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kc2006
04-03-2006, 02:07 PM
Thinks aren't looking any better from last week for new business, I've had 2 more calls for cleanups/mulch that I have to check out this evening but that's it. The worst part is I don't have the equipment to do large clean ups (truck vac), but I do have a friend that I can sub the curbside pick up to so if they aren't too bad I'll end up taking the jobs just to try and get my foot in the door for mowing.

I was doing a cleanup at a friends today and had time to think about my situation, I'm honestly starting to think this area is over populated with mowers, heck the actual landscape end is getting over crowded, there's at least 15 companies that offer design work not to mention the 40+ companies under "landscape contractors" in the phone book. After talking with a business owner at the garden show I went to over the weekend it reassured my thoughts that you need to be in a specialized area in order to make it. No doubt there's guys making it on mowing only but I just don't see it happening here. The guy I talked to got me turned on to landscape lighting. He said his average job is at least 2000 dollars, good money I thought and the work isn't as bad as busting your butt doing cleanups or mulch all day.

I looked in the phone book and to my suprise there's only 2 listing under "landscape lighting"...wow, I thought it'd be packed. I looked through the lawn maintence and landscape section and theres about 5 companies that say lighting as one of their services but they probably don't market it much. The guy I talked to was one of the two in the book, and its the only service he offers.

So everything is pointing me in that direction I think, I'll still offer mowing and probably get into applications but I think lighting is a very good possibility for the bulk of my business. I just wanted to put this out there for everyone to see, the weather is horrible so I've got today reading about lighting and finding suppliers.

Steve
04-03-2006, 02:25 PM
Hi kc2006,

Anything you can do to move up in the triangle the better. When the job you do takes more skill, knowledge, requires more paperwork/regulation etc, there will be less competition because it won't be as easy to do.

Steve
04-03-2006, 02:28 PM
Quote[/b] ]So everything is pointing me in that direction I think, I'll still offer mowing and probably get into applications but I think lighting is a very good possibility for the bulk of my business.
This is my personal view, but ask around for others. I think since you already have your applicators license, you could make more money faster that way by promoting it and just jumping in versus landscape lighting. Why? Because I think there will be more jobs available for you. Reoccuring jobs as well.
I do think it will be difficult to quickly position yourself as a landscape lighting company and start picking up customers.

What are your thoughts?

kc2006
04-03-2006, 02:39 PM
I don't intend on the lighting to just explode off the bat, the fact that there's so much more money in that area is where it would be ok if I get 2 jobs a month (example) for the first couple months. Applications, I'd need to sign on quite a few to move in the right direction. Unless I try Troy's tactic of sending direct mail to current customers of the companies that are doing horrible jobs, I don't forsee me being able to get into that area very well since the first application's have already been applied.

Thats my concern on the applications, still in the planning stages here for the next couple of weeks I'd say so we have time to figure it out. I'm already thinking the marketing I put out will only list, mowing, lighting and possibly applications as the services I offer, this way I can try to break away from the work I don't want and put a focus on the things I do want.

kc2006
04-03-2006, 02:57 PM
I just got a good little idea. If I go with Troy's approach for the application work, I'm going to include a little pamphlet explaining proper cultural practices. The big thing Ohio pushes on you when your studying is proper cultural practice. They say the last resort should be fert and pesticides. So really its a win win situation for me, I explain the proper cultural practices and explain how my company does these practices with our mowing, but also toss out there that we've noticed their current service hasn't been standing up to Ohio's regulations.

Thoughts?

Steve
04-03-2006, 03:09 PM
Quote[/b] ]I'm going to include a little pamphlet explaining proper cultural practices.
Can you tell me a little more about this?

kc2006
04-03-2006, 04:09 PM
Ohio emphasizes using good culutral practices. Proper mowing height, watering deeply and infrequently, aerating soil and keeping thatch low. Because a healthy lawn is a strong lawn and can fight diesease/weeds better. I think in a way they say this to keep the use of fertilizer and pesticides to a minimum, but as we all know in the world today people want results now and would rather pay to have applications done rather then actually taking care of their yard.

I would include information on proper cutting height, proper equipment maintenance and their benefits, the benefits of aeration and why it's good to mulch clippings. I always sell my customers on side discharge and mulching grass. For one I don't bag, but also because if they aren't fertilizing their yards I feel this helps. I've read that it is a myth that leaving clippings causes thatch, thatch is actually dead crowns and roots, clippings are 90% water and contain some nitrogen so it would be refeeding the lawn.

Steve
04-03-2006, 04:23 PM
Quote[/b] ] The big thing Ohio pushes on you when your studying is proper cultural practice. They say the last resort should be fert and pesticides. So really its a win win situation for me, I explain the proper cultural practices and explain how my company does these practices with our mowing, but also toss out there that we've noticed their current service hasn't been standing up to Ohio's regulations.

Ok say you do this. Now the concept behind "proper cultural practices" seems to be, cut lawns correctly and you won't need to use fertilizer etc.

Wouldn't that work against your goal of selling lawn applications?

tiedeman
04-03-2006, 04:49 PM
I send out a culutral practice thing to all my returning customers. I think that it helps because I have seen major improvement on lawns that customers mow themselves.

kc2006
04-03-2006, 04:53 PM
It could work against selling applications, but it would help the mowing side of the business. I have no problem with mowing, I still enjoy that side of the business so that's not a problem.

I wouldnt come out and say with proper cultural practices that you no longer need fertilizers, but they will reduce the frequency of applications. I know most guys are pushing the envelope on applications, it used to be what 4-6 a year, now I hear of guys doing 10+.

