Developing your landscape company requires more than a single action. It needs a strategic approach – plus some serious know-how. If you’re unsure where to start, here’s 30 essential steps to get things moving.
PLANNING FOR SUCCESS
1. Work out your budget
The first thing to do is establish your budget. How much can you realistically afford to set aside for growth? As a general rule, most small businesses allocate between 5-15% of their total annual revenue on marketing.
You may also want to invest money into extra resources or manpower. If you haven’t done so already, create a spreadsheet detailing annual net returns. This should give you an idea of how much you can dedicate to growing your landscape business.
2. Create your long-term plan
You’ve allocated your budget for growth. Now the big question – where to invest? This is where a long-term business plan can come in handy (U.S. Small Business Administration has a great template online to help you).
However, don’t be afraid to deviate from the standard business plan. Set targets for your growing landscape business. Ask yourself if they’re SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely). For example, telling yourself that you’ll ‘get more business this year’ isn’t a SMART goal. However, stating you’ll ‘convert 50 leads by the end of month three, by investing in business management software and booking more consultations’ is very SMART indeed.
3. Know your competition
There’s a lot of competition in your industry. Exact statistics are hazy, but the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) estimates there are around 10,000 individual lawncare service providers and 12,000 landscapers in the U.S. That’s not even including ‘odd-jobbers’ who work on a casual basis!
To develop your landscaping company effectively, you should know what your local competition is offering – and ensure you offer something better. How do they convert leads into customers? Could you improve the process? What equipment could you invest in to get the job done faster? Could you make your website better? Examine your competition carefully, then use the information to boost your own business.
4. Get prepared
Before you start growing your landscaping business, you’ll need to be prepared. Have you got the right equipment to carry out services to a high standard? Do you have enough manpower to cope with increased numbers of customers? Do you have the right processes in place – such as business management software, and quoting and booking systems? If not, make it a priority to get everything in order before you get started.
4. Develop your website
These days, 97% of consumers use the internet to research local companies (BIA / Kelsey). As a result, it’s important your site makes a good impression. There’s no hard-and-fast rule about how your site should look, but as a general rule, it should be:
-Easy to navigate
-Simple (fewer layers are better)
-Clear, informative and appealing
-Easy to get in contact
-Easy to book a consultation
Use your website to highlight your benefits, showcase testimonials (90% of consumers are influenced by positive reviews) and actively encourage people to get in contact. It should also be fully responsive across all mobile devices.
5. Get SEO-savvy
According to the National Association of Landscape Professionals, 67% of Americans feel that a professional landscaping business can help them have a more pleasant yard. That’s a lot of people actively seeking your services. The likelihood is that they’ll be looking online – so you need to ensure your company can be found.
SEO isn’t an overnight process and requires continual effort, but the rewards are worth it. Undertaking the following will improve your SEO results:
-Identify your keywords. What are people typing into Google to find you? Once you’ve got a list of keywords, aim to incorporate them subtly throughout your web content.
-Create regular content. The search engines like fresh content and you’ll be ranked higher if you post regularly.
-Get your Google business listing for free.
-Develop some good backlinks. For example, share links to your site on social media, or offer to create a guest post on an industry-related site in exchange for a link.
6. Get blogging
Blogging is the easiest way to keep your website fresh. It not only helps with SEO; it also entices people through to your website. A well-written, informative blog builds trust in your brand, increasing the likelihood that the reader will turn into a buyer.
When creating a blog, make sure it ticks the following boxes:
-It’s readable (i.e. no long paragraphs or jargon)
-It offers something of real value
-It’s visually appealing
-It establishes your landscaping company as an ‘authority’ in the industry
-It presents your business in a good light.
7. Use social media
Nearly 2.1 billion people worldwide have social media accounts. Even in your local area, there are huge numbers of people who are actively interested in your services; and social media is an excellent way to reach them. Here’s a brief breakdown of how the main sites can help you.
