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dallasbarnone
04-14-2010, 12:23 AM
OK, so we had a great deal going , due to budget cuts, lost the main client we had, advertised mainly in CL, I am CDL trucker of fourty years, laid off for twenty six weeks at the wrong time, don't qualify for any extended UE, wife just got laid off , no ben's for her either, paid in instead of getting back from Uncle sam, had bypass surgery so can't lift, was hopeing to survive this year if i picked up new clients, but imports are under cutting, doing lawns for fifteen dollars, twenty dollars, and we are over run with them.. I hung flyers, told everyone I know, passed out cards, can't afford the local paper, its over three hundred to put ten lines for three weeks.. Im sitting on a zturn, dump trailer, tons of equipment.. Where do i go from here? aside from standing on the sidewalk stopping people? any other ideas of where to advertise at a low price ? I am in NJ.. just about ready to give it up and go on my SS. All i needed were five or six decent lawns to help out a little .. any ideas?

CHEESE2009
04-14-2010, 12:42 AM
Sounds like a very uncomfortable situation.

Lawn maintenance is bread & butter towards most yard services, though maybe this isn't the case for you.

Maybe you can focus mainly on other services, while keeping lawn maintenance an option.

Instead of advertising mowing, advertise everything else, & in a small font, include mowing.

I will try to figure out other solutions, in the meantime, stick around & your answers will come!

The last thing you want to do is book yourself full of $15.00 cuts, though if you can survive off of it, it might work out to your advantage. Show your customers what you are capable of that these scumbags aren't, raise your price the following season.

Lawn Envy
04-14-2010, 02:09 AM
Man sorry to hear about all of your miss fortunes! All things will be better in time. I do agree there are a lot of cheap lawn guys out there. When it comes to marketing your business reamber to sell your self, and service. There is a reason that they are seeling their services cheap. Build value in your self, business and how you take care of your customers and you will get new clients. I live in nor cal and there are so many shady imports here it's very sicking. Keep your chin up my friend!!

SuperiorPower
04-14-2010, 02:33 AM
I am reminded of this:

We have no quarrel with our competitors prices. They know what their services are worth!

Steve
04-14-2010, 10:29 AM
I hung flyers, told everyone I know, passed out cards,

What kind of responses are you getting from those you know or your neighbors?

Also, how handy are you? Can you offer services around the house that others may not be comfortable doing?

dallasbarnone
04-15-2010, 06:52 AM
Well , I think most of the problem is people already have a service, but since they are not working now , they are doing it themselves, I was talking to the local mower repair , he said hes selling small zero turns as fast as he gets them in, mostly to homeowners, When i was there, he had to have at least fifty of them out and being prepped .. I was totally shocked..

I think i might not be getting out there enough, but can't afford too much in the way of the local paper, its really expensive,
There were a few asking about clean up/debri hauling, but its not worth it for that, they want you to do it for a hundred bucks a day, and its a big tangled mess.. you would need three people for a day to get it cleaned up, its not worth doing for that kind of money..

the ones we had, even the neighbors came over last year while we were mowing and said how great it looked, that they were glad we were doing them because it looked so poor when the other guys were doing them, but again , alot of them are doing their own lawns now.. and im not too great around the house as far as plumbing, can't get around like i used to LOL.
The big mistake was counting on the one place, we did every year for the last six or eight years, it was six houses and weekly, plus the snowplowing, they took up most the weekend time I had so i didnt try to get more.. they dropped last minute when they lost funding- they SHOULD have told me in advance but waited until now.. so i am behind on when i should have begun advertiseing .. I dont think the prices i had were bad, sixty per acre, ? smaller lawns were fourty to sixy depending on how much trimming there was.. thats not priced high right?

by the way , thanks for all the responses!!

Steve
04-15-2010, 08:07 AM
I think i might not be getting out there enough

Beyond advertising in the local paper, what are you thinking you could be doing more of to get your message out there? Are there things that are on your list that you just haven't gotten to yet?

dallasbarnone
04-15-2010, 08:29 AM
well it may sound stupid, but i live on a very busy highway - We have rescue horses; part of the money pit but... i thought about taking the horse with the most striking looks, and putting a lettered blanket on him , phone etc, and using him for a bill board LOL, then again , would they think im a nut case?!!

since the road frontage is a huge grass field, we make hay , and its very scenic, I thought it would at least draw attention !

Steve
04-15-2010, 05:48 PM
I'd say do it. Do what ever you can to stand out.

I have also seen people advertise things by stacking up hay bails and then putting a tarp over it with information painted on the tarp.

Could you do something like that too? What about a sign?

