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5 Strategies for Growing Your Commercial Lawn Care Business in any Economy 2

Chapter !: Work to Project a Service Attitude

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Chapter 2: Master New Business Sales Lead Generation

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Chapter 3: Charge Enough to Keep your Business Growing

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Chapter 4: The Importance of Finding Quality Equipment and How to Buy It

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Chapter 5: Stay on Schedule

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Chapter 1: Work to Project a Service Attitude

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E-Book: 5 Strategies for Growing your Commercial Lawn Care Business in any Economy Are you feeling that pinch? Are you seeing the gas prices go up and wondering how many clients you may lose if you have to pass that cost along? This economy has been a roller coaster by every measure. Gas is up. Construction starts are down. Unemployment is up but it still seems hard to find good people who are ready to work. At Wright, we believe that better planning can yield better results. We do this through better engineering and design, as well as being intentional about the relationships we build. We are helping our customers, professionals who use Wright Commercial Mowers, build stronger businesses that can survive and even thrive in this economy. Following are some tools for making your service stand out and your business ready to thrive even in the toughest of business climates.

1. Work to Project a Service Attitude Service attitude is the idea that every employee involved with your business strives to deliver satisfaction towards service and sales. Having a great service attitude maintains current clients and grows business with new clientele. When it’s done well, it’s essentially the fuel to the engine of your business. If having a great service attitude is so important, then how can it be done and recognized consistently? It’s one thing to mow lawns and sustain business, but how do you show a great service attitude? The answer: Over deliver. Find ways to surprise and delight your clients. They’re expecting their yard to get mowed. What they may not be expecting is some additional thing you can provide at low cost, such as a free brochure on how to mow your lawn during each month of the year. Show customers you care about their satisfaction more than just their lawn care. There are inexpensive ways to teach your crews how to do this.

Provide a Free Brochure A brochure is an inexpensive way to offer a customer additional information at little to no cost. It gives your business an opportunity to inform customers of your extensive knowledge on lawn care topics greater than just mowing lawns. At the very least, you gain more trust from


Chapter 1: Work to Project a Service Attitude

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customers who you serve because they can readily see your wealth of knowledge and willingness to offer advice. It shows customers that you see them as people, not as a means to a financial end.

Give a Potted Plant There are many lawn care companies out there that can mow lawns well. Your business needs to think about how to stand apart from the competition. If many companies mow lawns, how can you stand apart? The answer lies in service. Giving a potted plant is well beyond what a customer would expect to receive from a lawn care company. Put yourself in their shoes. Would you choose the company that mows your lawn, or would you choose the company who mows your lawn and gives you free advice and small gifts for the same price? The answer is clear. There is a balance that must be understood when giving away items: The balance of giving versus being cost effective. To be giving but also cost effective, it is imperative to buy potted plants at bulk price. Buying potted plants in bulk drives the cost down considerably. Many plant and tree nurseries offer plants at bulk price.

Call to Follow-Up on Service and Ensure Satisfaction Follow-up calls with clients are not tasks that must be done after every time you mow a lawn. Quarterly, every 6 months, or even as little as once a year goes a long way. It shows clients you are thinking of them and value their business. Be proactive and check in. It’s a small task that goes a long way in terms of sustaining business. The important aspect to note here is the reason you are not calling. You are calling because you care about your customers. You are not calling only because of a complaint or problem. Should you call when a client has a complaint or problem? Of course you should. Any smart business would. The difference is that you should also be calling for positive reasons too.

Use Hand-Written Notes It may seem old fashioned, but physical mail is a more pointed way to say thank you and check in. With the amount of social media today, emails are white noise. In fact, emails are often filtered as spam, so your customers may never read it. Your notes of gratitude are more likely to be read when they are sent through the mail. It is all about treating customers better than competitors do. Sending notes of gratitude and letters to check in or inform clients of promotional offers put you one more step ahead of the rest.


Chapter 2: Master New Business Sales Lead Generation

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Leave the Yard Better Than You Found It Be conscious of the elements that may impact mowing performance and the customer. For instance, choosing not to mow after it rains, even if you are in need of business, is often the right decision when considering the clients needs before your own. Do not ruin a lawn for sake of “having to get a mow in.� Sometimes it is the right choice to take a short-term loss to keep clients around for long-term gains. Ruining yards just for the sake of mowing it on time will end up losing business and hurting your brand. Another point of emphasis is to clean up the yard after you have mowed it. After all, customers want mowing services to make their lawns look beautiful, not worse. Ways to create a better service attitude and climate with customers is certainly not limited to this list. The important thing is to note that all these steps lead to a sustainable, growing business. At the end of the day, your bottom line in terms of service should be to show customers you care about their satisfaction more than just their lawn care.

