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CHEESE2009
01-19-2010, 09:36 PM
If you have ever made a purchase at Canadian Tire, you'd notice they give you their own form of currency back along with your change. "Canadian Tire Money"

I think this is brilliant.

It's a great customer retention strategy, & to make sure customers will continue to do business with you because they have somewhat of a savings, maybe towards a free mowing?!

Maybe for every $50.00 your customer spends, they can receive $4.00 in your companies currency?

By next year, they might have enough for a free mowing, or they may even plan on saving this form of currency for even longer!

It would be better than a business card & magnet combined! Word of mouth would for sure spread!

I have a huge wad of Canadian Tire paper bills, it's not a lot, but it's seriously a savings I never had before - or with other stores of the like.


What do you guys think?

I'm sure there are some cons, like tracking who has X amount at the moment bla bla.

Or how to make sure people don't photocopy the bills, though you'd be tracking the customer anyway. And we'd probably get it done professionally.

Coupons & discounts are old news I figure. Though loyalty rewards seem like so much more, taking a leap further into expanding a business like ours, the correct way.

CHEESE2009
01-19-2010, 09:56 PM
ANOTHER IDEA:

If you've every been to a nutrition/ supplement store, many of them offer a card, which they will stamp every visit.

For every time you visit, & if your card has been stamped to their limit (usually 6 visits) you receive 25% off your next purchase.

Imagine that...

Customers will hold on to this card, maybe even have a key chain attachment for it.

You'd need to customize a stamp, maybe with several different types of colors so people don't get away with forging. (blue first time, yellow second, green third, etc) create a pattern so you'd know who's tricking you. Switch the pattern every season.

Every time they pay, you stamp their card.

The reward you give is up to you!

CHEESE2009
01-19-2010, 10:41 PM
I also believe that this will keep a few customers from avoiding us during payment. I mean, they kinda benefit now & won't be as hesitant!

All you need to do is get a business card made with the saying,

"Present this card while making a payment towards our lawn maintenance service"

or

"Get your card stamped six (6) times by our representatives with each payment towards our lawn maintenance service."


Something like that. Get a nice stamp made, & get the ink at the dollar store - done!


Just adjust the amount you have to stamp the card, 6 times may be low, but for me that's as long as my season lasts. Which will guarantee these people to hire me the following year. Is it worth it? It's better than not having them stick with me, so yeah!

I'm thinking about putting these out, with my business cards.

I'll even give them 1 stamp, just so they feel closer to that benefit of being with me.

It sounds like an awesome way to advertise. "Here is our card, now here is a card saying you are getting closer to a free mowing" especially compared to other companies. People who have never hired a service may get involved & give it a shot if they know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I'd even be specific about the card, we don't want to give free mowing to really large properties, so maybe we'd write the property details on the back, & double the amount of times their card needs to be stamped. (give or take).

CHEESE2009
01-19-2010, 11:00 PM
Sorry I keep making posts. I'm always a little late to add to my former posts, lol.

Here is an example of what I'm thinking about doing, & dropping at every house in my area.

http://i100.photobucket.com/albums/m25/mad_insane/freemowing.jpg

Steve
01-20-2010, 02:15 PM
Great ideas!

Here is an example of what I'm thinking about doing, & dropping at every house in my area.

Would these be houses you already service or no?


Also, this year, could you get your customers to prepay every month so you don't have to track them down?

FloridaBoy
01-20-2010, 02:25 PM
Thats a great idea Breeze, i think for me and my company, i would use it to

encourage the customer to utilize my extra services ( pressure cleaning,

mulching, gutters, etc.) My mowing clients are on yearly contracts, same

amount every month all year long, so i am not looking to try and retain them

for the next growing season. But i make alot more money in the extra work, so

offering for ex. $5.00 off lawncare for every $50.00 spent in other services

sounds like a nice offer. You are creating more business, marketing more

services, and giving back to client all in one promotion.

Steve
01-20-2010, 02:45 PM
Oh yea that is interesting. So you could create these 'bucks' for the customer to use on additional services!

CHEESE2009
01-20-2010, 04:49 PM
I might just send these out to my current customers also.
Though I'd up the amount of stamps they need, considering that's a lot of free mowing. Though even if, I don't really stress out considering I can always so no once I reach my client "cap", the point I am no longer interested in taking on new lawn maintenance customers.

I would like to actually put these cards towards other services, up sells... The problem is I wouldn't really have the time. I would disappoint a lot of people.

I need to think of the service that is the most efficiently done, & nothing seems to beat mowing.

