Should The Same Lawn Care Employee Handle Sales And Scheduling?

Can one lawn care employee be responsible for both selling and scheduling?

This question is about coordinating sales efforts with scheduling. The question is, “I’m constantly adjusting to accommodate the relationship between sales and scheduling. I don’t want to sell more work than I can handle or vise versa. When I scale, I’m concerned about delegating these positions to separate people. Can one employee be responsible for both selling and scheduling?”

No, I don’t believe so. Maybe very early on, however, if you have a really great sales person you want to have them sell all the time. You don’t want to bog them down with anything else. You want to let them run and work in their unique ability and do that thing that they’re very best at. It’s hard to find great sales people, so you don’t want to limit this person from selling. You want to have them doing as much of that as possible, because it’s difficult to find more great selling people. You can find people to schedule.

The other thing too is, when you’re going to scale you’re probably going to have more than one salesperson. The idea that you’re going to have just one salesperson as you scale and that same person could schedule, I’ve not seen that play out. You’re going to need more than one salesperson.

I think these are two different positions. Even when you’re small, I think it’s two different positions, personally. A salesperson is more expensive than a scheduling person, so let the salesperson sell, find somebody to schedule. They need to work as a team, and they need to communicate, and they need to talk to each other.

A salesperson, at times, might have to be redirected because we need to communicate that we need to back off on up-selling, or we need to back off in selling a new service to certain clients. There’s a lot of examples where the sales team has to ratchet down the selling or take a bit of a break because of what’s going on operationally with the backlog. That does require communication.

A consideration is, how are you compensating your sales team so that when you have to do such a thing, you don’t put them in a situation where they can’t make any money and they possibly have to leave your company.

The two positions must talk, must communicate, must be aligned. It’s very legitimate that the sales team, at times, has to back down so that scheduling and operations can keep up so that you don’t create too big of a backlog and let down your clients. That’s a communication problem, and it’s not solved by putting the same person on both activities.

Do You Need A COO Or CEO For Your Company?

This video explains whether a COO or CEO is a better option for your company.

I talk a lot about building a real company that can run itself and that doesn’t require your daily involvement. I really do believe that’s the ultimate goal of business. You want to build this asset that can generate wealth for you and it becomes an investment in the sense that you don’t have to actively participate in it every day to make this thing run and operate.

The goal for many is to get a president or a CEO or someone to run this company. But, here is an alternative thought. What you really need is a COO. You could be CEO or president, they’re almost interchangeable terms in most cases. You could be the CEO and still create a pretty exciting, amazing lifestyle and still generate a lot of wealth and not completely relinquish all of your duties within the company.

The number one position that you need in your company so that you have some time and freedom to get away is a COO. It’s a Chief Operating Officer. This is the individual that essentially runs operations.

Now, when you’re smaller, your operations manager generally isn’t the same person that can grow into becoming your COO. COO is typically a term you’d use for a bigger organization. So, your operations manager when you’re doing $500,000 or $1 million probably isn’t going to be the COO of the company when you’re doing $10 million, unless that individual is really learning and studying and growing as an individual. A lot of times you’re going to have to replace that individual and bring in someone that has some experience in that area.

The COO is going to run operations. They’re going to do a lot of hiring. They’re going to do a lot of firing. They’re going to make sure the processes and procedures are in place. They make the engine of the company run, whereas the CEO, which might be you, is more the strategy, the strategic thinking, the big ideas, the moving the company forward, leading, and recruiting. A lot of those roles, they can take 60, 70, 80 hours a week, but most of the time they don’t really. What I mean by that is if you have a great COO, operations manager, you as CEO could really get away from your company for three weeks. You could get away from your company for four weeks and the company will still keep turning and running.

I created the video because it’s very easy to think you’ve got to hire a president or CEO to run your company. You believe that until you get to that point, you won’t have built a real company and that’s not necessarily the case. What I’m suggesting is that what you really want to focus on is operations and then hiring a COO-type person to run the operations of the company. You don’t have to completely walk away from this thing to be a great company that can sort of run itself to be a real company. Rather, you could put yourself in a position where all you do is the core CEO-type activities of strategy and some money and key hires and things of that sort.

When that’s all you have to do within your business, now you have a lot of time to do other things. You have a lot of time to go on trips, a lot of time to be involved in your family’s life, or to start another business or to do something else. Now you’re not consumed by the daily grind of everything that goes into building and running a company. Think in terms of COO versus CEO.

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.

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.

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.

Aim For The Top 20% Of Lawn Service Prices

Learn why your lawn service prices should fall in the top 20% of your market.

I get the question all the time: How much money should I be charging for my services? How should I price my services? I’m not going to directly answer that in this video but I do want to talk about a concept that I think is really important.

I have been studying marketing since around the end of 2005. When you start studying marketing, you get introduced to a lot of really interesting people and they obviously teach on subjects other than marketing.

I noticed that what a lot of the gurus in the marketing industry tend to teach is that you should price your services at the very very top of the market. You should be the highest priced provider in the market for whatever it is that you want to sell.

I don’t really agree with that for the service industry and for my service business. That’s the point I want to address. As you’re learning how to price your services and you are working your strategic plan to get to the price point that you want to be in the market and be able to sell a lot of work at that price point so that you can make a good amount of profit, what I believe you want to try to accomplish is you want to be in the top 20%.

If you were to look at the pricing in your marketplace, whatever the service is that you’re selling, look at 50 competitors and write down the cheapest price somebody in your market charges to provide that service, and then write down the highest price that someone in that market would charge to provide that service.

Let’s just use fertilization and weed control. If someone for a 5,000 square foot property would charge $25 to do fertilization and weed control at that property, and at top end of that market somebody would charge $75 to do that service. If you picture that on a whiteboard or on a chart, you want to be pricing in the top 20% of the market. If you were to plot all the lawn service prices for everybody in the market and you were to divide that into 20% chunks, you want to see what the pricing is at the top of that 20% chunk.

I don’t know what that would be in your market, but you want to slowly figure that out over time. You’re not going to figure it out when you first get in business. You’re not going to figure it out on day one. You figure it out over time and as you figure it out, you start to price at that price point.

Now obviously, your service quality, the quality of your people, your customer service, everything has to improve and grow and get better so that you can get those prices. But, I believe that the sweet spot is in that top 20%. Why is that? Because if you’re the highest priced provider in your business, you can’t really build a big business.

If you know me, then you know that my whole concept is to build a business big enough to have somebody that runs it for you. Then, you also have to have a couple of layers so that even if that main person leaves, it wouldn’t all end and you’d have to be the guy running it again.

You want to build a business big enough that you can afford to have people to run the company for you, and that takes a while to get to that point. To get there, if you are the highest priced provider in the market, it’s hard to get enough business, enough volume of business, to build a business big enough to do that.

If you’re too cheap in terms of pricing, you can never hire the right people, the best people. You always have equipment problems and truck problems and employee problems, and you can’t afford to market. You can’t afford to do anything, so then again, you can’t build that business.

That top 20% sweet spot to me is the point that gives you enough money to grow a great company that can run itself and that will allow you to take a lot of money out of the business, and it will allow you to build, again, a big enough business to accomplish everything that I just said.