Few people are as busy as service business owners. And few fields move as fast, or seem as complicated, as small business marketing.
But you don’t have to be an expert to know who will want to work with you, and why they should bother. And finding the who, and showing them the why, and reaching them when they need you the most, can put you leagues ahead of your competition.
Here’s a 6-rule playbook to give you a leg-up marketing your landscaping and lawn care business.
1. Make your company known and seen
You’d be surprised how many of our purchasing decisions start (and end) at “hm, they sound familiar.”
Making sure your company is, literally, in front of your target customers can be a huge boost for your business. A few straightforward, non-obnoxious ways to get the word out.
Make sure your trucks have your logo, value proposition, and phone number or website featured prominently. Your employee uniforms should also be branded appropriately. When a potential customer sees your logo on their cul-de-sac, time and time again; or hey notice your employees, hard at work, in a recognizable uniform, in their neighbors yard; they’ll remember you.
And remember that you as the owner, are also an extension of your brand. Keep business cards on you at all times
It sounds old school, but if you know there are people, places, or neighborhoods you’d like to do business in, flyers are an affordable way to get the word out. Make sure your fliers give your potential customers a straightforward reason to contact you. Your advantages over the competition, or a potential discount, are good things to highlight.
If you haven’t heard of 9 arounds, the concept is in the name. After your crew finishes a project, they put fliers or handouts “around” the 9 nearest houses. It’s a good way to be visible in your target area, and potentially show off your good work.
Here’s a quick “are you missing out on business” test. If someone recommends your business to a friend—can they easily get more information. Can they search “lawn care in *insertyour town here*” and find you? What will they find? Your website? A review site search results page? Wherever they end up, will they know how to contact you?
Your website can be basic, but it should show up. It should list different ways to reach out to you—like a form or a phone number. It should include the services you provide, and the locations you serve. And in general it should ensure a visitor that they’re in the right place, and you can do the work that meets their needs.
3. Give your potential customers more reason to trust you
Having your business recognized in the places where people are actively looking for your services is a marketing no-brainer. Review sites are word of mouth but online. The biggest benefit? They have far more reach than traditional word of mouth.
A few things to keep in mind for reviews and leads:
While Yelp is a popular option for consumers to look at reviews, be sure you have a presence across all of the sites that consumers in your area use. A good way to check is by what those sites might be is by using the “are you missing out on business test” from above.
Make sure you let people know how far you’re willing to travel. On Yelp, that’s as easy as setting your Service Area.
Make your pages shine. Potential customers are determining whether or not to work with you based on how your pages look. Opt in for some of those enhanced features like Portfolios and an Enhanced Profile. It will help you stand out from your competition.
If you want to expand your review presence, and you’re unsure of where to get started, remember, patience is key here. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your business won’t be either.
Be sure you’re not asking for or incentivizing reviews. That puts your customers in an awkward spot and you could hurt and not help your reputation. Rather leave a trail of breadcrumbs for them to follow. Put badges on your website, put a link in your email signature, put the site logos on the side of your vans. Rather than, “please review us on” opt for “check us out on”.
4. Invest in providing exceptional customer service
Just like the best defense is a good offense—the best marketing is exceptional service. Building solid relationships with your current clientele can be your most valuable tool for business growth.
A few tips:
Interact with customers in person, and stay in contact with them after you finish a job. Keep their contact information—phone or email—on file, along with a record of when, and in what capacity, you’ve worked with them.
Follow-up on feedback. If you’re curious how your crew did, follow-up with your clients. Send an email or get them on the phone an ask them what went well and what could have been better. It’s a good way to show you care, and you’re hoping to improve. Plus, it shows your customer that you’re invested in them. Just be sure to listen to the feedback and make improvements!
Create a system for easy referrals. If someone’s happy with your work, having a simple referral system could be a great boost for your business. Don’t worry, they don’t have to be complicated. Sometimes simpler is better!
Turn one-off jobs into maintenance jobs. Did you have a one-time gig that you really wish could have turned into more? Follow-up with your one-time customers and ask how their lawns are looking. Schedule a reminder a few weeks or months out after every completed project. You can automate this, if you’re reaching them over email.
What services do they lump together? How often do the come back for new services—and how long does your typical relationship last? If you have an idea of how your target market is spending, you can price strategically to encourage them to spend reliably. And you learn from their behavior to offer incentives that might be attractive—leading other customers and potential customers to purchase more.
Recurring revenue keeps your business healthy, so prioritize it. To secure repeat business from prior clients, offer pre-pay discount as the season approaches.
Do people who pay for service A frequently pay for service B? Consider offering a discount on service B to the customers who purchase A, but stop there. Try bundling services and fees to figure out which offers are most attractive.
If most happy customers work with you twice a season, and your average relationship lasts 4 years, that’s of note. Reach out to a customer with a special offer, if they haven’t shown up on your route a second time that spring. Or offer them a loyalty discount at the end of the fourth year.
6. Be in the right place at the right time:
Where and when are people thinking about their landscaping?
That’s where you should be, and when you should be there.
A few ideas:
Participate in home shows: Attending home and garden shows are a no-brainer. People are actively looking for the services you offer. Set up a booth, and show off your best work.
Join local chambers of commerce and community organizations. You’ll have an opportunity to network with potential strategic partners. And if you work in B2B—this is a great way to meet decision makers who might need your help.
Use meetup.com or other networking sites to meet partners and clients. No matter where you meet them, small business owners are good people to meet. Direct reach outs on LinkedIn, finding a key event on Facebook, or joining a group on meetup is a good place to start.