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WeedTerminatorTom
01-25-2012, 11:33 PM
Hi everyone! Glad to find getgopher.com**Very helpful! I just started up a small weed abatement service, sole proprietorship/one-man show, clearing brush and weeds for fire hazard prevention. I just picked up a Shindaiwa C344 today and a bunch of PPE, and am now working on marketing myself. I love the fresh air, exercise, and making loud noise with power tools. For fun, I enjoy woodworking, pen & ink drawings, selling things on eBay/Amazon. I was researching how to design effective flyers and business cards, and getgopher.com came up on google. Thanks a ton for what you do!

Tom Perry
Weed Terminator
Milpitas, CA

WeedTerminatorTom
01-26-2012, 01:02 AM
Well, during the last couple hours since I discovered this website, I have found that it is way more helpful than just designing an effective flyer. It's an answer to my prayers! I have been looking for guidance about running business in general. Having listened to the audio chapters from "Be a LawnCare Rebel," and think Steve might say I jumped the gun in buying my equipment already, early in the season, but I don't have too much choice. I lost my job driving a truck due to a minor accident. I actually feel liberated now.
I do believe I will have to tread water financially for a while, but I've done this a couple times before, and had some success. Previously, I ran from door to door with flyers and free estimates, and will do it again if needed now.
This time, however, I'm looking into fleshing this business out, and protecting myself with appropriate insurance against liability, etc. I am listening to "Stop Lowballing!" now, and am getting lots of answers and advice.
Thanks so much for sharing this guidance! I will definitely spread the word.
Tom
Weed Terminator

CHEESE2009
01-26-2012, 02:53 AM
and think Steve might say I jumped the gun in buying my equipment already, early in the season, but I don't have too much choice.

I found that securing equipment prior to having any customers, isn't that bad of an idea.

Building clientele takes a lot of time and patience. It's all about getting your first season clients to refer you to their family and friends for your second season.

Make sure you do your absolute best during the first year, so that your clients are more willing to spread the word about you. If you do a great job, you will surely have a nice snowball effect going.

The first year is pretty discouraging when it comes to obtaining clients. Yet, it's the most exciting year you will ever have, haha!

-

As for advertising, personally, I like to research psychology.

Every color effects the brain differently, for example, blue is used to represent trust and friendship.

If I were judge a companies success on their color scheme, for companies in my area, it would be as follows;

trucks & logos
Red: 50 - 100%
Yellow and Black: 70 - 80%
Green and Yellow: 70%
Blue and White: 60%
White and Yellow: 50%
Black and Blue: 50%
Blue and Orange: 30%

Tractors
Green: 70 - 80%
Blue: 70 - 100%
Red: 50 - 70%
Nothing else qualifies...

I don't fully understand this too well, but I do know the clientele size of most of my competitors, and the colors they use.

-

Anyway, just giving you some ideas. In the end, just know that you can't please everyone. One client may hate you, while his/her neighbor adores you.

Whatever you do, don't take anything personally. Never ever take promises. Also, don't become 'too' close with your clients, or else they will assume that they own you, and they will have you running around for them all the time, and it sucks when your company does grow and they become an even bigger annoyance.

I used to love how much my clients wanted to chit chat, now I want to drown a puppy every time I have to stop my lawn mower. (not really, but I do get mad).

jymie
01-26-2012, 07:18 AM
Welcome to the forum, there is a ton of information here. First and foremost you must have a website.

There are a few ways to go about advertising your business. I have done:


Door Hangers
Post Cards
Display Advertising in my local pennysaver. They have a nice page inside they call Local Business Directory, it looks like a bulletin board.
Business Cards to every one I meet in Restaurants, Gas Stations, Bars and anywhere where there are people.
This is key, when you get a customer, market heavily (once a month) to that same neighborhood. The more customers you gain closer together the better your profit will be because you will spend less time traveling between customers.


The best time to start is always. The peak time would be a month and a half before the grass begins to grow, then continue till the end of the season.

