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BOLTON — Two landscape workers who spotted a swerving driver on Route 117 yesterday helped steer the woman’s car to safety and alerted authorities to the problem.
The woman, Lisa Murray, 52, of the Bolton area, appears to have been suffering from a medical condition, according to Timothy J. Connolly, spokesman for District Attorney Joseph Early. She was in critical condition at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Mr. Connolly said.
Matthew J. Sullivan of Worcester and Cam Maillett of Leominster were driving to a work site for Hudson-based Noon Turf Care when they saw the driver in front of them swerve in front of an oncoming Mack truck and then veer off the road. Mr. Maillett filmed the swerving at first, but then the car started drifting off the road. Mr. Sullivan, who had been driving, jumped out, ran to the slowly drifting car, reached in, grabbed the steering wheel and then got in and hit the brake. Mr. Maillett ran to the nearest building to get an address to give a 911 dispatcher.
The car stopped near 357 Main St., Mr. Connolly said.
“She was heading right toward a telephone pole,” Mr. Sullivan said in an interview this morning. Ms. Murray was unconscious, he said.
Mr. Sullivan, 25, recently finished his time as a sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserve and hopes to join the state police. Yesterday was his fourth day on the job for Noon Turf.
Chris Noon, who owns the business, said he drives on Route 117 every day and noted that the incident happened in a 50 mph zone. “I was just floored” when the men showed him the video, he said.
Create an opportunity by diagnosing customer’s lawn funguses and selling a solution.
By: Matthew Noon on May 9, 2011
I think we all realize how much the weather and climate at certain times of the year can affect our industry. For example, our lawn care company is located in Massachusetts. This can be a particularly harsh climate during certain times in the year. New England’s weather can change overnight, and since we run a service business that involves the maintenance of turf, trees and shrubs, we need to be able to react immediately to these changes for our customers.
Typically the climatology of New England means that the growing season can start anywhere from mid-March to mid-April. Within weeks of having a foot of snow on the ground, we can be administering our first lawn, tree and shrub treatment. The drastic changes in weather and temperature can produce lawn funguses. Although funguses wreak havoc on customers’ lawns, it creates an opportunity to diagnose and sell a solution to your clients. By anticipating a customer need, you solidify the perception that you are a lawn professional in the eye of the client.
When a lawn has not been exposed to sunlight for three months, it becomes a breeding ground for diseases and funguses. In March and April when the snow slowly melts, we will see the majority of our clients’ lawns covered with snow mold and pink mold. We create a competitive advantage that differentiates us from others in the industry if we immediately expose our customers to these issues and offer them a solution.
Here are a few tips on how to sell fungicide services.
Pay attention to detail.I instruct my team to look at every possible danger to a client’s lawn and to sell a solution. I don’t look at snow mold or any other lawn disease as another problem or setback with a “business as usual” attitude, but rather an opportunity that we have to satisfy our clients’ needs.
Not only can my lawn technicians find fungus issues to diagnose, but will also include a complete evaluation of other possible issues.
Motivate technicians.Getting a team of 15 lawn technicians motivated to get out to your customers’ lawns scouting for lawn funguses to sell a solution is a lot easier said than done. Not only must you coach them with effective sales techniques, but you must also create a buy-in for them. A lawn technician is not just going to increase sales without proper incentive. The incentive can be many different things, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be with money. It can be points that are attained to win a flat screen TV or paid time off for example. If cash is the incentive, then a commission can be used for each sale. Whatever it is, make sure it is creative and lucrative for the technician.
Reinforce expectations.Think of your lawn technicians and team members as an extension of your sales force.
Be sure to also reinforce the selling concept to them on a daily basis. What are your goals for fungicide sales per week? What progress are you making in meeting these goals? Do you talk about this every morning when technicians walk through the door? Constant reinforcement is critical for a sales campaign to be successful.
Focus on opportunities.
Another example of a fungus sales success story was last summer. In the early spring, it rained literally each day. Due to the incessant rainfall, a lot of our fertilizer products were not being absorbed appropriately because there was no sunlight to allow the grass to extract nitrogen. In other words, our lawns were nitrogen deficient and red thread was breaking out everywhere.
The phones were ringing off the hook with numerous complaints. Many companies would get defeated and bury their heads in the sand. Not our company. I looked beyond all of the problems and focused on the opportunity that would arise from the erratic weather. It was yet another chance to fill our clients’ needs in a time of crisis.
