Eight of The Hottest Landscaping Trends For 2019

 

Every homeowner wants to have a beautiful outdoor space in their home.  Each year preferences change and as we go through 2019, there are new trends in landscaping to be excited about.  Whether you are a homeowner looking to spruce up your outdoor space or a landscaping business trying to stay abreast of the trends, here is what you need to know.

Here are eight of the hottest landscaping trends to expect in 2019

 

1. More living space outdoors

People want to enjoy their outdoor space in comfort as if they were sitting in their house.  For this reason, you will see more functional outdoor rooms this year.  Think specific areas for relaxing and entertaining.  For those that love to cook outside and hold intimate dinners, we are talking outdoor kitchens with the same conveniences of an indoor kitchen.   Take it a step further and you can create covered rooms with TV and internet connectivity.  All this keeping everyone outside for longer periods enjoying the fresh air.

2. Automated landscape maintenance

The less time people have to spend taking care of their outdoor spaces the better.  Technology right now is more environmentally efficient and streamlined than ever before.  Think of robotic lawn mowers, sprinkler systems that you set and don’t have to worry about again as well as advanced lighting and electrical systems.  Homeowners are loving the idea of these advancements that will allow them to enjoy their outdoor spaces that much more.

3. Pergolas

Pergolas have been around for years but as we move through 2019, they are being taken up a notch.  We will be seeing them upgraded with space heaters, sound and lighting systems, roll down windows and more.  These are the Mercedes of pergolas that we are talking about.  Put this together with a nice outdoor kitchen and beautiful outdoor furniture and you have an outdoor sanctuary that people want to bask in.

4. Lots of pink

Shades of coral and blush has been named Pantone’s colors of the year so we can expect to lots of variations on these shades in landscapes this year.  You will also see these colors extended to the flower selections as well as the hardscapes and stone selections.

5. Firepits

This isn’t your ordinary s’mores by the bonfire we are talking.  Fire pits have become very popular and will continue to be in 2019.  From pits that use firewood to those that are gas burning, there are tons of options to choose from.  They even have ones that have the option of using your smartphone to turn the fire on and off.  How is that for technological advancement.

6. Smart lighting

It is all about automation in 2019.  Setting timers is nothing new but using a mobile app to adjust your lighting may be.  Handle everything from your seat and conserve energy too.

7.  Water

Water features are super popular in landscaping as they add a nice element of nature and they help drown out noise.  Adding some sort of water feature to your outdoor space is key if you want a well rounded outdoor area.

8. Xeriscaping

In an effort to make landscaping as maintenance free as possible and use less irrigation, xeriscaping will be popular this year.  This concept uses native plants that don’t require much water if any.  You will usually see these types of plants surrounded by pebbles or mulch as opposed to grass.  This of course means less mowing time.  If you are looking for super low maintenance with your landscape, this is the route to go.

Final thoughts

People want their outdoor spaces to be an extension of their indoor spaces.  For this reason, as we move through 2019, we are going to see outdoor spaces take on much of the same features we have come to love in our homes.  Outdoor kitchens, great lighting, plush furniture and more is what is going to shape this year in outdoor spaces.

When it comes to finding a landscaping company to create your outdoor vision, you want to make sure you choose the right company.  How the company is run says a lot to how they will handle your property.   A business that is  well managed will have a system in place for scheduling work as well as billing and managing client accounts as well as have other professional attributes like a website, business cards etc. If a company is well invested in the right business tools, that means they are serious about their clients and keeping them happy.

 

7 Tips For Increasing Your Influence As A Team Leader

 

When you are a team leader, the amount of impact you will have is greatly determined by the level of influence you have with your team.   The question now becomes, how do you become influential?  The first stepping stone would be to focus on self-improvement.  You want to make sure you are investing in your own abilities first and foremost.  Bringing your best self to work each and every day is one of the best ways to boost your influence.  With that being said, there are additional things you can do to help increase the level of influence you have.

Here are seven tips to help boost your influence as a team leader

Provide the right circumstances  

People want to feel capable.  A great way to achieve this is by creating circumstances that will provide your team members with a series of small wins.  Giving the opportunity to master challenges will help give a boost to their potential.  Not to mention they will have you to thank for their growth.

