January 15, 2012
By Phil Charal
LO President

phil charal As your incoming president, I wish to start my very first column with encouraging news regarding the potential for a prosperous and profitable year in 2012. Despite everything else, the good news is that in tough times, our association is here to support you with meaningful programs.

Our industry is facing significant challenges. Not only must we deal with the perennial issues of seasonality and weather dependence, but also we now face a worldwide, fiscal fiasco. Our customers, surrounded by financial turmoil and governments addicted to debt are understandably reluctant to part with their hard earned income. There is more competition out there today and it is not amongst ourselves, but for the disposable dollar.

Our customers are increasingly more informed; I am often surprised at their knowledge of landscaping. I am sure many of you have noticed a significant change in your clients’ attitudes toward the perceived value of our products and services. They also demand a more detailed understanding of how our services will benefit them. As a result, excellent customer service has become the foundation on which we conduct business.

Hard to predict

It is becoming increasingly more difficult to predict business cycles and trends in our economy. The cost of doing business today is definitely on the rise, with significant increases in insurance, fuel, labour and taxes. Regardless of these challenges, there is still opportunity and long-term growth potential for our industry. Today, a company needs to be well organized and managed with attention to all detail.

Our ability to be creative and flexible is becoming essential. We have a changing demographic coming up in the near future with the 45 and under age group making up a large percentage of growth. We need to appeal to this group, who will become the future for our business as the baby boomer population moves into decline.

Now is a good time to embrace your association with all it has to offer. This winter attend a chapter or sector group meeting. You may find it more beneficial than you think. I attended a Toronto Chapter meeting in November and really enjoyed meeting suppliers and my business peers. So many relevant topics of concerns were discussed, and I found it very informative.

I would also encourage you to take part in the Prosperity Partners.

This six-hour program guides you through assessing your business using the five-pillar framework of the Prosperity program. The next one is Jan. 9 at LO home office in Milton. To find out more about this program, go online at www.horttrades.com/prosperity, or visit Congress for a special free session is offered on Jan. 10.

Certification is a great way to establish credibility with your firm by registering yourself or your employees in this program. The goal is to create a system where all landscape professionals, right across North America, will be easily identified by consumers. To find out more information on certification, go to www.horttrades.com/landscape-industry-certified.

There are numerous programs offered at LO’s professional development seminars. Most of the seminars are conducted at head office in Milton, but many are also available at the Chapters. Check out www.horttrades.com/seminars to find the Professional Development Guide 2011-2012, along with seminars in your Chapter area.

A health and safety program is a must for all firms with or without a safety policy firmly in place. The LO website contains a great deal of information on all aspects of the safety issues. Go to www.horttrades.com/safety-4 where you will find the latest news, legislation, training and resources.   

Landscape Ontario is your association. It is here to help you prosper and enhance your business well being. There are numerous facets within LO that can help you along your deserved path of prosperity and success.

Don’t miss your opportunity.
Phil Charal may be reached at pcharal@landscapeontario.com.