Monday, May 20, 2013

Techniques for increasing sales Pt. 2

By Jeffrey Scott, consultant

Last month, Landscape Management published Part 1 of this post (Check it out here.). Now, here is Part 2, a collection of more important ways you can stay on the right track this season.

1. Find out how they make decisions.

It is important to know that you are speaking to the decision maker. But it is not always polite to outright ask. In this case you can ask how they will be making their decision? Will other people be involved in the process? Opening up this line of questions also allows you to ask if they will be interviewing other service providers as part of the process. These kinds of questions are useful in sales: the more the prospect talks and you listen, the more targeted your proposal can be.

2. Use pain to create urgency.   

Pain is the ultimate motivator for hiring a contractor, especially for switching from an existing contractor to a newer one. If you are not hearing and exploring your prospect’s pain, then you are not practicing the refined art of selling.

Your ability to create "urgency" is linked directly to the amount of pain a client is feeling. You cannot pressure ("push") a client into a sale, but you can create an environment where the client is "pulling" you towards them, urgently asking you for a solution to their problems. When you uncover a client's pain, dig into it and make sure you understand it, and let your client simmer in their own pain. This will move them urgently to action.

3. Identify their priority.

Everyone places a different value on different parts of his or her property. You might be surprised what they find important, and where they are willing to spend more money. You can't assume that what you think is important is the same as what they think is important. This is relevant on both extremes of the sales process. 1) When you are trying to submit a tight budget, and 2) When you are looking to expand the sale.

Knowing their priorities allows to you to propose higher margin add-on sales, higher margin materials, and higher margin solutions -- especially when it corresponds to services that you uniquely provide.

4. Set follow up dates.

In the busy spring it is paramount to leave each appointment and phone conversation with a follow-up date. You can raise your sales by up to 50% by doing so, and concurrently free up more of your valuable time. Some prospects will resist you when you try to do this, but don't let their lack of being time-focused impede your need for working in an orderly fashion. Most of the time you can ease a truly qualified prospect into agreeing to a follow up date. By taking control of the conversation, you will separate out the shoppers from the truly interested.

5. Make the 3rd sale first.

When making the first sale to a new client always think about the 3rd sale. Treat your qualified prospect as if they are already a client; give them great service and show them why you are the vendor of choice. Caveat, this should be done on qualified (Green Light) prospects. Be prepared to let them win on small points, and you focus on winning their trust and the sale. 

As I always say, Treat prospects like clients and clients like prospects, and you can’t go wrong.

Jeffrey Scott, MBA, author and consultant, grew his landscape company into a successful $10 million enterprise, and he's devoted to helping others share the same success. He facilitates PEER GROUPS for landscape business owners who want to transform and profitably grow their business. For more information, go to, email, call (203)220-8931 or log onto

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Attention LM blog readers: We've moved

Thanks for reading Landscape Management's blog, which has been hosted here on Blogger for nearly eight years. We're now making the move to our redesigned website, so please visit our blog over there so you don't miss out on any of the great posts, including:

FD2B Talk Radio Insight of the Night posts by Jody Shilan
Randy's Way posts by Randy Newhard
• The latest from Jeffrey Scott, the editors and more. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

FD2B Talk Radio Insight of the Night: Mark Chisholm

Many of you may know that “girdling” may cause a tree to fail over time. Girdling occurs when a tree root wraps itself around the trunk of the tree, literally choking it to death. The typical cause of girdling, according to Mark Chisholm of Aspen Tree Expert Co., is too much organic material, such as topsoil and/or mulch, covering the root flair of the tree.

This can occur naturally, but in the suburban landscape it's Green Industry professionals that often cause the problem. This is due to the homeowner’s addiction to mulch and our own annual spring process of over mulching, which creates what's commonly referred to as mulch “volcanoes.”

Although improper planting techniques and “mulch madness” are part of the problem, the plants that you, the landscape contractor, purchase from growers and re-wholesalers are often already in distress. As Chisholm points out, the trees may be planted too low in the container or when they're balled and burlapped.

