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landonkade
05-24-2007, 09:24 PM
hey, i have been in the lawn care business for 6 months. The advertising i am doing is lettering on my truck, sign on back of trailor, business cards, and newspapr ads. so far i have abot 20 customers. My wifes aunts husbands brother-n-law, owns a company in FL started with a push mower and advanced ,buying out companys and there equipment and only been in business for 5 years and now owns $300,000 in lawn equipment, and covers 95 miles from FL to AL. The key pointer the aunts husband told me was, just excellent customer service. There is no really way i can talk to him to see how he succed. any advice

Steve
05-25-2007, 09:11 AM
Hi landonkade,

Are you doing this full or part time? What kind of goals have you set out for yourself that you would like to achieve this year?

landonkade
05-25-2007, 06:32 PM
Quote[/b] (Team Gopher @ May 25 2007,10:11)]Hi landonkade,

Are you doing this full or part time? What kind of goals have you set out for yourself that you would like to achieve this year?
I am currently doing the lawn care part time, pior to a regular full time job. i do the lawn care sometimes during the week when i have time. On the weekends i do it full time on saturday and sunday. The lawns are in order so *i wont burn much gas going to one another.

My goals are to by the end of the year to be doing lawncare fulltime and to gain alot of customers and gross $70,000 to $100,000 a year for the first year and be known real well, and be a full blown company by the middle of next year. Also to gain several commerical accounts and more equipment.

Steve
05-25-2007, 07:38 PM
Those are some great goals!

Have you thought about how you will position yourself differently from the competition? What will make your company stand out?

Are you involved with any community activities you can use to help promote your business? Are you involved with any civic groups/organizations?

landonkade
05-25-2007, 10:57 PM
Quote[/b] (Team Gopher @ May 25 2007,8:38)]Those are some great goals!

Have you thought about how you will position yourself differently from the competition? What will make your company stand out?

Are you involved with any community activities you can use to help promote your business? Are you involved with any civic groups/organizations?
The way i figured that my company would stand out is the quality of the work and being on time, and treating the customers like family with a great attitude.

And some time or another get a enclosed trailor that will stand out really well. i see alot of companys with no name on there truck or trailor, thought that was kinda weird

At this time i am not involved in any community activites. I would like to do so i think that would help my company out definity. Also i am not involved with any civic groups orgainizations. Would i have to register at chamber of commerces or something like that

Steve
05-26-2007, 08:30 AM
I wanted to get up online some of the pictures Matt sent, so others can jump in here and offer their opinion as well.

Here is his truck. I think this is good. You are keeping it simple and the lettering does stand out against the color of your truck.

Steve
05-26-2007, 08:32 AM
Matt also has fastened a sign to the back of his trailer. This is another good move.

Steve
05-26-2007, 08:44 AM
Quote[/b] ]At this time i am not involved in any community activites. I would like to do so i think that would help my company out definity. Also i am not involved with any civic groups orgainizations. Would i have to register at chamber of commerces or something like that
If you wanted to join up with the chamber of commerce, yes. You can find out when your local chapter meets and go over there to get involved with them. You will meet a lot of other local business owners which would be beneficial.

Now something to think about is this. When you have more time than cash, you should use your time to market your business. When you have less time and more cash, then leverage your cash.

You seem to have a lot going on now with a fulltime job so what I am wondering is which would you rather utilize to market your business? Money or time?

If it is time there are plenty of things we can come up with. If it is money, are you placing ads in the local paper?

Quote[/b] ]Also to gain several commerical accounts and more equipment. When you are getting started it is easier to stick with residential clients for a while. If you get a chance, review the free book Be a Lawn Care Business Rebel (http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST&f=1&t=4850&st=0&&#entry21294), because it talks about pitfalls of commercial accounts.

I also think going back to the basics, you need to hand out as many business cards as you can to everyone you know. Get them displayed at as many store counter tops as you can.

Maybe do some good deeds for your community and then get the press involved to write a story about you. Can you help a vet with their clean up? etc.

Have you been using any flyers yet or door hangers?

Do you have many family/friend contacts in your town that work in the area? Do they know people that could really use a hand cleaning up their yard? Can you make a good human story out of it and draw attention to your business?

As you sit there and kick around these ideas with your wife, family and friends, think about something good yet outrageous you could do that would take a little time but attract a lot of attention. I bet you will start coming up with things you could do this weekend or next.

Let me know what you are thinking.

StartALawnCareBusiness
05-27-2007, 04:31 PM
A couple of thoughts from me.

1) Advertising. As far as media goes, I found that newspapers offer the most return for your advertising dollar. Choose the placement of your ad carefully. I had little luck with display ads and regular classified ads. Instead, does your local newspaper have Business Classified ads? Or Business Listings Ads? These really seem to bring in the customers. You pay 1 month at a time. The cost in my area is often $150 for a month in a paper with circulation of about 100,000. Well worth the cost in my experience.

