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For many landscapers, winter focused on preparing for spring
Jill Odom | January 4, 2017
Pergola Patio Heritage Oaks Landscaping

Gloomy, cold winter days will have customers eager to have a warm, bright space to enjoy in the spring and summer.
Photo: Heritage Oaks Landscaping

It’s a new year and a fresh start for your company and your clients. If you aren’t busy with the snow plowing business, take advantage of this interlude to conduct some winter planning.

As customers commence with their resolutions, some of them may turn their focus to the backyard and how they can transform it into a desirable space. It is your job to take advantage of this aspiration and make it a reality.

Perhaps you have a long-time maintenance client who has always talked of doing something more with their yard but has yet to move forward. Use that knowledge to prompt them to consider if this is the year they’ll finally have that new patio or fire pit installed.

Also, you can show other customers exciting new plant palettes that can spruce up their tired backyards, which they probably haven’t updated in years.

Many people get spring fever once winter winds die down and the temperatures gradually rise, so be ready for these potential spring shoppers. Review how you pitch your services and your success rate.

Is there anywhere you can improve? Are prospects turning away after seeing the estimated cost of their dream project? One way to save both your time and theirs is to start the design process with a budget in mind. The design will be limited to a scale they can afford from the start and they’ll be more likely to buy if they are comfortable with the price.

Now is also a good time to look at how you can improve your designs overall. If you examine what matters to consumers now, you’ll be ready to meet their needs when they come to you in the springtime.

Two of the major concerns are sustainability and maintenance. Extensive drought in several parts of the country has made consumers more aware of the importance of water conservation. Some are also placing a value on companies that use cleaner energy. In a survey conducted by Husqvarna, 65 percent of consumers polled said they would choose a landscaper who used eco-friendly equipment over one who doesn’t.

As for maintenance, most of your clients will be eager to use plant material that is lauded as low-maintenance. This is part of the reason why natives have become so popular in the past few years. While natives may not be as fussy as some plants, they come with their own set of needs and issues, so make sure clients have the full story on their plant choices.

Speaking of plants, this is also the time to begin preordering plants and talking to growers about what you want and need this year.

“Landscapers absolutely need to get their head out of snow work and talk to their growers about their plants for the summer,” said Jeff Gibson, landscape business manager with Ball Horticultural Co. “Growers simply do not have speculation inventory like they did in the past.”

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