Affordable lawn care
555-1234

TeamDynamic
04-15-2010, 10:32 PM
Get a bunch of business cards with some kind of coupon on the back. Every free minute you have start knocking on doors. It is a time consuming pain in the ***, but it is cheap and has the best return.

Also try and tighten up your routes. In other words, don't spend 300 on an add that covers the whole city. Put that 300 towards canvasing a small area several times through out the season. If you can make it so all your accounts a close together you can cut down one of your biggest expenses (Drive time). You don't want to be paying employees to just drive around, you want to pay them to cut lawns.

Get creative put out some fliers saying "WE FIX 15$ LAWN CUTS. CHEAP LAWN CARE CAN COST YOU THOUSANDS IN THE LONG RUN". Then list the negatives of cheap lawn care: no insurance (they can get sued if something happens), they don't pay taxes, they hire illegals, there are many more reasons. Then list all the positives of hiring a quality company that does a quality job.

I just sold a residential account yesterday. The customer was paying 16 dollars with a discount company. The discount company was using big zero turn mowers on this little lawn and was doing a terrible job (tore up turf and cracked glass block windows along the bottom of the house). So I told them "I know your paying 16 right now, but I can charge you 20 dollars and actually do a quality job". They signed on the spot. There are two types of customers: one just wants the lawn cut so the city won't give them a ticket(discount customers). The other hires a professional because they want a beautiful lawn

dallasbarnone
04-16-2010, 12:36 AM
I could do the hay bales, since i do sell hay .. but knowing some of the morons around me they might light it up when im not looking !!

I guess that would draw attention though wouldnt it.. ?

i have signs out- I do have a question, how could you mow a lawn for twenty dollars ? unless you have about ten in a row.. most of the ones i priced were no less then forty five , is that part of the problem? i mean, i can't even get the truck out of the driveway for less then twenty, .. the ones i lost i was getting sixty for the lawn, thirty five an hour to weedeat and blow off the porches. its the going rate** or at least it WAS.. whats the price per ac where you are? say just a square flat ac??

MikeO
04-16-2010, 07:53 AM
Maybe it goes back to what business is. If everybody charges 15-20 a lawn and you want 45, how much work can you get?. If you did 25 dollar cuts or maybe even 30 dollar cuts and did awesome work would you get more business that way? I don't know. Apparantley it sounds like everybody has set prices in the area you live. However, if you offered more then just mow and blow would that set you apart? What if you took it to a different location, since that location is already somewhat saturated? If you had 10 lawns at 30 thats 300 a week, 20 thats 600. Take the 10 lawns at what you can get, get some cash rolling in, and move to a different location if possible. If you can't do that, then I would seriousley think about other ways to make money other then mowing. What else can you do besides mowing? That's what sets you apart. Can you be a handyman? Gutter Cleaning? Tree trimming? Shrubs? Window cleaning?...Alot of money in window cleaning, every business has windows. Just throwing some thoughts out there.

dallasbarnone
04-16-2010, 08:32 AM
Well , i think its more flooded with people doing lawns with the mowers they got for themselves. I did travel an hour for the one place, but its not worth it- but the people will call and say they have a lawn service, tell me what they pay them and ask if i can do better, and I told them no.. pretty soon they will be getting them done free!
I can do Hauling, mulching, as i said, can't do heavy stuff anymore as the bypass isn't healed yet, I have help though .. but you have to make something to pay them. I guess i will just keep trying , theres SO many vacant houses sitting- everything is for sale , every one is running out of NJ .. Smart move in my opinion.. but i grew up here and even if we are getting shafted- im not ready to move out yet.

I appreciate all the input though. If i do use the horse /or the hay bales, and it works, i will put a picture on !

I did have one thought.. there is a zillion flea markets etc, I thought about going and asking a few of the vendors if i gave them a few bucks to help pay for their space, if i could leave cards on the tables, it would stay local that way at least..

Steve
04-16-2010, 09:11 AM
You are very creative! Don't be afraid to do these things to draw attention. That's what it is all about. The crazier the better. You may find something you do gets in a picture in your local paper and then your phone will not stop ringing!

MikeO
04-16-2010, 10:28 AM
too bad you couldnt fix those houses up and flip them for some $

dallasbarnone
04-17-2010, 09:13 AM
Thanks ! well you are encouraging ! as for the house flipping, theres no one to flip it to, no one is buying, you should see these houses, HUGE, probably million plus price tags on them.. some are half finished , I even called some of the banks/realitors, to get in on the mowing for the foreclosed ones, some one has to mow them right? can't sell a jungle house.. but no one answered or got back to me.. .. thats an inside deal im sure, someone related to the realtor or the handyman etc. The snowplowing was booming over the winter, i had more then i could handle sometimes, but look at the snow we had too.. WELL, i guess i will try some of these ideas and see if it works! You never know til you try right?? Thanks for all the info..!

jasonw
04-19-2010, 01:36 PM
Well , I think most of the problem is people already have a service, but since they are not working now , they are doing it themselves, I was talking to the local mower repair , he said hes selling small zero turns as fast as he gets them in, mostly to homeowners, When i was there, he had to have at least fifty of them out and being prepped .. I was totally shocked..

