrades.
The residential services that have seen the most increases include landscape installation work at 59 percent, design/build work at 44 percent, mowing and maintenance at 43 percent, and lawn care services at 38 percent. Other services that have increased include tree care services at 38 percent, pool-related landscaping/design/build at 27 percent and irrigation services at 25 percent.
Commercial Providers Feeling a Bigger Impact
On the commercial side, 40 percent of companies that serve commercial clients said their revenue was beating expectations while 60 percent say their revenue is down a bit. However, 57 percent of those who have seen a drop have reported only 1 to 10 percent loss.
How are some coping with losses? Twenty-eight percent of commercial landscape companies said they are considering seeking residential clients to protect against financial difficulties that may occur.
Commercial spending has tightened as 80 percent of respondents have had some clients reduce their budget for seasonal plantings or enhancements. Seventy-three percent say they’ve had clients reduce their regular maintenance while 59 percent have had clients cancel maintenance services altogether. While most respondents did have some clients who made a change to their services, it was only a small percentage of them (10 percent or less).
Hiring is Still Tough
When it comes to hiring, majority of respondents said this is still a major issue, despite high unemployment numbers across the country. Eighty-four percent of respondents are still looking to hire this year.