Discover the cool marketing strategies this successful Omaha company uses to attract prime customers

Jay Moore Landscaping

Founder & President: Jay Moore
Founded: 2005
Headquarters: Omaha, Neb.
Markets: Omaha and surround communities
Services: Full-service landscape services provider
Employees: 17 peak season

The business is a billboard for Jay Moore Landscaping. The company name is splashed big and bold across the company’s headquarters. Nobody speeding along Interstate 80 from affluent west Omaha, Neb., toward downtown can avoid seeing its flashing messages.

“The property was $25,000 over market value compared to other sites I considered, but that was a minor investment compared to the advertising value of the exposure,” says Jay Moore, founder and owner.

Always changing

Methods of communication are another element of change. Moore has his phone, pad and computer linked together. When he first starts working with a client, he enters all of their contact information into the system. The seamless, 24/7 information flow condenses the timeline on projects, including the span from consultation to design presentation. Anything beyond 48 hours is unacceptable in some instances.

Lining out design elements onsite, with a garden hose or temporary spray paint, allows the client to view the new look from every angle before the project begins. Once the landscape is installed, the company often earns the right to maintain it, too.

“Client contact can be instantaneous in any situation and frequently is. It’s all about making the process quick and easy for them,” says Moore. “One client wanted an extensive landscape renovation completed before she returned from an out-of-state trip. I snapped photos at each critical step and got her immediate feedback all via smartphone.”

Thus Moore is working with a consultant to expand the company’s social media outreach. Those 30-second TV commercials are also posted on YouTube.

“People now find their service providers on Google and click a link to connect by phone or email. To reach my clients, I need to be where they are, whether that’s streaming TV, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter,” says Moore.

That kind of savvy marketing by Moore is key to the company’s growth. The full service landscape design, build and maintenance business opened on its current site on February 1, 2005. Before the start-up, Moore had already established his reputation in the city as an innovative creator of custom landscape services”. He jokes that he was born into the business. He’s been involved with professional landscaping for more than 30 years.

“Whether it’s a new installation or a renovation, a project from $500 to $250,000, my role for commercial accounts is to capture the company’s image and project it to their customers,” says Moore. “For residential clients it’s turning their dreams to reality. When I started designing 30 years ago, most homeowners landscaped because they felt they had to. Now they want to. I’m marketing to people who love landscaping because it transforms outdoor space into their personal haven for relaxation and entertainment.”

Targeting the market

Advertising defines your company, so do it right. For a start-up business, Moore suggests testing a wide range of venues to gain name recognition while determining which ones bring the best ROI. He initially placed ads in local newspapers, shoppers and magazines, and had a yellow page ad in the phone book. He also participated in local lawn and garden shows.

One of the Jay Moore Landscaping crews is in the process of converting this sloping hillside to outdoor living space.

Moore’s primary market is now his repeat customers and the people they refer. “If I advertise too much, or in the wrong venues, or with the wrong message, it takes time away from that core business,” he says. “If one of my clients calls me or tells a friend or relative to ‘call Jay, he can do it,’ I better do it and do it right.”

Yet, long-term growth comes through widening that circle of core customers. For Moore, that means continually building awareness of his work and his company beyond the scope of direct referrals. That takes adapting venues to changes in the marketplace.

Discussion at a recent chamber of commerce meeting focused on a citywide shift, with less demand for office space as more people of both genders are working from home. “The more flexible work hours resulting from that have changed my business,” says Moore. “My evening appointments have dropped while my daytime client contact has skyrocketed.”

He’s opted for daytime TV spots to reach those working from home as well as the “traditional” homemaker. Since landscaping is a “want,” rather than a “need,” the programs Moore connects with appeal to the upper-end households with more discretionary income. Initially, he used only cable TV, hitting shows such as HGTV (Home and Garden TV), Fine Living and the Food Network. Now he does some network TV advertising, too, still attempting to target the upscale viewer. Moore is the spokesman in the 30-second spots.

“Each highlights our services with a seasonal twist,” he says. “Our projects are the featured visuals. Tracking shows the TV spots are generating 40 to 50 percent of our new business.”

Evolving market

While the work-at-home trend and love of the outdoor lifestyle have changed the marketplace, Moore sees a combination of other factors also having an impact. For many, what started as economically driven staycations have evolved to a realization of the long-term benefits investing in the landscape brings. Hardscaping has become a huge part of that.

“The range of materials is practically endless. It’s easy to mix and match so every installation is a unique design. We’re doing patios, walls, walkways, fire features, built-in grills to complete outdoor kitchens, and poolside shower/dressing room/restroom combinations. We’ll often integrate water features, too,” he says. “They can have a recreation area to enjoy for 20 to 30 years, for the cost of a family trip or two.”

Moore says the typical residential landscape lasts between 12 and 16 years. Then, like a home interior, though it could be perfectly serviceable, the look becomes outdated.

“Clients’ tastes change and so do their lifestyles,” he says. “They may decide on renovation, where we rip out what doesn’t please them and rework the site with the plants and features that do. Or, they may opt to have us take out all of it and start fresh.”

The wide variety of new plant materials makes a landscape update even more appealing. Moore says, “The zonal ‘creep’ further extends the range of plants we can offer.”

Another dimension of renovation that Moore has tackled in recent years is correction of water issues. “Some factor within the client’s property or a neighboring property triggers a change in water flow that results in chronically wet areas. We track down the source of the problem and correct it with a long-term solution. It’s become so frequent in the Omaha area, I include solving water issues in my TV spots,” he explains.

Total package

Moore delivers professional services, with certified arborists, certified nurserymen, certified landscape designers, and crews he calls “outstanding.” His foreman has worked with him for 12 years and several crewmembers nearly as long. Moore and his designers work directly with clients to develop the overall plan for each site. Typically, he will personally handle approximately 70 percent of the design work.

“We bring in the best products, the newest plant materials, and work with the latest technology. We provide a detailed drawing, an accurate price quote, photos of the plants we recommend, and a color blueprint for the client to review,” he says.

This completed installation combines plantings and hardscape features.

They use the tried and true hands-on techniques, too, when it helps a client visualize the design on their site.

“Sometimes it takes a tape measure and layout with a garden hose for them to see the dimensions of a patio. It helps them plot out how the allocated space fits their vision for it. What looks huge on paper can be pretty small when we block out room for a built-in grill and firepit, the furniture and accessories,” says Moore.

He and his designers stay with a project from start to finish, lining out the site and monitoring each step of construction and installation.

“Our staff tops out at 15 during the height of the season. I work with two crews, managing two sites simultaneously. We’ll often have two other crews going, depending on the design stage of other projects. Each designer and I will be at each of our sites two or three times a day throughout the project. We can make adjustments to prevent problems and tweak the design if the client wants to change or add things,” says Moore. “We want the finished project to make the customer as happy as they hoped to be.”

Maintenance is part of the total package, if the client desires it. That includes tree and shrub pruning, fall and spring cleanup, and seasonal color change outs.

“We have clients our maintenance specialist sees once a year to install all the container plantings. Some clients contact us for all of their planting, even if they just want one more rose bush. Our crews go to some clients’ properties up to three times a week, handling all outdoor maintenance including mowing and snow removal,” Moore explains.

Suz Trusty is a partner in Trusty & Associates, a communications and market research firm in Council Bluffs, Iowa. She has been involved in the green industry for over 40 years. Contact her at [email protected].