“The main difference between you and an aspiring giant pumpkin farmer is that you already have your best seed, you just have to find it.” Mike Michalowicz, The Pumpkin Plan
If you want to grow a giant pumpkin, you need to start with a special seed. An ordinary seed won’t cut it. If you want to grow an extraordinary business, you also need a special seed. We call that seed your Sweet Spot.
Why is finding your Sweet Spot so important? Because over the years since The Pumpkin Plan was published, we have confirmed, over and over again, that when a business is missing one or more of the elements of the Sweet Spot, business growth becomes really, really hard. Sometimes it stops altogether, and the company might even start losing ground, as competitors gain ground.
However, when you are operating from your Sweet Spot, business growth becomes easy. Your business becomes more profitable. You (the business owner) regain control of how you spend your time.
Your Sweet Spot can be found at the intersection of the three most important elements in your business:
Your Top Clients – Your Unique Offering – Your Systems and Processes
Steve Bousquet of American Landscape and Lawn Science has found his Sweet Spot. Before Pumpkin Planning his business, Steve’s company did everything for everybody who wanted to use his services. They did driveway sealing, lawn mowing, annual flower installations, tree spraying, shrub trimming, etc. They served a wide geographic area and customers that ranged from residential to commercial. Their expenses were high, and so were their headaches.
And then Steve started the process of identifying the three areas of the Sweet Spot, and everything changed. First, he evaluated his client base and identified his Top Clients as well as his worst clients. He realized that the clients who purchased his lowest priced package were also the most time consuming clients, and they were the least profitable. So he eliminated his lowest price package, which easily eliminated most of his time and profit sucking clients.
As he continued to evaluate his Top Clients, Steve continued to eliminate service offerings that did not match what those clients most wanted and needed from him. As a result of narrowing his offerings, he became more efficient and more profitable.
Steve was also able to identify where to find his Top Clients. It turns out that Steve’s best clients live on Cul-de-Sacs. He was able to develop a Cul-de-Sac marketing plan that increased his marketing effectiveness while cutting their marketing budget by 60%!
Steve distinguishes himself from the competition (Unique Offering) by doing small things that make a big difference to his customers. Other lawn care companies in his area give a quote over the phone or online. Steve goes to the prospective client’s home. He walks the lawn, fills out a form, writes encouraging notes, leaves the quote in a beautiful bag. He then makes a video that goes over the estimate that’s in the bag, and emails it to the prospective customer. Once the prospect signs on as a customer, he gives out his personal cell number (also quite uncommon).
Steve’s brand stands out from every other lawn care company in another way. His vehicle is not the usual landscaper’s truck. It’s a brand-wrapped Mustang. Everybody in his area knows his car. And it is way less expensive and more fun to drive than a truck!
The third ring of the Sweet Spot, systematization, has also played a big role in Steve’s growth and profitability. Once he identified his Top Clients and Unique Offering, he set out to become as efficient as possible. By eliminating unprofitable services, narrowing client choices, narrowing his geographic area, and carefully orchestrating his routes, he was able to develop the systems to deliver his service better and more profitably. Today Steve’s company is in the top 5% of Lawn Care companies for production, meaning revenue per square foot. Maximizing his systems has so far increased their productivity by 150%, and their profitability has risen by approximately 65%.
As Steve’s example has demonstrated, when you are able to identify who your Top Clients are, and what they most want and need from your company, your marketing will become extremely effective. It will also become more profitable, as you figure out where to find your Top Clients so that you can target your marketing in a very efficient way.
When you are able to articulate and execute a truly Unique Offering, your company will stand out from the noise. You will no longer look just like your competitors. You will not have to compete on price. No more offering discounts to lure new prospects in, and to keep existing clients.
If you have the systems and processes in place to deliver your product or service over and over again, without dependence on any specific person, then you have the ability to scale and grow indefinitely. If you can refine those processes to be more and more efficient, you will be able to increase your profits without having to work harder.
The key is that these three elements must intersect with each other. In other words, your Unique Offering has to be something that your Top Clients care about. And your systems must enhance the delivery of that Unique Offering to your Top Clients. That intersection is your special seed – your Sweet Spot.
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