Sell Your Lawn or Landscaping Business: Marketing & Sales Optimization
You want to sell your landscaping or lawn care business someday. And, you want to get a fair price for all your blood, sweat, and tears.
You understand your house needs to be in order when a prospective buyer considers acquiring your green industry company. But beyond financial statements and organizational health, is there something you’re missing in your valuation?
Don’t underestimate the power of optimized marketing and sales.
Over the past 25+ years, I’ve had some pretty candid conversations with people on both sides of selling lawn care and landscaping companies. Those stories are full of “I wish I had known” statements.
In this article, I will outline some key areas that demand your attention so you can negotiate more effectively when the time comes.
Image Source: Dall-E AI Image Generator
Marketing Positioning Supporting Profitability
I’m going to assume you’re savvy enough to identify what type of work is generating the maximum profit for your lawn care and landscaping business. If you need help with this, many wonderful green industry consultants focus on this area. Connect with one of them.
As you and your consultant work through your financials, you’ll likely start seeing some service lines that are generating revenue and activity but not great profit centers. Consider dumping some of the low performers.
[RELATED PODCAST: Are Too Many Service Divisions Hurting Your Brand & Profit?]
Positioning is an exercise in exclusion. From a marketing perspective, your company should appear as narrowly positioned as possible to support the parts of your business that drive the most profit. This is one of the reasons why residential lawn care spray companies and commercial landscape maintenance companies frequently get acquired. They are narrowly focused on fewer services and a smaller target audience.
If you’re a residential design-build company without much recurring revenue, it will be more difficult to get acquired. However, by following the rest of the tips in this article, you can make it more likely.
Feature Ideal, Loyal Clients
To get acquired more easily, you’re going to need to prove that you have plenty of ideal, loyal clients. This can be hard if you have too many bad-fit clients and a poor online reputation.
In addition to culling the bad clients and replacing them with more ideal ones, it’s important to make it clear that you have raving fans of your brand.
Image Source: Dall-E AI Image Generator
This is where Google Reviews can provide some validity to your claims. Develop a process to create hundreds of positive reviews over an extended time. The party acquiring your business will inherit those online profiles and their reviews.
[RELATED VIDEO: How to Get Google Reviews for Your Lawn Care or Landscaping Business]
As you develop deep relationships with ideal clients, ask them if you can feature them in a more in-depth manner. Create detailed client case studies journaling the story of their success. These can be great digital and printed assets your sales team can use in their present sales efforts. To a potential company buyer, this shows they’re buying a loyal customer base.
Whenever possible, try to feature key team members in these client testimonial stories. As a departing business owner, your customer relationships can’t rest on your shoulders. Show a potential business buyer that they’re also acquiring a team that can continue to deliver client success for them.
[RELATED READING: How Landscaping Companies Can Leverage Case Studies for Marketing & Sales]
Brand Strength & Recognition
Let’s face it. If you swapped out logos and colors for many green industry companies, you would not be able to tell the difference between many brands. Here are some tips to create a stronger brand for acquisition.
- Recognition of Expertise: If you’re not involved in green industry associations, now is the time to start. Start cultivating relationships and getting your team certified. This can help position you as a leader in the industry vs. just another landscaping or lawn care company. Likewise, participate in industry and local publications that highlight your expertise, thought leadership, and community involvement.
- Modern Visual Brand Style Consistency: All of your branded elements should cohesively blend. Everything from the logo, fonts, and colors used should follow a brand style guide. Your branding may even need a visual update, be it a small logo and font revision to a complete overhaul. This can make you look current and consistent to a potential business buyer.
- Unique Messaging Strategy: Many landscaping and lawn care companies essentially say the same things in repeated, boring ways. Working with a marketing messaging strategist can help you come up with unique taglines and copywriting to use on your branding assets across various mediums. This marketing messaging should foster a clear voice that is filled with a customer-centric approach filled with empathy and emotional connection.
- Updated Professional Videos & Photos: There are a lot of lawn care and landscaping companies that are more impressive than what their visual assets reveal. Invest a substantial amount of money over a few years to update your visual marketing assets with professional images of your work, clients, and team members. It can make a company look 10x its size! Likewise, videos can help to tell richer stories about your business, team members, processes, and clients. Again, make sure these videos aren’t solely featuring you as the business owner but rather your collective team and client base.
