Marketing Hints and Tips
Entry 19: Creating Your Fall Program
It’s that time of year again where we ask ourselves the question “What is my fall program and offer going to look like?” Here are some things to think about:
1. How many fertilizer applications are left?
By the time people start buying your fall program, how many fertilizer applications will you have left? For example, if you have a total of 6 applications in your program and are currently working on round 4, chances are you will be selling someone interested in your program round 5 and 6. Also remember to offer a pH adjustment or lime application as part of the package!
2. Should you offer core aeration and seeding?
Aeration and overseeding is one of the single best things you can offer your customers and prospects. This is especially important when you consider the drought conditions that many regions faced this summer. If the customer or prospect is looking to jump-start their lawn this fall, they should absolutely have aeration and seeding with their fall program. Also be sure to sell seeding with aeration. After all, if a customer is looking to cut costs, you can always drop the seeding to simple spot seeding or just aeration to still get the most bang for their buck.
3. Should you use a starter fertilizer?
If you are seeding, you should also consider using a starter fertilizer. Holganix has many ingredients that help new seeds germinate quicker than a simple chemical fertilizer. One of the key ingredients in Holganix that helps seeds germinate is mycorrhizae, which helps develop root growth. For a list of other special ingredients in Holganix, check out this entry.
4. Now that you have your program designed, what discount or offer will you utilize to get customers buying? Some great suggestions are listed below.
- Prepay: Aeration and seeding is a big-ticket item and helps increase profit margins. If you could collect money upfront to pay for seed, it will give you a great start to the season. Also remember to offer a higher discount when customers/prospects are including aeration and seeding to the program.
- Free starter fertilizer, lime and fertilization: A free application is a great offer that people are accustomed to seeing when purchasing lawn care.
- New ideas: Be creative and stand out from the crowd. What can you offer that will really pique interest and get people to call your office?
5. Now that you have your program designed, what is your message? How are you going to differentiate your ad and program from your competition? Utilizing Holganix may be your golden ticket. It is a bio nutrient nutritional product that gives you higher profit margins, while differentiating yourself from your competitors by going organic.
Marketing Tips and Hints
Entry seventeen: Kick Start Your Fall Marketing Program
I know the fall seems a long time away, but it’s approaching quicker than you think. Take some time out of your day to create your plan of attack for your fall marketing program now and you’ll win big time. Here’s what you need to know!
Fall comes and goes faster than the spring, which means you need to have marketing ready to start hitting homes mid August. When marketing in the fall, you can promote the remainder of your fertilizer program (for the fall, this usually means 2 to 3 fertilizer applications), but also remember to up sell and discuss core aeration and seeding with your customers. Core aeration and seeding is one of the best things you can do for your customers’ lawns and creates a thicker, deeper root system.
This fall, try utilizing a Clipper or Valpak to bring in new customers. Also consider offering a discount or giving away a free fertilization in order to hook prospects on core aeration. Lastly, it’s very important that you remind your customers of the benefits of prepaying. This is a great move to capture cash flow quickly for growing your company and a good move for your customers since prepays usually include a discount.
Stay tuned for our upcoming entry on the benefits of core aerating and seeding during the fall season!
Marketing Hints and Tips
Entry 13: Running a Better Business Through Real Green Systems
Real Green Systems is THE lawn care software. It helps you organize everything from marketing to invoicing better than any program out there. If you aren’t taking advantage of the benefits of Real Green Systems, you are missing out on a chance to grow your business and free up time for yourself and your employees. According to Cliff Reedy, Business Consultant at Real Green Systems, there are three top functions offered by Real Green, which help lawn care businesses run more effectively:
1. Incredible mapping functionality- One of the great functions of the system is the mapping function. It allows lawn care companies to “lasso” a planned route together in the most efficient way possible.
2. Measurement assistant- This function gives lawn care companies the ability to better handle sales when a prospect calls. Sales teams can effectively input the data and launch onto their property digitally, showing the measurements and proper pricing. It also mentions some of the up sells and recommendations that salespeople can make to the potential customer that might be appealing.
3. Invoice printing with up sell messages- Utilizing this tool automatically lists other optional services and their prices right on invoices. It allows the customer to gain insight on some of your other services that might be desirable.
