Why You Must Cut Off The Things And People That Drain Your Energy

Watch this video to learn how to deal with people that drain your energy and surround you with negativity.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had this experience. I have many times. I’m about to do a sales call, I’m about to meet with a client, I’m about do something that requires that I have a high level of energy, that I’m excited, that I’m in a frame of mind where I totally believe in this thing that I’m doing so that I can hopefully make the sale. Right before I’m about to do the sales call, I am bombarded with bad information or negative information or a problem or another fire.

More than likely when I was brought up to speed on this fire that we’ve got to deal with or something that’s wrong or some client that’s not happy, there’s really nothing I can do with it in the moment because all I can do is receive that information. But I now have to immediately take care of my sales call or go meet with a client to give him an estimate or whatever. I have to shift from the negative mood almost instantly into being Mr. Positive and excited and happy and certain of what I’m selling. If you’ve ever experienced that, you know how negative bad information is in terms of your energy level and your mood and how it can hinder you from being a really great salesperson.

Case in point. A really good friend of mine is in the industry of selling airplanes and helicopters and his very top sales guy told him, “I don’t need to hear about the problems with the company. I don’t need to hear about any negatives. I don’t need to hear about any problems with the airplanes or helicopters or whatever it is that they’re selling.” He doesn’t want any of the bad news. “Just give me the good stuff. You guys work out all other stuff. Don’t tell me about it. I don’t want to hear it because my job is to be the salesman. My job is to sell a really rosy wonderful picture of what’s possible and I cannot be bombarded with that negative information.” That’s very true.

Where I’m going with all of this is the very same thing is true in building your business. You have to be aware. You have to be very aware of the problems. You have to be very aware of the fires. You have to be very aware of the reasons clients are cancelling. You can’t ignore that, but you’ve got to put that stuff on a shelf. You’ve got to deal with it at the right time. The point of this is, if you go through your business, your relationships, your employees and the outside relationships that you have, and your client list and you think about everybody that drains the life out of you because they’re constantly negative, they’re constantly unhappy. You can think of all the things that when you wake up in the morning, that suck the life out of you.

To be really successful, I gave the salesman example. To be really successful as a business owner, you have to get that stuff out of your life. You have to cut off those relationships. You have to end those relationships. You have to get those people out of your business. You have to get those clients out of your business. You have to deal with whatever those problems are and those relationships that are sucking the life out of you. If you don’t, they will drain all the energy you have to the point that you’ll never be able to build a great company.

You have to have high levels of energy to be able to sustain what it takes to be, in my first example, a great salesperson. Or in my bigger example, the over-arching point here is to be a great business owner that moves his organization forward, that grows his company, that leads his team. Whoever and whatever is sucking the life out you, either deal with it and fix it in your company or cut it out of your life. It will make all the difference. I am speaking from experience. I have done this in many many cases.

Trick To Win The Sale

Set yourself apart from your competitors and win the sale…

I experienced really good selling recently, and I wanted to share the experience with you because I think it can be applied to your business and my business. It’s a really great lesson to remember. We’re putting together our 2nd annual Service Autopilot Conference. It will be in November. We’ve pretty much finalized everything at this point.

About a month ago we were finalizing the hotel that we were going to hold the event at, and it’s an expensive proposition. We’re signing a contract with the hotel for about $125,000 to put on this event. We went, 5 or 6 of us, and we toured the final 3 hotels that we had decided will work for us.

One of those hotels is pictured on my screen. You can see it in the back, it’s the Anatole Hilton in Dallas. We went and they did a first class job. As soon as we walked in the door they had several people waiting for us, and then they ushered us into the hotel and took us to one of the 6 restaurants. They had desserts and drinks and all kinds of things set out for us. The lady that was essentially running the show, and she had 5 or 6 people there with her to help answer questions, she was asking us all kinds of questions about what we cared about, what were our top concerns, what kind of problems did we have last year at our conference at a different hotel, on and on. She was fact seeking. She was looking for selling points, all while we enjoyed drinks and dessert. After that, they did a fantastic job showing us the property.

