If you look hard at the business practices of the most successful companies, the elite 5% of all small businesses, you will find 4 general competencies. This is not a tale of just landscape companies, it is the story of all companies that started small and became billion dollar firms.
Our experience over the last three decades is no matter how big you become, these competencies are at the root of success. You get to decide how big is big enough, not the competencies to achieve the right size.
Leadership’s Focus on Resources
- Sales focus on Business Development. The owner is not just focused on the initial sale; they make sure both sales and production (design/build, maintenance, turf, etc.) are focused on growing the relationship until the customer only buys from you.
- Marketing Spend = 10 – 15% of revenue per year to build brand presence and reduce cold calling. The owner understands that marketing primes the pump for sales. If you spend nothing on marketing, all sales calls are cold calls. Start with 1% of revenue on marketing and increase it 1 – 2% every year until you get to 10%.
- Greater Specialization instead of new product development – the owner narrows their focus. Instead of bringing out new landscape services they customize the current offer to grow the most profitable accounts. Why take on something new and try to sell it when you can enhance your current offer with people have already bought?
Leadership’s Focus on Strategies
- Distinctive and Unique Customers Experience starts with branding (your image) and ends with making it true. This is a critical and underdeveloped owner muscle. You must stop working 24X7 IN the business and make time to work ON it. What you sell is secondary to how the customer experiences it, this reality is the owner’s strategic focus.
- The game is and always will be about Talent. Part of the company’s brand and marketing as well as internal processes focuses on the employee life cycle. How do we attract, select, develop, and compensate people? The biggest impact for landscape business owners is looking at the industry as a profession and not just hiring warm bodies.
- Narrow strategy to Target Accounts – which clients do you want to own? Identify potential customers by who best fit your processes without additional work, will produce the greatest margins, and having them as customers will enhance your ability to sell.
- Development of Specialized Services – build it for them first, then generalize into similar markets. The key is to sell something new to current customers. This is the best type of market research possible and you get paid for doing it. Once your best accounts are happy with the new service and you are thrilled with the margins, then consider taking this out to a wider market.
- Use of Marketing Partnerships – lever the reach of your customers and suppliers. Instead of going it alone, what if you partnered with real estate agents, mortgage companies, and property managers to expand your reach? There is real power in cross selling.
Leadership’s Focus on Clients
- Specific and detailed descriptions of Core Clients – spend energy and time on why are your best accounts your best accounts. This appears to be common sense. The problem is most small businesses do not have the information. You must have an electronic accounting, customer relationship management, and project management otherwise the only thing you will know is which accounts produce the most revenue – not the most profit.
Leadership’s Focus on Marketing and Sales
- Leveraging Face-to-Face Contacts by blending traditional and new approaches of reaching the market.
- Partnering instead of Formal Distributorships;
- Websites instead of Conferences & Trade Shows;
- Referrals instead of Networking;
- Use of outside experts instead of cold calling;
- Sales training of non-sales staff instead of spending on Print Ads.
Over the next 4 months we will take each competency apart leaving you with one or two actions to take. Once we have completed detailing the End Game, the series will close on the Path the small took to become big. There are 6 Stages of Growth that are predictable and therefore manageable.
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