For many landscaping companies, winter is the slowest time of year. If you want to get ahead of the competition, you should make late fall and winter your company’s busiest season. From winter landscaping to marketing and creating new selling points, there are a variety of things you can do to get your clients ready for winter and give your business a head start over the competition.
Services to offer for fall and winter
There are a few tasks that almost no one thinks about as winter approaches, which means they make great selling points for your clients. For instance, with the snow about to fall, you could suggest patio and walkway leveling to your clients. Stone and brick installations shift over the years, and that unevenness wreaks havoc on snow shovels and snow blowers alike.
Many landscapes also suffer from the winter doldrums. That is, once everything is blanketed in snow, landscapes often look bland and shapeless. While there are still a few warm weeks, suggest the following improvements to bring in new business and improve the look of your clients’ landscapes:
- Plant evergreens for a dash of winter color
- Add new trees and shrubs to give the landscape shape
- Make minor modifications like new statuary to add interest
The next thing to consider is that ugly phase between the last of the fall leaves and the first winter snow. With warm-season grasses brown and dormant, many homeowners will be faced with a patchy lawn. Starting six to eight weeks before the first hard freeze, push to bring balance back to your clients’ yards by overseeding those brown spots with cool-season grasses.
Finally, there’s the fall mulching. Go over your records and contact those clients for whom you’ve planted new trees and shrubs over the past year, as well as those who have beds with tender perennials. With commercial outlets selling out all the stock they don’t want to keep over the winter, you can pass savings along to those clients that need a little extra winter protection. Offering a deal every now and again builds goodwill toward your company and helps bring in valuable repeat customers.
The marketing season
As business lulls during the late fall and winter, you’ll have the chance to do two very important things: Ramp up your marketing efforts and study the previous year’s marketing tactics. For instance, most people don’t start thinking about snow removal until the first snowfall of the season. That means late autumn is an excellent time to swoop in and remind potential customers of your snow removal services. With luck, you’ll land plenty of snow removal contracts before your competitors do.
You can also get a head start on winter contracts by advertising pruning and tree trimming services. Homeowners tend to think of pruning and trimming in the spring or fall, but you can explain to them the benefits of doing it in the winter. With the leaves gone, your crews can more accurately judge the structure of trees and shrubs, which leads to better shaping and healthier growth once the trimming is done.
The study of your previous marketing campaigns is just as important as the development of new marketing strategies. This winter, take the time to analyze the previous year’s marketing ventures. Scrap the campaigns that didn’t generate very many leads and focus your efforts on those that were successful. If you haven’t already, consider building out your online presence over the winter. A website with a blog, email newsletter or simply informative articles about landscape care will serve as both a helpful reference and a reminder to the community that your services are available.
If you’re thinking about adding a new service to your company’s offerings, fall and winter is the right time to do it. For example, if your business focuses solely on turf care or tree, shrub and garden maintenance, you could go into the design-build aspect of landscaping. Some of the avenues you should consider include:
- Outdoor living space construction
- Pool maintenance
- Patio, pergola and gazebo installation
- Sustainable landscaping
In short, there are so many popular landscaping trends right now that you could take your business in any direction. Since spring is the best time to get started on new construction, winter is the best time to market those services and sign contracts for upcoming projects. You can even take an inventive approach with your marketing plan by stressing how beautiful something like a quaint gazebo will look in next year’s snow-covered landscape.
Just because the landscapes are going dormant for the winter doesn’t mean your company needs to do the same. Between the wintertime services you should be offering and the new services you could offer in the spring, your landscaping company should be busier than ever.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written by Jeff Caldwell. Caldwell is brand manager of Superior Shelters in Carrollton, Georgia