Five things your website should say

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Changing the way you look at your website’s content can position you as a leader among your competition.

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June 27, 2019

At Lawn & Landscape’s 2019 Top 100 Executive Summit, Marcus Sheridan said that 70 percent of the clients you meet with have already decided if they’re going to buy your service.

Sheridan, a full-time professional speaker and also the co-owner of IMPACT and River Pools and Spas, encouraged attendees to consider a different approach to marketing their services. Simply put, the work in closing sales and building relationships starts on your website. If you think like a consumer, you’ll realize buyers care about five key things:

  1. Cost
  2. Problems
  3. Comparisons
  4. Reviews
  5. Getting the best

“Your site content should be 80 percent aligned with those big five,” he said. These topics move buying decisions no matter what the industry is.

If your site content doesn’t answer those questions for the buyer, you’re missing out on potential sales. Here’s a few tips from Sheridan to make your website a channel for landing more sales. With these in mind, he says he was able to make River Pools and Spas the most trafficked pool installation website in the world.

Address the competition.

This might seem counter-intuitive, but providing your site visitors with a clear depiction of your competitors will position you as an expert in the field. Sheridan created an article detailing his biggest pool installation competitors. Instead of looking at it like free publicity for the competition, the page views showed he was getting his audience’s attention.

The elephant in the room.

It may help to address some of the negatives of the services you offer. For the green industry, this could mean not shying away from the negative press surrounding chemical use in lawn care.

Know what people are searching for.

If you have an idea of how your potential clients are searching for services online, you can cater your web content toward those searches. Sheridan said searches have shifted toward more “me” specific queries. For example, your audience is starting their search with “should I,” “can I,” or “do I need” phrases.

Become the most trusted voice in your market.

“If they ask, you’d better answer,” Sheridan said. If not, the potential customer will go somewhere else.

You need more content.

Sheridan shared a statistic showing people who read 30 or more pages of a website will buy the service 80 percent of the time. 30 pages may seem like a lot, but Sheridan also suggested having a role in your business strictly for content creation.

ASV debuts new CTL at press event

The VT-70 High Output machine is the company’s second vertical lift compact track loader. By Jimmy Miller

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – Over two years removed from producing its first vertical lift compact track loader, ASV has done it again with its VT-70 High Output machine.

The CTL was debuted at the company’s first ever press event in May. Production Line Manager Buck Storlie said ASV had plenty of radial-track models – seven to be exact – but wanted to expand its vertical track offerings to help people with high-lift applications. He also said this project took roughly 12 months to complete, though ASV did already have its VT-70, which it launched in 2017, as the starting point for designing the new High Output machine.

“That middle segment of vertical lift track loaders, we see the numbers out there,” Storlie said. “It’s a high-volume class of machines. There’s a lot of guys in that.”

ASV will start production on the VT-70 High Output this month and customers must ask their dealers about a retail price. The model is powered by a 74.3 horsepower, turbocharged Deutz engine and has a more comfortable cab than its predecessor. The VT-70 High Output vehicle’s rated operating capacity at 50 percent is 3,325 pounds and offers a tipping load of 6,650 pounds.

The 15-foot track is entirely composed of rubber compound and co-polymer cords, plus it’s shaped with all-purpose treads to withstand work in any condition. Staying true to its “All Seasons Vehicles” brand name, the machine is built to withstand a range in temperature from -30 degrees Fahrenheit to 118 degrees.

Photo courtesy of ASV

Storlie said the company has plenty of clients in Texas and a surprising amount in places like Australia, but they also designed the vehicle to withstand cold conditions like those often found at their 65-acre test facility in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The machine offers a side-by-side cooling system with its radiator and oil cooler.

Storlie said they also have designed their machines to limit damage to the ground, as the VT-70 High Output machine produces 4.6 psi in ground pressure.

At one point during the press presentation, Storlie showed a video of one of their older machines doing a 360-degree spin on his own backyard turf to prove he’s not worried about damage.

“Following (the original VT-70), we started looking at, ‘How can we continue to improve this?’” Storlie said. “We’re looking at a new engine configuration, more cooling to cool the increased horsepower, and more reliability testing to make sure the machine is capable of taking the things you throw at it.”

Nice to meet you.

On one of its slides during the press event, ASV displayed its full business timeline, detailing each step of a tumultuous journey.

“One of the biggest questions that we get when we go into a show or another event is, ‘Who are you people?’” said Justin Rupar, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing.

Forgive them for being confused. In a way, the press event also marked an informal reintroduction to the ASV brand. It’s been a winding path for the company, which first launched 35 years ago but was purchased by Terex in 2008. ASV absolved its branding to become a part of Terex’s company. In 2014, that acquisition became a joint venture with Manitex, and a year later, ASV was able to bring back its original brand name.

“So at this point, we’re kind of responsible for our own destiny,” said Regan Meyer, ASV’s dealer development and marketing manager. “That can be a really scary thing, but it can be a really empowering thing, too. There’s a lot of pride, there’s a lot of fun in having that ASV brand name back again.”

Meyer said the company has always had loyalists dedicated to ASV through all the name changes and rebrands, plus she said ASV is particularly appealing to the small business market. She said the company had no dealers in 2015 when they reintroduced the brand, but now they’re up to roughly 280 and counting.