Show: Why Should I Care About Tree Care

Guest: Mark Chisholm, Aspen Tree Expert Co., Freehold, N.J. 
Date: May 1, 2013
To listen to the full show, CLICK HERE.  

Friday, May 03, 2013

Landscaper to the rescue

Oh how I love stories like this. Stories about landscapers who've got their mind on the job, until they notice something askew and leap into the role of hero.

That's what happened in Sturgeon, Mo., this week, when a vigilant landscaper showed up for work at a home and noticed three people he didn't recognize "tossing tools into the back of a vehicle," reports Missouri newspaper the Centralia Fireside Guard.

As the story goes, the perpetrators sped off as the landscaper neared the vehicle. The landscaper called 911 as he "gave chase" in his truck, telling authorities he had the thieves in his sights near a high school.

Ultimately, two of the perpetrators fled on foot and the third, a 17-year-old, was arrested on suspicion of stealing and possession of burglar tools. The drama continued when the school was put on lockdown and authorities spent two hours hunting the escaped perpetrators down through aircraft and with tracking dogs, to no avail.

Kudos to that brave landscaper for saving the day!

Read the full story here.

Beth Geraci

Thursday, May 02, 2013

FD2B Talk Radio Insight of the Night: Jon Goldman

One of the many insights Brand Launcher's Jon Goldman discussed was the concept of looking at your business as a boat with you as the captain. The front of your boat is sales and marketing, the back end is teams and systems and in the middle is you, steering the boat with your belief structure.

As he aptly points out, if you spend too much time on marketing, growing sales beyond your capacity to produce, your boat will be top heavy and sink. If you invest too much time and energy into your teams and systems but don’t have enough sales to support them, your boat will be bottom heavy and sink.

Finally, as the captain, if you don’t have a clear MVP (mission, value, purpose) one of two things will happen. Either you’ll aimlessly drift in the water until you’re lost at sea or you’ll be tossed around until your boat is smashed on the shore.

No matter how you slice it, if you don’t properly manage all three parts of your business boat, ultimately, you will sink.

Show: Brandscaping – How to Create Your Own Brand 

Guest: Jon Goldman, Brand Launcher, Baltimore
Date: May 1st, 2013
To listen to the full show, CLICK HERE. 

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Casting call: Opportunity to be part of a new TV series

Calling all landscape company owners with 50-plus employees and multiple divisions ready to take their success to the next level. Shed Mediaa TV production company known for Emmy-nominated Who Do You Think You Are? on NBC, ABC’s Supernanny and many morecontacted me to spread the word to our readers about its nationwide search to cast a new documentary series for a major non-cable broadcast network. Shed is looking for a variety of small- and medium-sized business owners from a variety of industries.

Each hour-long episode will center on one medium-sized company as it participates in a management experiment intended to motivate and inspire, says Lauren Willems, casting producer. Viewers will see how that company runs its business and will meet the hard-working people who make up its workforce.  

This series offers owners or other high-level managers the opportunity to gain a unique perspective on the inner workings of their companies, while celebrating some of the unsung heroes of their workforce and learning something about themselves in the process, Willems says. Ultimately, your company’s one-hour episode will provide high-profile exposure. What a great branding opportunity.

Are you ready for prime time? Please contact Willems for more details at 323-904-4680 x 2071 or email ASAP.

—Marisa Palmieri

Friday, April 26, 2013

Brickman Group donates $10,000 to Hurricane Sandy recovery effort

Just a shout out to the Brickman Group's Long Island location in Holtsville, N.Y. The team there has donated $10,000 to a non-profit in the area in support of the organization's Hurricane Sandy relief and recovery program.

The non-profit, called Long Island Cares-The Harry Chapin Food Bank, aids Hurricane Sandy survivors in communities on Long Island's South Shore who still require food, pet food and supplies in the face of the storm's devastation.