[RELATED READING: 14 Examples of Landscaping & Lawn Care Videos for Marketing or Recruiting]
Strong Website & Online Presence
Everything we’ve covered so far leads to this. Invest in your website. It’s an asset just like equipment and team members. Don’t underestimate its impact on a prospective business buyer.
Image Source: KD Landscape
A strong online brand will:
- Clearly articulate your business’ positioning
- Feature ideal client stories and reviews
- Showcase your expertise
- Display modern branding
- Highlight unique messaging
- Present compelling visuals
Your potential business buyer will inherit your website. The money, time, and effort you put into this should be evident.
If your company has done a great job of producing in-depth thought leadership over the years on your blog, these assets can continue to generate local traffic and improve SEO for the years to come. Instead of being a digital nobody, you’ll already have a clear reputation as a helpful expert.
[RELATED PODCAST: Thoughtful vs. Thoughtless Content; and, how to Leverage Content Internally]
Likewise, these are valuable assets in a social media strategy for your potential buyer. When they take over your social media profiles, they can continue to feature your library of articles, portfolio images, and videos and drive social media users to your robust website to learn more.
Proven Lead Generation Strategy
Looking good is important, but where are the leads? Can you show a potential business buyer where they come from? Business buyers are all about predicting future success.
If you have taken the steps we’ve mentioned so far, it should be easier to show how you’re generating leads from sources such as:
- Organic search traffic
- Paid digital campaigns
- Email marketing
- Social media
- Direct mail and print assets
- Events and networking
Using a comprehensive marketing and analytics platform such as HubSpot, as well as call tracking numbers and QR codes can help you quantify how your efforts perform. This can show a potential buyer that you’ve tracked as many data points as possible to make smart decisions so they can continue to grow the business.
[RELATED READING: 5 Meaningful Website Metrics to Understand & Track]
Healthy Sales Process & Organization
I’ve seen a lot of landscaping and lawn care business acquisitions deliver poor results. Most of them turn out to be poor purchases because the organization’s success was centered around the prior owner’s results. It’s hard to sustain and replicate.
As your business grows, it’s critical to develop a documented, detailed sales process. From prospecting throughout each stage of the sales process, there should be very little guesswork.
Image Source: Level Green Landscaping
When someone acquires your landscaping or lawn care business, they should also inherit a team of competent individuals. While each of them will vary in personality and style, they should follow a consistent process that closes business.
And if you have those problem children on your sales team, get rid of them now. Hire people who will be a positive asset to transition to the new owner.
[RELATED VIDEO INTERVIEW: Build a Great Lawn Care Sales Team - Recruiting Tips from a $8M Company]
Technology That Nurtures & Tracks Sales Metrics
As you document your sales process and get everyone on the same page, find a CRM and sales platform that complements this process and measures as many things as possible.
A potential business buyer will be extremely impressed to see transparency in your systems and accountability for all members of the sales team.
They also know that success isn’t only about closed vs. lost estimates. Landscaping and lawn care sales success starts with measuring all of the activities that lead up to generating a proposal and then nurturing it through the pipeline.
This is why we love HubSpot’s Sales Hub. It seamlessly integrates with its CRM, website CMS, and analytics platform to measure sales performance and the ROI on marketing. Showing a potential buyer these reports can help them more clearly understand the asset they’re investing in.
Riding Out on a Pile of Cash & Pride
Following these tips can help you command a higher price when you sell your business. But it also positively impacts everyone involved. The business buyer will more clearly understand what they’re purchasing.
Your remaining team will also appreciate your attention to creating a more sustainable organization. This can help to calm their fears when change happens. That is the kind of legacy you want to leave behind!
You’ve done a great job growing an amazing lawn care or landscaping business so far. Keep up the hard work until the end.
If you’d like more tips on developing a more effective marketing and sales strategy for your green industry company, subscribe to our blog. We’ll send new articles like this right to your inbox. And, if you’re ready to invest in a strategy over the future to position your company for acquisition, feel free to request a consultation with us.