Somewhere in the course of that conversation, it was mentioned by John, my business partner … In one of the auditoriums that we looked at there were some candies sitting in a little bowl on one of the tables, and he made an offhanded remarkable about “Oh, this is a great hotel, this is my favorite candy.” That was it. We spent a couple hours with them. They gave us gifts on the way out, and that was it. We went on to the next hotel.

About 2 hours after we got back to our office, and our office is a good ways, it’s, I don’t know, 10 or 15 miles away from this Hilton, a courier came to our office with this big bag that you can see on my screen, and a thank you card. They filled this bag with tons of these candies that John loves, and they delivered it with a thank you note. You can see Ashley was running the show on this one, that’s why her name’s on it, but then you can look inside the card and you can see that she wrote a card to us, and was thoughtful enough to send these candies.

We were really happy with the hotel, but we also have 2 other really good contenders, and almost immediately it was like “We want to do business with them.” It completely re-framed how we were thinking about them and where they stacked up in the line-up of the final 3. Like, “If they do this trying to make the sale, what might they be like when we actually do business with them? Maybe they should get the contract.” It was dramatic how through the rest of the day the way we talked about them as compared to the 2 other hotels changed.

Why I wanted to share this with you is what is it that we as business owners and as salespeople can do to change the way our potential customer looks at us? What are these like things? This cost them 20, 30 bucks in courier fees, some candy and a few minutes. Nothing, something really small. That would even be worth it if your sale was only a 1000 bucks; in this case it’s 125,000 dollars. Even if it’s a small sale, that’s hardly any money to spend to really put yourself in a position where there’s a high probability that you’ll win that deal. It’s really smart business, and she did a really smart job of paying attention and probing for what our needs were so that she could answer objections and put herself in a position to win the business.

The other thing I’ll mention, I think I’ve said it before, is over the years at Service Autopilot we’ve received tons of cards. I’ve received a bunch of, and other people have received a bunch of gift cards to local restaurants. We’ve received catered-in lunch to our company from our clients. A lot of clients have sent us all kinds of gifts and said thank you. The clients that do that are known by our team and they’re remembered by our team. Our support team and our training team almost feel differently and see them differently because they become more human, it becomes more personal. Of our thousands of customers that we have here at Service Autopilot, those that actually do things like that, they suddenly stand out. Our whole team knows who they are. That’s a really great lesson. How can we as owners and salespeople do that so that we stand out among the pack?

I hope this helps and I hope you can find a way to apply it to your business.

How To Raise Lawn Care Prices With Minimal Risk Of Losing Customers

Jonathan gives his top three ways to raise lawn care prices easily.

I recorded a video some time ago about raising prices. In that video, I talked about how numbers prove that for most companies, depending on your net profit margin, you could raise prices by 10% across all of your clients, lose 25% percent of all your business, and still make the same amount of money. The idea of losing 25% of your revenue because you raised prices 10% is laughable. The odds of that happening are pretty slim, unless your business is just terrible at quality and customer service. The reality of it is that you might lose some number of clients or some amount of revenue, but by raising prices 10%, you’ll make so much more money. I want to cover just a couple quick ways that you could go about raising prices.

One: Rather than raising prices at contract renewal, which is when everybody else is doing it, and all of your competitors are marketing to all your clients trying to steal them away from you, what about raising your prices mid-season? This is one of my arguments against contracts, because contracts are the logical time to raise prices. So, if you don’t have your clients under a contract, it’s so much easier to wait until late summer and do a price increase at that time. What this does is, you don’t have your competitors marketing to your clients anymore. So your client, yes, they could go to Google and do a search and find a new company, but it’s just not as easy and convenient as it is in springtime, or at contract renewal time, when everybody’s pursuing them and trying to get their business.

