Marketing & Growth

How to Beat the Drought and Boost Your Landscaping Cash Flow

By Rieva Lesonsky

Drought may sound like the worst possible thing that could happen to your landscaping cash flow. However, drought, which is a reality in many parts of the United States, actually offers lots of new opportunities for a landscaping business—if you know how to take advantage of them.

In Southern California, where I live, we’ve had a severe drought for the past several years, resulting in heavy restrictions on watering lawns. In fact, many communities are offering residents incentives to remove water-guzzling lawns and replace them with drought-tolerant plants and other alternatives. Since the drought started, I’ve seen huge changes in my neighborhood—changes that are making smart landscapers a lot of green.

7 Ways to Boost Your Landscaping Cash Flow

drought landscaping

  1. Check out xeriscaping

Begin by becoming familiar with xeriscaping—landscaping that requires little or no water to sustain itself. If you’ve never done xeriscaping before, think about doing some projects at a reduced rate until you build a portfolio you can use to market your services to help customers transform their lawns into drought-tolerant landscapes. It’s a great way to start improving your landscaping cash flow.

  1. Look into community rebates

Find out which communities in your area are offering incentives or rebates for putting in drought-tolerant landscapes and target prospects in those areas first. You’ll likely need to educate these consumers about the fact these rebates exist. Most communities have strict rules about what type of landscaping qualifies for this money. Emphasize how your knowledge and expertise will ensure clients’ projects meet the requirements so they get the maximum refund due to them.

  1. Think beyond plants

Sure, drought-tolerant plants such as natives and succulents are a big part of xeriscaping, but other elements of landscaping come into play, too. Understand and be able to explain the pros and cons of various options, including bark, gravel, and granite, not just in terms of saving water but also in terms of their effect on the environment as a whole. For example, turning a yard into a cement-scape may sound like a good idea, but because cement increases water runoff and heats up the atmosphere, it has a negative effect overall. You can also offer help with accessories, such as rain barrels and downspouts to capture the elusive rainwater.

  1. Consider watering systems

For prospects who aren’t ready to entirely redo their exteriors, you can still grow your landscaping cash flow by pitching them on installing a new watering system, such as drip irrigation, which saves water and saves them money by replacing sprinklers. Or offer simpler add-ons, such as sprinkler check-ups (ensuring sprinklers are watering lawns and not sidewalks) or installing a timer to prevent overwatering.

  1. Offer fire safety consulting

In many drought-riddled communities, the risk of fire is a real hazard. If yours is among them, offer fire safety consulting to supplement your traditional landscaping cash flow. You can inspect homes for unsafe conditions, such as dry brush or tree branches too close to the house, and suggest improvements such as clearing brush or planting succulents. Because these desert plants soak up and store water, they’re natural fire retardants.

  1. Highlight long-term savings

To sell your services, you may need to overcome some sticker shock. The cost of transforming an entire landscape can be high, even with rebates or other financial incentives. To sell customers on the idea, emphasize the long-term savings they’ll realize. You can also develop incremental options, such as redoing only the front yard (to present a good face to the community). Alternatively, create varying levels of service at different price points, such as a basic package that you market to lower-income neighborhoods and a “platinum package” for high-end customers.

  1. Target commercial customers too

Consider targeting commercial customers if you don’t already. Condominium complexes, retirement homes, apartment complexes, hospitals, shopping malls, and office parks—all these potential customers will be looking for ways to cut their costs by implementing drought-resistant solutions—a great way to grow your landscaping cash flow.

  1. Encourage happy customers to spread the word

Word of mouth is the best way to get new customers for your drought-resistant landscaping services. Give satisfied customers business cards to hand out to their friends and neighbors, ask them to review you online, and see if you can put a sign advertising your services in their yard during and after the project is complete (you can even offer a small discount for doing this). Get active on social media—look for local groups discussing landscaping, water savings, or even general neighborhood improvements.

While dry climes may not offer the regular business of weekly lawn maintenance you’re used to, they can ultimately provide a more varied and sustainable income.

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