Have faith in your team

When you can look at a team member in the eye and say ” I believe in you”, you are providing them the most powerful form of support and empowerment.  A leader that can make their team feel like they can accomplish anything will have all the influence they need.

Be consistent

Consistency is key in most things and it certainly is the case when it comes to leading a team.  Handle your tasks productively and to the best of your ability on time each and every time, will show your team they can rely on you.  The same applies for your style of leadership.  You want to set up consistent expectations and your team will know what to expect from you.  All this will help build up your level of influence with them.

Give trust so you can earn trust. 

You have trust in your team in order for them to trust you.  Trust really is what your leadership is based on and what will help grow the business.  You have to have trust between the team leader and the team members for the group to effectively work together.

Be a cheerleader

Your team wants to know that you want to see them succeed.  The more your team knows that you believe in them and their ideas, the more they’ll believe in your ideas and incorporate them into their work habits.  You create this type of relationship by being a good listener.  Hear your team’s opinions and feedback and encourage them to use their voice.  They will feel valued for it. Remember, helping another human being succeed is one of the most powerful things you can offer to your team.

Build your relationship with your team and you will build your influence

As a team leader, you are expected to develop a strong working relationship with your team.  You need to be able to connect with them not just on a work level but on a personal level.  Make a point to have personal exchanges with your employees and co-workers. You don’t have to become best buddies, but there is no reason to not have a friendly banter going on.  Creating these personal working relationships leads to a sense of team, and if people see you as another person on the team, they will be that much more receptive when you share your ideas or opinions.  This is what truly builds influence.

Lead with character

As a person in a position of power, the spotlight is on your character.  It is essential that you lead with integrity and that you consistently do what is right, regardless of how hard that may be.  Your example is everything and your level of influence is directly tied to it. People will follow suit when they see you exhibiting strong character and integrity.

Final thoughts

 As a team leader you want to know you have a certain level of influence over your team.  However, this is something you earn over time by exhibiting positive behaviors that show great work ethic and that you value the voice of each team member.  The above tips will help you to further nurture and grow your influence so that everyone experiences personal growth and in turn the business benefits from it.

 

8 Reasons You Should Have A Safety Program For Your Lawn Care Business

 

Insurance can be one of the largest expenses for a lawn care business.  For this reason, it is recommended that you have a well-documented safety program in place.  This is one of the best ways to help reduce this fixed cost and boost up profits.   Implemented properly, both your business and your employees will benefit.

 

Below are five reasons to have a safety program for your lawn care business

 

1. The number of injured workers will go down

This one is pretty simple.  Putting the safety of your employees first by implementing a safety program is the right thing to do for them and your business.  You will see fewer injuries on the job which means less time taken away from work.  This will help lessen the stress that will be put on the other employees who have to pick up the slack.  Furthermore, a safety program will help eliminate or lower your insurance claims.  Too many claims can wind up being a financial disaster for your business.

2. Your will get a better insurance premium rate

When you have a well-documented safety program in place, insurance carriers are more apt to give your business better credits and discounts.  It helps show that you know how to properly run your business.  Well documented is the key phrase here, without it you don’t have much to show.

3. The number and severity of claims will go down

Your business will no doubt see fewer accidents with a clear and thorough safety program in place.  Not to mention the severity of the accidents will go down too.  One thing you want to make sure you have in place is a return to work program.  This will help injured workers get back on the job that much quicker.  This point is important because the faster they return to work the more likely they will  return to work permanently. This all impacts the amount of the claim.

The amount that the insurance carrier has to pay out for claims directly impacts what is called “businesses experience modification rating”.  This rating is a key factor in determining what your premium will be.  If you have an injured worker who doesn’t return to the job and stays on worker compensation for a long period, you will see a  negative impact on your experience modification rating.

4. Your premium is less likely to go up 

When accidents occur, chances are your commercial insurance rates will go up.  They are less likely to go up from a minor incident but in landscaping, your chances of a big incident occurring go up.  With a strong safety program in place, your insurance agent can show how this incident was more of a one off and not a sign that you don’t run your business properly.

5. Your business is less likely to be dropped by your carrier

If your business is submitting a lot of claims in a given period, you could be dropped from your insurance carrier.  Having a safety program in place will help ensure this does not happen to your business.  Even if you were to get dropped, having a program in place will help you have an easier time finding coverage in the open market.

