How To Help Your Team Learn Trees Flowers And Weeds

Don’t be embarrassed! Use this quick tip to learn trees flowers and weeds!

There’s nothing worse than being on a property with a client and they ask you a question about a disease, or a weed, or a tree issue, or the type of grass they have, and you don’t know how to answer the question. Just as bad, you send someone on your team out to diagnose a problem or work with a client and they can’t answer the question. It just makes your company look foolish and maybe not as professional as your competitors.

One of the easiest ways to solve this, and this is the exact problem I bumped into when I first got started in the industry, actually for the second time because I was out of the industry for quite some time. I got back in just before 2005, and prior I had just been a high school kid mowing lawns. I didn’t know my bushes, my trees, my grass. I didn’t know any of that stuff 10 years ago. What I did is, I learned my top 10 bushes, top 10 trees, top 10 … I don’t think it was really my top 10 flowers, it might have been. I definitely learned my top 10 weeds. I learned my top 10 of a whole bunch of stuff. I basically just memorized them.

I decided to do this after having a whole bunch of bad experiences where a client would point at a bush and say, “Hey, what’s that bush?” Pretty much everybody on the street had that same bush and I couldn’t tell them what it was. I’d play it off like, “Oh, it just slipped my mind. It’s on the tip of my tongue, I can’t remember.” Well, that’s really embarrassing, so my recommendation is to apply the 80-20 rule to this.
There’s only so many different types of bushes. In fact, in my market, I really only need to learn 3 types of grass or turf. I only need to learn so many trees. There are probably 5 predominant types of trees. You’re going to have the same thing in your market. Probably the bushes and the flowers are going to be the ones you have to learn the most of, and weeds. I would say weeds as well. Again, the 80-20 rule applies here.

If you create within your business, sort of a … You know, just print out a picture of each of these things from the web, write the name on it, and create sort of like a flip card. You memorize them, your team memorizes them, you bring somebody onto the team that’s new that’s going to be out in the field, make sure they know these things. If they don’t know them, have them go through these pictures with the names on them and memorize them.

It’s real simple and this could be solved in a day. You don’t put yourself in an embarrassing spot and your team doesn’t make your company look bad. Then, take that idea and apply it to other aspects of the company. What is it that you can apply this 80-20 concept to? It’s powerful and it’s a fast way to bring people up to speed.

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.

My Number One Lawn Care Marketing Tip

Watch this video to learn Jonathan’s number one lawn care marketing tip.

When I’m asked to critique a door hanger, postcard, website, some type of marketing piece, the most common thing that I see is that piece is trying to do too much. It’s trying to say too much. It’s trying to be too much. When I say it’s trying to say too much, I don’t mean that it’s too wordy because I often find that a lot of copy and text works well when combined with the right imagery.

What I mean by trying to say too much is, it’s possibly trying to give so much information that it’s trying to go straight for the sell. It’s trying to give price, all the benefits, five different ways to get a hold of you, and what’s being imagined when that piece was created is how can I get them to sign up for my service?

Really, the way you want to think about it, and so this is a really important tip in whatever marketing piece you create, what is the next action that you want them to take? The final outcome, the goal is to sell. You want them to sign up but you have to move them, this prospect, forward in baby steps. You’ve got to make it effortless, so the reality is that when they receive your door hanger on their door or a postcard in their mailbox, all you really want them to do is to pick up the phone and call you, visit your website and fill out an estimate form or, send you an email. It’s probably one of those three things.

The real purpose of your marketing piece is to get them to do that. It’s not to go for the sale. That’s why it’s not always necessary to put pricing material onto your marketing piece. You don’t need them to know the pricing yet because you’re not going to make the sale yet. All I need them to do, all you need them to do is contact you. When they contact you, you can give them the next set of selling points that they need to hear. You can tell them about the benefits. You can answer their objections.

Then you can give them price because yes, they do need price eventually to make that buying decision, but they may not need it initially. That’s why in most of my marketing pieces I never run the price. It’s not necessary. The only thing I need them to do is contact me. Then the sales team will take the next step, or if they’re sending in a request for an estimate, then our sales team and our estimators or whomever will take that next step. But, all that marketing piece is supposed to do is get them to contact you.

