Tim Twomey, co-owner of Ground Hog Landscape Management in Mandeville, LA, feels a lot better about his young company than he did just a couple of years ago, in part because the New Orleans-area economy has been better. But the main reason for Twomey’s renewed confidence is his company’s well-designed strategy to generate leads and referrals, and retain the most precious of customers.
Ground Hog also has adopted a new mission statement that every single employee believes in: Passionate People, Outstanding Results. “I think people sometimes don’t set their goals high enough,” Twomey says. “Yes, goals have to be achievable, but they should also be big enough to drive you to do great things.”
Since joining the Working Smarter Training Challenge roughly one year ago, Ground Hog has been as driven as ever. “It has transformed my business,” Twomey relates. “We’ve created a culture where everyone is thinking about waste. We are better, leaner and meaner than ever before.”
Clearly define your target
Ground Hog Landscape Management is also more focused than ever before, placing maintenance, primarily upscale residential maintenance, at the core of its business model. Roughly 75% of Ground Hog’s sales now come from maintenance services. “We still do installation work, but only if we know we’ll also get that client’s ongoing maintenance business,” Twomey points out.
Three residential service levels have been developed:
- Hog Chops – basic level of service that includes mowing, trimming, edging and cleanup
- Hog Wild – bed-centric service that focuses on keeping beds clean and bursting with color (weeding, pruning, fertilizing, etc.)
- Hog Heaven – premium level of service that includes everything mentioned in the first two levels, in addition to irrigation monitoring, seasonal color, mulch, insect and disease control, and tree and shrub fertilization.
Ground Hog Landscape Management has refined its marketing efforts in order to grow its upscale residential business. “We bought a mailing list of $250,000 homes and up,” Twomey explains. “Our goal is to service an area within 10 or 15 miles from our office, so we were able to narrow our list down to around 1,900 names. We sent out a couple of mailings this spring. We also wanted to target a new geographic area this year where we see some strong opportunity, so we sent the mailings to that zip code, too.”
Make a connection
Since Twomey’s strengths lie in operations, he put out a craigslist ad and landed a local marketing professional to help create the mailers. Twomey says he wanted a very professional look to them, and refused to incorporate any kind of “discount” such as a coupon. “We’re not a discount shop,” he relates.
Going forward, Twomey sees an opportunity to better personalize direct marketing efforts in order to stand out and make more of a connection with customers. He’s exploring the use of something called “personalized URLs” (PURLs) which place a customer’s name in a specially created URL, such as groundhoglandscaping.net/JohnDoe, for example. He’s also contemplating the inclusion of USB flash drives in direct mailings. The flash drives could include personalized videos, images and other multi-media.
“All of this starts with knowing who your target customer is, and who your top customers and prospects are,” Twomey reminds. “We are primarily focusing on our top 100 list right now.”
Grab the low-hanging fruit
Twomey and partner Dalton Fetters are personally focusing on sales for their young, growing company, which now employs between 12 and 15 people. Twomey spearheads new client acquisition and key client retention while Fetters ensures that crews are capitalizing on all of those $1,500 to $2,000 upsell opportunities on existing properties—which Twomey likes to refer to as “low-hanging fruit.”
Successfully nabbing that low-hanging fruit starts with a clear job description for your crew leaders. The job description for a landscape foreman at Ground Hog includes statements like: