Author Archives: Roderick Molleur

8 Steps To Successfully Canvass For Your Outdoor Living Area Business

canvassing for outdoor living area business

One of the most overlooked methods to developing new sales leads for your outdoor living area business is the time tested method of canvassing.  You’re probably thinking it’s old school in today’s online world, but it can be a tremendously cost effective method of delivering new leads for your company.  If you’re working on a job site, or want to be working in a specific neighborhood, what better way to gain exposure for your business than by taking directly to the customer?  Here are eight tips to help you start your canvassing campaign.

  1. Prepare yourself:  Have a clean shirt with you if you’re on a jobsite; you never know when opportunity might present itself.  Have handouts, door hangers, brochures and lead sheets readily available for every person you’ll meet.
  2. Set Goals:  What are your expectations from your canvassing efforts?  Are you looking to set an appointment or to gather names, addresses and emails?  Be sure to have clear objectives set for you and your team.
  3. Script Your Door Opener:  Be sure everyone on your team has memorized the script and can answer any of the basic questions that might arise.  Chances are you won’t sell a backyard waterfall knocking on the door, so that shouldn’t be the objective.
  4. Take A Step Back:  After ringing the bell of knocking on the door, take a step back.  You don’t want to come off as threatening by standing too close to the door.
  5. Make Eye Contact:  Look the homeowner directly in the eye and get to the point.  Your opening statement should identify exactly why you are there.  State a few key highlights of your service and end in an open ended question to engage your prospect.
  6. Exude Confidence:  Be sure that you and your team firmly believe in the value offering you’re presenting the homeowner.  Hesitation or hint of dishonesty will doom you and your team to failure.  A good canvasser will look a homeowner in the eye and speak what they believe to be true. Speak with confidence. Canvassers need not hesitate or sound “unsure” of why they are there at a homeowner’s front door.
  7. Express Appreciation:  Let the homeowners know that you appreciate their time for speaking with you and you enjoyed speaking with them.
  8. Follow Through:  When you get a prospective homeowner to give you their contact information, follow through!  It can be as simple as a postcard or email sent before the scheduled appointment.

Canvassing can be a great way to generate new leads for your business.  Like any other sales or marketing effort your company engages in, it will take some practice.  Remember, it can be a profitable and cost effective way to introduce your water feature business to new customers.

Have you had success with canvassing in your business?  We’d love to hear your experiences.

neptune panels installers

Selling Backyard Water Features: Two Different Approaches

If you’ve been in the outdoor living area industry for any length of time, you’ve certainly seen some difference in the way homeowners go about their purchases.  Just 10 years ago, when home equity loans were popular, customers were willing to part with their money a little easier.  Today it seems customers are seeking value in their outdoor projects.    What’s the best way to sell to today’s consumers?

selling water features

There are two different philosophies to approach the in home sale when it comes to outdoor living area projects.  Top down versus bottom up selling.  By top down I mean you give the customer a price for the whole enchilada,  the backyard waterfall, lighting, seating area, fire pit and work down to get into their budget.  The bottom up is starting at a very basic project, and working up from there.

With a top down selling approach you’re basically giving the customer a complete, fully loaded offering of everything you can provide, similar to them walking on to a car lot and looking at the top of the line, completely loaded luxury car,  and deciding which options aren’t really needed.  It’s almost like shocking them with the price so they feel comfortable when the bid comes in lower.  While a popular strategy 10 years ago, it’s been less effective with clients in today’s market.

The bottom up approach starts with a bare bone, minimal feature, essentially your base model.  This helps the customer feel comfortable with the price, but who wants a stripped down version of anything?  This is where your needs analysis and your role as an adviser come into play.  How will they be using the area?  Is the water feature merely for decoration, or will they be gathering there?   A fire pit and a sitting area might fit their needs.

Using the bottom up approach, you’ll be providing your customers the value they’re seeking in their outdoor living area, while leaving yourself room for future work.  Maybe the backyard kitchen isn’t in the budget this year, but if you position yourself right and keep in front of them with email newsletters and other touch marketing, there could be another job down the road when they look for further enhancements.

So what approach is working best for your company in this economic climate?  Please share your thoughts and ideas.

neptune panels installers

Demonstration Days: Gaining Exposure For Your Water Feature Business

backyard waterfall demonstrationOne of the most successful methods Neptune Panels installers have had in generating new business is by hosting a demonstration day.  Any contractor that does hardscapes, swimming pools, water features and outdoor living areas can benefit from this type of promotion.  Water feature contractors have generated significant business from a demonstration day.

Plan:

1.    Select a date 4-6 weeks out in advance.

2.    Find a suitable location that can accommodate a good number of people and has some traffic.  Car dealerships and retail shopping centers lend well to a promotion, and you’ll gain exposure beyond the demonstration. Once the area is prepped, a typical water feature can be completed in 4-5 hours.  Offer to cover the cost of labor if they’ll pay for only the materials in exchange to do the promotion.  They can also help in cross promoting through their local advertising.

Promote:

1.    Let your customers know what you’re doing.  Send them a flyer in the statement for the month letting them know.  Send out a couple of email invitations.  If you have a monthly newsletter, promote it there.  Post it on your Facebook page. Send invitations to the local chamber group and other builders associations or organizations you belong to.  Invite architects and other contractors.  This is a networking event getting you some exposure for the creative work you do.

2.    Send out a press release, contact your local paper and invite them to the event.  Post in your blog and on your website.  Maybe even contact your local TV station.  At certain times of the year they might want to highlight home improvement stories.

Execute:

1.    The day before the event have the area prepped and ready to go.  Be sure all of the supplies are ordered and in place and your team is set.

2.    The day of the event have a 10×10 tent set up.  Have a table with brochures, business cards, and a sign in sheet for attendees.  Refreshments like water and soda, coffee and doughnuts, and maybe even bring in pizza or sandwiches for lunch.  Plan to start around 10AM and finish around 3PM.

3.    Take pictures and video for the work as it’s going along.  This will be a great piece to use on your website and blog, and for promotional purposes.

4.    Have a great demonstration!  Invite questions and participation as the project progresses.

Follow-Through:

1.    Now that you’ve had a successful demonstration, it’s time to build off of it.  Get the picture and video posted to your website and Facebook page.

2.    Get an email out to everyone on the sign-in sheet.  Let your customers know the location of the completed project so they see firsthand what you can do.

3.    Follow up with the contractors and architects and find out where you can quote some projects.

Gaining exposure for your services of building resort style backyard water features by hosting a demonstration day can generate opportunities well beyond the featured installation.  While it takes some planning and promotion, the rewards can pay off for years to come.

neptune panels installers

5 Important Strategies When Building A Backyard Water Feature

 Strategies When Building A Backyard Water Feature

When you build a backyard water feature, using your imagination and creativeness can result in some of the most breath taking features. Along with these attributes you also need to keep in mind some of the basics to keep your project working correctly and efficiently. Here are a few things to always keep in the back of your mind as you are building.

1.            Controlling the water

Water will always find the path of least resistance when traveling down your falls. Keep the sides higher will keep the water from spilling off areas that are not intended. The pitch should always carry the water towards the pond and depending on the angle it can slow or speed up the flow. Be sure that your reservoir is higher in the back and sealed up tight. You don’t want water leaking of the backside of the waterfall. Creating ridges and crests can help divert water into the designated areas or simply break the flow up.

2.            The drop

Depending on the desired effect will determine the face and angle of the cantilever. Some features are designed to flow down the face and then drop into the pond while others are meant to sheet or “spill” from above. By having a predetermined goal before construction will allow you to set your panels in the correct position and make for less adjusting later on.

3.            Leveling the Pond

When pouring the pond make sure you keep a levelness to the outside stones. You can still create different size rocks just ensure they all “flow” in the same manner. If the pond is poured at an angle and because water is always level, your unevenness will be highlighted.