Two: Raise your prices first on just your under-performers. If you use a system like Service Autopilot, or another system that can do job costing, go through your job-costing report and find your under-performing clients, based on how much money you’re making on that client to service their property, and raise those prices. Oftentimes in business, a lot of what we don’t do, that we never get done, that we never implement, it’s because we don’t know how to do it or we don’t have the confidence to do it. And raising prices is generally a confidence issue. Most of us are scared to raise prices. We’re afraid it’s going to cost us a lot of clients and everybody’s going to get mad and leave. In reality, that’s generally not the case. So, to build that confidence, you could first raise your prices on just your under-performers that you identify using some of your different costing reports in whatever software system you’re using.

Three: Simply raise prices on new clients. You’re unsure about raising prices on past clients, but you’ve at least identified where you’re doing unprofitable work, or where you’ve been under-pricing in the past, and you can adjust your prices that you use to sell to new clients. Then you could raise those prices by 10%.

So you haven’t had the same effect on your business because you haven’t taken a 10% price increase across the board. But, in my example here, taking for example the last two points, one, you’ve gone through and you’ve raised your under-performing clients to make them profitable. Some of them might fall out, but if you lose those, those are the ones that really aren’t so bad to lose, because they might have been costing you money or returning very little profit to your business. Then, the second option that I just mentioned was that you’re now raising prices on new clients, so all work that you sell moving forward is priced correctly at this new 10% price increase.

So, if you don’t have the confidence to raise prices across the board, at least consider those two ideas: under-performing clients and new clients. It’ll make all the difference in your business.

3 Tips To Get Credit Card Payments For Lawn Care Services

Watch the video to get Jonathan’s 3 tips to get your clients to agree to credit card payments for lawn care services.

I’ve recorded videos about this in the past, and to this day it remains one of the most common questions asked, “How do you get your clients to pay you with a credit card?”

It’s really not that hard.

Now, when we first got started, we just turned 10 years old, I guess it was a couple years into the business, we started doing this and it was one of the best things we’ve ever done in our business.

Back at that time, there were only a couple companies that I knew of that were doing this in our local market, and that is where I got the confidence to try it. At least there was somebody else doing it.

We implemented it. But, when I implemented it, I tried letting the client put a card on file and if they didn’t pay by a certain day, we would auto-charge the card. We tried charging the day after performing the work. We tried charging the week after. We’ve tried all kinds of scenarios, and the one that ultimately worked the best was charging your credit card the week after on a specific day. That’s what we do to this day.

Now, I have clients through Service Autopilot all over, and I know that in certain markets like Seattle, Washington and New Jersey, maybe Arizona, there’s different parts of the country where this is less prevalent. You don’t see a lot of companies doing this, yet we have Service Autopilot clients doing this very successfully.

I know for a fact this works in every market. Technology has changed so dramatically and the way people think about paying for things and money, and just look at cell phone usage and now you have Apple Pay and all of this technology coming to devices to auto-pay, everything’s changing. Fast-food restaurants now accept, and they have for a very long time, accept credit cards at the window. They didn’t back when, to the best of my recollection, they didn’t back when I started requiring that a client pay us with a credit card.

Things have changed dramatically. Yes, you’ll still have some older couples and some, maybe in some cases, military families that can’t pay with a credit card, but the vast majority of people will. The key to it is you have to be confident on the phone, and you have to say, “This is how we do it.” That way you and your team don’t have the option to accept check payment and you don’t have an out.

Confidence is number one and I’ve mentioned this before in videos. In the beginning, I was not confident and I was not having success getting the credit card.

When I realized the problem was with me, I made it very simple. Keeping it simple is tip number 2. “All we need is a credit card you’d like to pay with to start service.” It is something that simple, and then I’d just pause and wait. Then if they questioned me about it, I’d explain it and I’d answer their questions. That really made it easy.

The thire thing is when we finally said, “Okay, no more exceptions,” because we would make exceptions if you were military. We would make exceptions if you were an older couple. We’d make these exceptions and then that made it easy for the team to make exceptions, and next thing you know we’re only getting credit cards from 6 out of every 10 people. When we finally said no more exceptions, that made it work better as well.

