Without seeing the negative or print, it just sounds like you are underexposing and over developing your film.
Try just the opposite.
Over expose and under develope.

You'll sure to get better shadow detail and if the length of development is controlled correctly, you have good printable highlights as well. The contrast of the negative will surely be flatter than what you've been use to, but the contrast is controlable via VC enlarging papers in most instances.