PDA

View Full Version : Hello from the land of the "Big Red"


mowpro
07-23-2011, 02:23 AM
Hello,
Just started up a small mowing business for my stepsons a few months ago. Things are going pretty well, they have five regular weekly accounts and average $32 per cut.

We have two 22" Husqvarna mowers and trimmers along with a blower and edger that all sit in a 5' x 8' trailer.

The boys are just learning the ropes but i hope to have them up to fifty accounts by this time next year.

I guess you could say my motivation for this is to have the kids learn the value of work and money as the earnings will be put towards college and cars.

I look forward to the advice and help from all of you.

Sprinkler Buddy
07-23-2011, 10:37 AM
I like this! They will learn the value of a dollar no doubt! Good Luck!

Steve
07-24-2011, 09:02 PM
Welcome to our forum!

What kind of marketing have you been doing so far and what is your plan to be reach out to enough people to increase your customer base to the 50 account number?

mowpro
07-25-2011, 05:17 PM
Well as far as picking up more accounts, we are not even really trying at this point. we have an ad in the service directory of our local paper right now and thats all.

Right now I am training them on customer service and how to do a good job. Once they get all that figured out and do it better than anyone else we will start some heavy duty marketing.

The marketing is not rocket science, T.O.M. and word of of mouth is the key. Every market is different but it really comes down to visability.

Thanks

Steve
07-26-2011, 04:30 PM
Right now I am training them on customer service and how to do a good job. Once they get all that figured out and do it better than anyone else we will start some heavy duty marketing.

This is a great point and not discussed enough.

What kinds of points do you feel lawn care operators really should key in on when interacting with the public?

mowpro
07-28-2011, 06:45 AM
I think just showing up can set yourself apart, i think most people are conditioned to be disappointed nowadays.

I am hopefully gonna teach these kids how to delight the customer.

mblack14
07-28-2011, 07:32 AM
I think just showing up can set yourself apart, i think most people are conditioned to be disappointed nowadays.

I am hopefully gonna teach these kids how to delight the customer.

Other then just showing up is there any other way you are delighting the customer?

mowpro
07-28-2011, 03:04 PM
Does not take a lot, but here are few things we have done that others have not:

Show up every week on the same day about the same time.
Call if you are not going to be there for some reason.
Trim weeds out of sidewalk cracks
Trim and cut alleyways
Pickup and remove downed branches after storms.
Spray wasp and hornet nests
Pet the dogs
Play with and engage the customers kids

Pretty simple stuff that helps you become friends with the customer, and once that happens your not gonna get kicked to the curb by some low baller.

CHEESE2009
07-28-2011, 06:18 PM
Does not take a lot, but here are few things we have done that others have not:

Show up every week on the same day about the same time.
Call if you are not going to be there for some reason.
Trim weeds out of sidewalk cracks
Trim and cut alleyways
Pickup and remove downed branches after storms.
Spray wasp and hornet nests
Pet the dogs
Play with and engage the customers kids

Pretty simple stuff that helps you become friends with the customer, and once that happens your not gonna get kicked to the curb by some low baller.



That is fantastic advice and I will back you on that 100%,



Unfortunately, "Call if you are not going to be there for some reason." is one step I cannot do.

I find it very aggravating to call a client to tell them bad news, it just sounds stupid to make yourself vulnerable. Many clients will usually try to swindle me if I give them a call, example:

Scott: Your grass is too dry, yellow, and if I cut it you will have nothing left. :eek:
Customer: Yes, but I think it can use a mow.:)

The customer tends to think he/she knows what their lawn needs, and this becomes a debate between YOU and the CLIENT = confrontation.

1. I can destroy/mow the lawn and the customer can feel "right" for a day, then feel embarrassed when they wake up to a yard filled with dirt. Why did I bother calling them?

2. I can just avoid talking to them all together, they can take a hint by having a look at their yard for once, or they can listen to my voice-mail greeting which says, "Water your grass or there will be no grass left to cut" - pretty straightforward, still not perfected!

Instead of calling all of my clients, when they are insecure, they can listen to my voice-mail greeting, because that's the only answer I can give without getting into a debate with them. I do not like confrontation, because it's a loss when you have to do something STUPID just to keep your clients happy.

You will be forced to mow that already suffering lawn only to keep the customer temporarily happy and to not lose the client. If you are right by wanting to give the lawn a break - the clients pride will be hurt and they will take it out on you.