When we tried charging the day after, that worked but, I didn’t like it because there was nothing worse than breaking a sprinkler head, or the back gate was unlocked, or a lawn didn’t get mowed or something else not going quite right, and then we charged the client before the job was done perfectly.

I believe it’s a better experience to charge the client the week after, after you’ve had plenty of time to clean up, fix, apologize, make right anything that you might have messed up or not gotten done. So that’s how we do it. I’m telling you, across the board, across the U.S., this is not a problem. Companies in every single market are very successfully doing this and no one has ever come to me and said, “Man, I wish I had waited another year to do that.” Nobody. Everybody universally says, “This is one of the best things I ever did in my business.”

To implement credit card charging, be confident when you ask for the card. Keep it simple. And, don’t make exceptions. Know that no matter what market you’re in, your competitors are successfully doing this and they’re getting benefits that you’re not getting because they’ve implemented it in their business.

How To Quickly And Easily Upsell More Work

Here is the number one way to upsell more work.

One of the absolute best ways to grow the revenue of your business is to sell more work to the clients you already have. It’s a lot easier to sell them more work than it is to go get additional clients.

One of the best and fastest tricks to do this that I’ve found is to have your technicians, your crews, your teams in the field, take a picture of any issue that they see or anything that needs to be done. The same could be true for your inspectors, or your managers, when they’re out at the property.

In years past, trying to have a tech or a crew write down notes on a route sheet was somewhat of battle. They’d do it but you had to really stay on top of them. It’s so much easier to get them to just snap a picture.

Let’s use bushes as an example. They’re out at the property, the crew sees the bushes need to be trimmed because they’ve been trained to know what to look for. They don’t have to do anything more than snap a picture of the bushes, maybe a couple pictures, and then when that phone comes back to the office those pictures are uploaded and they are emailed to the client.

Email the client and say, “Hey, while we were out today we noticed that your bushes need to be trimmed. Let us know if we can help.”  Sending a picture is a great way to sell. That picture really makes all the difference.

In an example like this you get credit in two ways. One, you can bring more revenue into the business because this is one of the most effective ways to up sell work. And two, it’s also perceived as a high level of customer service. You are paying attention to what’s going on at your client’s property.

I would highly recommend if you want to sell more work and make more money that you consider this approach. Just simply have your teams take pictures in the field, bring those pictures to the office, and then email the client the picture with a quick note. You can pre-write this note so within whatever system you’re using or email system you can have a number of different pre-written emails. One for bush trimming, one for irrigation, one for pest control, one for all the different services that you offer.

We have found this to be such a compelling and successful way to up sell that we built this functionality right into Service Autopilot, but you don’t have to have Service Autopilot to do it. If you’re a Service Autopilot user, you’re listening this, we have all of this now on the dispatch board, on the mobiles, and in the document templates. If you’re not using Service Autopilot, then I’d recommend having your teams use the phone that they’re using now and then bring those back in to you every day. It’s worth the effort even if you don’t have a system that will facilitate this.

Stand Out From The Competition And Have Customers Remember You

Watch this video and learn what makes customers remember you in your market.

Are you highly visible in your market? As you’re looking at your trucks today, pay attention to how they show when someone that doesn’t know you sees your trucks on the road. Or, if you have a whole bunch of white trucks, is that doing anything to constantly pound your name into your prospective client’s mind?

Just as important, when you send out marketing, or another client refers you, you want the person, the prospect, to have an association with your company. If I refer you to my friend, you want my friend to have thought, oh yeah, those are the guys I see all the time. I have see them.

That gives them confidence. That makes them feel like they’re making a safe, wise choice. So, running around in an all-white or all-black truck…well, if you’re my competitor, it’s awesome. I would prefer that you continue doing that. But, if you’re not my competitor, I’d suggest that you don’t do that.