4.            Pond Size

The size and depth of the pond can plays a big role in safety and efficiency. For one, if you are not adding decorative stone to the bottom to build up the actual depth make sure there will not be an issue with children or pets falling in. The size of your pond will be determined by the height and flow of water of your waterfall. Make sure that it is not to close otherwise you may get splashing of the pond rocks which can make the feature less enjoyable to those around it.

5.            The Shape of your Waterfall

The outline of your backyard waterfall should always have a natural look to it. With many different styles of stones and boulders to replicate it is easy to lose track of the final shape. You may have a feature full of the greatest textures and coloring but if it does not appear feasible in nature then most times it will not look right. Always step back as you are building to get a whole view of the project. Look at it from different angles to make sure they all coincide and look pleasing.

No two backyard waterfalls look the exact same and building styles are unique from person to person. Letting your creative side take over can ensure that your water feature will be an expression of your skill and artistic ability, just remember to fall back to the basics to keep on the right track to a successful project.

 

neptune panels installers

5 Keys To Build A Successful Water Feature Business

running a successful water feature business

A growing trend in outdoor living areas is the addition of water features and backyard waterfalls to the landscape.  While this is a niche market, it can be a highly profitable addition to swimming pool builders, hardscape or landscape contractors business.  There are a few key principles to follow in insure your continued success.  These five principles are:

  1. Follow a systematic and duplicable process.   When you build your water features using a system that can be replicated on jobsite after jobsite, using the same installation process, it takes the mystery out of the process and lets you teach and train crew members on the steps and procedures.  This is important so you can run your business, find more jobs, and focus on growing your customer base.
  2. K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid).  Let’s face it; building backyard water features isn’t rocket science.  There’s really no reason to overcomplicate the process.  Leonardo Da Vinci’s principle “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” certainly applies here, whether working with your crew or working with your clients.
  3. Work with the landscape, not against it.  As a professional, it’s your job to let your customer know what will work and fit with their landscape plans.  Sometimes clients can have some unrealistic wishes.  This brings us to the next point.
  4. Give your customers what they want, not what they ask for.  We’ve all had the customer that thinks they can’t live without certain features in their design.  This is what you get paid for, to give advice.  If you’ve listened to their expectations of what they are seeking to achieve, you should get a good picture of the finished product you can provide.  You’re the one that has solved the same problem for previous customers.  Clarify their desires,  ask the right questions, then show them the solution you’re going to provide.
  5. No free estimates.  While it’s certainly possible to provide a price range for your customer over the phone for a typical water feature, chances are the customer is looking for a design or drawing.  As a professional, you should respect your time and trade, and insist on working with customers that feel the same.  Every job you do is unique and your time is valuable.  When you do a design consultation, you’re providing value for that client.

Of course your success will depend on many other factors including providing a quality service and securing customer referrals.  Let us know if you agree or take a different philosophy in running your business from what we’ve covered here.  We’d like to hear your comments.

neptune panels installers

Outdoor Living Areas: Assessing Your Customers Needs

Backyard waterfall and waterfall garden

As the popularity of outdoor living areas continues to grow, the opportunity for contractors to provide their customers with exceptional designs and options is better than ever.  Assisting with planning and maximizing the space available will provide your customer with years of enjoyment in their outdoor living space.  Here are five points of consideration when planning the outdoor living area.

