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rdlawncare
02-26-2009, 02:33 PM
Hello,
My name is Russell. This will be officially my second season doing lawn care here in the Colorado Springs area. Last year I was about to obtain about 20 weekly accounts. This year I would like to gain over 50 accounts. My questions that I have been wondering about are these . . .
1) How do I get to my desired number of 50 weekly lawn accounts?
2) How do I find commercial accounts and what is the way to know if they need lawn care or are using a lawn care service?
3) Should I sign up and do a merchant account so I am able to accept Visa/MasterCard/AMEX? If so, what is a good merchant account company out there?
4) Should I consider Direct Mail? What company is good to deal with doing Direct Mail services?


I think that is all I have for right now. My biggest concern is getting to 50 or more lawn accounts. I am not sure if this is possible due to the current economy or not.

Any suggestions or comments will help!

Thanks everyone,
Russ

grounded
02-26-2009, 02:59 PM
From my past experiences, direct mail is a complete waste of money!

compare it to putting out 5000 fliers and getting less than 0.01% return and a whole lot of more money!

Steve
02-26-2009, 04:03 PM
Hi Russ,

Welcome to our forum.

My name is Russell. This will be officially my second season doing lawn care here in the Colorado Springs area. Last year I was about to obtain about 20 weekly accounts.

Let's start with the basics. How did you get your 20 lawn care customers lawn year? What marketing techniques did you use?

musician/lawnman
02-26-2009, 06:02 PM
Ya gotta love how Steve always answers a question with a question....
He is like our resident Business Psychologist :D
"So how does that make you feel Russel?"
"Happy or Angry? Why do you think that is?
What have you learned from this?"
"Would you do it differently next time?"
haha
Steve.... you do a great job at what you do but I gotta ask... Do you get bonuses based on the number of posts or something?
hehe

tomcat172002
02-26-2009, 09:20 PM
One thing that really worked for me was advertising in the local church bullitin. Most people who go to church are older. It ususally covers a certain smaller area just where I want to cut. This is my second year as well. I know I tried 3 different ways of marketing. I think that this way worked out best for me. I increased my ad size and I am going to try door hangers with specific pricing this year. I hope to grow but not too fast too soon. Hope this helps

Tom

rdlawncare
02-26-2009, 09:22 PM
Hey Steve,

Thanks for the welcome to the group. Well, what I did last year was use Craigslist and posted an ad under household. This service is free of course. The next thing I did was take out a newspaper ad during the months of June, July, and August. This cost me about $475 per month. I also did Google ad words, which I set my monthly budget to $100. I received tons of clicks off of Google.

Now, to be honest, I failed to ask how anyone heard about me, which I now I know I screwed up. I do think most of business came from my newspaper ad. When the ad ended in August, my site traffic went way down, so I am assuming most of my business came from the Newspaper ad.

This year, I have put an ad in a phone book, not the main one that is used around here (Qwest), but another book that provided me with a full-color ad and an ad on their website. My company info was placed into two of this companies books, which target areas of my city that I feel have the greater income households. This is running me about a $100 a month, with a one year contract. I am also going to use Craigslist once again since it is free.

I started a little later in the season last year, about mid-May, and I hope to get a early jump-start this year. Like I said, I had about 20 weekly lawn accounts, 25 over-all including my bi-weekly accounts. I would love to double that number this year. I browsed through Craigslist ads today for businesses for sale and found a lawn care company for sale up in the Denver area. This person claims that in his first year he was able to get 100 accounts. I emailed me and asked what he did to get to that number, but have not heard anything back yet.

Any ideas or suggestions on how I can get to a number of 50 or more would be great. Also, how do I get commerical accounts and who do I talk to about obtaining a commerical accounts? Is there a website I can look up that lists property managers that enables me to send them something that lets them know who I am and would be happy to provide them a estimate to take care of the lawn care needs they have?

Thanks for your help!!!

Steve
02-27-2009, 04:36 PM
Ya gotta love how Steve always answers a question with a question....
He is like our resident Business Psychologist

LOL I know, but I think most of the times, we already know the answer we just aren't looking inside to find it.


Russ,

Great post and you got a lot going on.

