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View Full Version : Craigslist or no craigslist?


smallstripeslawncare
11-13-2011, 10:56 AM
Hello,

I'm a new lawn care business owner. I'm based in Charlotte, NC. I'm 21 years old, married with almost two year old twins.

I had plans to go into the US Army this past October and things didn't work out. My daughter has medical issues and my wife just wasn't up for it. So all summer I was advertising on craigslist and offering a $20 lawn cut, edged, blown! Under 1/2 acre. I was using a Toro 22' personal pace push mower, Echo SRM-225 line trimmer, and Home lite back pack blower. It kept me busy all summer but of course I was low balling and not making as much as I should. A lot of the tiny Charlotte lawns I cut were worth $20 I think but some I should of charged much more. My plan is to actually do estimates (possibly using google earth, advice welcome on this) and try to get off of craigslist.

I now have a Howard Price 48' walk behind, and a Lawn Boy 19' push mower for trimming purposes.

I was actually watching a few of the gopher videos on youtube and craigslist was mentioned a few times.

Is craigslist actually a good way to market? I've heard from many people that fliers are the way to go and will help me market to specific areas.

My issue with craigslist is that there's SO MANY lawn care guys offering dirt cheap prices and also when I did get calls they were scattered all over the place.

If I decide to stay on craigslist should I market for specific areas and not offer as big of area? I plan on servicing a few different areas of Charlotte but I don't want to be in North Charlotte on day and a guy call saying he's in South Charlotte and I won't be in that area for two more days. He'll just call the next guy who can come out the same day.

If i do continue this spring on craigslist maybe using flier advertisement as well and using craigslist as additional help will keep me busy.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

strength
11-13-2011, 06:34 PM
DON'T MAKE it you only way to get your self out there by any means but i have had lots of luck with cl yes some people are cheep but not all. how i look at cl for me is like the not so cute girl at the bar with the ugly girl friend all of a sudden the not so cute girl looks hot matched to her girl friend lots of guys on cl might have rock bottom prices but show up with a ford escort hatch back with a weed whacker hanging out the back . don't get me wrong i have and lots of us have started this way BUT first impressions are everything

Hedgemaster
11-13-2011, 07:30 PM
This was my first full season. I had no means of paying for any other advertising, so against all fears of spamming and getting bad clients, I advertised on Craigslist.

I eliminated the chance of getting spam by using an image for my advertisement. (It helps that I'm a graphic artist)
I believe that by doing so, I also made myself stand out from teh crowd and ultimately, I only had one client that turned out to be a cheap-a$$ and I had to drop - all other clients have been wonderful. Wealthy clients, blue collar, young, old... I was surprised by how many people use CL to find services.

I made it evident in my ad what areas I serviced in order to eliminate calls from parts of town that I don't service. Placing town names and zip codes in the keywords helps.

Good luck!

op25ttfd
11-13-2011, 09:01 PM
This past season was my first as a business owner. Of my 23 clients I have, 21 came from Craigslist, 1 from my full time job, and 1 from the 500 flyers we passed out.

Steve
11-14-2011, 11:17 AM
lots of guys on cl might have rock bottom prices but show up with a ford escort hatch back with a weed whacker hanging out the back . don't get me wrong i have and lots of us have started this way BUT first impressions are everything

With this being an issue with craigs list, do you find that it give the guy with the escort an advantage? Are people looking for the dirt cheap cost and not care if you show up in the escort or is it the opposite and they want to see an add that looks professional and see you pull up in front of their house looking professional as well?

Do the types of customers you get from craigs list depend on how you present yourself in your ad and how you appear in person?

op25ttfd
11-14-2011, 11:43 AM
One of the things I like to do also when showing up to do a quote for a customer that I get off of Craigslist is to show proof of insurance. It makes them think to ask the competition. I gained several yards that way because the others could not show that.

smallstripeslawncare
11-14-2011, 12:07 PM
One issue many of the clients I received off of craigslist have told me is that no one calls you back or answers the phone! I have been guilty of this because while mowing a lawn I have received so many phone calls and there's always that ONE that I didn't call back out of 10 because I couldn't keep track. I should of written down all of the missed calls and did it that way instead of going through them on the phone.

I was also very surprised at how many clients did expect the "ford escort guy" but were pleasantly surprised when I showed up with decent equipment.

I suppose when next season comes around I'll continue marketing with craigslist but not as my only means of marketing.

I'll also pass out fliers, business cards, etc...Also try offering a referral program to see if that will help some.

Steve
11-15-2011, 10:24 AM
These are some great points being brought up.

Now knowing some of these, should your marketing material on craigslist possibly include a picture of you and your truck/trailer pulled up in front of a home and you walking up to great the picture taker? Would such a photo show that you are not a fly by night entity?

Also, should you be promoting that you guarantee to answer or return all phone calls within X period of time or your first mowing is free?

One of the things I like to do also when showing up to do a quote for a customer that I get off of Craigslist is to show proof of insurance. It makes them think to ask the competition. I gained several yards that way because the others could not show that.

By using this as part of your sales presentation, do you also point out to the customer how important it is for a lawn care business to provide the home owner with proof of insurance and why it is important?