What is the biggest change you've made since the downturn? - Part 4 - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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What is the biggest change you've made since the downturn? – Part 4

PLANET recently interviewed a few of our members on how they were surviving in these tough economic times. Here is part 4 (of 4) from interviewee, Tom Heaviland, Landscape Industry Certified Manager & Technician, from Heaviland Enterprises Inc. located in Vista, CA.

“Like other companies, we have had to adjust to make up for declining sales revenue. The biggest change was to enforce stricter cost controls. We’ve looked at every single line item to determine if it is a “need” or a “want.” Needs stayed, but wants were postponed. In addition to going over our budget with a fine-tooth comb, what you might call micromanaging our expenses, we’ve also made some general decisions to retain our margins. For example, we plan to minimize what we spend this year on bringing in experts to help us with training and other business management issues. Their services are important and have been invaluable, but maybe we can do with less this year. Our plan is to continue to increase training this year, but develop those programs in house.

 Similarly, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a freeze on salaries and wages, but we are attempting to keep these costs in line, as well. That requires looking at every position to determine how our compensation compares with industry standards in our area. We absolutely do not want to lose any of our key people, but at the same time, we cannot afford to kick salaries up too far. If we are unable to get increases in our base monthly contracts, then it’s critical to keep revenue and wages as a percentage in balance.

The adjustments are paying off and we are having a profitable year, despite sales being off. We will have money to spend at year’s end to update our equipment and fleet of trucks. It’s interesting, companies are more apt to get in trouble when times are good than when times are more difficult. That’s when the bad habits are formed and loose spending can get out of line. Our job, now, is not only to bring the costs in line but make a concerted effort to keep them in line in years to come.

The second biggest change for us this year comes on the client side. Not that we’ve ever taken our customers for granted, but this year competition has become very keen. We need to be extremely vigilant during renewal time this fall to ensure that we are absolutely on target with our pricing and service offering. The last thing we want to have happen is for loyal clients to suddenly take a property out to bid because we’ve lost touch with their reality.”

 Tom Heaviland, Landscape Industry Certified Manager & Technician

Heaviland Enterprises, Inc.