Barb Helfman
Helping Plantscapers succeed.
Barb Helfman

Barb Helfman


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    Autograph Foliages Leading manufacturer of Artificial plants, trees and floral components for the Interior and Exterior Landscape Industry
    Kaddy Products Keeping your equipment organized so you can work better and faster.
    Linnaea Newman Rapidly increase your employee productivity. We deliver better training done with fun.
    Morning Dew Tropical John Mendozza has been providing plants to the nations finest Interiorscapers, Florists, and Garden Centers since 1974.
    PlantPaws developed to make the Technician’s job of caring for and cleaning plants less tedious.
    TOPSiders The open plan planter that pays for itself.
    WaterBoy Professional watering machines that increase worker productivity and efficiency

Interesting New Resource

Posted on September 7th, 2010 in Blooming Programs, Competitive Advantage, Grow Your Sales | No Comments »

My trip to Calscape was wonderful. Best Calscape ever. Congratulations to all who volunteered and to the PIA staff.

As usual, there were many interesting products at the small Trade Show. One was particularly interesting so I thought I would share.

If you do Color Bowls, and floral work, or just need something to accent your interiorscape work, check out Natural topiaries, wreaths, flower pots and natural material used to cover a wealth of interesting shapes. Stick in an orchid or two, a succulent mix and you have a focal point to write home about. Just an interesting tidbit to make your day. Toll Free: 877-766-5328 and tell them you got the info from Barb Helfman at TOPsiders.

Otherwise, consider my Client Keeper Newsletter Program. It is the 21st Century way to market to your clients. Call me at 513-205-8195 or email me at

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Client Retention or Job 1

Posted on August 15th, 2010 in Competitive Advantage, General, Grow Your Sales | No Comments »

In this economic environment, the bird in the hand is worth, well, you know the rest.  That is why client retention is vital for your business.  You have to have a presence.  Remember, out of site, out of mind.

Now, physically visiting each client each month is not really feasible, is it?  You have work to do and so do they.   So, what to do?

The answer?  Client Keepers from Barb Helfman Consulting.  I’ve partnered with computer/advertising whiz MJ Gilhooley and we have a social media, today’s way to market, Newsletter Program.  For a one time fee of $750.00 we take your email list of current and prospective clients, sign a Confidentiality Agreement, and email a professionally developed Newsletter 10 times over the next 12 months.  This is not a homespun piece.  It is good looking informative and crosses their screen at least 10 times a year.  Sure saves tires and shoe leather.

The Newsletter has your company name, contact info, and a link to your web site at the bottom and is filled with links to articles of interest to Facility Managers, Property Managers, Healthcare, Hospitality and residential clients in full color and with great photos.  It even includes blurbs about Holiday (6 X per year), a "Did You Know?"  section that showcase different unusual bits about plants and containers, and a Parent’s Corner mean’t to help people instill a love of Nature in their kids. 

Now you can "touch" your clients 10 times a year and with no effort on your part.

For Questions and to sign up, email me at or call 513-205-8195.

It’s a New Worls with new ways to do business.  Join the 21st Century.

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How To Get The Most From an Interiorscape Conference

Posted on August 2nd, 2010 in General | No Comments »

Calscape is coming up soon San Diego, Sept 1-4) and I recommend you do some planning aforehand.  First of all, try to register for the Tour of Jim Mumford’s Good Earth facility.  He will be showcasing many of the products and methods he has been testing and using for Green Roof and Living Wall applications.  There is a limit to number of registrants and this is not included in the General Fee but is separate, so make sure you do it soon!

The other three functions to make particular note are:

  • The Opening Welcome Party.  Great place to connect with old and new friends.
  • The Awards and Hall of Fame Dinner. Dr. Wolverton of Plants for Clean Air and Dick Ott, noted interiorscaper will be inducted and the Award Video showcases so many outstanding projects.
  • And the Green Plants for Green Buildings Party will be another must.

For more particulars and to register, log on to  Also, come visit me in the TOPsider/Joey Pouch booth #25.

Looking forward to seeing you all soon!





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The Pebble

Posted on July 24th, 2010 in Employees, General | No Comments »

Everyone has had, at one time or another, a pebble in their shoe.  Drives you nuts, right?  And, when you got rid of it it was quite a relief?  Yep.

Well, I’m here to urge you to get rid of some pebbles.  For example, I had one employee who wouldn’t, couldn’t fill out his paperwork on time.  Time Sheets, Mileage Sheets, Replacement requests, all languished in his vehicles, half filled out.  Oh, he’d get them in….finally, but  this situation created monumental headaches for Operations and Office.  We begged, we pleaded, but. still…late paperwork.  He was a "pebble".

