Chasing Work :–
Sales and Marketing Hints for Landscapers

By Todd Layt

Times are tough, so get out and make things happen.

30 Hints on how to get more business or market your business better:

  1. When working on client’s landscapes, have brochures in the car to drop into neighbouring properties and recently built houses. If you mainly do commercial work, have brochures available to give to builders or developers working near by. If things are slow, get in the car and head to areas where people are building new homes, and do letter box drops. It is not hard to hand out five hundred brochures in a new subdivision in a day. Make sure the flyer has a special offer. For example; offer $200 worth of free plants with any landscaping worth $2000 or more. This will only cost you $100, as Landscapers buy plants at half the price of the public. Have the flyer headed, $200 worth of free plants. This free plant idea could also work in local paper advertising.
  2. A great idea would be to hand out flyers which promote the reasons why using a landscaper will save you time and money. For example if a consumer was to purchase plants from a retail nursery would they be better off purchasing from a landscaper? A landscaper can normally buy the plants at a better rate and plant them at the same cost. Retail nurseries buy plants for say $4 and sell them for $8. So this may allow you to not only supply the plants for the customer, but plant them for free. Obviously, a free plant promotion may not work here, so try giving away a free patio pot or something else with a reasonable margin. (You could simply make the offer free planting of plants). Often large jobs that people try to do at home, they would be better of getting a landscaper to do as it will save them time and money because of special machines and procedures the landscapers have. So use this in your marketing.
  3. Ask your current, or future, clients if they know of anyone who needs work done.
  4. Offer free quotes in advertising. When things are tough, get out and quote more. Offer to design a better environment to live in.
  5. Sit on the phone, contacting businesses that use Landscapers, or recommend Landscapers. Have a great company profile document ready to send out. This could be a letter of introduction, or a full colour brochure. State on it what kind of work you are after, and make it clear that you would like to work in the future with the company you send it to. If you are chasing residential work, send these to turf companies, landscape supply yards, soil companies, retail nurseries, garden centres, landscape architects and designers. If you are chasing commercial work, send these to Landscape Architects and Designers, Consulting Engineers, etc. If it is quiet, even go and visit these types of places.
  6. Signs. When working on a project, erect as large a signs as possible, shouting to the world that you are landscaping that house, or that school etc. Ask retail nurseries etc if you can put a sign up, or at least put business cards at there premises. Put signs where you are allowed. If you can put some small real estate type signs outside a friends’ place or wherever, give it ago. Make sure its legal to do so.
  7. Buying building reports. Companies such as Cordell sell construction reports that list much of the construction work being let. For example it might list that 20 townhouses are being built by XXX constructions in Richmond. You can then contact the builder and try to quote on the landscape work. These reports also list roadside work, civil engineering, parks etc. To buy these reports visit www.reedconstructiondata.com.au . These type of reports, are the easiest way to find potential clients. To make this work for you it is necessary to put effort in. Have a good company brochure and standard letter you can send to any potential client you contact by phone.
  8. Make sure that you, your staff and your vehicle are presentable.
  9. Make sure sign writing on trucks is up to date and clearly visible.
  10. Have plenty of business cards on hand, and company profiles on hand, to hand out when ever the opportunity arises, even at social events.
  11. A reminder; Give the customer a brochure with care instructions for the garden, a gardening maintenance book, with your name inside, a customised tape measure or fridge magnet or some other product which will stay visible inside the house, or be kept by your clients. This will increase the chance that they will recommend your business to friends and family, or use you next time.
  12. Direct mail outs can work, especially for commercial landscapers. The best approach is to develop a list or data base that is relevant and accurate. Find out who the estimators and overseers/project managers are for various companies. Before you do this define your target market. For example you may choose to chase certain categories from the following list; Construction companies, Builders, Councils, State Government Departments such as Roads Departments, Waterboards, Landscape Architects, Developers, etc. Once you have chosen the target market, you can either buy a list from list brokers, which is generally not very detailed, or you can sit down with the Yellow pages, and phone and find out the appropriate contacts, type them into your data base, and then start mailing out your company profile with a covering letter. The more people you let know that you are interesting in quoting commercial landscape projects, the more quotes you will get to do.
