It’s been a wild ride for our Operations team! Navigating the COVID-19 and Shelter-in-Place mandates and keeping pace with all of the changing regulations from the State of California and all the counties we operate in has been nothing short of challenging. Over the last month, we’ve been able to stay in compliance and do our part in helping to flatten the curve. Organizations like the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA), Landscape Management and the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) have played an enormous role in keeping us updated.
Between our initial leadership meeting and every conference call thereafter, we’ve been strategizing how to keep our doors open with minimal impact to our business, our people, and our clients.
Commercial Landscape Maintenance
and Commercial Janitorial
Our Commercial Landscape Maintenance and Janitorial Services division has remained at about 85% capacity over the last month and a half. Keeping this part of our business up and running has been both a challenge and a blessing. As we continue to bring revenue in the door, we have had to continuously change and evolve our methods and services to fit the times. Although these changes were made to fit the circumstances, we believe they will also help us thrive in the future, as our industry undergoes permanent changes.
We have moved our focus away from the standard scope of work and refocused more of our services on Safety and Risk Management. Safety has always been “first” for our business, but now sanitization, risk reduction, and protecting client assets take on greater importance than ever before.
This means that our service department has had to completely retrain our operators on how to identify safety and risk factors within a property to ensure that we have minimized client exposure. We’ve changed the way we perform services like trash and debris collection, walkway and pathway clearance, and management of adequate open areas for social distancing and safety monitoring.
In these uncertain times, we are committed to helping clients protect their assets. Irrigation auditing, plant health monitoring, and integrated pest management have become increasing priorities for our team. This means natural and structural pruning, 24-hour turn around on irrigation repairs, pre-emergent application, and well-rounded fertilization.
Sanitization is a hot topic right now – especially with our municipal, government, HOA, and senior living accounts. We have made sanitization the highest priority for both our landscape and janitorial services teams, and not just on clients’ properties – it begins the second our employees show up to our yard. PPE now includes hand sanitizer, face masks, latex gloves, and long-sleeved shirts along with the the normal PPE. Our trucks and equipment are sanitized before and after use, as are water jugs and hand tools. Only two employees are allowed in each vehicle so that we can continuously maintain social distance. While onsite, our employees must eat lunch and take breaks at six feet apart. All tailgate meetings are socially distanced. And we ensure that all burlaps are not too heavy (50lbs) for one employee to move around, eliminating close contact.
Onsite sanitization is a continuous process that includes using EcoLab products to spray and wipe down high traffic areas. We do not perform sanitization service near or around any clients. High traffic areas like front doors, front desks, restrooms, gyms, trash rooms, etc. are sanitized at a higher frequency and with a longer duration. We ensure that all consumables, including hand sanitizer, are full before and after each shift. Our employees have been trained on which surfaces COVID-19 lives longest, and we address each one with the correct EcoLab product to fully sanitize each type.
Our Janitorial department has taken on a massive workload to ensure that we are performing all of our current scopes of work along with prioritizing and effectively managing sanitization and health risks. In some cases, we have decided to provide some legacy clients and properties with service greater than our contract to ensure that we are doing our part to help and evolve with each circumstance. Our janitorial team has worked tirelessly since day one of the shelter-in-place mandate to evolve our scopes of work and management style to ensure the health and safety of anyone interacting with our properties.
Landscape Construction and Enhancements
The Frank and Grossman residential construction and commercial enhancement teams found themselves in a very similar boat. We ended up in the same place as almost every other construction company – at a dead stop. Our construction and enhancement teams were completely halted until May 4th, when the governor updated the essential services list to include landscape construction. During this time of non-operation, we prepared and planned for the eventual start up. This included taking inventories of all equipment and materials, addressing organization in shops, cleaning and preparing vehicles, acquiring PPE, estimating and bidding new work, setting up operational plans for the May 4th start, and training our employees on how to maintain social distancing on the job site.
Now that we have gotten back to work, we have implemented the following operational standards to ensure that we are still helping to flatten the curve. Our construction and enhancement teams are directly reporting to each job site in their own vehicles, doing a wellness check before tailgate meetings, sanitizing equipment before use, ensuring that we are using the same level of PPE as the maintenance and janitorial crews, maintaining social distancing during tailgate meetings, lunches, and breaks, and sanitizing all tools and equipment at the end of each shift. To this day it is a still a learning curve for our multi-faceted construction projects. Common tasks like moving large objects with multiple employees at once now require new strategies. We have begun testing and using equipment in new ways that reduce worker contact, and our management team has been only taking on new construction and enhancement projects on which we can guarantee this level of precaution.
Hats off to our operators! They have adapted and performed at a miraculous pace to ensure that we have revenue coming in the door, our employees are healthy and safe, and our clients’ expectations are met. While it hasn’t been a simple process, Frank and Grossman will continue to evolve our operations, safety, and management plans to ensure that our clients and people are taken care of.