Is it hard for you to find time to update your clients during the various phases of their landscape project?
In today’s podcast episode, Jack Jostes walks you through the exact steps for outlining which Milestone Videos you should focus on creating, and you’ll hear from some Ramblin Jackson clients on how Milestone Videos have completely transformed their design-build process and why they’ve been so impactful for their landscape clients.
(00:00): How to Save Time Through the Power of Milestone Videos
Your new client has signed the agreement and paid the deposit, it's time to ring the bell. Except the problem is, that's exactly the time that your client is starting to experience buyer's remorse. In today's video, we're going to share how you can prevent buyer's remorse, increase client retention and upsells, train your staff, and save literally hours if not days of your life with the power of milestone videos in your landscape company process. If you ever find yourself saying, "I don't have time to..." whatever it is you say you can't have time to do, or, "Oh my gosh, my clients are so upset with me and I need to call them today on Friday or the weekend," or whatever, chances are there's some challenges in your sales process that could be tweaked, but today we're going to assume that you already have signed a great client and we're going to focus on freeing up time for you operationally after you have a new client.
Hey everyone, Jack Jostes here, and welcome to the Landscapers Guide, where we share sales, marketing, and leadership inspiration to the snow and landscape industry. Now, if you're new to this show, make sure you subscribe at landscapersguide.com/podcast. See our show notes, and when you do, I'm going to send you our top three podcast right away, plus an email each week when we release a new episode, and also invitations to some of our upcoming events.
(01:43): The Benefits of Using Milestone Videos
Today we're going to focus on milestone videos. Now, I personally use these milestone videos in operating and running my digital agency, Ramblin Jackson. We help the snow and landscape get found online by their Hell Yes Customers. And we have projects like most of our landscape clients, where there's a sales and strategy and ideation phase, there's a build phase, and then we support our clients ongoing. And what we found is these videos worked so well for us that we started using them for our own clients and they work really well.
(02:14): Milestone Video Planning: Outlining Your Sales Process
And later I'm going to roll a clip of one so you can get inspired. And essentially what this is is we're going to map out the process, the journey of being a client, and this is going to vary a little bit. Maybe you do commercial installations or maintenance, maybe you do design-build projects that are really big and you've got construction and masonry people. You've got deck builders and electricians and all these different skilled trades coming in, and the project may go on for months. Or maybe you do maintenance only, or whatever it is, I'm going to show you a way of figuring out where in your process you could put these milestone videos. And what these do is help your client understand where they're at in the project, what's happening next, so they feel good. A lot of times when people buy and weeks or in some cases months go by, maybe you have a backlog before you even start the work.
Maybe you do the design, but the construction phase isn't going to happen until later. If you've done this maybe dozens or even hundreds of times, some of you've been in business for 20, 30, 40, 50 years, some of you, and in your mind you're like, "Yeah, we're just waiting on concrete," or, "We're waiting on this material," or, "We're waiting for a permit from the town," or whatever it is. But in your client's mind, they're like, "Have they forgotten about me? Is my project ever going to get done?" And they start feeling that remorse and their neighbors may ask, "Hey, how's that project going?" And they say, "Well, I don't really know. I haven't heard from them in a while." And what you want them to say instead is, "It's going really well. We're on track to have whatever the next phase is happening next." So the milestone video is a video that you send to a client at various stages throughout their customer journey that helps educate them about where they're at and what's coming next.
And not only does this help your customer feel good, you can use this to train other people on your staff. Some of my clients have a lead designer and also a project coordinator or a project manager who's maybe back at the office that's emailing with clients or some people call that a communication specialist or whatever it is. I'm seeing that role increasing, where there's someone who is kind of doing some of the email communication with clients and these videos help them understand what's going on as well. So we all want pretty much the same thing in business. We want happy clients, we want repeat clients, upsell, client retention. We want happy employees, we want to make a profit. We want a good reputation. If you don't want those things, this probably isn't a good show for you. You probably should turn it off, but chances are those are the things you're after.
(05:05): Five Steps to Decide Which Milestone Videos to Create
And we put a lot of energy into attracting new clients and we always need to be attracting new clients. But the key to really building a lasting business that earns referrals and earns repeat business and earns positive Google reviews and all of those things is having clients who feel good about the experience and working with you. So again, this is going to vary depending on what type of business you're in and who your clients are. But I've got five steps to figure out how to write milestone videos for you. And the first step is to grab a big ass piece of paper or a whiteboard or a journal or something. I love using paper whiteboards, whatever it is, and a pen.
So I'm just going to draw a line across this big piece of paper. It is very curvy, so that's okay, because we're just putting some rough ideas down. And what we want to do is then make marks for the milestones in your process. And ideally, you have a beautiful branded process graphic on your website. You could reference that while you're doing this, but in most businesses, you're going to have some kind of phone call, hopefully, and you're going to qualify people, and then you're going to visit them. Hopefully you're qualifying before you're visiting. So there's going to be, I'm just going to write an onsite visit.
