Staying busy in the offseason: Tips to market your business
If you ask Ken Almstead, one of the best ways for a tree care business to stay busy in the “offseason” is to ensure there isn’t an offseason.
The president and CEO of Almstead Tree, Shrub & Lawn Care in New Rochelle, New York, doesn’t plan on the cold winter months to slow down one bit. In fact, he leads his business to start planning as early as August for the coming winter with the goal of having enough of a backlog of work to ensure consistent revenue year-round.
“In addition to our regular work in the fall, we really try to get on all of our clients’ properties and build winter backlogs, then set aside work we can do during the winter, like applying anti-desiccants and conducting winter pruning,” said Almstead, whose family has been in the tree care business in the Connecticut, New Jersey and New York tri-state area since 1964. “We go through a campaign in which we talk to our clients about the things they should be doing during the winter and what we can handle for them.”
That campaign comprises a concerted marketing effort in which Almstead and a two-person marketing department distribute promotional materials and advertising that focuses on work best done during the winter. Starting around Thanksgiving, those promotions include:
- Print magazine/newspaper advertising
- Email “blasts” with special offers on winter work
- Web advertising
- Sales advertising via phone calls to existing clients
- Social media posts discussing the value of winter tree care
“This is just one component of our strategy,” Almstead said. “With social media, it’s about promoting your business. We also use Google AdWords to push business so that anyone Googling anything having to do with tree care will see us and learn about our winter discounts. We also write articles and blogs.”
Watching things such as the weather and marketing your business with timely promotions can help customers during times when they need it most. Almstead said his marketing team sent emails to existing customers before a recent major winter storm to let them know of services his company could provide in the storm’s aftermath.
Part of a larger strategy
This type of winter marketing strategy may sound like a lot of work, especially for smaller tree care companies. There are options for web and digital marketing that are lower-cost and can still connect your company with customers. In addition to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, websites like Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor offer free or low-cost online listings that can help keep your business top-of-mind with existing and potential new customers.
“It doesn’t take much time to build a presence on these sites or build a website these days. It all helps get your company’s name out there and show that you are available,” Almstead said. “Our customers around here are fairly savvy with this sort of thing, so it helps us to use tools like these to stay in our customers’ minds.”
Ultimately, it’s just as important to have the manpower and machinery ready to take care of the winter tree care and other jobs that this type of more aggressive offseason marketing campaign can yield. It’s important to keep your eye on your company’s bottom line when using resources for such an effort, Almstead said.
“It still all comes down to arborists, man hours and equipment. You have to run a certain amount of billable hours at a certain billable rate to meet your budgetary demands,” he said. “Focusing on marketing and having year-round annual contracts to keep your crews busy as part of your overall revenue stream is important.”
View more tree care business building tips on our blog.
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