February 16, 2015 at 8:49 am

Mother Nature sure likes to throw us curve balls. Personally, I don’t like to deal with snow and ice, but I like it when our customers do. We know it’s important when well over half of our customer base is heavily involved in the snow removal business. While the winter season isn’t over, it is fair to say it has been a very slow season for the salt and ice melt business. It becomes important to us when a 10-15% portion of a customer’s overall business is down by 50% or more, which is the case for most of the Midwest landscape industry.

Is there an upside to this seasonal slam? I feel there can be. Last year, our landscape customers were not prepared for spring. They were worn out; their employees were worn out, and their equipment was not ready for spring.

Right now, there are opportunities to make up a great deal of the shortfall from the winter season revenue. The following are opportunities to potentially capitalize on.

Put on your selling Hats! Get out and follow up on any leads you have; be proactive. You should have the time to follow up on leads promptly. Promptness leads to more acceptance. This is a good time to personally follow up on cancels or on quotes, which were not accepted last year. This could be you or any resourceful employee you have. Selling 10% more work this spring cures a lot of shortfalls later in the season.

Establish a budget, which shows what you have to sell and produce to offset your shortfall. Brainstorm with your  ATS rep on ideas and opportunities they might suggest that would fit your business model.

Make sure your employees and equipment are ready to go. Hit your targeted dates to go out the door. If the opportunity presents itself, go out earlier. Spend extra time with your employees so they understand what is expected and why it is important. Set goals for them and rewards, if they obtain them.

Plan your needs now. Those who are using fertilizer, chemicals or seed should contact your ATS rep and work through your needs and timing. From March 1st through March 20th, we are completely slammed. In fairness to all customers, we have to take care of the customers who have planned ahead and already ordered when that time arrives. If you are willing to bring product in earlier than usual, we will work with you on terms so you aren’t paying for it sooner.

Above all, make sure you and your employees maintain an upbeat attitude. It’s contagious. It needs to come from the top of your organization. The impact on your employees and customers can be dramatic.

Last, but most importantly, if you are reading this as a customer or employee of ATS, thank you for your support, business, and friendship.