You've got some various stages here. I'm just going to jump ahead to pretend that you have an agreement signed, right? We're all working towards having an agreement signed, and many people stop here with the planning, right? But I'm talking about getting to the finish line of a happy client here. So in a design project, you're going to have some sort of design approval. Whether that is a small design or a big design, there's a design approval, and then there's going to be what is happening next, and just writing down these milestones. So getting to a construction phase, like what happens before construction starts and then construction finishes?
Or project completion, again, it's going to vary depending on your business, but in general, in most businesses, you're going to have a phone call. You're going to go visit with a client, you're going to send them a proposal, they're going to sign and pay, and then you're going to have a design phase where you're finalizing a design, getting to that final budget, and then construction starts and construction finishes. And in between this agreement signed and the construction finishes is where most of the buyer's remorse issues and things like that happen. So I saw a really brilliant person, her name's Dana DiTomaso. I saw her at MozCon. It was an SEO conference like 10 years ago, and she did this, and I've done this in numerous ways.
We once worked with Joey Coleman who wrote a book about customer journey. I kind of obsess about this all the time, and we're always thinking of ways to do this really well. So I would just take a sticky note, and on it, write down where are you getting a ton of issues? Where are you getting a ton of problems? Where are you getting frustrated emails, and then you're having to call people? And you would just put those here, you would put those, maybe it's between the agreement signed and the design approval, and they're saying, "Hey, when are we going to get our design?" Maybe you're getting questions all the time after they signed, and it's not clear when they're going to get that. Or, "Hey, what's happening next with my project after I've signed a design or after the construction starts? When is my deck going to be built?" Whatever it is.
(09:42): How Ramblin Jackson Makes Milestone Video Planning Easy
So communicating these things to your client and what you're working on in here, because chances are you doing a lot of different things that your client doesn't even know you're doing and they don't appreciate that you're doing because you haven't talked about it. So this is just one thing, and as an example with Ramblin Jackson, when we're building our client's websites, we write the text for you. It's a big pain point. Many landscapers are great at landscaping. They're great at design, they're great at building, they're great at running their teams. Most of them do not enjoy writing sales content for their website, so we do that for them. And a pain and problem is that when we send it to you, you need to read it, right? So we've let people know, "Hey, by the way, this next phase is not going to be fun."
You're going to need to read a bunch of content, and we don't always nail it on the first draft. So we're looking for your feedback on it and we welcome it. We welcome you being very critical of it because once we get that first page done really well for you, we now have a framework to write the rest of it. And to make it easier on you, we're going to ship you some coffee. I have lots of little gifts throughout my client experience where we're like telling people, "Hey, you're about to get wet. Here's a raincoat," kind of thing. So how could you do that with these videos? A couple of years ago I was shooting some videos with one of my clients, Jeff Riddle, and Jeff made this video clip. We ended up not using it, but I wanted to share it with you because I think it's pretty funny where he compares construction to making sausage and he shares the 10 things that contractors do that people hate. So let's just hear from Jeff real quick.
(11:33): A Fun Example of a Milestone Video from a Ramblin Jackson Client
Hey, it's Jeff Riddle with Alterra, and I have bad news. We've determined that construction is like making sausage. If you watch the process too closely, you'll never eat it again. The good news is we've made a list of the top 10 things people hate about contractors. Here they are. So they cheat, they don't communicate, they're dirty, messy, they cost too much. Their quality is low, they're late, they're not timely, they're incompetent, right? They do stuff the wrong way. They're inefficient, they don't listen, and they have bad breath. So we're determined not to do any of those things. And are we perfect? No. But at least we're aware of these things and we are going to try as hard as we can not to do these things, and we're going to make sure your experience with Alterra is much better than you've ever experienced with any other contractor. And now I'm going to share with you our process to make the experience better than you've ever experienced with any other contractor.
(12:52): How Milestone Videos Enhance your Design-Build Process
Okay, cool. Jeff, thank you. We ended up not using that, but Jeff was cool with me putting that in the podcast today. Thank you, Jeff. So we've got a rough outline of your milestone. Hopefully you already have this charted out somewhere. Now, the milestone videos, right? So the milestone videos can compliment, especially a design-build process. It can help you educate the customer so that way when they get a letter of intent, "Why am I getting a letter of intent? What does that mean? Wait, wait, I'm going to get a different budget? I thought that we already agreed to a budget." Well, no, we're going to need to come to you with a design and show you line items of different materials and different plant choices, and which hot tub do you want? Do you want a salt water hot tub? Do you want all of these different variables?
So educating them that before you get to the final budget, we're going to need to do X, Y, and Z, and that we're going to revise it after you get it. That can prevent them from getting that initial design with all the budget and saying, "Oh my gosh, this is way over the high end of what we thought." Letting them know that, hey, we're going to send it to you and we're going to have a conversation to review it, or whatever it is, will save you a lot of time. So I'm going to show you an example of one that I made for Alpine Gardens, but wanted to recap roughly. So we've outlined the process, we've taken sticky notes, and we've thought of points where there's friction, there's complaints, there's questions. We're thinking of the questions that they're having. We're talking with our team and our staff of like, "Hey, where else are you getting a ton of questions?”