2) You say that you want to work on commercial accounts. You are probably a bit late this year to get very many commecial accounts as they most likely have already been bid out. However, it's never too early to begin cultivating relationships with purchasing managers. Pay a visit to your local city hall purchasing office. Get your company put on the bid list. This is the list they use when they are sending out contract applications on lawn care work. Also, tell them that you will do "non-bid" clean-up work. You might be doing dirty work like vacant yards but it gives you an inside foothold with your local government. It's a step-up when big contracts come up for bid. School systems, public utilities, apartment complexes, large factory complexes, etc, all have mowing and upkeep contracts. Get your company name in front of the decision makers. They will remember you next spring...or this summer when their regular grass mainenance companies aren't dependable.

Good luck and welcome to the business:
Keith
www.StartALawnCareBusiness.com

landonkade
05-27-2007, 10:11 PM
i will find out when the local chapter meets. The full time job that i have is orkin pest control. But i want to do lawn car full time, i enjoy it alot better

the other ways i advertise is the local newspaper and signs for the front yard when i finish a job. The 1st time i advertised in the paper i got a lot of responces, but the 2nd time i got very little. I think when i did it the second time everyone already has who they wanted.

I also thought about doing referral letters to gain customers that way also

Steve
05-28-2007, 12:26 PM
Have you also considered offering similar services that you offer in Orkin? Could you put that training you have to use with it?

Would you like to offer those services as additional services?

landonkade
05-28-2007, 02:12 PM
Quote[/b] (Team Gopher @ May 28 2007,1:26)]Have you also considered offering similar services that you offer in Orkin? Could you put that training you have to use with it?

Would you like to offer those services as additional services?
yes, i think i can use the knowledge from orkin to help with the services of the lawn care. like include pest conrol in the contract or something of that nature

I have *Question:
* * * *I know that some companies start small( like push mower and old riding mower) and work there way big. I did the oppoiste, i stated big like commerical mower and all other things and have debt coming soon like $345 a month for all the lawn equipment and plus now have truck payment of $151 a month.

Now with me starting big and all the debt, will i still come out ahead and it wouldnt matter how i started, i think i can acheive it. One other problem i have for the fall and winter is that i did not get a bagger with the mower, i got the mulching kit. I think my better chance to go steady in the fall/winter is to get a bagger. I have a positve outlook on my goals

any secerts or keys to open the door,lol

StartALawnCareBusiness
05-29-2007, 02:21 PM
Hey, landonkade:

I was thinking a bit more about your question this morning.

There has been some great info in this thread about what TO DO. I have a bit of advice on what not to do.

Especially if you have some debt in your truck and equipment, you might feel forced into taking whatever jobs come along. Afterall, you might think that a $20 job is better than no job at all.

When you are estimating and accepting jobs, think long term. If you get the reputation of doing cheap jobs in your community, it is far too easy for you to become typecast in your work. I have found that quality jobs beget more quality customers and cheap jobs will only get you more of the same.

Hey, listen, there is NOTHING wrong with doing $20 lawns and I don't want to offend anyone who does those...I know several people who make good livings with that type of lawn. However, I would recommend always having a minimum price ($35 as an example). Let your customers know that you do dependable, quality work. Never let them down and they will be customers for life and they will recommend other quality customers who will be willing to pay your price.

Oh, one more thing that might be helpful to you. Open lines of communication with the more successful LCOs in your town. Some of them might not like that there is another competitor out there. However, some of them will welcome you into the industry and they will be happy to share tips and ideas with you. A successful LCO who is overrun with customers might even give you some of his smaller accounts if he knows you will do quality work.

Keep at it. It seems you are on the right track.

Best Luck:

Keith
Start A Lawn Care Business (http://www.StartALawnCareBusiness.com)

Steve
05-30-2007, 11:19 AM
Quote[/b] ]I have Question:
I know that some companies start small( like push mower and old riding mower) and work there way big. I did the oppoiste, i stated big like commerical mower and all other things and have debt coming soon like $345 a month for all the lawn equipment and plus now have truck payment of $151 a month.

Now with me starting big and all the debt, will i still come out ahead and it wouldnt matter how i started, i think i can acheive it.

You will need 14 lawn cuts paying $35 a cut to pay off those items each month. How many lawns are you servicing on the weekends?

The reason why we like to promote starting with a very low investment is because you can make a lot of mistakes and still get through them.

One of our good friends on the forum Troy, had found himself in a bad spot due to debt that took him years to get out of.

Since you have this equipment now, it is just very important you get the word out about your business. Business cards, flyers, door hangers. As Keith mentioned, newspaper ads too.