  • Landscape:  What is the size of the area you’ll be working in?  What are the physical features?  Will you be adding a garden area?
  • Hardscape:  How will your customer be using the backyard space?  Do they like to entertain or is it more of a peaceful, serene escape?
  • Sun Orientation:  At what time of day will the area have the most use?  How will you create a shaded area?
  • Paths of circulation:  What is the walking area and flow moving into the outdoor living space?
  • Focal point:  There are a number of possible focal points you can create in the outdoor living area, any of which can be the area of focus for your customer.  A few examples are:
    • Water Feature:  Probably the most dramatic way to create a point of focus, a backyard waterfall adds a beautiful and natural escape.  There’s a soothing and invigorating quality to the sight and sound of running water.
    • Fireplace or fire pit:  There’s a mystical enjoyment that happens when gathering around an open fire.
    • Outdoor kitchen and dining area:  Cooking and eating outside bring a new level of excitement to meals and family gatherings.
    • Garden:  The natural beauty of a garden brings enjoyment from both the aesthetics and a meditative quality while tending the garden.

backyard fire pit

With various landscape design software packages available, going the extra mile to provide your customer with their ideal outdoor living area will enhance their satisfaction, as well as enhance your portfolio.  What better way to grow your business than with a long list of satisfied customers?

neptune panels installers

How To Use Google Places For Your Swimming Pool Waterfall Business

 

google places for your swimming pool waterfall business

We’re all familiar with Google Search. Most of us use it every day to find information and data to help us with our jobs and make our daily easier or perhaps, just more entertaining. However, Google is not only a search engine. It also has a range of tools that provide marketers with social networking and content creation opportunities. Google Places is one of these lesser known tools, but used correctly, it can help your swimming pool waterfall business get found on local search results on both Google Search and Google Maps. In fact, you’ve probably unknowingly used it yourself to find a local restaurant or dentist. So, what exactly us Google Places and why is it important?

Google Places is a free service that lets you list useful information about your business for potential customers to see. It’s sort of like the Web 2.0 version of a Yellow Pages ad, but better. With Google Places you can:

  • Gain more visibility for your business
  • Attract more traffic to your web site
  • Level the playing field and appear higher up in search results

 

You probably already have a Google Places listing and don’t even know it. Google collects data from multiple sources, some of which may be outdated or incorrect and aggregates these into a Places listing. Google Places is a great listing for local businesses and getting to the first indexed page is of huge benefit to any business as it will bring in more customers and clients. When you apply for a page in these Google Places, you should make sure that you provide as much information as possible about your business, which means filling in all the optional text fields. You should also upload pictures and videos of swimming pool waterfalls and outdoor living areas you’ve done as the more information you have on your pages, it would appear that the higher you will be ranked in the Place index.

swimming pool waterfalls for google places

Google Places is rather like a Yellow Pages directory where people look to find products and services that they need and which are specific to a local area. Because of the growth of mobile marketing, the number of mobile devices and an ever-increasing desire on the part of the consumer for a more personalized customer interaction with a business and advertiser, the more important Google Places becomes for a local business owner.

A growing number of searches now concentrate on finding local businesses and services, so your business needs to be in those Google Places so that you have as much Internet exposure to your potential client or customer-base as possible. Because Places listings are increasingly finding their way onto the first pages of a Google search, your business needs to be prominent in order for it to beat the competition.

Looking at businesses that have been highly ranked on Places pages, you can’t help but notice that they have been reviewed by customers. The more and better the reviews, it appears that the higher the business is ranked. This has not been stated by Google, but is simply the information for which there is clear evidence in the Places rankings.

As a local business owner you have a client/customer base and you need to ask these people to review your products, business or services. You could have flyers made and give these out at the cash register, requesting satisfied customers to write a review for you.

In 2010 local businesses could choose to ignore Google places, but it would be folly to neglect to use them now. As more searches online are to find local providers of whatever the customer/client wants, it is important for local businesses to have a profile on the Places pages so that prospective customers know where to find what they are looking for. A profile which includes visual images be they photos or videos, will have a higher place on the index pages for that category of service or sales.

So, if you haven’t done so already, create and/or claim your Google Places listing as soon as possible. When creating or updating your listing be sure to do the following:

  • Optimize the listing by using key words that are directly relevant to the products and services you provide.
  • Add images, photos, and videos to create a rich and robust listing. The extra information will help Google match your listing to more searches and ultimately increase the number of views you receive.

