by Tom Egelhoff
Having grown up in the landscaping business I have found that most landscaping businesses fail because they either spend too much time chasing the wrong clients or they undervalue their services.
In this article I want to talk about both. Bringing in more profitable customers and increasing profits from the ones you already have.
Both should help your business grow regardless of the economic conditions you find yourself in. Landscaping is a service that someone always needs.
Your job is to convince those that need it that they need it from you … and to build your business with referrals from satisfied customers.
How to Define You And Your Landscaping Business
Before you can identify your ideal customer you need to identify yourself. Start by identifying your five most profitable services. Most landscapers have an identity crisis. They want to be all things to all people because they need the business.
If a customer asks, “Can you…?” most new or inexperienced landscapers will reply, “Of course I can. That’s my specialty.” Then the “on the job” training starts. The job takes more hours than estimated so you make no money, the customer is unhappy because it doesn’t appear that you know what you’re doing and in the end you lose a repeat customer and a possible referral. Let’s look at a better way.
If you are brand new and all you have is a 20” mower and a rake, the chances are pretty good that you are not going to try to specialize in mowing golf courses.
Sit down and list your five most profitable services. What do you do really well with the equipment and resources that you currently have?
Look at square footage, suppliers of plants, trees, sprinklers, trimming, etc. Next, look at past jobs. Are your estimates accurate? Are the jobs you have been doing above or below your capabilities? Are these jobs profitable?
Have you raised prices on existing customers to keep up with the economy or are you still charging the same rates you did two years ago? It’s very easy to just keep charging the same while your profit margin slips little by little. You must know the exact costs of every single thing you do on a job.
Once you have identified your five most profitable services, it’s time to determine who are the people most in need of those services? Homeowners?
Apartment complexes? Corporate campuses? Parks? Recreation areas? Who fits best with what you do? These are the people you want to talk to with your advertising.
How To Advertise Your Landscaping Business
People buy benefits not services. I know there is this overwhelming desire to tell the customer all about your company. How long in business, great service, knowledgeable employees, state of the art equipment, etc.
And those things are all fine and you should be proud of your accomplishments. But at the end of the day all the customer is really concerned about is, they have a problem and can you fix it for a price they can afford?
All your advertising should deal with solving problems, not blowing your own horn. To help in that effort your ads should have a “call to action.”
Something that will make the customer pick up the phone and call. It might be a discount, a limited time offer, educational class or some information they should want.
I worked with a company whose business model was to make 75 cold calls every Monday with the goal of finding 20 prospects to allow a free demo of a product or service of the company.
Their closing ratio was 5 with an average sale being $500.00. So each salesperson generated about $2,500.00 per week. How many contacts does it take for you to make a sale? If you don’t know you need to find out today.
Work Smarter; Not Harder
In the above example there are three things you can improve. Since you have indentified your most profitable services, and who should “benefit” from those services, you can make cold calls on more qualified clients so it should not take 75 cold calls to reach your 20 ideal customers.
If you are using traditional advertising then it should cost less to advertise to a specific target market because that should produce more qualified clients.
Once you have the 20 you have an opportunity to upsell additional products and services which will not only build a cushion in your margin but also up the average sale and improve your bottom line.
Last but not least by learning from every contact you should be able to move the average closing ratio to 8-10 customers.
Instead of wasting time trying to sell 15 prospects who were not truly valid customers and concentrating on selling the 8 – 10 qualified customers who are ready to buy now, you accomplish more sales at a higher per sale volume in the same amount of time.
Define yourself, define your customer, create a contacting process, and sell benefits and you will always be working smarter not harder.