The spring equinox has come, signaling the end of winter and typically the start of another busy season for lawn and landscaping professionals. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are experiencing a temporary halt in business during a crucial time. This could be due to customers concerned with having visitors to their homes, being conservative to save money, a government mandated quarantine, or employees possibly becoming ill and recovering. But this does not mean that you can’t continue to support your customers. Right now, is a great opportunity for landscape business owners to show customers how much they care for them, and how much value they can provide to their customers during a critical time. Engaging with and assisting customers in a time of need can not only keep your business top of mind for when business resumes, but also can help to build loyalty by creatively supporting your community.
What you do today for your business will determine how you will come out on the other side. Times of disruption like this force businesses to operate differently than they did before. Technology, digital transformation, and innovation will determine which businesses will not only survive this crisis but thrive when it passes - and it will pass. At WorkWave, we have weathered many storms and have seen how great companies create success in the most challenging of times. We know that technology is the key because it helps you to adapt, operate efficiently and effectively, and capitalize on pent up demand when life returns to normal.
Encourage Customers to Embrace Their Space to Reduce Stress
The amount of time families will be spending at home will drastically increase over the next few weeks, and possibly beyond. Plus, there is no denying that people are experiencing stress right now over the difficulty we are facing as a global community. Help your local community embrace their space and make it as comfortable and uplifting as possible. One of the most notable hobbies for anxiety and stress relief is gardening. This puts lawn and landscape professionals in a really good place because you can use your knowledge as a professional to provide tips and tricks on how to start and keep up with your garden (or your lawn and landscape as a whole) - keeping you relevant in the community and also be looked at as an expert in your industry looking to help during this critical time.
To make the most of quarantine, consider encouraging people to join a gardening challenge to bring the community together and spread some positivity. Many people who are new to gardening (and some who are veterans) consult YouTube videos, blogs, and social media groups for advice. What if your business could be a resource for them? A challenge can provide a space for people to connect not only to your business but to each other by sharing their projects - which can be helpful when feeling isolated. Luckily, there are many outlets where you can reach your community online, to communicate about everything from gardening, to lawn care to landscape. A few examples are:
- Collect email addresses for a daily “gardening/landscaping tip of the day” right to their inbox. You can send these all the way until the end of the harvest season. If you grow your challenge outside of your customer base, this is a great way to connect with potential customers to add them to your email marketing campaigns in the future.
- Create a Facebook group. Facebook groups are a great way to bring people together. You can share the same tips you would in an email as a daily post. Use services like Canva to create visually appealing graphics.
- As mentioned above, YouTube is a go-to for amateur gardeners and landscapers. Create short videos and blast them out via email, social, and on your website.
- Create a page on your website to house all the resources you create.
The point of a challenge is to connect with customers and be there for them in a time of need. But there is no harm in some healthy competition. Think about creating rules and a grand prize that correlates with the services you offer.
Offer Virtual Consultations
Homeowners who may not be drastically financially affected by COVID-19 will likely still want to redesign their landscaping if that was in their plans already. Whether they are in a new home or just need a makeover, make sure they know your team is available. Eventually, when the lockdown is lifted people will want to host parties and gather with friends over the summer months. With technology in the palm of every homeowner, why not conduct virtual consultations? Reach out to your client base and prospects and let them know your team is still available for consultations and estimates.
Set up a time for a video chat using services such as Zoom, just like you would talk face-to-face to understand the clients’ needs. Once you have a good understanding of the style they want and the challenges they face, ask clients to record a video of their property with specific instructions on what your team will need to see. Use Google Earth in conjunction with features like WorkWave Service Mobile Sketch to create a blueprint and email over to the client. Set up another video call to go through the specifics and provide an estimate.
Luckily, almost all the jobs a landscaping professional will carry out happens outside of the home. However, depending on your area and restrictions your state has in place, you may not be able to jump on the job right away. Predicting when you can schedule may also be difficult. Consider creating a list of jobs to fill into your calendar in as soon as the lockdown is lifted.
Lastly, consider rewarding your customers for supporting your business during these times of uncertainty by offering a discount for booking now and leaving a deposit for services to be rendered later.
Think Community First and Keep Lines of Communication Open
There is a lot of uncertainty happening in the world as our situation continues to evolve. Be sure you have every line of communication open. The media is rapidly changing, and your customers may not know if your business is deemed essential, or if you are operating at full capacity. Communicate early and often. Use social media channels and customer portals to update on the status of your business, any digital innovations you have put in place (such as virtual consultations) and be open about how your business is handling the pandemic.
Assure customers that your office staff is fully equipped with the technology they need to do their job remotely, and that they are safe and here for them should they need services. With that being said, be empathetic to the fact that the customers’ lawn and landscaping may not be top of mind for them if they have family members that are sick, are struggling with a business that is not operating, or if they are working on the front lines to fight this crisis.
Whether you are a small business or a franchise, if you operate on the local level, this may be a good opportunity to help people in these situations in your community. For example, you can show that you care about them by offering discounted services to nurses and medical professionals that are working around the clock. Acts of kindness strengthen bonds in a community and build customer loyalty later down the line.
This article was originally published by WorkWave on the WorkWave Lawn Care Blog. In an effort to keep you informed as the COVID-19 situation unfolds, WorkWave also created a COVID-19 resource page where they will be uploading resources as they become available.