'Managing' Sales Effort Key to Growth in Lawn Care

After a relatively flat 2010, Cincinnati, OH-based Oasis Turf & Tree's sales grew a whopping 45% last year—without the need to open an additional branch or acquire another company. Rob Reindl, founder and president, is predicting similar growth this year.

Reindl says the key has been a heightened focus on the sales effort. He'd hired a consultant early last year to help motivate his six-person sales force (three inside, three outside). But once the consultant's stay was over, things soon reverted back to "normal." The consultant seemed to be a good fit culturally, so Reindl decided to bring him back on a full-time basis as sales manager.

"We had three inside sales reps who were averaging $8,000 to $9,000 a week in sales," Reindl recalls. "By the end of (the consultant's) second week, the reps were averaging $20,000 a week. It was remarkable."

Motivating and training. Reindl says the consultant has a strong ability to read people and determine what motivates them. He's also a great coach.

"He's done a great job of explaining that selling is about having conversations, not just asking a bunch of boring questions like, 'How were your weeds last year?'" Reindl says. "It's also about recognizing that people are busy no matter what they're doing. He has also done a great job of training the sales force on how to carry-on a conversation even when they've heard a rejection—almost like they never heard a rejection in the first place."

Identifying your target customer. Thus far Oasis Turf & Tree's growth has resulted from a proportionate balance of customers switching from another lawn care service provider and customers who'd never hired a lawn care company before. The company isn't done yet. "We have room to grow right where we are," Reindl says. "Right now we are looking at route density. Down the road we'll look at expansions into southeastern Dayton and even northern Kentucky."

Reindl has beefed up his six-person sales force to eight. They are focused on two key demographics as they build up their marketing database.

"Our basic philosophy has always been that the more money people make, the more likely they can afford lawn care," Reindl relates. "The same goes for home value. But there are also instances where people own more home than they can afford. In other instances a person might have a lesser-value home, but they've been in that home for 30 years and have some disposable income. So we're now looking at both home value and household income. We like to focus on $150,000-plus homes, so we have to buy a list that starts at $100,000 because the next bracket is $250,000 and up. For household incomes we look at $80,000 and up."

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