Grow or Maintain?

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by extlights, Feb 15, 2010.

  1. extlights

    extlights LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 439

    With the new year here and the economy still not so great, I was curious as to how guys will go about business? Now as it should be an obvious answer to a somewhat rediculous question it's not always the case. Years ago I had a prominent business man once tell me that timing is critical when it comes to trying to grow a business.

    So my question is this...grow or maintain? Are you satisified with the amount of business that you've been able to achieve in this economy? Is it enough to just keep the doors open or are you wanting to grow?

    If you want to grow what are you prepared to do? Does it include spending some money on advertising and direct marketing, or are you going to sit low and hope that referrals will get you through the year? Also what about costs. We all know that overhead has a direct bearing on our bottom line.

    Just from reading these posts it's easy to gather that alot of us do business in different ways. I know some of you guys haven't advertised in years. I also know that some people like to do 15-20 projects per year and others 35-50.

    So with that, and because alot of us do run our businesses in certain ways I'm interested in knowing what you think the future holds, and what you're prepared to do to get it at the level that you're aiming for.
  2. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,180

    Dave I pm'ed you my thoughts on this. Feel free to email me.
  3. The Lighting Geek

    The Lighting Geek LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 882

    I think this is a time of change. The type of change that has and will alter our industry forever. The economy has changed many things, and I believe those who embrace the change will survive. I have seen many companies go out of business because they did not adapt the changes around them. We will see many more close their doors as well.

    I believe LED has and will change everything. In the near future, halogen systems will be like a buggy whip when cars came out.

    I believe I have changed my outlook, my company and most of all I am running extremely lean. There are some great opportunities right now to secure great employees, get equipment at great prices, etc. I will say that I started my changes in December 2007. I see this as a record breaking year, yet I will not grow too much.

    I had a record December and January so far and don't see it changing. I operate very differently, and don't see that changing anytime soon.
  4. RLI Electric

    RLI Electric LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 381

    I am trying to grow or more to the point, differentiate from the average electrician. The majority of them don't want to do this and fortunately for myself you have to have at least a low voltage license in Connecticut. I am excited about the future of LED and can't wait to see the prices come down. More to the point, Tommy, is there any advice you have toward promoting this to the new guy. I have mentioned in the past that landscape lighting is not all over the place in Connecticut. I look at this as a glass is half full thing. The answer to the original question is that I am trying to grow. I don't think it is looking toward building a larger company but to get a higher percentage of lighting as my work. It is tough right now, I think the landscapes are the furthest thing from peoples minds right now in CT and it is all I am thinking about. That makes it awfully difficult for my patience. Spring is coming though so I hope it will go well. It really seemed to gain momentum last year and I just hope it continues.
  5. Classic Lighting

    Classic Lighting LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 497

    I am trying to grow this year. I'm not referring to sales revenue, I'm referring to branding and marketing. I'm trying to get my name out there and become the local leader in lighting. I have come to the conclusion that lighting is not a priority for people. Everyone is watching the economy and being protective of their money. There is a fear that the current economy could continue to crumble. What's more important, food on the table or lighting?

    Realistically, I'm not looking for a banner year. I'm looking to network with others, get my name out there, and be prepared for when the economy turns. After all, this business is a luxury, not a necessity.
  6. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,837

    When the economy took a crap (here it was a couple of years ago), I made the decision to revert back to the basics. I let go of the full time employees, and started using part-time help as needed for installations and when I was trying to get caught up on service contract work. As some of you know, I used to spend an enormous amount of money on advertising. I stopped that also, and relied upon word of mouth for the time being because it seemed that no advertising was inexpensive enough to justify the return. Although it was not planned, I seem to now get so many more jobs (and very large ones at that) without even trying. I wish I could explain why this happened, but it just did. I guess it's akin to trying to have children: when you stop thinking about it, they just start coming! Fortunately for me, I think, I had been in business long enough to establish myself before the recession/depression or what ever you want to call it set in. Service work alone is enough to pay the bills, but Lord help me....I hate service work. I count my blessings though. There are a lot of people out there who would love to have some kind of service to do.
  7. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,180

    Chris you just proved my point. I sent a PM to dave replying to this thread and was considering posting it here. This is what I told him

    This should be an excellent thread Dave. I plan to grow my business by 20% in the next 12 months. I don't plan to do this by advertising directly to prospective clients but will rather spend the time and money increasing my network. As many of you know I am hearing impaired and that poses some unique challenges for me to network but, to those of you who have met me personally know I don't let it slow me down or hold me back.

    I took an absence from posting online to rethink how I did things and to think of a better way to do things. So far it has worked well as I had a pretty good January when I know alot of guys were sitting with little to nothing to do.

    Networking with other upscale service providers in your area will in my opinion do more for you in this time when some people are holding their wallets tight than sending out post cards or other ads. People are still building and renovating upscale custom homes.

    Now the downside. As distributors and other materials sources slow down they are gunning for new business. New business for them equals more competition for us existing guys. Chances are the new guys will be hungry and real go getter's but also more lax on their pricing. Not good for the industry as a whole especially as several new manufactures are bringing out cheaper and dropping the quality of alot of the materials. I am moving up in the food chain not down.

    Should we still grow ? Well that's up to individual owners. I am not growing my business in the sense that I am advertising or adding employees or trucks because I like being the 1 man show but I am growing the way we do business. I guess a better term for what we are doing is "maturing" our business and kicking it up a few notches.

    Does this make any sense at all to you ?
  8. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,143

    Hey Chris,

    Good to see you checking back in. I am very pleased you are doing well. I have heard a lot of horror stories from the Florida area. Hope you have a good season.
  9. niteliters

    niteliters LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 537

    makes plenty of sense to me Billy. It was said in the beginning, we're all running our business differently, have systems in place that work well for us. I think the blessing of this recession has been that it has forced some, the company I work for included, that were riding high on the hog, getting so much work that we may have thought we had this business figured out, really didn't have it all figured out. The ones that adapt, which is most of you in this chat room, not only will survive but will end up growing your business by having your company in a healthly place. When the economy rebounds, you have systems and relationships in place to take advantage. Until then you are adapting to not only survive but in the end grow at a slower, healthier pace. lastly, how you choose to take advantage of this market to grow your business is up to you and your market. If you make your business more profitable, does it really matter how many employees, trucks, property, equipment, jobs you have done? I would say no.
  10. extlights

    extlights LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 439

    It seems everyone has their ducks in a row and have been surviving this economic downturn. I saw some staggering numbers about the unemployment rates in the construction industry and it just got me thinking about how it affected all phases of the trades.

    We decided to spend some money on advertising this year. We haven't spent much the last couple of years so we decided to take a chance. I think if you advertise the right way and hit the right buttons in this economy it could work out well. I think the big key is that you're not in a situation where you HAVE to do a certain amount of business to stay afloat.

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