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Sales cycle in HOAs and Commercial accounts?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by GreenscapesG, Jan 31, 2014.

  1. GreenscapesG

    GreenscapesG LawnSite Member
    from Florida
    Posts: 50


    I'm new to the business. My father has been mowing residential properties for about 4 years plus. He brought me on board to branch out into commercial and HOAs. So far I have a few interests here and there, but no sale yet! How does the sales cycle go?

    My experience has been that I just go in person, ask for the decision maker and those that seem interested I keep contacting, but I have not closed anything yet. What is the usual experience for some of you? How long does it take to close a deal? Any special tactics? Thanks for sharing! :)
  2. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,669

    So…(let me get this straight)…you just wander about, aimlessly wandering in to businesses and hope to land a sale randomly?

    No prior experience, no training, no clue?

    What would you do if someone said yes, they would like a bid?

    Would you roll a bucket full of yahtzee dice, add up the numbers add some zeros and hope that's a good price to do whatever services occur to you through out the year?

    This honestly sounds like a lot of fun, but…once in the not too distant past… something like this occurred a lot.

    But there is way too much competition these days, ESPECIALLY in florida, and when you wander in, not having a clue, these people already have highly trained professionals doing their work, and the ones that seem interested are probably just being polite to you.

    In order to sway the decision maker, you have to give the decision maker something to think about.

    What are you selling?
    I want to do landscaping too?
    Buy me?

    This is what you do:

    Become a vulture.
    Stalk other companies.
    Find where they are weakest.

    There are two types of commercial routes, the ones that aren't full enough, and the ones that are too full but haven't quite broken out into another crew.

    you will know the difference if you have experience, the too full route will have deficiencies, they can't keep up, they cut corners, they miss stuff.

    After the crew leaves, wander about, take some pictures of what you notice.

    Maybe the cut is gorgeous, but no one has taken care to do anything about the army worm or ring spot. because they are just too busy to upsell or tell anyone.

    Once you have some pics, come up with what YOU would do about them…

    Give your own maintenance proposal for the entire job, PLUS a high light n the things (including pictures) that you feel are lacking.


    (why the heck do I tell people these things for free again??)
  3. GreenscapesG

    GreenscapesG LawnSite Member
    from Florida
    Posts: 50

    Thanks for the input! I don't walk aimlessly, i walk into places where I know landscape service is needed. Some are happy, some are just open for bids later in the year.

    Once, I actually did mention how bad the property's landscape was at a major mall here in south florida and how I could make it look better. Guess what he told me? "Actually, we are using Valley Crest (a national landscape company) and the reason the property looks the way it looks its not their fault, its the budget we have. (The guy sounded kind of pissed about my remark) - After that I told myself never to put other companies down, just present what my company offers and thats it. And he closed by saying, "I have no idea who you are, you can show me all the pretty pictures you have, but I need to know who you are and what you have done. I'm busy now, but we can talk after the new year."

    Harsh, but he left a door open - Potentially. He might just have said that to not be so rude.

    But all in all, I agree with what you said, thanks
  4. 123hotdog

    123hotdog LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 482

    I couldn't disagree with this more. I usually don't add comments to post like this but really, "be a vulture, stalk other companies, point out there faults to their current customers". This is true in life as well as business but when you have to talk down others to make yourself look better, well let's just say most businesses can see through this. More than likely their competition has done the same thing to them at one time or another and they don't like hearing it. You may not know the business may have low-balled the current Landscaper and are getting exactly what they paid for. Sounds like this is the case.:hammerhead:
  5. 123hotdog

    123hotdog LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 482

    My business is really diverse. I have a good mix of residential, office commercial, retail commercial, industrial commercial (factories), foreclosures, as well as HOAs. I was lacking in the HOA department and really wanted to grow that business. I am lucky that I have a real estate agent that is a close friend. If you don't, try this approach. Look on Real Estate websites to find HOA's that have units for sale. This will give you an address as well as a phone number. Go look at the property as a potential buyer, just look around, maybe someone will walk outside, just ask questions. I do. Usually someone will tell you who the President of the HOA is and how to get in touch with them. Allot of times on the Real Estate website you can find out what the HOA fees are and this will even give you an idea of what they can afford. I have used this method and added over $35,000 to my gross revenues in the past year alone. In my area the HOAs like for the company to be able to do it all. Once you get in front of the President, don't talk his or her ear off. They can't make the decision alone. Just peek their interest. Don't bad mouth the current company. They might be related or go to Church with board members. I did this with over 30 potential HOAs and ended up with three of them. One I didn't get but got a $5000 mulch job. Good luck. There are many ways to do this. This way just worked for me.:walking:
  6. A. W. Landscapers  Inc.