(14:45): How to Use Your Milestone Videos & Communicate with Clients
And then you make videos for those various milestones. And you can host these on YouTube. They may not even need to be public. They could be a private video, meaning only people who get sent the link to them can watch them. And then a key thing is making an email template that includes the video link for your staff to send and helping them send them at the right time. So after we watch a clip from Alpine Gardens, I'll share with you a tip for staying organized with this. So Alpine Gardens, they do design-build, they do installation, they do maintenance, and here's a clip of one of their milestone videos.
(15:27): Client Example: How Milestone Videos Have Saved Kris Nylander Time
Hi, I'm Kris Nylander, sales manager with Alpine Gardens. Thanks for choosing us for your landscaping needs. Watch this video and see what happens next with your landscaping project. Now that you've signed the letter of intent and paid your retainer, your project is on our schedule and has officially begun. You'll be meeting regularly with your project manager, and if you have any questions or concerns throughout our work together, they're available to help. Next, we will revisit your property and get accurate information of the site, including measurements, elevation, and drainage. We will also be working with engineers, vendors, and subs to get material quotes and fine-tuning materials like plants and more. During the planning phase, you can expect to meet with your project manager every two to four weeks. In these meetings, we will discuss what has been accomplished since the last meeting, and what's coming next. One thing to keep in mind is that renderings don't always look how they will in the real world. For example, plant materials and our stone might display in our 3D software differently than they look when installed.
These milestone videos have been so impactful that we've actually done four different shoots with Alpine, and here's their sales manager talking about the reason why he does that.
Right now, I'm at the Ramblin Jackson Studio in Lyons. This is our fourth video shoot. We're working through milestone videos. We think this is a great benefit to our client and helps us communicate with them what happens next in our process. That can get often very complicated and can take some time. And these milestone videos have really helped us identify steps in our process that need to be highlighted and directed towards our clients. You might be thinking that it takes a lot of time to put these together, but Ramblin Jackson's really helped us streamline this, and we've known for many years that we wanted to do this. We just didn't know how to pull the trigger, and they've really helped us package these video shoots in a way that it's really efficient and in the long run, it's saving us a tremendous amount of time.
The amount of time it was taking us to send emails and communicate, now we have one video that is consistent that's going out and already over the last year, we know it's saving us time. I'm excited to do more. We have a list that we've already been developing, and we see that this could fill the gap in a lot of areas, not just in our sales process, but training and recruiting and onboarding. So many different ways this can help us.
(17:48): Schedule Your Milestone Video Shoot with Ramblin Jackson
So if you're not currently using milestone videos, I'd love to help you with this. In fact, we have a video studio here in Colorado where a lot of our clients come this time of year, heading into the fall and winter. We can help you make these videos, coach you on what to say, give you email templates to send them along, and the result will be hours of your life saved. So reach out to us if you're interested in that. My tip though, is giving your staff, like I just mentioned, these email templates and knowing when to send them. Now, maybe you use HubSpot Sales CRM. That's one of the tools I use, and it has email templates, so you can just literally click a button and send those. You could keep it in a Google Doc or whatever it is. Maybe you're using an automation system.
(18:35): How to Keep Your Milestone Videos Organized
There are a lot of different ways of doing this. One of the ways that some of my clients stay organized is with Trello boards. Trello boards can help you see where a client is in their various stages. We use Asana at Ramblin Jackson. Whatever you want to use, knowing where they're at, again, in this process and remembering to send that video, or best, automating that if you can, is yet another way to save even more time. Whether you do commercial installation or design build for residential clients, or even if you do maintenance, videos are the ultimate time saver. They're an enormous leverage because if you make a good video once, you can send it to clients over and over and over. I have some videos that I made years ago that have been watched literally hundreds of times. Every single customer that's worked with us has watched them, and that's really the beauty of video.
(19:34): Get Help Deciding Which Milestone Videos You Should Create
When I hear clients telling me about the time challenges they're having, "I don't have time for this because I'm doing this," I'm always thinking, could a video do that for you? And if you're not sure about ideas or you want to talk to somebody who understands the snow and landscape industry and get inspired with some ideas about how you could use video, or is video the thing that you should even focus on next, we'd love to have a marketing brainstorm call with you. So this is a simple 15-minute phone call with our landscape marketing assistant who's going to help you figure out who is your Hell Yes Customer, who do you really want? And that may have changed due to the economy, due to where your business is at. You may not have actually talked with somebody about this in a while, and we'll help you figure out which marketing you should focus on first so you're getting more of those Hell Yes Customers without wasting your time, energy, and budget on marketing that isn't working or isn't serving you anymore.
So go ahead and schedule your call with us at landscapersguide.com/brainstorm. There's a link for that in our show notes. We look forward to talking with you. My name's Jack Jostes, and thanks so much for watching today's video from The Landscaper's Guide. I look forward to talking with you next week.
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