One of your biggest challenges as a landscaping business owner is to bring in more clients and win more jobs. After all, your success depends on it.
We sat down with the Dirt Monkey himself, Stanley Genadek of Genadek Landscaping and Excavating to talk about some of the best strategies for growing a profitable landscaping business.
Follow along in this resource to learn what Stanley had to say about client budgets, choosing residential or commercial jobs, and building relationships.
How to bid a landscaping job
About our contributor
Stanley “The Dirt Monkey” Genadek has leveraged his network over the last 30 years to build a $1.5 million landscaping company. As an industry expert, he has built a huge following on YouTube and Instagram. He’s one of the legendary co-founders of Dirt Monkey University, which offers online webinars, one-on-one coaching and a mastermind group.
Determine the client’s budget
Providing accurate estimates is something that benefits both you and the client. After all, neither of you want to end up paying for extra costs.
Getting a budget from a potential client over the phone can be beneficial according to Stanley:
I’ve spent hours on the road to go out and look at a $5,000 job, and the customer walked away and said, ‘Oh, I thought that was going to cost me 500.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m not doing this again.’
“I have to figure out a way that I can pull the budget from them because I need to be realistic before I head out on the road,” he explains.
While it can be hard to accurately quote a job over the phone, you can try to get a loose budget from the client, even if they’re unsure about their own budget.
He has a strategy for that:
You could say, ‘Well, I can build you a job that’ll cost anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000. What I need to know from you is what you’re comfortable with so that I can build something to match your comfort.’
What you’re trying to do is get them comfortable so that you can provide estimates that fall within their comfort zone.
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While you may not want to provide hard quotes over the phone in the beginning, you can start to get more specific as you specialize.
Stan took this approach: “I can diagnose any retaining wall, any size, over the phone so I stay inside my niche that I am literally super good at, and then that gives me the ability to give numbers before I ever get out to a site.”
Once you know a client’s budget, you can figure out if they’re a good fit for you. Plus, you win them over by showing them that you can work within their price range.
Focus on commercial or residential landscaping clients
One of the first decisions you need to make is whether to focus on commercial or residential clients.
Although both have their pros and cons, Stanley personally prefers residential clients.
He says, “doing commercial work is a really fast way to go broke. The profit margins aren’t there.”
In his experience, “in the commercial world, our profit margins were 10-15%. On a residential job, our profit margins were 35-40%.”
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It can also be harder to budget and plan with commercial work. He explains:
With commercial work, you never get paid right away. Let’s say it’s a three or five-day job. You turn your invoice in on June 5th.
It doesn’t get processed until June 30th. Once it’s in the system, they have anywhere from 60 to 90 days to pay you after that.
So now you’re two to three months out on this job that you bought all the materials for, and you have to pay all your guys because you’re not going to pay them 60 to 90 days later.
Your client focus is your choice, of course.
Aside from cashflow, another big difference between clientele is your ability to build relationships.
Residential clients can require more effort in forming a connection, while commercial clients may be more focused on simply getting the best quote.
Form connections with clients
In Stanley’s experience, residential client relationships can benefit a lot from forming a strong connection.
When you work on residential work, you’ve got to become their job partner.
You’re not an estimator. You don’t just go out and hand them a quote and walk away. You become their partner on their project.
You have to make them feel like you’ve got their back. They want a feeling that they’re in good hands.
You’ve got to become the person that cares the most about their project. Price becomes secondary.
Don’t underestimate the benefits of a relationship with your client.
Stanley admits that he has lost landscaping bids by not putting in enough effort from the start:
I’ve lost jobs because I gave the low bid and didn’t effectively communicate or connect with the customer.
I gave them a bid because they were one of five, or six, or seven that I had to do that day.
I couldn’t really allocate the amount of time necessary to really make that interpersonal connection with them, and I turned it in.
Building and maintaining a good relationship with a client should start before you even take on a job.
When you go to take a look at the property, try to talk to the client about something other than the project.
Stanley suggests, “make a connection with them. Talk about their dog. Talk about their family. I walked out of one meeting, and they said, ‘Oh, say goodbye to Uncle Stan,’ to their kids. I nailed that one, right?”
Keep that rapport going throughout the job. A client shouldn’t feel like you’re only taking an interest at the beginning.
Stanley involves his employees in this process.
One of the things I actually tell my guys to do is to stop for about 20 minutes a day and just talk to the customer.
The client wants to feel confident you know what you’re doing and that you’re there for them. Relationships build confidence. Relationships also help you upsell other services down the line, too.
Provide resources or tips. Take a few minutes to chat. A little bit of effort can end up going a long way.
The happier your clients are, the more likely they are to refer you to friends and family members.
How can you run a more efficient and profitable landscaping business?
Find out Jobber can help you manage clients, quotes and estimates, and payments better.Learn more