 

Here a few helpful links on setting up your page:

http://www.google.com/support/places/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=142902&topic=1660711&parent=1656746&rd=1

http://allied-women.com/how-to-claim-your-google-places-listing-to-increase-your-local-business/

http://learning.hubspot.com/blog/bid/109463/How-to-Create-a-Google-Places-Account-Concept-of-the-Week

neptune panels installers

3 Steps To Pouring the Pond For Your Backyard Waterfall

Before you start hanging the panels for your backyard waterfall you and your team will have to pour the catch basin. This step can be completed quite fast so attention to detail is important. Excavation should take a couple of hours including installing steel and plumbing. Make sure to have equipment, rebar, plumbing, and frames on site as you will need them for the prep.

First on the list is digging the pond. Be sure to remove all organic material when excavating. You will want to keep the sides of the pond at a slope and not straight up and down, this will help when you are stacking the mud and also help with the freeze/thaw cycle when the pond has pressure on it. Keep the area where your pump is going, the lowest point so that water will drain towards it when cleaning or winterizing.

preparing to pour a pond for a backyard waterfall

Tying the rebar will be the next step. Bend and shape rebar along the contours of the pond in a 12” x 12” grid. Tie off each intersection so that there are no loose ends to worry about. Candy cane the ends off the rebar up over the edge if the pond for reinforcement of the borders rocks. Once you have all the steel tied you can put broken bricks or stones under the cage to lift it off the ground about 3-4 inches to allow the concrete encompass the steel. You can also set your frames and plumbing in at this point. Be sure to tape any open ends of the pipe so no mud gets in. Set the frames according to your design and you can tie some rebar into them for sturdiness during the pour.

building a waterfall pond

Now for the fun part! The pour. You will be pouring a 4500 psi grout mix for the pond. Ideally you will want to get the ready mix truck right next to the pond. A majority of the pouring will be into the bottom of the pond and you will shovel it into place. Work up the slopes and onto the edge of the pond with the mud. You will want to make sure you put enough concrete on the edge to carve your rocks out when the mud has set up some. While some of the crew is taking care to carve and texture the outside stones someone in the pond will be making sure to have a depth of about 8” everywhere.

Be sure to keep the pitch in the bottom heading towards where the pump will be. Pile up concrete around the frames as well and make sure to lift them up into the middle of the concrete. Let it set up some and then add any additional you need for a good footing around the frames. Once you have cut and textured all the edge stones, Plaster the inside making sure to close up all the pores while you work your way out of the pond. After you have poured all the mud you need and everything is textured spend time with a brush detailing the joints and textures.

carving a backyard waterfall pond

Once you have cleaned up all the excess mud and all detail work is done let the pond cure overnight before doing any more work on it. By the next morning you will be ready to start tying rebar around the frames and hanging panels!

neptune panels installers

5 Reasons To Blog About Your Backyard Waterfall Business

waterfall business blog

The revolution in social media has changed the landscape for how businesses interact with their customers.  The foundation for any social media strategy is your blog.  While it may seem like a daunting task, a blog is basically an online journal.  It’s a great way to share the uniqueness of your business with your customers.  So why should your backyard water feature business keep a blog?

I’d like to use an example of fiberglass swimming pool company that was struggling to attract customers.  After battling for a few years to build their company, in November 2008 River Pools and Spas had finally begun to see the light and the economy turned downward.  Faced with the prospect of closing their doors, they stumbled across a concept called inbound marketing in March 2009.  So how did they use their blog to move to the top of Google search results for fiberglass swimming pools?  Here are 5 reasons to consider:

