Ep. 006 – The Secret to Thriving in a Recession with Jack Jostes

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On this episode of Roots of Success, our host Tommy Cole sits down with Jack Jostes, CEO of Ramblin Jackson, a marketing agency for the landscape industry. Jack shares insights about the current state of the industry, and advocates different strategies you can implement to prepare your business for economic downturns. Jack stresses the need for constant communication and contact with clients. Asking for feedback, and addressing specific needs are essential. Tommy and Jack also discuss the importance of getting reviews for all businesses, having a strong online presence, and using social media platforms to generate leads. Jack suggests proactively reaching out to clients, expressing gratitude, and providing incentives to fill open spots. He also shares long-term marketing strategies such as SEO, outbound marketing, Google Ads, and utilizing LinkedIn. Overall, this episode aims to help landscape professionals improve their business strategies, with a particular focus on navigating challenging economic times.


Proactive Marketing is the key to thriving in a recession

Key Moments:

[03:11] Overview of current industry conditions; what you can start doing now to prepare.

[09:39] Hot to handle clients making slower decisions.

[13:05] Using enhancements and upsells with existing clients.

[16:36] How to collect high-quality reviews and be proactive in providing value to customers.

[19:15] Using Gifts and promos to increase conversions.

[22:39] Proactively filling the pipeline is key in an economic downturn.

[26:05] Collecting email addresses for effective marketing.

[29:06] Constant communication with clients is essential for success.

[34:54] Defining your ideal customer for effective marketing.

[39:14] How to attract customers and market offers strategically.

[40:48] Get your free book from Jack.


    1. How to improve my landscape business during an economic downturn?
    2. What are proven marketing strategies for landscaping companies in a recession?
    3. What are the best tips for effective client communication?
    4. WHat are the most effective ways to showcase installations to clients?
    5. How can I use social media for landscape marketing in uncertain times?
    6. What are the best practices for collecting customer reviews?
    7. Is email marketing still a powerful growth tool?
    8. What are the top long-term marketing tactics for landscape professionals?
    9. What key strategies can landscapers use to thrive during economic downturns?
Episode Transcript
John: [00:00:00] The Roots of Success podcast is for the landscape professional who's looking to up their game. We're not talking lawns or grass here. We're talking about people, process, and profits. The things deep within the business that need focus to scale a successful company from hiring the right people and managing your team to improving your operations and mastering your finances. We've got a brain trust of experts to help you nurture the roots of a successful business and grow to the next level. This is The Roots of Success.

Tommy Cole: Welcome to another episode of the Roots of Success podcast. I'm your host, Tommy Cole, and today we have Jack Jostes, the CEO of Rambling Jackson, the snow and landscape marketing agency that helps landscaping companies throughout the country attract more qualified customers. Today we'll be talking all about short-term and long-term marketing tactics to grow your business during the recession. Everything from getting enhancement sales from your current customer base. Getting customer [00:01:00] reviews during your installation and maintenance work to understanding what he means by multi-media marketing. Hey, at the end of the day, it's all about being on the offense, not the defense as a business owner and going after the sales with consistent marketing during the downturns of the economy. It's going to be a great episode. Let's get into it.

Meet Jack Jostes

Tommy Cole: Let's introduce Jack. Jack Jostes is the CEO of Rambling Jackson. Which I want to know more about that, where you got the name. You also host a YouTube show, weekly you do podcasts, which is great. I was on yours a previous time and you wrote an awesome book the Tree of Good Fortune, which I've got a copy of. We'll dig deep into that a little bit. And also you have a podcast called The Landscapers Guide to Sales and Marketing. Excited to have you on board, Jack.

Jack Jostes: Tommy. Yeah. Thanks for having me here today.

Tommy Cole: This is gonna be great. You know, we, we've known each other for probably a couple years, right? I, I think I know who you were and I think you probably knew who I was at [00:02:00] some point. I figured our paths would cross. And, and sure enough they did. And I think you took a trip a couple years ago down to Dallas and we went to lunch and treated you some, some Mexican food, right.

Jack Jostes: Yeah. That was awesome. Tommy Cole: It was excellent. Yeah, and it's been great. I, I remember meeting you all initially, you know, at the T N L A expo and I think James Tyson was like, oh yeah, you should meet the McFarlin people. And, and here we are so excited to be on the show today.

This is great. So the meat we're gonna take outta this is basically marketing strategies and, and we wanna, we wanna really know what your thoughts and your expertise is. Right now we're in sort of a, a weird, we call it recession. I dunno if it's a recession, pre-recession. Whatever it is, it's something that probably not a lot of us have experience in and not sure.

I think parts of the country are feeling a little bit and in some parts of the country are like, we're rocking and rolling. But we wanna talk about [00:03:00] long-term marketing tactics to grow your business during a recession

Marketing Tactics in Recession

Tommy Cole: '. Let's jump into it. What, what, what do you mean by growing your, your marketing tactics in a recession? Like what does that mean? Big picture?

