Dec. 6 2018 01:26 PM

It's a great testament to our industry that customer satisfaction and loyalty are doing so well, even with fewer workers to choose from.

I love sports analogies. People can relate to them because many of us have played a team sport such as baseball or basketball at some point in our lives. So when Bayer Crop Science released the results of a football-themed survey of lawn care and landscape professionals, I was quite intrigued, to say the least.

The results, “Touchdown Turf: What it takes to have a winning season in the lawn and landscape industry,” were the topic of a panel discussion during the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association breakfast at GIE+Expo in October. The theme seemed to resonate with the lawn care professionals who participated in the survey, since according to the survey some 84 percent of respondents played a team sport in high school or college.

The big takeaway from the survey was that these lawn care companies overwhelmingly had loyal fan (customer) bases. However, four out of 10 respondents ranked a shallow bench (team) as the challenge that has the biggest impact on having a “winning season.” While it’s great to hear that these companies are getting it right with their customer service, it’s a bit concerning that the labor pool is so thin.

Irrigation & Green Industry is also conducting a survey for its 2019 Industry Outlook, and preliminary results are showing labor to be a major issue. When asked, “Does your region offer enough qualified workers to meet your company’s needs?” the majority of respondents answered “no.” The results of this and the other survey questions will be part of a report in our January 2019 issue.

It’s a great testament to our industry that customer satisfaction and loyalty are doing so well, even with fewer workers to choose from. I think the credit for that should go to the owners of these businesses who maximize the productivity and strengths of their employees. Jon Cundiff, CEO of Weed Man, Kansas City, Missouri, addressed this during the panel discussion, saying “We all have our roles; we can’t all be pitchers.”

Cundiff makes a good point. If everyone’s a pitcher, then who’s going to catch the ball? Who’s going to protect home plate? A good coach knows where to best position his players and will reinforce the importance of working together as a team. That coach is bound to have a winning team on his hands. I hope that description fits you.