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.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Non-traditional landscape industry marketing tactics

Two interesting marketing-related items came across my desk (or should I say inbox) today, and I couldn't resist sharing them ASAP. 

Driveway drop
A Plus Lawn and Landscape's "driveway drop" wallets

Residents of Central Kentucky may be finding black wallets in their driveways this spring, but they shouldn't be alarmed or try to call the police, reports They should open them up and at the very least get a kick out of the guerrilla marketing tactic employed by A Plus Lawn and Landscape Inc. of Lawrenceburg, Ky. Looking for an alternative to direct mail, owner John Rennels devised this "driveway drop" program because, as the reporter points out, "People most definitely will pick up a wallet."

Radio star
M.J. Storey Landscape Construction in Southern Maine, has effectively added a more traditional marketing medium (though not necessarily traditional for the Green Industry) to its mix: radio. The results have been impressive: "We experienced a 45 percent growth in one year once we went on the radio," owner Michael Storey says, as reported by Portland Radio Group's blog. Listen to the award-winning commercial here:
Marisa Palmieri

Read more here:

Read more here:

Read more here:

Friday, April 12, 2013

CNN poll shows 6-year high in optimism

In a week full of bad news ranging from school shootings to menacing behavior from North Korea, we're happy to report that a silver lining finally emerged in a CNN poll released today. For the first time in six years, 50 percent of Americans polled said they're optimistic about the way things are going in the U.S. 

“The number continues an upward pattern since the summer of last year, when only 35 percent were optimistic about the country’s conditions,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland stated in the CNN story on the matter.

Despite the country's 7.6 percent unemployment rate, with the stock market climbing the way it's been, Americans haven't felt so upbeat since January 2007, "when 57 percent felt the country was in good shape," the story stated. 

Are you feeling optimistic too? Please tell us what you think! And check out the full CNN story here.

Have a great weekend!

Beth Geraci

Thursday, April 11, 2013

FD2B Talk Radio Insight of the Night: Mike Rorie

Even at a young age Mike Rorie, former CEO of GroundMasters, realized the best way for him to be successful was to choose a specific segment of the landscape market and build a business to serve it. He saw an incredible opportunity in the commercial maintenance market in the Cincinnati area, which is where he grew his company to be one of the most prestigious and successful landscape maintenance companies in the area, eventually selling to The Brickman Group in 2006 after 27 years in business.

Rorie attributes much of his success to focusing on his target market and not trying to be “all things to all people.” While many businesses did and still do fight to be the lowest price service provider, he preferred his brand to be known for its quality of service, which was offered at a higher price point than his competitors'.

Listen to this week's show to gain even more insight as Rorie explains how he grew his landscape business from an $11,000 residential maintenance service company to a $30 million commercial maintenance dynasty.

Show: Go Mike Rorie
Guest: Mike Rorie, Go iLawn/GIS Dynamics, Cincinnati, Ohio
Date: April 4, 2013 

To listen to the full show, CLICK HERE.

Friday, April 05, 2013

North Carolina landscaper plays role in community fountain

A 10-foot-high fountain under construction in Hendersonville, N.C., will spring to life May 1, and a local landscaper is playing a part in it. 

When it's completed, the fountain will be in the shape of three local Blue Ridge mountain ranges. And its foundation of native boulders is being helped along by Hendersonville landscaper Steve Haun, owner of Tanbark Landscape Company. Haun is helping the fountain's artist, Berry Bate, to integrate 500-pound granite boulders into the fountain's metal structure.

Each piece has “to be set just right” for the fountain to flow well, he told Emily Weaver, a reporter from the Times-News newspaper, who wrote about the project. It “has to all tie together,” he added.

When the fountain is finished, "waterfalls will flow down the mountains in several places, over a cropping of stones, illuminated by artificial and natural lights to add life to the piece," Weaver wrote. Ultimately, the fountain evokes those things in this North Carolina region residents appreciate most—waterfalls and mountains.

For more on the fountain and Haun's involvement, check out Weaver's complete story here.

—Beth Geraci

Monday, April 01, 2013

Pew survey: Most Americans say immigrants should stay

3-28-13 #1A new survey from the Pew Research Center finds that seven-in-ten Americans (71 percent) say there should be a way for illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. if they meet certain requirements, while 27 percent say they should not be allowed to stay legally. There are approximately 11 million illegal immigrants in the country.

President Obama recently said he's confident an immigration reform bill would pass by the end of the summer if a draft of the bill is released in early April. 
Most who favor providing illegal immigrants with some form of legal status – 43 percent of the public – say they should be allowed to apply for citizenship, but 24 percent of the public says they should only be allowed to apply for legal residency. 

The national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted March 13-17 among 1,501 adults, finds that overall attitudes about immigrants in the United States are more positive than negative, despite the nation’s struggling economy. --Marisa Palmieri