While outside temperatures in Georgia may still be sweltering at the end of summer, before long most business owners’ thoughts will turn to planning and budgeting for next season. As a commercial property owner or manager, you’re concerned with making every budget dollar count.
But before you simply rubber stamp next year’s landscaping budget based on this year’s figures there are several important factors you should be aware of. Here are five things you should take into account to avoid surprises and come up with a realistic plan for your commercial landscaping budget.
5 LANDSCAPE BUDGET REALITIES TO REMEMBER IN 2019
- Your landscape contractor’s costs have increased –The largest topic facing everyone in the industry is the increase in labor costs. This is driven in large part by a short supply of qualified workers. Here in Middle Georgia, an unemployment rate hovering around the 5% mark has created stiff competition for good workers and is forcing wages up. On top of that, the costs of goods and products have gone up in almost every landscape supply category from fertilizer to trees, and equipment to interest rates. The raw fact is that prices have been kept artificially low for quite some time, but starting in 2019 the contractor’s cost increases will have to be passed along.
- Don’t assume everything will stay the same – Aging is a natural process in the landscape as well as the hardscape. All things have a certain life span. This fall, take some time to consider the age of your landscape and how you can best maintain it in the coming year. Various aspects of your grounds and property will be affected differently. Hardscapes begin to degrade and may need cleaning, repairs or sealing. Plants die or grow too large for the space where they were originally placed. They may begin to encroach on buildings or power lines, or you may notice tree roots starting to heave pavements. Perhaps some of the turf areas that used to be in full sun are now shaded out by growing trees. Staying on top of these issues now prevents bigger expenses down the road.
- Have you thought about safety and security? A critical but often overlooked aspect of landscape design and maintenance is the safety factor. Proper planning and upkeep are key to preventing hazards and accidents for customers and employees. Plants and trees on the grounds must be strategically placed and then kept trimmed so they do not block sightlines or security cameras and other monitoring systems. Additionally, sprinkler heads should never send water onto pavements or any surface that gets foot traffic. For peace of mind from a security standpoint, consider asking your local landscape contractor to perform a safety audit of your property - and then promptly address any weakness or insufficiency.
- Irrigation systems inspection and maintenance – Consider a monthly budget line item for maintaining your irrigation system. Time and normal wear and tear take their toll on electrical components and moving parts. The older the system, the less efficient it becomes and the more water it wastes. Ongoing repairs and upkeep will minimize water waste and extend the lifespan of your irrigation system. Spending a little money on this now can save you lots of money in the future on your utility bills.
- Don’t forget to take a look at your side amenities – Do you remember when you had those benches and waste receptacles installed? If not, these may have been stuck out there many years ago and forgotten, becoming chipped and haggard. You may not notice how they look, but a customer or potential employee will. Take a good look around key points of the property: entry ways, employee break areas, and any other spaces people pass through. Then decide what needs to be repaired, replaced or improved. A refresh in any of these areas says, “We care. We pay attention to details. And we’ll pay attention to you, too.”
Let's Make it A Year to Count On
Planning ahead is always a good idea. Making well-informed business decisions, even better. Yes, costs are going up – as they do in almost every sector of the economy. But there’s no need to feel frustrated or overwhelmed with planning your 2019 landscaping budget.
At T. Lake, we’re happy to help you create a commercial landscaping budget that makes sense for your company. Call us directly at 478-750-7733, or contact us online today.