If I have to mow 10 lawns for free in 2011, it sucks, but it's better than going on roofs with a bunch of tools & cleaning gutters which has a chance of being more difficult to do, when you have to take apart the down spouts etc. My price for gutter cleaning is too low as it is, though that's why I've been hired by many customers in the first place, nothing will change here.

Mowing, you go in, you cut/trim/blow. It's done, & that is something the customer can see & appreciate. A customer is rarely going to climb their roof to check if the job has been done, & doesn't show as much as a beautifully cut lawn.

I would love to do maybe a $10.00 off garden weeding stamp card, but not everyone has a garden.


My biggest problem is figuring out how many stamps my clients need before a free mowing.

I want them to receive a benefit early, so they get the feeling of "earning" faster (which is what everyone wants).

Though I do not want to be booked like crazy for free mowings next year. I mind as well just tough it out, it is a benefit.

My season lasts from May 1st till October 16th... About 5 1/2 months.

My prices are set at $50.00 - $60.00 - $80.00 / month

I like my lawns to be worth what I price them at, you may think my prices are low but I make sure I am efficient enough.

Two $50/month lawns can be done fast enough to consider them both as one $100/month lawn.

I never want to break my tight route & I often negotiate with myself when it comes to finding one big money maker, vs several small money makers. I think I have a better chance with several small lawns because if I lose one big one, I can't just replace it.

So for my $50.00/month lawns maybe I can give them *6* stamps for a free mowing, that's one free mowing give or take the following year in June.

$60.00/month lawns, maybe I'd need to stamp them 8 times

$80.00/month laws, 10 stamps will be required.

This way I make my moneys worth, & lawns will be booked easier & I wont need to do them all around the same time. Unless they save their card for later months.

I can hear it now...

"let's hire this company for the year, & we're guaranteed a savings next year"

"When we decide to take a big family vacation in a few years, we'll have enough cards to save on lawn service for the entire month we are away"

I should market this hardcore!

FloridaBoy
01-20-2010, 07:01 PM
What if just that happens Breeze, lets just say %50 of your customers save

up there stamps, and they use them all at once. WOW, not just your income,

buthalf of all money ( operating expenses, income, taxes ) is gone, not coming

in. Even if it was split a couple months a %25 decrease would hurt me.

If it works for you, then thats great, but i see it being detrimental in the long

run.

FloridaBoy
01-20-2010, 07:14 PM
Oh yea that is interesting. So you could create these 'bucks' for the customer to use on additional services!

Well, that might work also, but what i was thinking is you hire me to......ok

example - I offer pressure cleaning to my customers in a moble home park for

$55.00 single wide, $65.00 double wide extra for porches, driveways etc. but

you get the point. They have these services done regardless, but more

existing lawncare customers may use me to provide this to them knowing

that each time they spend $50.00 they will get $5 off there lawncare bill.

That deal spreads by word of mouth to non-customers, BAM you have a new

lawncare customer, and a new pressure cleaning client.

The discount is immediate, or atleast as immediate as your next invoice for

lawncare.

CHEESE2009
01-20-2010, 07:45 PM
I wonder what I can do to prevent that.

Worst case scenario, if I maintain 50 customers. Around $75.00/month

2011, if they all use there free mowing card... My schedule doesn't change which is a bonus, but that's negative $937.50 doing free mowing for all of them.

Though considering marketing often does cost around $1000.00 to begin with, it seems like a small & acceptable negative. I'll consider it marketing, that's all.

I have to remind myself that this loss is beneficial considering many of them will start up & stick with me long term because of it.

I would just hate for all of them to save up their cards for 10 years lol, negative $9375.00, that's really the worst case scenario.

So an expiration date would be wise to add.

##############

QUESTION:

For all of you who know what "Costco" is, the warehouse store that sells everything in bulk.

If you pay for a membership card, you get discounts. I'm trying to think of how I can put this towards my business.

Though I feel as if Costco is scammish/smart.

Like you pay what? $50.00/month for the card & you do groceries every week & spend $100.00 times 4 weeks = $400.00... How much are we saving vs giving them our money for this card every month?

Do they only profit when we decide not to go there? It seems silly, it's great for customer retention, though if they keep their customers they lose an arm & leg... Though I'm certain they overprice everything anyway & the discounts are phony...

I don't want to overcharge, then have my customers buy a membership card that gives them a discount a.k.a usual cost for my service. Not only does it feel wrong, competition would eat me up.

Steve
01-20-2010, 08:46 PM
My thought on it is this. Most lawn care customers are going to want their lawn cut weekly throughout the year once they sign up with you. There for, giving them a free cut when they are already expecting to get this service from you and are willing to pay for it, may not help you.

