No magic bullet

Columns - Industry Voices

May 1, 2013
Marty Grunder

Marty Grunder

Much of being successful in business has to do with doing the little things very well. However, many of the little things the successful green industry professional needs to do are very simple and often overlooked. We tend to gravitate towards those “magical silver bullets” that will solve everything.

The truth is: there are no “magical silver bullets.” Success in our industry comes from an unrelenting focus on the consistent application of a few tactics. So, here are three Do This, Not Thats:

1. Screen every prospect that calls your office; don’t just run out and see them without having a conversation on the phone first. For years I would take a lead, not ask any questions and just run out of the office to meet someone, anyone. After many “dead runs” I changed my approach.

Driving 25 minutes to meet with someone who wants to plant one tree is normally not a good use of our time. Especially when you get there to find out they are getting five bids and the rest of their property isn’t one you would want to put a photo of on your website. We have to spend our time with prospects that fit the profile of your “ideal client.” So, here’s what you do going forward. Every prospect that calls you gets asked questions that help you make sure they are someone who might be a good fit for your services.

Ask questions like, Where did you hear about us, what is your budget, when do you need this work done and have you worked with a professional landscaper in the past?  These will help you see if they are a fit. So, screen prospects; don’t just go see everyone and anyone and hope they will hire you. Yes, you need business, but you need the right type of business, focused on your ideal client.

2. Call your existing clients to make certain you have done everything you possibly can for them before you go marketing to new clients. Look, marketing is an essential part to building a business. No firm can grow without creating awareness in the marketplace. However, the mere notion that sending out postcards or putting an ad in an upscale magazine will help you grow is silly.

A lot more goes into it. So, start by making sure all your clients are shown what’s possible for their properties. Your job, as a professional, is to show them what’s possible. If they’ve purchased from you once, there’s a great chance they will buy from you again. It’s a lot easier to sell a lighting system to a client who has already allowed you to install some landscaping than to sell a lighting system to someone responding to one of your postcards.

Why? Trust and confidence were built up in that first transaction. There’s no longer a concern that you know what you are doing and are a good business. In the work I do with landscapers, I have been able to grow sales at companies by up to 15 percent just by showing existing clients what else you can do for them. Show your existing clients all the options you have for their properties before going crazy with marketing to new people.

3. Follow up with each client that does business with you via a survey or phone call. Again, a lot of us are going so fast, we end up taking our clients for granted. Not following up with clients who just completed transactions with you is a big mistake. And, it doesn’t take much.

A phone call, a survey you mail or e-mail them. And best of all a personal visit by the salesperson, or even the owner of the company will really build a relationship not soon broken. We get busy though and don’t slow down long enough to realize the importance of doing this. In fact, many of us, rather than thanking an existing client are on to talking with a new prospect that hasn’t done anything with you yet.

I’ve done it and if it weren’t for the process we’ve put in place to survey our clients that is followed automatically by our office, I’d probably not get it done either. I’m just being honest. So, are you asking your clients if they’re happy? Client satisfaction is the best way to grow a business; that’s a fact.  All of the above are simple things we need to follow to make our businesses work. You need to Be the Best at What Matters Most.

And that, my friends, is a title of a new book by Joe Calloway that I absolutely love. It touches on thoughts similar to what I shared above and there’s a whole chapter in the book about Grunder Landscaping Co. You can learn more at


Marty Grunder is a speaker, consultant and author; he owns Grunder Landscaping Co. See; mail