April 2013: Gaston Nesci, Lisa Owens, Mayor Tom Brennan, Karyn Condoleo, Paule Pachter, Doug Reedy, Sam Brush and Ray Nobile (l to r) Credit: LI Cares
Gaston Nesci, Lisa Owens, Mayor Tom Brennan, Karyn Condoleo, Paule Pachter, Doug Reedy, Sam Brush and Ray Nobile (l to r) Credit: LI Cares

"As a family-owned commercial landscape company that's been based on Long Island for more than 10 years, the devastation caused by this horrific storm directly impacted our clients, our employees and all of our families," Ray Nobile, Brickman regional manager, told "After we did our part to clean up debris and destruction caused to homes and properties across both counties, we felt as if we should do more to assist in the recovery efforts."

Check out the full story here.

Beth Geraci

Randy's Way: Giving thanks

By Randy Newhard

What a good Friday this will be. It’s our annual company picnic today. Our teams come from all over southern California—from 11 satellite offices—for a barbecue just for them. Today is all about the guys in the field. Our regional branch managers and account managers cook up carne and pollo asada for the more than 200 employees. This is a few-hour task over hot charcoal grills. It’s a great time for me to see all of us gathered together in one place.

I take the time to shake everyone’s hand and say “thanks.” We usually do this after the long, hot summer, but this year we wanted to do it early and talk about safety. Our new director of safety, Jonathan Matthews, will address the team on how important it is for them to protect their body parts on the job. Jonathan is an ex-Marine who fought for our country in Iraq. He knows how important safety is.

We have a raffle with an insane amount of prizes, including a big-screen TV donated by our friend and attorney Joe Strazzeri. Other vendors donate a lot of prizes, too. Our president, Kathryn DeJong, will speak about operations and about our Wall of Fame, which is based on customers’ emails and letters of thanks about the good job our guys do in the field.

Lots to be thankful for every day, but especially today. I’m thankful for the great team we have at New Way Landscape & Tree Services. Today is my day to see them all in one place and offer my gratitude to them.

Randy Newhard, CEO of New Way Landscape & Tree Services in San Diego, will begin blogging again for Landscape Management. Look for his "Randy's Way" insights weekly.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

FD2B Talk Radio Insight of the Night: Chris Davitt

Although most business owners and top management personnel want to be able to spend time every day to make sure their employees are recognized and supported for their hard work, the daily grind of business makes it difficult, especially when you have 750 employees.

Ruppert Landscape recognized this fact and created what President Chris Davitt calls additional “structure.” Instead of just wanting to show their support to employees, company leaders added structure to their weekly, monthly and annual calendar to make sure they actually do provide their employees with both the thanks and appreciation that employees need to be successful and continue to strive to be better employees and better people.

Show: Developing an Employee-Focused Organization
Guest: Chris Davitt, Ruppert Cos., Laytonsville, Md
Date: Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 

To listen to the full show, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Senke Lawn & Tree Care makes 'Tonight Show'

Senske Lawn & Tree Care was featured on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on April 22 as part of the "headlines" sketch where viewers submit newspaper headlines, signs and printed materials with spelling errors or other mistakes or sentence structures that make them funny. 
Senske Lawn & Tree Care's now-famous pruning promo piece.

The punchline in the Senske bit came from a pruning flier that says, "Did you know... trees are tall plants made of wood?" [Starts around the 20 second mark in the video.]

Despite Leno calling the company "Senke Lawn & Garden" (which is not its name), Patrica "Patt" Mosley, director of marketing and communications for the $21.6 million firm based in Kennewick, Wash., was pleased with the exposure. We got in touch with her today for a quick Q&A.

LM: Why did you go with a humorous approach to this promotional material?

Patt Mosley (PM): Being new to the industry, this was my first pruning campaign, and when I started to think on how we could promote tree pruning in a manner that would entice the reader to actually pick up the insert and read it, I struggled in the beginning. 

What I needed to do was two-fold: First, find a way to "hook" the reader's attention about trees and second, convey to them our expertise and knowledge with tree pruning (we have certified arborists on staff), and hope they connect the dots, meaning, they start thinking about their own trees on their property and realize they probably should get someone out to trim them.

