Now here's the problem for the Big Box Landscapers in particular. Most small and medium-size landscape contractors prepare their plan and move forward with implementation. The really big companies get hung up in this process. I have been involved in this process on many different levels. The big guys may not even know when to end the planning process. They conduct meeting after meeting to discuss the same issues over and over. After a while you begin to realize that you are having long, lengthy meetings just to prepare for the next meeting.
Soon the systems, processes and procedures you have developed to help in the planning stage get tangled together—and an unprecedented amount of time is wasted. Most importantly, you lose focus on your goal of preparing and planning for the future. The larger companies are more apt to have a difficult time in the execution process because of their sheer size. Too many people involved in the process makes the communication and dissemination of information much more difficult.
Smaller companies are much more focused and have the ability to implement the planning process in a more timely manner.
4. Mushy Marketing
Your mother knows you are special, but what about your prospective and current customers? A marketing strategy that relies solely on the size of your organization is not going to work. The Big Box Landscapers love to tell their clients about their annual sales volume. Though a topic for conversation, it does not set you aside from your competition.
Small and medium-size companies often do a much better job of setting themselves apart so that customers can clearly see the advantages of working with them. Then, the marketing process needs to be in place 24 hours a day, seven days per week, and 365 days per year.
5. Inadequate Flexibility
From stacks of cash to battalions of employees, every small and medium-size landscape contractor knows the advantages a larger competitor brings to the game. But one thing the large Big Box Landscapers can’t necessarily do is turn on a dime. So that is something smaller and medium-size companies can exploit.
Never forget to remain flexible. If a service isn’t quite right or a marketing campaign isn’t really flying, don’t be afraid to tinker. Making those sorts of in-course adjustments is much more unwieldy for the big guys.
The Big Box Landscapers are forced to manage their employees and clients with their P&L statements. The human element as well as the commonsense approach to operating your business is thrown out the window when this is the mechanism used to measure success.
6. Efficiency in Focus, Customer Support Gets Blurry
When you are forced to operate your business using standard operating procedures without the flexibility of dealing with the issues at hand, your staff and clients will quickly become frustrated. The small and medium-size contractors have an easier time emphasizing complete customer support, from doing things you don’t have to do to offering thoughtful, useful advice that goes beyond the ordinary.
It is very difficult for the Big Box Landscaper to have their entire staff focus on quality, service, responsiveness, value and communication. But all members of your staff need to be focused on operating in a proactive manner. The larger the company, the more difficult it is to get everyone on the same page.
This mindset often gets lost in the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day activities in the larger companies. Though it may be something that they are thinking about, there are too many other corporate directives that must be completed.
7. Estimating vs. Buying Market Share
Small, medium and large landscape companies all need an estimating system in order to succeed in today’s competitive market for landscaping services. Most companies have a checks and balances system in place to make sure that this process is not abused.
At different times throughout the year, you may be under incredible pressure to produce estimates and make sales. The small and medium-size contractor is going to develop an estimating process and plan—and live by that system. These contactors will make sure that there is a set of internal controls in place to guard against a bunch of renegade estimators.
Unfortunately, Big Box Landscapers sometimes find themselves in a bit of a quandary when it comes to the estimating process. They are constantly under the gun to produce more revenue. The sales staff, which often is the estimating staff, finds itself in a position where it begins telling itself stories about a particular bid in order to reduce the price. The staff knows that nobody is going to check its work. The name of the game is new sales, after all.