Jack Jostes: Well, a key question I ask people, and I have, I have over a hundred marketing clients that are throughout the country. Majority of them are snow and landscape companies. And like you said, I am seeing regionally. It, it varies a little bit on the Northeast, we're seeing it slowing down quite a bit. I have clients here in Colorado who are still growing.

They're getting, they're getting record demand. I have clients in North Carolina, South Carolina, they are thriving. We've seen a lot of people move to those states that maybe have some equity in their home sale that they're then putting into their landscape or home improvements. And then in other markets in the Midwest and Northeast, like I said, it's slowing down a bit.

So I always, I'm, I'm asking people, Hey, are you gonna be in business 10 years from now?

Because if you are, what are you gonna do now that's gonna [00:04:00] position you to thrive when the market rebounds?

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Jack Jostes: And that's what I mean by long term is thinking of. Long-term customer value for, for people listening who do maintenance, the long-term customer value could be very high if you sell a design build client, and then you also sell them maintenance or snow clearing or lawn care or pest control or whatever your recurring revenue is.

You know, thinking of it long term. And then, and then also I think just recognizing where we're at. In the market and, and it's a little unclear. Are we in a downturn? Are we in a recession?

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Jack Jostes: I, I think we won't, we probably won't know until we can look back at it six or 12 months from now. But I, I'm seeing the signs that demand is lower.

And also though I think it's just back to normal. And what I [00:05:00] mean by that, when I look at. Yeah, pre Covid. So when I look at Google Trends, which is a really powerful, it's a free tool. Anyone listening can just search it. Google Trends. If you look at the trends for landscaping over the last 15 years, it peaks every May. Or April Kind of varies. When is spring? It varies regionally, weather based. Each year it kind of changes, but typically end of April or May, the, the demand for landscaping peaks and then it, it doesn't go down to zero, but it goes back down the rest of the year. Low point is around Christmas and then it comes back up in the spring, people snow melts and they're like, yeah, I need landscaping. So I get, what I'm seeing is the peak from 2020 to the peak of 2023, there's a 30% decrease in the searches on Google for landscaping, lawn care, landscape design, outdoor living, all these [00:06:00] tree service. And so it may just feel like a huge decrease, but it's actually just gone back down to where it was 2018, 2019. But, but when you've staffed up for the demand of 30% higher Wow. That you feel it, you have that overhead, you feel it. So

Tommy Cole: yes.

Proactive marketing

Jack Jostes: when I talk about long-term marketing, I'm, I'm talking about, okay, you know, I had a, a conversation with a client.

He said, okay, got it. We're in a lull. Oh, I, I want to be ready when the market rebounds. So we're thought we're talking about building out his SEO, so that way he ranks very highly. So when those searches come back up, He's not playing catch up. He's ready, he's ahead of it. And I'm recommending to clients to do more proactive outbound marketing, like print postcards if you're, if you're gonna [00:07:00] do networking events, things like Google Ads.

And then Tommy, one of the things for, for our commercial listeners that you and I talked about in, in your interview on my show is LinkedIn, right? So what, you know, LinkedIn for recruiting for sure, you can be proactively recruiting. You can be proactively connecting with property managers, with HOA presidents like you can continue to be. I think, I think that, you know, we were talking about hunting right before the show. I think you're gonna have to hunt more

Tommy Cole: Yeah, you're gonna have to be, you know, I like, I compare things to football a lot. You're gonna have to be on the offense. Stuff has fallen under our plate as from a sales end marketing, right? I mean, you're signing, people are signing contracts on the hood of a car out in the driveway saying, let's get after it. When can you start tomorrow? Okay, not tomorrow, next week. And not, and we roll with it. And, and what I'm hearing in the industry is it's getting back to pre covid, right? [00:08:00] It's you're actually having to make the sale or you're actually having to present well, You're actually having to be on time and, and be professional looking and make a few changes in your proposal and you're design to meet a budget versus just kind of rolling with it.

I think it's, it, it, you know, when you say there's that little difference here, you know, we're getting back to this level. Cause this right here was sort of the whipped cream on a, on a cupcake, right? It's nice to have, but it's a little bit out of the out of the normal.

Jack Jostes: Well, and, and there was so much demand that we helped people with things like pricing pages or charging for the first appointment or charging for different things. And I'm still a big advocate of pricing pages and charging. And I also think you need to be. Receptive to what's happening in your market.

