Over the next several months, I’m going to provide interviews, infographics and other media by some of the best in the landscape industry. These folks either do the marketing for their own companies or they’re consultants that help landscape companies grow and become more profitable.
Steven Cohen, founder of GreenMark Consulting Group is one such person. GreenMark Consulting Group works with landscape maintenance, design/build and snow services companies to build their operational systems for prosperity and long-term success.
WK: Tell me what GreenMark is and your role in the company?
SC: GreenMark Consulting Group is an industry specific consulting, coaching and advisory firm serving the landscape-snow industry. While our client base ranges in size from $350k to over $20 million, we take a very holistic approach with each client we interact with. The foundation of our mission is based on the quality of the relationship, not the quantity of relationships. If you are one of the what I call the 80% club, that is 80% of our industry is made up of contractor under one-million dollars looking to grow to the next level, then you are our ideal client.
My role at GreenMark is what I call lead consultant-chief innovation officer. My DNA says that I am a process architect and that must be the reason I enjoy fixing operational challenges and creating new innovative strategies. Since many landscape business owners struggle with not only operational infrastructure but also organizational culture, these tend to be one of my favorite areas of concentration. My philosophies are that company culture is a company’s stealth growth engine; it’s what sets winners apart from laggards. An ineffective culture explains many organizational failures.
WK: How does your company benefit landscaping and snow business companies? Are there other companies you work with?
SC: I believe that lies within our process. As I mentioned, our approach is very ‘holistic’. This means that the entire organization is considered not just one segment of the business. Using this approach, we begin our process with what is known as an Organizational Assessment. This is where we look at the entire organization as a whole and look closely at its operational and organizational mannerisms. What we are looking for specifically are ‘gaps’ within the organizations operating infrastructure. Our organizational assessment process is a systematic process to collect and evaluate information regarding an organization’s internal & external operational mannerisms. By assessing the internal-external structures and systems of the organization, this process provides information for us to determine capacities that need to be maintained, strengthened or fundamentally changed, in order for the organization to better achieve its vision, mission and values. This process fits well with all sized companies and if you were to look at a company like a builder building a house, this would be considered the foundation of the structure.
WK: Tell me a bit about your boot camps. How often do you hold them? What major cities do you go to? How have your clients benefitted from them?
SC: Our Landscape Business BootCamp was launched last year and we are gaining momentum on its success. The program is a highly interactive one-day program to help landscape-irrigation-snow contractors put the necessary building blocks in place to create a healthy, sustainable business environment. The Landscape Business BootCamp is for owners, managers and key team members of landscape-irrigation-snow businesses of all shapes and sizes that want to:
- Improve team performance
- Increase customer loyalty
- Expand market or service offering
- Grow revenue and profits
- Develop a company that runs itself
Attendees will walk away with the knowledge, strategies and specific tactics to help their companies become dominant forces in their markets. Attendees will learn how to develop, market, finance and manage a landscaping business—while avoiding the common mistakes that often result in failure. The BootCamp curriculum is based on GreenMark Consulting Group’s 4 Cores of Landscape Business Success which is…
- Guiding the business – mission statement, culture, organizational mindset
- Running the business – standard operating systems, process improvement
- Getting the business – branding, marketing & sales
- Doing the business – operations, service delivery model
The Real Secret Is our Landscape Business Success™ Toolkits. We have built over 125 DIY toolkits for contractors to easily apply our teaching methods to their business. In the BootCamp program, each core we discuss includes a Landscape Business Success Toolkit which serves as a blueprint to help attendees embark on important tasks, such as:
- Creating a vision, mission and values statement
- Creating support processes
- Defining a branding strategy
- Managing the customer experience.
Our Landscape Business BootCamp’s will be held in the fall of 2016 and winter of 2017 throughout the country both as stand-alone events and in conjunction with some state landscape associations. The feedback we have received from attendees has been very positive. The biggest impact they said they have received is it has enabled them to put things into perspective and approach business challenges more strategically and for greater success as the values we suggest are for attendees to focus on smaller wins which potentially lead to bigger victories.
WK: Please tell me why you choose the mission: Purpose, Passion and Pride?