Finally,  instead of wasting time bemoaning his negligence, we pulled out the Big Guns.  "No paperwork, no checkee".  It worked.  We also had a talk and found out he was dyslexic so we addressed the problem and made the paperwork more "user friendly" by having checkoff boxes whereever possible. 

Bye, bye bad pebble.  He made more of an effort, it was easier, and the office and OPs people chipped in to be more understanding and helpful instead of fussing.  See, the answer is to find another way both with a carrot and with a stick to get what you need. 

Another story about a "pebble" is about my shower.  Yep, here in Vegas I have a shower that has given me fits every day for years.  If I would turn the handle just the least bit off center, it would break meaning a trip to hardware store or call to plumber.  Every day when I started the shower I would hold my breath.  Every day a minor stress.  Finally, it broke…again.  This time however, I told the plumber to fix it once and for all!  He found a new design, a universal handle and installed it.  It works like a dream so, now when I turn on the shower, I smile.  No stress.

Question is, why didn’t I do that years ago?  Why didn’t the plumber tell me years ago?  Moral of the Story?  One by one, get rid of as many "pebbles" as you can be it office , shower, whatever.  Some of them we can fix, others not.  Fix the ones you can.

Now, go out there and sell some TOPsiders for me.

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Your Recipe

Posted on July 19th, 2010 in Competitive Advantage, General, Grow Your Sales | No Comments »

Long ago I discovered that, while we may all "do" pretty much the same stuff, "who" we do it for varies based on market and selling preferences.

What do I mean by that?  If you were to take two IP companies of comparable size and gross income in two very different markets, say one in a city with tons of offices in high rise buildings and the other company in a geographic area filled with high end residential, hotels and so on but with just a few offices, their "mix" would be different.  Very different even though they gross the same amount of revenue.

To sell goods and services at an optimum rate, you need to know who to target and to evaluate where and with whom your successes have derived.  Take out your Client List.  Categorize your clients as to which demographic they fall, Offices, Hospitality, High End Residential, HealthCare, and so on.  Next, assign a dollar value to each of these clients.  I’d use one months recurring revenue as the number.  Add ‘em up.  Any surprises?  Did you learn anything?  If one market accounts for most of your income, ask yourself "why".  Is it because that is the way it breaks out in your city OR is it because that those are the markets you feel most comfortable selling to? 

Hmmm.   Makes you think.  If the answer is that these are the markets you feel most comfortable with, I suggest you start trying to sell to the others and, believe it or not, after the initial uncomfortable feeling, you will be successful there as well.  OR, and this is something that takes huge honesty to confront, if one particular Market is your cup of tea, (say Hospitality), then, go after every hotel in sight.  The main point is to make educated choices.

Now go out there and sell a few TOPsiders for me. 

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Do You Give Good Voice Mail??

Posted on July 12th, 2010 in General | No Comments »

What is the most frustrating thing about calling prospective client’s?  Bet it is when you get their voice mail and have to leave a message and then wonder if/when they will call back.  Well Punky, let’s just see if we can tighten up and increase your chances of the all important callback.

  • Say something to get the listener’s attention.  Or, say something about the benefits of your products and sevices?
  • Say something to make them wanting more information. Pique their curiosity.
  • Did you tell them that you are available at any time?
  • Did you tell them when it is best to call.  And, if in another time zone, the hours their time when to call you.
  • Did you give them your cell?
  • Did you put their info, name and number in your cell phone address book so that you will be alerted when they make the  call back?
  • Did you leave your name and number and did you include any area code?
  • And did you give your business name and did you leave all this info SLOWLY?  Remember, you know your name and number, they do not.  SPEAK SLOWLY!
  • Was your tone of voice inviting and sincere, believable? 
  • At the end of the message, did you repeat the name and phone number?

In addition, may I suggest you actually call your own message unit and pretend the voice on the other end is not you but a prospective client.  Make your pitch for a return call, go home and listen with a kind but critical ear.  You just might change a few things and get better results.

Now go out there and sell some TOPsiders for me.

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25 Habits of Successful Salespeople

Posted on July 7th, 2010 in Competitive Advantage, General, Grow Your Sales | No Comments »

It never hurts to periodically do a Sales Skills Checkup.  Here are 25 Habits that personify the Successful Salesperson.  Check the list and after each one rate how you meet it with a number from 1 (the low)  to 10 (the high).  After rating yourself, mark all the ones that need attention, then reevaluate in 3 months.  Don’t beat yourself up about this, just use it as a Guide.  Awareness is a good thing.


