How Your Brand Can Make or Break Your Landscaping Business
By Joel Cannon
When you think of the word brand, what comes to your mind? Some people may think of the name of a business, a distinct logo, a memorable tagline, or even a unique social media presence. However, a brand is so much more than just a singular factor — it’s the face of your company, the reputation of your business as a whole, and how you distinguish yourself from the competition. According to Steve Forbes, “Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.” This means, as a business owner, you should be putting just as much time into developing your brand as you do your products and services.
What is a brand?
While Investopedia defines a brand as “a term that refers to a business and marketing concept that helps people identify a particular company, product or individual,” it’s come to mean more than that. A brand encapsulates not just your logo, products, services and communications but what people think, perceive and experience when they’re exposed to your company.
Many brands have been able to capitalize on how they make people feel as opposed to being recognized by typical branding and marketing materials. While you may remember their logo, tagline, etc., chances are, you’re more likely to recall emotions, experiences or memories that you’ve had that are associated with the brand. This means that providing an amazing experience from beginning to end for your customers, in tandem with powerful traditional branding elements, is vital for growing your business.
Here are six ways that having a strong and defined brand can improve your overall customer experience and make your business the best it can be:
Improve trust with the public
You can put all the time and money in the world into your marketing, but nothing can replace good old-fashioned word-of-mouth advertising. Most homeowners ask friends and family for recommendations before starting a landscaping project. This means that if you haven’t built a strong brand reputation, you may be out of the running before you even get a chance to make an impression. In fact, more than 90% of consumers said they trust the word of someone they know more than advertising. This means not only do you need to continue to provide a superior customer experience, but you need to give your clients a reason to recommend you. What’s that extra oomph that’s going to put you over the edge? As founder and CEO of Platinum Properties Investor Network Jason Hartman once said, “Your personal brand is a promise to your clients…A promise of quality, consistency, competency, and reliability.”
Increased employee retention
You may think that branding only matters to an external audience, but it can also affect your internal team. 86% of employees reported they wouldn’t apply for or continue to work for an organization with a poor public reputation or following. According to HubSpot, a robust, engaged workforce is your number one recruiting tool, helping to decrease turnover rates, cost-per-hire and poor customer service. The more buy-in you have from your team, the better you’ll be able to serve your customer base. Or, as former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said, “If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” Plus, standing out from other organizations in your field can help you attract the best talent, making your business stronger by being able to serve your customers above and beyond their expectations
A more competitive edge
As a landscaper, you should assume, on average, a homeowner is going to receive 3 to 5 different bids per job. This puts a lot of pressure on you to make a great first impression, no matter how good you are at your job. Make your customer experience part of your brand, and go in prepared with great answers to commonly asked questions. Have a list of referrals ready before the homeowner even has to ask. Anticipate the concerns of the homeowner before they do. Be available to address any issues the homeowner may have during the bidding process. If homeowners know you’re willing to go above and beyond before they even hire you, they’re more likely to work with you again and recommend you to people they know. With all of this, plus other vital brand aspects on your side, you’ll be unstoppable.
Improved customer experience
When you have a recognizable, memorable brand, customers won’t need to look elsewhere for landscaping projects. They already know who you are, and they know what you do, helping them save time right off the bat. The more services you provide to improve customer experiences — such as offering branded financing options in your marketing materials and sales pitch — the more you can build on your brand as a company that’s known for being easy to work with and an industry expert in your core competencies. Ensure you have a system in place so that any third parties you hire, such as a subcontractor, provide the same level of customer experience as you do.
Known as an industry leader
With landscaping trends constantly evolving, you want to make sure you keep up with the times and be known as a leader, not a follower. Having solid brand recognition already in place builds a great foundation, giving you a leg up on people who may be offering the same products and services. By positioning yourself as a leader within your industry, who is always ahead of the curve, homeowners will know they can come to you for the latest and greatest for their yards. Having a strong brand in place can also help with your overall advertising. Since you already know who you are as a company, many of the elements you need are already in place, allowing you to allocate essential resources elsewhere.
Grow your business
When excellent customer experience defines your brand, you’ll build a loyal group of customers over time. This means homeowners are more likely to use you for additional landscaping services in the future, refer you to people they know, and are willing to spend more on a project because that level of trust has been established. In fact, it has been estimated that a business with a strong brand can charge 6% more than a medium brand and 13% more than a weak brand.
As consumers, we rely on our emotions when making major purchase decisions. So, if someone doesn’t get a good feeling from you and your company, they may go with someone else even if you’re better at what you do. Remember that while it can take years to build up a great reputation and brand, it usually only takes a few mistakes to undo all of your hard work. However, the stronger your brand is, the more resilient it is over time and the more successful you will be.
Joel Cannon is SVP, consumer home improvement lending sales and marketing, EnerBank USA.He has overall responsibility for EnerBank’s new business development, contractor and sponsor account management, product development, marketing, contractor training and sales training. He manages a team of more than 50 industry professionals that serve the needs of EnerBank’s ~10,000 strategic partners in the home improvement industry.