Don't let your Business Die with the Day of the Dead

Time and time again I have spoken to landscape contractors who struggle finding work to maintain or increase business during the off-season. With Fall here, many contractors are currently busy turning off people's sprinklers or are just about to be. But then what? "Oh! Well... there's the IA! I can go to that and be busy is often what I'm hearing contractors say. Then after that? Well, it's the Holidays and people are busy. It's really from January to March that we need to figure something out."

My message: There is work all throughout times of the year, you just have to be creative and discover what your business is really capable of. Halloween is the first holiday of the season and shifts society into a different gear. Let it shift your business into a different gear to keep up with the demands of your market. I guarantee that the successful landscape companies have work throughout the entire year, no matter if they are in Southern California, on up to Northern Main. Your market is unique and has unique needs throughout the year that you can provide. But enough talk about the need to make work (Yes, make work, not find work) during the off-season. What I want to do is give you some ideas, and then let you run with them. These ideas are for those who get snow, rain, or just cool winters, and some of them could be used just for client retention. I will say, most of these ideas have come from other contractors who have shared me with on LinkedIn.

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Complaints are Opportunities

Customer Complaint, I say landscaper business opportunityIn the last few weeks several landscape contractors have told me of calls from their customers who are complaining about high water bills. Look at complaints as opportunities to solve problems. Be grateful your customer called, they still see you as a resource to help solve problems; if they didn’t, they would not be calling.

When you get calls like this it becomes an opportunity to explain the value of smart irrigation control. Your best judgment is used to program conventional sprinkler controllers, but you can’t afford to be there every time the weather changes. To avoid stressing the landscape, controller programming is often based on the worst case scenario. Smart controllers can be your best friend and helper.

When you pitch a smart controller, anticipate the question; “How much money will it save me?” To be honest, we don’t know. We can’t forecast the weather and we are not sure how much overwatering has been going on. Smart control is all about eliminating wasteful over watering.

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The Market is Changing, are YOU?

Building a better Landscape Business Any business that has been around since 2008 knows the market has changed drastically. With the economic mortgage crisis that hit America, and is still affecting it, many landscaping companies have suffered due to foreclosures and the lack of new growth. The businesses that survived were the ones that knew how to adapt to the change in the market. For instance, a landscaping company that primarily worked on new developments may have changed to retrofitting existing properties. The successful businesses realized that the market did not crash entirely but rather dramatically shifted in a new direction, and that understanding that new direction provides a business opportunity.

Think of it this way, if the market was a semi-truck that was gradually gaining more and more speed then had to take a sharp turn of course it would roll, and probably explode causing significant damage. The difference between a semi-truck and the market is that the market has the ability to change and adapt after the crash to keep moving on the new path. Interestingly, this changing market will never be exactly what it was before. Sure, there may be some similarities that rise up, but with cutting-edge economies providing new inventions the market will never be quite the same. The businesses that understand and can see what the market is changing to, and what direction it is going, are the ones that are successful. On the other hand, those businesses who are waiting for that semi-truck will be disappointed. So, what is that new direction? Many businesses are still trying to figure that out. One example, among many, is the demand that has risen consistently for Smart Water Managers. It is up to you to find out what direction the market is going and then adapt your business model accordingly.

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Allowed Depletion

Lately I have been having a number of discussions with contractors about Allowed Depletion.  It's been getting a lot of buzz in the industry. But what does it really mean and how do we apply it?

Often, when we stand in front of a sprinkler controller, we are trying to decide how often to water and how long to run the valves. We also know it may be 30 days or more before we can come back to change it again. I read a great article by Bruce Carlton several years ago titled, “Wednesday is NOT a Good Reason to Irrigate.” The article teaches a simple principle; don’t water until the soil has had a chance to dry out. This is Allowed Depletion; allow soil moisture to deplete to a managed level before watering again.

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How can a flow sensor help me

Water meters are installed at most properties to enable water departments to bill you for the water you use.  Some water utilities may only read meters 6 times a year and send out bills every two months.  Customers discover weeks later how much water they used.
A flow sensor is similar to a water meter; it measures the flow of water going through the pipe and feeds the flow rate into electronic control equipment.  With a flow sensor connected to irrigation control devices water managers can track water use in real-time; not having to wait to get the water bill. 

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How do you SELL Climate Controlled Irrigation

There's no doubt about it, smart irrigation is definitely an up-sell, and it’s tough! I speak to contractors, distributors, and water managers all day long who have this common issue. What is my answer? ROI of course!
ROI (Return on Investment) is the biggest component of why smart irrigation is so useful and necessary. Now I’m not just talking about the dollars and bills. I’m also talking about the return you receive with the landscape, with water conservation, and especially with TIME.
Time and money seem to be the two things people are most concerned about, just below their families and values. Whether you’re a contractor, or water/property manager the time making you and your clients spend on their watering is invaluable. That’s why climate controlled irrigation is the answer.

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