And another question I ask people is, Hey, if maybe three years ago you were only taking on design build projects north of 50 K and you were booked out for [00:09:00] months and hardly even able to complete them, okay, well, what do you have that demand now? And if you don't, maybe, maybe you would say yes to a $10,000 front yard or a $5,000 front yard or whatever it is. And, and I would lead with, you know, what can people say yes to now is something that I have a, a marketing mentor, Drew Dacker, shared that with me. What can people say yes to? So I'm curious, you know, with Tommy, what are you seeing with your clients and

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Jack Jostes: it varying regionally and

Tommy Cole: It varies a lot. I I would, I would say there's some in agreements when you said the Northeast slowing down, I have a handful of clients are going it's either I've got a few small projects or I've got the real big ones. You know or they've I, I've had people tell me a lot of people are waiting for it to slow down because they don't, clients don't think they're gonna get the top quality project.[00:10:00] At a good price point and at a good schedule. And so people are holding off a little bit longer in order to make that big, big landscape, big commitment decision, right. We we're seeing, for the most part, most of the country is still going, but I would, the, the caveat is it's not as strong as it was for the last few years now.

Jack Jostes: Yeah.

Tommy Cole: Larger company owners that have larger companies that have salespeople, multiple salespeople, the owners of that company are telling us they love it because their salespeople are having to work for it, right? They're having to really go out there and, and go and hammer it out and make sure. They do a really good job of communication with the client up front.

They're getting what they need. They break it out. Maybe it's in three phases because they can understand which each phase is gonna cost. Maybe it's the whole front yard first and the backyard second, and, and you know, another phase be heard. Right. And so they can break it out that we're, we're seeing the same thing on our end.[00:11:00] Yeah.

Jack Jostes: Well, and the, you know, the phasing I think is an important thing to come back to that big picture idea of long term, and maybe you're leading with a front yard or a side yard or a smaller project, knowing that once I get in with that client, When they have the budget for the rest of their backyard or phase two or phase three, I want, I want to be that person.

And if I do maintenance, I want to let my maintenance clients know, Hey, by the way, did you know we can do front yards? Did you know that we do whatever enhancements? So I'm, I'm coaching my clients to really focus on their current clients or. You know, related to that is what opportunities came in your pipeline that fell off the radar.

Maybe two years ago people got as far as getting a proposal and they just ghosted. And because you had so much demand, maybe you didn't do the best job. Following up with [00:12:00] those people, how many of those could you reactivate with a personal email? Tommy, did you ever end up doing your backyard?

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Jack Jostes: Almost like a text message, you know, just sending somebody that question and they might reply, Hey, thanks for reaching out.

We went on vacation and then Uncle Charlie died and then. You know, who knows what happened in life that caused them not to do their landscape. And now that that email or a what I'm recommending is a series of things, like a postcard once a quarter a monthly email newsletter, a personal email, or heck pick up the phone.

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Jack Jostes: Hey Tommy, it's Jack. I'm just checking in on you, man. Did you ever end up doing your backyard? You know, like literally pick up the phone. I, I, I, I meet with a lot of people who are. You know, when the searches are 30% less than they were, we can't, we, we need to expect about 30% less business coming from that marketing source, and that's why we need to pick [00:13:00] up other channels

Tommy Cole: Yeah. They call that the low hanging fruit, right?

Jack Jostes: for sure.

Tommy Cole: versus trying to get ano the, the, the, the time it takes to get a brand new client.

Jack Jostes: Mm-hmm.

Tommy Cole: Right. And sold is is what, you know, 10 times as harder than reaching out to an existing client. That's where we have enhancements and upsales. That's how when I was in the recession, the 8 0 9 recession, we were hot and heavy in a local Dallas company and we, we survived on, you know, the construction dried up. For the most part, but we survive on enhancements. Now, an enhancement might be a $50,000 install at existing property,

Jack Jostes: Right.

Tommy Cole: you know, and people would do that, you know, they're like, I'm gonna get the most bang in my buck if I pull the trigger Now during a downturn. Of an economy and and our landscape install team did enhancements for a couple years and it, it worked out really well.

Not to say that we're there yet, you know, we're not there now, but the low hanging fruit is a great thing.

Digital Marketing

Tommy Cole: So, Jack, let me ask you this. What, [00:14:00] what, when you, when you say like, let's say you've got a company out there in the country and, and you wanna start preparing yourself for this, what sort of digital marketing do you think. Needs to be done at, at the, at these small companies. I mean, there's a lot of companies that are 1 million, 2 million, 3 million that are thousands of 'em all over the country, and they, maybe they haven't tapped into anything in the last few years because the sales are coming in. Like, so what, what would you start, what would you recommend for these, these companies to start doing?

Jack Jostes: Well, one of the things that I, I would recommend to all of them, regardless of their size, is to prioritize getting reviews. So when people are more budget conscious, they're gonna do more research. And that's where maybe I'm a homeowner and I get a referral for two landscape companies and I'm also Googling, and my wife and I actually did this recently for a construction project.

We got a referral from somebody we really trust. [00:15:00] But when we Googled 'em,

Tommy Cole: Mm.

Jack Jostes: reviews were terrible and their website was awful, right? So a lot of these things that work in a boom market of having good reviews, having good seo, having a good website become even more important in a down economy when people are more picky and choosy and this afraid.

So, some of the basics of having a solid website, having the most current photographs depending on when people get this in July, if this comes out in July, Getting photographs now of your best work instead of waiting until November and saying, oh yeah, I wish I had some photos from my maintenance page.

