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Persistence pays off

October 1, 2010 -  By

Urban Farmer found the work it wanted and chased it until it was theirs.

Getting to this point was a lot of hard work, but Urban Farmer, a Thornton, CO-based full-service landscape, irrigation, reclamation and maintenance firm, is tracking 4.5% growth for the year. How did they do it? One word, says Sean Lynam, business development manager: “Persistence.” “It came down to finding the work we wanted to chase and staying after it until we got it,” he says. “When bidding, we were also persistent in finding the target number and making it happen.”

Like so many other successful landscape firms, when times were good, Urban Farmer had a lot of jobs coming in. Sales didn’t have to be too aggressive and could almost pick and choose the jobs they wanted. But in this economy, every job counts and Lynam says their persistence has paid off — though he admits, it was a lot of work to achieve that success. “We really chase down leads now,” he continues. “In the past, there was so much more to bid that you didn’t have to be as tenacious. That’s certainly not the case today.”

Once Urban Farmer gets a job, it makes every effort to keep it. “We’ve always been about customer service, but now more than ever, if our customers ask us to do something, we do it,” Lynam says of the mostly commercial clientele they work with. “And we handle it when they need it — even if our bid table is busy we find the time to fit it in. Basically, whatever they need, they get.”

This year, Urban Farmer’s maintenance division is seeing the strongest growth. Though construction/installation is their larger division (60%), Lynam says maintenance (which accounts for 30%) is holding up better in the tough economic times. “Probably because all our property managers and other customers have to spend money that’s allotted for maintenance or it doesn’t come back next year in their budgets,” he hypothesizes. “Though in this area, construction is at least holding steady.”

One adaptation the company has undergone to deal with the economy is to bring more work in house that they typically would have subbed out. “We do a lot of our concrete in house now,” Lynam says. “We do as much work in house as we can, though it doesn’t always work that easily. There are times when you have nine projects going on and they all want to start the same day, so you’re forced to sub out some work. But we make an effort to do it ourselves whenever we can.”

Besides doing some more work in house, Lynam says the company didn’t make any major changes this year. It didn’t add any new marketing plans or map out a detailed growth strategy. Instead, the Urban Farmer team just focused on working as hard as ever. “In terms of a strategy or goal, it was really just to push as hard as we could and to really latch on and stay with our core group of customers,” he says.
In the end, that persistence has certainly paid off.

This article is tagged with and posted in 1010, Business Planner 2011
LM Staff

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