-Facebook: As one of the largest and most well-established sites, Facebook is an excellent platform for raising your local profile. Facebook ads allow you to target by region and demographic, which makes it even easier to connect with the right people.
-Instagram / Pinterest: These visually-based sites are perfect for presenting your portfolio online. Get in the habit of taking a ‘before and after’ photo on every job and sharing them with your followers.
-Twitter: Twitter is a fast-paced site, and well suited to blog sharing, testimonial sharing and posting news. It also offers targeted paid advertising.
-LinkedIn: If you want to get bigger contracts with local businesses, LinkedIn is the platform to focus on. Grow your network, then post regular content about company developments and key projects you’ve worked on.
8. Create an email campaign
Make it a priority to generate a subscriber base – people you can contact regularly, with the intention of converting them into active customers. The most effective way to capture emails is to offer something in return; such as a free consultation or downloadable guide.
Effective email campaigns often incorporate special offers, important news about your products and services, or showcase your work. They always include a call-to-action. It’s vital to create professional emails – if you don’t have this capacity already, use a free-to-use service like Mailchimp.
9. Monitor results
Landscaping companies often avoid monitoring online advertising results – mainly because it’s bewildering knowing what data to focus on. Work out what numbers make the most difference to your business. For example, would it help most if you increased numbers of visitors to your website, or is your lead-to-conversion ratio more important?
Once you’ve identified your ‘magic metric’, remember to analyse results on a regular basis. This will help you to determine whether your current marketing practices are working. There are many analytical tools online, but Google Analytics still remains the most popular.
10. Use productivity tools
Discover ways that you can make your business more efficient. Online tools such as Hootsuite (which allows you to manage your social media accounts in one place) and Google Keyword Planner (which helps with SEO) are both great examples. Business management software like MyBusinessGenie enables you to showcase your portfolio to prospective customers, plus create quotes and take payments via any device.
11. Use your vehicle
As part of your daily routine, you and your team will often be out on the road. Investing in a professional decal for your car or van makes real sense – and ensures your brand is visible in your local area.
12. Leaflet drop
Leafleting is a great way to mass-market your landscaping business on a local scale. However, it’s crucial to get the timing right, and identify the right areas to deliver your leaflets to. It goes without saying that properties with larger back yards are more likely to require your services! It’s also important to take into account the season and weather – a sudden bout of sunshine acts as a powerful motivator for people to book landscaping services.
13. Word of mouth
Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools available. Encourage existing clients to refer friends and family, via incentives or a loyalty scheme. You can also promote your referral program through an email campaign or on social media.
14. Ads in local publications
Placing an ad in your local newspaper can yield good results. Remember to include an attention-grabbing headline, and give your reader plenty of reason to get in touch. Highlight your key services and unique selling points (USPs). For example, if your team always clean up thoroughly after each project, mention this. If you take pride on your friendly service – make sure your target audience knows about it. Keep the content short and simple, in easy-to-read fonts.
15. Offer free consultations
Asking people to invest in your landscaping services without meeting you first requires a leap of faith – and many aren’t comfortable with this. A free consultation provides them with a low-threat, risk-free opportunity to meet you. It’s also an ideal chance for you to showcase your key services and encourage them to choose your company, instead of your competition.
16. Be consultative
When you meet in person, don’t adopt a pushy, sales-led approach. Instead, act consultatively, giving them the chance to voice their requirements. In the initial meeting, do the following:
–Listen. Let them tell you what their expectations are – and what services they’re looking for.
–Repeat back. Outline what you believe they want – and give them the chance to confirm that you’ve got it right.
–Showcase. Explain how your landscaping company can help them, and ideally, showcase previous work to emphasize the quality of your service.
–Up-sell / Cross-sell. Don’t be afraid to suggest other services they might benefit from.
–Close the deal. Ideally, they’ll book one of your services. However, if they’re still unsure, make sure you leave them with something tangible to reflect on, like a leaflet and a printed quote.