You know, so, so those are some of the things and, and during this time of year, posting content on Instagram and Facebook we're still seeing a lot of clients get a lot of. Leads from social media and, and simple content about here's what we worked on today, here's a, you know, if you're, if you're going and doing that final walkthrough at a job [00:16:00] site.

I guarantee you have a phone, take a picture and either post it on Instagram or send it to the person who does. So those are some of the things that you can control, right? Like how many new pages did I build on my website this year? How many reviews did I request? Maybe I can't control how many I got, but have I emailed every customer?

Have I called them? Have I thanked them? Have I sent out a, a print thank you note? Maybe, maybe for some of my high end clients, should I send them a gift?

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Jack Jostes: Right.

Tommy Cole: it's almost like a, a pro it should be in your process of closing out a project,

Jack Jostes: I believe it should. So, so, so we, we use something at Rambling Jackson with our clients called Rambling Reviews, where we're collecting net promoter score. And I recommend collecting it midway through a project. So let's just pretend you had a three month construction project. I would, I would send it halfway.

Right. I'd send it halfway and I'd send it at closeout, and now I'm getting [00:17:00] feedback midway. How are you feeling about things are going? How are you feeling at the end? And then for my maintenance clients, I'm sending that out quarterly. And if I'm getting an eight, nine, or a 10, how likely are you to recommend me to a friend? That's probably a good person to call and just say, Hey, Tommy, thanks so much. I noticed you gave me a nine. Yeah, I, I just wanna reward my team for doing a good job. What is it that you're enjoying about working with them? And by the way, Tommy, did you know that that, and this is where you have a chart of your accounts, have they bought the front yard yet?

Sales Incentives

Jack Jostes: Hey, Tommy, I just wanted to let you know by the way, that we're working on front yards and we currently have openings in August. And maybe you create a preferred offer or a gift or something, right? So I think, I think this is, it's gonna vary for everyone what, but I, I would look, you know, in working back from how long does it take to make a sale and what's my backlog like?

And then maybe could I create some sort of incentive or a package to fill [00:18:00] that opening?

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Jack Jostes: And, and what I mean by that, so is like, let's pretend that you have the capacity for 10 more front yard installations in the end of the third quarter. You know, you could create a gift that you give people if they fill that spot before July 15th, right?

So schedule your front yard project before July 15th, and we're gonna give you, I don't know, what do you have a potted plant? Maybe it doesn't have to be like, you don't have to give away the moon. Right? It could be something and they say, oh, cool, they're gonna, or for clients who do power washing, We're gonna power wash your driveway.

Like what's something that you could do that, that your competitor isn't? And especially if you give this to your existing customers, they're like, sweet, we're getting a value add of power washing or window cleaning. Or maybe you have, maybe you, you have a new pest control service and [00:19:00] you offer

Tommy Cole: Yep.

Jack Jostes: an inspection or something.

So I think, I think I, I get just back to your point too, of like being on the offenses.

Tommy Cole: Yep.

Jack Jostes: Giving somebody something, an idea that they could take action on.

Tommy Cole: Yeah. Love it. You know, I, I, I I'm a fan of the past, present, future. And so if you can paint that picture in, in your, you know, installations and maintenance of a, of a, of a client, you know often what we did in the install business, you know, I, I'm landscape architect and, and did a, a bunch of great installations over the course of years. But we put a, a miniature storybook together. And every time we started a project, we always took the before photos. Which people, some sort of remember a little bit what it was before, but at the end of the project, they don't re hardly remember it. They also don't remember the middle of the job, what the pictures look like, but they all, they're gonna see the end of the job all the time.

And we, we [00:20:00] took, I took a bunch of photos, we all the project managers always did, and we put you go to kodak.com and shutterfly.com and upload 50 photos of the past, present, future of your installation. And I'm gonna tell you what Ms. Smith, and when you hand it there, a physical book that says this is what their property looked like.

That is so valuable because it goes in the bookcase and it's something forever. Where, you know, a potted plant is great. It may last a few weeks or a year. Until, you know, uncle Sally comes and knocks it over or, or the dog Penelope chews up the leaves, whatever. But the book is just, and it shows the past of present and future.

And when you're going about, you know, the Instagram and Facebook, I, I love to hit that up because that's what clients want to see. You know, like, what's going on in the process, what's before, what's the after? What are you doing? And if you're posting those, Those themes, they love the stuff and the details.

Right? They love the storybook of Ms. [00:21:00] Smith in this six week long project, right?

Jack Jostes: Yeah. Yeah. I, I like that. And taking this before, you know, the present, past, present and future, that makes an awesome Instagram post, right? People love those before and after photos in construction and landscaping and, and even you know, for maintenance, maybe you pick up a new commercial maintenance account.

Take a before photo. And take an after photo and hey, if it doesn't look any better, like why should they renew with you? Right.

