5 Tips to Grow your Green Industry Business in the Offseason

By Ilia Jones  
iStock_000042856622LargeThe season has officially ended, that means it's time to kick off your boots and hibernate for the next 3 months.  Right?  WRONG! The offseason is the perfect time to get all your ducks in a row and make sure that your next year, will be your best year.  Let's take advantage of our seasonal businesses and use the slow season to our benefit!  Here are a few tips to help you do just that: 

1. Create a marketing strategy 

Although marketing plans may differ from business to business, the basic structure remains the same.  Follow this outline when creating your marketing strategy.  It may seem obvious and simple but it really is the skeleton of a successful strategy, take your time on each section.  The more defined and detailed, the more effective it will be. 

  • Analyze the market and differentiate yourself.
    • Know where you fit within your industry
    • Analyze your own business, the competition and the marketplace as a whole
  • Define your target audience
    • Who has a need for your service/product? •Make a specific profile of your customer •How do they prefer to be communicated with? (email, phone, advertisements)
  • Define SMART goals
    • Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reliable, Timely
  • Decide what marketing tools you want to use
    • Base this decision off what you gathered from researching your audience
    • Paid/non-paid advertisements
  • Create a calendar
    • Deadlines for marketing activities
    • Scheduled content
    • Timetable for goals.
  • Establish a budget
    • Consider marketing an investment-with potential for return or profit
    • How will you maximize the return on your marketing dollars?

2. Get Customer testimonials

During the season, you should be asking for testimonials- not in a pushy way.  But if a customer continues to use your services- obviously they like what you’re doing.  So asking them to say a few words about you shouldn’t be too much of a hassle.  Of course, they may be busy as well.  Cue offseason!  Now is the perfect time to send out requests for testimonials. 

 Since web-based searches are becoming  one of the most popular ways of finding services and products, it would do you well to showcase how much your customers love you on your website and elsewhere online.   Did I mention that one of the other most popular ways of buying is word of mouth?   Getting your customers to recommend you is the smartest thing you can do for your business.  If you can get a video or written testimonial then even better.   Don’t just expect them to give it right away however, be patient.  Offer incentive if you want. 

At HindSite, we value our customers and are very grateful when they take time to give us a testimonial.  We structure them sort of like a short interview- asking them about 10-20 questions and then putting it together as a review on our website.  Then we usually send them a little something afterwards- to say thank you. 

 You don’t have to wait for the season to pick up again for these testimonials to make a difference either.  Use them in your emails, blogs and social media updates- you aren’t going to stop all that just because you’ve slowed down.  Point to your testimonials when you can and even thank the customers who have given them to you if you can on social media platforms.  

3.  Get to know industry heavyweights

I like to stay up and current on anything and everything that is going on in the industry.  That includes knowing what other industry heavyweights are up to and how they got to their level of success.   Instead of doing this in a way that can seem  interruptive and awkward, do it in a way that helps both you and them.

Some great ways to network with industry people are to attend tradeshows, join peer groups and interact on social media and online forums.   For the green industry and service industry, there are a few wonderful tradeshows throughout the year and during offseason especially. 

The Irrigation Association show is coming up this month for all of you irrigation businesses out there.  

For the green industry- the PLANET Lawn Care Summit typically occurs around December, and I don’t recommend missing it!  It’s in Florida, so bring your swimsuit!  Who says you can’t nurture the business and relax at the same time?

Use these shows to network with the industry, pick their brains as much as you can.   Oh, and have fun. 

 

4. Work on communication

Communication, within the office and out in the field is crucial to growing a business.  If your technicians have bad or rude communication styles, no one is going to want them around their property.  Likewise, if your office is filled with passive-aggressive communicators, guess what?  You will never hire good communicators because they won’t want to deal with all that.   The solution?  Hold company meetings or lunches and discuss how the office is working.   Encourage your employees to speak up if something is wrong and to communicate effectively, after all – you are all working towards the same goal. 

If you feel that your technicians need a little lesson on effective communication- don’t hesitate.   Hold a meeting with them as well to teach them how to properly communicate with customers when on the job.   If they are servicing a residential property, it’s especially important that they make the customer feel comfortable.  Don’t forget that they are literally the physical representation of your business. 

 

5. Invest in software

The offseason is the best time to start researching, demoing and ultimately installing new software for your green industry business. If you have been thinking about installing a field service software and haven’t yet, what better time than now?

Set time aside to research different software options and demo them to see which will take care of the paperwork and pain points of your business.  After purchasing software, the offseason allows you to spend a good amount of time learning and perfecting the software.  

Many of HindSite’s customers installed in the offseason in order to master the software before being bombarded with work.  They are able to use the software to it’s full potential if they understand it before diving in. 

This is also a good time to get the hardware you’ll need like tablets, phones, etc.  Black Friday anyone?   It is a pain in the you-know-what to have to replace hardware during busy season.  Usually that means a technician will fall behind-not good.   Stock up on the hardware you’ll need and get a few backups to prepare for breaks and malfunctions.

 

To read the rest of the offseason eBook, download it for free by clicking below! 

 

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