It’s inevitable—once you get a number of small projects under your belt, you yearn for that large project that will really put you on the map. Well, it may be big, and it may put you on the map, but is your business ready for it?
The truth is, large projects require more than just bidding against other contractors. It requires you sitting down and taking a look at your business. Can you really afford to ditch the one-day pond with amazing profit margins in exchange for a large project that is big dollar, but includes some variables beyond your control—including weather—that could cut into your productivity and ultimately, your profits?
The one-day pond is a sure thing, with guaranteed profit margins. And you can line those projects up, back-to-back, to make some serious money in a month. But what else is so great about small ponds?
Less you, more them
With smaller projects, you (the business owner) don’t necessarily need to be onsite but can instead go on a design consultation and close another sale while your crew works.
A larger job almost always requires that the head honcho be around, to make sure everything is running according to schedule, and to make sure that large equipment is being handled properly.
Higher closing percentage
Another bonus is that your closing percentage will be much higher with smaller projects. Smaller jobs are the bread-andbutter of a business, because there’s always someone with a backyard who needs a little pond. You have more chances and more time to sell a small project than a large one.
A sure thing
Small projects scream efficiency!
With a big project, you’re always experimenting, hoping that the idea you scratched out on a piece of paper on the way home from the site will work. Otherwise, you’ve put yourself behind one more day. With small projects, you can experiment with different ideas without worrying, because the other parts of the projects are right on task.
Word of mouth
Referrals are bountiful with small jobs. Once you’re done with a small job, the calls start rolling in from friends, neighbors and coworkers of the newest pond owners. The long-term relationship you have with them keeps the referrals coming. With larger jobs, not all of the homeowners’ friends can afford that two-week pond that covers the whole backyard. And with commercial jobs, ownership of your creation changes hands and, in the multitude of contractors working on the job, your name often gets lost in the shuffle.
Short and sweet
With smaller projects, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Simply put, a smaller job has an end in sight. You aren’t working for months on end, knowing that you’re not going to get that much farther with each passing day, like you do with larger jobs.
It’s all about you
You are your own boss on a small residential pond. Other than the homeowner telling you to add a few feet here or there, you are the last word on the project. With larger projects, you may have to deal with city codes and inspectors. With small residential ponds, no general contractor can stop you from laying your liner on the day you want.
Your exposure to weather-related setbacks is amplified with large projects. Your off-the-cuff guesstimate of time and materials, which works okay on small jobs, won’t cut it on large projects. It’s one thing to have a $5,000 accounts receivable and quite another to have a $25,000 receivable in limbo for 90 days as you wait for a final waiver to be signed.
Stick with the small projects
Our saying is, “Everyone wants a water feature, they just don’t know it … yet,” as opposed to, “Everyone wants a water feature, they just can’t afford it.” Entry-level ponds provide everyone with the chance to have a pond, which means there are ample opportunities out there to be earned.
Would you rather install a $3,000 project in year one for someone and clear $1,500, and come back a year or two later and upgrade that pond for another $7,000 to $8,000 … or would you rather miss the sale completely because an 11’ x 16’ pond wasn’t in the budget?
Looking to go even smaller?
If you have a customer who wants to hear and see water but doesn’t have the room for a regular-sized pond or the time to maintain one, then fountain rocks and bubbling urns are a quick, easy and profitable way to make that happen. Fountain rocks and bubbling urns are safe for animals and children, attract wildlife, and give endless hours of relaxation.
The bottom line
By offering the option of a smaller dollar-amount water feature, you will close more jobs. Most people who buy smaller water features will upgrade them. Therefore, by providing a smaller water-feature option, two things will happen.
One, you’ll close more jobs, and two, you’ll increase a customer’s lifetime value—a small project added onto later means more total dollars than a larger project alone.