In today’s competitive business landscape, finding new avenues to grow your pond business is crucial for sustained success. While strategies like Google Ads and email marketing are the top two ways we got business last year, networking remains a powerful tool for generating leads and building lasting relationships. In this article, we will explore networking and how networking landed our pond company, AquaReale, over $250,000 worth of business.
Referrals: Whom Do You Know?
When it comes to expanding your pond business, word-of-mouth recommendations can be a game-changer. By developing strong relationships with professionals in related industries, such as roofers, pool service providers, tree service experts and landscapers, you can tap into their networks and receive valuable referrals. These individuals often encounter homeowners seeking pond services and can direct them your way.
I find local referrals that make sense for us, like tree people and landscapers. For example, the tree company I found carries our rack cards with them. We have a card that includes both companies’ information and links our companies, allowing them to leverage their reputation and connection with their clients to help build trust in our company.
Landscapers are natural allies for pond businesses. To find them, consider attending industry events, joining local associations or participating in trade shows where landscapers gather. Engage in conversations and establish connections with them. Once you’ve established contact, ensure you have a concise and compelling pitch ready, highlighting the benefits of adding a pond to their landscaping projects. Offering collaborations or incentives can also make your proposal more enticing. We also reach out to individual landscapers through email marketing and phone calls and have for years.
We did our first big landscaper push about six years ago. I purchased a mailing list of landscapers from a list supplier. I put in exactly what I was looking for — landscape companies that brought in at least $500,000 in the right areas. I then created a “Dream Book” based on our photos, wrote a letter and snail mailed them to about 100 landscapers. We heard back from two, which may seem disappointing at first, but it really was not. One is all you need. One of those landscapers still provides us with leads and work.
We did something similar this winter. Our office manager created a list of 50 local landscape companies. We wrote emails and sent them out individually and then called and followed up with each company. Once again, we had just one very interested party. And once again, that was all we needed! This company had an in-house pond person who had recently left their position, and we were in the right place at the right time. AquaReale just signed a contract two weeks ago to work with the landscape company on a large pond renovation at a major pharmaceutical company. The contract is worth $37,000 — well worth all those emails and phone calls!
Landscape architects and designers are key decision makers who can incorporate ponds into their projects. To reach them, explore opportunities through Chambers of Commerce and Business Networking International (BNI) groups, where these professionals often engage with potential partners. Participating in industry events or hosting informational sessions can also help you establish yourself as an expert in pond construction and maintenance. Also, do what we did and do your own research. Just email, mail and call them! It’s amazing what a personal connection can do!
Networking within specialized communities can significantly benefit your pond business. Engaging with garden clubs, koi clubs and garden centers allows you to connect with individuals who are passionate about outdoor living and landscaping. Attend meetings, give presentations or provide educational content to establish yourself as a knowledgeable professional in the field. Building relationships within these communities can lead to referrals and repeat business.
We were the keynote speakers at our local Water Garden Society last year. I first asked if my husband Matt could be their keynote speaker about four years ago. They already had a speaker that year, but the president of the association started getting our weekly pond tip emails. When they were looking for a speaker last year, they turned to us.
There was a couple in attendance whom we connected with. It turns out they were already working with the landscape company that refers us. The landscape company ended up losing the job, but we kept our part, and it was worth over $50,000. (Note, we would never do this without specific approval from the landscape company.) We offered them a percentage of the job or a finder’s fee, but they just wanted the client to be happy (even without them) and declined. The landscape company appreciated us going back to them with the request to work with the client and still refers us frequently. We just finished up a job for their client this week!
Another year, I purchased a mailing list of garden centers near me. I spent the winter visiting garden centers until I found one with an old decrepit pond. We offered to renovate it for free in exchange for marketing support. We have a big sign by the pond there and at their counter as well and do educational events like fall shutdowns and spring openings there.
Also don’t underestimate the power of your local community in generating leads. Consider coaching aspiring pond enthusiasts, sponsoring community events, placing ads in local publications or partnering with organizations like the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts for landscaping projects. These initiatives not only contribute to the community but also showcase your expertise and attract potential customers. We sponsor our local basketball league, our swim club and our local high school. I tend to say yes to community sponsorship requests — you never know where they will lead.
In the digital age, leveraging social media platforms is vital for expanding your pond business. Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and even TikTok provide opportunities to connect with industry professionals, showcase your projects and engage with potential clients. Maintain an active presence, share valuable content and engage with followers to establish yourself as a trusted authority in the field. I find companies I want to work with and try to find anyone at their company that is linked to someone in my networking on LinkedIn. Then I ask for introductions.
To maximize your networking efforts, keep these tips in mind. Approach networking without a motive, focusing on building genuine relationships. Adopt a mindset of giving more than you receive, offering recommendations and assistance to others whenever possible. Brand yourself everywhere you go by maintaining a consistent and professional image across all platforms. By incorporating these strategies and maintaining a proactive approach to networking, you can expand your pond business, attract new clients and foster long-term success in the industry.
In a digital world filled with marketing opportunities, it’s important not to overlook the power of personal connections. By harnessing the potential of referrals, engaging with professionals in the landscape industry and leveraging local communities, you can unlock new avenues for growth and solidify your position in the pond business market. Embrace networking as an essential tool in your business arsenal and watch your opportunities flourish.