Even though we may not intend to, most of us judge a book by its cover.
Just like a boring book cover isn’t begging us to turn through the pages, an ugly or uncared for outdoor space at a commercial business isn’t begging us to open the doors and check out what is inside. However, we know even though it may be messy, overgrown, and drab on the outside, there very well could be a tidy, beautiful, legitimate business inside.
With your commercial landscape clients still feeling the impacts of labor shortages and material delays, let’s talk about how to improve something they can actually control: the curb appeal of their business. Use these 5 suggestions to help encourage your commercial clients to invest in their outdoor space.
Tackle their existing landscape
One of the easiest ways to get started improving your client’s property is to simply deal with the landscaping they already have. This will be especially important for new clients. Are overgrown bushes blocking their signage? Have weeds filled the islands in their parking lot? Are some of the parking spaces unusable due to limbs or overgrown shrubs? Does the property just look sloppy?
Overgrown and sloppy sends out the message to consumers that your client’s business doesn’t care much about the outside of the property. While this obviously doesn’t present you or their company in a positive light, remind clients an uncared for property can be a safety hazard as well.
Start cleaning up the existing landscape by pruning back perennial plants, shrubs, and trees that are overgrown. Next, tackle weeds throughout the property. Finally, mow any grass at the property, even if it is not ‘nice’ grass. Freshly mowed turf looks better even if your grass has a ton of weeds in it.
Perform regular landscape maintenance
Once your client’s landscape is tamed, it is time to actively care for it. If the property has any grass, start there. A robust lawn maintenance plan should include lawn mowing and trimming, fertilization, irrigation, and edging. While all of these components are important, an irrigation system that functions efficiently tops the list. As you know. fertilization will not work well without regular irrigation and even if a lawn is freshly mowed, it doesn’t look great if it is brown and crispy. A simple add on to your client’s existing maintenance services can help improve their property and create extra income on your end.
Regularly addressing plantings throughout the property is also an essential part of regular landscape maintenance that many business might yet not be taking advantage of. From plant fertilization to pruning to final fall cutbacks after blooms are spent, taking the time to maintain their plants helps them come back looking healthier each year. Explain that small actions, like pruning roses after they initially bloom and die off can make a huge difference. Removing spent blooms will signal the roses to bloom again before the season is over.
Consider providing a quote that includes every applicable maintenance service you offer as options to select. Even if companies are not able to select all maintenance options that would be a good fit for their property, it helps you to communicate proactively where you notice their landscape needs work. It also helps to make them aware of all the services you offer, so they don’t feel like they have to make calls to other service providers to complete outdoor tasks you maybe did not quote them.
Freshen up each spring and clean up each fall
While Fall clean-ups are necessary to keep their property looking tidy, many business owners leave the task for themselves to complete as it looks easy enough. Remind owners that leaves need to be cleaned up and removed from the property, plantings trimmed back, and any bushes near roads that are regularly salted during the winter months should have burlap installed. Fall clean-ups are not extremely complicated, but they do require a whole lot of time and some equipment—something most property managers do not have.
Another seasonal task that many business owners tend to forget about that can be a great add-on service is mulch installation. Although it can be a bit costly, applying a fresh layer of mulch to landscape beds is so important to set their landscape up for success in the coming months. Be sure to explain why adding new mulch to landscape beds is important and remind owners you put down a layer of pre-emergent weed control before mulching to help control weeds and help the landscape beds or tree circles look fresh.
Add a pop of color
If a property is already properly maintained, adding in some pops of color throughout their outdoor space is a great way to catch the eye of consumers. Start with landscape beds that are filled with all the same types of plantings or ones that are looking a little bare. Adding plantings that have winter interest is a great way to help curb appeal as well! We recommend plantings that are easy to care for or offer lots of color like Daylily, Black-Eyed Susan, Coneflower, Rose, Hosta, Shasta Daisy, or Hydrangea.
In addition to adding perennials, if you have the labor force to handle it, including annuals installation, rotation, and removal is a great way to bring color to any landscape. Annual flowers can be planted in the ground to line walks or highlight an entrance, or they can be planted in container gardens. A great additional revenue is rotating annuals in container gardens to include spring plantings, summer plantings, fall plantings, and even winter arrangements.
Consider a landscape enhancement project
Have existing clients that have already made the above investments, yet their property is still lacking that ‘wow’ factor? A landscape enhancement or design- and build landscape project might be the right fit.
Many companies are looking for ways to attract and retain employees. Adding an outdoor space for their team to enjoy on their breaks could be a great way to help boost employee morale. A simple patio with seating areas and plantings could be a place for employees to go to relax and take a break from their busy work environment. It could be a place for the team to gather for meetings or to enjoy lunch together in the warmer months.
Check out these other ideas to enhance the outdoor space at commercial properties:
· Have an area where people walk that they are not really supposed to? Try either blocking the area off with plantings or turn it into a walkway with pavers.
· Looking to increase space for clients to gather? Think about adding a patio to extend a smaller space for clients. Restaurants can then offer outdoor seating or meetings with clients can be moved outside.
· Hoping to extend the months they can use your outdoor space? Consider adding a fire element like a fireplace or firepit. Many restaurants have seen great success in the winter months by having some area for people to be outside but also able to warm up when needed.
· Have drainage issues or no usable space outside? A retaining wall can create a beautiful interest piece on the property and allow for a space like a patio or screened-in porch to be created.
· Is the entrance boring and lackluster? Consider adding a paver pad in front of the door or stone to the outer wall or posts.
· Lots of windows for customers to look out of? Give them something to look at by planting flowering shrubs or interesting trees. Create a landscape bed if there is an area clients look out over for more than a few minutes.
Positioning yourself as a commercial landscaping company ready to help
Most property managers or business owners already have a whole lot on their plate. Managing and staffing outdoor work can be a huge hassle. Start with being proactive.
When you present them with a bid to mow their lawn, include an improvement plan that shows you care and are thinking about the rest of their property. Including pictures of areas that need investment as well as spelling out some potential landscape enhancement ideas can help your client to picture their landscape in the future. When you meet initially, be sure to listen to their ideas and dreams for the property and include improvements to those areas specified in your plan.
Whether they have the capital to afford larger landscape investments now or in the future, presenting yourself as a proactive partner can make for a better working relationship long-term.