SC: We call this the Power of the P’s and it stems as an organizational development tool that I used in my company many years ago. There are actually 6-Ps in the organizational development chain that we coach our clients on. The second are Processes, People, and Profits. My values are very people centric. What I’ve learned throughout my career is that in order to truly build a successful business you must surround yourself with complementary personalities that share the same rooted-values. That said the reasons I chose these are as follows:
–Purpose- Everyone in life needs to have a purpose. As this relates to our professional careers, TEAM member’s needs to show up every day with a purpose. That purpose needs to be centered, not only professionally, but personally. In my company and that of our client, we say that TEAM members have to show up with a purpose to contribute to the success of the company. Purpose has to drive them personally and professionally and drive their contributions at all levels. If a TEAM member is solely coming to work for the purpose of earning a ‘paycheck,’ he or she might not make the best TEAM member long-term.
-Passion- I do not think I’ve met one person in the landscape industry that has told me in 40 years being in the industry that they got into landscaping because of money. Most of the people I met got into the business out of a passion for the outdoors, working with their hands or the ability to be creative using materials such as plants, stone and water. Passion is the soul of what drives most landscapers and for that to work well in an organization that passion needs to be shared by all. If you just show up every day to do something you do not enjoy, you will probably will not be happy. If you show up every day and are driven by something you’re passionate about, you will probably go to work happy, go home happy and on Sunday, look forward to Monday morning.
-Pride- At the end of the day you must take pride in what you do. Taking pride in your work, is one of the best bits of advice I give to those interact with if you want to see your career or company soar to new heights. Many people work for the sake of working. In the landscape industry, you have to take pride every time you look back and say ‘we did that job’. The core values that build the pride mentality are
1- Your Name Is On It
- You Build a Reputation for Good Work
- Each Of Us Has a Role, Each Role Is Important
- Know What You Don’t Know
- Know What You Know
- Build Trust
- Stay True
Once you start to take pride in your work, even your work environment will start to change. You will feel happier at work and even help create a positive work environment. Money cannot be the only determining factor as to why you work. There must be bigger reasons for you to work in order to enjoy your work and that is why I believe the Power of the P’s are so important in all landscape business cultures.
WK: What else can you tell me about your business that will benefit landscapers and other owner/operators?
SC: Simply, I love what I do. In my role as a consultant and coach, it’s critical for me to understand my clients business like it is my own business. I really get to know my clients and their TEAM and learn about what makes them ‘tick.’
Process improvement within the landscape industry is not easy. We are such creature of habits, we very often resist the idea of change even when we say we’re ready to embrace it. I coined the term a few years ago that ‘it’s sometimes easier to wallow in misery than endure the pain to move ahead’. It’s so true. The reality is that there are far greater ‘good’ companies in our industry than ‘great’ companies’ if I want to leave a mark in the industry, it would be saying that I help good companies become GREAT!
Excellent marketing advice by Gabriel Faucher
Being an owner of a construction company can be quite a challenge. From getting your business’ name known to staying in the competition, there will be moments that you want to give up. Fortunately, your dreams are not over yet, having some successful construction companies is still very much achievable with the best marketing advice. If you need some guidance regarding marketing strategies for your business, this article will come in handy.
Making Sure You have a Good Brand
Your brand serves as an identity of your company. It would be the initial factor in acknowledging it as a source for making buildings and as a competition to others. Therefore, the branding phase is usually one of the critical steps you make in the business. If you already have picked a brand, it is best to review and test its possible impacts.
- Allocate Enough Budget
Creating a brand requires a budget. The budget mostly covers the logo and the first year of advertising. You can either make your own logo or hire a professional designer. The logo should mirror the expertise of the construction companies or at least be obvious in the companies’ slogan. In making your plans for the advertising, you have to investigate the budgeting process your competitors have undergone. Doing your research will help you decide how much you are willing to invest in the project.
- Hire Reliable Workforce
Another thing your brand requires is the best people. You would have to evaluate the people who will create your company’s success. They must be experts in their fields and are willing to face the challenges of the business. It is of particular importance to back your company with reputable names as they will appear on your ads and social media accounts. They play an essential role in the company’s reliability.
The brand is the first thing your customers will evaluate. It is essential to make your brand shine for the customers to keep coming back for your services.
Putting the Customer’s Needs First
Saying that the “customer is always right” is never enough to please them. The little things your company can do willcount as the most sincere actions. Your business should be able to do simple yet honest things to show how much you value your customers.
- Provide Simple yet Genuine Advice
One of the simplest tasks you can do is to offer a pamphlet of budget saving tips. The tips can include the ways to save a building’s electric energy or about how to maintain a healthily green environment. Your customers will appreciate that you are genuinely providing them comfort and quality services.
- Invite them to your Company’s Social Functions
Another task that you can do is to invite your former clients to your company’s dinner, party, or cocktail events. You can get updates on the quality of your services, as well as re-establish business partnerships. You can also be ensured of several future projects at these gatherings.