Real Green Systems are considered one of the biggest innovators in lawn care software and marketing. To learn more about how Real Green can help your business, visit http://www.realgreen.com/index.html
A special thank you to Cliff Reedy for his input on this article.
Marketing Hints and Tips
Entry twelve: How to Make Lawn Care Sales in June
In the last entry of our Marketing Hints and Tips series, we discussed different services to sell during the long summer months. Some of these services included: Tree and Shrub, Flea, Tick and Perimeter Pests and Lawn Aeration and Seeding. Now that you know what to sell in June, how are you going to go about doing it?
First off, your target should include all current customers. These people already know and trust you; furthermore, they’ve already proven that their landscape is important to them.
With that in mind, contact all your current customers with mid-season check up calls. Not only does the customer service call make them understand you care about their lawn, but it allows you to mention your other services and make some sales. Sending out personal, handwritten messages on invoices is another great way to get your idea across. Handwritten messages are more intimate than typed messages and make the customer feel special. Real Green Systems has a great template for creating invoices with messages and are definitely worth checking out.
If you’re finished running through your current customer lists, backtrack and focus on a cancel campaign. Call all the people who have canceled in the last eighteen months. Figure out why they canceled and try solving these problems. Push hot summer services and get them on schedule for the upcoming fall lawn care season.
Just because sales have slowed down doesn’t mean you should stop to smell the roses. Maintain the awesome momentum you’ve built up during the spring by pushing hot summer services to your current customers. This also gives you time to go back to your canceled customers and rebuild relationships with them. In the words of Patricia Fripp, award-winning speaker and expert in presentations and sales, “You don’t close a sale, you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise.”
Marketing Hints and Tips
Entry eleven: Lawn Care in June and What to Sell
June is on its way and with it, lawn care sales will come to a halt. Unfortunately, in most situations, no matter how hard you press your prospect database, people don’t want to buy lawn care in the summer. Although the halt gives you a well-deserved break after a busy spring, don’t lose your momentum! Just because lawn care sales have halted doesn’t mean you still can’t sell.
Take the opportunity to sell other services your lawn care company may offer. Specifically, try to sell to your current customers. Your current customers already know and trust you. Talk to them and figure out what services they are looking for and fulfill those needs.
There are three big services that are great sells for these long, hot summer days.
1. Tree and Shrub: Insects and disease aggressively attack trees and shrubs in the summer, and evidence of this is clear to your customers. It would be ideal to start selling tree and shrub applications during the summer, when you can point out the damages insects and diseases are posing on their landscapes.
2. Flea, Tick and Perimeter Pests: We all know pesky bugs come out in the warmer months. Why let them attack your customers’ children, pets and homes? Offer at least a 3-step program to provide a barrier for their home and landscape.
3. Lawn Aeration and Seeding: The need for lawn aeration and seeding is most obvious in the summer, since they are suffering from the scorching heat. Although you don’t actually start aerating and seeding until the fall, it’s easier to show your customers why they need this service from you now rather than later. Absolutely, the latest you should start selling this service is mid August.
Check out this video, starring Holganix CEO Barrett Ersek, to learn more about lawn aeration and seeding sales in the summer.
Want to learn how to best sell these services? Stay tuned for next week’s Marketing Hints and Tips to see how.
Marketing Hints and Tips
Entry nine: Utilizing the Power of Real-Time Marketing
An important facet in business today is real-time marketing. What does that mean? It’s an idea developed by marketing guru David Meerman Scott that means taking action now on something that has happened today. A lot of big companies are caught up in bureaucracy and red tape. In order to take any action, they must consult committee after committee, only to wind up acting on yesterday’s stale news. We lawn care companies can transform this flaw into a positive and use it to get ahead of big companies.
With today’s fast-paced world, there are several ways that you can help get your business in real time. Social media is free and easy to use, so long as you’re willing to give your time and attention. Get on Facebook and start tweeting on Twitter, connect with others in your industry and pay attention to what’s happening now. Other great tools to utilize are Google Alerts and Google Places. Google Alerts allows you to track and follow certain terms and receive alerts automatically to your email address. For instance, Holganix tagged the term “bio stimulant” on Google Alerts. Every time the phrase “bio stimulant” is mentioned, the Holganix CMO receives an email allowing her to act in real time, immediately. Google Places is a super easy way to get in real time. It allows you to input your location information into Google’s database so it shows up correctly when an individual searches for you or lawn care companies in the area.