I have seen pizzerias offer something like buy 10 pies and get your card stamped each time, then your 11th pizza is free.

This gets folks to buy 10 pizzas where they might not or gets them to buy all the pizzas from their pizzeria, where they might otherwise buy them from different pizzerias to mix things up a little.

Lawn care customers have no interest in having multiple lawn care companies, service them.

If the goal is to get the customer to pay on time, I would think there might be better ways to handle it. Why not have them prepay? We see many businesses here do this and it seems to work for them.

I like the 'bucks' idea if you could use them for upsells. Things like power washing or other services they may not ordinarily purchase. Now You probably don't want to give anything away for free. You could word it another way but I don't know if it would alter the effectiveness. What if you said the 'bucks' can be applied to additional services for up to 50% of the total cost?

Would something like that help?

picframer
01-20-2010, 08:51 PM
Oh yea that is interesting. So you could create these 'bucks' for the customer to use on additional services!

I wouldn't worry so much about customers saving up, keep in mind they have to spend money to get the 2 or 3% Breeze cash you are talking about.

My concern is this has to be carried on your balance sheet as a liability which may be no big deal unless you are financing and the lender starts asking a pile of questions.

Canadian Tire money didn't work in Western Canada, I know this as I lived there for years for a host of reasons, they simply gave you a discount at cash if you paid cash.

I have to wonder down deep inside if discounts will grow a business...???

I do shop at Costco, our American friends know it as Sams I believe, Costco is actually an American owned company, I buy all our water and a host of stuff for the guys from there and some things for the house.

I prefer to give discounts for referrals that end up in a sale or contract, simple and done with, referral discount is equal to one free mow or spray up to the lesser of the value of your spray or the referral. All you are doing is expanding your network which is a good thing, it's free marketing and sales.

Steve
01-20-2010, 08:58 PM
I prefer to give discounts for referrals that end up in a sale or contract

Do you have to worry about a referral where it is a one time mow or something relatively small? Or is that never an issue?

CHEESE2009
01-20-2010, 09:50 PM
The problem for me when offering a discount to those who refer me. Is that the customer they refer me to is crap. They don't last long enough to make the discount I have given work.

It's a big mess, though I suppose the discount can be passed on the year after to assure the new customer actually stuck around the full season. I just don't wanna have my customers feel that I cheated them out of a discount as they did provide me with a customer & it's considered my job to keep them.

Actually, the discount can be per one month. Though I wouldn't give the discount until I have seen the new customer stick around for at least one month & make the proper payment. It's all tricky. It's all another thing that needs to be explained word for word on a flyer -$$$.

With my idea, I might not profit hardcore, & sink to the quantity over quality of customers for a little while. Though eventually when I grow, I wont have this deal & customers can either stay or leave. No deals, no nothing.

I didn't expect to profit last year, or this year, though next year is where my hopes are at.


1st year = preparation, trial & error (follow)
2nd year = fixing mistakes, better organization, adjust strategy (compete)
3rd year = do it right (lead)


ALSO #######

Listen to this while we talk about business, it helps.

<object width="320" height="265"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/GusLypfx7OQ&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&color1=0x006699&color2=0x54abd6"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/GusLypfx7OQ&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&color1=0x006699&color2=0x54abd6" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="320" height="265"></embed></object>

LMAO

picframer
01-20-2010, 10:12 PM
Do you have to worry about a referral where it is a one time mow or something relatively small? Or is that never an issue?

I don't know yet, in my case I have limited it to spraying as that is the side I want to go as we have ordered and received sprayers that will cut time on your lot by 60%+, so I want to increase that side of the business and with a169+ happy clients, if we can pick up another 100 which is the goal, then it's all good, there is a 300% profit in spraying overall in my case, so giving you one free spray knowing we will be back three or four more times this year, to me is a cheap cost of doing business.

I do not offer any type of discounts in any other service we provide as they do well on their own.

Steve
01-20-2010, 10:51 PM
1st year = preparation, trial & error (follow)
2nd year = fixing mistakes, better organization, adjust strategy (compete)
3rd year = do it right (lead)

What do you feel were some of the big errors that were made in the first year and what are you doing to fix them?

psparaco
01-20-2010, 11:58 PM
most of the discounts i offer are 1 free mowing when you sign a 2010 contract. i thought about the stamp idea. pay for 6 mowings, get the 7th free. its good and all. but what if they cash it in all at the same time. then you profit zero that week and that could make or break alot of us.