Here’s a simple black truck and just look what the pink accents do to this truck. I guarantee if you have five of these running around, people will remember you. Your marketing will work better, referrals will work better, all kinds of things will work better.

Being remembered is important and when you’re seen, you need to be able to be easily differentiated from everyone else in your marketplace.

Should Employee Smoking Be Allowed On The Job Site?

The question is, “Should I allow employee smoking in the truck or at the job site?”

I think the answer is an absolute no. Remember that we are in the business of theater. We are putting on a show for our clients and we want that to be a very positive experience. We want every interaction with them, with us, to be a positive one.

You don’t know who you’re dealing with. You don’t know how they think. You don’t know what they care about. So, you have to go as far as you can to protect your image. That’s why you answer your phone. That’s why the person that answers your phone is very friendly and positive. That’s why when you’re on the job site, you’re in a clean truck. That’s why they’re in a clean outfit, uniform, clothes, whatever the case maybe, because every little thing matters in your overall brand and appearance.

Smoking detracts from that. You don’t want them sitting on the property smoking because it just takes away from your overall appearance.

Likewise, and maybe even a bigger concern, is a lot of work is built based on time. If the individual, the homeowner or the business owner sees an individual out there smoking, their assumption is, it’s just like if they see them out there on their telephone, they think they’re billing me while they’re taking a break.

They are on the clock, getting charged and they see the crew screwing around. You don’t want to give people any reason to think that. So I believe, if there’s going to be any smoking and personal cellphone conversations, they need to happen off the property, away from the client’s site.

Whether or not you let your team smoke in the truck or not, that’s your call. But, if you’re minimizing drive time and break time and all of that kind of stuff, you may have no choice but to let them smoke in the truck if you’re not willing to let them smoke at the property because there would be nowhere else to do it.

You have to make that decision. The place where I take a hard line is never on the job site, ever. If they need to smoke on a big commercial property, they need to go off the job site. They need to do it when they’re on break or on lunch. Never ever, ever on the job site.
I know that there will be many that may disagree with that point, but I think it’s incredibly important when you think about the fact that you’re in the business of putting on a show and making that show be a very, very positive one.

Raise Lawn Care Prices 10%

Watch Jonathan’s video to learn why you should raise lawn care prices 10% and how to get your clients to agree to pay it.

If I’ve been guilty of anything in business, it’s been under-pricing, not asking for enough money, and questioning the prices that I’m asking for even after I think through how much I need to charge.

I’d recommend that you take a look at, or do a few Google searches, around the topics of if you can raise prices by X and lose X number of customers. For example, you might Google something like, raise prices 10% and lose customers. Just look around and do some reading.
Several years ago, I read some books on pricing and so I raised prices in my business. I had done some price increases before but generally I had been scared to do that. I’ll tell you right now, I’m still under-priced in everything we do.

A lot of times the reason we’re under-priced is because we don’t have the confidence to raise prices. Or, we are not communicating correctly to explain to our client exactly why the price that we’re charging is the price that we should be charging and why it delivers to them tremendous value. I think most of us make that mistake so you might check yourself and see if you have that same mindset as well.

Here’s the concept, and this number that I’m about to state will change so your profit margin will affect what I’m about to say.
If you raise lawn care prices 10%, you could theoretically lose 25% of all your customers and make the same amount of money at the end of the year in terms of take-home profits. Remember, take-home profits is all that matters. There’s been some studies in the service industry that say if you raise prices 10%, you can lose up to about 37% of your customers. That’s huge.

I am positive that if I raise my prices 10%, I would not lose 25% of my clients. If I lost 5%, think about how much additional profit that would make me in my business and think about how it would affect your business. If you could raise prices 10%, only lose 5% of your clients, how much more money would you make?

The point here isn’t to give you the exact answer. It’s to give you a concept that proves to be true every single time you dig into it. Do some Google searches to research this and it will give you additional confidence to price your services correctly.