Whether you’re a veteran in the space or new to the game, it’s no secret that the landscaping industry is highly competitive.
There are likely dozens, if not hundreds of companies competing for landscaping contracts in your community or city alone. Needless to say, that can make it tough to secure your company’s next job.
If you want to win more business, you’ll need to find a way to wow potential clients and prove to them why you’re the best company for the job.
Sure, word of mouth is a great way to get your foot in the door. But there can only be so many people who can witness your meticulously maintained gardens, tumbling water features, or ramrod-straight mower lines in person.
If you really want to stand out in your next landscaping bid, you need a killer landscaping proposal.
Why your proposal is key to landing your next landscaping contract
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Proposals. Booooring.
Well, they can be. At least if you’re one of the many companies that prefer black-and-white paper quotes that get your potential clients about as excited to sign as you are to cut six inches of soggy grass on a cold May morning.
But we’re talking about the kinds of proposals that get folks pumped to do business with you.
The kind that tell your story. The kind that show off your work. The kind that prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are the only landscaping company they want to work with, and leave any mention of competitors in the mulch pile.
We’ve dug into the data behind 7,300 landscaping proposals to show you exactly how to win your next landscaping contract with a proposal that is anything but boring.
Understand your customer
Before you start thinking about project details, pricing, logistics, or any other details, the very first thing you should do is get to know your customer.
After all, it’s impossible to make them happy if you don’t know exactly what they're looking for.
When you first connect with a new potential client, it’s important to ensure that you’re talking to the right person—the one who will make the final decision.
Whether it’s a residential or commercial landscaping project, you need to connect with the person in charge of the outcome so you can understand their needs and expectations.
The best way to do this? Pick up the phone. Have a chat. Ask them what the impact of not doing this project will be. And record or write it all down because this is gold—what they say now, early in the sales process, is exactly what you’ll put in your proposal to seal the deal.
Your proposal is essentially a summary of these early conversations. Listen to the challenges they’re facing, the future they desire. Ask good questions, and use the answers in your proposal to demonstrate how your company’s expertise will make that a reality.
Craft the perfect landscaping proposal
By now you should know the key to winning your next landscaping contract (and the one after that, and the one after that…) is crafting the perfect landscaping proposal.
And while we’re a little biased, online proposal software is your best bet. There are several major advantages to being an early mover here:
Lots of landscaping companies still send PDFs or even paper documents for their bids and quotes. A well designed online proposal instantly sets you apart.
Proposal templates take the legwork out of creating a proposal for a new client by making it easy to use pre-approved content and switch out client info.
Landscaping proposals with eSignatures close at a drastically higher rate, and much faster, too.
Let’s dig into each.
Good proposal design sets you apart
As we’ve mentioned, the vast majority of landscaping bids out there are black and white quotes or invoices. For the savvy landscaping salesperson or marketer, that’s some low-hanging fruit right there.
Landscaping contracts don’t need to be boring. In fact, investing in proposal design and content doesn’t only help you stand out in a competitive bid, it also pays multiples down the road, too.
Landscaping contracts shouldn’t be super long documents, either. Our research found proposals with 16 pages performed best.
Just like your website, the branding on your trucks, and the uniforms your landscapers wear every day, your proposal is an extension of your brand. A well-designed landscaping contract inspires the same recognition and trust as any other asset with your company’s brand and identity attached to it.
Use a landscaping proposal template
The best thing about using a template for your landscaping proposals is that once the template is set up, 90% of the work for every subsequent proposal is done.
No more digging through old documents for up-to-date content, pricing, or case studies. No more fumbling around in Word trying to put something half decent together while you’ve got a ready-to-buy prospect waiting on the other line.
Simply plug in your client’s details, review the pre-approved content, confirm the pricing, assign the signatures, and you’re off to the races.
Maybe that’s why 35% of landscaping proposals sent through Proposify close within 24 hours of a client opening them.
Despite their widespread use, some people still believe that eSignatures are not a legitimate way of conducting business.
But unfortunately for them, they’re wrong. By about 20 years.
Esignatures have been legally binding in the US since 2000, and that's not changing anytime soon. And using them in your proposals can help you win way more business:
Timing it right can put a spring in your step
Now that you understand exactly what your prospect is looking for and you’ve crafted the perfect proposal, it’s time to send it.
