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flipflops01
09-28-2007, 12:32 PM
So I just started my business a few weeks ago and the only thing I need now are CUSTOMERS!! I've got two friends so far, but I definitely need more. My question is how do you get new clients? What worked best for you when you started and what is working best now? Thanks a lot.

Ryan
Cut-N-Edge Lawn Care

StartALawnCareBusiness
09-28-2007, 04:30 PM
Hey FlipFlops:

BTW, I hope you're not wearing flipflops to mow in. Did you see this recent report? Flip Flop Foot (http://www.wcpo.com/content/news/localshows/healthyliving/story.aspx?content_id=98941a34-8235-413d-ac9a-8c54b41d9178)

Tell us a bit more about your business. What type of lawn care customers are you going after? What is your 'comparative advantage' over your competitors?

Think about this: The mowing season is beginning to wind down over much of the country. Now's the time to think about EOS (End-Of-Season) strategies. What sells this time of year? One is Leaf Raking...there are MANY more. Let's just say that leaf raking is your specialty for the next couple of months.

Get out there and start advertising. (HINT: Ask Gopher to design you a flyer, he's a master)

Maybe something like this:

"Did you have a "FALL"ing out with your lawn care company?
I won't LEAF you high and dry.
Let me beautify you lawn today."

Okay, I know that's kinda silly but you would be surprised how many guys have now gone back to school and decided they don't want to service their customers anymore. This is your prime opportunity to pick up tons of customers. Also, DON'T just sell them the leaf job. Sell them other jobs...overseeding, aerating, let them know that you will do a great job on their grass next year. Halloween is coming up and maybe they need help hanging those ghosts from their eaves and in their trees. Possibilities are endless this time of year.

I think that NOW is a PRIME time for anyone wanting to get started with their lawn care business. I've always said this time of year is an excellent time to get started. Strengthen your business and build your customer list for the rest of this year and you will be miles ahead of your competition come spring time.

Tell us more about your business and let us know how it goes.

Keith

flipflops01
09-29-2007, 10:07 AM
Thanks Keith. I'll make sure to only wear my sturdy pair of flip flops from now on.

I live in south Louisiana so it's going to be pretty warm here until late December but I do like your idea about raking leaves and helping people with decorations for both Halloween and Christmas.

My competitive advantage? Hmm... let me think. Other than the fact that I want my customers to be happy with the work I do and I'll be there on time and when I say I will be, I'm not sure what my competitive advantage is. I'm brand new. I'm using a push mower and an electric blower to start my business. I do have a decent weed eater though... haha. So, I don't have the best equipment out there but hopefully after I have 15 - 20 clients I will be able to afford a new mower.

Another thing is, I'm not sure how I would charge leaf raking. Compared to mowing I would assume that it would actually take me longer to do, and I would think most people don't want to pay more money for there yard to be raked than for it to be mowed.

How do I set myself apart from my competition and make a lot of money in the process? I know guys who knock out yards in 20 min because of the mower they have. I feel like I'll be losing money if I eventually get one of those mowers but I'm spending all my time raking leaves and making less money doing it.

So, I know that's a lot, but you guys are all pros, right?? Help me out!

Thanks,
Ryan
Cut-N-Edge Lawn Care

quickcleanlawn
09-29-2007, 01:14 PM
hey flip flops
I'm in southeast Louisiana too
When I started , I marketed areas like uptown and areas closer to the city because there yards are smaller and didn't take long.
Try marketing the areas around Loyola and Tulane university.
Also I have lots of calls from those areas, i can recommend to you.

StartALawnCareBusiness
09-29-2007, 02:22 PM
Hi Ryan:

Comparative advantage is an old business school concept where you compare yourself on the basis of intangibles like quality and dependability instead of trying to compete on price or width of mower deck. You've identified a few of these comparisons already. Dependability and customer satisfaction are great selling features.

You are wrong that people won't pay more for their lawn to be raked than for it to be mowed. They will pay much more. The multiplier depends on quantity of leaves and difficulty of the job. A great backpack blower is essential for leaf jobs. Your electric blower will be more a hindrance than a help.

If you're worried about the size of your equipment, go after jobs other guys won't touch. Are there trailer parks or rows of duplexes close by? Large equipment won't work for those small yards. A push mower is ideal though. Do you think residents of trailer parks will not pay big bucks for lawn care? You are right, they won't. But, they will pay $10 to $15 each and you can knock out bunches of them in a day. This is just one example.

Keith

flipflops01
09-29-2007, 03:44 PM
Thanks QuickClean. However, I live in Lafayette, LA so Tulane and Loyola are a little far from me.

So Keith, how would you go about charging for raking and bagging leaves? Also, tell me about aeration. I've heard of it, but I'm not sure what it is or if I'm capable to do it.

Also, I'm looking to purchase a ZTR mower within the next couple of months. I'd like to stay in the three thousand dollar range. I've heard good things about hustler but they're about six grand. Any recommendations?

Little's
09-29-2007, 07:36 PM
Save yourself some money and knock on doors. It works wonders.

Steve
09-30-2007, 01:24 PM
Hi flipflops01,

What ever you have to work with, that's what you should always make out to be your competitive advantage. If you have to hand rake leaves because you don't have a gas powered leaf blower, then right there you got a competitive advantage.

You say each lawn is hand raked. You market that you are meticulous. You are not like the big mow, blow and go companies. Each lawn gets your individual attention. Also if the home owner ever has a problem, when they call you they talk to you the owner. Not an assistant. Also, you are environmentally friendly. Gas blowers exhaust damaging gases into the atmosphere!