I think i might not be getting out there enough, but can't afford too much in the way of the local paper, its really expensive,
There were a few asking about clean up/debri hauling, but its not worth it for that, they want you to do it for a hundred bucks a day, and its a big tangled mess.. you would need three people for a day to get it cleaned up, its not worth doing for that kind of money..

the ones we had, even the neighbors came over last year while we were mowing and said how great it looked, that they were glad we were doing them because it looked so poor when the other guys were doing them, but again , alot of them are doing their own lawns now.. and im not too great around the house as far as plumbing, can't get around like i used to LOL.
The big mistake was counting on the one place, we did every year for the last six or eight years, it was six houses and weekly, plus the snowplowing, they took up most the weekend time I had so i didnt try to get more.. they dropped last minute when they lost funding- they SHOULD have told me in advance but waited until now.. so i am behind on when i should have begun advertiseing .. I dont think the prices i had were bad, sixty per acre, ? smaller lawns were fourty to sixy depending on how much trimming there was.. thats not priced high right?

by the way , thanks for all the responses!!

I can no help but be set back by the statement "but its not worth it for that, they want you to do it for a hundred bucks a day" $100 per day is way better than $0 per day, especially when you are unemployed and looking for jobs. Take what you can get and more will follow. Not every job is pretty and easy but $100 per day will at least feed you.

HDfromTX
04-19-2010, 01:46 PM
got an idea... if you have highway frontage, then make a billboard or sign with the local papers logo or something that is popular in your town. then put underneath it puts NJ NEWSPAPER SUPPORTS LOCAL LAWN CARE BUSINESS - Quality Work at a Fair Price!!! Your name and telephone number in there to. You would have to get permission from the company but they will defiantly help you because you are also advertising for them, the might even pay for your sign.

Also, almost never say no over the phone - some customers play games but most are just looking for a better deal without knowing the problems that may encounter down the road. Also, they might be calling because that $15 dollar guy didn't show up in two weeks and they need someone quick. I have recently got back into the lawn business and have noticed a big change since 10 years ago. But, I have also noticed that customers are still customers. They will listen to what you have to say and will almost let you work for them if your honest. I have 4 older lady customers that were playing games and looking for a good deal. I took a paycut to get in but after I did a good job and worked hard for them, my prices went up and they give me more then I ask for. POINT IS - Someone is gonna get the work, You or someone else. Start small like said above then prices are going to get where you want them after you build a reputation.

Ever thought of a creative slogan, magnet, or sign you could put on your vehicle? I dont have one yet due to expense but something to consider, you are advertising everywhere you go - cutting grass, going to the store, church, movies, etc. IDEAS are plenty, just learn to listen to your customers first and trying to get to know them before you just say no!

Something else I learned this time around.... Getting the biggest, newest design, or best ideas takes alot of money these days. I have put myself in check by taking a getting back to the basics technique. Customers are broke and just need the basics, so why am I trying to cater to needs that they can't afford? If you get alot of basic customers, wether it be lawn care, trees, haul-off, etc - you might start being successfull.

GOOD LUCK!!!

dallasbarnone
04-20-2010, 07:51 AM
I can no help but be set back by the statement "but its not worth it for that, they want you to do it for a hundred bucks a day" $100 per day is way better than $0 per day, especially when you are unemployed and looking for jobs. Take what you can get and more will follow. Not every job is pretty and easy but $100 per day will at least feed you.



If you are taking a full size four wheel drive, three people at ten dollars an hour and filling the truck with gas, making five trips to the landfill with the debri, which is twenty miles each way- just how much you you think you would clear ? its not worth running the equip, the truck, would take over a hundred to do four trips to dump and back, the rest would be gone in four hours, for labor.. you aren t making anything , your losing .

Steve
04-20-2010, 11:02 AM
I have 4 older lady customers that were playing games and looking for a good deal. I took a paycut to get in but after I did a good job and worked hard for them, my prices went up and they give me more then I ask for.

