You work so hard! So why do you feel like you aren’t making any money? Competition is tough, you’re constantly having to under price your jobs, and still not growing.
You probably made pretty good money when you just started, but then you grew bigger and had to hire a few more people on. Which is great, but that means you have to pay them too, meaning less money in your pocket. Expenses like wages, trucks, gas, equipment, supplies and insurance add up quick.
By tracking your expenses you can better watch where your money is going. Charging the same price as when you first started provides too small of a profit margin when expenses increase as you expand your business. To keep your business alive you must adjust your rates, but keep them competitive. Most importantly, become more efficient in your work. Make your team work smarter and faster. You should focus on finding more clients and expanding what you offer clients. The more you invest in your company the more you will see in return. Invest some of your profit into things like better equipment and quality workers.
Managing Labor Expenses
Labor expenses add up fast. Every minute your guys spend at the shop, filling the trucks, picking up materials and shooting the sh** is costing you money. Even though they are making you money on the job site, it is those moments in between that are slowing your turn-over rate and costing you on labor. Paying attention to your staff’s habits will help you cut costs. Why do the guys need to meet at the shop each morning, isn’t faster for everyone to meet at the job site? Also, why in the world would you send two guys to pick up two boxes of product when Wolf Creek will deliver it directly to the job site FOR FREE (no strings attached)? Have them fill trucks up at the end of the day if needed and have team meetings once a week. It is the little things that will add up over time.
Managing Your Estimates
Understanding the time a job will take, the labor, client expectations and scope of the job is a skill that comes with practice. Your estimate needs to not only consider expenses but the expectation of your customer. For instance, installing a kit water feature is a simple 1/2 day job for one or two guys. If you are installing for a millionaire who is used to top dollar, you should probably price based on his expectation. Even if you are over pricing, under pricing in this case will most likely do more harm. Under-pricing by his expectation may reflect the quality of the work. If he/she is used to paying top dollar for everything, a super low-ball price will make the homeowner have less confidence in your company. Understanding the area, culture and expectations of your customer will mean the difference between a profitable job and a highly profitable job.
Also, be sure to account for mistakes and unexpected over times. You don’t want your company to take the hit for any hick-ups in the project. It is just life, mistakes and mishaps happen. Pressure your bottom line to account for extra product and more labor payouts. The last thing you want to do is go back to the homeowner asking for more money.
Standing Out From the Crowd
According to the National Association of Landscape Professionals, 2016 there were 474,237 landscape industry businesses in the United States. That means there is a ton of competition to go up against. How many times have you heard a client say, “Bob’s Landscaping will do it for less…”? As a business owner you must differentiate yourself from your competition. It will be different for each company, focus on the good qualities of your business that come of your competitors may lack in. Such as, training, licensing, special certifications, workforce, quality, reliable, timeliness or customer service.
In same cases you will have to have that conversation with customers, however making your company’s strengths clear may generate you more business on its own. Many companies are utilizing social mediums such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to connect with customers and show off their work. Email blasts, an updated website and informative flyers can also convey your message.
Upsells are all around you. The owner of Wolf Creek wrote a great article here about changing your sales mindset. Scott explains:
“We all do it. I remember years ago talking with landscapers about landscape lighting. I heard the same objection over and over, ‘My customers would never pay that kind of money for this stuff.’ Well, landscape lighting has been one of the fastest and consistent growth segments for the past 14 years. Now virtually every landscaper does at least some lighting.
Apparently the customers of landscapers will pay that kind of money! This is a perfect example of Projection of Values. To project values means, you assign the same values, perceptions, wants, needs, desires, expectations that YOU HAVE to your customers. You believe they will not pay for landscape lighting because you would not. This is a fatal error. By doing this you have killed sales before you even try.”
Once you understand that, take it a step further and apply it to upselling. If the homeowner is having you install an irrigation system, why not do lighting while you’re there. If they are also having you add lighting, why not add on a Nutone system to make their new space bug free. It is common sense. You’re already there, add to your bottom line and make their yard a dream come true. Yes, they will be spending more, but for most clients, they had already expected to drop a few bands anyways.
Your proposal doesn’t have to be fancy. Draw up a quote and sketch out what their yard could look like with your recommendations.
Making money in the industry is about changing your habits. Change little things in your business operations and expect a more profitable year!