6. You will have happier employees

Having a strong safety program in place will boost morale among employees.  They will appreciate that the company is making their well being a priority.

7. Productivity  will increase

Being both safe and productive go hand-in-hand. Employees who are properly trained to safely operate equipment tend to be better operators.  Speaking of productivity with your employees, it is critical that your business uses a landscaping business management software.  Just like a safety program will benefit your employees and your bottom line, a comprehensive software program will provide you with the necessary project and internal management functions you need to successfully run your business.

8. Helps maintain OSHA compliance

With a comprehensive safety program in place you won’t have to worry about being in compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Final thoughts

There are many factors to consider when it comes to having a successful lawn care business.  One of the most important is having a well-documented and comprehensive safety program in place for employees.  Having one will not only help keep the number of injuries down but you will also see the benefits in terms of insurance and expenses.

Tips For Taking Your Real Estate Marketing To The Next Level

 

As we approach the end of 2018, it is time to give thought to your current marketing efforts and what improvements you can make for the new year.  There is a lot of competition out there and you want to make sure you are employing the most effective strategies to take your real estate brand to the next level.

Here are ways you can upgrade your real estate marketing efforts today.

1. Make sure your photo quality is top notch

You don’t need to be a professional photographer to notice the difference between a high quality professional image and one taken quickly with your phone.  A picture says a thousand words and you want yours to convey that.  Nowadays, smartphones have come a long way in terms of quality photos and with all the filters, you can certainly take some nice shots.  It also does not hurt to invest in a digital camera, they are pretty affordable as well.  So for your next photo shoot, take the time to take quality images.  Take advantage of natural  light and be sure to try out some different angles.

Once you have your money shots, you need to add them to an email real estate flyer.  If you are not using email flyers to market your listings, you are missing out on one of the best ways to easily get the word out about your properties. Choose a template, upload your photos and with a press of a button, you can send out your beautiful flyers to your database.

2. Create valuable content

Creating value through content for your clients as well as potential clients is a way to keep the relationship fresh in between transactions.  There are times when someone may not be looking for a house but you want to stay in touch.  By now, you should have a blog going on your website.  This is an easy and effective way to provide value to your database.  The sky’s the limit with what you write about.  It can be anything from holiday decorating tips to the state of the real estate market in your area.  Any content that will bring value is a win . You of course should also have all your social media accounts set up and you can share your blogs on them as well.

3. Be active on social media

We don’t need to say how important social media is to your marketing efforts.  This is a place to not only advertise your properties but also to share valuable content.  Like we mentioned above, you should be posting all your blog content here as well as any third party content that would be of value and interest to your followers.  Just make sure you are being social and responding to any comments.  Engagement with your audience is what will help grow your following and business.

4. Ask for Referrals

As a real estate agent, getting referrals should be high on the priority list but for many it is not.  It is time to change that.  If you don’t have any practice in place to request referrals from your clients, it is time to put one in place.  Recommendations from family and friends goes such a long way for people.

Always make sure you have your business cards on hand and make sure your cards have your social media handles for leaving reviews. When sending out any email marketing, this should be the case too.  In the signature, you should have links to sites like Google+, Yelp, LinkedIn and Facebook.   At the end of the day, a client who is happy will be glad to return the favor in the form of a positive review or a referral, so take advantage of the opportunity.

5. Go through your database and clean it up

If your contact database is filled with wrong email addresses, it is of no use to you.  Not to mention, if you get too many bounces and unsubscribes, that will really affect your chances of making it to the inbox.  Take the time to go clean up your data and take out any unsubscribes.

6. Have a follow up process in place

Being a real estate agent is all about relationship building.  You need to stay in touch with your clients in order to be the one they think of when it comes to their next move.  One great way to stay in touch is with a real estate email newsletter.  Make sure they are chock full of valuable information and not your latest property for sale.  By providing valuable content and regularly reaching out, past clients will be more likely  to remember you when they need help with their next real estate transaction.

Some other budget ways to keep in touch is the old fashioned phone call.  So much of our communication today is just not as personal as it once was.  People are opting for texting and emailing over a phone call.   Stand out from the competition and call your client that just closed on their home to congratulate them.  You could also put a little budget towards sending out holiday cards or birthday cards.