2. Master New Business Sales Lead Generation Lead generation is essential for any business to stay strong. There are ways to generate leads that are in your control, and others that are not. For instance, a word-of-mouth referral will most likely occur if you deliver on performance and customer service. While delivering on performance and customer service are within your control, having clients give positive wordof-mouth referrals to future prospective clients is out of your control. In this section, we will


Chapter 2: Master New Business Sales Lead Generation

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discuss what aspects of lead generation are under your control and how to maximize their effectiveness.

Use Media Tools Customers are getting information thrown at them at a faster and greater rate than at any other point in history. Information is now everywhere and, through smart phones, can be right at your fingertips at any given moment. You cannot turn leads into returning customers unless you have the leads to begin with. Using media tools can help your business find the prospective clients you are looking for. They also help people searching for your services to find you as well. t8FCTJUF Your website is your home base of operations. The website should have a professional look, because you are a professional. Everything about the website should fall under the image of you being the absolute best at what you do. This ranges from the “look and feel� to your story of how your company began. Create a blog to offer weekly free lawn care advice. Not only will the blog generate traffic to get you noticed, it will also show prospective customers the wealth of knowledge you have for lawn care. Your blog posts can also generate ideas for people not necessarily looking to buy anything at the current time. You will build a relationship with readers, which often can turn into repeat clients. t0UIFS4PDJBM.FEJBBOE0OMJOF0VUMFUT

A goal of yours should be to get your brand seen by as many people as possible. Social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and many other sites are a great way to do this. When you write a new blog post or receive positive testimonials, let everyone connected to you through social media know about it. Brag on yourself and your business. Another good idea is to list your business in as many online directories as possible. The more your business and website appears across the Internet, the likelihood of more leads increases.


Chapter 2: Master New Business Sales Lead Generation

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Turn Leads into Sales As mentioned above, it is one thing to generate leads and another to turn them into repeated sales. t$MBTTJGZ-FBET In terms of leads, there are two ends to the spectrum: high volume leads and cold leads. Understanding how to assess and value each lead is important for your success. High volume leads need a service and need it very quickly. These types of leads often turn into sales because they often “needed something done yesterday.” Cold leads are slowly testing the waters and are most likely contacting numerous businesses offering the same or similar services. There are many leads that fall in between these two ends of the spectrum. These leads are often looking to acquire services in the near future but are not at a committal phase. As leads begin to contact you about your services, begin making thorough lists of target clients and identifying ways to connect with them. t4IBSF:PVS,OPXMFEHFBOE4LJMMT When prospective customers look to purchase services, they look to see you can fully fulfill their need. A blog is a great way to be found and generate leads, but moving leads to returning customers is another aspect all together. Find a tangible way to put your thoughts and knowledge down on paper. Try a brochure or report, or even an info graphic. Fill your document with “need to know information” versus “nice to know information.” Write for the consumer. Get your knowledge out there to show leads what you can do, how you can do it, and how it has benefitted customers in the past and present. In other words, write something useful that shows clients who you are and why you are the best possible option for their business. It is smart to remember that the greatest way to generate leads into sales is through the best form of advertising available: word-of-mouth referrals. Good performance time after time keeps clients happy and willing to share their faith and trust in you with others they know. See our previous article about “Service Attitude” to discover ways to keep clients delighted and surprised. If your business is consistently found on the Internet and referred to by satisfied clients, you will generate more new leads than you ever have before.


