There is a big difference between lawn care marketing and making lawn care sales. When you realize the difference, you will be able to focus more on what you need to focus on to improve your business. Here is a great eye opening discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum.
One lawn care business owner wrote “lawn care marketing and sales are totally separate. But like a good marriage they need to work together to build a strong and long lasting relationship.
To me it’s simple, if I hired a salesman and he makes 50 sales calls and comes back with less than 50% of the business, I would give him another chance. But if it happened twice, then they are not a sales person and they would be moved to another part of the business or let go. Does that sound harsh? Perhaps, but if one employee can close say 60% of the sales, then I expect all sales people to close at least 40%.
If you are a business owner and making call after call and not getting the business, accept that maybe it’s not the offering, it could be me or you, so hire someone that can close the deals and maybe focus your time on marketing or managing the workers who are doing the work. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, it takes a certain kind of person to be a top sales producer.
I have learned to close 90%+ of the calls I receive. I did last year as I keep stats on everything, but that is not what I would generally expect of a sales person. You need many years of practice and experience to pull that off.
Let me give you an example, in July I hired a young employee. A short time later, he was let go by my field supervisor as he couldn’t seem to follow instructions that well. After wards his mother calls me and it turns out he has A.D.D. After talking with her a bit, I decided to hire him back to work directly with me. At first, it was a challenge, then I noticed something. He was starting to repeat my sales lines to clients and clients seemed to love him. So one day I said to myself what the heck, we were doing leaf collection on a street where dozens of homes needed our services.
I let him loose to go door to door while I and another staff member were doing the work. To my surprise, he closed almost 20 deals in one day and most were over quoted! A couple were under quoted but in the end, we made a pile of cash as we didn’t have to move the truck and trailer for two days. So now he is in charge of sales. I gave him a vehicle and he is on his own and paid commission rather than salary at his request and he made a lot of money last fall for the leaf collection crews.
I can hardly wait to see what he does this year, the only thing he is not allowed to quote is excavation services. I do all of those quotes as I want to see what we are getting into and it takes years of experience to quote these jobs properly.
I think as business owners, we all should first try our hand at sales and do it ourselves. But if we are treading water we need to look at what the issues may be. If you have someone on staff that can sell, let them loose and go do something else you are better at. I have staff that can run certain gear better than I can. Does that bother me??? Not at all. More power to them! I am glad to have them on board and I won’t go near their machine.
Some people have a natural sales ability while others try to learn how to sell. From my experience, it is better to find someone with a natural sales ability. As for how to price jobs, that is super simple to learn. I teach my sales staff the box they must work in and when they make mistakes let them know how it should have been done.
In my case it’s super simple, measure the property and use some formulas and lists to tell you exactly how much every service you offer will cost. If you are unsure, use the lawn care business calculators here.
Clean up’s, straight by the hour and I know the customer will ask how many hours, so come up with a line. Generally speaking this would take us about 3 hours so the cost will be $150.00 or whatever. However we will stop at three hours.
Your sales staff is going to make some mistakes. We all do. What is important is that we learn from them.
The way I have my sales commissions worked out is that it’s tied to profit on the job. So if my sales guy bids $45.00 to mow a lawn and it ends up costing us $40.00 and let’s just say I agreed to pay him 30% of profits ($5.00), then he just made about $1.50 per mow. He will learn real fast…..or at least I would hope so.
If the sales guy’s focus is on tree cutting and chipping, this job is billed by the hour no exceptions. His job is to simply find clients needing it. Next is mowing and that one is simple as I have him use a surveyors wheel that gives you the square feet of the property. I paid quite a bit for that measuring wheel, but it’s a great tool to accurately bid a lawn. I also have him sell spraying. I told him to sell the entire package for the first spray and then certain sprays monthly. I showed him what to look for etc.
Pressure washing is by the square foot so that one is easy also. Excavation is bid by me only. Driveway grading is by the hour. Tilling is by the square foot. Fence post holes is by the hole. Mulching is by the square foot. We tend to stay clear of weeding jobs. I am not a plant expert and some of our clients have some pretty extensive flower gardens so I sub that out to someone else I know that is an expert and does it for a living…..I think that is about everything we do.
I forgot to add, if it’s a major job, like with some of these private gated communities we picked up late in the season, we sell these together.
If you offer straight lawn care, it should be super simple for you to get a salesman. Tell your sales guy you have a minimum of $xx.xx per lawn for mowing. And then it is $xx.xx per square foot. If he really screws up a quote, I would go talk to the customer and take it from there. I am sure there are going to be a few head shaking times ahead but I am willing to take that risk in order to see my business grow.”