I drop off business cards to any place that has a bulletin board, like grocery stores, department stores Laundromats etc. You can get business card holders from Artie on this site. http://www.marketingholders.com/CARDCUES-CARD-HOLDERS-FREE-SHIPPING-CRDQS.htm

They hold probably 25 business Cards. Check out his other products on the site, he has a lot of stuff that could be useful.

Have magnets made with your company logo and phone number on them, one for both front doors and one for the back of your vehicle. People behind you can't see the sides of your truck when you drive around with no trailer. Good free advertising that way. This is a great site and the magnets are excellent quality: http://www.buildasign.com , I also order signs for the front lawn from them, also great quality for a fair price.

Utilize the free methods to advertise, google search free classified advertising


Craigslist
Backpage
topix.com
thumbtack.com
buysellcommunity.com
kijiji.com


Add your business to every business directory in your area


Yellowpages.com
Yellowbook.com
merchantcircle.com
manta.com
local.com
kudzu.com
thumbtack.com
yellowbot.com
citysearch.com
superpages.com
local.yahoo.com
superads.com
landscaping-companies.com
neighborhood.letsrenovate.com
start.cortera.com
allpages.com
local.garden.org
insiderpages.com
bizhwy.com
getfreelisting.com
mylocalservices.us
diyodp.com
evliving.com
freebusinessdirectory.com
volta.net
freeonlinebusinessdirectory.com



Submit your website and business to all the search engines, then submit to the maps of each of the major search engines

google maps
bing maps
yahoo maps

Maps info show up before search results so this is crucial.

See this thread for more:

http://www.gopherforum.com/showthread.php?t=13299

Hope this helps you get started! Best of luck!

dpld
01-26-2012, 07:48 AM
welcome, and good luck.

i agree with cheese, there comes a point in time where you have to bite the bullet and spend money before you start making it.

if you don't have the equipment you won't be able to provide the services you are offering or at least all of the services you want to.

dpld
01-26-2012, 07:50 AM
I found that securing equipment prior to having any customers, isn't that bad of an idea.

Building clientele takes a lot of time and patience. It's all about getting your first season clients to refer you to their family and friends for your second season.

Make sure you do your absolute best during the first year, so that your clients are more willing to spread the word about you. If you do a great job, you will surely have a nice snowball effect going.

The first year is pretty discouraging when it comes to obtaining clients. Yet, it's the most exciting year you will ever have, haha!

-

As for advertising, personally, I like to research psychology.

Every color effects the brain differently, for example, blue is used to represent trust and friendship.

If I were judge a companies success on their color scheme, for companies in my area, it would be as follows;

trucks & logos
Red: 50 - 100%
Yellow and Black: 70 - 80%
Green and Yellow: 70%
Blue and White: 60%
White and Yellow: 50%
Black and Blue: 50%
Blue and Orange: 30%

Tractors
Green: 70 - 80%
Blue: 70 - 100%
Red: 50 - 70%
Nothing else qualifies...

I don't fully understand this too well, but I do know the clientele size of most of my competitors, and the colors they use.

-

Anyway, just giving you some ideas. In the end, just know that you can't please everyone. One client may hate you, while his/her neighbor adores you.

Whatever you do, don't take anything personally. Never ever take promises. Also, don't become 'too' close with your clients, or else they will assume that they own you, and they will have you running around for them all the time, and it sucks when your company does grow and they become an even bigger annoyance.

I used to love how much my clients wanted to chit chat, now I want to drown a puppy every time I have to stop my lawn mower. (not really, but I do get mad).



that is very interesting cheese, i often wondered why all the housewives used to proposition me all the time when i had green trucks.;)

Steve
01-26-2012, 03:34 PM
I've done this a couple times before, and had some success.

Hi Tom!

Welcome to our forum!

What kinds of lessons do you feel stood out from the previous times you ran your lawn care business and how might you do things similarly or differently this time?

WeedTerminatorTom
01-28-2012, 09:33 PM
I found that securing equipment prior to having any customers, isn't that bad of an idea.

Building clientele takes a lot of time and patience. It's all about getting your first season clients to refer you to their family and friends for your second season.

