There lie profits: Landscapers are all about ‘curb appeal’

Updated Sep 10, 2019
Jody ShilanJody Shilan

I have a business idea that I want to share with you. I’m in the process of laying it out for myself, so I figured why not share it. It’s not as if I have to worry about competing with any of you since TLC readership is from all over the country, as well as abroad. Even if there are a few companies here in New Jersey that read this, I’m not worried; there is plenty of work for all of us.

Although I’ve been kicking this idea around for a while, it was not until I sat at home one day and did an HGTV marathon that the idea finally became real. It’s a new concept for our industry and fits perfectly into our wheelhouse of business. It’s truly a home run and can be done in any market in any part of the world.

This is a perfect fit for your enhancement crew or that “jack of all trades, master of none” employee.

If you’ve never heard of the term “curb appeal,” please crawl out from underneath your rock or pull your head out of the sand (just kidding). Curb appeal essentially describes the look or feeling that someone gets when they pull up to a home for the first time. It is extremely important in the real estate world because a house that has great curb appeal will be more valuable and sell much faster than a house with little to no curb appeal.

So, if you haven’t figured it out by now, I want you to create a “Curb Appeal” division or service.

Although you may have not thought about it this way, landscape contractors are in the business of curb appeal. Removing overgrown plantings and replacing them with new trees, shrubs and flowers dramatically improves a home’s value, salability and curb appeal. As does repairing a home’s front steps, replacing a cracked concrete walkway with pavers or fixing a decorative retaining wall.

Customers are wise to invest in your services

What’s even better is that typically the amount of money a homeowner invests in this upgrade will pay them back in spades, regardless of whether they are selling the home or just want their house to look better for their own pleasure.

I often tell new clients that if they just ripped out everything in front of their home, they could raise its value by at least $10,000. Typically, the plants are 30-40 years old, completely misshapen, overgrowing the house and/or half dead. I find it amazing that they have no idea how much this detracts from the house and reduces its value.

Now that you’re good with the concept, I have two great ways for you to market this service. The first one is by developing relationships with Realtors in your area.  Although Realtors know that homes need to have curb appeal to sell, honestly, most of them have no idea why the house they are listing is unappealing, let alone what they need to do to improve it. This is where you come in.

Sell your company to Realtors, too

Show them some before and after photos of the fronts of houses that you’ve renovated. Let them see the possibilities. While they may be impressed with your work, don’t expect them to immediately jump at the idea. You need to keep in mind that the last thing somebody wants to do when selling their home is to put money into it. However, if you can show them how you can transform a diamond in the rough into a diamond, for a reasonable amount of money, both the Realtor and homeowner should get on board with the concept pretty quickly.

The second opportunity is selling the curb appeal or facelift concept to people that want to make their home look more appealing just for themselves. They’re not interested in moving, but they are also unhappy with the way their house looks.

Like most Realtors, homeowners’ knowing they don’t like the way their property looks doesn’t mean they know what to do about it. Depending on the level of interest as well as the budget, these projects can range from a simple facelift, including hand pruning, annual plantings, replacements if needed, and some hardscape repair work.

They can also be a complete rip out and redo of the foundation plantings, along with a new walkway and possibly low-voltage lighting.

If you’re more adventurous, I would go beyond our traditional services and propose window boxes, containers and benches as well. Depending on your level of creativity, you can even get into decorative light posts, mailboxes and address signage. The possibilities are limitless.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written by Jody Shilan. Shilan is principal at Jody Shilan Designs, LLC. He is also the the former executive director of the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association. 

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