The New Reality

What's 2010 going to bring? 2011? No one knows for sure, but consensus has it that there will be a new reality -- a new way of doing business for contractors and their customers. This recession is bound to leave its mark for years to come, not to the extent that the Great Depression left its mark on our parents and grandparents, but it will be felt. I think the key word moving forward will be "value" as it relates to people, systems, equipment, services, and so forth. The old adage "you get what you pay for" will take front and center stage. Right now, the maintenance market is being flooded with start-up companies looking to make a quick buck, but that will end as customers realize that a dollar should by a dollar's worth of service, not 50 cents worth. We've become a little plump over the years, all of us have. Maybe contractors have purchased equipment they only use once or twice a year, spent money on advertising that didn't deliver, or operated a three-person crew when two would have sufficed. This didn't matter as long as money was coming in. Getting value matters, now, though, and it will continue to matter tomorrow. If I owned a lawn maintenance company, hopefully I would have had the foresight to lean out my operation in time. Once that was accomplished, it would likely pay dividends in the long run if I continued to focus on adding value -- retaining "valuable" customers, delivering "valuable" services, hiring and retaining "valuable" employees, and developing "valuable" systems. Is there a silver lining in this economic cloud?  If there is one, it's one that brings us back to reality -- a new reality that will allow contractors to move forward with more confidence that their hard work will be rewarded. Rod Dickens, Senior Editor