See now you got all that going for you!

quickcleanlawn
10-02-2007, 05:20 PM
hey flipflops, have your tried craigslist to advertise ?

landscape warrior
10-26-2007, 01:31 PM
I have only used craigslist. i charge by the hour for raking and bagging i charge them for the bags they use plus hourly rate.

FourSeasons
10-26-2007, 10:22 PM
Quote[/b] ]Save yourself some money and knock on doors. It works wonders.


I am going to start doing this soon. When I first started I didn't have the courage to and when I went to hand out flyers if the customer was outside I would skip their house.
I never really knew what to say. I'm comfortable talking to customers now though after a season of doing it. But I still don't want to knock on doors. Even though I'm going to have to.
What do you say when someone answers?
Besides introducing yourself.

How should the dialogue go?

Probably after I get a few out of the way I'll know what to say.

Little's
10-27-2007, 12:38 AM
I just say " Hi I am Brandon Little. I own Little's Lawn & Landscape. I am in your neighborhood introducing myself and offering free estimates on work. Is there anything you would like me to look at today?" **if no** "Ok, well here is my card, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to call." **if yes** "Id be happy to look at it and offer some advise."
Then look at the work they are interested in, find out exactly what it is they want done and tell them what you would charge. I have found that the longer you can talk to them, the more likely they will give you the job, so don't rush it. It is only tough the first couple of times. I have a lot of experience talking to customers, so for me it is real easy. Good luck!

Fernando's CleanCut!
11-14-2007, 12:25 PM
What really worked for me, is setting up some yard signs around Stop signs, traffic Ligths in nice neiborhoods and the best was, on the exits of Wal-Mart or big supermarkets. Then give away your Business Cards, very important, this will look like you are serious in this business and profesional, (got some really cheap in a local print store, or you can go to vistaprint.com). Maybe you might not be so lucky cuz the cold season is around the corner, but I t really worked for me in the summer. Def. im doing it again next year.
Good Luck.

-CleanCut!-

Steve
11-14-2007, 02:13 PM
Fernando,

Did you get any calls from the town at all about the signs being up? Was there any negative fallout from this?

ABurlison
11-16-2007, 12:01 AM
What do you guys feel about those Grab a Tab flyers at the bulletin boards at grocery stores and such?? Any good templates on here for one?? I know this time of year is dead and a horrible time for me to be starting my business, but whatever it takes to get a few things going would be great. I see a few ads in the newspaper under services, theres a section for yard work, but I'm sure that's just too expensive. Any suggestions on what is the best method of advertising with the best results?

Thanks,

ANDY

StartALawnCareBusiness
11-16-2007, 01:38 AM
Andy:

Thank you for your message. You bring up very important points that lots of people struggle with this time of year.

Quote[/b] ]I know this time of year is dead and a horrible time for me to be starting my business,

I'll take an opposing view to this and say right now is a fine time to get started. The customers you get now will be on board with you when spring rolls around. Besides, there is crazy amounts of work to do this time of year. Leaf season was kinda weird this year due to the drought. Depending which part of the country you're in, there may still be lots of leaf jobs to get.

Really hammer the Winter Clean-Up jobs too. Lots of residents as well as business owners are starting to plan for Christmas get togethers and parties. They want their lawns looking nice. You might not mow lots of grass but there's definately work to be had. Team Gopher made a really cool flyer for Winter Clean-Up jobs. (It's on here somewhere, see if you can find it.) Do a test run of 100 of those flyers. Knock on doors, hand out those flyers and tell home owners you will do any kind of lawn clean up jobs. I can only imagine you will be inundated with customers.

You brought up a good question about where to advertize in the newspaper. If your paper is like ours, they have a "Business Services" section. Those ads are placed once per month and they generally cost about $180 for a one month run. Dollar for Dollar, I think those are the best ads because you get more eye balls looking at those ads than some of the other classifieds. Those people are motivated shoppers too instead of just tire kickers.

If you try the flyer idea, let us know how it goes. Also, if you get some requests to do crazy type jobs, let us know about those too.

Keith

FourSeasons
11-16-2007, 08:21 AM
Quote[/b] ]What do you guys feel about those Grab a Tab flyers at the bulletin boards at grocery stores and such?? Any good templates on here for one??
If there isn't any on here MS Word and MS publisher both have a few different templates you cand use for the tear off flyers. You can change them around and add pics or whatever. I made my own after looking at the templates.

Steve
11-16-2007, 11:04 AM
Can you show us what you made?

FourSeasons
11-16-2007, 09:29 PM
This is from when I first started. I used to post this on the bulletin boards in stores around town.
Oh yeah and the Liquor store. (my wife works there)

Steve
11-17-2007, 06:21 AM
Oh that's great! Thanks for sharing the design with us!

Is there any technique you would suggest when hanging these flyers? Should you rip off a couple of tabs when you hang them up to make the flyer's service more desireable?

Would you then check around town to see if you needed to hang a new flyer? If so, how often would you do this?

FourSeasons
11-17-2007, 11:45 AM
Quote[/b] ]Is there any technique you would suggest when hanging these flyers? Should you rip off a couple of tabs when you hang them up to make the flyer's service more desireable?


Thats funny!
I don't think you need to do that. I used to check once a week or have my dad or mom check for me at one of the stores when they were grocery shopping there every week and put one up for me if needed.
Maybe give them to family/friends to put up at there work offices.
I had a mailman stop and ask for some to put up at the post office.


When you put them up in stores bring 5-6 extra tacks and put them on the bulletin board to so some one doesn't take yours off because they needed the tacks. That happened once.