What you told us about 2014 buying trends Email
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 04:14 PM

Writing a checkLandscape firms recently weighed in about their customers’ current buying trends. Specifically, we asked, “Are customers willing to spend more money now?”

Here is what we learned about landscape buying trends in Colorado’s post-recession economy.

Customers are opening their wallets to spend more. Almost 80% of landscape companies in this statewide poll said their customers are now spending more. Even the smaller jobs are bigger and backlogs are extending further out in time than they have in years. Overall, volume is also up because there are more customers buying. Designers and others say that leads have gone up and some admitted the volume of leads is beyond their capacity to return calls. Saying they need to be more selective in which jobs they take on was also common.

Qualifying which customers to work with has created tension for some. One Fort Collins designer in the high-end market said that in the start of the recession, they were putting out door hangers to get work. Now, they have to turn customers in their market away, “without giving off the impression that we think we’re too good to work for them.” They anguish about tarnishing their reputation within their tight-knit community.

Nevertheless, companies report that even though spending is up, it is different now than in pre-recession times. One owner spoke for many, “While spending is up, it’s not at the confidence level of 6-7 years ago.” The consensus is that while there is more demand, consumers are spending differently.

Restraint was a common thread among respondents. While wealthy clients are spending as much or more than pre-recession, the less wealthy are more cautious and also more demanding. We were told consistently that budgets are “more controlled,” and people are “spending more wisely.”

One owner described clients as “more informed and educated” and several credited the Internet for this shift. As one designer put it, “The Internet and media training on how to be cautious and get more out of your contractors is not necessarily a good thing.” An owner of a small design/build firm said one prospective customer asked for “every piece of information short of my P&L statement.”

What are landscape consumers buying?

Extending the home into outdoor living areas, more involved renovations and for many, practical upgrades are what consumers are willing to pay for now. Luxury features, entertainment options, hardscape patios and walls, firepits, fireplaces, lighting, pergolas and decks and outdoor kitchens including pizza ovens were high on the list of outdoor living amenities. Water features were also high in demand.

Some noted – perhaps in line with more cautious spending habits – that many consumers want upgrades that deliver more value. They cited water-saving upgrades such as irrigation renovations and low-water plants as very desirable among many customers. Landscaping to reduce maintenance was also on the value list. “Spending on enhancements that had been postponed during the leaner times” was also common.

Read more from this issue of Colorado Green NOW:
Colorado ranks high in energy efficiency 
It all comes down to condos 
Cara Doyle on women's roundtable effects
Are consumers different post-recession?

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