I am planning on sending out a welcome back letter to all existing clients who stayed on with me for this year from last. In the letter i am offering a new referral system. it is as follows:

If you refer Sparaco Lawn Care services to somebody within our current coverage area & they happen to hire us for the entire 2010 season, meaning for each consecutive month they pay for a month in advance and payment is received. The cost of your lawn service will decrease accordingly.

1 -5 Customers - $10.00 off
5-10 Customers - $15.00 off
10-15 Customers - $20.00 off



what do you think of this idea?

Another thing i am pondering is.... Should i have all my marketing flyers printed out black/white or done in color. color copying costs are usually triple vs plain black and white whether you have a professional printer or you do it yourself at home. I havent started my door to door distribution yet. its still way to early around here. I am thinking of passing out flyers in mid february to those who recieve it. wont just toss it in the trash cause its a service they dont need yet.

Another idea i have for marketing is this. If you went with the 6 stamp, get 1 free idea. Why not specify it can only be used during your busiest month like july or august. That way the customer saves and you aren't taking a kick in the butt with your profits.

RScottCincinnati
01-21-2010, 02:18 PM
I send out emails to EVERYONE I know (even folks who are not lawn mowing customers) and everyone gets the "3 FREE CUTS FOR A REFERRAL PROGRAM".
Anyone can refer a new customer to me. If the referral says "yep, cut my grass, I like your price, etc." the person who referred the new client to me gets 3 free cut "coupons" to use anytime they like. Could use them while they go on vacation, during the hot month of July, etc. It costs me nothing (gas and a little time) and I just picked up a new client worth another $1000+ a year and more exposure. It works.

justin_time
01-21-2010, 04:22 PM
Here's a template

http://i47.tinypic.com/r950ep.gif

Here's the link to download the template

Office template - Buy 10 get 1 free (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/TC010187241033.aspx?pid=CT101443391033&AxInstalled=1&c=0)

Steve
01-21-2010, 04:42 PM
If you refer Sparaco Lawn Care services to somebody within our current coverage area & they happen to hire us for the entire 2010 season, meaning for each consecutive month they pay for a month in advance and payment is received. The cost of your lawn service will decrease accordingly.

1 -5 Customers - $10.00 off
5-10 Customers - $15.00 off
10-15 Customers - $20.00 off

When would they get this? At the end of the season? What if they refer someone to you mid way through the season?

Another thing i am pondering is.... Should i have all my marketing flyers printed out black/white or done in color.

You know what you could try as a test. Print half in black and white. Distribute those flyers to one area of town and then do the other half in color. Distribute those to another side of town. Then you will see which flyers get you more customers by the location of where the customer lives.

That could help you with your future marketing. I'd love to hear how all that worked out.

psparaco
01-21-2010, 05:39 PM
When would they get this? At the end of the season? What if they refer someone to you mid way through the season?

I was planning on sending out the letters mid february 2010 to welcome them back and offer the incentive. If they refer someone mid season. they will only recieve the discount each month following. ex: they refer jane doe. she pays for july. then the referral receives xx amount off their bill for august. and each month their after as long as who they referred pays their monthly bill. if they drop after 1 month then they only get the discount one time. I am still tinkering with the concept since this is my slow season. alot of time for research and planning.

Steve
01-21-2010, 06:47 PM
The thing I wonder is, how important ultimately are these inducements for referrals?

What if when you sent out your letter, you included a few business cards and explained to the customer you are trying to grow your business this year and if they could hand these business cards out to neighbors or friends, you would really appreciate it.

I find that I give referrals all the time and I never look for anything from doing it. I don't know if others are like me, but I think we all tend to share our knowledge with others. So if we know of a person who does good lawn care, we will tell others about it when they are looking for someone to take care of their lawn.

What's your take on that?

justin_time
01-21-2010, 10:05 PM
The thing I wonder is, how important ultimately are these inducements for referrals?

What if when you sent out your letter, you included a few business cards and explained to the customer you are trying to grow your business this year and if they could hand these business cards out to neighbors or friends, you would really appreciate it.

I find that I give referrals all the time and I never look for anything from doing it. I don't know if others are like me, but I think we all tend to share our knowledge with others. So if we know of a person who does good lawn care, we will tell others about it when they are looking for someone to take care of their lawn.

What's your take on that?

