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UniversityLandscapers
04-30-2008, 02:51 PM
The calls are flooding in now, but it's all for spring maintenance and garden work, I've only gotten 6 calls for scheduled maintenance in the last week, and they're all bi-weekly. The craigslist ad I put up has been working great, but it's only bringing in the one-time jobs. I had a similar problem last year, and once I hit July, my business tailed off to three days a week of mowing.

Any thoughts?

GeeGood
04-30-2008, 03:46 PM
I have had the same experience with craigslist..... one time jobs, clean ups, etc... everything except weekly lawn service. My take on it is people that use craigslist are wanting the deal of the century. On my one time jobs I even sell/promote weekly service however no one that I have done jobs for on craigslist never commit to it. Of course all of my weekly service comes from referrals, friends of friends, etc...

StartALawnCareBusiness
04-30-2008, 08:11 PM
Hi Dave:

Are you speaking mainly of residential clients?

I am not sure what your weather was like last year. In southeastern part of the U.S., we had a pretty severe drought in 2007.

I think residential customer mindset has been affected by the weather and they don't want to get locked into situations where they are paying though the grass is not growing.

Are you trying to get them into contracts? Maybe a looser "as-needed" purchase order would ease their attitudes.

When do you try to sell the schedule? On your first contact with your customer (probably on the phone) ask them if they are looking for someone to maintain their yard through the summer growing season or as just a one time deal. Plant that seed in their head immediately and they will likely come around to the understanding that set scheduling is a good idea. Let them know your schedule fills up quickly and if they lose their slot you might not be able to fit them in.

Do you raise your rates for one time services? It's a good idea to raise your rates several dollars for a one time service but if they are willing to let you come back on a regular schedule you will lower your price. There will be a small percentage of people who will try to take advantage of you and try to get out of their verbal contract. In my experience, the vast majority of customers will honor their agreement with you if you provide adequate service for your price.

Keith

landonkade
04-30-2008, 08:30 PM
Quote[/b] (StartALawnCareBusiness @ April 30 2008,9:11)]Hi Dave:

Are you speaking mainly of residential clients?

I am not sure what your weather was like last year. *In southeastern part of the U.S., we had a pretty severe drought in 2007. *

I think residential customer mindset has been affected by the weather and they don't want to get locked into situations where they are paying though the grass is not growing.

Are you trying to get them into contracts? *Maybe a looser "as-needed" purchase order would ease their attitudes.

When do you try to sell the schedule? *On your first contact with your customer (probably on the phone) ask them if they are looking for someone to maintain their yard through the summer growing season or as just a one time deal. *Plant that seed in their head immediately and they will likely come around to the understanding that set scheduling is a good idea. *Let them know your schedule fills up quickly and if they lose their slot you might not be able to fit them in.

Do you raise your rates for one time services? *It's a good idea to raise your rates several dollars for a one time service but if they are willing to let you come back on a regular schedule you will lower your price. *There will be a small percentage of people who will try to take advantage of you and try to get out of their verbal contract. *In my experience, the vast majority of customers will honor their agreement with you if you provide adequate service for your price.

Keith
Keith,


How is a good way to gain commerical accounts.

Should i call one by one from the phone book...

Or go into each and every business and talk to someone face 2 face.....

There is a company here in town that they do almost every *commerical business here. How can i get like them?

I have tried chatting with the employees and the owners of the company to try to get some insight,lol and they seem all snobby and all, like they are good for there shoes,lol

I thought talking and asking questions to other lawn care operators that have been in the business a while would give you(me) advise on what they know and learned about the industry.

UniversityLandscapers
04-30-2008, 11:04 PM
I live in western Canada, where we're never short on precipitation. I never have residential customers sign a contract. I do tend to make my prices a bit higher for the one-time jobs, bust most of the stuff I get is aeration/power raking type work or other gardening, I always include a price for mowing, since if they see the price they might want it.