Tommy Cole: right. It, you're, you're, you're there to improve the property. So my guess is the commercial property is probably not in great shape. Right? So that's your opportunity to go ahead and take those photos now, right? When you start it and go, oh, by the way, in six weeks, what will we've already done? And they're probably like, Oh wow. I had no idea. Cause I look at the window every single day and you can't quite see the changes. It's no different than your kids. You can't see.

Jack Jostes: Right. Well, and to, to that point on the commercial, I, I [00:22:00] interviewed Wade Martin on, on my show once, and Wade is down in Georgia and he was talking about how. They would hunt for, repeat or reactivating their commercial accounts where they would go, if they lost an account, they would take a photo the day they, the last day they worked on it and they would go and look at it six months, 12 months later. And you know, that's another way, like, you know, you follow up with those people. Like, Hey, here's a before photo when we work together, here's what I'm seeing now.

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Jack Jostes: Just, just wanted to let you know that we're here and we still

Tommy Cole: we're still here. Yeah.

Jack Jostes: Right? Like, yeah. So basically, you know, something like that.

There are a lot of ways that you can be proactive with it or you know, at, at the Grow Conference last year that I went to in Nashville, Tennessee what was the, the landscape company we went and visited for the field trip. Melosi. So Melosi's marketing person was talking [00:23:00] about the cloverleaf strategy that they use there, which is when they're either doing a, a, a project at somebody's house or maintenance cloverleaf is simply like giving a print handout to the next door neighbors and the neighbors across the street.

And you know what, they were doing that during boom times, right? So these, some of these things are just like, they're like keeping fit. They're things that you do, you're just like, they become part of what you do. And I think what I'm seeing is that a lot of people, frankly, got lazy during the boom economy because you could, you, you could just kinda wait and if you had a good reputation and decent, decent marketing, like you'd probably get a pretty great result.

So to, to bring it back, you know, I think part of it is recognizing where we're at in the market cycle. And it may be hard to see exactly until six, 12 months from now. But what I'm hearing from you, what I'm hearing from other clients, what I'm seeing [00:24:00] in Google Trends is that it's back down to maybe pre covid levels, and that's where I invite people to think big picture 10 years from now, three years from now, 18 months from now, what did you do over the 18 months that proactively filled the pipeline and got you that much closer to being hired? When things rebound.

Closing Plans

Tommy Cole: Yeah, I got a question. So when you ask the question to people and they're like, Hey, are you gonna be around in 10 years? Do you have any people that say no?

Jack Jostes: I do actually. So when I have, when I have, when I have an honest conversation with people it can be an emotional topic and I'm not asking it in jest. I'm asking it like, for real. Cuz some people they're like, what do you, yeah, of course dude, I'm gonna be around. And then some people are like, Well, actually I'm at the end of my career.

I'm totally burned out. I don't have a, I don't have a crew lead for maintenance. I'm thinking of closing that department and I'm thinking of closing. I'm thinking of just like [00:25:00] retiring.

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Jack Jostes: think I could sell my company and like, wow, okay. That might be the

Tommy Cole: term, yeah.

Jack Jostes: you know? And maybe their long-term goal is to like survive the next couple years, but, That then ultimately leads to the, the conversation around, well, how many new customers do you need during that time and what are you willing to do?

Whereas some of, some clients, especially if they're thinking, well, I wanna build this thing up and sell it in five years, they're, they're the ones who are like, Hell yeah. I'm gonna invest in marketing. Yes, I'm gonna be here in five years, or someone will have bought me and I'm, I'm, I'm seeing that long-term vision.

So yeah. Some, some people the answer is truthfully no,

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Jack Jostes: I don't want to, and may, maybe they wanna be bought.

Multimedia Marketing

Tommy Cole: Yeah. Love it. let's say, let's say it starts to get a little worse and, you know, people, people in the Northeast, it starts to trickle down to, you know, the sort of the Midwest and the [00:26:00] South. What, what should they be doing from a marketing standpoint?

Jack Jostes: One of the most important things is to be collecting email addresses. So when you're, you'd be amazed how many people are mailing invoices or they, they have emails, but they're not in an organized fashion. So to me, email is. Something I can control. I can send an email. I c I could choose to send an email and have it out in about 20 minutes of work.

I could email my whole database. Right? So that's a lever that, that you can pull that I think is pretty valuable. And as an example, you know, one of the emails that I. Helped a client with is what I call a spear email, short personal, expecting a reply, and so they sent out an email. The subject line was, insert first name, spring cleanup.

Tommy, would you like to join our spring [00:27:00] cleanup schedule? Whew. You know, so like, okay, great. So I don't know. I know that, that, as an example, that client had openings for spring cleanups. When they do that, that leads to the enhancement or upsell conversation. Same thing, fall cleanup. Or maybe you offer a new service line, maybe you acquire a pest control company.

I think having the ability to email your customers, And, and know who is not a customer and who almost bought and sending them specific messages until they become a customer is one of the, the, the top things.