But before you do, it’s important to consider the optimal time to deliver your proposal.
As you might expect, seasonality plays a major role when it comes to bidding for and closing landscaping jobs. The majority of landscaping proposals are sent in Q2—in the spring. Which makes sense, as that’s when most new projects are being lined up for the summer months.
If we take a deeper look at winning proposals week-over-week, that reveals another interesting trend.
Close rates are highest in the beginning of the year, peaking in January, holding fairly steady through to May, where it dips, then climbing again in late spring. Close rates begin to tail off at the start of July and trend downward for the rest of the year.
So, what does this mean for timing—and winning—your landscaping bid?
It pays to have an intimate knowledge of your industry’s ebbs and flows, and be ready to act fast when big contracts become available.
For landscaping sales reps, that means being prepared for the spring bidding season, keeping tabs on contract renewal dates for existing clients, and looping back with potential clients whose contracts with competing landscaping companies are about to end.
Speed is everything
One of the big reasons landscaping sales reps avoid sending proposals is because they think creating them chews into time better spent selling.
And it can, if you’re creating your proposals from scratch or getting stuck on the little details. But with a smooth proposal process (streamlined by proposal software) creating landscaping proposals is easier than ever.
The point is, speed is everything. If you’re able to create and send proposals faster than your competition, you’ve got a better chance of locking down that next landscaping contract. But even if your deal doesn’t close right away, there’s no need to stress. The average time to close is 4.5 days, so don’t write your prospect off if they take a few days to make a decision.
Even though most proposals take a few days to close after they're opened, it never hurts to follow up.
But chasing deals without appearing pushy can be a challenge.
Reach out too soon, and it may turn your potential client off. Too late, and the deal may be dead before you get a chance to follow up.
We know from the data above that it takes the average proposal 4.5 days to close. So if it’s been a week and you’ve heard nothing, you might want to reach out.
Or, you can set up automatic reminders. Whether you use a simple reminder in your calendar to send a follow-up email, or bake automated reminder emails into your closing process using proposal software, a handful of well-timed notes to your potential buyer can go a long way in keeping your proposal top of mind and keep the deal moving.
And believe it or not, these automatic reminders can actually increase your close rate:
Prove your expertise
Before investing in your services, potential clients want to know that you can deliver.
And while your work speaks for itself, not every new lead has the opportunity to stop and smell the roses, so to speak.
You need to sell your expertise to your buyer in other ways.
Social proof content like case studies, testimonials, and reviews show your potential buyer that people just like them have worked with you and rave about the results.
Professional photography and videography of past projects is a great way to show off your past projects in a visually immersive way.
Certifications, awards, or any other achievements of notes demonstrate that your community values and recognizes the work you do.
All of these things can, and should, live in your proposal. They form the backbone of the narrative you’re telling about why you’re the best landscaping company for the job.
Use the right tools
Alongside the earthmovers, mowers, trucks, and trimmers your company relies on every day, there are other tools that are equally as important to your success.
They won’t be of much use when building a retaining wall or mowing a lawn, but off-site, they’re invaluable.
Customer relationship management software lets you keep tabs on your current and potential client base. Accounting and invoicing software helps you better manage payroll and payments. Project management software allows you to keep on top of sales and marketing campaigns. And, of course, proposal software helps you create, send, track, and close winning proposals.
Be willing to negotiate
Last but not least, don’t be afraid to negotiate. Lots of deals don’t close on the first try. And our data shows that a willingness to be flexible, along with a little professional persistence, can drastically improve close rates.
Whether you’re negotiating pricing, project details, timelines, discounts, or anything else, there’s no shame in going back and forth with your prospect until you come to a mutual agreement.
Winning landscaping contracts is certainly no walk in the park. But having the right tools in your kit can skyrocket your success come bidding season.
Proposal software is the secret weapon that gives landscaping companies like Yellowstone the competitive advantage when it comes to winning more landscaping bids.
Your lawnmowers should never go without sharp blades. Your trimmers should never go without line. Your excavators should never go without fresh oil. And your sales process should never go without a kick-ass proposal that leaves your clients speechless.
Well, they’ll be able to say one thing:
“I’m in! Where do I sign?”