We had weekly meetings on the condition of our customers’ lawns and how to educate them and sell them a solution to their problem. When lawns were being overrun with red thread, we sold a fungicide treatment which took the worry away and we assumed the responsibility of eliminating the problem for them at a cost. That summer our June and July sales numbers increased by 30 percent.
Although many times customers will complain about the additional cost of taking care of an unforeseen issue in their lawn, most of them understand as long as you fulfill your promise to eliminate the problem. You must also constantly educate the client. This process often falls to your team and it is imperative that they know how to communicate with the customer to explain the problem and to deliver a solution.
Be proactive.As professionals we have to be proactive with our clients. There is nothing worse than to hear that a competitor of ours told their customer that red thread will “go away” on its own with proper amounts of sunlight and fertilizing. The client wants results and they are willing to pay for a solution. When we do not react to our customers’ problems, they will not value our service and the customers will challenge our expertise in lawn care. Once credibility is lost, you’ve probably lost that customer.
We need to be proactive and anticipate the problem. We, as the experts, must take the control and be ready to take care of the business relationship. By doing so our customers are satisfied, our lawns are green and our pockets are, too. L&L
The author is president of Noon Turf Care based in Hudson, Mass.
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- Christopher Noon
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When it comes to hiring, Main Street remains reluctant to fully open its doors.
U.S. small businesses continued to hire in November, this time adding the most jobs in a month's time in nearly three years, according to payroll company Automatic Data Processing Inc. But job growth remains modest compared with prerecession years, and many entrepreneurs say they plan to hold back for some time to come.
Small, privately held businesses—companies with fewer than 500 employees—added a net 91,000 jobs last month, according to the ADP data released Wednesday. Though that was a sizeable jump over October's net gain of 78,000 jobs, the average net monthly gain so far in 2010 has been just 35,000 jobs.
By contrast, small businesses in 2006 and 2007 added a monthly net average of 143,000 and 79,000 jobs, respectively, ADP's data show.
A number of factors—including pending tax legislation, the ongoing credit crunch, and changes that owners made during the recession to stay afloat—are contributing to entrepreneurs' restrained approach to hiring.
"Like a lot of investors, they're sitting on the sidelines," says Raymond Keating, chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, a nonprofit advocacy group in Oakton, Va.
Small businesses play a major role in the U.S. economy, employing half of all private-sector workers, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. They have also historically started adding jobs more quickly after recessions than large companies. For example, small businesses added a net monthly average of 38,000 jobs in 2003, while large businesses shed a net 22,000 jobs on average per month that year, ADP's data show.
Within the small-business community in general, older, established companies tend to do less hiring than young companies, says John Haltiwanger, a professor of economics at the University of Maryland. And in the current volatile economy, both groups are in many cases "unwilling to expand," he says. "You have to convince yourself that not only are sales better now, but they'll be better tomorrow."
Delta Children's Products Corp., a 42-year-old New York-based furniture manufacturer with 120 employees, has seen its revenues increase for the past two years in a row after a 25% drop in 2008. But for the most part, the family business is only filling critical vacancies. "We are scared to hire," says Joseph Shamie, chief executive. "We are very concerned about the new taxes, the unfriendly business environment and health care. We are in the dark right now."
Similarly, TechSmith Corp., a 200-employee software company founded in 1987, saw revenues increase 25% this year after a 2% decline in 2009. But the Okemos, Mich., business is "hiring at half the rate we would be if I had more confidence about the future," says Bill Hamilton, president and co-founder.
Specifically, he says he's concerned about how Congress will vote on matters that could have a substantial impact on small businesses like his, such as income taxes and the new health law's 1099 provision, which requires businesses to file a tax report when they pay a vendor more than $600 in a year. "There are no guarantees just because the House of Representatives belongs to a different party," Mr. Hamilton says.
Other small-business owners are hiring cautiously because they lack sufficient sources of funding. For start-ups, these include such tapped-out options as home-equity loans and credit cards. And for established companies, bank loans remain sparse. The SBA backed $16.84 billion in loans in fiscal 2010 ending Sept. 30, a 30% increase from 2009, but an amount well below the $20.61 billion in loans it backed in 2007.