When you think about it that way, that can allow you to mentally focus on that one task, and you can get all the unnecessary language and copy and text off of that marketing piece and focus just on that one mission. If you think about it that way, it will simplify the process that you have to go through to create a marketing piece. It’ll tell you mentally exactly what you’re trying to accomplish and how to go about that, and then you’ll find that your marketing is more successful.

How To Make More Money in Your Lawn Care Business

Trying to figure out how you can make more money in your lawn care or landscape business?

It’s actually relatively simple to make more money but requires a lot of work.  The size of your lawn care, landscape, or irrigation company, or whatever it is you own, no matter what industry you’re in, will be limited by how much you know or by how much the individuals on your team know. There’s no way around it. The only way to get yourself to a million,  five million, or ten million dollars and greater, is to know what you need to know to operate at that bigger level.

What do you need to know from an employee management, from a coaching/training, from a hiring, from a marketing, from a sales standpoint, and about implementing processes and procedures? What do you have to know to get yourself to all those levels?

You’ve got to learn a certain amount to get yourself to, let’s say … let’s make up some numbers … a million dollars. Then, at a million dollars you start to have a little bit of money so that you can go hire some expertise in areas that you don’t have knowledge. The beauty of growing a bigger business is now everything’s not on your shoulders. You don’t have to know everything. In fact, it’s impossible to know everything.

Now, you start hiring expertise in areas where you may not be interested in that topic. Maybe you don’t love marketing, so you go hire an expert in marketing. They bring a whole new set of knowledge to your business. Then, as you get a little bit bigger, you hire somebody that’s an expert in finance, and you bring them in. You don’t have to know all of these things.

What you probably have to be exceptional at is learning how to manage, direct, and grow your team, how to hire, how to get bottlenecks out of your team, out of their way. But, you don’t have to know all the topics.

In the early days, you have to learn and know and study enough to get yourself to a certain level so that you have enough money to go hire the expertise that you need. Then, you have to always be smart enough to know how to manage that expertise and to know when they’re shooting straight with you or when they’re leading you down the wrong road.

The way you do this is through seminars, coaching, mentor groups and mastermind groups, and networking with the big trade organizations. You read books and buy courses. Whatever it is, there’s a lot of knowledge and information out there. Whatever it is, you can go get it and obtain and buy it and meet the people that already have it, that have already been down those roads. You and I have to do that to get ourselves to a certain level to have the money to go get the next level of expertise, to hire that expertise.

That’s the very elementary basic road map to make more money in your lawn business. Your business size, your net worth, and your take-home pay will be determined by how much you know.

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.

Get Your Landscape And Lawn Care Business Questions Answered

Get your landscape and lawn care business questions answered by Jonathan by posting them in the comment section below.

Over the years, I’ve been asked so many lawn care and landscape questions that it’s been near impossible to keep up. I like answering the questions, there’s just been too many. If you’ve asked me a question and I haven’t answered, I apologize. Please note, it’s nothing personal. I wasn’t intentionally ignoring you, there’s just an awful lot going on between Service Autopilot and Service Autopilot Academy and CitiTurf.

What I’ve decided is to try and experiment and see if I could keep up with some of the questions if they were posted as comments below this video. If you have a business question for me, please post it in the comments section below this video and again, it needs to be below this video and I will keep an eye on this video in the months to come. What I’m going to do is, I’m going to respond by text to your question. Or, if the question necessitates a longer video, then I’ll eventually record the video and that could take me a while but when I do record the video, I’ll reply to your comment and I’ll post the link to that video.

Now, to get me to answer, ideally, you’re going to leave me a short question and a concise question. Asking me how you should market your business is a question that’s just too difficult to answer without us getting on the phone. If you could ask me a question where I could answer yes or no, that would be awesome. That would make it easy for me to respond quick. If you’ve got two questions for me, please post those questions as two separate thoughts, meaning two separate comments. If you post a book of questions, it’s going to be difficult for me to answer, basically when I look at it it’s just going to feel a bit overwhelming and I’ll probably skip to the next question.

