Bruce’s view: Competence or commodity?

August 7, 2015 -  By
Bruce Wilson

Bruce Wilson

True or false: To be successful, an account manager or business developer needs a degree in horticulture or experience in landscape maintenance.

False. Here’s why: A company can have people with a lack of landscape or horticultural knowledge as long as there is a depth and sharing of that knowledge in the company.

As investment bankers, venture capitalists and corporate partners gain influence in our industry, they will bring with them a fundamental culture shift. This will contribute to a growing commoditization of our industry. Prices will continue to be driven down, making it harder to be a really good service provider.

In his book “Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable,” author Seth Godin says that a low-price strategy is the last resort when you run out of ideas. As a partner in a landscape company built on a strong foundation of landscape knowledge supported by a diverse team of interesting people, I believe that not running out of ideas means relying on a mix of talent and influences to keep our thinking fresh. It also requires us to leverage our horticultural foundation to become better at what we do before we become cheaper at doing it.

If customers believe that landscape service firms are interchangeable or replaceable, then they are perceived as commodities. Transcending commoditization requires building competence at all levels and across all positions, adding differentiating value and ensuring that applying and sharing our knowledge and expertise remains the foundation of what we do.

This article is tagged with and posted in August 2015

About the Author:

The author, of the Wilson-Oyler Group, is a 30-year industry veteran. Reach him at

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