7. Add live chat to your website

As you drive traffic back to your website, what are people to do once they get there.  In order to maximize each visit from a potential client, you should add live chat to your website.  This will give visitors the chance to ask questions and receive answers in real-time.  People have short attention spans and they want answers now. Give it to them.

Final thoughts

As a real estate agent, the marketing tactics you use are what will set you apart from the competition.  As we enter 2019, make sure you are employing strategies that will help you not only grow your brand but foster a deeper connection with your clients.

5 Top Shopify Apps To Help You Boost Sales

Shopify-Boost-Sales

Shopify offers tons of different apps that are supposed to help you increase sales.  The key is to know which are the ones you really need. We have done the work for you and without further ado, here they are.

5 Best Shopify Apps To Boost Store Sales

  1. Exit Offers by Sticky Apps

This powerful app provides you with a pop-up that appears with an offer when a visitor starts to navigate away from your store.  The offer is customizable by you and you can choose to have it pop-up for everyone or just those that have items in their cart.  I love that you have access to stats that let you know how much revenue you are making from using this app as well as a/b testing capabilities with the offers.  They offer a 14 day free trial so it is a no brainer to give it a shot.

2. Swell Rewards 

Customer retention should be a very big part of your overall marketing strategy.  If you don’t know by now, it costs much less to keep a customer than to try and get a new one.  A great way to do this is by using referral and rewards programs.  Swell is an easy to use tool that helps you put together a loyalty program.  They provide you with a lot of creative ways for your customer to earn points:  writing reviews, creating a store account, interacting with you on social media, making purchases, referring friends etc. Also it is free for up to 100 orders per month.  

3. RetargetApp 

Retargeting customers is a marketing tactic this has worked very well for many. You are basically showing someone products they have looked at previously but did not end up purchasing. RetargetApp works by focusing on optimizing retargeting Facebook ads.  They will display personalized ads of previously viewed products in hopes of re-engaging that person. This is an automated solution that will take care of everything for you.  All you do is install a pixel, create a product catalog and run a campaign.  You also need to come up with an ad message and a daily budget.

4. Consistent Cart


This app will help you increase revenue by decreasing your abandoned cart rate.  It works by adding back in items that were previously in your cart when you log onto different computers.  Without this app, someone may create an account on your site and add a few items to their cart for later purchase.  When they come back to your store after logging on to their home computer, their cart is empty.  Chances are you will lose that sale.  This is why this app saves your sales.

5. SEO Image Optimizer

Google images is one of the main places searches are taking place.  For this reason, it represents a key channel for attracting new customers. With that being said, SEO for product images is a big mystery to tackle for most business owners even though it is one of the most effective ways to drive traffic back to your site.  This is where this app takes over.  It is super easy to set up and once you do, it will adjust all the Alt tags for your products (this is the number one thing to do to optimize your images).

Conclusion

Every Shopify store owner is looking to improve sales and with so many apps out there, it is hard to know which are the best ones to go with.  The apps mentioned above have great features and drive results.  Try them out and start boosting your sales.

 

10 Social Media Marketing Tips To Help Grow Your Business

 

Social media nowadays is essential to growing your business, generating leads and really building your brand.  It is a big task but there are steps you can take to help you navigate it successfully.

 

Below are 10 social media marketing tips to help your business succeed on social media.

1. Come up with a social media marketing strategy

Before you set out on putting together your social media marketing strategy you want to have some goals in mind in order to execute it successfully.

Here are some points to think about as you figure out your end goals:

  • What are you looking to achieve?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What social media platforms are your target audience on and how do they use them?
  • What type of message will you be trying to convey to your audience with social media marketing?

2. Perform a social media audit

Before you start creating new profiles on any platforms, you should think about doing a social media audit.  By doing this, you will review what is working for you and what is not working for you across all your social media profiles.  With these new insights, you will be able to come up with new goals and objectives for your brand.

3. Pick the right social media platform for your business

Not all social media platforms are the same.  They each help you achieve different objectives and also reach different audiences.  For this reason, you want to have a different strategy for each one. As an example, a business in the travel industry would be very visual, so platforms like Pinterest and Instagram would be a better fit than say Google+ or Twitter.  Facebook is obviously a platform many businesses use.  What you want to keep in mind is that your organic reach on the platform is very limited so you want to consider using their Facebook ads.  Facebook caters to all size businesses so they are budget friendly.

