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gonecountry
04-21-2010, 06:50 AM
Does anyone use the referral system when you are just starting out of a free mowing, in trying to pick up more accounts? Sooner or later you would have to decline the free mowing because everybody would want one, but it is a cheaper alternative than spending thousands of dollars on yellow pages and/or flyers, door hangers, etc... Or would something like a $25 gas card or credit on the next bill be a good idea instead?

Steve
04-21-2010, 11:33 AM
Ideally how would you like your free mowing offer to work?

gonecountry
04-21-2010, 12:32 PM
I would like to probably run it twice for two weeks during the summer...I would like to run it in the beginning of summer and have one set of customers [like 2 people] refer as many as they can on one side of town, then run the other in mid summer on the other side of town. The reason I only say 2 customers is that you don't want word getting out that you do free mowings all the time. If you didn't have a time limit on it, you would be practically working for free all the time.

My other choice would be to do either 50% off the regular price in the same time frame or like $20 off a scheduled visit...Which one of these do you see being the most beneficial?

JP Landscaping
04-21-2010, 11:23 PM
This is what I have thought of:

1 mowing for each referral. The client referring gets the mowing at the end of the season if the client being referred stays with you all summer. If someone referrs you 4 clients, they get the last month mowing free.

Steve
04-22-2010, 11:41 AM
1 mowing for each referral. The client referring gets the mowing at the end of the season if the client being referred stays with you all summer. If someone referrs you 4 clients, they get the last month mowing free.
That is a good idea.

Another thing I am wondering is, what kinds of things are you doing to promote referrals now? Do you hand out extra business cards? Do you tell your current customers you could really use their help with building out your route and growing your business? Do you ask your customers for a few people either you or they could contact?

gonecountry
05-01-2010, 02:57 PM
Well I am not really sure if I want to do either the free mowing or more something like a $10 gas card being my first big year possibly because of the cost effectiveness. I have been doing some thinking on this issue. This year, I think I am going with the $10 gas card for each referral made. Then next year, when I can afford to, I will probably start doing the free mowings. I mean you have to start somewhere right? Last year I didn't offer anything for referrals and got 3 jobs out of one customer because she was so please with my work.

Steve
05-02-2010, 11:27 AM
Last year I didn't offer anything for referrals and got 3 jobs out of one customer because she was so please with my work.

That's something I think about quite often as well. When I think about when I give referrals, it's almost always for good work.

Do you think that is the case in general or do people need some kind of incentive?

gonecountry
05-03-2010, 06:30 PM
I think if you are a very personable lco, do an all around good job, and take time with you customers and get to know them....I think that is where the foundation for building referrals start. And I believe if you screw up, admit it, and make it right.

bruces
05-03-2010, 07:05 PM
whats going to cost you more ?if your cutting regular sized lawns with a push mower,by yourself,it might actually cost you $5.00 to do it [this is all hypothetical ,I dont know your circumstances ] ,and of course you have to add in your time ,so it might cost you more to buy a gas card .I would do whichever is cheapest for me and book any freebee on my work schedule .

robgee05
05-03-2010, 07:58 PM
I just offered a new customer in a new development 1/2 off a cut for each new customer he refers to me. There seems to be no lawn services in the neighborhood yet and I figured his good word of mouth would be beneficial in getting some customers close by. At 1/2 off I figure I'm getting something for wear and tear as well as time. I wouldn't push this everywhere, but with a newer development it could be a plus hopefully.

JP Landscaping
05-04-2010, 09:19 AM
Here's my deal on free mowings:

a lot of people seem to shy away at giving free mowings because they say they are losing money that way but think about this. How much is a new customer worth to you?

there are LCos that spend a lot of money on advertising like putting ads on phone books, in the paper, and printing a lot of fliers. How much do you spend on things like that? You see you spend all this money in hopes to generate some calls and then you have to seal the deal.

Well, if you give a free mowing for referrals, it costs you your overhead and your time. monetary wise it only costs you your overhead. In my opinion giving a free mowing is even better than advertising because a referral is a high chance of becoming your customer and you pay (or use up overhead money) only after they have signed with you.

word of mouth is the best advertising. The more you can generate the less you have to pay for advertising to get customers in the future.

