GIE Recap: State of the Landscape Industry

I did an interview with Landscape Management Magazine at the GIE this past week. The asked me to comment on the state of the landscape industry. It felt a bit like commenting on my solution to Middle East politics with two minutes notice. Nonetheless I marched into the interview and this is about what I said.

The State Of The Landscape Industry Is…

It’s “Good not Great”. Yes, the rising tide seems to be floating most boats, but not enough are taking advantage of the good times from a cash-generation perspective.

Yes… revenues are up but profits in too many cases are not… at least not enough. Now is the time to make profits and make hay when the sun shines. (Welcome to the Kevin Kehoe cliché festival.) But it is not happening.

Back To The Future Landscape Industry

The same thing happened in 2003 – 2007. Companies had no problem selling in that robust economy but for far too many their costs grew even faster (the same is happening now)…

The net result was no additional cash generation and in too many cases cash was consumed, debt was accumulated and balance sheets were weak when the crash came… Companies suffered for years. You do not want to do that again.

Why Things Are Good For The Landscape Industry

  1. Economy is better. But don’t fool yourself it is not great. It looks great compared to how lousy it was. But when this pent up demand gets spent and the buyers are tapped out… look out.
  2. Consolidation is good. The Valley Crest and Brickman merger is great. First it means that real capital is flowing to the industry. Witness all the PE and investment companies looking to do deals.Earnings multiples are up. Even better there is some exodus of talent from the merged entity who are now available for hire. They are TRAINED and experienced managers from two very good companies.We should see the emergence of several large regional companies as a result and solid growth of top one and two players in every market.

That’s the good news.

Why Things Are Bad For The Landscape Industry

  1. Talent is scarce. Labor, Foremen, and especially Account Managers are in short supply and MORE expensive than ever. This singular constraint can result in “outkicking the coverage” and ruining a P&L.Recruiting has become a full time occupation for any company over $3MM in annual revenue. You have to do it.
  2. Supply. Success breeds success… and competition… This is all good except when it comes to suppressing prices. Prices are no longer going down, but they are not keeping pace with cost increases in almost everything else.Now is the time to become more selective with the work you take on. In simplest terms, you want customers that will pay a little more, appreciate your work, be somewhat lower maintenance, and pay their bills on time.

That’s the bad news.

Consider Good And Bad When Planning For 2016

For me that’s the state of the industry in a nutshell. In my opinion these threats and opportunities should inform your business planning and budgeting for next year.

GIE And The Future For Your Landscape Business

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  – George Santayana

What Does The Future Hold For Your Landscape Business?

If the past is an indicator, then human nature will be what it always has been, and the business game we play will get even tougher – primarily as a result of a dysfunctional body politic and increased competition. That being said, what can you do to finish this year and get ready for the new one?

Find the Future At GIE

If you are going to the GIE, then spend your time wisely and focus on bringing back ideas that address the future.

I have found the (1) the Breakfast of Champions, (2) the lobby of the Marriott Hotel and the attached cocktail lounge, and (3) selective educational sessions are where you need to be (unfortunately too many of the sessions rehash old ideas).

What should you look for? Here are my top four that will make a difference in your landscape business in the future:

  • Culture is everything: Look for ideas to help you build an organization that knows how to win.
  • Speed wins: Look for ideas that help you respond and anticipate the customer better.
  • Information in “real time”: Look for ideas on systems that provide timely information.
  • Salesmanship: Look for ideas about how to transform a production-driven business into a sales-driven one.

I run a business, and this is what I’m looking for at the GIE. Sure there may be other areas but these are the ones that really matter. Good hunting!

 

GIE: Landscape Company Culture Conference

We all agree that a winning landscape company culture is somehow connected to the higher profits we see every year in the best companies in the Green Industry. (NOTE: Kevin Kehoe conducted and published an annual Benchmark Study for more than 15 years: 1996 – 2013: 2012 and 2013 with Frank Ross of the Three Point Group).

Learn From CEO’s That Built Great Cultures

Instead of just talking about the theory of landscape company culture, why not hear about it from the CEO’s of the very companies who live it every day by getting a little bit better on the way to becoming the best? That’s what we have lined up a half-day conference set for Wednesday PM October 21st in Louisville.

Ask Them Anything

The program is a hands-on and inspirational session with an Expert Panel of successful CEO’s who will talk about how they are building a winning culture one process at a time.

