Retaining Control in a Pandemic
June 11, 2021
Covid took the world by storm, impacting several industries across the world. Unfortunately, our industry was one of those affected. However, we at Straight Line thrive on adaptability, and as such, we’ve taken some measures to keep pushing forward, one satisfied customer at a time.
We implemented policies that ensured we could still provide our exemplary services to our customers, even if our processes looked a little different. Challenges aren’t deterrents, they are obstacles — obstacles we’re managing. In the end, we’re getting through this pandemic one project at a time and looking forward to coming out on the other side.
The Impact of Covid on the Landscaping & Construction Industry
Covid affected landscaping and construction industries in multiple ways, especially when it came to the availability of materials used.
There Are Material Shortages
Because of shutdowns and outbreaks of Covid among staff members of the companies in our supply chain, it was common to see slower production times due to fewer workers. This led to less availability, which either put some projects on hold until we could get the materials again, or led to us looking for substitutions.
Some materials, which came in from other countries, were flagged and sat offshore for months. In other situations, dock workers had to stay home, slowing down the unloading of cargo ships. Docs haven’t had enough people to work.
Shortages Are Increasing Material Costs
Shutdowns, slowdowns in production, and logistical hurdles also had one other effect: a cost increase in materials. Some materials are now only available via bid auction. Many materials cost a multiple of their 2020 price. This includes essential materials such as timber, steel, aluminum, and a variety of plastics. Moreover, the prices fluctuate so much, usually in the upward direction, that it is often near impossible for us to calculate the material cost of a landscape build if we don’t have the material on hand yet.
In short, as reported, shortages mean a harder time obtaining the materials, and companies raising prices due to the demand for them.
Shortages Are Causing Delivery Delays
The current conditions in the market and international shipping also mean that goods take longer to get to us. What used to take a few weeks from ordering time can now take a few months. In some cases, you need to order now, in spring 2021, if you want your goods to come early 2022. This sounds crazy, but it is unfortunately the reality that’s currently common in a variety of manufacturing industries.
Straight Line’s Commitment to our Customers
Though the pandemic is quite unprecedented, at Straight Line, we’re being proactive in making sure we keep our commitments to our customers. Here are some things we’re doing on our side.
When it comes to materials, we’re ordering the ones we need to complete the project as soon as the contract is signed. While this helps us ensure we can get the materials, the downside is it can be difficult for you to make changes in what you want later on. Changes may be possible, depending on the project and the materials used, but we address this on a case-by-case basis.
Constant Communication with Suppliers
The best way to keep a handle on the materials available to us is for us to keep in constant communication with our suppliers. However, during this shortage, availability of materials can change on a dime. It’s important to make timely decisions in order to get the materials suppliers have on hand, or we have two choices:
- Delay the project until materials come in; or
- Use different materials that create the same or similar effect
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Extended Permit Processing Times
Obtaining the necessary permits for projects took from 1 to 5 days. Recently, however, it’s been taking approximately 2 to 3 months, likely due to fewer workers and slowdowns in staffing at local building authorities.
So today, we send in for permits shortly after we have a signed contract in hand, so that we use the pre-build preparation period to obtain what’s needed. During the timeframe, we keep tabs on permits to ensure they don’t get lost in the fray.
Purchase in Bulk
In order to keep costs down and still keep our projects running smoothly, we order our materials in bulk after the contract is signed. If it’s a popular material, we may already have the resources on hand. However, it’s also the perfect time to plan a full landscape project, rather than a partial one as ordering in bulk means we can create that cohesive look throughout your property.
Design Using Available Products
When you keep your ear to the ground like we do, it’s easier to plan out and design projects. By staying informed as to the materials our suppliers have on hand, we’re able to work with what’s knowingly available rather than spend time trying to track down materials that may either cost more or not be available.
Be Ready to Adapt
One of the cornerstones of Straight Line is being able to adapt to the situations thrown our way. Our industry knowledge and focus on quality execution means we have the ability to respond can turn on a dime when it’s warranted. For example, if we can’t find an exact material, we can suggest others that will achieve the same look. Of course, we’ll never make this decision without your input, it’s just one thing we can do to make your vision come to life.
You dream it. We design and construct it. You enjoy it.
Here at Straight Line Landscape we are experts in custom landscape design and construction. From the creative design and selection of materials to installation and construction, you’ll recognize quality and attention to detail from start to finish.