What has been the latest with your marketing?

landonkade
05-30-2007, 07:10 PM
Quote[/b] (Team Gopher @ May 30 2007,12:19)]Quote[/b] ]I have *Question:
* * * I know that some companies start small( like push mower and old riding mower) and work there way big. I did the oppoiste, i stated big like commerical mower and all other things and have debt coming soon like $345 a month for all the lawn equipment and plus now have truck payment of $151 a month.

Now with me starting big and all the debt, will i still come out ahead and it wouldnt matter how i started, i think i can acheive it.

You will need 14 lawn cuts paying $35 a cut to pay off those items each month. How many lawns are you servicing on the weekends?

The reason why we like to promote starting with a very low investment is because you can make a lot of mistakes and still get through them.

One of our good friends on the forum Troy, had found himself in a bad spot due to debt that took him years to get out of.

Since you have this equipment now, it is just very important you get the word out about your business. Business cards, flyers, door hangers. As Keith mentioned, newspaper ads too.

What has been the latest with your marketing?
well my best responces have came from the paper. But i also put out business cards in gas stations and they disappear really fast,lol. i sent the business card to gopher to show also on the forum. if he does post it, i made it stand out really well and catchy.

but with the debt that i have i hope i make good profits even though of the payments that i have, just all about managing money,lol with i am good at,lol.

i am in the process of doing a yard that has 40 bushes that need to be trimmed around the sides of the home and around back ( some over head high, some head high, and some knee high sitting on 3 acres, with 20 oak trees in the front yard and grass cutting and weedeating, the home is sitting off the road about 250 yards or so,lol.

i was thinking like $300 for the inital and then $75 every other time. are both these prices to high or to low or just right, with me and another person working on it.

so let me know soon. thanks, before she calls, i have already left a message for her to call me back so i can tell her the price

tiedeman
05-30-2007, 09:58 PM
Quote[/b] (landonkade @ May 28 2007,3:12)]Quote[/b] (Team Gopher @ May 28 2007,1:26)]Have you also considered offering similar services that you offer in Orkin? Could you put that training you have to use with it?

Would you like to offer those services as additional services?
yes, i think i can use the knowledge from orkin to help with the services of the lawn care. like include pest conrol in the contract or something of that nature

I have *Question:
* * * *I know that some companies start small( like push mower and old riding mower) and work there way big. I did the oppoiste, i stated big like commerical mower and all other things and have debt coming soon like $345 a month for all the lawn equipment and plus now have truck payment of $151 a month.

Now with me starting big and all the debt, will i still come out ahead and it wouldnt matter how i started, i think i can acheive it. One other problem i have for the fall and winter is that i did not get a bagger with the mower, i got the mulching kit. I think my better chance to go steady in the fall/winter is to get a bagger. I have a positve outlook on my goals

any secerts or keys to open the door,lol
I started out in horrible debt at first, and it took me a long time to recover, believe it or not I am still recovering from some business debt.

I bought two commercial mowers at first and racked up around $7,000 in debt. I only had about 10 customers at the time too. My best advice I give to all companies, do not go into debt unless you can pay off that debt within a years time. If you don't, it will just hurt you in the long run by limiting your purchasing and budgetting procedures.

Try to purchase every in cash or in credit if you can pay it off in a year. Sure, truck purchases are the exceptions though. If you need certain items now and then, such as aerations, walk behind leaf blowers, dethatchers, etc. I would suggest to rent them. You actually will save money in the long run.

My best advice though for you right now is one of two things; grow big and fast now to pay off your equipment, or sell off itesm that you do not use and use that money towards your debt.

Steve
05-31-2007, 07:55 AM
Quote[/b] ]i am in the process of doing a yard that has 40 bushes that need to be trimmed around the sides of the home and around back ( some over head high, some head high, and some knee high sitting on 3 acres, with 20 oak trees in the front yard and grass cutting and weedeating, the home is sitting off the road about 250 yards or so,lol.

i was thinking like $300 for the inital and then $75 every other time. are both these prices to high or to low or just right, with me and another person working on it.

Do you have an idea of how long it will take you? Also do you have an idea what your expenses are per hour?

landonkade
05-31-2007, 08:28 PM
Quote[/b] (Team Gopher @ May 31 2007,8:55)]Quote[/b] ]i am in the process of doing a yard that has 40 bushes that need to be trimmed around the sides of the home and around back ( some over head high, some head high, and some knee high sitting on 3 acres, with 20 oak trees in the front yard and grass cutting and weedeating, the home is sitting off the road about 250 yards or so,lol.

i was thinking like $300 for the inital and then $75 every other time. are both these prices to high or to low or just right, with me and another person working on it.