As you’re posting your question, if you want it answered, think about whether it’s something you would likely respond to, think about whether it is the simplest way and most clear way that you could ask that question and you’ll have the best chance of me responding to it.

Again, post as a comment below this video. I will periodically reply to the comments and hopefully I can get through a whole lot of questions this way. Look forward to hearing your question. Thanks a lot.

It’s Not Just You–To Grow A Landscape Company Is Hard

Don’t be discouraged! This video tells you what a lot of entrepreneurs haven’t about trying to grow a landscape company.

Something I’ve been thinking about lately is that there’s an absolute dark side to entrepreneurship and being a business owner. It’s really easy to watch some videos from me talking about where I’m at in business and giving some ideas to help you get there. Maybe you’re reading books by very successful people or watching videos by somebody like Elon Musk to give you ideas to improve what you’ve already got. But, while you are doing that, it is so easy to start thinking, “Man, I’m not there. I’m just not achieving. What’s wrong with me? Why are all these other people able to pull this stuff off? It just seems like their life is so much better and easier.”

What’s missed, I believe, is everybody that’s built a company has been through hell and has been through a lot of hard stuff. Yeah, there are the examples of a few of these individuals that made it on their first try and made it to billionaire status, but that is so incredibly rare. It’s like winning the lottery. The reality is that the vast majority of all of us started with very little help, very little assistance, probably very little money, and not really an absolute plan or the complete knowledge on how to get there. We had to figure it out. We had to struggle. We made a lot of mistakes. That’s the reality of what everybody goes through. That’s what I’ve been through.

I’m in my late 30s. I’ve been working on this for quite a while. I feel like everything really started clicking for me in my late 20s. It’s been getting better from there, but it really took me all these years to learn a lot of the things that I know now. To be able to record some of the videos and talk about some of the things that I talk about, I had to go through a bunch of stuff and had to be frustrated. I had to have money concerns. I had to have doubts and questions and not know how I was going to get my business to where I wanted to take it. I had all of that stuff. I believe everybody does. Trying to grow a landscape company is hard!

The point of the video is, as you’re working through your season, no matter what size company you are because you have problems at every single level, and I’ve said it before, every level you get to in your business means a new thing you have to learn and a new person you have to become. When you go to a million dollars, it doesn’t necessarily mean that suddenly everything’s great. Now you have million dollar business problems. Then when you go to 5 million dollars, that means you better know what it means to be a real CEO of your company and be able to manage your company and be able to run a company where you can’t actually do anything. You delegate everything. Then, when you get to 10 million, that’s another level.

All of that’s challenging and it all comes with pain and frustration and concern and worry and all of that. That’s part of becoming a great business owner. The downside of that is it also isolates you from other people, in some cases from your family, because they can’t possibly understand. There’s nobody to talk to. There’s a lot of stress. That can lead to a lot of mental anguish in a sense, especially early on, if you’re in a really tight financial spot, or if you have employee problems and it’s heartbreaking to have to let certain people go.

That kind of stuff just tears you down and wears you out and you’ve got to be around people that can build you up. You’ve got to be reading things, reading books, that can build you up. You’ve got to be seeking those answers by studying and talking to people and reading. The point here is that’s how you get through it. That’s one of the ways you get through it, but more than that, it’s normal and most people go through it of varying degrees. For some people, it might turn into depression, whereas other people, it just turns into a lot of stress. Everybody deals with it differently. But, I believe almost all business owners go through these extreme highs of, “Yay, everything’s going awesome,” and these extreme lows of, “Oh my gosh, it’s all going to end.” That’s normal.

As you’re working through whatever level you’re at in your business, and you’re working through the hardest part of your season, of your year, and you get beat down, you get stressed out because things don’t run the way they should, you can’t find the people you need, you didn’t sell that big deal and you lost another estimate. When you think about throwing in the towel, you think about giving up, you think about maybe you should have done something else, maybe you should have gone into another industry, maybe you’re not smart enough for this, or maybe you should have gotten a college degree and then somehow you would magically be equipped to do this. Everybody else had to go through that thing just like you.

