Landscapers told to rethink tactics in difficult market

Landscapers will need to work harder and smarter to gain business in an economic climate where many of their traditional customers may now be out of a job.

An overhaul of business practices may be needed to meet the challenges of the recession, HTA's business development adviser Neville Stein told landscapers at the organisation's Landscape Business Improvement Scheme meeting on 14 January.

"Most of us have been (through a recession) before but this is different from the 1990s," Stein said. "The people losing their jobs then were blue collar workers, but this time it is your type of customers."

Run jointly with the Association of Professional Landscapers, the seminar in Cambridge was a chance for firms to take stock of the market challenges.

Figures from the APL in East Anglia showed that the number of days for work booked ahead had dropped off substantially in the past year. Bosworth's Nurseries and Garden Centre landscape manager Andrew Young said: "The enquiries are starting to slow so we have been working on marketing.

"We have put up banners in our local garden centre and that has generated enquiries."

Landscape design and construction director Roger Gladwell said: "Our enquiry rate is lower than normal but our conversion rate is high; we are getting quality enquiries."

Stein said landscapers could increase new customers; increase the value of the job with add-ons such as sheds, patios or ponds; improve their website, or get in touch with industry experts.

- See Vox Pop, p19.

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