Animals, project management and even more new products

Customer referrals are vital to grow your business, but you need new customers too. That’s where an effective marketing plan comes into play. Lara Moffat, owner of LM Creative Consulting, gave insight into how to develop a marketing plan during the final day of GIE+EXPO.

One quick tip you need to keep in mind when developing your next advertisement is the type of picture you use. Moffat says that the photos that get the most likes on Facebook are pictures featuring animals. That same type of attention can be given to your ads if you can work animals into the equation somehow.

“People are emotionally attached to their landscapes and their animals,” Moffat said.
Read on for more marketing tips and highlights from the rest of the show.
All about marketing. One of the easiest ways to get the word out about your company is one of the least expensive. Taking an active role in public relations can inform your area about the accomplishments of your business. Moffat recoemmended:

• Writing an article for a local magazine or newspaper.
• Getting involved in charity events
• Speaking engagements
• Enter work in award contests.

Moffat said you also have to make a timeline for your marketing plan. If you have a day you want your marketing plan to be ready, pick a date and write it down – and stick to it. When it comes to social media, make sure you schedule your posts Tues, Weds and Thurs before 11 a.m. because that is when most people will see them.
“If you don’t put it on a calendar, it won’t get done,” she said.

Champion advice. Project management is not only essential to organize and streamline your business operations, but also to facilitate communication among team members during both large and small projects. From cost estimates to scope definition, logistical nightmares to communication breakdown, the Project Management discussion during PLANET’s Breakfast With Champions offered best practice tips, lessons learned and common issues that arise on landscape contractors’ projects.

With four landscaping companies represented from regions varying from New York City to Anchorage, Alaska, James Matty moderated a conversation that enlightened all participants in one way or another. “I advocated for this topic this year because project management is key,” Matty said.

One of the most important parts of project management is communication, Matty said. When constant communication doesn’t occur between project managers, designers, foremen and crew, the opportunity for failure is rampant. It is up to the project manager to facilitate policies that ensure employees are talking continuously throughout the project. All participants at the table agreed, citing particular circumstances where the point had been proven in their own companies.

The table shared stories about logistical issues such as flexibility in plant choices to meet budget and schedule while sticking closely to the specifications, procuring permits for cranes in a major metropolitan city for rooftop garden installations, or having the proper equipment on hand for a project. Utilizing project management skills – even if your company doesn’t have a formal project manager title – is a proven method to analyzing project needs and making sure all elements of a project run smoothly from start to finish.

New products. Ariens introduced three new products, including the Razor 21-inch walk-behind mower.

The new Razor features Rite-Hite handle bar height adjustment that allows operators to adjust the height of the handle bar quickly and easily while standing in the operating position. The handle bars can also be folded down or into an upright position for easier, more compact storage.

The mower features a 14-guage stamped steel, deep-dome deck for superior air flow. More deck volume also improves mulching and bagging performance, while the forward position of the side-discharge chute improves discharge dispersion.

Ariens also launched the Compact Track 24 Sno-Thro, featuring a 208cc Ariens Polar Force engine by Briggs Stratton, and the Hydro Pro Sno, with Ariens’ first hydrostatic transmission in a snow thrower.

Ditch Witch has introduced two new compact tool carriers to the SK line. Replacing the SK650, the Ditch Witch SK750 and SK755 offers upgrades including design improvements, productivity enhancement and operator comfort.

Two Kubota diesel engines are available, with either 25 hp or 32.8 hp, both of which accept more than 70 attachments. Other features include 800 pounds of lift capacity, 81-inch lift height, 30 percent more ground clearance and a high-drive track system featuring bolt-on sprockets, wide track rollers and replaceable spindles.

The SK series has an improved ergonomic operator’s station with an optional single-level joystick and a two-way auxiliary control foot pedal for the attachment. In addition, the operator platform has been enlarged by a full 50 percent.

The new Z900 series of zero-turn mowers from John Deere gives contractors three choices: The B series, which has essential features at a cost-conscious price point; the M Series for large fleet owners in need of efficiency; and the feature-rich R Series for those who want it all.

The B Series offers a large fuel tank, professional-grade seats, and excellent weight distribution. The M Series has fuel-injected engines with EFI and Flex-Fuel options, and is built for efficiency, Mulch On Demand decks, dump-from-seat MCS capability, and diagnostic capability. The R Series offers comfort and convenience tools, a hydraulic cross-porting system, and a Break-N-Go foot pedal start.

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