I’m on the road this week in Atlanta for Next Level University, the annual development meeting for the Next Level Network.
Before the meetings got started yesterday, I met up with David Bell, the owner at Lifescapes in Marietta, Ga.
Over a cup of coffee, he gave me a quick run down of his market conditions here in the southeast, and what he’s hoping to accomplish in 2012.
David’s company does mostly high-end residential maintenance (about 80 percent) and the rest design/build. With 11 crews headquartered in the city’s northern suburbs, he brings in about $2.5 million a year.
Last year, he rebounded from the recession and grew about nine percent. This year, he hopes to build on that and grow another 10 percent. The downturn in 2010 and 2011 forced him to become leaner and more efficient, which he says put him in the catbird seat for 2012.
He’ll do that, he says, thanks to a new focus on SEO marketing that has beefed up his list of leads. It’s also forced him to implement some more qualification questions that his office staff ask prospective clients.
He’s also brought on a landscape architect in house to bolster his design/build services for his existing client base.
He’s not banking on city’s exurbs boosting their spending – those “homes” are mostly still graded lots with survey stakes in the clay. Georgia ranks fourth in the nation for the rate of homes in foreclosure, behind only Nevada, California and Arizona.
Those foreclosures have put a lot of downward pressure on market prices in the Atlanta region. Coupled with raising costs for fuel, that makes for a very competitive market.
But Bell’s still looking at acquisitions, and is confident his niche of the residential market will stabilize through 2012.