StartALawnCareBusiness
04-30-2008, 11:55 PM
Quote[/b] ]Keith,


How is a good way to gain commerical accounts.

Should i call one by one from the phone book...

Or go into each and every business and talk to someone face 2 face.....

There is a company here in town that they do almost every commerical business here. How can i get like them?

I have tried chatting with the employees and the owners of the company to try to get some insight,lol and they seem all snobby and all, like they are good for there shoes,lol

I thought talking and asking questions to other lawn care operators that have been in the business a while would give you(me) advise on what they know and learned about the industry.


Matt:

If I remember correctly, you bought my material a few months ago.

Read what I say in there about talking to purchasing managers and executive secretaries. They are the ones who really know what's going on...especially the purchasing managers. If it's a small company, speak to the accounts payable clerk.

If they're snobby, don't let it get you down. Take a deep breath, put a huge smile on your face and just ask them when the contract for lawn care is coming up. You don't want to be annoying but if they won't tell you, go back a couple times until you find someone who will give you the low down.

When you're walking into the place, look for imperfections in the way the lawn looks now. When you find the person in charge of bidding out the contracts say: "By the way, do you know that your lawn care guy didn't blow off the sidewalk? I will never leave it looking like that."

Keep at it Matt. You're one of the hardest working guys I've seen at marketing and I know it will pay off for you.

Keith

ProCut TM
05-08-2008, 10:53 PM
Dave,

are you doing any door to door flyers

it's all sales just like anything else it is a numbers game

the more people you talk to the better off you are

for every 100 people you talk to, 10 will like what you have to say, and 1 will sign on (statistically)

JL

All Aspects Landscaping
05-08-2008, 11:13 PM
we give every estimate that comes in a lawn maintenance price... Whether they ask for it or not. Occasionally it works...

UniversityLandscapers
05-08-2008, 11:23 PM
Thanks for the tips guys...I haven't actually really done any marketing yet, just a craigslist ad and traffic through the website. I have about 23 mowing clients right now, most of which are bi-weekly. I'm getting flooded with calls and e-mails for cleanups though, and am booked through the next two weeks or so.

yardworksinc
05-08-2008, 11:30 PM
Quote[/b] (UniversityLandscapers @ May 09 2008,12:23)]Thanks for the tips guys...I haven't actually really done any marketing yet, just a craigslist ad and traffic through the website. I have about 23 mowing clients right now, most of which are bi-weekly. I'm getting flooded with calls and e-mails for cleanups though, and am booked through the next two weeks or so.
I have been getting almost only cleanups thus far from craigslist and maintanence/cleanups with flyers. I did get my first commercial through craigslist and a lead on another while I was doing the job. It was 2 condos. Pretty small on the ocean front with weeds not grass. 130 for the cleanup and 75 to maintain. It took me 2 hours with 1 helper for the cleanup. Paying him 7 an hour. I feel the bid was a slight bit low but with acceptable profits escpecially since the condo owner next door took a bid as well while I was there.

Seems most folks looking on craigslist are looking for a bargain. I think a bit will be how you word your add.

sataprab
05-09-2008, 01:15 PM
I have only picked up a few regulars from Craigslist, most of our business has come originally from post cards then word of mouth. I am hoping to pick up some more commercial soon, I am going to try calling and then mailing a follow up letter. I have to disagree with knocking others work, it only makes you look despirate. Just my opinion.

Steve
05-09-2008, 01:29 PM
Can you tell us a little about what you did with your postcards? How many did you send out? What response rate did you get?

Do you have a scan of it so we can see it?

http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

StartALawnCareBusiness
05-09-2008, 01:51 PM
Quote[/b] ]What response rate did you get?


This isn't exactly lawn care related but it does give a good indication of the response rate of a Craig's List ad.

I have a friend who is trying to sell a horse farm. He hired me to develop a web presentation. I also assembled a flyer to place on Craig's.

