December 6, 2022
Jacki Hart As we finish a year that started with COVID-19 lockdowns, and ends with hope that we are rounding the bend toward a live, face-to-face Congress, my attention is focused on how I can best support Landscape Ontario member entrepreneurs and managers in 2023. The answer lies in the wisdom of seven words.

After travelling to speak at conferences from coast to coast this past fall, plus hosting the two-day LO Peer to Peer Network Muskoka Summit, I’m absolutely sure that solving the workforce dilemma in every province and sector, plus improving employee engagement, is crucial to a successful 2023. The solution isn’t easy. It requires an industry-wide paradigm shift in thinking. Those who know me have heard me talk about this for several years now. I’ve seen it coming, and I’m frustrated by the resistance to change from literally hundreds of business owners and managers I’ve engaged on the topic this year.

Listen up. I truly believe we are all on the cusp of a moment in our profession that’s unprecedented in many ways:
  • Like never before, we have momentum of consumer engagement in the value of the plants we provide and landscapes we create and manage.
  • We also have momentum in credibility for our contractors, with whom millions of homeowners across the country have engaged like never before through the pandemic.
  • We are finally positioned to ride upward trends on pricing — where every customer will totally understand that our costs have soared exponentially, along with everything else around them. Inflation is out of control. Now is our moment to raise prices so we can pay our staff properly.
  • Despite rising interest rates and increased travel, consumers (primarily residential) are still showing more interest in when they can get work done, rather than how much it will cost. If you have it, they’ll buy it. If you can meet their timeline, most prefer that to bickering on price.
  • Government subsidies and funding for apprenticeship training have never been higher for supporting the costs of training your employees.
  • The GROW Program is unprecedented in preparing new employees for you and for training budding supervisors — all for FREE.
  • There is unprecedented public awareness of climate change, carbon emission targets, flood mitigation, pollinator threats, and habitat loss among other issues. We need to leverage our contribution to solving each of these issues and more.
  • There are also Gen Z (under 28) employees who are willing to show up engaged, aligned, interested and growth oriented as long as you make the effort to shift your thinking and adapt to meet them where they are starting from, and be the life coach they need to succeed.
I know the biggest stretch for most owners/ managers is to put trust into that last bullet point. I’ve personally witnessed it across Canada again this year. I know for sure that if your company has a staffing dilemma, then it’s more the fault of your approach to attracting, hiring and retaining than anything else. In order for landscape business owners to leverage this moment to its highest potential it will require avoiding the seven most expensive words in business: “Because we’ve always done it this way.”

The bottom line? 2023 is your chance to level up your business, despite any downward economic pressures you might need to navigate and despite the challenges of trying to find new staff in 2022. Carpe Diem. Seize the day. 2023 is poised to be our time in the history of our profession. Will we rise to the top? We have hope like never before. We will be proud like never before. I can feel it. I can see it. Go out there and be the best you can be. Show up as leaders who inspire, protect and grow our next generation like never before. You’ve got this, if you want to.

Landscape Ontario member business owners can join the LO Peer to Peer Network for free.
To participate in private online discussions, email

Jacki Hart CLM
Prosperity Partners Program Manager