If there was a theme for 2019 at Landscape Design Concepts, it would have to revolve around expansion. Not necessarily a building expansion, but widening the net when it comes to customers they want to catch. The change helped the company grow 35% in 2019 to produce $29.2 million of revenue landing the Norwood, New Jersey-based company at No. 71 on the 2019 Top 100 list.
President Mike Pierro attributes the company’s success in 2019 to serving specifically more commercial clients.
“Before last year, we were selling primarily to corporate banks and other corporate buildings, like hospitals and medical buildings, Pierro says. “So, instead of just selling to those types of accounts, we started to sell to retail facilities,” he says. “If you turn on the news, you hear that retail is going down, but we found that that’s who was spending money on their properties, (and) in particular, high-end outdoor malls. So, we got very aggressive with selling to these luxury malls.”
Pierro adds one of their largest new clients is a large shopping mall operator. “That was extremely successful,” he says. “That really added to our growth.”
Providing more opportunities.
Pierro adds that expanding the business’s services also helped them to grow.
“We expanded on irrigation, outdoor kitchens for residential properties and we also started to sell more on flowers and plantings – so softscape,” he says. “We did them before, but we started to do more exquisite work. For example, instead of putting in your basic Begonias, we’ll do New Guineas or we’ll do interior landscaping with flowers.”
Pierro says he determined what services to expand on by looking at the data from previous years.
“Off of our sales from 2018, we saw there was room to grow in these areas,” he says. “We’ve been asked before about doing irrigation repairs and irrigation installations in 2018, but it was something we declined. We decided to sub it out and thought we didn’t have time to do it. Now, we incorporated an irrigation crew.”
According to Pierro, promoting the outdoor kitchens also made sense as the company already had a construction crew.
Even while expanding, Pierro says there were some services they chose to pass on providing.
“One service we didn’t expand on was chemicals,” he said. “We usually sub that out. The work we’re doing now is tedious enough, so to add new crews for chemical lawn work just wasn’t worth it for us.”
Despite the expansion, the Landscape Design Concepts team must still go out and sell the new services in order to see that increase in growth and revenue.
“Nobody really ever comes to us and says, ‘This is exactly what I want to do.’ It’s usually that they have an idea and then we have to sell our idea to them,” he says. “They have an idea, but they don’t know where exactly to put the money into their property.”
Easy steps to follow.
Pierro says that reaching out to a broader client base and expanding services are two things any business can do in order to grow.
“If you can, look into expanding both your service base and the regions that you service,” he says. “I’ve noticed that there are different markets for different regions. For example, in northern New Jersey, maintenance is a big spender for commercial and residential properties. Where in south New Jersey, there isn’t as much grass and the bigger factor there is hardscaping and softscaping.”
Pierro says that networking is another easy way to identify new clients. Some of the best advertising is word-of-mouth, and customers are often inclined to help their contractors find additional work if there’s a close relationship. Good recommendations spread, and can help you establish a good, local reputation.
“If you do residential clients currently, start to build closer relationships with them,” he says. “You’ll realize that they have connections within different institutions and can connect you with different people. One person can connect you with one person, who can connect you to three people.”
Making sure your team is filled with good leaders can also help, Pierro says.
“You need good foremen,” he says. “We have guys driving 100 miles to go service 10 properties. If they get a flat tire on the highway, they can’t be calling me and saying ‘Oh, we need a tire.’ You need a good foreman who can take initiative and knows their stuff. That’s why our problems get resolved.”
Paying those employees well goes hand in hand with having the best team possible.
“It all comes down to pay,” he says. “We’ve had great workers that wanted to leave, not because they didn’t like the job, but because they didn’t like the pay. As long as they’re vocal about that, I have no problem working through that. I noticed you can keep good help as long as you can pay them well.”