Make sure you do your absolute best during the first year, so that your clients are more willing to spread the word about you. If you do a great job, you will surely have a nice snowball effect going.

The first year is pretty discouraging when it comes to obtaining clients. Yet, it's the most exciting year you will ever have, haha!

-

As for advertising, personally, I like to research psychology.

Every color effects the brain differently, for example, blue is used to represent trust and friendship.

If I were judge a companies success on their color scheme, for companies in my area, it would be as follows;

trucks & logos
Red: 50 - 100%
Yellow and Black: 70 - 80%
Green and Yellow: 70%
Blue and White: 60%
White and Yellow: 50%
Black and Blue: 50%
Blue and Orange: 30%

Tractors
Green: 70 - 80%
Blue: 70 - 100%
Red: 50 - 70%
Nothing else qualifies...

I don't fully understand this too well, but I do know the clientele size of most of my competitors, and the colors they use.

-

Anyway, just giving you some ideas. In the end, just know that you can't please everyone. One client may hate you, while his/her neighbor adores you.

Whatever you do, don't take anything personally. Never ever take promises. Also, don't become 'too' close with your clients, or else they will assume that they own you, and they will have you running around for them all the time, and it sucks when your company does grow and they become an even bigger annoyance.

I used to love how much my clients wanted to chit chat, now I want to drown a puppy every time I have to stop my lawn mower. (not really, but I do get mad).

I sure appreciate it, Cheese! How have things gone with that young lady? My degree was in Psychology, and I strongly agree with your ideas about color in advertising. My truch is a navy blue Dodge Ram, with a black rack, and my line trimmer is red. I considered painting the bars and my black toolbox green and yellow, but I think it would probably backfire if I overdid it lol. I'll try out some dark green and yellow colors in my flyers and business cards.

WeedTerminatorTom
01-28-2012, 09:38 PM
Welcome to the forum, there is a ton of information here. First and foremost you must have a website.

There are a few ways to go about advertising your business. I have done:


Door Hangers
Post Cards
Display Advertising in my local pennysaver. They have a nice page inside they call Local Business Directory, it looks like a bulletin board.
Business Cards to every one I meet in Restaurants, Gas Stations, Bars and anywhere where there are people.
This is key, when you get a customer, market heavily (once a month) to that same neighborhood. The more customers you gain closer together the better your profit will be because you will spend less time traveling between customers.


The best time to start is always. The peak time would be a month and a half before the grass begins to grow, then continue till the end of the season.

I drop off business cards to any place that has a bulletin board, like grocery stores, department stores Laundromats etc. You can get business card holders from Artie on this site. http://www.marketingholders.com/CARDCUES-CARD-HOLDERS-FREE-SHIPPING-CRDQS.htm

They hold probably 25 business Cards. Check out his other products on the site, he has a lot of stuff that could be useful.

Have magnets made with your company logo and phone number on them, one for both front doors and one for the back of your vehicle. People behind you can't see the sides of your truck when you drive around with no trailer. Good free advertising that way. This is a great site and the magnets are excellent quality: http://www.buildasign.com , I also order signs for the front lawn from them, also great quality for a fair price.

Utilize the free methods to advertise, google search free classified advertising


Craigslist
Backpage
topix.com
thumbtack.com
buysellcommunity.com
kijiji.com


Add your business to every business directory in your area


Yellowpages.com
Yellowbook.com
merchantcircle.com
manta.com
local.com
kudzu.com
thumbtack.com
yellowbot.com
citysearch.com
superpages.com
local.yahoo.com
superads.com
landscaping-companies.com
neighborhood.letsrenovate.com
start.cortera.com
allpages.com
local.garden.org
insiderpages.com
bizhwy.com
getfreelisting.com
mylocalservices.us
diyodp.com
evliving.com
freebusinessdirectory.com
volta.net
freeonlinebusinessdirectory.com



Submit your website and business to all the search engines, then submit to the maps of each of the major search engines

google maps
bing maps
yahoo maps

Maps info show up before search results so this is crucial.

