When Green Rx Lawn Care was born, owner Joe Weiss planted virtual roots that would harvest business all year long, even in the off-season. From the beginning, he knew the Web was where his Cottleville, Mo.-based company would be discovered and stay top-of-mind in his market.
Weiss’ concerted digital efforts weren’t just about keeping up with the technological times. The real push came from his customers.
“I noticed a lot of my customers wanting convenience as far as payment options and tracking their accounts,” he says. “So we dug into our website, not just to make it nice and appear on the top of Google searches. What started that whole process was wanting to create some extra convenience for our customers, make it easier for them to find us, make it easier for them to manage their accounts. Also, ironically, it created some convenience for us.”
By building a website and social networks that consistently complement the physical business, Weiss constructed an integrated marketing mix to keep leads pumping in all year long, while offering customers more ways to interact with the business.
Turning negative reviews around
Negative online feedback opens up great opportunities.
Green Rx Lawn Care uses its online channels to tap into customer feedback. The danger in that – which keeps some companies from striking up conversations in the first place – is unleashing the bad along with the good.
“I think a lot of people are too worried about getting negative feedback from customers,” says owner Joe Weiss. “But we see it as good thing because we’re able to communicate with our customers.”
By embracing what customers have to say, both good and bad, Green Rx has built a reputation of satisfying consumers. The company has been recognized for service with the 2012 Angie’s List Super Service Award and an A-rating from the Better Business Bureau.
Green Rx customers can scan QR codes on their invoices to open an instant online review. Others receive quality-control phone calls asking for feedback, or email surveys about recent lawn care service. Usually, these feedback invitations garner positive attention online.
But if critical comments are posted, Weiss is quick to respond. Usually, he can trace the issue back to miscommunication.
“A lot of times if we do get a negative review, it’s just a matter of communicating with them and usually it’s worked out,” Weiss says. “And I think it’s important for people to see that. It shows that you are a real company, you do have real reviews and you’re willing to work it out with people. It can turn into a positive if the company is receptive to replying and communicating.”
With an office staff of three and 12-15 field technicians, Weiss had to cobble together resources to develop and manage the online presence. He taps into local website developers, graphic designers, search engine optimizers and other specialty experts, and then delegates pieces to his staff.
“When we created the whole online presence, we tried to consider that you don’t have one type of customer,” Weiss says. “You have a lot of different personalities, lifestyles and schedules, so we tried to accommodate everyone we could think of online. That’s why we meshed a lot of different insights from a lot of different people. In the end, I still review it and oversee it, but that diversity gives us a piece of the way everybody’s minds work.”
With keen oversight and agreed guidelines, he keeps the digital team on the same page. He stays engaged, careful not to get too far removed from the online presence. “One of the biggest things in navigating your way through the Internet is really doing your own research, especially as the business owner,” Weiss says. “You’ve got to educate yourself on the whole process and figure out what’s best for your business. You put the proper people in place, but at the same time, you do have to be actively involved with it.”
Early on, Weiss’ Web strategy centered on optimization, so he built the company’s website, www.greenrxlawncare.com, around strategically-selected words and phrases that would answer common Internet search queries. His team built content around those topics, illustrating their lawn care expertise through newsletters and tweets to educate customers.
“Especially on social media, you don’t want to be shoving your deals down people’s throats,” Weiss says. “You want to provide a level of entertainment, and in time position yourself as an expert in your industry that offers good tips and shows the benefits of what you have to offer.”
Branding plays a big part in establishing that expertise. Since he put so much effort into getting found online, Weiss wants customers to find a website that echoes the Green Rx they see in the neighborhood.
“You’ll notice on our website the pictures of our trucks. The images match, and it’s a real complement,” Weiss says. “I see it as a two-part process. We have our team members out in the field servicing lawns in our trucks with their uniforms; everything looks the same. Then what happens when people get online and they see that same image, it does trigger their mind that they’ve seen us out there working in the area.”
As Green Rx began adding new social channels – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Yelp and others – brand consistency became a guiding force. Each channel exists in relation to others – whether direct mail, door hangers, or local events. Because of that interconnectivity, Weiss gives each channel equal weight in a balanced system that drives leads from one complementary touch-point to the next.
“The biggest thing that we’ve learned is just the consistency and the persistence,” he says. “When you’re trying to pull all those pieces together, it doesn’t happen overnight. Technology changes quite a bit daily, so what might be right today is completely off next week. So the other thing is diversifying. We haven’t put all our eggs in one basket online, and with everything changing so quickly, that diversity has really helped us out.”
Weiss sees other brands fail online when companies post spontaneous messages without a plan to align their scattered efforts. Usually, the culprit is lack of planning. So Weiss uses the off-season wisely to start writing his 12-month marketing calendar.
“Now, when we get to the busy season, we’re just tweaking a couple of things here and there instead of trying to rewrite the book every single day when we don’t have the time or resources,” he says.
Throughout that annual plan, Green Rx tracks progress monthly, or weekly during the busy season.
Joe Weiss, founder of Green Rx Lawn Care in Cottleville, Mo., wants customers to see on the Internet what they would see around their neighborhoods. The company’s website and social media platforms feature the company logo as well as photos of company trucks.
With layers of metrics and tracking systems, he tries to track visitors through conversion, measuring the click-to-lead ratio to understand which clicks converted into leads and, ultimately, sales.
“As far as the success rate, I don’t look at just, ‘How much did we sell off of this form of Internet marketing?’” Weiss says. “It’s more, ‘What’s the consistency of it throughout different times of the season?’ It’s like a giant puzzle with each little piece we track, and then at the end of the year we see where we can tweak.”
Today, online channels drive at least 20 percent of Green Rx’s business. With the company tripling in size each season since its inception, this flexible online plan is a scalable way to sustain business. Of course, Weiss is quick to classify the web as just a piece of the puzzle, not a magic remedy.
“It’s complementary,” Weiss says. “But if we didn’t have that online presence, it wouldn’t drive the business because people wouldn’t be able to find us.”
The author is a freelance writer based in Cleveland.
Photos courtesy of Green RX