Chapter 3: Charge Enough to Keep Your Business Growing

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$IBSHF&OPVHIUP,FFQ:PVS#VTJOFTT(SPXJOH A huge aspect of a high profit margin and quality fiscal year earnings numbers is accurate project bidding. Bidding takes time and many different factors must be taken into account. In order to bid correctly, you must visualize the property and foresee what demands the landscape offers. Do trees need to be mowed around with a push mower? Do weed trimmer services need to be offered in areas mowers cannot get to? Landscape demands add additional time and services to a project, which will influence the accuracy of a bid. Here we will discuss how to assess projects, share tips to bid accurately, and a unique time to look for new clients. Evaluate Small Yards Versus Big Yards

Which type of client is more profitable? Each type of client has its benefits and downsides. Mowing multiple smaller yards can be beneficial, especially if you happen to lose a client. You are less reliant on one client for sustainability due to a more spread out client base. However, multiple small clients lead to additional travel time and fuel expenses. The addition of under bidding for the amount of work done will quickly turn a business into an unprofitable one. Larger yards cut out travel time, but your business will be very reliant on every big client in order to sustain itself. Accurate bidding largely comes into play in regards to overall profitability on larger projects as well.

Protect Yourself with Accurate Bidding Estimations Creating accurate bids is essential for maintaining clients while making a profit for your services. When considering a bid, think through all the elements: Labor, fuel usage, time, and so on. In the industry today, it is standard to charge by the hour rather than by acreage. You will create a more accurate and fair bid


Chapter 3: Charge Enough to Keep Your Business Growing

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based on time spent working on the property. When considering a new client, interview them to see if they are a good fit. Makes recommendations for services based on affordability. In short, understand the budget constraints of both prospective and current clients before creating a bid for your services. All this being said, no bid is flawless. Sometimes your bids will be off. What do you do then? Do not accept an under sell. For those of us who have underbid customers in the past, we know how hard it can be discuss this with a client. The fact remains: If you want to keep offering your services, you have to charge correctly. If you do happen to underbid someone, evaluate the situation to identify the reason for the low return. Look at time management to see if that is where the problem lies. Did a worker have to recut an area of the lawn they missed? Did the yard have a large amount of pinecones that took leaf blower time in addition to mowing? Evaluate the reasoning for the low return. If your workers mowed in the allotted time and your bid simply was not high enough, have a discussion about it with the client before coming back the next time. Be fair, but be honest too. If this is a trouble area for you, there are many sources of Estimating Software that can help you to make more accurate bids.

Find Mid-season Client Additions There are two specific prospective client groupings that do not believe they need lawn care services, only to change their mind later in the summer season. One is the “I can just do it myself ” group. This group is much like a new “exercise enthusiast” with a New Year’s resolution to exercise three times a week for an entire year. Many times their “can-do” goals are built on a foundation of sinking sand. Be on the lookout for mid-season clients who may be vacationing for longer periods of time or simply do not want to mow their grass anymore. This is a great way to take on additional clients and exceed initial profit projections for a fiscal year. The other client grouping is the “I was using another company” group. Reasons for needing a new lawn care company can vary from poor service to rate hikes or availability. Whatever the reason may be, these kinds of opportunities happen every season. If you keep delivering on service and performance, your


Chapter 4: The Importance of Finding Quality Equipment and How to Buy It

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current clients will recommend you prospective leads who are either disgruntled with the current service or are in need of a lawn care provider. If your name is out there and linked with great service and price, these leads often find you. Remember, accurate bidding for any project is a contributing factor to having satisfied customers. Your brand is greatly influenced by the ability to bid appropriately and fairly. Accurate bidding and a greater number of sales leads go hand in hand.

4. The Importance of Finding Quality Equipment and How to Buy It At first, many commercial mowers look the same. Then why is it that some mowers cost $2000 and some cost $6000? When you take a closer look at each mower, you begin to see differences in performance. Mowers that will provide the same quality cuts over a 5 to 7 year period cost more than mowers that can only guarantee the same performance for 3 years. Also, different mowers are made for different acreage and landscapes. We will discuss how to go about purchasing a commercial mower and why spending more up front is often the wise choice.

Consider Equipment Financing Carefully One of the easiest and most utilized ways of purchasing lawn equipment is through a business loan from a bank. Many banks offer loans specifically for the purchase of equipment. Different financial institutions may have slightly different requirements for getting loans, but the basic requirements are relatively universal. The average cap for an equipment loan ranges from $20,000 to $25,000 depending on the financial institution. A typical loan will offer a large lump sum to cover your equipment cost, in which the buyer would pay back through fixed monthly payments at a fixed interest rate. Most banks offer a fixed interest rate, which can certainly be to your advantage depending on the current rate. To secure a loan, banks look for a Dealer Invoice to verify a purchasing price. They also look for previous tax returns, both personal and business, for at least the 2 previous years. If there are multiple owners of your business, it is often required that at least 75% of ownership is present to approve any financial lending.


