The fun thing about writing these Green Ways comics is that the ideas just land in our laps sometimes. This scene with Archie and his Greenbelt Outdoor Services team didn’t come out of thin air. A couple months ago, I was talking to an operations manager from a fairly large landscaping company. When asked about his company’s strategy for adding new customers, he said, “We’re in a unique place in that we don’t really need anymore customers.”
What?! Are you serious? Maybe it was the operations perspective of more customers meaning more aggravation, but this type of mindset is occasionally found in the green industry in all sorts of personnel from sales to management.
You’re maxed out. The people you’re really trying to find aren’t customers, they’re the quality workforce to get the work done, and the last thing on your mind is getting new customers. But this logic is flawed for five primary reasons.
1) Your Customers Are Moving
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, overall, six percent of Americans move across county lines every year. That means that you could stand to be losing at least 2-3% of your customer base each year if they’re moving out of your service area or closer to another local contractor a couple counties over.
2) Your Customers Are Aging and Dying
Not to be morbid…(well okay, I guess it really is) but the last time I checked, the mortality rate was somewhere around 100%. Seniors will move into retirement communities that have their own landscape maintenance staff, and those aging in their own homes will pass away. And there is no guarantee that you’re going to get the next homeowner’s business.
3) Your Customers Are Cancelling
The sad reality is that every lawn, landscaping or tree service company has customers that cancel for a variety of reasons. On the B2B side, it could mean a new property manager coming in with a strong, past allegiance to another company. They could drop you like a bad habit, regardless of how wonderful you’ve been performing.
On the residential side, there are too many reasons to list. But the worst fact is that customers lie, mislead or just become evasive when they cancel. They don’t want a conflict. They say they’re “taking a year off”, or they are “looking at some other options”. Then you become so busy you forget, and an active customer or one ready to buy gets the attention over these fickle folks.
4) Your Customers Are at Their Max Value
You may be able to sell ice cubes to Eskimos, but they can only fit so many ice cubes in that igloo. People will only buy so much. They attempt DIY for smaller items and they may take some work in-house on a commercial property. Plus, most homeowners aren’t constantly upgrading their property by dumping thousands of dollars each year into their backyard.
Try and try as you may to upsell enhancements or new services, but some customers will only spend so much. You won’t be getting more revenue from some of them, so that means you may need more of them.
5) Your Current Customers Aren’t Your Ideal Customers
Let’s face it. There are some customers you should fire. They suck the life and profits out of your company. If new leads have dried up, you’re going to be less inclined to give Mr. McGillicutty the axe the next time he fusses about the two weeds by his mailbox. You’re desperate to keep every account you have, even the lousy ones.
Maybe you need to take a good, hard look at the positioning of your company. Are you purposeful about the types of customers you are attracting and going after? Do you know what kind of jobs are making you the most profit? It’s critical that you understand this and make a plan to get rid of customers that don’t support this positioning.
If You Don’t Need More Customers Now, You’ll Need Them Later
Maybe Archie is right...for now. His company may be at maximum capacity and he may have more pressing needs like recruitment and training. However, as a business owner, it’s not wise to stop marketing and actively seeking new customers. This will only lead to a slow revenue and profit decline. Continue to attract more customers, and ones that bring you more profit and reduce aggravation. Then when you get that call of someone moving or no longer needing your services, you’ll have a plan already in action to keep your company moving forward.
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