  13. Web sites- These are low cost. Have a good clear web site, which quickly shows what your business does. These days, it does not cost a lot to have a web site built, or optimised for search engines. Even a small company can seem big on the web. Try to have good free information regarding landscaping in general on your site. Yellow pages online, and Google are worth looking at for advertising. Google’s adwords are relatively cheap for landscapers. You can even choose the state the advert is run in. I use a small web design company, that has very good rates, and build great optimised websites. www.softcomweb.com.au I reluctantly give his web site out. If too many people use him, he may not have time for me.
  14. Widen you scope of works. While things are tough, and building is slow, do other construction work. If you have a Skid Steer loader, advertise it for earthworks. Contact turf companies, and offer to do turf installation.
  15. Do a few trade shows. This is costly, and a lot of work, but it does provide leads. You could have a stand at gardening shows, or home shows. Have a stand at Landscape architect shows, or sponsor awards. Show at a commercial builders show.
  16. Advertise more. When times are tough, people usually advertise less. My suggestion is to advertise more, but in a very cost effective manor. Be smart about it.
    • Local paper advertising. One option is to advertise in the trade section. Another is to run an advert in the home improvement section of your local paper. Many groups such as Fairfax, and Cumberland group, offer free advertorials if you run an advertisement in that section for 4 weeks or more. Having a story about your business in your local area is great for business. You may have to advertise in a group of local papers to get this offer.
    • Radio or TV for country landscapers. Advertising in the country on this type of media is very cheap, and worth considering. In big cities it is usually too costly to do this.
    • Directory advertising. Make your business stand out. For example, have a special area. Eg; North west. Have special services listed. Look at other sections of the directory for adverts that stand out, and use those for inspiration. Do not clutter your adverts.
  17. If you are a commercial landscaper, get in touch with past clients, and ask them if they have any work, or do they know of any work. If you widen your scope of works, you can tell previous clients about your new services.
  18. If you are quiet, do some charitable work. It will lead to opportunities. Besides, it is a great thing to do anyway.
  19. Advertise in the building contractor magazine. I know this will work. Even if you simply put a business card advertisement in the trade section of the magazine. For $200 plus GST (book for a year and it only costs $800 + GST. 6 issues) you have your business in front of up to 50000 readers. 21% are residential builders. It may even be worth considering a half page advertisement. You could even have an insert placed in the magazines of your state only.
  20. If you are a commercial landscaper, send holiday greeting cards to your customers. Try sending an Australia day card, hardly anyone does that, so your card will stand out.
  21. Enter landscape competitions and win. Then try to get as much publicity for it as possible.
  22. Brand your company. Use a colour and a logo for all your vehicles, shirts, hats, machines, website, and brochures. Look professional.
  23. On your current jobs, or future jobs, try to find extra work to do on site, or try to come up with ideas for extra landscaping on the site.
  24. Faxes. Instead of sending emails when chasing work, or sending prospective clients, send a fax. Faxes are much more likely to be read, kept, and more highly considered then email.
  25. Network, Network, Network. Attend trade shows your clients attend, and talk to them. Try to get involved in associations that will lead to networking with potential clients.
  26. Chase leads. Chase quotes more than once. If the client is undecided, a second call a week later may get you the job. If it is a vital project, personally see the clients. Following up is often the key. A client is also more likely to give you the job if you appear to be keen, and friendly.
  27. Put your business cards in local stores, or on local notice boards.
  28. Drive around areas with a lot of construction, and stop at sites and personally and see the builders.
  29. Widen your work area. Start chasing work in other regions. With mobile phones, you could be local to anyone.
  30. Consider doing landscape maintenance, as well as landscape construction.

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