What is the biggest change you’ve made since the downturn? – Part 3

PLANET recently interviewed a few of our members on how they were surviving in these tough economic times. Here is part 3 (of 4) from interviewee, Landon Reeve, Landscape Industry Certified Manager, from Chapel Valley Landscape Co. located in Woodbine, MD.

“Our company is divided almost equally between commercial and residential landscape construction and maintenance.  In both construction and maintenance, we are redoubling our efforts to connect with clients – at one level to make sure we’re providing the exact services they need and, at another, to make sure they’re the right fit for us.

Maintenance is holding up well and seems to be fairly consistent and stable. Still, we are reassessing how we can better serve that market. In the short term, we have worked with many of our clients to help reduce their costs by
reducing the scope of our service to them. For all of our maintenance projects, our team has assessed efficiencies, performance, and other functions to ensure we’re doing absolutely the best job we can for customers.

Construction is a different story. The residential market has slowed down considerably, but we’re fortunate to have a backlog in commercial business. The backlog, however, doesn’t immediately translate into business and profit. A couple of our clients declared bankruptcy this year, after we had started work on their projects. The reality is that just because you sign a contract doesn’t mean that you’re going to get paid.

Because of the downturn and the impact it is having on our customers, especially our commercial clients, we’re being more vigilant about determining their financial situation. No, clients will not come right out and tell you “things are bad,” but we can look for red flags (e.g., are they paying us on time with other projects, are sub-contractors getting paid, and so forth). I once read that President Reagan, when negotiating with Russia, said, “No deal is better than a bad deal.” That applies to just about everything in life, including owning and operating a landscape contracting company. We have to make our best deals with customers, vendors, and, yes, employees, and they have to be fair for all parties involved.

To answer the question about the single biggest change we’ve made, I would say it revolves around watching our customers more closely to see if we can serve them better and to ensure they’re a good fit for our company.”

Landon Reeve, Landscape Industry Certified Manager
Chapel Valley Landscape Co.
Woodbine, MD

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