Tip: As You Grow, Get to Know The Smaller Landscape Companies
Tip of the Day, Guys:
Get to know the smaller LCOs in your area. Be friendly with them. Treat them respectfully. Even if your company is way more established and professional than theirs is. You'll find it can often be very rewarding for you in return.
As we've grown I've always been willing to take a call from a smaller LCO, give him a little advice if needed (without sharing too much, obviously), introduce myself when we meet at a class or BBQ a supplier is having, etc. And even though we've grown to become one of the biggest companies in our area, doing millions a year in sales, I try to always be as humble as possible. I remember what it was like trying to build a small company, slogging through the rain and mud mowing lawns just to make a buck. It was brutal and I'll always respect the guys in our industry for it.
For some reason, a lot of people in our industry see all the other LCOs as a threat. And the truth is, there is plenty of work for all of us. And if I'm good at what I do, it won't matter how many of them are out there trying to compete. If I'm on top of my game, there will be plenty for us. So I don't view them as a threat. And in fact, the opposite is true. They can often be a benefit to our company.
How? Referrals. Most of the other larger company owners ignore the smaller companies. I saw it happen for years. I still see it. That's a mistake. Those guys can often give you REALLY good leads, if you'll work to create a good relationship! They know lots of people with nice homes and expendable money! We have several smaller LCO companies in our area who regularly feed us really good leads for install work like paver patios, sprinkler system installs, outdoor living spaces, lighting installations, sprinkler service work, etc. Why? Because they don't do it, aren't licensed for it, or aren't interested in it. But they want to have someone they can trust and send their clients to.
Just this last week I landed a $42k job for a full hardscape / outdoor living area. And that came from one of these smaller LCO companies. All he wants to do is maintenance - nothing more. So everything else he sends our way. I reward him with lunches, Visa Gift cards, etc. as a thank-you for sending us good quality leads. But even with what I spend on that and the few leads we send his way, we always get more out of it than he does. And he's okay with that. He just wants someone trustworthy who does good honest work to send his clients to. That reflects well on him.
This happens quite a lot, actually. So if your company is growing, expanding, offering services that not all the other LCOs around town can do - keep those other guys in mind. Build bridges. Introduce yourself and get to know these guys. Almost every time I've done that it's been rewarding to me in some way, over time. Don't look at all your competitors as threats. Look at them as colleagues who you can maybe have a good relationship with. And that may turn out to be very rewarding one day.