Using enhancement sales to improve your business

February 10, 2016 -  By

How effective enhancement sales can make a successful landscape maintenance business.

In the commercial maintenance world, enhancements can offer an opportunity to build customer loyalty and increase revenue and profit margins. With profits from base contract work being squeezed, enhancements can be considered the “icing on the cake” when it comes to having a successful maintenance business.

We define enhancements in our industry as additional work sold to maintenance clients outside of the base maintenance contract. In most companies you, the account manager, are responsible for identifying and selling enhancements to your clients. Good account managers act as their client’s landscape asset manager to help them get the most value out of their landscape investment.

Enhancements come to us in one of two ways. They can either be the result of a client request (reactive) or the result of experienced and effective prospecting by the account manager (proactive). Either way, carefully think through the approach and the amount of time you invest to gain the most value for you, your company and your client. After all, there are only so many hours in a day. As an account manager, your professional and economic fortunes can be closely tied to your ability to efficiently identify and sell more work.

Here are a few tips on how to be a more effective enhancement salesperson and a better asset manager for your clients.

Enhancement categories

As you visit and inspect your properties, begin to look at enhancement opportunities in a new light. Think of enhancements in terms of three main categories:
Safety/Security: issues that can cause harm to tenants and guests (tree health, overgrown shrubs, trip hazards);
Functional: issues relating to long-term neglect or changing site conditions (drainage, shaded-out areas where nothing will grow, irrigation issues); and
Aesthetic: opportunities to update an aging or unattractive landscape (replacement of worn-out material, updating signage or front doors, new tenant amenity areas).

Approach your properties with a new set of eyes each time. Look first at your property from an overall curb appeal view. How does it look on a scale of one to five, and what could you propose to bring it up a notch? Look up and down for safety, security and functionality issues that need to be addressed. Assess key marketing areas, such as monument signs, front door entries and/or leasing paths to determine how these areas can be enhanced to bring more value to the property. Then, present your expert asset management ideas to your client.

Approach

Once you’ve identified some smart landscape enhancement ideas for a property, consider the following tips to help you connect with your client and make selling enhancements easier.

1. Build the relationship. People share information and buy from people they trust. Build your client relationship by being successful at the small things, like communication, follow-up and proactivity. By being professional and doing what you say you will do, you’ll gain the trust and confidence of your client. As you build trust, you can ask your client about the vision for their property and discuss opportunities for improvement. With trust, clients will be more likely to share their ideas and budgets.

2. Qualify the opportunity. Account managers spend way too much time chasing enhancements that will never happen. When a property manager (PM) asks for improvement ideas, it’s important to ask some qualifying questions to limit wasted time and effort.

Questions include:

  • What is your budget?
  • Who will be making the final decision?
  • When do you need the proposal?
  • When will this work be needed?
  • Do you need a drawing or graphic?

Once you understand the opportunity, you can prioritize your time accordingly.

3. Understand the budget and the budget cycle. The best way to find out if your client has a budget for enhancements is to ask. There’s no use in putting together ideas and proposals if you know there’s no money budgeted. If you can’t get a budget answer, prepare an overview prospecting package with some basic photographs and budget ranges to see if you can generate interest and narrow down budget information. PMs typically start preparing budgets at the end of August for the next calendar year. Be sure to have your ideas for improvements in front of the PM in plenty of time so he or she can review and approve them for the coming year.

4. Make it easy. Prepare proposals in a way that makes it easy for the PM to understand details and costs. Don’t get hung up on fancy drawings or enhanced photography unless the client asks for it. If there are multiple areas of work on the property, develop a satellite overview map with the specific areas labeled. Complete a description for each area with a budget. Then summarize all areas with budgets on a final page. Let clients know the order you recommend for the workflow in case they need to plan it in phases. This approach will equip them with an easy package to review and present to their bosses and asset managers.

At the end of the day, everyone is busy and budget-minded. Successful account managers have figured out how to leverage their time, experience and relationships to bring the greatest value to their clients. Through the proper identification, prospecting and presentation of enhancement solutions to their clients, they become proficient at adding some icing on the cake.

(Photo: iStock.com/Charlieaja)

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About the Author:

Thomas, founder of Envisor Consulting, has owned three of Atlanta’s most successful landscape companies. Reach him at kenthomas@envisorco.com.

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