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Strategies to Deal with Supply Challenges

By Lisa Firestone on August 24, 2021 in BlogNo Comments

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With all the uncertainty in the global supply chain, we have gathered some ideas and best practices to help you stay resilient.

At Ewing, we’re working hard every day to invest in inventory, keep products on the shelf and do the very best to support your business. Visit our Supply Chain Updates hub regularly for the latest news and information.

Consumer demand for investment in outdoor spaces continues, which is good news for businesses in the landscape industry. However, supply of products will continue to be a rocky road even into 2022. Apply these four strategies to stay resilient as you navigate product supply disruptions.

Focus on Flexibility

With availability disruptions continuing, make sure you have alternates in mind for each part of your project. Many times, client expectations are more dependent on timeframes than product selection, so make sure you fully understand your customers’ expectations and have a contingency plan should delays occur. Your distributor partner should be able to help you with current expected lead times.

By being flexible and proactively communicating up and down the supply chain, a volatile market climate can work in your favor, differentiating you as a professional against your competitors.

Supplier Relationship is Key

When it comes to upcoming commercial or large residential projects, it’s important to work closely with your supplier. This allows you to coordinate the core products you’ll need for those projects. Communication is critical and communicating your needs in advance is a smart move. Speaking as a supplier, we intend to have products on hand and ready to ship when you’re ready.

Keep Costs Up to Date and Buy Early

With rising material costs, it is important to keep your costs up to date; some standard benchmarks you have used in the past may need to be adjusted. This will ensure you are staying profitable and maintaining fiscal health.

By planning ahead and buying early, you can be positioned to better serve your clients. Lean on your local Ewing branch for up-to-date information as well as financing options for upcoming projects.

Be Willing to Expand and Modify

One of the best ways to increase profitability within your business is to diversify your service offering with your current clients. Be willing to try new methods – some investment in new skills and methods may allow you to run with a leaner crew or to get the same job done in less time.

Add landscape lighting installs or outdoor sound to your service offering. Consider spending a little more on a fertilizer that last longer (8-10 weeks versus 4-6 weeks) – it may cost more up front but require less visits and less staffing for the same number of lawns. Offer smart controller retrofits for past customers, or even install water monitoring devices to detect leaks fast. Use Facebook or other low-cost options to advertise these services and connect with existing and potential customers.

Having the right inventory in the right place at the right time has been a challenge for green industry professionals. Following these steps can help smooth the way as you provide timelines to your customers and strategize about how to complete projects on schedule. As the uncertainty continues, you can lean on us for supplies and information. Stay up to date by viewing our Supply Chain Updates hub or visit your local Ewing branch today!

Product Alternatives During Product Supply Constraints

Consider using smart irrigation products in your installs. Weather-based controllers, pressure compensating sprays and rotors are readily available and lead to a much more efficient use of water. In some cases, they’re better for your bottom line since designs that incorporate smart irrigation require less product, and they provide an opportunity to upsell to clients.

As global UREA prices drive up the price of granular fertilizers, it’s a good time to try liquid fertilizers. The efficiency uptake rates in the plant are much higher, making the cost per square foot more attractive. There are options such as EMPRO DuraArmour and non-staining EMPRO Liquid Iron that provide for plant health and green up without a surge in growth, making these products a good fall alternative.

Seed crops are seeing the lowest yields in 20 years due to drought, heat and fires, causing a shortage of seed across the industry. If you are considering cutting overseed rates to get the benefits of soil stabilization, the thin coverage may not look great. Adding a turf colorant is an option for a greener, fuller look, such as EMPRO Turf Paint or EMPRO Turf Pigment.

Paver manufacturing, like many other industries, can’t keep up with the demand. This is creating delays in the paver and block market and affecting the completion of hardscape projects. Make sure you are communicating as early as possible with your supplier and plan for extended lead times. Consider alternatives such as natural stone if that is an option for the project.

Landscape fabric is like many other products this year, with global resin shortages impacting supply. Ocean and land-based transportation challenges are complicating matters. If your supplier has product but it isn’t the size or type of fabric you prefer, consider alternatives such as spunbond fabric and woven fabric. Both provide professional weed control and can be used in hardscape applications.

Lead times for many lighting fixture styles, custom color options and other typically non-stock items can be lengthy. What used to be weeks can now take several months to receive. Given that many clients are more concerned with a specific timeframe than fixture selection, work with your distributor partner on suggesting core stocked fixture models and color options to expedite availability and shorten lead times.

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Lisa Firestone
Lisa Firestone is the Product Manager of Landscaping Supplies for Ewing. A graduate of the University of Arizona with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Lisa's background includes Sales for Procter & Gamble, Product Engineering and Operations Management before transitioning to the green industry.
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