So lets say your overhead is $10 per hour and you get a new referral and need to mow a lawn for free. This is costing you $10 and 1/2 hour of your time to get a customer who most likely be paying you around $1000 per season or more.

so figure your return on investment: $10 for $1000 each season the persons stays with you. I think it's well worth the time and overhead spent for the free mowing.

gonecountry
05-04-2010, 11:22 AM
That is very true, but obviously you don't want to let all your customers know about it do you, otherwise you would be working for practically nothing at the end of the season....How do you tell your customer to not spread the word about the free mowings? Is that just something that is between you and the select customers you tell?

Blue Ribbon 1
05-04-2010, 04:32 PM
We started giving our customers "Dinning Cards" $20-25 for referrals and it has seemed to work real well and the retention rate has been 80%+ ...

Yes we still do FREE Mowings, but here's the only reason we mow FREE...a customer calls and wants an estimate, so we contact the customer, visit in person and make them the "FREE Mowing Deal"...we cut it FREE the first time and then give them a set price with an agreement for the rest of the season!

Works GREAT!

gonecountry
05-04-2010, 05:33 PM
we cut it FREE the first time and then give them a set price with an agreement for the rest of the season!

Works GREAT!

That sounds great, except I haven't had to use agreements as of yet..have you ever had a time that you got burned by someone to make you use agreements or you just started doing that, and almost everyone does this? And again, does anyone ever just tell a few customers about you free mowings or do you tell everyone?

Blue Ribbon 1
05-04-2010, 07:07 PM
No, weve never been "Stuck" but just like it in "Black-n-White". then there are no hard feelings or lost customers!

JP Landscaping
05-05-2010, 12:43 AM
The thing is that you are providing free mowings because you want to expand or gain more customers so tell everyone about it.

Once you reach the amount of customers or more to fill your schedule, then it means your demand has increased and therefore you can increase your prices to the new customers. Your time is now worth a premium.

those that want your services will pay the extra money. Those that don't want to pay can go with someone else. By this time you will have enough work to be able to turn down work.

Once you reach this point, stop the free mowing program.

The way to do it is to give the free mowing at the end of the season if the referred customer stays with you the whole season. if he doesn't then the rererring customer doesn't get the free mowing.

You may have to mow for free the last month on some customers depending on how many referrals they give you. But you will have made up that money from the referrals anyway. Like I said " how much is a new costomer worth to you?"

Giving gift cards is a good idea also. i've heard of that. Except on that note you are actually giving away true money. Lets say you give a $25 card but it only costs you $10 of overhead and 30 min of your time to mow that customer's lawn. wouldn't you rather give a free mowing? it only costs you $10 in actuall money.

Steve
05-05-2010, 02:20 AM
Yes we still do FREE Mowings, but here's the only reason we mow FREE...a customer calls and wants an estimate, so we contact the customer, visit in person and make them the "FREE Mowing Deal"...we cut it FREE the first time and then give them a set price with an agreement for the rest of the season!

Do you promote this or just offer it once you are called?

I would be afraid that if this were promoted, you would get a ton of people calling for a free mow and then decline any future service.

Blue Ribbon 1
05-05-2010, 01:54 PM
The Dining Cards have worked great for us...especially when you buy them in bulk at Sams Club or costco...Plus we give them out to our crew for doing that little extra.
We've tried the FREE Mowing and it really was a pain!
Something new we are doing is awarding a "Blue Ribbon" Yard of the month amongst our clients...ofcourse a Dinner for two, and a NICE Yard sign ! :D

Mark Lantz, Managing Member
Blue Ribbon Lawns, LLC
307-637-0431 (O)
307-630-6726 (C)
http://www.cheyennelawncare.com/
AWARD WINNING TURF MANAGEMENT!

Watch our latest Commercial on YouTube
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgmdqdYaRpA

Blue Ribbon 1
05-05-2010, 01:56 PM
Steve...only after we are called - No Promotion!
Mark



Do you promote this or just offer it once you are called?

I would be afraid that if this were promoted, you would get a ton of people calling for a free mow and then decline any future service.

Steve
05-05-2010, 03:45 PM
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Great video! How do you use this to promote your business?

Something new we are doing is awarding a "Blue Ribbon" Yard of the month amongst our clients...ofcourse a Dinner for two, and a NICE Yard sign

Can you tell us a little about this and how it will work?

We've tried the FREE Mowing and it really was a pain!

Can you give us a little insight as to how this was a pain? I think it would be good for others to hear about the down side before they attempt to implement it.