The impact of Covid-19 on the landscaping industry

15 March 2021: Industries with a high level of exposure to discretionary spending such as the landscape and gardening sector were dealt a severe blow by the outbreak of the coronavirus and the Covid-19 induced lockdown, and this has compelled the industry to be innovative and develop customised and cost-effective services in order to stay […]

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15 March 2021: Industries with a high level of exposure to discretionary spending such as the landscape and gardening sector were dealt a severe blow by the outbreak of the coronavirus and the Covid-19 induced lockdown, and this has compelled the industry to be innovative and develop customised and cost-effective services in order to stay afloat.

The South African economy was already in a technical recession prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic which exacerbated the country’s weak economic climate. The implementation of the lockdown in March 2020 forced many businesses to close shop which dampened demand for commercial gardening and landscaping services.

“Landscaping and gardening services are not seen as critical needs but as a luxury. Our business was severely impacted by the lockdown as most of our clients had to close their sites as more and more employees worked from home.

Most of our clients are scrambling to survive and therefore landscaping services are not high on their expenditure list at the moment. With this said, we had to let our colleagues work short time where possible and some we had to lay off as a direct result of the pandemic,” says Andre Ferreira, Sales & Marketing Director, Landscaping at Servest.

Ferreira says the negative impact of the pandemic on the industry has compelled the industry to adopt more mechanisation to minimise physical interaction and reduce operational costs.

“We have reviewed the way we do business by introducing more mechanism and innovation to assist the client with cost saving initiatives and doing things better and faster. The added benefits of mechanising our operations is that they provide our clients with tailored solutions more cost effectively and it also reduces personnel headcount on site,” Ferreira adds.

Owing to reduced operation expenditure, Ferreira notes a growing trend in the industry where clients settle for a minimal aesthetic standard.

“Many real estate owners are aware that if your property is not looking good, it reflects badly on your brand. Landscaping is all about what the eye can see. However, we are encouraged by the willingness of our clients to forge partnerships with the industry and work in concert to develop solutions to ensure the provision of service and sustainability of the industry,” he said.

Ferreira highlighted that the Covid-19 pandemic has heralded a new era in the gardening and landscaping industry where a one size fits all approach is no longer viable.

“We need to be flexible in our approach and service offerings. The clients need flexibility but also require a minimum standard of service. We need to assist our clients with cost savings initiatives and deliver quality service. Anything is possible if all parties are in this together and build a solution that suites all parties.

Looking forward, Ferreira says the buoyant property market bodes well for the future of the landscaping industry.

“Despite being regarded as a luxury, landscaping is still a crucial component in facilities management. Clients still require a well-manicured garden and they still need to keep their brand live and protect their assets. Landscaping is there to enhance the value of their asset and ensure the environment is protected. Landscaping is still a need as there are many aspects to landscaping and not just a garden service,” Ferreira concludes.

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