I decided on the "Did you know..." concept because I believe most people "want to know" and it gave me the ability to position both the hook and Senske as the subject matter expert at the same time. So I started looking for random facts about trees that did not necessarily have to be relevant to tree pruning per se, but just overall tree information. The factoids I chose to use were intended to be a quick read, amusing/interesting, but informational at the same time. Once I have the readers committed to picking up the insert to read it, then I felt they were committed to flipping it over to read more about our services and the promotion we were offering. It was definitely a different approach to take, but it did make tree pruning a bit more interesting! I will be honest, I honestly didn't know all of these facts about trees before this, and it did make me laugh every time I looked at the piece. 

LM: Was the goal to get on the Tonight Show or was that just a surprise?
PM: Not at all! When one of my colleagues sent us the link to the clip, I was actually worried at first, since I didn't know what to expect. But when I saw it, even though Mr. Jay Leno referred to us incorrectly (Senske Lawn & Garden instead of Senske Lawn & Tree Care), it made my day. I actually had to watch a few more times and each time, it cracked me up. While I realize their intent was to poke fun at our expense, it was still worth the exposure and I can probably assume that more people today will remember that trees are tall plants made out of wood!

LM: What has your clients' reaction been?

PM: So far, I have not heard much other than one of our customers had called a branch office to say they saw us featured on the Tonight Show. I know that many of our employees were excited to see the clip and the national exposure we received with it.

LM: Have you seen an uptick in website traffic or phone calls? How about sales?
PM: Right now, it is still pretty early. And as you well know, this is our peak season, so we have several campaigns running concurrently. Once the season run ends, I will be collecting and measuring the data to determine impact of each campaign, including the pruning one.

View the "headlines" clip featuring Senske by clicking hereMarisa Palmieri

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

More photos from PLANET Day of Service

Here are some more shots of Hemlock Landscapes and the 135th Company of Ohio National Guard in action during Day of Service yesterday. Nicely done!

Beth Geraci


Monday, April 22, 2013

A PLANET Day of Service project in action

What a great morning it's been. Hemlock Landscapes, based in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, invited me along as they participated in the Professional Landcare Network's (PLANET's) Day of Service event. Hemlock donated staff, time and materials to the project, which involved sprucing up the grounds of the Ohio Army National Guard's 135th Military Police Co.

National Guard troops worked alongside Hemlock staff, together mulching beds, raking, mowing, removing dead trees and planting new ones. Here are a few photos of the crew on the job. Beth Geraci

Friday, April 19, 2013

Ohio landscaper leads cleanup at 'mud fest'

The annual Number Fest in Athens, Ohio, has pretty much built its reputation on being a mess. It's such a mess, in fact, that it's more commonly known in the area as the "Mud Fest." But we were heartened by a story we read in The Athens (Ohio) News that reports one landscaping company set out to make this year's fest, held April 13, the cleanest one ever on the books. 

Joshua Kyae, the owner of Joshua Tree Lawn and Landscape, contributed labor and equipment to the 11th Annual Number Fest as part of a recycling initiative meant to reduce waste sent to landfills.

Kyae and his team took 55-gallon refuse drums set up at the event to a recycling center throughout the day, sorting the recyclables into separate containers for hauling, the newspaper stated. Kyae first thought to help after contemplating how much waste such a large festival would produce.

Depending on this year's overall results, Kyae told the newspaper, "I would be more than happy to do this on a more regular basis, especially if it's profitable."

Read the full story here.

Beth Geraci

FD2B Talk Radio Insight of the Night: Richard Heller

There's a common misconception that “green roof” and “rooftop garden” are one and the same. Although there are some similarities, there are significant differences, explains Richard Heller, CEO/CFO of Greener by Design in Pelham, N.Y.

Green roofs are intended to reduce energy costs by helping regulate temperatures within the building, keeping them cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. In addition, they're designed to absorb as much as 80 percent of the rainfall that lands on the roof, significantly reducing the amount of water that flows into the city’s sewer systems and treatment plants.

