Grow your business in the off-season

Fallen leaves
Fall might be just around the corner, but this slower time presents an opportunity to make improvements.
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The chaos of the summer landscaping season will soon subside. And, while it may be nice to have a break from the constant drumbeat of the mower motor, you still need to shift gears to the fall and winter landscaping season.

The off-season can be hard for landscapers. Many summer customers don’t consider fall and winter an optimum time for landscaping work. This is where your sales and marketing teams need to up their game. From educating your customers on fall landscaping ideas to providing differentiated services, you can keep your company active with positive cash flow all year long.

Autumn leaf services

In many parts of the country, the end of summer doesn’t spell the end of landscaping services. In fact, fall is a time when people may need the most lawn care because of falling leaves and the need for winter preparation.

Your sales and marketing departments should start talking with your clients about your fall services well before summer is over. Let your clients know that you provide fall leaf clean-up, fertilization services, and even sprinkler winterization and maintenance.

Many of your customers may even welcome fall. They may want to take advantage of the cooler air with football cookouts, Halloween parties or even an outdoor Thanksgiving meal in the warmer parts of the country. Let them know your team will be happy to help them prepare their yard for these festive events. These services can include yard clean-up and lighting setup.

But, as you move into the colder months, your team must start educating your customers on the services you offer when no one else wants to be in the yard (unless it’s to build a snowman).

Differentiated services

While large commercial landscapers generally have year-round customers who know their business lawns need maintenance even in the dead of winter, the same isn’t necessarily true for smaller landscaping companies who deal with residential customers or small business owners.

It’s important to consider the problems you can solve for your customers during the fall and winter seasons. Let your customers know that there are services they need even after the grass stops growing.

These services may include:

·       Parking lot sweeping or sidewalk cleaning

·        Tree trimming

·        Replacing dead plants

·        Slope cutting and clean up

·        Gutter cleaning

·        Snow and ice removal services

·        Helping home and small business owners string holiday lights

You can also offer some niche services to those clients who might have specialized needs in the off-season. Many homeowners and small businesses host holiday parties in the winter and need yard cleanup and lighting services to make their events more festive. Running specials on holiday party preparations can net you some interesting jobs that can endear you to your clients.

Get the word out

Fall is a great time of year to have conversations with your customers about upcoming expectations. Whether your clients are planning for fall décor or they are looking forward to the spring season, it’s always good to close contracts sooner rather than later.

Offer an incentive to customers to get them to close on these deals by providing them with a complimentary or reduced spring or fall service. Your conversations should also include discussions about what your team can do for them during the off-season because they may not know you offer fall and winter services.

You can also offer fall décor options of mums, hay bales and cornstalks, or winter designs of evergreens, red twigs and birch logs to tempt your customers. Make sure you show off your fall and winter landscaping successes in a series of marketing campaigns so that customers learn about your services. Email and advertising campaigns and a strong social media presence help spread the word.

Identify your ideal customer

One of the most important tasks any landscaping company can do to improve their marketing, advertising and public relations efforts is to take some time to identify their ideal customer.

While it may be tempting to jump right into your marketing plan by posting on social media and sending out a slew of direct mail about your fall and winter specials, you should take some time to identify your goals so you can be assured of success.

This starts with your target customer. Defining your ideal customer is a foundational marketing principle, and it includes looking at both qualitative and quantitative items. This allows you to target your marketing so that your ad spend is more cost-effective.

Quantitative market research requires you to review customer surveys and data collected from questionnaires to determine if customers within a specific geographic area, for example, would be interested in a particular service. This research helps you define the problems you can solve for these customers.

Qualitative research requires that you consider what drives your customers’ motivations to purchase specific services. Using your quantitative research on customers within a geographic location, you can then consider the type of work those customers might need. Is it tree trimming, fertilization services, or snow and ice removal?

Once you’ve determined the services these customers may need and use, find out their information sources so you can be sure you reach them directly. Do they read blogs? Are they social media fanatics? Do direct mailers work in their market?

Marketing can be complex and requires hard work, but it’s necessary to get the most out of your advertising dollar.

Train your team

While most landscapers should train their teams year-round, it can sometimes be difficult to achieve during the hustle and bustle of the spring and summer landscaping season.

Consider a series of intensive training days during the off-season. And, don’t limit your training to the landscaping crew. Include your customer service representatives and sales teams.

Training doesn’t directly bring in a cash flow, but it does result in a better-prepared team. If your landscaping company is seen as prepared and professional, you’ll build a reputation as a reliable and trustworthy business. A good reputation brings in more customers and more cash flow.

With some preparation, market research, and creative thinking, your landscaping company should be able to weather the off-season and come out swinging in the spring of 2024.

Editor's Note: This article was written by Colin Busse of RC Mowers

As its senior autonomous product specialist, Busse helps RC Mowers manage the product strategy for its new Autonomous Mowing Robots™ line of mowing equipment. Busse, a graduate of The Ohio State University, has extensive experience in the landscaping industry, serving as the Midwest regional manager for Electric Sheep Robotics and as the commercial account manager for BrightView Landscapes. For more information about RC Mowers, visit   

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