4. Schedule your social media posts

Managing multiple social media accounts and coming up with fresh content to post can be very time consuming.  For this reason, scheduling your posts to Instagram and other sites is key.  You can schedule as many posts as you want for the day and time of your choosing.  This has really been a lifesaver for my business.  My freed up time can be spent on managing other important things.

5. Take advantage of Google analytics

Google Analytics can be a treasure trove for your business.  It not only measures sales and conversions but also provides you with insight into how visitors reached your site, how they use your site and ways in which you can keep them coming back.  

6. Have a blog on your website

Having a blog on your website is key to your businesses’ marketing strategy.  Posting valuable content will attract more prospects, help drive traffic to your website and ultimately, increase sales.

7. Use a content calendar to keep organized

Businesses can spend upwards of six hours each week on social media. That is practically an entire work day spent on creating and scheduling social media content.  Using a social media content calendar is key to your overall social media marketing plan. It you will be helpful in organizing, planning and maintaining all of your social content.

When it comes to coming up with engaging content to post, many businesses struggle.  If you are spending hours you really don’t have looking for content, you should consider hiring a company that can create custom social media content for you.  Tell them all about your company and they provide you with tailored content for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  You have the ability to schedule the day and time you want your posts to go live.   A real gem for your business.

8. Use SEO keywords in your LinkedIn business profile

LinkedIn gives you a 156-character limit for your company description so you need to be strategic about what you include. You want to list what you do, who you are and any other relevant keywords that will assist Google in determining what your LinkedIn page stands for.  Take advantage of tools like Google’s free Keyword Planner or Trends to see what the key search queries are for your industry. 

9. Optimize your website for sharing on Pinterest

Pinterest pulls in more referral traffic than the other major social platforms combined and can be a great source for driving inbound traffic to your site.  For this reason, it is key to make sure your website is optimized for sharing on Pinterest.  You want to have engaging images and/or infographics.

10. Use current events

People use social media to not only connect with their favorite businesses but also to stay current with what is going on in the world.  Keep an eye on hashtags that are trending on Twitter and other platforms.  You can use this as you are trying to come up with content to post.  This will also help you participate in larger conversations and grow your own following.

 

 

Tips For Hosting A Successful Twitter Chat

 

When it comes to social media marketing, Twitter can have a big impact on a brand’s success.   Drumming up conversation and boosting engagement is what every company is looking for and hosting a Twitter chat is a great way to achieve that.  With that being said, you can’t just open an account and host a chat.  There is some legwork that goes into developing your brand on Twitter and ultimately hosting your first chat.

Below are eight things to remember when hosting your first Twitter chat.

1. Pick a host and choose a hashtag 

Every Twitter chat needs a host.  Whether it is you, an influencer or your boss.  You need to choose one.  You also want to choose the right hashtag which can be difficult.  If you pick the wrong one, it could have very negative effects on the outcome of your chat.  Make sure you do proper research to ensure you do not pick a hashtag that is controversial or one that is already established.

2. Pick the day and time

This step is a crucial one.  You need to choose the best day and time that you know your audience will be available. If you plan on making this a recurring chat, put together a schedule that is easy to remember. Running it during lunch time may be a good fit.

3. Come up with a topic

There is plenty to chat about.  With that being said, you want to stick to these guidelines:

  • The topic should align with the image of your brand
  • You should only discuss something you are qualified to discuss
  • Whatever you choose should be of interest to your followers and in turn peak the interest of others in your niche
  • Always keep your end goal in mind when picking a topic

Now you can start googling and checking out your followers feeds to see what they are chatting about.  You will find inspiration along the way.  Once you have done your first chat, see what your followers would like for you to chat about next. This will clue them in to this being an ongoing chat and also give you a better idea of what they are interested in.

4. Come up with questions and answers

When it comes to the length of your chat, it should be less than 90 minutes but more than 30.  This allows for people to go in and out of the conversation and depending on the length you choose and your topic, you should leave time for a question and answer session.  When thinking of questions, try and come up with ones that require some thought as opposed to a yes or no question.  The hope here is that you spark a conversation that makes people start their own thread to share advice with one another.