The little actions like an extra advice and friendly invitation will show your customers that you value the relationship you have with them. These measures can serve as your secret weapon that no other company in your field has.
Building businesses, such as construction companies, needs an extra effort and careful planning. These tips may not be the only marketing advice out there, but you will be delighted with the number of profits you can reap after following this guide. You’ll have a high chance of achieving your dreams to become a successful business person in the construction field, after all.
Author Bio: You can reach Gabriel Faucher through his Facebook page or email him at Gabrielfacher@gmail.com.
Even though I focus mostly on blogs and online marketing, it’s refreshing to get out from behind my laptop and see how actual lawn and landscape companies run their marketing campaigns.
CE Pontz Sons Inc. is located in Lancaster, Pa. They’ve been in business for many years—starting back in 1934. Since that time, they’ve evolved into premier outdoor living and water features experts in Central Pa.
Bobby Kenyon, Creative Solutions Guru at CE Pontz, shares how magazine ads have helped bring more prospects to his company’s door:
How often do you put out a magazine ad? Is it during those seasonal peak times–late winter/early spring, late spring for summer services and late summer for fall services?
BK: Typically March through May and again in the fall, September, October. The spring rush usually gets us booked pretty far into the summer. Then we do a second push to try to get us as far into fall/winter as we can.
Do you cover just Lancaster County magazines or do you extend to York, Dauphin, Berks and other Pa. counties?
BK: Lancaster County Magazine & Susquehanna Style. Susquehanna Style covers most of Central Pa. We like to keep our service area as local as possible but we do have clients in and service all surrounding counties including York, Dauphin, Lebanon, Berks and Chester. We will also begin advertising with FIG Lancaster starting in the fall.
How have magazine ads increased your business? Do you include a coupon with your ad? Do you think that helps?
BK: Our ads attempt to create a personality opposed to just offering a service and a discount. I try to make it just as much about who we are as what we create. We don’t really do much maintenance work which is typically a coupon type service. We do not offer coupons in our ads. Our main focus is designing and creating one of a kind Outdoor Living Spaces and Water Features. I believe coupons to be more of a maintenance service approach.
Who designs your ads? What input do you have to make them eye catching and encourage folks to make an appointment?
BK: I design all of our ads myself in house. I’ve been with Pontz for 11 years. Who better to tell our story than someone who knows our business inside and out? I know our crew and our quality of work better than anyone else, and that’s what I try to promote.
What do you want to add about magazine ads success in bringing more prospects to you?
BK: I honestly can’t say why they work, and I’m not sure they do for everyone. I think the fact that I’m telling the story I live everyday certainly helps. I also see a lot of companies that use the same ad time after time and never change anything. I think that can say a lot about a business. I design a new ad for every issue we advertise in. I’m sure this can be quite an expense for most companies. Especially ones who don’t have an employee dedicated to marketing in house. But it is something people definitely seem to notice, and it gets them to pick up the phone. I would say probably 80% of the calls we get for work come from someone who say they saw our ad in a magazine.
Now it’s your turn. What advertising or marketing campaign has worked best for your company? I would love to hear your story—especially if it’s word of mouth marketing. You don’t have to be my client to share your story. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can learn more about CE Pontz Sons, Inc. on their website.
The Landscape Writer ~ Proudly Serving Business Owners in Lawn Care, Landscape & Outdoor Living
Do you make sure that there’s a CTA at the end of all your online marketing communications?
Do you know what a CTA is and why it’s so important?
The Anatomy of a CTA
A CTA stands for “Call to Action.” It’s a sentence or two that you plug in at the end of your blogs, website copy and other marketing materials to help folks easily contact your landscape, lawn care or outdoor living company.
Some of you may balk at the idea of putting your contact information at the end of every blog or at the end of each web page you create. However, a CTA reminds readers what they need to do to get in touch with you. You can also add a contact information button on each of your online marketing communications too. Just add a reminder in your CTA for them to click that button to learn more about your company or to get in touch. Here are five other reasons why your online marketing communications needs a CTA:
- It helps direct your readers to the next step of the sales process. Do you want them to download an infograph? Fill out a contact form or watch a video? Whatever you want them to do, give them directions … with inbound links included … to go to that next step.
- It helps readers take that next step. When you provide a phone number, consultation link or a contact form, you help your prospects know what they need to do next to make an appointment with you.
- It helps with the entire sales process. By guiding your readers to the next steps, you’re moving them closer to becoming customers.
