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View Full Version : When to start marketing??


Savesutime09
01-17-2010, 08:38 PM
I am hoping to go full time this spring. I have 7 customers currently from part time last summer. I feel I need to aquire about 45-50 more to quit my job and do this full time. I am getting 5000 door hangers made up. if I get the 1% average I should get there. My question is when I should get them out there. I am in the Hudson Valley in New York. I was thinking about early Feb, but maybe the end of Feb would be better. Any input would be helpful.

Thanx
Stuart

Steve
01-17-2010, 09:49 PM
Hi Scott,

One of the things to keep in mind when you are asking when should I start marketing, as you read on here more, you will see the most successful business owners never stop marketing. They are always looking for opportunities to meet new people and sell their services.

I was thinking about early Feb, but maybe the end of Feb would be better.

One guide some of our members use is that they look for the big box marketing material that comes in the newspapers from places like Home Depot. They look for them to market their Spring products. Once they see that, they start to put their marketing material out there.

Then the next question is, are you putting out 5,000 to different homes or are you going to split them up and hit the same houses multiple times early in the year?

picframer
01-17-2010, 10:43 PM
Do you recall in the past if you received flyer's? If so try to beat them by a week, you are in a little warmer climate area than I am, although we do not use flyer's or door hangers, our marketing is on going but in full force right after the March school brake, my thoughts are based on client feedback, they do not think of lawn care until the snow is gone so you don't want them to forget your company name.

Also did you perhaps ask your current clients if they could recommend anyone? You already have the relationship with them, even if you received three or four referrals, then if those are sales offer those new clients a free mow for a positive referral or something like that and just keep tapping their network.

Savesutime09
01-17-2010, 10:54 PM
I was going to do 5000 different. I was just concerned too early, potential customers would lose my info.

abgardenworks
01-17-2010, 11:18 PM
I live in london ontario, canada. I spent last summer building a business name for myself doing hardscape, but this year I'm moving my company into the world of lawn care. I would really like to start my advertising early, but when is too early?? the snow should be gone by mid march.....but should i wait that long??

Any advice on this would be great :)



Silverado 2500HD
12x6 Landscape trailer
36" John Deere GS30
abgardenworks.com

Savesutime09
01-17-2010, 11:21 PM
I have reached out to my current customers for referals for the upcoming season. there is a lot of competion here. I don't want to be a low baller. how do I charge market price and get business. do some people give the new guy a chance? I can only offer my word of the job i do along with my references.

picframer
01-18-2010, 06:43 AM
I personally found the answer to that question is with your current and potential clients, if you can find a common service that you could offer that would eliminate some, most or all of your competition, it's raises the bar in that you can advertise the service and since the new prospect would only have to deal with one company, you will more than likely get the job.

Just for an example, lets say 5 or your 7 clients would like to have their storage shed pressure washed or their garbage cans, Bio Bins etc. it may very well be when you are marketing and you say we can mow your lawn, fertilize, pressure wash xxxxx.

The focus is to offer something that sets you out from the crowd.

We are a mid sized company yet some clients tell us they hired us as they see our equipment everywhere, that isn't really true as I only have three trucks, what they see is we are concentrating on one area of the city hard and it has paid off, I have another area to attack this summer and have already started to add to the other area we work and will use the same tactics. What they may see is the guys going for lunch at a common place, us making multiple trips to get all the gear to a site we need etc.

Steve
01-18-2010, 01:44 PM
What they may see is the guys going for lunch at a common place, us making multiple trips to get all the gear to a site we need etc.

Andy,

Do you feel it pays to be visible during the lunch hour? Eating at a popular local lunch time location just to make a presence and be available to answer questions? Instead of brown bagging it.

Does it make sense to be networking during lunch?

Do people come up to you then to get a card or talk to you or whatever?

picframer
01-18-2010, 03:58 PM
Andy,

Do you feel it pays to be visible during the lunch hour? Eating at a popular local lunch time location just to make a presence and be available to answer questions? Instead of brown bagging it.

Does it make sense to be networking during lunch?

Do people come up to you then to get a card or talk to you or whatever?

Getting a coffee first thing in the morning is a very very big deal where I live, at first we were having our what are we doing today meetings at my property until sometime in June when I herd the first comment we see you everywhere, so we started having coffee at a very high traffic drive through, I think this is where a lot of people seen us.

Yes people come over and talk to us on a regular basis and yes we have picked up quite a few jobs this way, even while sitting in the coffee shop, I guess when you see three trucks and up to 16 employees in uniform, people get the idea you are huge.

Some of the crews brown bag, especially the excavation and wood cutting, the mowing, pressure washing and spraying crews tend to hit the Sub Way's. It is rare to have an excavation crew leave a site, not really sure why as they are free to go for lunch, they also tend to work longer hours.

We should be networking every chance we get if we can handle additional work.

Steve
01-18-2010, 06:30 PM
Getting a coffee first thing in the morning is a very very big deal where I live, at first we were having our what are we doing today meetings at my property until sometime in June when I herd the first comment we see you everywhere, so we started having coffee at a very high traffic drive through, I think this is where a lot of people seen us.

