Marketing Smarter Yields Results

Like many landscape contractors, Procare Landscape Management in Byron Center, MI, has always kind of “done what it’s done” in the way of marketing. Not anymore. Thanks in part to the Working Smarter Training Challenge, management has recognized the importance of outlining—and sticking to—a year-long marketing calendar and budget.

“First of all, we realize that we have to allocate enough money in our budget to continue growing,” says Dirk Bakhuyzen III, Procare’s vice president. “It is a good idea to look back at what you’ve done from a marketing standpoint over the years, but you also have to think about what you need to do going forward.”

Procare traditionally has spent roughly 1% of sales on marketing. Now they’re earmarking 3-5%. This is a sizable investment that’s forcing management to put more of its focus on marketing. “We’re having serious discussions about how we should spend our marketing dollars,” Bakhuyzen relates. “We’re also talking about how we’re going to measure whether something is working or not.”

Team approach to selling

The management team isn’t the only group of people focused on marketing in today’s competitive environment. “Everyone here, from the person edging walks to the owners, now realizes that nothing happens until a sale is made,” Bakhuyzen exclaims. “Everyone is focused on sales.”

When it comes to the actual process of “selling” to clients, Procare still deploys a team approach. “We rely heavily on our account managers to assist in the sales process and bring new opportunities to our sales department,” Bakhuyzen says. “Their role is to be subject matter experts; a sales rep will bring an account manager to a client meeting to talk about tree care or how to handle a pest problem or whatever. We also ask our account managers to generate new leads, whether it’s someone they know from church or a business they see out in the market that we aren’t servicing.”

New ideas implemented this year

For the first time, Procare sent out a series of postcards to homes throughout western Michigan, as opposed to just a single spring mailing. The target was $200,000-plus homes with $100,000-plus household incomes. The first mailing went to a broader list of 40,000 homes. The second batch went to a more geographically targeted list of 12,000 homes.

The company used the mailings to push not just its lawn care services, but the fact that it is a full-service, five-division company that can do just about anything a homeowner wants done. “This is the first time we really honed in on this higher-income customer,” Bakhuyzen points out. “We did so because we really want to sell the full-service package.”

Also for the first time this year, Procare displayed at a local home and garden show. They received a lot of construction leads, and surprisingly also gathered quite a few maintenance leads. According to Bakhuyzen, the key to having a successful show is making sure that the right people are in your booth. “You can always do a big giveaway to generate traffic to your booth, but then you’re usually left with a bunch of bad leads. What you really want is to have your best people in your booth so they can ask good questions and qualify the leads you get.”