When the federal government finally made the call in mid-March to only run essential businesses, it left many small business owners scrambling to understand what that meant exactly.
Defining an Essential Business
The federal guideline for an essential business, as defined by the US Department of Homeland Security (CISA), is any “systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters.”
Sounds pretty vague, right?
It is intentionally left vague so that businesses can access whether or not the services they provide to individuals (and/or other businesses) are vital to the infrastructure of the nation. So where does that leave lawn and landscape businesses?
The National Association of Landscape Professionals took the first step by requesting that lawn and landscape businesses be deemed as essential. Their reasoning was/is that lawn and landscape businesses provide services that “maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residents, essential activities and essential businesses.” Basically what they are saying is, that by maintaining lawns and landscaped areas, we are cutting down on pests, insects and overgrowth which in turn could lead to injury or sickness.
Factors that I feel deem our business as essential are cleanliness, mental health and property value. As NALP stated, keeping yards mowed and landscaped cuts down on pests and insects. When you allow overgrowth, you are making your yard a breeding ground for pests, rodents, mosquito’s, ticks, fleas, etc,, which in turn leads to the exposure of germs, diseases and sickness.
Mental health plays a part due to the federal and state orders that are in place. When you are under a “Stay-at-Home Order,” you are only leaving your home when it is absolutely necessary (food, doctor’s appointment, to get cleaning supplies, etc.) which means all the other times you are home spending time inside or outside in your yard. If your yard is mowed and landscaped, then you are able to sit outside in a clean environment and feel good about how your surroundings look. This leads to a positive mindset and a feeling of peace during a chaotic time.
Now, when it comes to property value, having a landscaped and maintained yard can increase your property value by 14%. Giving you not only a higher resale value, but a higher chance of selling your home by as much as six weeks sooner when you have a well maintained yard. Which quite frankly is a win-win for all around!
So as you can see, there are many reasons why the lawn and landscape business is essential to the health and safety of the American people. BUT, how can we as business owners take one extra step to ensure that policies and procedures are in place to protect our employee’s during times likes these?
Putting Policies and Procedures in Place
The first known step is to follow CDC guidelines. Right now they are recommending that we wash our hands, don’t touch our faces and to stay six-feet apart. However, here at Linnemann Lawn & Landscape and The Green Executive, we thought we could take things a bit further in a few different ways:
- Highly Traffic’d Areas – increased sanitation of bathrooms, keyboards, phones, etc. within the office.
- Trucks – addition of soap and water for cleaning of hands
- Team Safety Meetings – cancelled and turned into printables that can be read in the truck, initialed and turned back in.
- Administrative Meetings – increased the distance of which the staff sits and cut down the time frame of the meetings.
- Virtual Meetings – moved all webinars and 1:1 consulting services to online Zoom conferencing until mid-Summer/Fall
Sahra and I have also decided to work from home as much as possible, which has cut down on the number of people that are in the office at one time. Our thought here is that whatever we can do to decrease exposure for our employee’s will in turn increase safety and morale. Morale is the key within any business during times of uncertainty. Anything you can do as a business owner to create a safe and positive work environment the better.
There’s a lot of noise out there right now and noise leads to misinformation. Make sure you are communicating with your team, leading with a positive mindset, being motivational and inspirational AND most importantly, not adding to the noise. Larry Winget is a mentor of mine and he has a great video about “How to Motivate You to Positive Action”:
As a small business owner, I know there’s a lot to think about and do right now. Things are constantly changing and we are having to adapt as we go. It’s why I’m providing you with additional resource links and videos that I think will be helpful during this time. You can also, reach out to Sahra and I at anytime. You can do that by commenting on this post, following us on Facebook and then sending a private message, or by using the links here on the website to call or email. We really are all in this together!
National Association of Landscaping Professionals: https://www.landscapeprofessionals.org/
US Department of Homeland Security: https://www.cisa.gov/identifying-critical-infrastructure-during-covid-19
US Small Business Administration: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans