Crane's Outdoor Power Equipment in Canaan, CT, began selling trailers in 2001. "We had a few inquiries from landscapers about where they could purchase trailers locally," says Rich Crane J r. "There weren't any trailer dealers close to us, so I thought, 'Why don't we start selling them?' Really, it makes perfect sense.
SPECIAL REPORT By Gregg Wartgow F or the past 10-15 years, leading power equipment dealers have adapted their businesses to capitalize on the growing lawn maintenance contractor market. But today’s contrac- tors are different. They provide different services and have different needs. Will dealers be forced to adapt further? Forced might be a strong word. AN EVOLVING INDUSTRY competitors have most established Dealers with solid brands of core In the mid- to late-90’s, demand contractors grounded in the realiza- equipment, along with equally solid for basic lawn services grew as an tion that diversity is likely their best parts and service operations, fulfill a increasing number of dual-income way forward—in terms of both cus- very important need for maintenance households had less free time to tomer retention, sales growth and contractors. However, as more estab- do their own yard work. As a result, profitability. lished contractors look to bring at lawn maintenance contractors began There is another dynamic at play least some of their equipment main- sprouting up all over the country. that could impact how your landscape tenance and repairs in-house, many Then, as the housing and construction customers operate. As the concept leading dealers have expanded their markets took off in the 2002-2004 of “eco-friendly landscaping” gains aftermarket support to include on-site timeframe, many of these same con- more widespread acceptance, some service, parts delivery and even tech- tractors began branching into land- homeowners and landscape design- nical training. scape installation. ers are questioning just how much Many dealers have also broadened The miserable housing market and lawn should be part of a landscape. their inventories to include a variety of deteriorating economic conditions Replacing turf with more drought- products lawn maintenance contrac- over the past couple of years have tolerant elements such as extended tors need as they expand and grow contractors focused on the more patios, mulch, native shrubs and veg- their businesses. Equipment such as recession-proof business of lawn etable gardens reduces the need for mini skid steers, tractors, attachments maintenance again. But uncontrol- fertilization, irrigation and the opera- and aerators complement products lable factors such as drought, tighter tion of power equipment. such as fertilizer, mulch and hardscap- customer budgets, and pricing pres- However, the average American’s ing supplies. sure from a mounting number of affection for a lush, green lawn will be 22 YA R D & G A R D E N ❘ A P R I L / M AY 2 0 0 9 SPECIAL REPORT LANDSCAPER EVOLUTION, EQUIPMENT NEEDS 37% say they view their backyard as It’s important to understand the typical “landscape contractor evolu- a “retreat area.” tion.” Generally speaking, most contractors start out in lawn mainte- What does all this mean for land- nance, but eventually begin offering various installation services—often scape contractors? There’s an oppor- at their customers’ request. At the same time, maintenance contractors tunity to extend their basic lawn who are intentionally looking to diversify and grow their businesses are maintenance services to include turf ﬁnding out that “satisﬁed maintenance customers” are the easiest to sell
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