Bigger isn’t better – that’s what Dave Stracka has found in this economy. “A lot of guys try to get as many accounts as they can, and they really don’t look at the bottom line, what they are charging or what they are losing, for that matter” says the president of D.S. Enterprises Lawn & Landscaping and Cherry Valley Landscape Center in Rockford, Ill.
Stracka has watched landscape companies with a lot of work go out of business. “They weren’t making any money,” he says. That’s why he chose to reign in his design/build maintenance firm and “keep it small” while expanding his operation in an entirely different direction: the landscape supply and equipment business.
In 2010, D.S. Enterprises’ revenues were about $750,000. Sales have declined the past two years. On the maintenance side, Stracka notices that some clients are cutting their own grass or shopping around for cheaper prices. And while design/build has also been tough, homeowners who have decided to stay put are upgrading their properties.
Despite the market conditions – and the temptation to lower prices to compete – Stracka keeps prices on the higher end and charges for the quality services he provides. “The best thing to do is perform quality work and charge a premium for it, and look for the customers who are willing to pay for it,” he says. “There are so many companies out there, you can’t compete on price. You have to try to do a better job than the next guy.”
Finding those customers is easier now with Cherry Valley Landscape Center –because, actually, more customers are finding Stracka. The design/build firm gains visibility from the landscape center, and residential customers who shop there and inquire about hiring a professional or how to accomplish a project outdoors get a fast referral to D.S. Enterprises.
As for growing “bigger” into the landscape supply business, Stracka says, “I wouldn’t consider it bigger or better – just another opportunity.”
This story is one of three that appeared in Lawn & Landscape’s Business Builder e-newsletter. To keep reading about D.S. Enterprises Lawn & Landscaping and Cherry Valley Landscape Center:
Exploring the supply side
Starting up smart: Here are four tips for growing a business.