Cream of the Crop features a rotating panel from the Harvest Group, a landscape business consulting company.

This time of year, most landscape contractors are busy setting goals and establishing budgets. Almost every owner I talk with is in growth mode and is looking for ways to increase revenue (and ideally, profits). What’s one simple way to increase revenue and profits without having to spend thousands of dollars in marketing and advertising? Sell more services to your existing clients

When I managed marketing and sales for a couple of different landscape companies, I often fixated on finding new clients to meet our aggressive sales goals. In the process, I forgot about our loyal existing clients who already knew us, appreciated our quality and, most importantly, seldom questioned our prices. New clients always seem more exciting to work with than existing clients. However, your close rate with your existing clients should be close to 90%, while close rates on new projects seldom exceed 40%. Selling to your existing clients should be a no-brainer. The following are seven ways to increase revenue by selling to your existing clients:

1. Sell more of what they already have. Many clients cannot afford to pay for their entire project at one time. Often, the project is broken down into phases to accommodate a budget and to get the installation off the ground. This presents a perfect time to stay in touch with your clients as they prepare for phase two or three of their project. The best thing is that the design is already done. You just need to update the budget.

2. Be proactive when suggesting enhancements. Account managers are missing a great opportunity to increase their sales if they are not proactively walking the property with their clients or the property managers. Setting up a minimum of two to three formal walks a year is great service. Bring suggestions for landscape improvements and proposals ready to be signed. Many account mangers are hesitant to do that because they feel they are nickel and diming their clients. Keep in mind you are the experts, and your clients want your expertise.

3. Sell the same services at different locations. If you are performing maintenance for a client at their home, ask if they would like you to quote the maintenance at their office. Likewise, if you have completed an installation project at their home, ask if you can look at their office to offer landscape improvement suggestions to help bring in more clients, tenants, etc. Be aware though that the decision-making on a client’s commercial property may be done by others.

4. Add maintenance for design/build clients. This is a perfect way to stay in touch with your client. As the landscape grows and matures, opportunities for landscape enhancements exist. In my experience, many design/build contractors are reluctant to add maintenance services. Typically, because they do not have a passion for maintenance or are not comfortable with that scope of work. If that’s the case in your business, it’s wise to hire someone with maintenance expertise and passion. The worst thing you can do is to lose a great design/build client because you stumbled your way through maintaining their garden.

There’s plenty of ways to increase your revenue, but looking within your existing customer base can be a great start.

5. Add complementary design/build services. For design/build contractors, consider adding new services like lighting or sound systems which are real client-pleasers. You can either try to self-perform those services, or pair up with a good subcontractor in your area.

6. Add complementary maintenance services. Many of the maintenance contractors that I work with are adding mosquito control to their list of service offerings. It’s high margin work that ties in nicely with your weed and insect control programs.

You could also add holiday lighting. This is a nice addition as it typically comes at a time of the year when your maintenance services have slowed considerably, and you have excess capacity to get the lighting installed.

7. Expand your color program. Many contractors perform one, maybe two, color rotations each year for their clients. Consider adding a third rotation which includes winter color displays with evergreen boughs, red dogwood and holly branches.

Other ways to expand your color program are to offer specialty color displays for holidays or color displays cheering on your favorite sports team. Adding unique containers to your client’s front entry or patio can be a great way to add revenue.

As you can see, there are many ways to increase your sales and profits by selling to your existing clients. It is far easier to do that than to always be on the hunt for new clients.