This year we experienced the wettest 12-month period in the US, ever. Much of the country was plagued with excessive rainfall and flooding, and some areas such as the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic saw 20+ inches more than normal. The 2019 season has been a rough one.
Landscape contractors from Chicago to Boston to Atlanta and beyond have felt the effects. The “typical season” in many areas of the country didn’t start until June or later, and now we’re playing catch-up. In our industry, weather is one thing that we’ll never be able to control. We’ll have wet seasons and dry seasons; this is our reality. But, how do you weather proof a business that is directly impacted by weather? The key for continued success is to diversify your service offerings. Be nimble to the needs and wants of your customers, and give them the services that they are looking for before someone else does.
Below are the three business segments that saw a tremendous increase in sales [and demand], during this very wet season. Each of these segments has a low cost to enter, and savvy contractors have already leveraged them to make sure their businesses were successful during an abnormally wet season, and you can too.
Mosquito & Tick Control:
Mosquito and tick populations have exploded throughout the US. With the excess rainfall this year, 2019 has been a particularly brutal year for mosquitos and ticks. Nearly every area of the country has seen higher than average rates of these mosquitos. Outdoor pest control companies like Mosquito Joe are seeing significant growth. For example, Mosquito Joe is one of the fastest growing franchises in the US and is listed in the top 50 by Entrepreneur. Outdoor pest control is big business and with its low-entry cost and multi-application schedule, it’s a smart solution to grow your business during any type of season, wet or dry.
Companies like Mosquito Joe and TruGreen offer a low first-time application and raise the price for future applications. Other companies offer small discounts like 10% off if the customer purchases a multi-application program. Either of these strategies could be used when selling this new service to your customers.
So, how much can you actual earn? Contractors typically charge $150 – $200 per monthly outdoor insect treatment, depending on the size of the property. Application generally takes only about 30 minutes. If you are already visiting the property regularly, treatment can be done during a regular service visit so there will not be additional travel costs. You can apply control product using a standard sprayer or fogger, and the equipment will pay for itself in as little one or two applications. Even better, control products cost as little as $4.25 per half acre.
This means you will net $100-150+ per application after you take into account labor and product costs. If you apply every 3-4 weeks during peak summer season, May – September, you could be applying seven or more times per season. This could add more than $1,050+ per customer per season. If even a small percentage of your customer base adds this monthly service, it can mean big added profits to your business.
Want to start offering this service? Central is here to help. If you have questions or need other recommendations, contact your local Central rep. We can support your new service-line with marketing materials and the newest in innovative products from sustainable and organic products to long-term residual control.
Outdoor Lighting & Audio:
As we mentioned in the past, lighting is one of the fastest evolving categories in our industry. In the past decade alone, sales of professionally installed landscape lighting have grown more than 300%. Homeowner demand and the trend of outdoor living has helped to drive this growth. In the past, it was just upper-income neighborhoods where lighted homes outnumber the unlit ones. However, today there are solutions available for any budget, opening up the opportunity to sell outdoor lighting and audio to all of your customers. Even better, beyond lamps, fixtures, and transformers, there is an opportunity to upsell or upgrade over time. The smart homes trend has changed the consumer mindset, Wi-Fi controllers are no longer a luxury, they are a must-have. Couple this with ongoing service plans and you will have residual sales income from lighting customer for years to come.
Beyond lighting, outdoor audio has picked up a lot of steam. Millennials are now only the largest segment of new homeowners at 70% of first-time homebuyers. They also account for nearly half of all audio hardware spending. Millennials have a love affair with music and have embraced on-demand streaming services. They are early adopters of Bluetooth devices and are comfortable streaming music from device to device. It’s no wonder that smart speakers’ sales have increased more than 82% in the last two years. Millennials expect their outdoor living and green spaces to have audio as a feature.
When it comes to outdoor living, both lighting and audio, there is tremendous opportunity for growth. If you haven’t added considered adding these services, now is the time to do so. Contractors may see profit margins up to 40 or 50%! This is why so many landscape businesses have added these services. Entry costs into outdoor lighting and audio are relatively low. For example, a standard outdoor audio system from TruAudio may cost roughly $999 and take about 4 hours to install. You can charge that customer around $2,500 for the installation and product, giving you a healthy per sale profit.
If you haven’t done so already, you’re behind the curve and could be leaving money on the table for your competitors. Landscape lighting and audio continues to grow at one of the fastest rates in the industry and this service could help you supplement sales during wet and slow seasons.
If your concerned about how to install or design jobs, Central can help! Whether you need to learn the basics for installation lighting, need help with a design layout, or simply need marketing materials to launch your new outdoor lighting and audio service, we’re ready to help you grow!
When it rains, sell drainage. Lack of proper drainage is an issue for most homes and properties but the customer may not see that issue until the extreme happens such as a flooded basement or standing water on their lawn. In a heavy rain year like this one, issues pop up all over the place and drainage becomes a necessity. This is an excellent opportunity for you to capture additional profits by leveraging drainage as another line of sales for your business.
Drainage is a natural transition for landscape contractors because you already have the necessary tools and equipment for installations. The key to selling drainage is to stress the consequences of poor drainage. Proper drainage will help keep a well-maintained landscape looking beautiful and will prevent a whole host of issues such as flooded basements, crumbling walls, or rotting wood. Many times, drainage is only purchased when a customer needs it but it can be a simple add-on for existing jobs.
Adding drainage to your scope of work on current landscape or irrigation jobs is one of the easiest ways to add incremental sales to a project while providing additional value to your customers. Depending on the type of drainage installed (catch basins, French drains, channel and trench, dry-well systems, etc.) you can expect to see a profit margin between 30% – 60%. Simple drainage installed on a customer’s property like catch basins at the bottom of a downspout can prevent future headaches for your customer, and at the same time increase profits for your business.
If you are interested in adding drainage to your business but do not know where to start, let us know. We can help with training from drainage fundamentals to drainage system design. Course instruction is also available in Spanish.
Looking Ahead to the Fall
With summer winding down, it’s time to look ahead to the fall and the money-making opportunities available. Much like during this wet season, there will be opportunities with outdoor lighting/audio and mosquito/tick control because customers tend to spend more time in their outdoor spaces before the weather cools off too much. This means it’s not too late to late to add these services to your business. If you already offer these services, now is the time to focus on promoting these offerings.
Fall also means it’s time for turf renovation and overseeding. Check out our Seed Report to learn everything you need to know for this year’s overseeding season from what blends will give you long-lasting success, opportunities for sustainable turf, and recommendations on what seed to use for various conditions.
Sustainability and organics have been a huge trend this year and will continue to be this fall and the coming years. Make sure you are giving your customers options when it comes to chemicals. Offer multiple solutions from traditional to lower impact to 100% organic will make sure you have a solution that is right for your customer. Whether its fertilizers, herbicides (alternatives to glyphosate), or mosquito/tick control, Central can help. We offer multiple solutions across a variety of products.
Finally, Central is the right partner for your business. If you need help with your marketing or business initiatives, reach out. Whether it’s marketing consultation, business strategy recommendations, or design support, we’re ready to help you grow.