#
Step 1

Know to whom you're writing. The letter should be aimed towards the recipient's needs and goals in order to be of greatest service to all involved. A good focus will let the reader know that the letter (and business) truly relates to what they want.
#
Step 2

Explain your relationship to the recommended business, whether it be as a client, supplier, mentor or general acquaintance. Where are you coming from, and how are you linked with the company? Transparency here builds trust and respect in the letter writer's judgment.
#
Step 3

Let the reader know exactly why your opinion matters. Qualifications that matter include professional affiliations, work experience and any honors received in the past.
#
Step 4

Point out why the business is the best option out there. Are there any points that stand out as being exceptional, such as customer service or turn-around time? Emphasize the top three or four impressive qualities of the company in question. Don't worry about length the more information, the better.
#
Step 5

Include pertinent contact information so that the reader may call you for further questions.

Found this on e-how http://www.ehow.com/how_4841298_write-referral-letter-business.html

I also posted a sample get 10 and get 1 free card on the bottom page 2 of this thread

FloridaBoy
01-22-2010, 10:12 PM
I think this hole thread teaches a great lesson or atleast makes you open your mind a little. :confused:

There have been so many different ways of approaching this one idea that breeze came up with.:)

They all seem to have worked or will be able to work, it just depends on you (me), your (my) company, the region we (I) provide service, and how you (I) run our company.:rolleyes:

The variables are outrages, thats why i love this site and the people on it, i (you) are bombarded with so many different aspects, that you can't help but to just do what you originally planned or go nuts trying to put every other persons idea together.:eek:

Never second guess yourself, follow what works for you, and ROCK ON.:D

CHEESE2009
01-24-2010, 04:31 PM
I'm just glad we're not competing against each other, hahaha!

Just imagine another worst case scenario, 10 lawn service companies are starting up in your area. 5 of them have a great reputation & they are just expanding, while the others are just starting up with a low budget.

Those with a large amount of money have more power, though the ones with a low budget have the hunger to challenge their powerful brothers.

Imagine the war in each one of our towns. Have competition will rise & all sorts of tactics will present themselves.

Imagine if lawn service had it's own t.v commercials, daily broadcasts on the radio.

Now let's think about why we aren't currently going all out! Because we don't have that much competition, & we believe with patience, everything will come. It is true, baby steps are key.

The question is, in my scenario, what would YOU do to stay in business, & to grow your business?

Companies are hogging space in magazines, websites, local radio & t.v, some may even go as far out to having a plane riding through the sky with an advertising banner.

What happens to all of us when competition is heated, no customer lasts longer than a year & we are all forced to find new ones & upgrade our list of services constantly!

Other companies are gaining new competition as well, electricians, plumbers, renovators, & real estate agents, many decide to all come together to form a powerhouse.

It would be a nightmare, but in the calm state we are currently in, some of this stuff can be beneficial to us now.

Gather a group of business owners & work out a plan.

Renovators fix up a house for selling, & point the finger to the teams real estate agent.

The real estate agent sells the house, advertising to her customers a great deal on lawn maintenance.

The customer will bond the most with the lawn maintenance worker, & it's understood that we will be able to refer the customer to the right people for all of their household needs, plumber, electrician. As long as they keep us hired.

The benefits are that we all work for each other, & provide each other with benefits & it makes the wheel spin around.


Example (true story)

I was doing a job, a person came by & asked if I could clean their gutters. I said "of course!"

As I was on their roof, I noticed their fixtures needed to be fastened & caulking should be done.

I need notice a problem with one of the fixtures & I asked the customer if they had a leak anywhere? The customer checked, & sure enough they had water coming through the ceilings drywall.

I told them that I know a guy who can repair the damage done to the ceiling, & prevent it from happening again.

I also noticed the floor tiling has become unset. I the customer if he would be interested in installing hardwood floors sometime in the future.

I told him exactly what I was told by the guy who installs the floors & the benefits the company offers. Some sort of floor buffering service. They said that sounds neat, I gave them the card.

A few weeks later my friend who does the floors called & thanked me, he said he had gotten a call from one of my customers who had only good things to say about me, & they trust to do business with him in the future. As soon as their ceiling gets fixed.

So how can we profit from forming some sort of team? That saying, "man of all trades, master of none", we don't have to do everything, but we can certainly find someone who can do what our customers want! So let's do it!!!

"I do lawns, gardens, gutters, etc... Though I'm not limited to finding you the best prices on quality work for whatever else you may need done"

Ultimately, we are all well rounded, we just have to figure out HOW. This way, it's not at our time & expense.

What do you all think? I have written way to much, & need to take a whiz!:eek:

Steve
01-24-2010, 05:47 PM
You are always looking for ways to grow and services to add so I think that is fantastic!

I was thinking about your card too. Maybe you could have it where if a customer signs up for a years worth of lawn care, they get free gutter cleaning at the end of the season?