  1. Do what you say you will do.  Absolutely dependable.  No excuses.
  2. Quickly moves to asking questions which can yield to important info.
  3. Does not waste time with unimportant questions.
  4. Get info to move sale ahead, even if it is not what you want to hear.
  5. Establish where the sales process is and sets up times for next steps.
  6. Truly engages people in conversations.
  7. Avoids all scripted and automatic conversations and comments.
  8. Uncovers what needs, if met, will cause the client to consider switching to you.
  9. Has the patience to develop relationships over time.
  10. Can adapt your service to meet different and new client’s needs.
  11. Thinks about how to improve CLIENT’S profitability.
  12. Helps clients solve their problems, concerns.
  13. Asks for and schedules the next contact at each contact.
  14. Takes notes at the Sales Call.
  15. Clearly demonstrates you are listening.
  16. Treats each client to a customized approach and solution.
  17. Sees client’s objections as getting important information from the client.
  18. Asks for referrals(names and phone numbers and permission to use their name).
  19. Thanks clients for all referrals.
  20. Conveys success and confidence.
  21. Consistently tells the truth, does not overpromise.
  22. Can tell when to move the relationship to a deeper level.
  23. Conveys flexibility to others.
  24. Uses drive time for informational and otivational tapes or CD’s 
  25. Are Prompt for appointments.      

The above was taken from a book by Steven Schiffman and adaprted for the Interiorscape Salesperson.

Now, go sell some TOPsiders for me. 


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It’s A Challenge

Posted on June 28th, 2010 in Competitive Advantage, General, Green Plantscaping, Grow Your Sales | No Comments »

A friend came out to visit me here in Vegas last week and she stayed at the Hilton.  What was interesting was a card in her room offerring $10 credit/voucher for any of the restaurants at the hotel for each day she opted NOT to have maid service.  She was there 4 days and chose to do just that.  The Hilton presented this as a "Green" service.  Less water for laundry, less labor, etc.  She felt good about it and the $40 voucher was enough to get her interest. 

Now, yes, it was "green", but it also mean’t a huge savings for the Hilton.  I have to believe that the cost of laundry, maid service labor costs, cleaning supples costs, water savings,  far exceeded the 10 bucks, plus this 10 bucks was spent at their restaurants so any money over that mean’t increased revenue for them as well.

Then, there is the goodwill factor as the guest perceives the Hilton to be Green. 

Pull out your thinking cap.  Is there anything you and your company can do to engender goodwill, foster Green, and make clients appreciate you?  What if every time a current client renewed you made a small contribution to their favorite charity or a local homeless or animal rescue shelter?  Yep, put on your thinking cap and when you come up with an idea let me know.  Now, get out there and sell some TOPsiders for me! 

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The Power of Density

Posted on June 21st, 2010 in Competitive Advantage, General, Grow Your Sales | No Comments »

For the interiorscaper having Five (5) $100 accounts in your market is a good thing.  What is even better?  How about Five (5) $100 accounts in one office park, or Five (5) $100 accounts in one 10 story building?  Obviously the Five (5) $100 accounts in the 10 story Building is the very best. 

 For a service company, it’s all about  density.  Lots of accounts in one smaller travel framework rather than lots of small accounts spread  over a wide area.

Building density is a powerful tool toward increased profit.  Now, you already know this, but do you have a Plan to make it happen?  In these days of stress, it is important you spend some time doing this.  First, look at your market area and then target the good, better, best scenarios.  It is even possible that add ons in a specific area can be bid more cost erffectively and put you in a better competitive position.  Sit down and get out your client list, mark up maps and develop your game plan.  Visit those buildings where you have just one or two clients, get names off the lobby list of companies and go for it.

It’s amazing how just such a game plan can have powerful results.  Just by picking up one or two strategically located accounts, your travel time, fuel costs and employee drive time can be lowered.  Makes a large improvement in your bottom line.  AND, filling in gaps between accounts can have a similar effect.

Your time is gold, whether it is Sales Time or Maintneance Time.  Make it work for you.

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The Next Must Have Interior Plant Benefits Book

Posted on June 17th, 2010 in Competitive Advantage, General, Green Plantscaping, Grow Your Sales | No Comments »

Bet you have somewhere a book on your shelf entitled, HOW TO GROW FRESH AIR, by Dr. Bill Wolverton.  Well, he has a new one just being published even as we speak.  This one is called, PLANTS-WHY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT THEM.    At this years Calscape in San Diego Sept 1-4, you will have the opportunity not only to purchase but to buy one that has been signed by Dr. Wolverton himself.  Bill and wife Yvonne will be at the Seminar to accept his Award as Inductee into the Interior Plantscaper Hall of Fame.

One idea is to buy several copies to give to special clients, use data for your web site or blog or Newsletter.

Great opportunity to meet and thank this industry icon. for more info.  See you there.

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