November 2019

What are business owners worried about in 2020?
As you start planning for next year, learn what other professionals are thinking.

Lawn and Landscape Magazine recently published their State of the Industry report. They asked industry leaders about their concerns in the next 3 years.   Here's our take:

Shortage of quality labor will continue.  With unemployment near 50 year lows, recruiting, retaining and motivating team members is everyone's biggest challenge. We believe this challenge will continue in 2020, with a full pipeline of construction projects and robust consumer spending. Think outside the box: 1) increase training to boost productivity and retention; 2) invest in labor-saving equipment and products that reduce assembly time and errors.

Beware of squeezed margins . Labor, insurance and fuel costs are increasing. Adjust your prices accordingly or you will be less profitable in a booming market. Experts agreed that contractors are too slow and often too afraid to adjust pricing even with demand at record levels.

Future economic slowdown?   While the survey showed contractors don't predict concerns in 2020, NOW is a great time to invest in your future.  Attract more of the right customers who will stay with you if the economy softens. Diversify into a broader base of services (adding high-margin new services). Grow the "maintenance, upgrade and repair" side of your business.

We're preparing new resources to help you prosper in the New Year.  Watch for them in this newsletter.

The Team at North South Supply

Practical Advice is Just a Phone Call Away    
Need extra help with a complex project or tough troubleshooting challenge?  
North South Supply's experts are ready to save you time and increase your profits.  We offer the industry's most dedicated team of sharp, highly knowledgeable professionals who are ready to go the extra mile to support you.  
Whether your project is small or large, our experienced team members can direct you to the right solutions.  
We can come to your job site to help you with project planning and budgets, equipment selection or advanced troubleshooting.    Of course, we're always available by phone.  But sometimes getting up-close to the challenge allows us to give you extra insights.
So when you need on-site support, just give us a call!
Take Advantage of Our Money-Saving Offers
Learn how to save $$ on your upcoming projects with our special offers.   Click here for details
Problem Employees: Should They Stay or Go?

What to do with a problem team member? Should we fire the person or give him/her another chance?   Are we doing the right things to help them succeed in our organization?

Poor performers can really drag your company down. They disrupt productivity, make excuses, drag down morale, do sub-standard work, disobey rules, and hurt relationships with long-term customers.

Here are some questions you can ask to decide whether you've taken the right steps with "problem employees":

1)  Does the employee understand your expectations?  Each team member deserves a clear definition of what's required and how success is measured.

2)  Have you provided necessary coaching? Simply laying out instructions is not enough.  You've got to help them through the steps - and often more than once.  Personal attention may be required for specific skills or issues.

3)  Does he or she have the willingness and the ability? Don't confuse these.  Often we hire an employee with the skills, but this employee will actually lack the real desire to adapt to the job.  If the employee is unwilling to engage with training and refuses to participate in the company's vision, that can't be fixed with coaching.

Be as objective as possible and ask these questions when deciding what to do.  Invest your training time in those who will become valued members of your team.
Earlier this year, we provided a free resource guide that provides ideas for managers on managing problem employees.   That's the link in case you missed it. 
Make Your Landscape Lighting Designs Stand Out
Avoid These Common Shortcuts!  
Want to make your lighting designs stand apart from the average contractor? Avoid these common shortcuts for a design that will really shine.  
1)  Avoid using the same lumen output on all fixtures (example: only 20W halogen equivalent fixtures). Instead vary the light output to the need and to the fixture type. Minimize glare with frosted filters and louvers.  And don't forget dimming options.   
2)  Don't skip proper wire splices .   Be sure to use professional-grade waterproof connectors and leave some extra wire at each fixture to accommodate plant growth. 
3)  Use more than just stake-mounted fixtures .  The best lighting impact is often achieved from fixtures in trees, hanging from structures or mounted to hardscape surfaces.  
4) Take advantage of fixture accessories .  What are "barn doors"? Telescoping stems? Specialized mounting plates, junction boxes and tree mounts?  Invest in these extra elements for better aiming and a lasting, professional installation.
5)  Set up fixture zones.  The old way was a single transformer and a timer. The better way is multiple zones that allow the property owner to customize light levels for the need. Saves energy too. 
Want more lighting design ideas and tips?  Ask us for advice and watch this newsletter.   
Adjust Your Pricing?  React Now to Manufacturer Price Increases - View Our List
After years of price stability, manufacturers have been raising prices aggressively.  These changes are impacting nearly every category of landscape and irrigation supplies.   
Collaborate with your North South representative to obtain updated quotes prior to bid. Include material cost increase clauses in your bid documents.
While material cost increases may seem to be bad, discover how they can help you.   They are an opportunity for you to raise your pricing to achieve a higher profit level. We hope you take advantage of this opportunity!
Tips from Kichler Lighting.   
When you're on the verge of closing the sale but the customer is hesitating, most often the issue is cost.
Here are some of the most common approaches used by successful contractors who know how to get the customer to sign on the dotted line.
Nine lights not ten
For cost-conscious customers, an initial proposal that consists of nine lights at an installed cost of about $300 each - and a total cost that is just under $3,000 - stands the best chance of winning an immediate signature. Come back later with a second proposal. Secure the initial project and then add later. 
Win the right comparison - not the wrong one
You can't beat the price of low-quality brands, so don't let cost rule your conversation. Listen to your customer's cost concerns but make the case for the total value of your services as a reputable contractor. Your customer is not just buying a product. They are buying the confidence and peace of mind that will come with your professional design and execution, plus the quality of Kichler Lighting's products and their industry-leading warranty. Your company and Kichler Lighting are entities that will stand behind the customer.
Be open and honest - and quiet
Ask the customer, "How far off are we on price?" Give the customer time and silence to respond. (Count silently to 10 if you have to.) By providing a number, the customer comes closer to a deal with you. Having a definite number helps you brainstorm ways to close the gap.
Segment the project
If the difference is big, offer to break the project into segments - you're happy to handle the front of the house this year and the backyard later. Make the case that it is better to install a limited number of high-quality products than a larger number of low-quality products that will not last as long. Because you trust your product and service, you can be confident the customer will want to follow through on the whole project eventually.      Learn more on Kichler's website 
How to Keep Employees Happy and Productive
Tips from Christy's in This Video
Keeping your team motivated and productive can dramatically increase your success.  
Leaders can encourage peak performance from their team by providing tools and supplies that make the job go easier.   Your team will be able to complete tasks with less fatigue even on the longest days.  And that keeps them happy too.
This video details some smart Christy's supplies to equip your team.

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