by Drew Roberts, CPCU, ARM
In the same March issue of Turf Magazine, where I wrote an article about protecting landscape equipment with equipment floater insurance, I saw an interesting article by Carol Brzozowski on the recent Florida freeze. The article discussed how the freeze in Florida offered business opportunities to a number of landscaping businesses throughout the state. Here is a link to the full article and below are some quotes that I found interesting:
When Florida experienced a sustained cold snap earlier this year, it sent temperatures dipping into the freeze zone, even in the southern part of the state. Citrus and other agricultural crops were threatened, as were the lush landscapes of many residential and commercial properties. The unexpected weather presented a challenge for turf, landscaping and irrigation specialists, including Judy Benson, owner of Clearwater PSI, a water and turf management company in Longwood, Florida.
Frozen backflow devices presented one of the biggest challenges for her clients.
“There were a huge number of systems that no longer had the backflow prevention working,” says Benson. “In some instances, that made it a very immediate concern, especially those that rely on a single meter, meaning their irrigation water was also tied to the same line with their residential water. We wiped out the manufacturers of their parts, as well as their complete units.”
Many property owners wanted their landscapes renovated or fixed immediately, but Benson says she is a “conscientious contractor” who does not want to put a bandage over the problem only to have the landscape damaged by another freeze in subsequent weeks.
While the freeze has presented many opportunities for contractors to help with landscape renovations, “it’s starting to become a very tight supply and demand market,” Benson says.
She says client service calls as a result of the freeze have created an opportunity to educate them on impending codes and statutes.
“There is an opportunity at this point to speak with property owners to see if they will renovate their irrigation and landscape to meet these new codes and statutes,” says Benson.
“It takes a little more planning and a longer amount of time to speak with property owners to give them good information that they feel comfortable with in order to get them to take hold of the idea,” Benson adds. “Some are readily interested in it, others just want their landscape set back more to what they had earlier.”
Benson says the balance comes in looking at the whole picture. Current statutes, what’s good for the environment and working with property owners to give them the aesthetics they’re interested in achieving.
She also favors using technology to the greatest extent possible in servicing clients. She has an e-mail alert system for those signed up for her company’s newsletters. When an extreme weather event occurs, “We can send out weather alerts to try to get a head start on freezes and exceptional weather patterns,” Benson says.
“We’re utilizing all of our tools to help property owners prevent some damages that are avoidable just by bringing it to their attention,” she says.