5. Start promoting

A Twitter chat with no participants is not an option, so you need to spread the word about your chat.  A couple of weeks before you want to start promoting on all your channels.  One week before you want to start reminding people.  You can even do a Twitter countdown and also ask people to share share share.  You may want to also create a Facebook event or send out a calendar reminder.

6. Host your Twitter chat

When the day of your Twitter chat arrives, you will want to start it off by sending out a welcome tweet.  You may even want to schedule this tweet to go out ahead of time.  You will also want to welcome the participants to the chat and give them an opportunity to introduce themselves. When this is done, participants receive more value from the chat  because they get the opportunity to create connections with other participants and it gives the experience a more personal touch.   This also provides you with the chance to build relationships with each individual person which helps with building a strong Twitter chat community.

 

Top Seven Real Estate Marketing Tips For Your Listings

 

The real estate industry is not for the faint of heart.  There is tons of competition and you need to stand out from the crowd in order to really succeed. This can be achieved through how you market your property listings.  You want to make sure you are employing the right tactics that are going to not only bring you more leads but continued growth.

Below are seven marketing ideas to help you gain more leads for your real estate listings.

Write a great MLS listing description

Most prospective buyers find listings by way of the MLS.  Therefore, your listing descriptions are essential in reeling in leads. With that being said, you only have so much room in your MLS descriptions.  Be sure to include the most noteworthy features of the property as well as photos that showcase the properties best qualities.  You will also want to include some shots that are taken from varying angles so that your listing stands out.

Research keywords

Doing keyword research is key if you want to bring in qualified buyers.  Here is a great resource for sourcing long-tail keywords in real estate.  This will give you the opportunity to forecast what your target home buyer is searching for.  When you have pinpointed key phrases, you can start including them into your landing pages and marketing copy.

Take great photos

Having high quality photos of your property listings is essential to the selling process.  You can take photos yourself, but if it is in the budget, hiring a professional is great too.  The one thing we don’t recommend is taking pictures with a cellphone.  I am sure you wouldn’t but had to throw it out there.  With that being said, you do not need to spend a fortune on a camera if you are going to take them yourself.  Digital cameras are a plenty.  You just want to make sure you purchase one that is no less than 5 megapixels. You also want to preview the property prior to the photo shoot so you can get a feel for the layout and how you see the shoot playing out.

Whether you hire a professional or take them yourself, keep these tips in mind:

  • You are going to have many listings and of course, many photos.  Come up with a filing system that gives you ease of access to them for all your marketing material.
  • For SEO purposes, the file names and alt text of the pictures should include the property address or keywords that you plan on using in your marketing.

Use these photos in real estate flyers

Real estate flyers are still one of the most effective tools when it comes to marketing a home.   A properly done flyer should contain beautiful photos as well as be comprehensive and compelling. If you achieve these three points, you will be well on your way to selling that property.

Your high priority listings should be front and center on your home page

When leads come to your website, you want to make sure you are featuring your top listings on your front page.  Also be sure you are including CTA’s  (calls to action) that are prompting the visitor to take some action on a specific listing. Contact forms should also be included asking them to get more info, call for an appointment and so on.   Do not forget these important details as this is how a visitor becomes a lead.

Perform email campaigns

Email is a great lead generation tool. Everyone checks emails multiple times a day so this is a great way to get in front of potential buyers. Come up with a simple email format that includes a couple of impressive photos along with details about the features, location, as well as a call to action.  Also be sure to customize your subject line so they know it is specifically for a property listing.  If you want to get hyper local, include the street address.

Marketing Listings with Descriptive Blog Posts

Blogging is great for real estate professionals.  When you are generating a MLS listing, you only have so much room to make it great.  Creating a blog post around your listing provides you with the ability to be creative and think out of the box. Be sure to include those stunning photos you took and think about including a caption for each. Remember your contact information and that important call to action to urge them to contact you for more info or a showing.

Put together a killer video

Nowadays, video is where it is at.  Round out your marketing by creating a video tour of the property that showcases all its striking features.  Think about adding in music and a good narrative.  A good portion of real estate leads have a preference for video when it comes to viewing listing info so it can definitely be a smart investment on your part.