A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of watching my friend and mentor Frank Mariani present at The Ohio State University Short Course in Columbus. Even though I’ve heard Frank several times and spent hours upon hours with him, that day I heard some things I had not heard before and some things were lessons he’s shared with me in the last 20+ years I’ve known him. So, I thought I’d share what I learned from him with you landscapers. These are my notes from Frank’s talk. (This is a Blog entry, so don’t judge my sentence structure; I’m doing an info-dump on you.) Why should you listen to him? The combined revenues of his endeavors are around $60,000,000; that’s why!
Frank says a lot of funny things; for starters, he said that landscapers must be chameleons. Meaning, that we must change and be open to change. I love that.
“Prospecting is incredibly important; you must go out and make calls; you have to go out and make the pipeline full. Years ago, this wasn’t the case. If you don’t prospect, you won’t make it. My brother John calls back old clients and asks if we can walk through the yard. I thought the only guy that could do things right was me; that’s wrong; you can’t grow working like that. Our networking is second to none. Our professional alliances are incredible. Interior designers are a gold mine for us. I joined a couple of groups; one is about 200 interior designers, architects, and the like. Although I ask for a sale, that’s not really my strength; I prefer to make a friend and eventually they say yes. You have to have a team behind you that will help you do things. We spend a lot of money networking. Personal relationships are the root of our success; in fact, I’m not worried about anyone getting our work, due to what we’re involved with. Our relationships are strong.” – Geez, if you don’t pick something up from all that, you’re never going to make it!
“I have a couple of cocktail parties a year. I have a chef come in, take food out of the garden, do flower arrangements out of the garden and these are well attended and sell us a ton of business.” – Why don’t I do that? What aren’t you doing that?
“I see a lot of people spending money on marketing; you need a budget and a plan and you need to follow it. I believe it’s important to know what your competition is doing. I take our designers out to show the best of the best in class, we go everywhere to see this stuff. I am a very competitive guy and I want to beat everyone. During troubled times, we tend to get desperate and do and try things that don’t work. Stick to your niche.” – My pal Joe Calloway says we need to do in the short term what we’ve been doing in the long term. That’s what Frank said here!
“I can’t believe we don’t send a personal thank you for each job we do.” – I can’t either, Frank; we landscapers are stupid sometimes.
“I love to entertain people.” – Enough said there.
“Ask, ask, ask. Once someone has called Mariani, they’ve already said that this is going to hurt a little bit. There’s a big difference between being expensive and too expensive. When they call you, they are saying, this isn’t going to be cheap, but it’s going to be valuable. You have to ask them for everything. Nobody minds that at all. We found we had to train our people on how to ask for the sale. The majority of the people we run into, they enjoy working with a LA. So, when you are done with the job, take over a Starbucks or a bottle of wine and ask them what they enjoyed and what they did not like about doing business with you. When you invite people, did you invite the right people? Watch the combinations; you should watch what you are doing so you don’t end up with issues.” – Like many of us landscapers, we ramble and you have to listen closely to learn. Frank and I ramble a lot; this is what he said; it’s a little hard to follow here, but man is that good stuff or what?
“Weekly sales meeting. Wednesday at 1, we meet and the purpose of that meeting is to talk about any new lead that might have come in. What did you do to open up a new opportunity? I want everyone to try to be the best they can be. You need to try and open up a relationship every single day. Sometimes you can be hitting the same person with different salespeople. Get your act together with the sales management.” – Amen!
“Design. Pretty pictures aren’t enough; you need to create an environment; what do you see, hear, smell, touch, etc.? You should also talk to all designers involved and find out what’s going on so they can do a better job outside. A questionnaire is great, but an interview is better. Make sure you completely understand what they want. Get more people involved in the process.” – Amen again!
“Do what’s right for the client. Our job is to do what’s right. Establish a budget and ask questions. You have to make sure they understand what they want.” – Frank is saying, when you do the right thing, the right things happen!
“Hire based on attitude, not technical skills. I look for passion and honesty. We grow by building opportunities. They will find out we aren’t making the money they think we are making.” – Frank is an open and honest guy; he shares everything with his people and it works well for him.
I hope my notes help you learn a couple new tricks and I hope you will join me at a future event where Frank Mariani will speak. He’s about due for another appearance. At GROW! 2013, we have two super landscapers speaking, Mike Rorie and Jim McCutcheon. YOU SHOULD NOT MISS THIS EVENT. MENTION THIS BLOG POST AND WE’LL GIVE YOU $50 OFF THE REGISTRATION FEE, WHICH IS $995 NOW SINCE YOU SNOOZED AND DIDN’T SIGN UP EARLY. BUT TRUST ME; IT’S WORTH ABOUT 20X THAT. THIS EVENT WILL SHOW YOU HOW TO MAKE MONEY AND GAIN CLARITY OF PURPOSE. WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT?