Taking your lawn care business to the next level doesn’t always require a large investment of new equipment or spending tons of money chasing after new business. Here are 5 things you can do today to grow your mid-size lawn care business without breaking the bank.
#1 Retain Existing Clientele
The number one way to grow any lawn care business is to retain and grow your existing clientele. According to Lawn and Landscape, acquiring a new customer is 5 to 10 times more expensive than retaining an existing one, and long term customers spend 67% more on products and services than a new customer. Here are a few strategies that will help you retain and grow your existing customer base:
Communicate Well and Often
Don’t let customers forget about you or the value you provide. Whether you are communicating face-to-face, through email, or social media, make sure your customers are hearing from you at least once per week. This will allow you to understand your customers’ needs, prevent issues before they arise, and ultimately help build trust between you and your customers.
Upselling has received a negative connotation over the years, but if done correctly can provide more value to you and your customers. You should only upsell products or services when it’s in your customer’s best interest. This could be offering a seasonal clean up or something as simple as a mulch refresh to increase the curb appeal of their home. Each customer is different and it is your responsibility to understand and meet their needs – get out there and make it happen.
Continually Add the “Wow” Factor
This is an overlooked concept in business today, but “wowing” your customers with simple gestures can lead to repeat sales, increased customer satisfaction, and positive word of mouth marketing. “Wowing” your customers can be as simple as adding edging for free in every other service, planting a few flowers at the beginning of the season, or leaving a thank you card to share your appreciation for their business. It’s these unprompted gestures that show the value you provide and get your customers talking about your business.
#2 Create an Amazing Company Culture
According to the 2018 State of the Industry Report published in Lawn and Landscape, the number one issue plaguing landscape businesses is finding and retaining quality labor. This is largely due to low unemployment rates and competitive pay in other industries that don’t require working in the heat for 10 hours a day. While this has already wreaked havoc on a lot of small lawn care companies, it is projected to get worse with the steady growth in the housing market and lawn care industry. Here are 3 things you can do to stand out and hire the right people to help grow your business:
Offer Competitive Payments and Incentives
Good employees pay for themselves, but bad ones can cost you clients, damage equipment, and steal your customers by starting their own lawn care business. These things happen every day, but they don’t have to happen to you. In order to hire the best employees, you have to pay them what they are worth and have an incentive structure in place to motivate them during the busiest parts of the season. Here’s an example. Let’s assume weather puts you behind two days, but you provide a $100 bonus if your employees can complete their routes by the end of the week. If they do complete their route, the $100 is minuscule compared to the money you made from not missing out on a service and your employees feel a sense of satisfaction for handling their business. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Establish a Promotion Strategy
Without a promotion strategy for your employees, there are only two paths they can take for professional growth: leave for a new job or start their own lawn care company. Both are a major disadvantage to you, so it's important to have a promotion strategy in place so your employees can succeed in their jobs and grow. This will provide enough incentive to make it through the hottest of days and help them grow professionally. Find out what other lawn care business owners are doing to build a promotion strategy for their employees.
Get Your Job Ads Seen
Getting your job ad seen might seem like a simple concept, but there is a trick to writing and placing your job ad that will bring in the right employees for your business. First, place your job ad everywhere – job boards, social media and if you’re in dire need of an employee, pay a little extra and promote it. Second, skip the job requirements. Chances are, you don’t need an employee with 3+ years of experience, what you need is a dedicated employee who will show up and put in 100% – the technical skills are teachable. Lastly, explain to the potential candidates how awesome it is to work for you. This is your chance to show off your benefits, perks, and culture. Nailing these 3 things will guarantee that you hire the right employees.
Remember, with the right employees you can grow your business year over year with fewer bumps in the road.
#3 Have an Online Presence
It’s not enough to rely on word of mouth marketing in today’s age as a lawn care professional. With more than 86% of people turning to the internet to research before making a purchase decision, you must have an online presence to take your business to the next level. While word of mouth marketing can produce good results, there are other effective marketing strategies you can implement that will bring in more customers and help you stand out in your local market.
Claim Your Google My Business Page
Google My Business is a free listing tool that helps you get seen by customers in your area. It provides contact information, where you are located, and reviews other people have left. It’s one of the easiest ways to drive more traffic to your website and the best part is, it’s completely free. Learn how to claim your Google my Business Page and start driving local traffic to your website.
Post on Social Media Frequently
Social media can be a game-changer for small businesses because it allows you to interact and promote your product to a large audience for little to no cost. However, social media is a long term strategy and shouldn’t be used as a short-term solution for conversions. While it can definitely help, you should be posting on social media frequently to build brand awareness first and second, for promotion. Posting frequently will allow you to build positive brand awareness, increase customer retention, and boost your word of mouth marketing. For ideas on what type of content you should be posting to social media, check out Total Landscape Care.
Build Your Email List
Email is a powerful tool for lawn care business owners because it has a low startup cost and can yield strong results. There are lots of ways you can build your email list, but the two most effective ways are asking for your customer's emails when they sign up for services and by providing a newsletter to your audience that they can sign up for on your website. The purpose of building an email list is so you can send informational or promotional emails to your audience that drive conversions and build brand awareness. You can do this by sending how-to videos, blog posts you’ve created, seasonal promotions, etc. See what Chris Heiler, founder, and president of Landscape Leadership, is saying about email marketing for lawn care professionals.
Build a Website
Building a website has never been easier and more affordable. With companies like Squarespace and Wix, you can have a beautifully designed website that drives traffic in as little as 2 hours. To maximize the value of your website, it should have the following:
- Contact information
- An order form
- A list of the services you offer
- Photos of work you have completed
#4 Automate Your Operations
Automation is the catalyst for growth in any lawn care business. As you continue to add more customers, it’s important that you free up time with automation so you can focus on the revenue-generating portions of your business. Here is a list of things you can automate that will help save time and money as you continue to grow:
Automating your invoicing is easier than you may think, and can help save you time and money as you continue to grow your book of business. With companies like Service AutoPilot and Jobber you can create custom invoice templates so your customers can pay online with the click of a button. Not to mention you can set up automatic invoice reminders and easily track your customer's payments. With automated invoicing, you’ll never have to worry about forgetting to send an invoice or wondering if it has been paid.
Don’t miss out on new customers because you can’t respond to your service requests fast enough – automate a generic email response to set the right expectations and keep your customers interested. If a customer has to wait a full day to hear back from you about a service request, chances are they have already reached out to someone else to fulfill their needs. If you can, add a link to the automated response that allows them to book a time for you to visit their property to provide a bid. This will help keep you organized and convert more leads.
Investing in your business's reputation can be a huge benefit for long term growth. That is why it is important to regularly survey your customers and ask them to leave reviews. Automating this process will allow you to stay focused during the busy season while also receiving good feedback from your existing customers and attracting new ones. It’s best practice to survey your customers every quarter, but you can adjust the frequency to meet your business needs. To automate this process, you can use email tools like MailChimp or HubSpot and have it scheduled on a specific date without you having to manually do it.
#5 Use Lead Generation Sites to Fill Existing Routes
Using lead generation sites to fill existing routes is a great way to grow your lawn care business. Most lead generation services are free or cost less than going out and finding new customers on your own, which makes it a great strategy to take your business to the next level.
The best part about these types of sites is that they do all of the marketing, sales, and customer service for you, so all you have to do is go out, complete the work, and get paid. This saves time and money on the back-end dealing with customer inquiries, invoicing and customer complaints. While you don’t always have as much control over the price or process of how you complete jobs, the cost of doing business with these sites far outweighs the negatives as they continue to provide your business with a constant stream of jobs at no cost to you.