This article originally appeared in Turf Magazine, where Chad writes a monthly column about sales and marketing for lawn and landscape companies.
It may not be everyone's’ job to prepare proposals or close a deal, but it certainly is the responsibility of each person on your team to help your green industry business grow.
Salespeople live for the hunt, kill and bragging rights of bringing in a ton of revenue. On the other hand, it’s very common for production workers to mainly be motivated by productivity and workmanship. After all, if they wanted to be a salesperson, they probably wouldn’t be spraying lawns or laying pavers. Typically, selling doesn’t excite them, and in many cases, they’re even intimidated by the idea.
However, there always seems to be a small percentage of production workers that love talking to clients, or even walking over to next door neighbors and telling them how great it would be if they joined your customer family. These team members can bring in awesome leads. Wouldn’t it be great to have more people like them?
(Image above is one of the hard-working team members at Klausing Group, a Commercial Landscape Company, serving Lexington and Louisville, KY)
Over the past two decades I’ve worked in the green industry in various roles from production to sales and marketing. Here are my tips for developing a production team that provides quality leads for your business:
1. Create a Company-Wide Culture Around the Importance of Growth
If growing your landscaping or lawn care business is important to your leaders, they need to be fueled by this passion and it needs to rub off on everyone. Whether owners, managers, office or field personnel, everyone needs to understand that it’s their job to help the company grow.
Incorporate this message and supporting activities into every area of your organization. New-hire orientations, job descriptions, company meetings, performance reviews, management training, and every single thing you do should have an element of how your whole team works together to make this happen.
(RELATED READING: Lawn Care Marketing - 3 Experts on Growing a Lawn Care Business Today)
2. Dedicate Time in Departmental Meetings
While it’s common to focus most of your time on technical training and safety, departmental meetings should consistently also address growth goals and provide a safe place for your team to hone their skills.
Don’t assume speaking to your customers about additional services will come naturally to them. Talk through these scenarios in detail, providing resources, sharing real-life successes and role playing on how to talk to prospects and customers.
3. Hold Classes or Certification Seminars
It’s easy to get tunnel vision. For example, if you’re a lawn technician, you’re purposefully looking at grass most of the day. There could be a dying shrub that you’re walking right past and you would easily miss it. Even if you did manage to spot symptoms, you may not know what their cause may be.
It’s intimidating to bring up topics of which you may have little knowledge of to property owners. One great way to help make your team more well-rounded and increase their confidence is to create special classes or certification seminars. For example, create an opportunity for your lawn care technician become an ISA Certified Arborist. It will help them feel more comfortable talking to clients about trees and shrubs.
4. Schedule Ride-Alongs
Another way to boost your team's’ knowledge, confidence and team spirit is to have a salesperson or a manager ride along with a production worker for at least half a day. Not only will it help your sales or management team appreciate how tough the production worker’s job is, it will create opportunities to teach.
Production workers can observe how their mentor finds opportunities that they commonly miss, and how they bring up a conversation with a property owner. They only need to focus on that part of the process and leave the selling to the sales team. That can take some of the pressure off.
5. Remind them Visually
It’s human nature to forget. One way to keep lead opportunities in the conscious mind of your production team is to do it with visual aids.
Place colorful and informative inserts in their company mailboxes, hang posters in the crew room, or even hang a TV monitor with fun, rotating slides by where they punch in and out every day. Constant and creative reminders will help them remember not only what to look for but how it’s an important part of their everyday job.
6. Educate Your Production Team Through Your Blog & Social Media
Your CSRs, managers and salespeople may be connected to a computer or smartphone all day, but what about your production team? While they may stow their phones away safely while they’re working, most of them will check it from time to time throughout the day. In the evening, they may even be spending time on social media or surfing the web.
Your company’s blog should aim to answer questions that your prospective customers are asking. In essence, you’re taking on a teaching role, informing them of issues they should be looking for on their property, and how to address those concerns. This information is ideal to send to your production team as well.
Ask for your production team’s emails and subscribe them to your company’s blog so they can read these articles to become more knowledgeable. You can also ask them to connect with your company on social media, where you will share these articles and other resources relevant to your target audience.
(RELATED READING: How to Start a Blog for Your Landscaping, Lawn Care or Tree Service Company)
7. Create a Competition and Fork Over Some Cash
If you create a financial incentive for production workers to find quality leads, watch at least 25-50% of them have dollar signs in their eyes. Some will quickly realize that if they get a few quality leads each week, it may be just as profitable as working an additional hour or two (depending upon your incentive). Some companies even offer these incentives as cash bonuses, additional time off, or miscellaneous perks. Create both immediate rewards and an ultimate goal. You could have them enter to win a trip or large screen TV as the year-end prize!
Create a visual leaderboard several places in your building and make a big point of celebrating successes not only visually but in regular meetings. This will not only boost participant’s confidence, but can make other non-participatory team members feel some needed nudge to join in on the quest.
The goal is to constantly raise the bar on everyone’s game. It’s not about making your production people as great at finding business opportunities as your best salespeople. Create a culture and develop the processes that will help your production people continually grow as team players. Before you know it, you’ll be surprised by how many additional leads you’ll get.
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