Looking at a blank space with no infrastructure, no trees or boundaries leaves me wondering where to start. I am the same way with a blank piece of paper. I don’t think I’m alone in finding it hard to get started on a project without any outline, guidelines, or limitations. To avoid the void, I’ve learned to just start with something and then edit. I’ll write a stream of consciousness first draft, or I’ll draw the first attempt at a garden design. I find it much easier to edit something from an existing piece.

It’s no secret that humans find constraints to be the spark for many a creative stroke of genius. Having to find ways around constraints often results in a new and more elegant solution to a problem than what might have otherwise been designed. With a limited amount of time, money, and space, creative designers, chefs, artists, and businesspeople all figure out new and better ways to meet our needs.

In the landscaping world, we are witnessing the rapid acceleration of technology applied to minimize man-hours in the field and in the office because of the constraint of the continuing scarcity of labor. The response to that constraint has led the industry to new and constantly improving software applications to minimize the time in measuring, for example, while improving the accuracy of the data gathered. The tools built for estimating, invoicing, training, designing, and human resources support allow landscape professionals to exceed their imagined constraints every few years.

Without the scarcity of labor issues, I wonder how far we would have been willing to go to upgrade our computing systems? Would so many owners and managers be interested in “robotic mowers”? Would nurseries and material suppliers have built the online catalogs, inventory availability, pricing, and delivery models we enjoy now? Freedom from repetitive tasks and processes that run too slow for modern demands has surely dramatically improved the quality of creative thought freed now to work on other aspects of the business.

In my own business I have benefited from the use of financial software, online training, and Zoom that have all saved me at least 20 percent of the time in the past four years that I used to spend traveling, going to seminars, recreating every spreadsheet and other repetitive tasks that I no longer need to spend my time on.

So how does this topic relate to buying and selling companies? One of the most important these days is the application of technology I wrote about earlier. As companies grow and become more sophisticated and software and other technology are made more and more user friendly and affordable, it is rare that a company is not upgrading to offer:

  • online payments,
  • using enhanced design software to show 3d renderings of designs and
  • tying plant choices (availability) and pricing into designs or
  • outsourcing their payroll, 401k administration, other benefit plan administration
  • and/or many other amazing tools that are increasing quality and speed while reducing costs.

It makes it hard to deliver the correct level of profitability if you and your staff are doing things by hand that others are using increasingly sophisticated tools to produce. Every year the standards are raised higher and catching up can be expensive from a training point of view. That investment in the best tools available to your landscaping company is a key to remaining competitive and maintaining and building your company’s value. Attending the 2022 Lawn & Landscape Technology Conference, taking place August 10-12 in Scottsdale, Az. might be a good way to get a sense of the industry’s current standards (and future plans) and to hear from landscape and lawn care professionals who have successfully integrated technology and software into their companies. Lawn & Landscape Technology Conference

If you are living with constraints in your company that an investment in technology could improve, I hope you’ll consider it. If it’s a pain for you, it will keep you from achieving your maximum value when you are thinking of selling your business.

By the way, if you are thinking of selling to an external buyer and don’t have any major technology constraints, now might be your best timing for a while. If you’re wanting to explore your exit options, buy another company or you bought one and now want to integrate it, call me.

I can be reached via email: alison@harvestlandscapeconsulting.com or phone a: 224-688-8838.

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Alison Hoffman

has more than 25 years of experience in strategy, operations, mergers and acquisitions and delivering business-to-business client solutions. Her areas of expertise include managing operations for profitable growth, organizational design and strategy activation. She brings a wealth of experience through her work in evaluating, valuing and purchasing over 30 companies, leading company-wide cultural and business integration projects and consolidating best practices among business processes and corresponding computing systems. Read Full Bio