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Jack Jostes: Another, another thing that some of my top clients are using is Send Jim. Where they're automating the send of print letters being sent to people or thank you cards or Happy landscape birthday, you know, or you know, like maybe that you send people a gift.

So I'm, I, you know, to kind of wrap it up, I'm, I'm a big fan of, [00:28:00] Multimedia marketing, meaning we're doing something with print, we're doing things with digital. When I get a lead through digital, I'm sending them a gift in the mail. Right? So, so there, it's this cycle of relationship building and built into the processes, getting the online review.

So I, I see it more of like, there's a number of things that need to be part of your process.

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Jack Jostes: And email being a key piece of it.

Tommy Cole: Yeah. You could almost make an argument. Let's say you've got a business that does installation maintenance. Lawn care and tree, you can make an argument that says we need to have also a branch that's called marketing. And it needs to be in our, our Rolodex for us old school people to say, we need to be scut discussing this every week, right?


Tommy Cole: Because here's, here's where, here's where it gets tricky. I believe the [00:29:00] number one reason a client will fire a landscape company is because of communication.

Jack Jostes: I agree.

Tommy Cole: Okay. Now you have some smaller things and maybe some things that can compete. I get it. Maybe you screwed something up. I get it. But the lack of communication is the number one driver of getting fired. Here's the thing that you mention often is, There's that communication and constant contact with those people all the time. Right? You're always touching base. You're always value the relationship. You're always asking 'em how we did. How can we get better? Oh, by the way, it is now. Summertime, we need to do an irrigation check.

It's gonna be, are you leaving out of town for three months because it's getting hot this summer. Do we need to do some additive things to check your property? Right? So there's that constant communication, that constant, if we don't put it there as a maintenance revenue item and as a, as a construction revenue item, and as a tree care, lawn care line item, we're not gonna talk about it. [00:30:00] So it's just as important that those four revenue streams that you, your fifth one might be marketing. And, and sales. And how do you be on the offense all the time? Right? I'm a huge fan of, in maintenance, you better have your processes lined up of touchpoints of that client. How often do you touch base with a client?

Is it once a month? Is it once a week? Is it every other week, which I'm not a fan of. It's either once a month or once a week. Are you touching base with that client very often and let them know what you're doing. To the property. So I love that aspect of always on the offense, right? And so it's gotta be a topic of conversation.


Tommy Cole: If you're having leadership meetings once a week or once a month, sales and marketing's gotta be at the top.

Jack Jostes: Yeah. And you know, there's, and, and in sales and marketing, there's lead indicators and lag indicators. So revenue would be a lag indicator. How much have we sold? What was our gross profit on that? But [00:31:00] yeah, how many leads did we get is a key. Performance indicator. How many appointments do we have scheduled out?

And typically it's once people are like, oh crap, we don't have any appointments. What do we do? And that's where I look back to, well, what are the things I can control? And that's why, again, I'm a big okay, email, I can control how many emails I sent, how many review requests did I send, how many postcards did I send, how many pages did I build on my website?

How many social media posts did I make? And then I can look back at those and see which ones worked well. I have analytics, social media, insights and so on. But a lot of it's just like doing the work and, and, and you can manage somebody to do those behaviors. Was the email sent. We're not you know, like I, I love the, was the email sent or not?

And some of, at my company we send in our, to our project clients a weekly email on Fridays.

Tommy Cole: Love it. The

Jack Jostes: It's, it's, it's, well, [00:32:00] it's amazing for a number of one, the client likes it. The project manager knows what to do, and then I can see, was that email sent, yes or no? And I could read the email and see what's being communicated.

And if you have a wait list, maybe maybe people come to you and say, Oh, I can't wait two months to get X, Y, z. Done. Say, great. You know, if you'd like, we have a wait list and we'd be happy to, to include you on our weekly update. And that way should things change, you'd, you'd, you know, at least be on the list.

Would you like for me to send that to you? Oh, okay. I guess if the other company doesn't work out, at least I'll have your email now. Nine weeks went by, I had nine touchpoints that cost me nothing. All I had to do was add their email to my list and you know,

Tommy Cole: Yeah. So email is the most crucial thing. So that's that contact point forever. Every, every every client, right? The contact point. And [00:33:00] at the end of the day, you know, between email and text messages, that's the way we communicate. It's, it's, it's, It's rarely by phone. And you can make an argument that no one complains about too much marketing or too much, too much communication, right? No one says, Jack, you guys are communicating to me way too much about the project that we signed up for. That's gonna

Jack Jostes: Right.

Tommy Cole: months. Please stop it. Like, no. And, and then I hear I hear you know, account managers or say, well, you know, they never respond. I'm like, well, they don't have to. They don't have to respond. They're reading it, they're understanding it, but they're not telling you no, don't, don't send, you're sending too much communication. I love the, the weekly recap is how I, I became successful. Is that, that end of the week of this is what we did, this is what we're working on now, and this is what's gonna happen next week.

