As the economy continues to slow, everyone is feeling the pinch—including landscapers. In order to drum up business, landscapers are slashing their bottom lines and delivering the savings straight to the customer. If you have been waiting to have that custom outdoor kitchen, or brand new patio or deck installed, why wait? You’ll never get a better deal than you will right at this very moment.
The Competitive Landscape of Landscaping. Due to the slowdown, landscapers are hungry and competition is on the rise. To see just how competitive the market is right now, open the phone book, and call any five landscaping companies. You’ll probably have all five companies calling you back that very same day. Gone are the days when landscape companies were at their busiest and may have taken days, if not weeks to call you back. “Landscapers know that they are going to be bidding against several companies,” says Craig Smith, owner and principal of BR Design/Build. “Each firm is going to strive to give the potential client the best price possible,” adds Smith.
Bottom Lines Have Hit Rock Bottom. How exactly can landscapers provide clients with the best prices, especially when both material and labor costs are fixed? Overhead is where landscape design and build firms find their wiggle room. Some landscapers are downsizing in terms of office space, while others are trading in their gas guzzling trucks for more eco-friendly vehicles that are easier on fuel and on the wallet. Some companies are even trimming profit margins in hopes to increase volume. “Right now, landscape companies are taking a hard look at the way they do business and trying to find ways to run their firms more efficiently,” says Craig Smith (BR Design/Build). “If a firm can streamline operations, it can also cut costs significantly, and pass that savings onto their clients,” adds Smith.
But it’s Almost Winter. Typically winter is a slower time for landscaping. However, don’t let the lower temperatures impede on your plans for your outdoor living space. The concrete for an inground swimming pool can be poured as long as the daytime temperature stays above 36 degrees. In Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, winter temperatures average between 40 – 45 degrees. And in 2007, winter temperatures were up +8.19 degrees (SOURCE: Forecast Earth). It’s a cold hard fact: winter might be the best time to have your inground swimming pool installed, so you’re ready for spring. And if you’re not doing a pool, it’s never too early to get the plans rolling. Starting early means you’ll have all the right approvals in place from your town or city once the weather heats up.
The Cheapest Landscaper isn’t the Best. As with any contractor, be sure you go with a reputable one. Landscapers are not protected from the slowing economy, which means more and more are going out of business. Make sure that whomever you choose has an established, proven track record.