Many times green roofs are as simple as a drainage membrane that's laid upon the existing roof and then covered with “trays” of a groundcover like sedum, which requires very little maintenance once it's established. They may or may not be accessible.

Rooftop gardens, on the other hand, are designed to create useable and functional space for the building owner and its occupants and may or may not take on the qualities of a green roof. 

Show: Go To Heller For Green Roofs
Guest: Richard Heller, Greener By Design, Pelham N.Y.
Date: April 17, 2013

To listen to the full show, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Techniques for increasing sales this spring

By Jeffrey Scott, consultant

1. Profile your Red Light clients.
In the heat of the spring it's easy to get swept up in the leads that make your phone ring. But how will you service them all with adequate attention? You will be best served if you can create a filter that will remove the unqualified (Red Light) leads from your pipeline. To do this you need a profile of the type of prospect you will NOT try to sell. To create this profile, ask yourself the following questions:

• Who have I bid in the past that I never seem to sell?
What is the bottom 5 percent or 10 percent of current clients that I wish to grow beyond? (You can’t reach the high fruit if you hang onto the rotten apples lying on the ground.)
Is there a client type that I have sold in the past that consistently loses money for me?
Is there a type of client that buys only partial services and ends up being unhappy and thus distracting my time and focus?

Create a profile and screen out these appointments by phone.

2. Reach “conceptual agreement” first
Before you make a proposal, and in order to maximize your chances that your proposal will be accepted, it's imperative that you reach "conceptual agreement" with your prospect. To do so you need to ask enough questions to get at the root of: 

Why they are buying?
What's their priority?
Is your solution solving their problems and meeting their needs?

If you write up proposals without first going through these steps, you're far less likely to close the sale, and you're more likely to waste your time in useless follow-up appointments. You will work far more efficiently if you can gain "conceptual agreement" first, then write up and present your proposal.

3. Separate emotions from money.
The only thing worse than a prospect who's price shopping is a salesperson who's emotionally tied to the price of his or her product. Stop worrying about the price, stop defending the price, stop obsessing about the price, and instead, have quiet confidence in your fee structure. Give your clients options and different price points, and for those who want to spend less, show them an option that meets their budget. 

Don't negotiate with yourself and don't lower your margin just to get a client to say yes; instead, ask better questions and make targeted recommendations. 

4. Make small sales on the spot.
Some products simply don't deserve a follow-up appointment. The cost of going back to your office, working up a proposal and emailing it back to the client costs much more in time and opportunity cost than is often admitted. Give yourself permission to make small estimating mistakes. Add a field estimating contingency of 5 to 10 percent to estimates presented in the field. Jobs of $1,000 to $5,000 and even more can be estimated and sold in the field. Moreover, selling by email is not selling at all. You're much more likely to uncover and deal with objections if you present the price in person. 

Make it enticing, so the client will say "yes" on the first visit. Throw in a low-price/high-value add-on if they sign on the spot. Or, bring a copy of your schedule and show them how you can put them on the schedule and save their spot if they give you a down payment or sign up now.

5. Don't be an order taker. 
When clients tell you succinctly what they want, it's not always in your best interest to simply react to their request for a price. Don't be an order taker. It puts you in the position of being compared with the next contractor your prospect is interviewing. Change the prospect’s assumptions. Show your value by negating one or two of their assumptions and adding in one or two of your own. If they come to the meeting with a solution, challenge their solution, dig deeper to the underlying needs and present your own solution. Be a leader. Good clients like to follow a leader.

6. How can I help you? What would you like to accomplish in today's meeting?
This is a good two-part question that can be asked and re-asked over the course of a sales appointment. It allows the prospect to think more deeply about his or her needs.

Jeffrey Scott, MBA, author and consultant, grew his landscape company into a successful $10 million enterprise, and he's devoted to helping others share the same success. He facilitates PEER GROUPS for landscape business owners who want to transform and profitably grow their business. For more information, go to, email, or call (203)220-8931.