Do you have an idea of how long it will take you? Also do you have an idea what your expenses are per hour?
nevermind about that, she never called back, and some one else got it,lol. but o well i'll gain more. it would have been a good one though

what would be a good hourly rate for me to make profit plus pay for my equipment, me just working by myself?

gman
06-02-2007, 11:44 AM
Hi

I was reading your story and I would like to add something. I have been in the business for 1 year now I started out with a push mower and a cheap blower and edger and using my wife kia sportage. And working on weekends with a fulltime job also. As I got more accounts I got better equipment, as I paid of one thing I got another. I have only 45 accounts, it is hard to get past 45 as every community is gated. When I quit my fulltime job I got a job delieving pizza at night, I talk to my boss and he lets me advertize on the boxes for free. It is good way to control me areas that I want to get my company name out there. As I get new customers I lose one. I gust started to request contracts and see how that will gose.

I have had one customer that asked me to do a yard cleanup one flower bed at each time I come. Stay away from that as I leaned the hard way. You work hard do a great job and the customer decides the hardpart is over and he could do the rest himself. I going to stay away for customers that won't sign contract for now on. I have lost alot on money for people that won't pay....... I wish there is a way I can get the money form them?http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif

landonkade
06-02-2007, 12:40 PM
Quote[/b] (gman @ June 02 2007,12:44)]Hi

I was reading your story and I would like to add something. I have been in the business for 1 year now I started out with a push mower and a cheap blower and edger and using my wife kia sportage. And working on weekends with a fulltime job also. As I got more accounts I got better equipment, as I paid of one thing I got another. I have only 45 accounts, it is hard to get past 45 as every community is gated. When I quit my fulltime job I got a job delieving pizza at night, I talk to my boss and he lets me advertize on the boxes for free. It is good way to control me areas that I want to get my company name out there. As I get new customers I lose one. I gust started to request contracts and see how that will gose.

I have had one customer that asked me to do a yard cleanup one flower bed at each time I come. Stay away from that as I leaned the hard way. You work hard do a great job and the customer decides the hardpart is over and he could do the rest himself. I going to stay away for customers that won't sign contract for now on. I have lost alot on money for people that won't pay....... I wish there is a way I can get the money form them?http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif
yeah i have noticed that people keep putting me off, since i dont have a contract going. so i have decided to start doing the contracts and also referral letters to help me gain customers. i will check into that idea about putting flyers or something on the pizza boxes

grounded
06-03-2007, 08:23 AM
If you put a contract into play, at what risk of capitol would you stop service? what about the lawyer fees. Small claims court is a hassle and a waste of time! If they like your work, they will pay.

Try a letter that states that your business is funded by the business for the business.

Put a net 10 day return date on all invoices and mail out your invoice on the 15th or 30th

Ask your slow payers if a different due date would help them stay current and avoid disruption in service

You can also offer a $2.00 discount if mailed within 10 days - this works well to generate fast cash in a pinch - be selective to only the slow payers with this offer.


How is everybody els dealing with deadbeats?

Tom

Steve
06-04-2007, 05:03 PM
Those are some very good points! Is there a monetary point you would suggest other lcos to stop work until payment is made?

grounded
06-05-2007, 04:56 AM
You have to evaluate the customer from the word go. if they seem squirly, than you either take the job and risk, or bid it high and walk away. If a customer calls you for service, they usually will pay you.

to answer your question: I would cut them off after a 60 day extensive attempt to collect (in house letter campaign).

A material based install would require 50% up front to cover material.

Live and learn

landonkade
06-05-2007, 10:28 PM
Quote[/b] (grounded @ June 05 2007,5:56)]You have to evaluate the customer from the word go. if they seem squirly, than you either take the job and risk, or bid it high and walk away. If a customer calls you for service, they usually will pay you.

to answer your question: I would cut them off after a 60 day extensive attempt to collect (in house letter campaign).

A material based install would require 50% up front to cover material.

Live and learn
i am in the process of sending out referral letters to gain more customers, and then probaly afterwords send out price increase letters. so i hope everything goes good and i gain alot,lol

rudeboy
07-10-2007, 01:12 AM
all this info is very good thanks for helping people http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/yourock.gif

Clean Lawn
07-14-2007, 10:59 PM
I know this may seem strange but I use contracts for all my weekly, bimonthly and monthly clients. I can even draw up a contract for a single service contract if needed.
If the job is a very large one requiring more then just a lawn service call then I will not go forward with the job until half of the payment is received. As for my lawn service only customers I receive payment in one of two ways only- I am paid before the beginning of next month of service giving the customer a small percent discount for this or they pay me every two weeks. If I do not receive payment then no work is scheduled or done.
Because I live in a large military area I have opted to have a 30 day written notice for clients to break their contract. I know military can come and go in a moments notice. For everyone else I have a lawyer who has nothing better to do then handle legal matters for his clients and would take it to court if I gave the word go.
I hope this helps. http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif