Suppliers offer more than just products Email
Written by Colorado Green NOW   
Tuesday, May 11, 2021 03:00 AM

Vendors who support the industry represent a wide variety of companies. As expected, suppliers of rocks, turf, irrigation equipment, landscape equipment and plant material keep landscape contractors in business by delivering the products they need to serve clients.

These are the tangibles, things we can see. This is similarly true for vehicle dealers. But there are numerous intangibles—services and education—that suppliers, as well as other service firms, provide including marketing consultants, software providers, insurance companies and many more are also instrumental in keeping the industry running smoothly.

Landscape companies can look to this supplier community for support and resources. Beyond offering an exchange of cash for a product, many suppliers offer a variety of classes, tools, and services designed to help companies be successful.

Irrigation suppliers including CPS Distributors/ MCS Landscape Supply, SiteOne® Landscape Supply, and Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply offer educational opportunities that help certified professionals earn continuing education units (CEUs). CPS offers both classroom training and hands-on training, as well as their annual Spring Fling—a full day of learning, resources, and promotions. Jain Irrigation/ET Water pivoted in 2020 to offering twice-weekly webinars on a variety of topics beyond irrigation and technology: sessions on landscape photography, helpful Spanish phrases for irrigation professionals, and building a stronger business are among the topics available.

Marketing professionals at Ramblin’ Jackson and AEC Consultant Group have also offered free webinars on marketing and social media topics for business owners. Both companies have landscape-industry-specific knowledge and experience and hope to earn new clients from their free offerings, but the sessions aren’t always offered simply as a sales pitch.

When the pandemic shutdowns began in early 2020, AEC Consultant Group’s webinars had a bigger purpose. “I was there to listen – to hear people’s problems,” says Kim Naughtin, AEC founder and principal. “My goal was to put people at ease, which was easier to do in the face-to-face setting that Zoom provides. Some came with specific questions, while others simply wanted to connect with businesses navigating the same storm.”

Relationships are at the core of landscape industry sales and service
Strong relationships between landscape professionals and industry vendors/suppliers help the industry become more efficient and more successful. Getting to know professionals and understand their needs and challenges helps inform the evolution of products and services.

At Alameda Wholesale Nursery, their close relationships with clients allow them to adapt services to help landscape contractors be more efficient. As sales manager Alan Clark explains, “We offer curbside delivery service in which we boom the trees off our trucks. For installations accessible by our delivery booms we have been able to set trees directly in the pre-dug holes.” That service allows landscape company employees to work more efficiently, which is important in an industry with a labor shortage where every minute of work should be maximized. Those relationships serve both parties.

Discussing challenges with suppliers can inform service “extras” as it does with Alameda Wholesale Nursery. It also allows suppliers to give honest, transparent advice. “At Siloam Stone we attempt to be well educated in not only the stone products we offer but also on all types of stone products,” says Matt Mueller. “Although we would like every sale to be Siloam Stone, we will not hesitate to advise of any limitations our stone may have in a particular application or if another stone might better serve your needs.” That honesty and transparency may not result in an immediate sale, but the level of trust established with these interactions can inspire loyalty.

Giving begets giving
These relationships between the suppliers and landscape firms are inherently win-win. The product sold to contractors is only as good as its proper installation and use. It should be no surprise that suppliers are motivated to educate landscape business owners who, in turn, are motivated to not only buy and install a supplier’s products but become loyal, repeat customers. In addition, by having good relationships with suppliers, landscape companies can provide honest feedback from use in the field that can help with development of new products.

Collectively, all benefit from growing and learning because, ultimately, they all share the same common goal: to serve the industry—homeowners and commercial properties—with the best possible products and services.

This excerpt originally appeared in the May/June issue of Colorado Green magazine.

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green NOW:
Front Range students ready for landscape jobs
Step outside your comfort zone and feel the support

Support and collaboration make the industry stronger