- It makes it easier for your prospects to go to that next step. Imagine going to a service website and really being impressed. You want to contact this company for a consultation. Yet, on that particular page you’re reading, there is no direction or contact information available for you to make that next step possible. What do you do? You go to another company with similar services that has a CTA on each web page and at the end of each blog. Since you’re pressed for time, you can quickly click on that link, fill out your information and go to the next task on your list. Remember: It’s all about your customer.
- It makes you look more professional. By having a CTA with links and a phone number, you look more professional and customer-friendly. You’re telling the prospect that you understand that they’re busy and you value their time. Thus, you’re going to make it easy for them to take that next step.
As you can see, a CTA is vital to guiding your prospect onto the next step through the sales process.
Here’s an example: If you need a professional copywriter to write your web copy, blogs, case studies and other online marketing communications, please fill out my free consultation form or call me at 717-381-6719.
The Landscape Writer ~ Copywriting Exclusively for the Lawn & Landscape Industries
Over the past three years, I’ve spent a lot of time sharing my blog ideas with residential lawn and landscape companies. Now, I’m turning my attention to you in commercial lawn and landscaping.
Why do commercial landscape companies need a blog on their website?
To reach out to your sales prospects and current clients—explaining the services you provide, why they’re important and how your company can make their property look its best.
Here are some blog topics to get you started:
- How to Find the Right Commercial Landscaping Service for Your Business
- Why Your Commercial Space Needs TLC from a Landscape Pro
- How Our Landscaping Services Make You Look Good—and Help You Sell More
- Keep Your Clients and Other Visitors on the Right Path with Landscaping
- Keep Those Unsightly Boxes, Conduits & Cameras Out of Sight with Landscaping
Just like residential landscape contractors need to keep their clients’ problems top-of-mind when producing their website content, so should you, as a commercial landscape contractor, think about what problems you can solve for your clients.
Do you want help writing blogs and other content marketing for your commercial lawn and landscape website? Then call me, The Landscape Writer, at 717-381-6719, email me at email@example.com or fill out my *free* online consultation form.
National Association for Landscape Professionals (NALP), “5 Secrets to Award Winning Commercial Landscapes,” LoveYourLandscape.org.
Ibid, “7 Ways to Make Your Property Safer for Pedestrians,” LoveYourLandscape.org.
Ibid, “7 Ways That Landscape Design Can Improve Your Building’s Safety,” LoveYourLandscape.org.
To help you celebrate National Lawn Care month, I came up with 3 (and more) blog ideas for you.
This is the time of year when you need to utilize your blog and other social media outlets to tell the world—or at least your local audience—what you do as a lawn and landscape maintenance company; why you do it; the benefits of lawn care and landscapes; and how lawn maintenance improves the homeowners’ curb appeal.
My newest blog in TURF gives you 10, yes 10, free blog ideas to help you celebrate National Lawn Care Month. Help your readers to understand the importance of lawns and good lawn management practices. Even offer a 10% coupon off for all mowing during the rest of April. Read more, http://goo.gl/HFIHt6.
If It’s Not, Here are 5 Reasons Why It Should Be
- You mostly serve people living in your region. Your neck of the woods is where your localization efforts need to take place. You want to let those people know that you exist and why they need to hire you.
- Localized marketing, such as blogging and Facebook, keeps your current readers updated on current lawn and landscape problems and solutions. It also reassures them that you’re the one to call to help them solve those problems. For example, if you’re a lawn care company, you can blog about different fungal diseases that could be plaguing your readers’ lawns at different times throughout the year. At the end of the blog, add that folks can send you pictures of their lawns for your diagnosis.
- Even though the traditional Yellow Pages are going the way of the dodo bird, doesn’t mean that you give up targeting your geographical audience. Instead, you should invest your marketing dollars into best marketing practices, including localized Internet marketing.
- Find the right people to help you. Again, find an Internet/Web marketing agency that specializes in localized Internet marketing. Find writers, videographers, and graphic designers who are at least familiar with the green industry. And if you can find a professional who specializes in the green industry, all the better. A green industry writer understands what you do, as well as how to take complex information and write to your readers’ levels.
- Budget and invest in Internet marketing. It’s too easy to give up and say you’re not tech savvy or that professional Internet marketers, writers, and videographers are too expensive. Call around and find out how much each service will cost you. And if you can’t afford it now, can you put back a certain amount of dollars and cents to invest in those services at a later date?
Have you incorporated your region in your lawn care, landscape and outdoor living website? If not, why not?