Chapter 5: Stay On Schedule

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Invest in Equipment Longevity – Why Better Equipment is Worth the Cost When you are buying equipment, you must view up front cost from a return on investment perspective. The fact is quality equipment will last longer and need less maintenance to retain high performance standards. A higher up front cost for quality equipment saves you money in the long run. The average difference in up front cost for adequate equipment to great equipment is roughly $2500-$3000. The savings in making a sound investment on quality equipment is often ten times that amount or more. It is worth the cost up front to purchase equipment that will last. When you buy expensive lawn equipment, you want to know where and how it is saving you money in the long run. The overall savings on your investment is trackable. If you are considering upgrading equipment, a great way to begin this process is to start keeping track of overall earnings with your current equipment if you have not started doing so by this point. Then keep track of earnings from your old equipment and your new equipment. Compare the numbers. The savings often increases greatly from year 1 to year 2 of owning new equipment. You can get an accurate reading for how much you save over time by using this simple method.

4UBZ0O4DIFEVMF Profits in the lawn management industry are made based on how many lawns can be cut at a given time. Every minute counts. Lost time leads to missed appointments, which leads to lost profits and a hit on your bottom line. In this article, we will discuss ways to avoid losing time and running the most efficient lawn care business possible.


Chapter 5: Stay On Schedule

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Plan for the Property with Your Team To be efficient in mowing a property, your team of mowers must visit and understand the challenges each individual property offers. Mowing crews really have to know a property well to know the patterns and sequence to mow it effectively and efficiently. This incorporates the art of lapping while mowing, with as little overlapping as possible. Also, knowing where the grass cuttings are being thrown is important because you want to have little to no clean up afterwards. Being forced to blow grass clippings off of driveways or out of planting beds takes extra time and makes you less efficient. Strategically plan routes for your employees to mow. Try to create “client clusters” where multiple client locations are in close proximity of one another. Less drive time between jobs cuts down on fuel consumption costs and time lost to inefficient planning. If you take on a customer that has no other jobs nearby, begin to scout the surrounding neighborhoods for other projects as an area for potential growth.

4FU&YQFDUBUJPOTGPS5FBN&ĆDJFODZ#FGPSF:PVBSF0O4JUF Ideally, teams will operate as a unit with a strong team mentality. Team members should immediately know what their job is and how to perform it efficiently at every individual property they manage. Everyone should know their tasks before arriving. Mowers should begin mowing while another team member cleans up branches and sweeps. Mowers should also avoid overlapping. Overlapping takes extra time and effort to correct, which ends up stealing time away from other jobs that need to be completed that day and greater fuel consumption by the mowers. It is also a smart idea to help keep your employees learning and growing. Require your employees to get certifications in different areas pertaining to lawn care. Some areas for growth in regards to lawn care are:


Chapter 5: Stay On Schedule

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t1FTUDPOUSPM t5SFFEJTFBTFNBOBHFNFOU t1SPQFSVTBHFPGDIFNJDBMT t6OEFSTUBOEJOHTPJMUZQFT t*EFOUJmDBUJPOPGEJĊFSFOUTQFDJFTPGHSBTT t-JDFOTJOHGPSPQFSBUJOHMBSHFSFRVJQNFOU Strive to make your employees as well rounded and valuable as they can possibly be. Having knowledgeable employees with knowhow in multiple lawn management areas truly makes your business a “lawn care” business instead of just a mowing business.

*EFOUJGZBOE3FNPWF,FZi.JDSP*OIJCJUPSTw A huge factor in staying on task is by employee discipline, but that is not the only factor. Identifying “micro inhibitors” that can slow you down is an important step forward. Purchasing quality machinery is one way to prevent frequent mishaps while on the job. If equipment frequently breaks down, future appointments are missed and must be rescheduled. Coupling missed appointments with equipment repair costs leaves you with a failed business model. Frequently losing small parts, such as pins, also costs additional time after each mowing. Another question about equipment should be regarding machine cleaning. Find out how easy it is to access areas that must be cleaned after every mowing. Machines that are easy to access, clean, and maintain will be cost effective for time alone. Generally, mowers that are built with a friendly operator conscious design are simply made better all around. In the end, staying efficient and effective takes smart planning, hard working employees, and reliable equipment that will stand the test of time. If you can achieve all 3 elements then you will have a business model built for success for long-term growth.

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