"Small firms essentially rely very heavily on the banks for lending as opposed to big companies which can issue equity on the public markets, engage in securitizations and other complex financial transactions," says Josh Lerner, an investment banking professor at Harvard Business School. "Given this, it's not surprising that we've seen very limited evidence of job growth in terms of hiring by small businesses in the aftermath of the financial crisis."
There are also some businesses that are unable to increase their headcounts simply because they took up smaller office spaces after shedding workers during the recession. This has been the case for Almar Sales Co. Inc., a more-than 45-year-old consumer-products manufacturer and distributor in New York.
Earlier this year, the company moved into a 12,000-square-foot space, half the size of its former location, after laying off 20% of its work force in 2009. "We needed to downsize as a reaction to the economy," says Allen Ash, vice president.
Though revenues have since rebounded from a 20% drop off in 2009, the company, which now has 130 employees, isn't planning to invest in a second location. "We really need to hire, but we're being very conservative," says Mr. Ash. "What happens if the first quarter of 2011 is horrible?"
For now, many business owners are making ends meet with fewer helping hands through a variety of strategies, including outsourcing tasks to freelancers. Last month, mostly small businesses listed more than 58,800 freelance jobs on Odesk.com, about double November 2009.
Meanwhile, Noon Turf Care, a lawn-care business in Hudson, Mass., since 2002, has learned to operate leaner. Matthew Noon, president, says revenues for the 30-employee business turned positive earlier this year after a flat 2009. But while he normally would have hired seven technicians by now to compensate for the increase in demand, he instead recruited four and added more responsibilities to several positions that offer commission-based incentives.
"It really challenges you as an entrepreneur to request more from your people," says Mr. Noon. "But the economy has been a great excuse. People are very grateful to have jobs."
For the original article located on the Wall Street Journal website, please click here.
Christopher Noon has a sunny disposition now that his lawn care company is raking in the leads. The secret ingredient fertilizing the growth is paid search, says the president and co-founder of Hudson, Mass.-based Noon Turf Care, which provides chemical lawn care services to residential clients in Massachusetts.
In February 2010, Noon hired Middletown, Del.-based search marketing firm eZanga to weed out the keywords that weren't working in his search marketing efforts and to begin harvesting more green.
"My territory is very small," Noon says. "My target market is about 500,000 residents in Massachusetts. So that's who I'm trying to hit. No one else. And [they're] only folks who want chemical care for their lawn and shrubs, tree care, and pest control."
To target that audience living within 200 specific ZIP codes, the first order of business was to pull out keywords like "lawnmower repair" and "lawnmowing company" that were draining his budget and were not bringing in the local leads Noon Turf Care requires. Noon says previous search engine optimization efforts had littered his site with these kinds of keywords to the point that even the most tenacious chemical lawn care prospects were losing patience while trying to dig deep into his site and hit the pay dirt of relevant information.
"They were getting so lost," Noon says.
So Noon optimized for keywords such as "weed control MA" and "lawncare service MA" and made the site simpler for new leads to find what they needed in order to convert. For example, Noon enlarged the "Get a Quote" button until it took up nearly a third of the homepage.
Still, when the campaign went live on Mar. 1, Noon was so anxious to see results that he immediately began performing tests to see if the ads were appearing with the selected keywords. He tested so frequently that his vendor warned him that he was starting to interrupt the proper rotation of his advertisements. After Noon calmed down and allowed the campaign to take root, it began to yield results.
By April, a peak month for Noon Turf Care, he was seeing healthy new business sprout directly from the campaign. That month, Noon invested $1,000 in pay-per-click advertising. His sales agents received 44 calls, two emails and results from 22 "Web events," which relate to online forms prospects fill out—usually through the site's "Get a Quote" button. Noon says his company followed up on those leads and turned them into customers.
Noon Turf Care of Hudson, Mass., has acquired Lawnmaster Boson West.
“This is a great opportunity for Noon Turf Care to service additional top notch customers within our existing market and we are excited to do so,” said Christopher Noon, president of Noon Turf Care.
Lawnmaster was founded 20 years ago by owner Ron Chaput and has become a player as a premium lawn fertilization service.
Noon Turf Care was founded by Christopher and Matthew Noon more than 10 years ago. The latest acquisition makes the company the largest privately owned lawn care company in the state.