See this thread for more:

http://www.gopherforum.com/showthread.php?t=13299

Hope this helps you get started! Best of luck!

These ideas are extremely helpful, Jymie! I'm familiar with most of them, but I too often forget about what's out there in the way of advertising resources LOL! Now you've given me a great list I can refer back to! I'm going to give buildasign.com a try, and I've got a childhood friend in the printing business for business cards and flyers. Thanks!

WeedTerminatorTom
01-28-2012, 09:42 PM
welcome, and good luck.

i agree with cheese, there comes a point in time where you have to bite the bullet and spend money before you start making it.

if you don't have the equipment you won't be able to provide the services you are offering or at least all of the services you want to.

Thanks dpld, I appreciate the encouragement. I remember renting a Shindaiwa about ten years ago, and it seemed like a jet engine! So, I bought one. When I see the overcast sky above, and wonder how soon the dry season will come around so I can get out there to clear brush and weeds, I say my prayers. I'm putting in my due diligence, however, setting up my truck, gear, and marketing materials, which takes some time, too.

WeedTerminatorTom
01-28-2012, 10:10 PM
Hi Tom!

Welcome to our forum!

What kinds of lessons do you feel stood out from the previous times you ran your lawn care business and how might you do things similarly or differently this time?

Hi Steve! The first two times were about ten and fifteen years ago, during transitional times in my life. Once, when I had come home from overseas, and the second when I graduated from college, and my police and fire department applications weren't working out. I had a great time! Now, I'd like to remain my own boss, and do this every year. Back then, I didn't know what I was doing, and admit I didn't care too much, as I just viewed it as a way to make some cash until I found a regular job. Now, I would like to be my own boss, and do this every year for a long time. My attitude is the first improvement.
Today, there are so many more resources available so much more freely than just ten years ago. This forum is a real treasure trove, and I hope I can re*****cate the help you've already provided. Back then, a friend of mine just gave me the idea to go knock on doors and cut weeds for residents, and I ran with it. I kept my receipts in a goldfish bowl, and never kept track of whether I was making money or not. Now, I'm a much better student, and have much more interest in learning the right ways of running a business. I've downloaded and listened to "Stop Lowballing," and have subscribed to the GopherHaul podcast. I really enjoy listening while I'm getting things done, much more than sitting down to read. I've set up a business bank account, gotten business licenses in the cities where I intend to work, and will soon change from a sole proprietorship to an LLC, and get some good insurance. I've joined the Chamber of Commerce in one city, and will attend city hall meetings on weed abatement issues. With all this to do, I'm actually glad I have begun earlier in the year. If I was busy working, I might neglect it all.

I think I should clarify, I haven't begun a full Lawn care service, but am specializing in a niche of clearing brush and overgrown weeds to prevent fire hazards, as well as to help property owners come into compliance with county and city weed abatement programs. If you don't already know about this, I hope it's something valuable I can contribute. I've looked up city council meeting notes about weed abatement programs in the area, and learned that the city will inspect certain properties, and require the owner to clear out vegetation that could present a fire hazard. Ideally, the owner will get it done on their own initiative, but if not, the county will hire out somebody to do it. The figure local to me was $113.83 per hour per worker for hand work, just doing line trimming. The figure multiplies to several hundred dollars per hour when discing and tractor work are involved. Per hour. The costs are added onto the property tax, and the property is listed in the weed abatement program for three years, so these property owners are motivated to get this work done! I'll do it for less than the county charges. I found the information by googling "weed abatement + (city name)." If they have a weed abatement program, it may be something like this. They publish a list of properties in the program, and there's my list of prospects.

And the most important improvement of all I'm making now? Cleaning up my own neglected yard! xD Thanks again!

Steve
01-30-2012, 02:12 PM
And the most important improvement of all I'm making now? Cleaning up my own neglected yard! xD Thanks again!

I think that is something most often overlooked!

Everything starts with a core and works it's way outward. If your lawn looks great, then it will create a buzz that will spread down your street and from neighbor to their family and friends.

Make your yard look fantastic and it will become a calling card for more work to come your way.

That is great thinking!