August 15, 2009
Jeffrey Scott is a green business consultant who grew up in the pool and landscape industry. Through his involvement in his family business, the company grew through referrals, and achieved client retention of 98 per cent in one division. Scott gave a presentation at the Milton home office to 30 LO landscape and maintenance contractors, who at the end of a long day on July 16, came to learn how to grow their business in any economy.

Tony DiGiovanni opened the evening’s presentation by saying LO staff knows our members already have the technical knowledge they need to do their jobs. Members are asking for help with business proficiency. By bringing in speakers, such as Jeffrey Scott, LO is providing the tools that members need to grow their business.

Scott focused on several techniques for business marketing and growth, and asked his audience to first determine what attracted customers to do business with them. “Understanding what people value about your company will help drive excellence, and give you an idea of how to market your services,” said Scott.

Another hint he gave was to focus on deepening relationships with your top 25 customers, calling it, “your golden list. Your best customers are the most likely source to pass along referrals, so they are worth the effort it takes to cultivate a better relationship.”
Niche marketing was touched on, with Scott advising everyone to take the time to step away from what they are doing and discover the uniquely desirable traits about their company. “Then, develop a branding strategy to let people know what your business promises,” he said.

Scott noted that branding is a promise, and should be unique. It is the customer’s experience with you, your ads, how you answer the phone, how you make your proposal, how you follow up with them after you collect the cheque. And finally, branding is your reputation – by the time your reputation is out there, there’s not much you can do.

Scott counseled those present to avoid the mistake with the brand promises, of not identifying them, not writing them down, not teaching them to staff, not expecting show time (getting staff to recognize they have to play a part in the customer experience) and not teaching roles (service, sales). “We focus on teaching employees how to prune, cut grass and other horticulturally-correct work techniques, but we don’t teach employees their role in the customer service experience. We don’t teach our employees how to sell. The frontline staff does not have to make the sale, but they should be planting the seed.”

The audience warmed up as the session went on, with lots of ideas shared and facilitated by Scott. Everyone came to the meeting with an open mind, and looked to solve problems and share solutions. As one attendee put it, “Even though you may know most of this stuff, it’s good to get a refresher and re-energize yourself after the spring rush.”

Jeffrey Scott is speaking at LO’s Congress in January 2010.