Even as a lawn care provider, real-time marketing can make all the difference in your marketing strategy. It allows you to speak directly to your audience, which in itself is a valuable tool. If you offer helpful advice, you are seen as a leader in your industry. It also builds customer loyalty, gets your name recognized and creates customers. Best of all, putting you and your company out before your audience ensures that, when your potential customer’s need is greatest they’ll choose you over a different company.
What it all comes down to is, taking action in the now and not waiting for tomorrow. When the whole world can be connected with a single tweet, procrastination is your undoing. Cut the red tape and don’t stumble through the bureaucratic details, act now and win big time!
Stay tuned for next week’s article on Blogging and learn how it can help you act in real time.
Want to learn more about real time marketing? Check out this video of David Meermen Scott and his take on real-time marketing!
Real-time marketing credit goes to David Meermen Scott. Check out his site http://www.davidmeermanscott.com/books/real-time-marketing-pr/ or his book entitled Real-Time Marketing & PR
Marketing Tips and Hints
Entry eight: NOW is the Season for Referrals
In entry five we dove into different ways you can build your marketing list, this season. One of the ways we pushed was gaining referrals. I can’t stress enough, the importance of getting referrals in the lawn care industry. It’s effortless (your customer does all the work), builds density in your golden streets and increases customer loyalty! But how and when do you get referrals?
The first thing you need to learn about referrals is when to get them! Most companies wait until the fall, when business dies down and your team has room to breath after a busy lawn care season. News flash: don’t be one of these guys! The best time to get referrals is when your putting down lawn care applications. You may be super busy but this is when your customers are thinking about you and seeing the great results you can give. Don’t wait till the fall, when nobody is thinking of lawn care. You’ll get many more by asking for referrals in the spring.
When asking for referrals, help your customer’s think in terms of ten. In other words, don’t ask them to refer one friend, ask them to refer ten! Send out a mailing with ten of your business cards or ten offers enclosed. The customers that are crazy about your company will be more than happy to pass on your information and get their neighbors signed up. Giving them ten of your business cards or offers will ensure that they spread the word and collect a reward for their efforts.
Speaking of rewards, it’s important to give your customer a reason to refer you to their friends and neighbors. It’ll motivate them to action and get them excited to give you business. Three easy ways to reward your customer is by: giving them an offer, explain what makes your company remarkable and describe how you helping your customers save the environment by going organic. Giving an offer, like a 10% off discount or a free application for each referral will inspire action! Explaining what makes you remarkable and how you help your customers go green is simply icing on the cake!
Stay tuned for next week’s article in our Marketing Hints and Tips series or check out our Science Behind Holganix series to learn about how Holganix can save you money, help you go green and make your company remarkable.
The Marketing Tips and Hints Series
Entry seven: It’s Time for Door-to-Door Sales
Spring fever is here and that means it’s time to get your sales team ready to get off the phones and onto the pavement -- it’s time for door-to-door sales. In lawn care, Door-to-door sales are a great way to save a couple bucks and build density within your Golden Street neighborhoods: those neighborhoods with your most profitable customers. It also gives your company a face and a character, which builds customer loyalty. In fact, the prime season for door-to-door sales is from March 15 to April 30 or three to four weeks before and during the beginning of the servicing season.
Before you even unleash your door-to-door salespeople, it’s a good idea to mail out a unique brochure one-week prior. Even if you don’t get a large response rate from the mailing, it makes your name familiar to your potential customers and hooks them in early. To really ensure that your potential customers know exactly who you are, put up signs in the area a day or two before you send out your sales force. Keeping your name in mind is key for a good close rate when doing door-to-door sales.
Once you’ve got your company name in your potential customer’s head, it’s time to go over tactics. Send out a group of people to initially knock on doors and pick out which families are interested in your product. Be sure to role play with your staff beforehand, giving them great rebuttals to any obstacles homeowners may have:
- Do it myself
- Already have a company
Also, make sure your staff knows what makes your company remarkable. What makes you a purple cow?
With spring in the air, it’s time to get your sales force rolling. Dress them up in your company gear and set them loose. Get those golden street neighborhoods ready to go when it’s time to start servicing.
Stay tuned for next week’s article on The Marketing Tips and Hints or subscribe to our blog and we’ll send it via email automatically!
