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Some say spring arrives when the forsythia sprouts its memorable, yellow flowers reaching into the blue sky. Chunky sweaters are tucked away into winter closets. The sun rides high and the mop head hydrangeas sprout tiny, green blooms that grow into a cacophony of blue, pink and purple. Oh, the signs that spring has sprung.

Just as obvious are regular sightings of lawn service trucks replete with mowers, fertilization equipment, edgers and the occasional aerator. Landscapers fill the roadways preparing properties for a growing season of greenery. Some do-it-yourselfers love to crank up their own equipment, but that doesn’t deter the lawn contractors from their search to acquire new customers.

What’s less obvious are the business operations fueling the start of this busy season. Nurseries stock mulch, pebbles, pots and plants. Lawn service companies prospect for new business. Truckloads of flowers and fertilizer are routed to specific locations. Sales teams walk new paths in search of more customers. And service crews do what they do best—groom, plant, clean and prune—as fast as they can.

New forms of technology support this business and service ecosystem, allowing for economies of scale and the ability to win business faster—they’re called aerial maps.

Some lawn and landscape companies use satellite imagery to estimate and quote. But the blurry property boundaries and presence of tree canopies obscure the view. More recently, drones have been used to visualize landscapes. But those annoying mechanical birds are flown over smaller, localized areas with image processing lurking as a necessary next step.

The most important new form of location content for lawn and landscape companies is aerial maps—current, clear, changing aerial photography consistently captured from planes flying through clear skies at 10,000 to 18,000 feet.

Aerial maps (aerial photography) provide remarkably detailed ground features, including surface area, pools, fences, decks and vegetation of varying height. Lawn and landscape companies (along with other types of businesses that service commercial or residential properties) are rapidly adopting this technology. Aerial maps are accessible in the cloud. Just log into your PC or tablet and start seeing the details. There’s no need to travel on site or attempt to interpret dated satellite imagery. You can prospect for new business across a wide area instantly without the need to fly a drone. This “reality-as-a service” allows you to scale operations faster than ever before from the comfort of your home or office—every month, every minute.

Nearmap high resolution aerial maps allow lawn and landscape professionals to see the details without having to travel on site. Here’s a recent aerial image captured on Jan. 15 from Durham, N.C.:

Aerial map image from Durham, NC

Anyone developing a quote for service could zoom in and assess the quality of the landscape. They could measure areas, exclude beds, hardscapes, driveways and arrive at a precise estimate for services.

The Top 5 Uses of Aerial Imagery to Build your Landscape Business

As landscapers build their companies, they typically use aerial imagery in different ways to win business faster and grow their clientele.

1. Efficiently Prospect for New Opportunities

Using a web-based tool from Nearmap called MapBrowser, landscapers can search for locations across 430 cities in the US. Notice the greener grass for the property in the upper center of the screen. You would know this home is your customer since you can locate the address easily in MapBrowser. But the property in the lower center of the screen is a prospect and their lawn needs some work.

Historical capture nearmap aerial map

Using split view, users can compare an historical capture to a very current aerial map. In this example, March 29, 2017 (left) is compared to March 31, 2018, a very recent image. There’s been little change over time. Prospecting for new business using high resolution aerial maps means you don’t need to travel on site.

2. Accurate Measurements and Quotes 

Precise area estimates consider only the area that requires treatment. In other words, building structures, driveways, garden beds and hardscape can be left out of the estimate. In this case, we’ve used MapBrowser to include the square feet for the front and back yards while also annotating the image with notes we’ll use to win the business. Creating these types of area measurements takes seconds using a set of measurement tools that include line, area and radius. Any number of “map objects” can be included in your analysis. In this case, we are using spring imagery also known as “leaf off” imagery, providing a clear way to visualize property details without obstructions impacting your measurement.

Nearmap aerial view angles

3. Creating Winning Proposals

Imagine a scenario where a prospect calls and asks for a proposal. Within minutes you have located their property. Using a timeline of imagery dating back to 2014 and including both leaf-off and leaf-on imagery, you’ve analyzed the property. One click later, their home is exported and included on the front of your proposal. Details inside include different look angles for the property, identification of areas that will and won’t be treated and cost estimates based on precise measurements. You may not have been the first landscaping company they called, but you’ve delivered insights faster than your competition and likely with much clearer imagery.

Nearmap aerial view of services requested

4. Field Service Optimization

Perspective can make all the difference. In this example, a commercial developer has called and asked for landscape services adjacent to a parking garage being completed. They have described the structure, but you need to verify height, width, decide on the types of trees to install and then requisition equipment for the job.

Measuring heights of structures

In earlier examples, Nearmap provided “top down” or vertical imagery for area measurement. The company also offers “oblique” (angled) location content that’s measurable. Users can measure the heights of structures from different look angles (north, south, east and west) as well as widths. Having a clear sense of area, height and width allows for more efficient field service. You’ll avoid time on the road, while requesting the right vehicle to perform either the installation or removal.

5. Maintenance and Customer Satisfaction

When you need validation that your services have improved a landscape, or proof that a problem with the lawn existed prior, Nearmap historical imagery can be compared to current aerial maps to prove your point, retain customers or win new business.

Before image in Boston

After image in Boston

The examples above are aerial maps taken near Boston in the fall of 2016 and then again in the fall of 2017—for the exact same property. Notice the difference in the quality of the lawns in the center and the lower right. Your services have worked well and have led to high levels of customer satisfaction. In cases when you risk someone “churning” because they claim you have not improved the lawn, you can use the Nearmap historical archive to clearly demonstrate the progress you are making.

A cold, snowy winter is behind us. It’s time to plant, time to grow. There’s nothing like freshly mulched beds, newly cut edges and a lush green lawn. That’s what customers are looking for, and now you have the technology to win business faster and retain customers. Now you have the means to create that breathtaking landscape using a virtual set of aerial maps and truth on the ground. Transform the way you work with Nearmap high resolution aerial maps.

About the Author

Tony Agresta is VP of marketing for Nearmap US. He’s spent the last three decades working on his gardens—and also helping software companies reach peak performance.

You can learn more about Nearmap by visiting go.nearmap.com.


This page was produced by North Coast Media’s content marketing staff in collaboration with Nearmap. NCM Content Marketing connects marketers to audiences and delivers industry trends, business tips and product information. The Landscape Management editorial staff did not create this content.