The problem is, a lot of customers have too much pride. They want things done for the sake of arguing and being right - unfortunately they are never right, but you gotta do what they want in order to keep them. Sometimes you'd find it easier to just fire these kinds of clients, but I can't even do that!

**********



In the past two weeks I haven't mowed a lawn, all of the grass is close to dead. Every single one of my clients has yet to call me, because it's obvious what's going on (heatwave + water restrictions)!

I do have ONE (1) client who can't get a clue. She's a little old lady who will call me 24/7 for my status, and I hate nothing more than a constant caller.

She will say things like (within an hour):

It's me again, just wondering where you are!

It's me again, just wondering if you are coming today?

It's me again, I watered my grass are you going to come?

It's me again, my grass could use a cut?


The problem is, she wont accept my answer. "Your grass does not need a cut - it will die if I pass the mower today".

It sounds like she's innocent and would just like an answer to a simple yes/no question, but she will put me in a position I don't like to be in by telling me what SHE thinks is right and that I should cut the lawn regardless.

She keeps a cool temper with me, which is why I cannot fire her. I understand that she might be frustrated, but in order for me to answer every single one of her calls and putting up with her ignorance, I'd need to be drunk each and every time. It's depressing.

She makes me feel like a bad guy, I never answer my phone (TRUE) but I think my reason is valid. If I avoid her, I don't end up wasting my time. The problem is then seeing her in person and dealing with the awkwardness. I'm running out of excuses, because the truth may be too brutal for her.

I keep record of how fast I am per lawn. The majority of my lawns take less than 8 minutes with a two man crew.... Her lawn being the smallest, takes 30 minutes or more. She wants to watch, talk, pause me every second to pick up a leaf... etc... She's the reason I have gone insane and pretty much don't like what I do anymore.





Somebody help meeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Steve
07-28-2011, 06:36 PM
Unfortunately, "Call if you are not going to be there for some reason." is one step I cannot do.

What do you do then if you can't show up or don't think you should mow that day?

CHEESE2009
07-28-2011, 06:53 PM
What do you do then if you can't show up or don't think you should mow that day?

Sadly, I have to resort to avoiding a few of my customers calls. I don't want to avoid them, because it gives me a bad image - yet I can't straight up tell them to stop calling me and that they are irritating me. :confused:


I used to not mind speaking to my customers, but as I grew it became more of a headache. Every time it rained, I would know to prepare myself for the following conversations;

1. Why didn't you show up
or
2. Can you do my lawn today, it's going to rain tomorrow


They are both arguments waiting to happen, and they won't like what I have to say. I don't give them a chance to guilt me into doing something that shouldn't be done, it's too stressful.



I'll respond to an email, where I have space and time to think of how to respond/react. Talking on the phone is a trap, the only way out is to do what the customer wants or to be on bad terms and do what's right.




I find this to be the biggest problem in my business, if I can solve this I would be happier. It's hard to tell a client to chill the heck out, because the awkwardness can be really bad especially for the clients that like to be your shadow.

CHEESE2009
07-28-2011, 07:19 PM
I just got a phone call from another client. Didn't answer because it would go like this;


Client: My grass wasn't cut today, and Thursday is the day you are supposed to come.

Scott: Your grass is too short and will be cut next week, bla bla.

Client: I am very unsatisfied with your service, you say you are coming on Thursdays. Do I get a discount?

My face::::::::::
http://www.blogincomeforwomen.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/angry_face.jpg

Steve
07-29-2011, 05:31 PM
What's your advice then to new lawn care business owners who when they start are eager to take every customer's calls but as they go, it becomes more and more of a grind. Is there a way to deal with this to keep the business owner happy first and then the customer as well?

CHEESE2009
07-29-2011, 09:26 PM
What's your advice then to new lawn care business owners who when they start are eager to take every customer's calls but as they go, it becomes more and more of a grind. Is there a way to deal with this to keep the business owner happy first and then the customer as well?


The only thing I can think of, is to grow fast and hire someone to do it.


Every customer you have is equal to a nagging girlfriend without the perks. There is only so much "noise" you can handle before you want to create a completely automated business.

Thank you for calling,
Press 1 for services
Press 2 in order to make your payment
Press 3 to find out if you have been fired

etc...


Make a contract that says, "Don't talk to any of our staff, ever..."

Steve
08-01-2011, 01:16 PM
I do wonder how many of the other members on the forum deal with the same issue and just dont bring it up.