During one 24 hour period, the flyer was viewed 274 times. Of those views 72 unique visitors came to the site.

He is getting many inquiries already. Additionally, a few people want me to design advertisements for their large scale property sales.

The ad is: http://chattanooga.craigslist.org/rfs/672486592.html

The entire ad is hyperlinked leading interested viewers to the website.

This is a tremendous response rate for a single free ad.


Keith

ProCut TM
05-09-2008, 02:02 PM
Quote[/b] (sataprab @ May 09 2008,2:15)]I have only picked up a few regulars from Craigslist, most of our business has come originally from post cards then word of mouth. *I am hoping to pick up some more commercial soon, I am going to try calling and then mailing a follow up letter. *I have to disagree with knocking others work, it only makes you look despirate. Just my opinion.
Desperate NO, enthusiastic and willingness to hustle YES.

There is nothing wrong with being willing to go the extra mile and say hello to some ones neighbor. Like I said before it's all sales, therefor it is all about numbers.

JL

Steve
05-09-2008, 03:01 PM
Keith,

Very nice work. Now that we are talking about craigslist, I am wondering what is your view of using flyers as you did in that add versus text or a mixture of both? How important is text in an ad so search engines can find and display the ad?

StartALawnCareBusiness
05-09-2008, 03:40 PM
Steve:

If you look at my ad, you will see I make use of both text and image. *I failed to use an alt text tag though which is important and I simply forgot as I was coding the html.

An alt tag attaches text attributes to an image.

For proper SEO, you need to make use of all three.

I think you have to define the purpose of your ad. The sole purpose of the horse farm ad is to get people to visit the website so they can learn more and then contact the seller if they are interested. My friend is not interested in fielding dozens of calls asking questions that are already outlined on the website. This is why no phone numbers are listed and navigation to the website is easy.

I have posted text only, image only, and combination ads. I really feel the combination works best as a whole solution if you are concerned with SEO. However, if your only concern is for the customer to call right away, I've found big image based flyer ads work best.

I think a lawn care flyer should promote the LCO's phone number prominantly. The LCO wants that phone to ring. He wants to do as many estimates to qualified leads as possible...that is his main concern. The sale is made at the doorstep.

Keith

SerranoLandscaping
05-10-2008, 08:14 AM
Craigslist helped me out when I started, now I mainly get my work from contractors and home builders. These guys pay and they have tons of work from full landscape installs to insatlling new lawns on new homes. If anyone get a chance try hooking up with builders or big time contractors. I just landed a nice deal with my contractor. He is doing construction work to a 30 story building and the owner of the place has other buildings around the city and was looking for a new landscaper. After a few hours walking around with him checking the properties I found areas that the other landscaper did not do well on. Like edging, not trimming around the pines, all the beds around the building still need a spring clean up.

I gave him a price on all the properties and I was under the other guy about 6% cheaper. Plus I got all the spring clean up for all the buildings, Re mulching about 130 yards for all the buildings and maintenance for the yr.

I was pretty stoked when I landed this account. It just bumped my income to the 3 digits and this is just my 2nd season in bizz. Now I just need to make them happy to keep them around for a long time.

Steve
05-10-2008, 09:45 AM
Great job Pete!


Quote[/b] ]I think you have to define the purpose of your ad. The sole purpose of the horse farm ad is to get people to visit the website so they can learn more and then contact the seller if they are interested. My friend is not interested in fielding dozens of calls asking questions that are already outlined on the website. This is why no phone numbers are listed and navigation to the website is easy.

I think a lawn care flyer should promote the LCO's phone number prominantly. The LCO wants that phone to ring. He wants to do as many estimates to qualified leads as possible...that is his main concern. The sale is made at the doorstep.

Keith, this brings up a thought I had as I read this. When a lawn care business is advertising on craigslist, is the goal to answer as many questions as possible before the potential customer calls or should you lead them to calling you and asking you questions?