  1. Little To No Cost:  Establishing a blog is basically free, or extremely cheap to do.  Sites such as WordPress can provide you with instructions on how to set the platform up on your own site.
  2. Educate Your Customer:  When a customer is considering a swimming pool waterfall or backyard water feature, where is the first place they’re going to start for information?  Chances are it’s with an online search.  This helps answer the question of” what do I write about?” that business owners ask.  Answer the questions your customers will be asking.  You become the authority by providing them answers to the common questions like property disruption, time to complete a project, options and styles available, etc.  Make a list of questions you’re asked and answer them.
  3. Showcase Your Work:  Chances are that you’ve done some projects your proud of and highlight your talent.  Tell the story of those projects.  The challenges you overcame, how you arrived at the design you used, what the customer specifically wanted and how you provided that.
  4. Provide Customer Testimonials:  One thing that successful businesses do is constantly seek out testimonials from their satisfied clients.  What better way to highlight the quality of your work than through stories of happy customers.
  5. Use Long-tail Keywords:  What is a long tail keyword?  Rather than use a term to write about such as swimming pool waterfalls, how about using your city and write about “swimming pool waterfalls in Boston”?  The longer the tail, the easier it is to rank in Google and the other search engines for that particular keyword phrase.  This will make it easier for customers to find you and give you the first shot at providing them with your services.

That swimming pool company I spoke about earlier?  One of the owners, Marcus Sheridan, writes about his experiences and teaches blogging practices in his blog, The Sales Lion.  He also offers a free ebook for download that talks about best practices for business blogging and how to get your business found on the web.  It’s definitely worth checking out.

Blogging for your business requires a commitment, and it’s not a quick fix to drive new leads.  But through consistent writing, you’ll make it easier for your new customers to find you.  Do you have any success with blogging you can share?

neptune panels installers

How To Design A Backyard Waterfall

how to design a backyard waterfall

 

So you have decided to build a water feature to enhance your client’s outdoor living area. The concept of a backyard waterfall has your customer intrigued and excited but now you have to come up with a design. Following a few simple procedures you will have a design that will functionally and aesthetically be pleasing to the consumer.

Step 1. Planning and Layout

Take a look at your surroundings and see what is workable and what isn’t. Take advantage of slopes or existing rocks that can be incorporated. Look at the size and height you are planning on and see where it will fit best. Is it a feature that you want people to be up close and personal with? Or is it simply for viewing and background noise? Try to use the environment to your advantage.

Step 2. The Spillway

Your spillway will play a big part in the entire design for the waterfall. The flow of water will impact the visual attributes of the feature greatly. If you are looking for a quieter and less dramatic fall then a cascading effect should be the goal. For a more emotional and breathtaking fall you will want to have sheer cliff faces and cantilevered design. Find out which side you are leaning to or somewhere in between that compliments the desired outcome.

Step 3. Catch Basin (Pond)

The ponds shape and design will coincide with the flow of water and size of the feature. Usually the most popular design is the pond less design. This helps when children are present or even family pets as the pond is filled with a decorative aggregate close to the water surface. Kidney shapes are also quite common as they break things up from being perfectly circular. Depending on the height of your falls you will need to keep in mind how far out the spill will hit and how much splash will go over the edge

Step 4. Aesthetics

4. This can be very important as there are several things that can be easily overlooked. The loudness of your feature can be very relaxing but also turn a beautiful waterfall into an area where people can not kick back and conversate because of the noise. Splash is another key thing to be aware of. If your feature is a butting a patio or hang out spot you don’t want water splashing all over admiring guests. Being situation-ally aware is also very important. Where can the backyard waterfall be seen from? Is it going to be enjoyed from more than one spot in the yard? Keeping these in mind will keep you project much more visually pleasing and functional.

Step 5. Special Circumstances

You will want to know how your client intends to use the feature. If they are planning on fish or any habitats then you will need special filters and chemicals and be sure to make sure the sun will not be an issue. If nighttime is a big use for them you may need electrical conduit for accent lighting. Take into consideration everything beforehand so that you are properly setup and not dealing with after thoughts that can be very costly and time consuming.

waterfall design for garden

As always, being innovative will set you apart from the competition, just don’t forget the basics and you can take your design in any direction you wish.

 

neptune panels installers