The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we work for the foreseeable future, and the lawn and landscape industry is no exception. Lawn and landscape companies have had to shift gears, moving to a more remote and communicative way of operating. As circumstances related to the pandemic continue to evolve, lawn care businesses are in their busy season, proving that the service industry continues to be a critical part of keeping homes, facilities, and the nation safe and operational. Here are four ways that lawn and landscape business owners and their teams can adapt to the changing business climate and keep business moving for the future.
1. Offer Virtual Consultations
Many homeowners are working from home, which has prompted them to focus more on the aesthetics of their homes. They also have more time on their hands to dedicate to their outdoor spaces, to make these more enjoyable for family and friends. Whether your customers are moving into a new home or are in need of a makeover, make sure they know your team is readily available.
Luckily, technology is in the palm of nearly every homeowner’s hand (or, facility manager’s hand in the case of commercial customers). And, as people continue to practice social distancing, conducting virtual consultations is the next best thing to a face-to-face meeting. Scheduling time to video chat with a customer via Zoom can be very effective to understand their needs. Using other tools, such as Google Earth, in conjunction with cloud-based field service software, allows you to create a blueprint for your client where you can set up additional consultations to talk through the specifics, such as pricing estimates and layouts.
Fortunately, almost all of the tasks a landscaping professional will carry out happen outside of the home or building. However, depending on your area and restrictions your state has in place, you may not be able to get to the job right away. Consider rewarding your customers for supporting your business during these times by offering discounts for booking services now.
2. Think “Community First,” Keep Lines Of Communication Open
Considering the unpredictability of so many aspects of the world today, be sure to have every line of communication possible open. Customers still want to interact with their service companies remotely and with the right communication, you can. Government restrictions are often changing, and your customers may not know if your business is deemed essential or if you are operating at full capacity. Use these tips to keep your customers updated with your business.
- Communicate early and often with your customers in a fully digital way. This keeps clients and employees safe while continuing to promote why your services are crucial during this time.
- Use social media channels and customer portals to update the status of your business, any digital procedures you have put into place (such as virtual consultations), and be open about how your business is handling the pandemic.
- Assure customers that your office staff is fully equipped with technology tools that help them do their job remotely. Remind customers that annual lawn care is essential to maintain the health of their landscaping, that your crews are all following CDC guidelines, and that safety protocols—like wearing masks and keeping safe distances from each other and clients—are in effect.
- Get creative. Keep customers engaged with weekly landscaping tips, promotions, or social media contests.
3. Utilize Technology Available
You are experts at maintaining and improving your clients’ outdoor living and working spaces, but you may be facing challenges when it comes to internal challenges like improving efficiency and productivity, especially in a more remote environment. One question that business owners tend to ask themselves is whether or not using technology will help them compete in the current marketplace. What you do today for your business will determine how you come out on the other side.
Businesses are being forced to operate differently than ever before. Implementing technology and tools to assist with evolving processes can help save time and improve the customer experience. Technology is key to adapting, operating efficiently, and capitalizing on pent up demand when life returns to normal. For example, giving clients options of how to pay can be a significant boost to your cash flow. Integrated payment solutions, online account management, and automated billing helps save you time and money.
4. Prioritize Digital Marketing
In order to ensure continued success with technology, put some focus to how you should go about marketing your business online. Whether that’s through social media or content marketing, prioritized digital marketing is even more important now. More businesses are in a position where they have the chance to adapt and get creative with their digital operations in order to prepare for the demand that will eventually arise in the future. Use this as an opportunity to do the following:
- Improve your website.
- Generate online reviews.
- Reevaluate your social media strategy.
Whatever your business size and profile, make an effort to keep customers informed on your operations and services. Technology, digital transformation, and innovation will determine which businesses will not only survive the crisis, but thrive when it passes. Lawn and landscape companies have weathered many storms before, and by implementing these strategies you can be sure to come out on top.
Agajanian is senior director of product management at WorkWave, overseeing the company’s field service products and product management team. WorkWave offers field service and last mile software solutions to allow companies to increase revenue and profit, and become best-in class operators. Its scalable, cloud-based software solutions support the business life cycle, including marketing, sales, service delivery, customer interaction and financial transactions. WorkWave is a division of global enterprise applications provider IFS.
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