Right? It's the past, present, future along the way. And they're like, oh my God, I'm blown away. and we were actually consistent on that.[00:34:00]

Jack Jostes: Well, and, and also, I mean, stuff comes up during projects. There are material shortages or plant freezes or whatever it is, and you know, getting an email to somebody, Hey, in the future by the way, we're seeing that there's a shortage of this type of plant that we originally planning to use, or this type of material, and you're a month out of letting them know.

Right. Instead of a month behind, oh, sorry, we forgot to tell you that there's a shortage of, right. Like, so I'm a big fan of bad news gets worse with age and that weekly email, if there's bad news, just get it out there.

Tommy Cole: Yeah. Just get it out there. Bad or good. Get it out there right now. I love it.

Hell Yes Customer

Tommy Cole: Jack, what, what what's this thing? Hell yes, customer. What is, what does that mean? That, that intrigued me out the book and, and I, I would love to touch base. It's think it's awesome. But dive into that a little bit.

Jack Jostes: Hell yes. Customer is your best customer. Who are you [00:35:00] deliberately trying to attract to your landscape company? I believe this needs to be asked at least annually. And revised in your marketing. So too often landscape companies, and I think you have to go through a phase of doing everything for everyone.

Yeah. I can mow your lawn for sure. We can do I. Trip Trim these branches for you for sure. Small project like you, you need to like figure it out in order to get to the point where you're more of a specialist. And then once you do, once you get clear on who is your hell yes customer, you can get clear on, why would that customer buy from you over anyone else?

And that's the most important question in sales and marketing, unless you want people to choose on price. Right. Because if they don't understand why you're different and better for them, and if you're too vague trying to please everybody, then yeah, you're gonna be, you're gonna lose on [00:36:00] price. Whereas if you have a hell yes customer and you're the best at serving them for the thing they want, you can charge more. Right?

Tommy Cole: Love it. That's a, it's a good, it's a good catchphrase. Instead of saying, well, they're an A-list client, or they're a B list client. Or the c less client. I'm like, well, why do you have C less clients? What's,

Jack Jostes: Right.

Tommy Cole: you want 'em all to be like eggs at the end of the day? And I think you're right, right? We go through the series of signing up for everything.

Yes. Everything, yes, yes. We'll do it all no matter what. And then you're running over ragged, right? And that, that takes several years to sort of find out about yourself and your business. I, I get

Jack Jostes: Well, well, and then, and then also, you know, with maintenance and especially with commercial clients, and you mentioned C or D-list clients. I've done this, I actually did this exercise with an 18 million commercial company and their CFO was there and we graded the clients and we looked at the profit and [00:37:00] loss by customer and by the What type were they municipality? Were they apartments? Were they HOAs? And so a lot of times people have a big client that's spending a lot of money, but wow. We're like way under. We're like, we're way over budget. We're not profiting, we're stressing out our account managers. Like why? Why even do it? You know?

So I think it's a matter of like, who do you really want as a client? And then I'm, I'm a big fan of, you know, attracting an abundance of leads. And then taking amazing care of the clients who we do take on. Right? So, so once we have that hell yes customer, we may say no to certain projects. So that way we can take exceptional care of that, of, of who our customer really is, instead of doing a mediocre job for a whole bunch of people.

Tommy Cole: right, right. You know, let's, let's take the top notch qu that we are excited about. We [00:38:00] can provide a good service and we can provide a good product. And at the end of the day, That client's gonna be happy, but we can't do that for the quantity of clients.

Jack Jostes: Well, and and related. This is related also, I believe, to labor challenges cuz if you're overextended on your sales and how many customers and who they are and maybe certain services you're offering are not well documented with your processes and you don't have appropriate staff and then. The people who knew how to do it quit.

And now you have a bunch of people who were the B-team employees or cte, and there's that key person is missing. Like, wow, that's a good way to ruin your reputation. So I think there's, I mean, to me, the hell yes, customer drives all of the rest of the, the sales and marketing decisions.

Tommy Cole: You love it. Love it.

Final Thoughts

Tommy Cole: Hey, so Jack, as we, as we wrap up here any, any final thoughts to our audience? You're the marketing guru guy, man. You, [00:39:00] we got, we were excited to have you. What's some last, final thoughts for these, these people, but you know, in that possible sort of awkward economy that we have, or we're getting back to normal pre covid.

Jack Jostes: A, a key question you've gotta ask yourselves is what can people say yes to now

Tommy Cole: Okay.

Jack Jostes: and how. Can I attract people to that offer? And during, during certain economies, you're, you're, you're more or less gonna be filtering the demand that's coming to you a and giving those people that offer. In a time like this, you're going to need to more proactively market that offer.

And who are you sending it to? You're hell yes, customer. And it may be a hell yes. Repeat customer. I would absolutely start there with. Who can I upsell? Who could I reactivate? Who have I, who do I already have a warm positive relationship with that could buy more? And then also, what trade [00:40:00] partners, right?

