CEO Gary Horton’s latest article for Green Industry Magazine:
“Would you like fries with that?” Perhaps the most famous add-on pitch, ever. It’s easy, quick and most folks will go for those fries, especially with that savory salty scent surrounding the burger spot of your choice.
Add-on sales pitches exist for a very logical reason. They are the easiest way for retail sales venues to add high margin revenue dollars to their sales. How easy? The customer is already there, cash in hand. The customer already likes your products. The required effort to “add on” one more item, especially a smaller value item, is minimal. And the process is almost automatic as the customer is already in a buying mood, not “just looking.”
Maintenance contractors have long known that enhancements are where the money is. You’ve got the base maintenance contract. You already have the customer. They already apparently trust you, and you get to advise a captured client on additional goods or services they need or will benefit them. Generally, there’s no competitive bidding on enhancements because you’re the sole landscape service provider on the project — allowing you extra elbow room on your pricing.
This brings us to outdoor lighting. Few additions to landscapes upgrade the appearance and increase client satisfaction like quality landscape lighting. A gorgeous landscape that had previously been featureless and masked by darkness at night suddenly comes to vibrant life with the addition of well-designed, quality lighting.
You know your client, be it for an initial landscape sale or for maintenance of an existing site. Adding lighting is natural to your client conversations and the upsell is particularly easy because the payoff is so obvious and beneficial. Increased security? Yes! Nighttime beauty? Absolutely. Safety for visitors in your yard? No one wants a trip-and-fall case to litigate. Outdoor lighting can be designed to cover an extremely wide range of client price points and preferences, allowing you to overcome any pricing objections that may arise.
There are dozens of reasons your clients should have outdoor lighting. You just need to explain and demonstrate the benefits. This is an ideal use for a notebook computer or tablet. Show customers before and after photos and demonstrate how lighting nowadays can be easily custom-controlled, timed, automated, and animated. Lighting almost sells itself when properly demonstrated.
And more great news: Thanks to the advent of dependable LED outdoor bulbs, lighting costs less to install — fewer transformers, wires, etc., and it costs much less to run than ever before. Bulbs almost last forever so the hassle of clients complaining of burnt-out bulbs is almost nonexistent.
What about improving your business results? You already have all the tools to add lighting to your services. Your incremental cost of pushing lighting sales is almost zero. You maybe need a notebook and a few cut sheets explaining the benefits. Lighting is generally a modest addition to existing jobs or sales, so tucking in enhanced margins is unlikely to upset any deal or relationship. Lighting upsells get bolted onto your jobs, which already have overhead costs covered. Nearly all your lighting sales margin drops right to the bottom line. Finally, lighting installs fast, so the dollars flow back to you quickly.
There are lots of ways to grow your business. Getting brand-new customers every time is the toughest road to success. Instead, adding additional high-margin, valuable services like lighting installation and modernization to existing clients raises revenue and profits quickly and easily.
Next time you meet with a client, remember the extended warranty at the car finance desk or the $49.99 phone case at the Apple store. These folks know what they’re doing, and you should follow their example.
Add-ons like lighting are the easiest way to improve your bottom line without all the hassle of full-on business investment and expansion.
Gary Horton, MBA, is CEO of Landscape Development Inc., a green industry leader for over 35 years with offices throughout California and Nevada.