So really if you market it right and inform the customer you might get away with both (the applications and maintaining the lawn). Because now the customer see's, "ok if I allow this company to maintain the lawn correctly that will cut the amount of applications needed and save me money"...

tiedeman
04-03-2006, 04:56 PM
See, I have actually seen where it helps with the application side. Because in order for the applications to also see great results you need to follow good culutral practices. So if a customer is mowing a lawn short, of course they will think my applications are not helping at all. But if they mow it long, they will be amazed at the results of my applications

Steve
04-03-2006, 05:03 PM
So then by educating the customer on this topic, it could help in sales of lawn applications?

tiedeman
04-03-2006, 05:05 PM
Yes, I personally think that it does. *Because not only are customers happy that you are providing a service, but you are showing them and telling them how to make that service, in this case applications, work that much better.

Another example, just the other day I did a lawn application and the guy wanted to spray his trees and didn't know how to do it. Well, I don't have the equipment and am not licensed to do it. But I know how to do it. So I told him exactly how to spray the trees. He loved the fact that I gave him basically free information

Steve
04-03-2006, 05:28 PM
Very interesting.

Do you think KC2006 should go the Landscape Lighting route or the Application route more?

tiedeman
04-03-2006, 05:31 PM
It's hard to say. I think that the application side may be easier to get into, but I think that there is more money in the lighting route.

Steve
04-03-2006, 05:32 PM
How often in the past were you asked if you could install lighting?

kc2006
04-03-2006, 05:58 PM
Like Troy said, the app side is going to be easier to get into probably. This area already has it's share of application companies (There's 3 large local's, Trugreen and then the small companies), and since the year has already started for that service I'm most likely going to have to do like Troy is doing.

The lighting business will be slower to get into, we have alot of new homes in the $350,000+ range being built here so there should be market for it and as I said, I know of only 2 companies that really market it.

I'm going to unload the rest of the doorhangers I have (about 2000) and then order some new ones. Same concept of 2 color ink only (not overly fancy yet not cheap) and use that to market mowing and applications only, stating prices for mowing on them like TG suggested I do. For now I'll just keep planning the lighting side and market that in the fall since I can do that work in the winter even.

Sound like a plan TG? We need to make a bullet proof doorhanger for me though http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Steve
04-03-2006, 06:04 PM
Quote[/b] ]Sound like a plan TG? We need to make a bullet proof doorhanger for me though
Yes we do. The thing I wonder for the lighting field is this. Do you want to make it look moderately priced as the mowing ones which seem to work best do?
Or do you go full 4 color? If the average job is $2000 it makes you wonder what the customers would want to see?

Any thoughts?

Did you see any ad ideas at the trade booths from the person you talked to?

tiedeman
04-03-2006, 07:02 PM
This is my personal opinion, but with the lighting, charge top dollar compared to the other. Really sell the lighting as a big luxury. Most places that are you going to have lighting done, are probably houses that are higher in value, compared to the application side

Steve
04-03-2006, 07:14 PM
So you think the marketing material should look high class high dollar as well?

tiedeman
04-03-2006, 07:20 PM
For the lighting, yes. Because with the lighting it's going to probably be a one time install at the property, unless you can sell some type of yearly check up program as well.

Now with the application side, you are going to be there 5 to 6 times a year.

Steve
04-03-2006, 07:29 PM
Ok.

What we need now are some high quality landscape light pictures. Anyone have any?

tiedeman
04-03-2006, 07:33 PM
Grow Pro (http://www.growpro.com)

tiedeman
04-03-2006, 07:34 PM
BUt they are expensive here...big time

Steve
04-03-2006, 07:39 PM
Maybe send an email to the manufacturer of the kind of lights you want to install? They might have high quality photos to let us use?

kc2006
04-03-2006, 09:41 PM
Yea I feel with the lighting end I'll have to go full color glossy, all out advertising. After I sat and looked at everything I'm really not in the position to move into the lighting just yet, financially I'm not stabble to do it. But like I said in my last post, come fall I'm going to market it like mad. I am excited about it though, I think it'll be a big jump for me and put me in alot better place once I get it going, it's deffinitly going to take me all summer to plan for the move too.

For now I just need to keep focusing on mowing (mainly) and you guys have convinced me to offer applications. After thinking about the application side, I'm mostly there, just need a spreader and I'm set so the cost to start offering it isn't much.

TG, do you think the doorhanger I'm using now is good or would you change anything about it, moving the name around or putting a heading on it, anything? Aside from putting a quote box on it.

Since I just want to focus on mowing and applications with these door hangers, that will allow some more room, should I put something else in there? A "free lawn tip" or something interesting?

Steve
04-04-2006, 09:06 AM
I think we should model this the way Troy has done it. He sent out letters to prospective customers. We also could go the personal route and promote YOU in the door hanger the way Hamons had done it and found much success.

Which do you like?

tiedeman
04-04-2006, 01:53 PM
I have found great success so far in doing the personal approach, and promoting a "local company".

It's funny the amount of little things that actually work. I just got another customer today from TruGreen because I was promoting a "local company"

kc2006
04-04-2006, 05:33 PM
Either way sounds really good. My thoughts are, if I can get my foot in the door in a neighborhood I can easily expand from there. Good example was last year, I got one customer in a neighborhood and ended up signing on 5 more because they saw how nice the lawn looked.

What if I used the mailing first to try and break into neighborhoods and then once I get my foot in a neighborhood I can start putting doorhangers out that promote me? Do you have any examples of those doorhangers Hamons was using?

Steve
04-04-2006, 05:37 PM
Quote[/b] ]Do you have any examples of those doorhangers Hamons was using?
Yes. Check this out (http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=1;t=1138;hl=hamons). See if it gives you some ideas.