Remind maintenance crews: Sell those off-season services

This nice new walkway, built by Black River Landscape Management, won’t look good for long unless leaves are removed regularly. If left on the walkway, wet leaves will stain the pavers. Photo: Black River Landscape ManagementThis nice new walkway, built by Black River Landscape Management, won’t look good for long unless leaves are removed regularly. If left on the walkway, wet leaves will stain the pavers.
Photo: Black River Landscape Management

Workers on your summer maintenance crews may not feel comfortable trying to pitch new services to an existing client, and that’s understandable. But, while your employees are still visiting customers’ homes and businesses every week or so, consider sending them out with information – door-hangers maybe – outlining your fall and winter services.

For Kris Holland, CEO and owner of Black River Landscape Management in northern New Jersey, fall services are more than busy work to supplement off-season revenue. Holland says offering to handle tasks such as cleaning homeowners’ gutters before winter sets in can save them big money in the long run.

Black River Landscape Management does good business in snow and ice removal and offers plenty of other traditional fall/winter services such as shutting down and winterizing irrigation systems, fertilization, and tree care. All of those are important, Holland says, but he also believes the smaller operations such as leaf removal and other cleanup work are valuable to his clients.

“The first thing we do (as the growing season ends) is make sure the grass is cut at the lowest of the season,” he says. “With all of our snow, the shorter the better.”

Black River Landscape encourages clients to have the company perform a thorough fall cleanup as well.

“Keeping the yard free of debris is better for the yard,” Holland says, “and so is removing leaf material. That’s something we stress.”

Clients need to be aware that if leaves are allowed to remain on walkways, patios and terraces for an extended period, they will stain those surfaces because of folic acid, the landscaper says. Sharing that information may or may not sell the cleanup service, but it does reinforce the company’s relationship with its customer.

A thorough cleanup in the fall makes it more likely that plantings as well as hardscapes will come through the winter unscathed. Photo: Black River Landscape ManagementA thorough cleanup in the fall makes it more likely that plantings as well as hardscapes will come through the winter unscathed.
Photo: Black River Landscape Management

He makes sure his residential customers know that the gutter cleanout is more than a convenience offering.

“A gutter that becomes blocked during the winter can do thousands of dollars in damage to the interior of a home,” Holland says. “Ice damming is very common, and when the ice builds up, it begins to push its way under the shingles and start leaking down into the house.”

As the busiest season of the landscaping business draws to a close, Holland is well-pleased with the results.

“People are spending a lot of money upgrading their homes – proof that the economy is continuing to improve,” he says. “Obviously, it’s encouraging for a business owner when you see that happening.”

Asked whether his company’s experience confirms the trend – a trend based on anecdotal rather than statistical evidence – that Americans are investing more in outdoor living areas, Holland replied without hesitation: “Absolutely. People are trying to get more use from their outdoor space and for a longer period of time.”

While a family might once have gone in the backyard to cook on the grill occasionally, they’re now spending much more time outdoors for recreation and just to relax, Holland says, “and of course, also to entertain guests.”

Not surprisingly, Black River Landscape’s pre-winter cleanup service includes making sure those entertainment areas are all set to come through the cold months without incident.

And just to make sure his company’s clients know that Black River Landscape puts them first, Holland stresses that his crews are on call 24-7 during the winter months to plow, shovel and salt driveways and sidewalks.

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