Profit Power: How to compete with ‘the big boys’

September 18, 2014 -  By

If you’re trying to compete with “the big boys,” like Brickman and ValleyCrest, you need to be aware of how the larger commercial property management firms operate. They have a sophisticated approach to decision making (it’s different from an owner-operator of a strip mall).

The approach

You need to find out:

  • At what level the enhancement jobs go out to bid;
  • At what level the property manager can make his or her own decision without it being kicked up to the VP;
  • How capital expenditures (aka “cap ex”) are handled differently from other small projects; and
  • If they have different management/restoration strategies for their different properties.

Being an independent operator, you should be able to compete against the big boys by your:

  • High level of proactive communication with your clients;
  • Ability to provide consistency across properties, meaning same account manager oversight, same level of detail;
  • Consistent labor pool—less turnover brings a consistent level of quality;
  • Ease of doing business that the big boys aren’t able to give—i.e. one phone call does it all across their many properties; and
  • Speed of turning around request—if you’re smaller you’re also more nimble, so use that to your advantage.

On the other hand, one of your weaknesses, compared to the big boys may be your ability to gear up quickly after a late winter. Try to be proactive when you sense you’ll get behind schedule. You need to get in front of that problem by starting the communication earlier in the season.

Avoid getting stale

Finally, it’s important to realize the key to why large clients change out contractors from time to time: It happens when you get stale and their properties get stale.

So let me ask you two sets of questions…

1. Have you gotten stale on how you take care of your clients? Do you take them for granted? Maybe you take the same approach every year, just because “it’s working.” If you do, then you’re in trouble, though you may not even know it yet. You’re about to lose work to someone else, not because they’re better, but because they might be better.

2. Do you have a systematic way of reinvigorating your perspective, your service and your client’s perception of the value you bring? Do you wait for your clients to make requests, or are you proactive in increasing your value to your clients? If you do, then you’re much more likely to retain your clients, earn new business and earn their referrals.

Which camp are you in?

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Jeffrey Scott

About the Author:

Jeffrey Scott, MBA, author, specializes in growth and profit maximization in the Green Industry. His expertise is rooted in his personal success, growing his own company into a $10 million enterprise. Now, he facilitates the Leader’s Edge peer group for landscape business owners—members achieve a 27 percent profit increase in their first year. To learn more visit

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