Women-owned landscape or lawn service businesses aren’t a novelty. They haven’t been for decades. Smart and determined female green industry entrepreneurs are a force to be reckoned with within their respective green industry services categories. Just ask their competitors.
Even so, the number of women-owned landscape/lawn service companies remains small. The exact percentage is not known. Is it larger than 5.4 percent, the 27 female CEOs heading Fortune 500 Companies in 2016? Maybe.
As women play catch-up in terms of business ownership and pay equality with men, they and their more than 8 million businesses are powerful drivers in the U.S. economy. Women-owned firms have an economic impact of more than $3 trillion. This translates into the creation and maintenance of 23 million jobs, 16 percent of all U.S. jobs, reports the National Women’s Business Council.
That said, what’s often under- appreciated is women’s powerful overall positive impact on the U.S. economy. This includes their decision-making role in selecting products and professional services, including landscape and lawn services, of course.
Multiple sources posit that women drive 70 to 80 percent of consumer spending with their purchasing power and influence. Yet, some of these same sources report that women generally feel that marketers don’t understand them.
If you needed reminding of the critical importance of connecting with women consumers, you would have gotten it at this past January’s Midwest Green Industry Experience where Anne Obarski, a self-described customer service strategist, launched into the topic of marketing and selling to female prospects.
Not surprisingly, the audience consisted overwhelmingly of men. Is it any wonder that, in this HGTV age, these landscape owners and managers would devote an hour to seek whatever insights they could into how women come to their buying decisions?
Here are five suggestions gleaned from Obarski’s presentation to better connect with female prospects and clients.
1. Never be patronizing. Women’s antennae immediately pick up when you’re talking down to them. This is as true for women property managers as it is for female homeowners. (By the way, more than one in five homebuyers is a single woman. This is twice the number of single men buying homes, says Obarski.) Anything that suggests male condescension, including ignoring the female partner during discussions with a husband and a wife, is a rapport destroyer.
2. Grooming is critical. Do you keep a sport coat in your service vehicle so that you look presentable when visiting, say, a commercial property manager? Or do you show up dressed in a clean uniform, preferably displaying your logo and name, when meeting with women homeowners?
3. Provide more than one solution. Women can be more detailed-oriented than men when arriving at a buying decision. Attribute this to fickleness at your peril. Women understand the concept of “good, better, best.” Be prepared to offer multiple service or product options to meet their demands.
4. Be everywhere and be visual. It’s not enough to brand your trucks, your literature, etc. Share your brand and the wonderful things it does on social media, as well — in particular YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest. “We have become a visual society,” says Obarski. “If you can’t regularly update your social media presence, hire somebody to help you.”
5. Trust is everything. A female must be assured that not only will you do exactly what you say you will do in terms of service, but also she will never feel uneasy by the presence of your employees on her property. Consider how one of your family members (wife, mother or grandmother) might view your employees working on their property.