I can see one side where you don't want to be swamped with calls that are not pre-screened, but is it worth your time to talk with people and will this help the selling process?

SerranoLandscaping
05-10-2008, 07:55 PM
I've notice from past experience with craigslist customer is that they are cheap and they want the best deals. They will tell you things like yea but the other guys is 200 bucks cheaper. I just walk away and tell them have a great day.. They sometimes call me back to talk some more and work a deal but I never budge my prices. Im in here to make money not to make a few bucks. Im in to make 400-500 bucks in a day.

Try to keep your prices set and never go lower. Cause you just wont last long in business that way.. Gas is very expensive and everything else is going up.

If they try to argue about a price you give them, just tell them. " have you seen the gas prices" I raise my price %10 due to the gas price and I will again if it hit 4.00 for reg gas. I spend about $1,500 a month in gas to drive my truck. I'm sure some of you spend more or less..

But craigslist is a way to get your business name around and this will help you grow it helped me a ton. And like I say dont lower your prices if they try to give you excuses like but the other landscaper is this much cheaper. Tell them then give him a call..

UniversityLandscapers
05-11-2008, 06:06 PM
Quote[/b] (SerranoLandscaping @ May 10 2008,9:55)]I've notice from past experience with craigslist customer is that they are cheap and they want the best deals. They will tell you things like yea but the other guys is 200 bucks cheaper. I just walk away and tell them have a great day.. They sometimes call me back to talk some more and work a deal but I never budge my prices. Im in here to make money not to make a few bucks. Im in to make 400-500 bucks in a day.

Try to keep your prices set and never go lower. Cause you just wont last long in business that way.. Gas is very expensive and everything else is going up.

If they try to argue about a price you give them, just tell them. " have you seen the gas prices" I raise my price %10 due to the gas price and I will again if it hit 4.00 for reg gas. I spend about $1,500 a month in gas to drive my truck. I'm sure some of you spend more or less..

But craigslist is a way to get your business name around and this will help you grow it helped me a ton. And like I say dont lower your prices if they try to give you excuses like but the other landscaper is this much cheaper. Tell them then give him a call..
Wow...$1500 a month is crazy. I drop about $75 per week, so $300 a month I guess, one tank gets me about 320km or so. Just got a new truck, my old one was even better, only dropped about $45 per tank.

All Aspects Landscaping
05-11-2008, 07:06 PM
on the gas topic... we spend about $3000-$3500 a month on fuel... http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/offtopic.gif

SerranoLandscaping
05-13-2008, 10:49 PM
Quote[/b] (All Aspects Landscaping @ May 11 2008,8:06)]on the gas topic... we spend about $3000-$3500 a month on fuel... *http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/offtopic.gif
My buddy spends $180.00 every 2 days to fill each truck and he owns 3. If im doing the math right he spends $8,100 every month. In one year is $97,200 now thats crazy..

Hes making well over $700,000 yr so im guessing is not hurting so much..

UniversityLandscapers
05-15-2008, 06:48 PM
Ouch...my new Ford Ranger is took $86 this week, as opposed to my old Mazda which usually took about $45/week. So that would be $350 or so I guess per month. We have two other trucks, but I don't have to deal with those.

LawncareMarketingMagic
05-19-2008, 11:07 PM
Dave,

I'm probably a bit late on this post, but I wanted to chime in on your questions.

In terms of converting these one time jobs to long-time customers, are you presenting them with offers to help move them in that direction? What I mean by that is instead of simply agreeing to perform the one time job do you have several different service package you can present to them when discussing the one time job with them?

As Keith mentioned, you should raise your price for the one time job. One of the benefits of these other service packages you present them could be the fact they save money by agreeing to a longer service commitment.

In terms of Craig's List, several people have already mentioned this, but the majority of people on the site are looking for a great deal. Yes, you'll probably get some calls, but keep in mind their reason for calling.

