As the peak growing season is winding down in most parts of the country, the majority of lawn care companies are in the process of trimming back their operations as well. In areas where winter snow and ice will put a damper on lawn care services in the coming months, this doesn't mean you have to hibernate and wait until next spring to continue growing your business.
While most lawn care and landscaping companies dislike this time of year because of everything that comes with the falling leaves (letting workers go, cutting back expenses, and most notably reduced income), it doesn't have to be such a downer.
In fact, the next few months provide a perfect opportunity to grow your business. As normal operations slow down, you will have the chance to work ON your business and not simply IN your business.
Here are five ways that you can take advantage of the impending slow down to grow your lawn care of landscaping business over the coming months.
1. Provide Services in Addition to the Typical Lawn Care Services.
While there are many ways to grow your business, the one way that most often escapes the attention of businesses is the practice of providing more and more services to your existing customer base. Since you've already spent time and money in getting them as a customer and gaining their trust, why would you not want to get deeper and deeper into their pocketbooks in order to maximize customer value?
Adding year-end services such as core aeration, over seeding, dethatching, and general winterization is a perfect way to extract more income from customers that have already demonstrated their confidence in you. If you don't already provide these services, do whatever you need to do to add them to your portfolio of services as quickly as possible.
Also, I've heard many say that advertising is only effective at the beginning of the growing season, but these add-on services provide an excellent opportunity to expand your existing customer base as well. Most people want a lush, green lawn but they don't realize that right now is the time to make that happen for next year. Educating people about this will open countless doors for you in the growing seasons to come.
Create a marketing campaign centered on these ‘year-end’ lawn care processes and then market just as you would at the beginning of the year. Postcards, door hangers, and flyers are excellent ways to promote these services and with a well-designed campaign there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to pick up a slew of new customers.
2. Add Additional, Non-Lawn Care Services.
Again, one of the best ways to grow your business is by getting deeper and deeper into the pocketbooks of your existing customers. You've already gained their trust so why not branch out into other related services?
With the coming of winter, it means an entirely new range of services that people will be looking to pay for. People that pay for lawn care service are typically willing to pay for other services such as cleaning up fallen leaves, clearing walks and driveways of snow and ice, trimming trees or shrubs, cleaning gutters, and even hanging Christmas lights or other seasonal decorations.
Not only do these additional services provide an opportunity to get more business from your existing customers, but they also give you another service to market in areas you'd like to expand your business to.
Even though your primary business is probably lawn care, securing customers for these new services will give you new customers to market your lawn care services to in the spring.
3. Develop a Website.
As previously mentioned, with things begin to slow down a bit now's the perfect time to work ON your business and not just IN your business.
What do I mean by that? Well, going out and actually servicing lawns, teaching employees, running payroll, paying bills, and passing out advertising materials all constitute working IN your business. You're doing things that have to be done in order to stay in operation.
Working ON your business involves doing things you do to make your business run smoother and more profitably. These are the activities that don't have to be done today, but doing them will result in increased efficiency, higher profit margins, and a more effective business all together.
Developing a website just happens to be one of these activities. While it doesn't HAVE to be done, creating one will give you a decided advantage over your competition.
More and more people are flocking to the internet to find and research products and services, lawn care services included. Having a well-designed direct response website that captures the attention and contact information of your visitors will set you up for a windfall of new business in the coming months.
4. Create a Customer Newsletter.
As with developing a website, this is another activity that isn't critical to running a successful lawn care company. However, this is something that will go a very LONG way towards strengthening the relationship with your existing customers.
Typically, most customers only think about you during the summer months as you're servicing their lawn or when they get a bill. They will generally forget about you over the winter months until they get a flyer from you next spring requesting their business.
Creating a customer newsletter develops something called ‘presence’ and it keeps you in the forefront of their minds as the expert on having a beautiful lawn. Next year, instead of you having to call on them to initiate the relationship for another year they'll be calling you.
The newsletter doesn't need to be very big or complex. At the very least, it should contain some relevant lawn care information that positions you as the expert. If you provide additional services as well, a newsletter is an excellent opportunity to market these services or even to provide special incentives to try these additional services. The key is to make it relevant and personal with just a touch of marketing.
You can create a hard copy newsletter and then mail it out to your best customers or if you have email addresses, you could also create an electronic newsletter. While the hard copy newsletter is more likely to be read, an electronic newsletter, if done properly, will still reach a large number of your customers and it won't cost you a dime to send.
5. Study Successful Direct Marketing Techiniques.
This is another activity that falls into the category of working ON your business.
Whether you realize it or not, your primary job is not providing lawn care services. Your primary job is marketing your lawn care services because without customers to provide these services for, you'd be looking for another profession.
Just as you study and look for better ways to provide lawn care services, you should also be studying and looking for better ways to market your lawn care services. With the slow down in operations associated with this time of year, now's the perfect opportunity to learn new things that will help you be more successful next spring and in the years to come.
Studying and learning the time-tested principles of successful direct response marketing will help you to avoid all the hype associated with ‘flavor of the month’ marketing tactics and you will better know what you can do to reach your sales goals.
Just because the weather is turning cold doesn't mean you to have hibernate until spring.
If you plan on waiting until next spring to work on growing your lawn care business, you will find that you've wasted several months and many opportunities to work ON your business.
Take advantage of this time to get deeper into your customer's pocketbooks by expanding your portfolio of services, find additional customers through related non-lawn care services, put things in place that will give you greater exposure to existing customers as well as those lookingyou're your services, and educate yourself on ways to better market your business.
Chestin Salisbury is President of Lawn Care Marketing Magic, a direct response marketing consultancy located in Charlotte, NC that focuses on the lawncare and landscaping industry. He has been helping small businesses grow for 5+ years by creating marketing systems that use time-tested direct response marketing principles. Lawn Care Marketing Magic has access to 100+ years of experience and is capable of creating a marketing plan that grows YOUR business. Chestin is also the chief-editor of ‘The Lawn Care Marketing Magic Minute', a weekly e-newsletter that focuses on helping your grow your business. To learn more about these lawn care direct marketing systems and to sign up for the weekly e-newsletter, visit http://www.LawnCareMarketingMagic.com