Marketing Tips and Hints
Entry six: How to Get Customers NOW!
Right now, we are in the midst of the lawn care marketing season, which means every sale counts! If you’ve been utilizing the tips and hints from this season, then the leads should be flooding your phones. However, if you are having some difficulty, the steps below are just what you need to get yourself going. Prepays, RSVP-type mailing, direct mail and thinking outside of the box are all important ticket items when considering your marketing plan.
One of the cool things about this season is the prepay letter. If you haven’t tried utilizing this great tool, do it NOW! Send out letters asking your customers to prepay for a discounted rate. It is also a simple way to show prospects your program and highlight how you’re different. This will help keep cash flow moving and you can use this early dosage of cash to grow your company. Send these prepay letters out to every type of prospect on your marketing list, discussed in the last entry, and boost your cash flow while earning customers. Real Green is a great company to consider when looking for a prepay letter set-up.
Another great tool to utilize for getting customers are RSVP-type mailings. Clipper and ValPak are all examples of this type of mailing. Pick out zones based on your golden streets or the street with the most current customers. It’s a cheap way to market to potential and current customers. Remember, including a discount or free application will draw out more reluctant customers. Also, be sure to mail more than once to get the most bang for your buck!
Third on the list is direct mail or postcards. This tool is more common knowledge but should never be forgotten. A great, well-done mailing is sometimes the easiest and cheapest way to reel in customers.
Lastly, it is always important to think outside the box. To your customers, lawn care companies all look the same. Make your company stand out and beat the competition. Think like a purple cow and keep guerilla marketing in mind. One great guerilla-marketing tactic is to sponsor an event, like the local Easter egg hunt, in your golden street communities. It will build trust in the neighborhoods and is a great reminder to homeowners that you’re in town and more than willing to help them out with their lawns this year.
Stay tuned for the next article in the Marketing Tips and Hints series to help grow your company or check out The Science Behind Holganix series to learn more about our product.
Marketing Tips and Hints
Entry four: Understanding and Improving Your Numbers
Before you spend a dime on getting more business, you need to know what that dime can do for you -- and how many more you can afford. Figuring it out can be as easy as understanding a few simple numbers. In fact, in the lawn care industry, there are four different values you should take into account: cost per lead, cost per sale, lifetime value of a customer and gross profit.
- Cost per lead - Let’s say you spend $100 to send out 100 direct mail cards. If you get 10 responses, you paid $10 for each one, and that’s your cost per lead. Predicting your response rate may be hard at first, so start by advertising on a small scale, making sure to monitor where the leads are coming from.
- Cost per sale - Take the ten leads we talked about above. Close five of them, and you have five new sales. Since you spent $100 on the campaign, each new customer cost you $20, right? Close. Remember to factor in other expenses of closing the deal (salesperson’s commission, costs of a lawn measurement/estimate, etc.).
- Lifetime value of a customer - Don’t think of your customers in terms of what they’re buying today. Instead, find out what your average customer spends over the entire course of their relationship with you. For example, if most stay with you for five years, and they spend $300 per year on lawn treatments, they’re worth $1,500 overall.
- Gross profit - What does it cost you to make that $300 a year from a customer? Look at costs for fuel, fertilizer/chemicals, labor, truck and equipment expenses, etc. Subtract these costs from $300, and you’ll have your annual gross profit.
Once you understand your numbers, it’s easy to put them all together. For example, if you expect to make $150 in a year in gross profits from your average customer, but you spend $125 to get their business, you need a new marketing tactic.
These numbers aren’t static. There are lots of things you can do to improve them. Three easy ways you can improve your numbers are by:
- Increasing your close rates - If you’re closing seven out of ten leads instead of five out of ten, your cost per sale will fall. Coach your team on responding faster and more professionally, and they’ll turn more leads into sales.
- Doing more for your customers (and getting paid for it) – Adding on different services will boost the lifetime value of your average customer. For instance, after an install, offer a fertilizing program!
- Cutting costs - Start by looking closely at how much you spend on materials or other costs. When was the last time you checked to see what else is out there?
When considering your numbers, always remember the golden street rule. Golden streets are your big-ticket to improving these numbers. They’ll make you more money and cut costs.
Stay tuned for next week’s entry in the Marketing Tips and Hints series or check out our Behind the Science of Holganix series for information on the Holganix product!