With respect to fielding lots of calls, yes, it's important to be accessible to your prospects but at the same time your time is extremely valuable. Or at least it should. You need to have a process in place that weeds out the tire kickers so you only have to deal with serious, interested prospects.

Finally, generating new business requires consistent, proactive effort. Unfortunately the whole 'if you build it they will come' only works in movies. If you want customers to come, you've got to figure out a way to consistently get in front of them with a powerful sales message that tells them why you have the answer to their problems.

UniversityLandscapers
05-21-2008, 12:13 AM
Thanks for the tips Chestin,

I've actually managed to get regular customers out of a couple of the craigslist people. I'm up to 28 clients right now, and I'm still getting a few calls a day. I printed up some flyers, but haven't had the time to hand them out yet. I've never actually flyered before, so I'm interested to see if it works at all. I figured I'd target areas within a couple of blocks of my current jobs to try and cluster them together a bit.

Steve
05-21-2008, 12:05 PM
Quote[/b] ]I've actually managed to get regular customers out of a couple of the craigslist people.

Dave, can you give us a little insight as to how you managed to turn these one time customers into regular customers?

What kind of services did these one time customers call for and how did you get them to be regular customers?

UniversityLandscapers
05-21-2008, 10:59 PM
Usually they're just surprised how reasonable my rates are for mowing. Other than that, when I'm discussing their property with them, I often bring up lawn issues or mention things about lawn care and that gets them interested. They really seem to like the organic lawn care angle.

Steve
05-21-2008, 11:26 PM
Quote[/b] ]I often bring up lawn issues or mention things about lawn care and that gets them interested. They really seem to like the organic lawn care angle.

So you will point out problems with their yard and this will help sell them on you being able to resolve these issues?

Do you find that you are able to upsell them to other services besides simply mowing?

Quote[/b] ]They really seem to like the organic lawn care angle.
Are you able to sell them a yearly lawn fertilization package?

LawncareMarketingMagic
05-22-2008, 03:06 PM
Quote[/b] ]when I'm discussing their property with them, I often bring up lawn issues or mention things about lawn care and that gets them interested.

Dave, you hit on a great way to not only convert your prospects to long-term customers, but it's also a great way to convey added value, thus allowing you to charge a higher price.

You see, people don't mind paying a little more if they know they're going to get more than what they could get from someone else. By talking to them about their lawn and by educating them on the issues, they'll see you know your stuff and they'll begin viewing you as the expert.

If you don't offer anything to differentiate you from your competition, the only thing you have to compete on is price. And don't discount the fact that you're just talking lawns. You have knowledge and experience your prospects don't and even though your competition could do the exact same thing, they're obviously not. Capitalize on this.

comanche
05-25-2008, 11:39 PM
when i get a call the first thing i wait for is if someone wants a quote over the phone. Then i know if their a price shopper or not. If the person asked me to come and see the yard, then i know their serious about getting some work done. The little things that you notice when you are there helps up sell yourself. Like if there are brown spots in the lawn or if the lawn needs fertilizing. Dont hesitate to ask if it has been done because then they know that you have the knowledge and you care.

UniversityLandscapers
05-27-2008, 12:30 AM
I find it's easy to upsell if you have something to sell. As Chestin pointed out, if you can give meaningful advice and insight while discussing it with them, they're basically sold. I recently did a quote off a referral where they had already hired a company, but were impressed not only by the fact that I was a student, but that I was so knowledgeable and would be doing the work myself. They really liked that I knew my stuff and that I could offer personal service, rather than sending some other guy to do the work (I was also $10 cheaper for the mowing even though I quoted above my usual price since they live a little far from home).

Before I started this job, I read an entire book called "Lawn Geek" by a guy named Trey Rogers. When people have specific questions, I often refer back to it. It's important to have the knowledge of what you do, since that's a great selling point and helps you get referrals through the higher quality of your work.

comanche
05-27-2008, 12:58 AM
Knowledge is power.