How to Thrive Through the Pandemic

October 1, 2020 | Horticulture Business

The good news: Most of you made it through your busy season in the middle of a pandemic, and you lived to tell about it.

The bad news: All indications are the pandemic will be with us through at least the start of another busy season.

You survived one, but how are you going to survive two?

Let’s be honest: It will be a challenge. There are sure to be personnel issues, issues with getting people into and out of your retail operation in a safe yet efficient manner, issues with shipping, and very likely shortages of key materials along the way.

In fact, there are predictions that shortages of business-critical items such as computers, solar panels, and machinery parts could linger well into 2021.

How do you prep your business for another busy season under those circumstances?

One thing’s for certain: Now’s the time to start thinking hard about that question, and making the appropriate alterations to your business.

Here are some things to consider as you head into 2021:

What’s your ideal business mix?

Many horticulture businesses have a mixture of wholesale sales, retail sales and mail-order. Estimates are that record-low interest rates will drive sales and construction of new homes, despite a spike in lumber costs. This could mean increased demand from landscapers.

Many businesses experienced a significant spike in retail and (especially) mail-order sales through the height of the pandemic, as homebound homeowners turned to gardening and landscaping.

That spike is not likely to repeat itself to the same extent in 2021, though walk-in sales should rebound.

It’s a fluid situation out there, but you have to do your best to predict a business mix based on:

  • Your immediate competition;
  • What you do well;
  • What makes you the most profit; and
  • What gives you the greatest satisfaction.

What’s your manpower situation?

Between pandemic-related fluctuations in worker availability and tightened restrictions on immigrant labor, many horticulture businesses found themselves experiencing critical manpower shortages in 2020.

You really have no choice but to expect more of the same in 2021. A vaccine may calm the waters somewhat, but continued remote or hybrid learning, transportation issues and the potential for increased tightening of the immigrant-labor market could find many horticulture businesses grasping for workers in 2021.

How do you achieve 1) given 2)?

That’s the challenge, right? How do you get to your ideal mix of business with an uncertain labor situation?

Here’s where technology can help. If you can save time on labor-intensive tasks like taking inventory, then you can free up key personnel to focus on business-enhancing things like building out a robust mail-order operation or doing a better job of marketing to landscapers.

A simple RFID-based solution like the one offered by Arbré Technologies can cut inventory time by 90%, and can build efficiencies on the back end by seamlessly integrating into your accounting and sales platforms.

And then, if you want to build an e-commerce platform on top of that, Arbré makes it easy through its partnership with Clarity Connect.

You’re not going to be able to efficiently stick-build the tools you need to function in the 2021 marketplace. You need help – like the tools offered by Arbré Technologies.

You need to budget for it all.

RFID is not terribly expensive – and it can pay for itself in months in terms of increased efficiency.

It is something you have to budget for, however, and that starts with finding out how much it costs.

Now is the time to connect with an Arbré Technologies specialist and get a quote for your operation, and discover how quickly RFID can pay for itself, and work those numbers into your 2021 planning and budget.

No matter how it shakes out, 2021 is going to be a challenge to your business. You’re going to need help. And Arbré Technologies is ready to provide the help you need.

To see how one business has thrived and adapted to our new reality, join us for our free webinar “RFID Applications: Use Cases, Pearls & Pitfalls” on Wednesday, October 21 at 2pm EST. Matt Vollmer, President of Arbre Tech, and Bill Boostra, President of Bluestone Perennials, will discuss the problems, solutions and results of Bluestone Perennial’s RFID project as well as the essential ingredients of a successful RFID program.

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