When you say a pay cut, would you say you have to know your costs first before you can do this? How much of a paycut would you suggest be ok at first? How much profit should be made even in a situation where you are trying to get your foot in the door?

jasonw
04-20-2010, 11:32 AM
If you are taking a full size four wheel drive, three people at ten dollars an hour and filling the truck with gas, making five trips to the landfill with the debri, which is twenty miles each way- just how much you you think you would clear ? its not worth running the equip, the truck, would take over a hundred to do four trips to dump and back, the rest would be gone in four hours, for labor.. you aren t making anything , your losing .

Well with a full size truck and the average take size of a full size truck "35G" 20 miles times 4 trips divided by 35 gallons means you are getting 2.28 miles per gallon. This is highly unlikely, My full size truck averages between 12 and 13mpg meaning the lower number of 12mpg times 4 trips would cost me $26.66 subtracted from 100 would leave me $73.34 per job. I know it sounds harsh but you are unemployed and have expenses. My recommendation is lay off your three people. Work yourself and try to scrape by. I did this very thing. I do not need the money but my business was losing money so the first thing I did was lay off. The minute I did that my balance sheet started to even out and now I am in the positive. Employees suck the life out of you. They are great if you can afford them but judging from the info you gave you can not afford them. On another note, send that 2.28mpg truck to the bottom of the lake and the money you save in one week of gas will pay for a nice smaller truck.

SuperiorPower
04-20-2010, 12:47 PM
I think I would consider doing exactly what Jason just said. And if you don't want to lay off the employees, consider asking them if they would work for less than $10 per hour just to get some work. Tell them we go do this job, we pay the expenses and then split the rest. Perhaps give an incentive of $5-$10 for whoever finds the job for the day, granted it pays enough. Or perhaps a $20 for the best paying job of the week.

Since your employees already know the area, consider brainstorming with them. Make them a part of the solution. If you want to work for me, you help promote me. They could help pass out cards or fliers.

Something else you might try is buying some of Artie's card holders and putting them on the windows of every vehicle you have. Like someone else already mentioned, make some cards that say "I fix $15 lawns" or whatever the lowballers are charging. I would then fill these card holders with these cards. Optionally you could also buy some of his other products like his flier holders and napkin holders. Check with the locals businesses that you know and see if they will allow you to install the card holders or flier holders on their front door close to where the customer grabs.

I believe that by showing the customer what the cheap lawn care is costing them (like was mentioned by someone else previously) you may very well get the edge.

If life gives you lemons, make lemonade....

HDfromTX
04-21-2010, 05:04 AM
Response to Steve ** When I meant paycut, I meant that I might not make what I could doing another simple job for someone else.

Example of my favorite NEW customer that I just do odd jobs for (she has a lawn man that she has had for 15 years, but called me (lol...go figure))****

Spent 3 hours at customers house raking and loading leaves in my truck and only made $60. She realized that I worked hard and was honest with her. I went back the following Monday and spent 2 hours working flower beds and spreading mulch which paid $60. This week Im returning to trim her hedges in the back yard and trim a big tree in the front yard. I have allotted 5 hours at the house and will make $250 after I pay a helper to trim the big tree in the front yard. I will have equipment cost involved in the big job, so I might take a little loss in profit, but gain more customers by her yard advertising for me. I still might not be in the profit margin as some companies are but I'm a firm believer that if you treat your customers honest, they will come back. This customer has already got me 2 other customers and have kept the bank deposits good.

NOW... This is the depressing part for me. I get a telephone call from a guy wanting a 1/2 acre mowed, edged, weedeat, blow'n... Now remember, I work mostly by myself and operate with a 21" Snapper, unless I hire a helper. I quote the guy $65 because I have a helper that wants to work on Saturday with me. So Im looking at a $45-50 income after I pay a helper for an hour or so of his time. The guy laughed and said that was WAY TOO high and that he could hire an illegal to do it for half... This made me think of this thread and laugh right back and tell him thanks for the phone call and that if he ever needed my help fixing the half price job to give me a call back.

SO... You can't have the best of every situation but now I can see your point about being priced right out of business.

HDfromTX
04-21-2010, 05:10 AM
Forgot to add... After the guy laughed and I hung up ** I got a phone call from a guy just wanting his back yard mowed. His HOA mows his front yard and he just wants his back yard maintained Bi-weekly. I have a house right down the road and quoted the guy $25 for 30 minutes of labor by myself. Then, the guy said that his neighbors are in the same situation ** so who knows what tommorrow is going to bring when I show up in their neighborhood.

This business can be depressing but it can make you laugh if you sit back and enjoy the adventure!!!

Steve
04-21-2010, 11:30 AM
This business can be depressing but it can make you laugh if you sit back and enjoy the adventure!!!

Isn't this true of life too?