How to up-sell your Spring clean-up customersMay 14, 2013
By Charles H. Gamarekian
When you schedule your spring clean-ups and before you fire-up those leaf blowers, full service landscape contractors should consider various ways to up-sell those seasonal customers by planting the seeds for a backyard makeover - especially with those homeowners whose trust you have earned over the years. Bear in mind that the key to successfully increasing a sale is preparation. Following are a number of field-proven practices along with suggestions from a leading expert in contractor selling techniques:
Carry along enough copies of 2013 brochures from your favorite manufacturer of hardscape products, so you can leave one behind for each homeowner to share your ideas with other family members. Limit confusion by showing literature from one manufacturer with whom you have had prior experience; a name with optimum brand awareness in your market area; a company that, as a single resource, can offer all of the core products you will be recommending in your design. Explain how choosing from one source will help you come up with a cohesive design. This will make your presentation easier once you have caught the attention of the homeowner and give you added credibility. Consider a manufacturer who will protect your interest by not selling direct to the consumer and give you the added support you may require
Before you get there, think about the homeowners’ personalities and pastimes. For instance, if you know that the homeowner is a good cook, then begin your presentation by showing the latest and greatest in open-air kitchens. Add some sizzle to your sales pitch by pointing out the added enjoyment of an authentically engineered, outdoor pizza oven. Start with a selection of fire pits and outdoor fireplaces if the customer is very family-oriented. Introduce refreshment bars and patio tables made of hardscape materials to homeowners who frequently entertain outdoors. Accompany suggestions with photos of your own comparative projects.
“Do your homework by having facts on hand regarding which paver shapes and colors were the most popular last year and are likely to be requested again this season,” suggests Charles H. Gamarekian, Chairman/CEO of Cambridge Pavers Inc., manufacturers of Cambridge Pavingstones with ArmorTec, Cambridge Wallstones and a comprehensive line of products for outdoor living rooms. “Create a top ten list derived from your personal projects combined with data obtained from a supplier who you partner with on a regular basis.” Product managers such as those at Cambridge, as well as authorized Cambridge distributors, keep accurate records of these facts in order to maintain adequate inventory levels for on-demand product availability.
“Astute product knowledge is important. Be ready to inform your customer about why certain hardscape products such as Cambridge Pavingstones with ArmorTec, which promises that the color will not fade, offer the added value of an extended life span,” says Gamarekian. “Your knowledge will translate into consumer confidence.”
Make your discourse interesting. Share your awareness of current trends by expressing your industry knowledge. Time permitting, talk about trends like the latest movements toward classic Mediterranean design from Spanish to Italian styles, driven by renowned European landscape architects and designers. You may just enlighten your customer about this inspired style shift and reap a sale by telling how paver producers such as Cambridge have responded to the newly found popularity of larger scale pavement units.
“A good example is our new Cambridge Ledgestone XL 3-Piece Design Kit with pronounced and realistic clefts as found in natural bluestone,” explains Gamarekian. “The convenience of their modular configurations allows the three 2 3/8″ thick, larger scale pavers to be used in the creation of dramatic patterns.” The sizes are 7″ x 15″, 15″ x 15″ and 15″ x 23″. Ledgestone XL is recommended for non-vehicular applications.
In situations where budgets are of concern, give details on how advantages of choosing hardscape products that come as pre-packaged kits make patio enhancements more affordable. Cambridge offers fire pits, fireplaces, outdoor kitchens and pizza ovens, refreshment bars, patio tables, pond-less waterfalls and decorative columns, all in kit forms, ready to install without any cutting requirements. The kits are color- and texture-compatible with Cambridge pavers and wall systems. You can also propose doing a complete backyard makeover in phases that coincide with predetermined budgetary windows. This can allow homeowners to enjoy aspects of the anticipated, total outdoor living experience as the project progresses and control budget allocations. The benefit to you, the contractor, is getting the contract with minimal deliberation on the part of the homeowner.
Remember, although precise planning and proper installation are imperative, nothing matters if you don’t consummate the sale.