So back to email. If I come up with a quality offer, let's pretend I don't do lawn care, right? And I refer all of my lawn care to a lawn care company who doesn't do landscape maintenance. We could probably refer each other. He, I could ask him to do an email for me. And, and likewise. So I think that you're gonna need to do more proactive outbound marketing, and that was one thing we didn't talk about with strategic partners and, and who else has a list of your Helles customers that's not a competitor to you?

Tommy Cole: Yep. Love it. Good stuff. Jack. I know you wanna talk about, you know, one last thing, right? So you have another little idea that you wanna share with us for all the, the listeners out there, what, what do you got up your sleeve?

Jack Jostes: Well, we've got you know, attending on, when you're listening to this, we've got I'm gonna, I, I think I'll see you guys at the Elevate Show in, in Dallas. [00:41:00] And so I'm gonna have a booth and I'm gonna be collecting the 2023 Landscapers sales survey. We did it last year. We had 163 companies. Our goal this year, Is 300.

So come by our booth and say hi. And even if you're not coming, you know, I have a, a gift for the audience of the Roots of Success podcast, which is I'd love to send you a free copy of my book today. Tommy, you did an awesome job. Thanks for interviewing me. There's so much more to do, right? And

Tommy Cole: So much we can go on for hours, right?

Jack Jostes: So I have written a step-by-step guide. Each chapter has a real case study of an actual landscape company implementing each thing. So we go through branding, sales process, website reviews, email, social media, and I'd love to send you this for free from tree of Good fortune.com. And when you get there, if you use the promo code roots, For roots of Success I'll waive the shipping [00:42:00] costs, so you can literally just get this book for free tree of good fortune.com promo code roots.

Tommy Cole: There we go. Love it. You know I got mine right here. I got a copy. Back in the day when you sent it to me and, and like you said, I've read bits and pieces of it because I've hopped around and my a d d kicks in a little bit and I wanna learn about this or that. And, and you said it, that's perfect for it.

And that's what I've been doing. I had no idea. And so there's definitely some great nuggets in here. I think this is almost a thing you sort of open up once or twice a year and refresh your memory on certain things because. The years change every year it's, it's something different. I feel like the last three years we've been through a roller coaster ride of every landscape company has been through the gauntlet test of being slapped in the face with with pool noodles basically.

Right. And with covid and, and plants dying and, and we had snowmageddon here in Dallas and a drought. We've been through everything. And [00:43:00] so this. This kind of keeps you you know, it keeps you in check of what should be going on for your sales and marketing inside of the

Jack Jostes: Well, I, I'm glad that you mentioned all of those things because when I think about my clients and what I like about the landscape industry most is the people in it are resilient.

Tommy Cole: Hundred

Jack Jostes: And, and, and they are, and they are resourceful. I mean, lands, what a cool word, landscaper, right? So I mean, like some of the most resourceful people in the world are landscapers and. Yeah, be in marketing. It's, it's about thinking about what resources do I have? How am I gonna create more demand? And I'm excited to see what happens

Tommy Cole: yeah. Landscapers are the best They, they are very resilient, and I love the industry. You know, not to go on off too much of a tangent, but it, these, these people care a lot and they, they care a lot about others. They care about their business. I don't know another industry that's, that's similar to this one.

That's why I, [00:44:00] fell in love with,

Jack Jostes: me too. I totally believe that. And like I said, I'm excited to see what happens. You know, in some ways this, we're in some chaos, and now they're, it's hate. It's kind of fun. Like, all right, there's some work to do.

Tommy Cole: you know what? There's never a dull moment in our industry, right? Every day is a new day, and you're not gonna be bored by, by the any means. Jack, it was an awesome pleasure to have you on our show, roots of Success. I think we've got many more to come and we'll dive into some more tactical subjects in the future.

We'll see you soon in, in Dallas. And then we'll see you later in the year for your little, your, your little show that you got virtually, and it should be awesome stuff for the

Jack Jostes: That. That's right. McFarlin Stanford is speaking at the Landscaper Summit, so that's our virtual event. It's in October and landscaper summit.com, and we have Megan and another person from your team. [00:45:00] Tracy, Megan and Tracy are, are presenting about management, so I'm excited to collaborate with you on that.

I yeah, that's right. October. We'll be here before we know it. So thanks for bringing that up. You and Jason spoke last year on Leadership Audience. Loved it. And we're excited to have you back. So

Tommy Cole: A lot of

Jack Jostes: tuned to everyone.

Tommy Cole: This is gonna be so Jack, it's, it's been a pleasure, man.

John: Thanks Tommy. Take care. Ready to take the next step? Download our free Profitability Scorecard to quickly create your own baseline financial assessment and uncover the fastest ways to improve your business. Just go to McFarlinStanford.com/scorecard to get yours today To learn more about McFarlin Stanford our best in class peer groups and other services go to our website at McFarlinStanford.com And don't forget to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. See you next time on the Roots of Success.