by: MATTHEW NOON | April 19, 2012 |
Link to Full Article Here
This past fall my best friend purchased his first home. For those that have never owned a home, one is never truly prepared for all of the maintenance that is required.
In the days that followed, my friend called me many times with questions regarding his landscape. When do I stop mowing my lawn? What type of fertilizer needs to be applied to the lawn? Do I have to do anything with my irrigation system before the ground freezes? Do I need to prune or treat my trees and shrubs? These are all questions that being in the business for 12 years I could answer swiftly and easily. But what about for a new homeowner that never had to worry about these types of maintenance issues? Then it dawned on me, although our company is always available to answer these questions from our clients, what if we became more proactively engaged with them through education on these subjects?
My business coach had the idea to reach out to our client base and any other contacts we have to proactively educate them on property maintenance. In November of 2011, Noon Turf Care free webinars were born.
Building value. There are no sales or lead source reports that can be pulled to determine success on how many services or clients are â€śsoldâ€ť via a webinar. However, we are doing something worth far more. We are building goodwill and intrinsic value. By doing so, we take ourselves out of the commodity-based industry and into an entirely new niche of service where value is added to the service experience with originality. When we build a resource such as a webinar by using our expertise, the consumer no longer views us as just â€śanotherâ€ť lawn care or landscape company trying to sell â€śstuff.â€ť Donâ€™t get me wrong, our company sold more than $2.5 million of new business in 2011, but we have always approached selling by adding value first. We want to make sure to expand our client base. These should include variations of clients that are buying on price as well as clients that are buying on value and loyalty. The latter are where we build long-term and sustainable growth in a company.
Gathering an audience. As we constructed our first webinar we wanted to convey a sense of urgency to our clients so that they would actually go online on a Saturday morning in November and log into the webinar. We used the approach of winter as our message of urgency to our New England clients. We named it â€śWinterizing your property for 2011,â€ť and we broke down each aspect of the outside property into sections.
â€˘ Company overview
â€˘ Panel of expert speakers
â€˘ Fall property maintenance
â€˘ Irrigation winterization
â€˘ Landscape care
â€˘ Turf care preparation
â€˘ Winterizing power equipment
â€˘ Tree and shrub specimen care
â€˘ Specific specimens
Our presenters included a turf grass specialist, an arborist, a property maintenanceprofessional and a power equipment expert. But not to worry if you are a young or new company and you donâ€™t have that type of experience on your staff. What you are presenting for the most part is not rocket science. However, it is to most consumers, and so that is why we needed to carefully explain everything in detail in the presentation.
The presentation consisted of approximately 50 power point slides with detailed pictures and bullet points. The presentation lasted about an hour and we also had about 30 minutes of questions and answers at the end.
We advertised the presentation a month prior to the event via post cards and emails to our company database and to every other contact list that was available.
We offered clients a free tree and shrub property evaluation from our certified arborist as incentive to sign up. We had customers, friends and families all sign up for it, and ended up with 40 attendees.
Gaining an advantage. I was very surprised at how many questions the attendees had for us. We engaged the attendees in dialogue by having all of the presenters discuss their seasonal winter challenges with their properties. From there it sparked an array of questions and that was what really turned the webinar into a success.
We want to separate ourselves from the bigger national companies by bringing a different approach to our industry. Our next webinar will be launched in the early spring. It will focus on spring property maintenance. We are excited to continue these presentations and hope to expand the audience based on the word of mouth success we have received.
The author is president of Noon Turf Care in Hudson, Mass.