  • Mike Russo CEO of Russo Lawn & Landscape will focus on their best practices in improving and rewarding Crew Productivity – a very important topic in today’s world of labor shortages.
  • Ken Thomas / Ben Gandy of Envisor Consulting (and former owner of several landscape companies) will talk about Discipline – using simple yet powerful examples from his “Start Clean – Finish Clean” system.

We’re excited about this program and looking forward to a great session followed up by an informal Meet And Greet with adult beverages.

Kevin Kehoe will kick off the show and introduce the Expert Panel.

Better, Best! Is Your Landscape Business Profitable?

Are you making money?  Is your landscape business profitable? Good questions! Unless you marry your transactional processes (what your people do everyday – estimate, schedule, keep time, purchase and invoice) to your profit center financial reporting, you will never be able to answer that basic question. You will forever be flying blind.

How Do You Make Your Landscape Business More Profitable?

The answer involves more than just software. It involves focusing on work flow discipline and the business tactics that drive money making…

  1. Culture: People are the problem and the answer. Hire and fire for it… until you get it.
  2. Speed: Service response is good. Anticipation is best.
  3. Information in “real time”: You can’t manage what HAS happened… you can manage what WILL.
  4. Salesmanship: Yes… nice landscape matters, but value sells… the guy with the best mousetrap DOES NOT always win!

Come see us Friday afternoon at the GIC at the Convention Center as we present “Am I Making Money”.

Sell More Landscape Services With Technology

The Modern Sales Reality

Your commercial landscape prospects are busier than ever and harder to meet with face-to-face.  Property managers and other prospects are bombarded with requests for sales meetings – an activity they don’t like that much as it takes too much time and delivers too little benefit.  

If you want to sell more landscape services in this environment you need to address this reality.  And that means using technology to make your sales process more effective with the limited time and attention of your prospects.

You Need More Than Email To Sell More Landscape Services

Email is great.  It’s changing the sales game by making it easier to “get in front” of the prospect without the hassle of voicemail.  But it is impersonal and does not provide the opportunity to build rapport the way a face-to-face meeting does.  

But if you add Go To Meeting with your email strategy, you add the rapport building element of a face-to-face meeting. This becomes a powerful sales accelerator for you.

Why Go To Meeting Can Increase Your Book Of Businesslogo-gotomeeting

Go ToMeeting “works” for the prospect because they feel less pressure typical in a face-to-face meeting.  It also requires a smaller commitment of your prospect’s time (they control when it starts and ends).  

It “works” for the green industry salesperson because it’s less expensive than driving across town and it “frees up” time to make more calls in a day.

It Only Works If You Use It Right

Yet as great as the potential offered is by this technology, ineffective use of it can backfire and hurt your sales effort.  

The key is to marry Email and Go To Meeting into an effective “two-step” sales process.  

  1. Use email to set up the call.
  2. Use Go To Meeting to conduct it.  

Two Keys To Sell More Landscape Services With Go To Meeting

The first key is addressing the prospect’s potential lack of experience with technology.  

Many prospects are not computer literate.  They require set-up and training assistance.  This provides you with an excellent opportunity to build rapport as you show them how to use it…  they learn something new while you get to demonstrate expertise.  

The second key is controlling meeting time and content.  

The best ways to do this are: (1) keep the meeting short, and (2) rely on visuals.  I recommend simple and attractive graphics/photos with perhaps one or two “verbal” slides (See Agenda Slide Below).  

Ten to twelve slides are more than sufficient for a 30-minute meeting…  and keeping the meeting under 30 minutes – unless the prospect wants more time – is advisable.

Short meetings are appreciated.  And the point of the meeting is to get the prospect to commit to something, not review every aspect of the project/contract…  that should have happened in a series of preparatory emails.
Sell More Landscape Services With Technology

Take My Word For It.  It Works.

If you want more face-time with the prospect, and you want to do more in a day, you must use technology.  It benefits both you and the prospect.  I know this from experience.  

My sales process uses both email and teleconferencing (Go To Meeting).  As a result, my productivity (number of calls per day) has soared, and (2) my close rate is significantly better.  And all it costs me is $50 per month…  about what you spend in gas driving to/from a few calls in a week.

Try It Free

Get a free 30-day trial of Go To Meeting and test it out.  I think you’ll find, as I have, it’s an incredibly powerful sales tool to sell more landscape services.sell more landscape services with go to meeting technology