Imagine that you had the services of a magnificent sales person to whom you paid a paltry amount of money, yet he or she would work for you 24/7/365 and you would never hear a complaint or a demand for a higher commission....

While it is not for every green industry business, when it is done right, having a powerful on-hold phone message can add dramatically to your bottom line. Make no mistake about it, the most personal and productive way would be to have a well-trained live person answering the telephone. When that is not possible, having a quality message-on-hold system could be the next best thing. Despite the logic of this statement, many businesses do not have or use such a service. Some of the objections to having a solid message-on-hold include:

•We don’t want to be so impersonal.

•We are so small we don’t need it.

•It costs too much money.

•It is a hassle to maintain properly.

•I wouldn’t know how to do it.

Yet, in my research with green industry clients, other business clients who use a message-on-hold system—and the providers who offer this service—the evidence is overwhelming: a good message-on-hold system can annually bring in thousands of dollars of additional revenue to your business.

According to marketing specialists, a typical small business, during its busy season, receives as many as 100 calls a day and puts callers on hold for over 17 hours each month. A whopping 70 percent of those calls are placed on hold for an average of 90 seconds. A depressingly large 90% of callers hang up within 40 seconds if ‘on hold’ means dead silence. And 34 percent of those never call back.

On-hold marketing reduces hangups by 77 percent because instead of silence, callers hear marketing messages. It increases telephone on-hold time as much as 230 percent. A full 88 percent of callers say they prefer an on-hold message to music or silence. Best of all, 19 percent of callers buy something when they hear a powerful marketing message while on hold.

Here are three solid reasons to consider having a good message-on-hold communication system for your landscape, lawn maintenance or other green-related business:

•It can enhance your image. When a person calls your company and is put on hold while waiting to talk to a particular person, an articulate and informative message on hold can create a solid professional perception. Remember, your caller’s or client’s perception— whatever it is—is their reality.

•It is an excellent opportunity to educate and inform. Tim Brown, Owner of www.EasyOnHold.com, says, “While a prospect or client is waiting on hold, your message can educate them about your company’s additional services, mission statement, areas of expertise and anything else that would be important for them to know.”

•100% exclusivity. With most forms of advertising, you are constantly fighting for your audience’s attention, competing against TV, radio, outdoor advertising, flyers or social media, to name just a few. With a good message-on-hold system, your message and only your message is communicated directly to your listener.

If you choose to go with a message-on-hold system, I strongly recommend you make sure that you, as the owner, or one or more of your key people contribute voiceover recordings to be part of your message that is heard by callers. What this approach will do is allow you to personalize the message your clients and prospective clients will hear. The familiar voices they’ll hear will be more likely to put them at ease, knowing that you are not using some generic script, but a message that was carefully planned and delivered.

Just recently, I completed a project where I coached one of my clients from a different industry, Tony Grech, owner of Greko Printing and Imaging in Plymouth, Michigan. Tony wanted to add a personal message to his company’s message-on-hold system. By adding his voice and specific points he wanted to mention about his personal guarantee, excellent team and community services, and comments about his team members, he was able to customize his message-on-hold to create an emotional impact on the listener.

Many times, if you don’t inform your present clients of the additional services you offer, they’ll never think of you as a possible provider of those services. As I have always said, “If your prospects or clients don’t know about specific services or products that you offer, they don’t think you do offer them, at least in their minds.” When you stop to think about it, you probably have a number of services that you now offer that your prospective clients and regular clients know little or nothing about.

Here are a few services that some of my green industry clients offer that your company may also offer, but your callers are not aware of:

•Irrigation system service and installation

•Mowing

•Edging and trimming

•Flower bed installation and maintenance

•Sprinkler repositioning

•Weeding and fertilization

•Grub prevention and treatment

•Installation of trees and shrubs

•Mulching and stone

•Brick pavers

•Retaining walls

•Accent lighting

•Christmas lighting

•Pond installation and maintenance

•Mailbox installation

•Sod installation

•De-thatching

•Core aeration

•Fall clean-up

•Tree and shrub removal

•Power washing

•Residential snow removal

•Commercial snow removal

Prices vary, depending on the amount of message-on-hold services you want. A good system starts at about $750-$850 plus an annual maintenance fee. This type of an investment is self-financing. In other words, it pays for itself with the additional sales your company will incur because of its effectiveness in communicating valuable information about your products and services.

There are many suppliers of this service. Shop around and find one that fits your needs and wants. To enhance the impact, I would recommend that you make sure you can add a personal message in your own voice to this message-on-hold.

When you have your message-on-hold up and running, you will be utilizing the power of a 24/7/365 salesperson that can increase your client’s awareness and satisfaction levels, and as a result boost overall sales and your profits.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Tom Borg works with small and mid-size green industry companies to effectively and profitably improve customer acquisition and retention. For more information or to ask him a question, contact him at 734- 404-5909 or email him at: tom@tomborg.com or visit his website at www.tomborgconsulting.com.