This is fantastic! Should a lawn care business owner be paying for the morning coffee and breakfast or should this be up to each employee?

It would be interesting to track how many jobs came through the marketing like this. Then you could figure if it would cover the costs of paying for the crew to eat at the location daily.

Or maybe rotate the meeting area around to different locations to branch out and make a showing where other people might see you and engage you in a conversation.

I would really like to start my advertising early, but when is too early?? the snow should be gone by mid march.....but should i wait that long??

Ideally you should be offering different services you can market all year long and not waiting for a small window of opportunity to distribute flyers.

Have you contacted your current customer base already to get them signed up for this year? Do you have them on an annual contract?

picframer
01-18-2010, 07:17 PM
I pay for the first round of coffee, some of the guys will grab one for the road, some have breakfast, actually most of them do, I eat at home before they are even up:) Anyhow its a complete write off tax wise so it's all good and it keeps the employees tight and sometimes they will switch jobs for the day, one might not want to mow but want to work on a chipping crew, I personally don't care as long as the job gets done and you are fully trained.

As for how many jobs we received this way last year dollar wise just a rough guess but $30 to $40 thousand in gross sales, 70% excavation/landscaping and 20 % wood chipping and 10% leaf jobs. Just rough numbers but I bet I am very close as this is one area I do not keep exact numbers, probably should.

I had everyone signed for this year that we did last year before December 31st and for the first 50 referrals that end up with us spraying the person you refer, your first spray will be free up to the value of the referral, I have around 30 to look at and keep them in order. I never mentioned this on the mowing side as spraying is where the profit is.

The private or gated communities are 3 to 5 year contracts.

Steve
01-18-2010, 07:30 PM
Is it worthwhile to do something similar for lunch and buy lunch or is that not a wise move?

Maybe just you going out for lunch with one or two people would be better?

bnclawncare
01-22-2010, 04:32 PM
This is the first year that we will be advertising with door hangers. I was trying to post them for you guys to view and give me your opinion, but I can not get them to load.

Steve
01-22-2010, 04:51 PM
but I can not get them to load.

Can you make the file a little smaller? Or you can email me (slow@gophersoftware.com) it and I will attach it for you.

CHEESE2009
01-22-2010, 05:27 PM
I had ordered pizza to a job site, only because I didn't know who else delivered! Hahaha!

Nothing looks more cheesy then a busy worker with a slice of pizza hanging from the lip. Mmm, I can taste the dirt already!!!!

I often take workers to lunch, though at the end of a busy week I invite them all to one of the several $80.00/ plate restaurants. We look like fools there dressed in grass gear, while everyone else is looking like James Bond.

Other than that we hit up the delis, nothing beats a smoked meat sammich!!!

I remember the day we were all farting non stop, good lord. We had to turn on the equipment to block out the sound.

Steve
01-23-2010, 05:34 PM
Brian,

Your door hanger looks great! What's the plan with them? How will you be distributing them?

bnclawncare
01-23-2010, 10:52 PM
We are going to start with only a 1000 door hangers this year, since it is our first advertising this way, to just see how it goes. We may not even get the entire 1000 out.
I will have one of the guys dress nicely, clean shaven, the whole nine to go around in some of the neighbor hoods that are close by or on the way to our current cutomers. I am not having him drees like hes going to church, but I do not want him to look like a scrub bucket either going door to door, lol. I belive in first impressions!

Steve
01-24-2010, 04:58 PM
Will he be knocking on doors to talk to home owners or will he just be hanging the door hangers? Does he know how to estimate the lawns? Could he be giving estimates on the spot or what would happen if a customer asked for an estimate on the spot? How would you all handle that?

bnclawncare
01-25-2010, 05:01 PM
Steve, those are great questions. My intentions are for him to just hang out the door hangers and have buisness cards available if homeowners ask for quotes so they can call me. I have been wanting him to get to the point to where he can lead, not follow. He started last year with us and it has been a learning curve for us both. His one problem is that he is afraid to screw up. I
have told him that we learn by mistakes. The only issue that I will have is if the same "mistakes" continue!

Steve
01-25-2010, 07:33 PM
This is the first year that we will be advertising with door hangers.

What made you decide to go with door hangers this year and what did you do previously?

Fresh Cut
01-30-2010, 03:24 PM
I had everyone signed for this year that we did last year before December 31st and for the first 50 referrals that end up with us spraying the person you refer, your first spray will be free up to the value of the referral, I have around 30 to look at and keep them in order. I never mentioned this on the mowing side as spraying is where the profit is.

Hey, can you elaborate on this for me? I'm looking into offering organic fertilization, Gluten-8, and I'm not sure of the best route to take as far as application equipment setup or pricing.

Fresh Cut
01-30-2010, 03:43 PM
I am hoping to go full time this spring. I have 7 customers currently from part time last summer. I feel I need to aquire about 45-50 more to quit my job and do this full time. I am getting 5000 door hangers made up. if I get the 1% average I should get there. My question is when I should get them out there. I am in the Hudson Valley in New York. I was thinking about early Feb, but maybe the end of Feb would be better. Any input would be helpful.

