By Joe Raboine
Heading into a new year, landscape contractors and business owners are looking for ways to grow their businesses and increase revenue. With the outdoor living industry booming, now is the time to take advantage of strategies that can expand your services, maximize labor and allow your team to work smarter. Solution selling is an approach that accomplishes each of these goals, while also delivering a final project that exceeds the client’s expectations. By adjusting the selling approach to offer a larger solution to clients, contractors can meet their business goals for the year.
Understand the client’s vision
Solution selling starts at the sales consultation. Landscaping and outdoor living projects are emotional and personal decisions for homeowners, so it is critical that you, as the contractor, speak with the homeowner and understand what is driving their decision. Whether the client wants to create an environment for relaxation, an area for entertaining, or something in between, this final goal will affect many decisions along the way. In addition, this presents the opportunity to discuss the client’s dreams for their outdoor space. Perhaps they initially thought to create an edible garden with a small patio area for relaxation. But as you learn about your client’s ideas, you can suggest larger projects – an outdoor dining area with a fire pit that can be enjoyed after they cook using the garden’s ingredients.
Though these larger projects may not be part of the initial scope, there are two key benefits in having these conversations. The first is that you can demonstrate to the client that the sky is the limit. Unless they have seen a similar project for themselves, they may not truly realize all of the possibilities that are available to them. The second benefit is that you can demonstrate to the client that there is an option to execute their current, smaller-scale project and create the foundation for the future. The full plan can be presented in a phased approach and quoted so that the client can easily process how their outdoor space can reach its full potential.
Think big but start small
As part of your on-site conversations with the client, take advantage of the opportunity to educate the homeowner on add-on options to improve the project. Fire pits, water features or lighting elements are simple additions to a project that can add tremendous value. Once you share these ideas with clients, they may be interested in adding them on to what you are already working on. From a labor standpoint, it is much easier for a crew to add in a fire pit to a patio or incorporate lighting features into a garden while they are already onsite instead of returning at a later date. In addition to creating labor efficiencies, it reduces the time and cost of moving equipment to and from job sites. While you have conversations with the client about their big picture, suggest ways to incorporate these added elements to boost incremental sales and demonstrate your creative thinking to the client.
As you continue to expand your skills to provide additional design and installation services, seek manufacturing partners that offer modular products and kits that will create efficiencies. For example, there are hardscapes manufacturers that create modular kits that offer easy installations, which in turn reduces time and labor costs. Modular fireplaces and fire pits have been on the market for a few years, but manufacturers are now offering modular grid systems, which can be used for applications ranging from seat walls to deck skirting to outdoor kitchens. These modular systems follow a simple process: create the project frame, attach the grid to your structure and clip veneers to the grid. These can be used to work in modular configurations both horizontally and vertically.
Not only do these materials allow for time and labor savings, but they also offer benefits to both the contractor and the homeowner. On the contractor side, these modular pieces make you look smarter to the client and allow for your more skilled workers to work on more complicated pieces of the project, if needed. For the homeowner, these modular pieces provide more design options for their outdoor spaces that may have traditionally fallen outside of landscape contracting work in the past.
Overall, solution selling allows a contractor to grow his or her business and offer more services to the client. As the landscape and outdoor living industry continues to grow, now is the time to strategically sell more projects and save on time and labor. Solution selling accomplishes just that.
Joe Raboine is residential business manager at Belgard. Since 1995, Belgard’s locally made and nationally backed products have transformed thousands of residential and commercial properties in North America. For more information, visit www.Belgard.com or visit www.belgard.com/professional-resources to learn about Belgard’s products and partner programs.