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What is the biggest change you've made since the downturn? – Part 1

PLANET recently interviewed a few of our members on how they were surviving in these tough economic times. Here is one of those interviews from Gerry McCarthy of Mac’s Landscaping in Burlington, MA.

“I know we’re not alone when I say the design/build portion of our business has taken a tremendous hit since the recession kicked in. To date, though, our revenue is down only 10 percent from last year. Compared to other contractors from around the country, we should consider that fortunate. Mother Nature hasn’t cooperated either, as New England is experiencing one of the wettest summers in recent memory. The combination of a down economy and bad weather literally dried up inquiries. The phone rarely rings, and when it does, we’re bidding against 10 or so other landscape contractors. So, we’ve gone back to the basics of marketing our company and selling our services. One of the first moves I made this spring was to join our local BNI International chapter. BNI is the world’s largest business networking organization, and the group already has generated several new leads and referrals for us, some from people I first met at a BNI breakfast. With my sons Keith and Shawn, I recently did a PowerPoint presentation to the group. The 10-minute presentation, which helped members better understand our company and the services we provide, will likely increase the number of referrals we will receive from the BNI group. On the sales side, with any proposal that’s more than $3,000 to $4,000, I sit down with the customer and go over the details — pointing out value, offering alternatives, and countering any objections, most of which occur because of increased competition and the subsequent downward pressure on prices. The point is you have to be aggressive and really go after the work. Sometimes that requires working extra hard, too. Today, the regimen is to get up early to present a proposal before breakfast and present another proposal after the dinner hour. The economic climate, today, reminds me of what it was like to start up a business. I’ve been there and done that and will do it again, even after being in business close to 35 years.”

– Gerry McCarthy, Mac’s Landscaping

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