“There’s a lot of white space left in the country we have yet to cover,” Meyer said. “If a dealer isn’t within an hour radius of you, it’s hard to get the product, so we want to eliminate those hurdles, get it where people can buy it, as fast as we can.”

RISE President Aaron Hobbs resigns

Hobbs started his career at RISE in state government affairs but has been president since 2010.

Aaron Hobbs, the president of Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment, announced his resignation in June via an email sent to RISE members.

“It has been a pleasure and honor to work with, and for you, this past decade. We’ve grown our industry, faced many challenges, and enjoyed many successes,” Hobbs wrote in the email. “You have a great team to carry you into the future beginning with your peers serving on the Governing Board and Strategic Oversight Council and the staff team in Washington.”

Hobbs started his career at RISE in state government affairs and was then selected to serve as president in 2010, taking over for longtime leader Allen James. During his tenure, Hobbs created a strategic plan that has guided the organization’s tactical investments for the past five years. Hobbs helped lead the RISE team’s development of the DebugtheMyths campaign, the ANDnotOR campaign and helped sharpen the issues management focus on for specialty pesticides and fertilizer.

The RISE Governing Board has named a transition committee that will be working with CropLife America to evaluate ways to enhance the service provided to RISE Members and the specialty pesticide and fertilizer industry.

“As public challenges to our industry’s ability to do business continue to grow, our need to work more closely, and more effectively, has never been greater,” members of the RISE Governing Board wrote in an email. “We welcome your thoughts as we move through this process and look forward to hearing and sharing more with you during the RISE annual meeting in August.”

Yellowstone acquires Texas company

The Top 100 company added Native Land Design to its portfolio.

Yellowstone Landscape acquired Native Land Design earlier this year. The move expands Yellowstone’s growth opportunities in Austin, Houston, and McAllen, Texas.

“I met with a lot of great people during the process and Yellowstone stood out,” said Native’s founder, Ben Collinsworth. “We have very similar operations, people, software, processes and priorities. We are all very excited to continue in this journey with Yellowstone and believe we will be able to mutually benefit each other for years to come.”

Native Land Design focuses on commercial properties and was founded in 2001 with current revenue around $15 million and a staff of 250 people. All employees at Native were retained following the move and there is no brand change for Native currently underway.

Late last year, Yellowstone acquired Somerset Landscape & Maintenance, a $30-million company based in Chandler, Arizona. Yellowstone ranked No. 5 on Lawn & Landscape’s Top 100 list with 2018 revenue of $230 million. Yellowstone is based in Palm Coast, Florida, but has multiple locations.

Sperber Landscape Companies acquires Kujawa Enterprises

Owner Joe Kujawa joins Bruce Wilson & Co. as senior facilitator, Chris Kujawa becomes KEI president.

Calabasas, Calif. – The recently launched Sperber Landscape Companies acquired Kujawa Enterprises, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was Sperber’s first acquisition after officially launching in early April.

As part of the acquisition, Chris Kujawa will become president of KEI, replacing Sally Kujawa, who retired. Joe Kujawa will stay on as a strategic adviser, though he’s also joined Bruce Wilson & Co., a consulting firm, as a senior facilitator and practice leader.

“Our first acquisition is one that came with careful consideration as it sets the tone for the company culture we set out to create with Sperber Landscape Companies," said Richard Sperber, CEO of SLC. "KEI is a natural fit, as it has been a family owned and operated business since its founding in 1926. “KEI has a reputation as a market leader and as a company with strong values and emphasis on taking care of its clients and employees. We are excited to be a part of the continued growth and innovation of such a special company.”

Adding 130 employees to the Sperber Landscape group, the recent addition of KEI expands SLC’s commercial landscape service offerings into the Midwest. Sperber said he plans for a seamless transition, as leadership and branding remain unchanged under the guidance of the Kujawa family.

Joe Kujawa said Sperber and his team’s understanding of a service culture was a major factor in the sale. Kujawa added that the existing brand and employees at KEI will continue to serve the Milwaukee market.

Joe Kujawa will serve as a member of Wilson’s senior team and will be responsible for helping Bruce Wilson & Co. bring to life the goals outlined for strategic growth across all its service offerings. He will also provide executive leadership in implementing a growth vision for peer group education events and industry relations. He will consult with snow market leaders on winter services strategies and companies facing the unique challenges of a family-owned business.

“We are all delighted to welcome Joe to our team as we work together to bolster our expertise and strengthen our position as one of the top-ranked growth consultants in the green industry," said Bruce Wilson, the company's lead growth strategist. "Joe’s own experience in CEO peer groups, his formidable industry relationships, and his depth of expertise will help us serve our clients in whatever capacity we can be most useful – whether as a trusted advisor to CEOs and leadership teams or as a hands-on coach."

“Making this career move aligns my personal beliefs with an organization that values and facilitates learning, and the transformational power continuous improvement has on the business environment," Joe Kujawa said. "I’m excited to be using my experience to help other snow and landscape companies inspire their teams, achieve their goals, and connect people, processes and technology to improve their financial performance.”

In addition to Joe’s contributions to the landscape and snow industries, he serves as planning commissioner for the Village of Elm Grove, Wisconsin, and is a former member of the board of directors for the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

He will also be part of Bruce Wilson & Co.’s column in Lawn & Landscape, which you can read in this issue.