Thanx
Stuart

Hi Scott,

One of the things to keep in mind when you are asking when should I start marketing, as you read on here more, you will see the most successful business owners never stop marketing. They are always looking for opportunities to meet new people and sell their services.



One guide some of our members use is that they look for the big box marketing material that comes in the newspapers from places like Home Depot. They look for them to market their Spring products. Once they see that, they start to put their marketing material out there.

Then the next question is, are you putting out 5,000 to different homes or are you going to split them up and hit the same houses multiple times early in the year?

Some business notes that I thought would apply to this thread.

Business notes



1. letters to last year clients, with letterhead
2. mention organic fertilization
3. go for exciting, energetic wording
4. ask for referals, recommendations, suggestions
5. suggest now be a good time to refresh ground cover
6. remind clients of schedule, season start, and how regular maintenance will be managed
7. keep communication open, invite feedback
8.

Steve
01-30-2010, 10:43 PM
1. letters to last year clients, with letterhead
2. mention organic fertilization
3. go for exciting, energetic wording
4. ask for referals, recommendations, suggestions
5. suggest now be a good time to refresh ground cover
6. remind clients of schedule, season start, and how regular maintenance will be managed
7. keep communication open, invite feedback
8.

Would these all be separate letters sent to the customers or would you try to combine some of these elements together in one letter?

Fresh Cut
01-31-2010, 07:43 PM
All in same letter. Once I figure out how to make a letterhead.

Steve
02-01-2010, 12:28 AM
I'd love to see what you come up with!

flykelley
02-15-2010, 10:40 AM
Hi Guys
My name is Mike and I own a small Lawn care business in Michigan. I started out snowplowing 5 years ago and two years ago I bought some accounts from a guy leaving the state. Most of these accounts were not priced right and we only serviced them for the one year. The good news is we have several that are million dollar homes and the customers are very happy with our work. I really need to grow the business this year. One of my plowing customers owns a Quick Change Oil Place, and he has offered to give each one of his customers one of my flyer's. What are your thoughts, Im thinking of doing a one sided color flier with a picture of one of my million dollar homes on it with of course my sales pitch. Im also going to do some direct mailing to a certain target area. The other two things Im thinking of doing is there is a coupon book that gets mailed every two months in our area with lots of coupons for food so they get saved instead of just throwing them out. The owner only allows two of the same type companys to have adds in his mailing. The other idea is the small phone book in our area only cost $300.00 a year to run the small ads. Ok let me have it!!!!!

Thanks Mike

Steve
02-15-2010, 11:10 AM
Hi Mike,

As I recall, one of our members worked at a quick lube place while he was running his lawn care business. He advertised his business there with flyers as well.

I can't remember if he got any customers from it but hey if it is free, it's worth a try right?

A small yellow pages ad will probably bring you in a bunch of customers but remember the biggie is to network socially. To meet the neighbors of your customers. To carry business cards with you every where you go and hand them out.

The more people that know you and know you have a business, the better!

Fresh Cut
02-26-2010, 12:49 PM
Now all I need to do is figure out how to make a letterhead with my logo on it. Can anybody help me with that?


Tell me what y'all think....

Dear customer,


First things first, Happy New Year! 2009 was a challenging year and now that 2010 is here, we're excited about all the new changes and opportunities the new year brings!

February is the perfect time to condition the soil for the growing season. One great new opportunity is the addition of organic fertilization application to the services we offer. Its called Gluten-8, and the advantages it has vastly outweigh those of conventional chemical fertilization. Gluten-8 works twofold in that it promotes a healthy, nutrient rich environment that enables the turf to thrive, as well as being an all natural pre-emergent against weeds.

Now is also a great time for core aeration of the lawn. Core aeration helps to increase water intake, reduce water runoff and puddling, stimulate root development, reduce soil compaction, increase the tolerance to heat and drought stress, improve resiliency and cushioning, and enhance thatch breakdown.

We would also like to remind everyone of our spring clean-up services, and now would be a good time to get the overgrowth cleared out behind your garage, beside the shed, around the hedges, or at the brush-line of your property. We've found that even though most weeds still grow during the dormant season, many weeds don't and even those that are still alive are at their weakest point during this time of year. This makes for a really good time to get rid of them.

Steve
02-27-2010, 11:37 AM
That is great, will that be going out to your current customer base or to another group?

Fresh Cut
02-27-2010, 09:36 PM
That is great, will that be going out to your current customer base or to another group?

current customers and everybody I can remember names and addresses to from last year. Even one timers.

Another group like who, Steve?

Steve
02-28-2010, 11:45 AM
Another group like who, Steve?

Well I meant I was wondering if you would be sending them to current customers or new customers you haven't contacted yet. I can't wait to hear how all this works out!

Fresh Cut
03-03-2010, 07:15 PM
This is what I got so far on my letter. I should have been finished with it and sent it in the middle of last month at the latest.

I'm gonna change a few things, but this is the basic draft.

What ya'll think? What should I change? Better phrasing?

All suggestions welcome.

Steve
03-04-2010, 12:55 PM
That letter looks AWESOME!

I love the graphics you have at the top and the bottom. It really looks professional.

Great job on that!