17. Present your portfolio
Prospective buyers like to see evidence that they’re investing in the right product or service. Take a portfolio of work with you, plus some testimonials if possible. Invest in suitable business management software to ensure you come across as professional.
18. Take everything you need
It’s important to be prepared when meeting prospective clients. Bring along quotes, contracts and your diary, so you can book appointments on the day. Rather than having to carry round a giant briefcase of paperwork and books, it’s much easier to use a digital device to store everything you need on. Look for productivity tools that collate quotes, bookings and contracts in one location.
19. Follow up on quotes
If you leave a quote with a prospective customer, it’s imperative to follow it up. Not all customers will be confident or proactive enough to contact you – and it’s your job to close the sale with a polite follow-up phone call. If they don’t answer the phone, send an email instead.
20. Get to know your local press
Find out the names of the journalists for your local paper, and get in the habit of sending them newsworthy information. For example, if you’ve just expanded the business and invested in new premises, let them know, as they may cover the story for you. The result? Free marketing for your landscaping business!
21. Get involved in local events
Landscaping is inevitably a local business – and it makes sense to get involved in as many local events as possible. For example, if there’s a horticultural show coming up, get in touch with the organizers and ask if you can speak at the event. Fund-raising in the local community is also an excellent way to raise your profile.
EXPAND YOUR LANDSCAPING BUSINESS
22. Identify new locations
If you’re confident that you’ve maximized growth opportunity in your current area, then it makes sense to start branching out into other locations. However, it’s important to ensure that you’re already maintaining a consistent bottom-line profit before moving into new territories.
When deciding where to expand your business, look at consumer trends in the area. Is landscaping in high demand? What are the competition currently offering, and can you present an attractive alternative to their services? You’ll also need to ensure your current systems and processes are geared up for the physical expansion of your business.
23. Offer new services
Are there any other products or services that you could start offering your customers? For example, if you currently offer garden landscaping services, could you branch out into pool maintenance or decking construction? Consider maximizing your year-round appeal by providing seasonal services; such as clearing leaves or treating exterior woodwork before winter.
24. Teach others
You and your team are experts in the field. As a result, you’re well-positioned to offer courses to local people looking to improve their knowledge of landscaping – which brings in another revenue stream. Teaching at a local establishment also raises awareness of your brand.
25. Form alliances
There are likely to be many companies in the area offering services that complement your landscaping business. Consider getting in contact and forming alliances – for example, referring customers to one another to maximize business potential. Other businesses that may complement your landscaping company include:
-Decking / patio layers
-Construction companies (who make sheds, conservatories, summer houses etc.)
26. Target larger contracts
If you’ve got the right resources and manpower in place, consider going for more profitable contracts – such as commercial businesses, schools or public buildings. When approaching a business, you should be prepared to deliver a professional proposal – with appropriate marketing material, portfolio and pricing structure. Professional business management software is essential in this instance!
27. Hire an apprentice / intern
An apprentice or intern provides you with more business manpower, for a fraction of the cost. Although they won’t have the level of experience you require in the long-run, they provide a valuable pair of extra hands for your landscaping company, and can assist with marketing activities such as developing your website, managing social media accounts or delivering leaflets.
28. Sub-contract to offer more services
Offer your customers a wider range of services by sub-contracting work to other su
ppliers. This enables you to diversify and appeal to a greater audience as a result. However, it’s important to thoroughly vet the companies you choose to work with – as if the quality of their work falls short, it’ll be your business reputation on the line.
The more people in your area that know your name, the better. Join your local chamber of commerce, attend local business events, and network via LinkedIn. Whenever you attend a networking event, ensure you have business cards with you.
Ready to Grow Your Landscaping Business?
If you’re set to start developing your landscaping company, it’s imperative to make sure you have the right equipment, manpower and systems in place – not to mention a comprehensive plan to support your expansion. To conduct more professional consultations with prospective customers, plus manage quotes, contracts and your diary more efficiently, visit My Business Genie today.
This article was written by Venu Gooty and originally appeared on MyBusinessGenie.com.