The point here is don’t let it get you beat down. Don’t throw in the towel. Don’t give up. Don’t say, “I can’t do it.” Rather, figure out a way to be around people that build you up, motivate you, that have been through it, or are going through it, so you have somebody to talk to and just keep pressing on. It’s exactly what you need to be doing. It will one, get you to the next level, both financially and wealth-wise, but what I think is even bigger, two, ability and capability and knowledge-wise, because you are going through the low points and going through the trials and the tribulations and all the stress.

The gist of the video is, just keep pushing on and know that you are not alone. Most people don’t talk about it. Most business owners, you only hear the good stuff. They don’t tell you about all the junk they went through. All you see and hear are the stories of everybody else being successful and it’s not uncommon to say, “Why am I not moving faster? Why didn’t I get there faster? Why are they better and more talented than me?”

Generally there’s a little bit more to the story than that. Keep pushing on.

4 Reasons Why You Should Sell Your Landscape Business

Should you sell your landscape business? Listen to the video to find out the 4 reasons you should make that move.

I often hear so many people talking about wanting to sell their company. Many people want to build their business for the next three years and then want to sell it. I’m sure I’ve said this in other videos. But, my argument is, if you build a real company that’s capable of running itself for the most part, if it doesn’t require your constant involvement and it makes you a nice amount of money, why would you want to sell your landscape business?

In my mind, the only reasons that you’d want to sell that business is one, you’re looking out into the future and there’s something that’s going to change from a technology standpoint or a market standpoint that is going to potentially seriously handicap your company. Or two, if your company’s worth, say, one million dollars and you currently make $100,000 a year off of that business, you could sell it, take the million less the taxes, and you can reinvest it and make more than $100,000 a year. The math would be you sell the company for a million, you get to keep 700,000. You now can take that 700,000 and you could earn 140,000 a year on that money.

Now, in the example I just gave I think that’s something like a 20% per year return, so good luck with that. That’s not easy. To get big returns like that you’re going to be an active manager in the next thing you’ve invested in. It may even be high risk and you have a chance of wiping out that principle.

A third reason you’d get out of the business is if you just simply hate the business or the industry so much and it’s not fixable, meaning you can’t turn it into a real company that runs itself, or you’re just completely sick of it and unwilling to do it. If you’re just completely fed up with the business and you’re just treading water, the business will eventually end. It will go under, and if you’re not willing to fix that or change that, then you’re probably better off selling the company, because eventually you’ll get nothing for it.

The fourth example is that you’re burned out, tired, and worn out. If you’re not willing to do the work to become a new person, to learn how to be a CEO, learn how to motivate and train your team, learn how to build a real company with some processes and procedures, learn how to do marketing and sales, your company will grind to a halt. If you’re not willing to do some reading, and maybe go to some conferences and network with other people, and really learn the business and learn what it takes to grow yourself and grow your team into the people that you require to be a great company, I would say you’re probably better off to sell your landscape business…maybe even getting a job.

I know that sounds really harsh, but these are the reasons you would sell. The idea of just selling to get a big amount of money, it generally has to be so big that you’re probably not really set. So the idea of selling is generally not the best approach to have in mind. The items that I just gave you, those are the reasons why you’d sell. I’d recommend that you look hard at building a real company that can run itself so that you have no need to sell…unless you just absolutely want to or get offered an insane amount of money to do so.

What is the Best Landscape Software?

 Looking for suggestions… What is the Best Landscape Software (for Design)?

What is the best lawn care software design package to use?  More specifically, what is the best design tool to use to create a landscape design?

I actually don’t know the answer to this.  There are a lot of options out there. There are 300R solutions and there are solutions that cost thousands and thousands of dollars.  I know that Dynascape makes a package.  You might take a look at that.

Because I don’t know the answer, if you have a suggestion of a great landscape design package, please put that answer in the comments below. If you are on YouTube, put it below in the comment section.  Let’s see what other people recommend and what they are using.  Maybe we’ll find the answer.  But, I personally, do not know what the very best landscape package is to use.

My starting point would be looking at Dynascape, doing some Google searches, and asking on Planet if you are part of that organization.  If you would, then bring those comments back here so that we can figure out what the best solution is.