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mowboy
12-01-2005, 09:46 PM
The following question comes to us from Marion of Landscaping by Marion.

Can I be successful doing landscape maintenance without mowing lawns?

Good question. The answer, in short, is no.

I'm not saying that it couldn't be done... if one were persistent enough I suppose it could happen. However I think it would be very difficult to build a landscape maintenance business without the mainstay of lawn cutting.

Most landscapes have lawns which means if someone hired you they would either have to cut the lawn themselves or hire a different company to cut the lawn. If I were the company they called I probably would not be too happy about the fact that a different company was doing all the other work. As well, the customer will be more inclined to go with a single company because it would probably be much cheaper and definitely *more convenient to go with a single company to all the maintenance work, including lawn cutting.

If you were determined to not do any lawns I think your best bet would be to try and get in with a company who just wants to cut lawns and see if you could work out a deal to share your customers.

I do wonder what appeals to you about not offering lawn cutting. There is obviously money to be made cutting lawns and the extras such as fertilizing, aeration and so forth can make you a very handsome profit. Let us know...

Thanks for your question Marion!

ritchiem
12-01-2005, 09:59 PM
I agree with you Joel. There is one company in my area that tried the same thing. They did not last too long before they needed to start landscaping to make ends meet. I am sure it can be done however you would have to specialize in something and be the best at it before future clients would come to you. I loose a lot of business because I do not offer 12 month contracts...we run April - November...we don't touch snow.

LandscapingbyMarion
12-02-2005, 01:51 AM
Thank you for the very good advise. I have been specializing in planting bed maintenance for the past six months and I do okay. I actually wish I could charge more because I do a thorough job. I have had wonderful comments from my customers. The last customer I had actually got me in touch with a Lawn Maintenance company and he liked my work also. He doesn't do planting bed work so he was going to keep my number in case he gets any calls for that type of work. I will be looking into getting a partner who will do actual Lawn work while I can continue to do the planting bed maintenance.

I appreciate any comments and will continue to reply and let everyone know how my business is actually going.

Steve
12-02-2005, 12:34 PM
Hi mowboy and ritchiem,

LandscapingbyMarion brought up a really good point. What can you do when you really focus your energy to do a great job but you just can't seem to charge more for that specific service? Do you try to find wealthier customers and try to sell them on your quality or should you find other services where you profit more per hour to do?

LandscapingbyMarion what are you considering doing in this situation?

mowboy
12-03-2005, 06:14 PM
Yes, that is a very good point. I think the bottom line is this...

You've surely heard it a hundred times or more:

People buy benefits, not features.

Your great quality is a feature, so the question to ask is... how does it benefit your customer.

For example, do any of these benefits make sense to you:

I offer very thorough planted bed maintenance...

... so your planted beds will be outstanding in the neighborhood
... so your planted beds will look better longer
... so your plants will be healthier and always look their very best
... so you will have to spend less on top dressing and plant replacement in the long run

I'm not sure which of these you could justify but I'm sure you get the picture. If you can show the customer that spending a little more with you will result in more benefits for them than going with an average job, then you will be able to charge more. Ideally you would want to show that you offer better value than the other guy.

So, in short, you can charge more for a really great job but just saying you charge more because you do a better job is not enough, you have to tell the customer exactly what that means for them.

As far as finding more services with better profits I would always say that is a good idea. I have always tried to offer my customers full service. Most will prefer to deal with a single company for all of their landscape maintenance needs and for me it added variety to my day which I enjoyed. I think hooking up with a partner who likes to do the lawn work or hiring staff to do it are good ideas.

Good luck with whatever you decide... let us know how it goes!

ritchiem
12-03-2005, 06:44 PM
Nice points Joel.

Anybody can cut grass and maintain beds...in fact, anyone with a pickup (even a station wagon) and a wheelbarrow calls themselves a landscaper. You really need to pull yourself away from the pack in order to stand out. Client refferals would be your best marketing tactic.

Steve
12-05-2005, 09:26 AM
Excellent points!

Quote[/b] ]People buy benefits, not features.

That can be such a tough concept to understand. I think your initial gut tells you people buy benefits not features.
For instance you look at a new car and you want to but it because it has a big engine (feature), a hot color of red (feature) and custom wheels (feature). But I guess then you have to sit there and ask yourself why do you want these features?
Maybe because you want a hot looking car that's fast so you can attract attention (benefit).
Then I can imagine a car commercial with a guy pulling up to a stop light in this hot car while the camera shows a woman in the other car, checking him out. The commercial would then be promoting the benefit of attention from the opposite sex.

Very interesting!