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element009
03-19-2011, 11:28 AM
Hello All! I've been watching this forum and listening to some of the podcasts for a couple weeks, and I like it. In just that time I've gotten a lot of good ideas. So thank you all for that and for whatever this forum will provide in the future.

About me: I've had a few years experience at another company, and this year I decided to start my own. I want to use marketing/advertising as a competitive advantage in this highly saturated business, so I hope to use this forum to throw out a lot of ideas and check out the feedback everyone can offer, and eventually offer my own feedback to others as I gain experience.

With that, I'd like to ask if anyone on the forum has any experience with sending newsletters (or E-newsletters) to existing clients? The basic idea I guess would be to send something out monthly providing basic information/tips that clients could do themselves to help along their lawn, while at the same time subtly advertising my own seasonal services. Any thoughts?

jymie
03-19-2011, 12:14 PM
You may want to consider starting a blog, then you could email the new blog each time you update it to your customers. I use blogspot.com (http://lunchesruslawncare.blogspot.com/) for mine.

Steve
03-20-2011, 03:23 PM
Welcome to our forum!

With that, I'd like to ask if anyone on the forum has any experience with sending newsletters (or E-newsletters) to existing clients? The basic idea I guess would be to send something out monthly providing basic information/tips that clients could do themselves to help along their lawn, while at the same time subtly advertising my own seasonal services. Any thoughts?

Sure that is a great idea. It keeps your customers up to date on whats going on while you can sell to them as well.

I've had a few years experience at another company, and this year I decided to start my own.

What do you think you learned from that company that you feel you will be able to apply to your new company? Both what to and what not to do?

element009
03-20-2011, 06:21 PM
Hmmm...I guess I would say that I learned a lot in terms of doing the work correctly. I learned how to "manicure" a lawn. Compared to other companies I have observed, they were much more meticulous and tedious, and because of that they delivered a superior product. Basically, the workers were trained to complete the process in a certain way, and they did not compromise this standard of excellence. This is something I am carrying over to my own business.

As for what I am doing differently, the biggest thing is paying closer attention to customer service. A few years before I worked for the other company, they were very successful. However, the original owner passed away unexpectedly and it was left to his wife to manage the business. Unfortunately, she did not have much of a hand in the business before this. Instead of hiring someone to deal with certain portions of the business, she preferred to manage the entire 300+ client business herself. Her inexperience with customer service, estimates, and the basic operation of a landscaping business in general has been a great detriment. I saw over a few years how her lack of attention to detail, and especially her lack of concern for gaining new clients and nurturing the existing ones, brought her business down to a 1 crew, 3 man operation (and it only continues to go down). Basically seeing the downfall of this company, and knowing that there was no opportunity for me to help the company grow has brought me where I am today: starting my own business. There were at least 5 to 10 customers dropping off the roster each year, and none to replace them. I knew that just a little bit of time spent nurturing these customers would have kept them happy. So I plan to focus on keeping my existing clients happy, while at the same time obviously working to gain new ones. (After reading this, I see that it is very obvious stuff, but I think it's very important nonetheless.)

Steve
03-22-2011, 05:46 AM
it was left to his wife to manage the business. Unfortunately, she did not have much of a hand in the business before this.

This is very interesting and I would venture to guess it effects a certain % of business owners.

What is your view on what she should have done to help the business more forwards?

element009
03-22-2011, 12:36 PM
Well I guess in reality it was her husband's fault. He only had her taking care of the billing and payroll. Everything else was squarely on his shoulders. So when he passed, she had to try to run a very successful business, which had expanded from lawn care to landscape design, paving, concrete, site work and excavation. She was never trained in any of this, and her husband never really trained anyone else to fully take over portions of the business. He did it all.....

As for what she should've done differently, I'd say she should've at least had a better rapport with her existing clients. Maybe contacting them a few times throughout the year to make sure everything was alright, or sending out client satisfaction surveys. To gain new clients, she could have at least had some flyers made up and paid her workers to put them out.

In reality, her husband provided her with a very comfortable lifestyle and once he was gone, she still wanted to drive that Land Rover and vacation all the time, not run a landscaping and construction business.

When I started my business a few months ago, I vowed that once I get to a certain size, I will hire and train people to handle certain aspects of the business instead of trying to do it all myself. If I ever get married, I don't want my spouse left in that position should any tragedy befall me.

950thomas
03-22-2011, 08:49 PM
I am married and my wife does not work in the business so I have a really big life insurance policy so she will not have to try to run the business if I die because she can't

element009
03-22-2011, 10:37 PM
yes I'm pretty sure this guy had one too...multi-million dollar's worth....but she's got 4 kids who also have an appetite for luxury...her attorney should've advised her to sell the business from the beginning...it's a shame to see such a good business dwindle to nothing.

Steve
03-23-2011, 12:07 PM
her attorney should've advised her to sell the business from the beginning...it's a shame to see such a good business dwindle to nothing.

I was just about to ask you that. What is your view on why that would have been the best advice to give?

element009
03-23-2011, 10:46 PM
I was just about to ask you that. What is your view on why that would have been the best advice to give?

Well I know at the time of his passing, the client-base of the business was much larger, the equipment was in great shape, and the company's reputation was impeccable. Without any real numbers, I could safely say the value of the business was much higher than it is today. Selling it now would be almost pointless when compared to it's prior value.

Steve
03-24-2011, 04:38 PM
It's quite a situation isn't it?

Most small business owners seem to either enjoy the fact that they are the one totally in control of everything and their business is like their kingdom, or it's more of they just don't trust others enough to teach them.

Either way, the process of transitioning ownership/management of a small business can be insane because if no one knows how to operate it, the business is going to collapse.

Are you surprised at all that the family that owned it, didn't look to the employees for help on how to push forwards?

element009
03-24-2011, 07:54 PM
Are you surprised at all that the family that owned it, didn't look to the employees for help on how to push forwards?

Haha...well no I'm not surprised at all. But that's because I've known the family for many years. If the situation involved people I didn't know, I'd say I'd very surprised they didn't look to the employees. However, the wife is a control freak who thinks no one except her knows how to do anything....too proud to admit she can't do it on her own...you know what I mean?

Steve
03-26-2011, 07:26 AM
It seems the problem with that is, we could all potentially get ourselves in such situations where we feel we know it all. How do you feel one should check themselves to make sure they have not become like that?

element009
03-26-2011, 10:50 AM
I don't know really. I think it's a personality trait. If you've always been a control freak, it might not even cross your mind that you shouldn't be that way.