    A. W. Landscapers Inc. LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,287

    TPendagast is talking about identifying how your quality of service is better than the current company's quality and selling your improved quality.

    "Here is a photo of the damage that is caused to your turf's edges when a weed whacker (string trimmer to those of us in the industry) is used to whack the edges of your turf. This is not healthy for your lawn and it doesn't look very nice. Do you want a healthy lawn that looks really nice? Now if you look at this photo of one of our properties that we maintain you will notice how healthy, crisp and clean the edges of the turf look because we always use edgers to maintain the edges. Doesn't this edge look better than the weed whacker edge? We believe in using the right tool for the right job. Sure it might be a little faster to whack the edges of the turf with a weed whacker, but we would rather keep your lawn healthy and looking it's best by caring for your turf's edges with an edger. We don't sacrifice quality for speed. Do you want the edges of your lawn to look like our edges?"
  7. GreenscapesG

    GreenscapesG LawnSite Member
    from Florida
    Posts: 50

    hotdog, I have to agree and thanks for your response. No person or company is perfect. I think what we have to do is befriend the company and try to get in somehow. I'm just trying to figure out the "how to get in" part. I'm new in the industry, so I don't have much cash flow for gists (those are always nice)
  8. GreenscapesG

    GreenscapesG LawnSite Member
    from Florida
    Posts: 50

    Thanks for your input A.W. Yes, I agree its good to point out how one can improve their landscape.
  9. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,669

    I'm NOT new to the industry.

    I've been around the block several times.
    Worked for and against the Likes of TruGreen, Valley Crest and Brickman.
    I've spent time in the offices of most of the top 14 grossing companies in the US.

    What I described, is by FAR the most common why to do it.

    If you want IBM East fishkill Ny as property? Then go stalk it.

    Commercial Landscape Account Managers are vultures by trade.
    Especially if they work for Brickman :)

    Now that being said, I have been to properties where everything was perfect, or reasonably good enough and not only did I let it go… I took pictures so I could show them to my crew! SEE look at this! this is how it's supposed to be!

    Whichever way you cut it, you are either going to gain business or learn something by stalking other companies work.
    If this wasn't true, I wouldn't have had a half dozen competitors start wearing polos and khakis and buy ZTRs, they'd all still have pony tails, no sleeves and ride around on STHM mowers.

    In my case I had better uniforms and equipment than them and an education in agronomy, so I took their work.
    In their case they learned from their mistakes and changed their ways.
    But we were both stalking each other, no doubt about it.
  10. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,669

    Your tag line is making grass greener and gardens more colorful….

    Greener than what? more colorful than whose work?

    Those are competitive words, you are saying you can do better than the other guy.

    But you look down at pointing out HOW and WHERE, with examples on how you can do better? Or did you suppose you might find some commercial sights that inexplicably have no current landscaper and are letting their place overgrow until you happen to find them?

    How exactly DO you make the grass greener, please enlighten me.
    Are you going into talk to one of my customers with the hopes of taking my work away from me, so you can have it… but it's unethical to take a picture of how may grass isn't green enough?

    Aren;t you already stalking by going in and talking to my client, when you know full well their property is being serviced?

    Or are you hoping to help them out in a mutually beneficial arrangement than doing better work than me, as your tag line suggests?

    Is this false advertisement? Can I file suit against you under the unfair trade practices act?

    I think not.

    Your Tag line says it all.
    You think you can do better than your competitor… so SHOW your prospects WHAT you will do better.

    You are already 'unethically' stalking.

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