First off, all of what you said is a great reason why you need to track your marketing. While you are reading this I want you to stop what you are doing and make some kind of lined paper that list the different ways you are marketing. Keep this right near your phone. If you have a cell phone, make a smaller piece of paper.

When anyone new calls, ask them where they initially heard of you and then check it off on your paper. We really don't know yet what worked last year and what didn't. We don't want you spending money on marketing that isn't working for you so please, start this tonight. Right now. Then keep us posted on how this is turning out.

I would keep the craigslist ads going.

I also would experiment with the internet ads again but make sure you track the calls to see if it is resulting in any sales.

Experiment with the newspaper again too.

Now to get you thinking and to give me more to work with. Think about what makes you different from other lawn care business owners in your area? Do you have any special interests or hobbies most other lawn care business owners don't have. Are you a member of any local groups most other lawn care business owner's aren't? What can we use that you already have and really leverage it to get you attention and make you stand out? If our goal is to get people in the area to start talking about Russ, what fuel can we use to light that fire?

Any ideas or suggestions on how I can get to a number of 50 or more would be great. Also, how do I get commerical accounts and who do I talk to about obtaining a commerical accounts?

This comes down to going into facilities, saying hello and talking to the manager or whoever is in charge. We see it time and time again on here. When a lawn care business owner walks into a fast food restaurant and orders a burger, they also should say who is the manager I want to submit a bid on this property. This is how we see lawn care business owners land commercial accounts.

Why not do this every single time you walk into a restaurant or go to a store. Get to know all the managers. Say hi to them in later visits. The more people you know, the more you can sell to.

rdlawncare
02-28-2009, 02:52 PM
Thanks Steve for the good advise. I will do a much better job this season to find out how the person has heard of me. With that knowledge, I will know where to put most of my advertising money towards.

What sets me apart of some of the other lawn care owners I have seen around here is my equipment. I went out and purchased all commerical equipment. I did not go to Sears and buy the lastest homeowner Craftsman and expect to do a quality job that a commerical grade mower does. I think that is the number one thing that sets me apart. By using commerical grade equipment, it allowed me to mulch the grass and push it back into the lawn that gave the lawn an over-all clean look. This of course saves time and allows me to get in and out.

As far as hobbies, I can't really name anything at this time that relates to this industry. Personal hobbies are paintballing, sports, P90X, dining out, drinikng a beer or two, etc.

What I need to do now is create a introduction type of kit, so I can drop that off at potential commerical acccounts. I need it introduce myself and explain what I do and what I can do for them. I seen the thread for the welcome kit and I just need to creat an introduction kit. There is an apartment complex that is looking to hire a grounds keeper. If I can throw something at them that prevents them from hiring an employee and allow me to handle their lawn maintenance, that would be great. Do you know of any website that create folders and flyers and different stuff like that?

I have also been thinking about going door to door in higher income neighborhoods and leaving a door hanger. I am not sure what kind of response I would get, but it does not hurt. The only that hurts is the cost to do color copies. Black and white is around .8 cents out here and think color is way more. That is the only problem I see with printing up a bunch of flyers that might not work.

Steve
02-28-2009, 05:12 PM
First off, I would play up your competitive advantage in your marketing material. Tell the customers you use this commercial equipment and what the benefits are to them and their lawn. You need to educate them that "it allowed me to mulch the grass and push it back into the lawn that gave the lawn an over-all clean look."

Do you know of any website that create folders and flyers and different stuff like that?
Not yet but I am sure you could get some generic folders and put your company sticker on the front and create your own. Why not! I'd love to see what you create!

As far as hobbies, I can't really name anything at this time that relates to this industry. Personal hobbies are paintballing,
Everything can be a tie in. My view is, to be successful you need to be involved with your community. I don't know how you all play paint ball in the area. Do you just put together a game in a local field or do you go to a paint ball facility?

Something you can do is, promote that you love playing paintball and its a great way to relieve some stress. Why not schedule some games and let your community know you got spots open if they want to come and play. A lot of times people would like to play paintball but they don't know anyone that is into it, so they don't want to go by themselves.

Maybe a local paintball facility would help you pay for door hangers where one side would be for lawn care and the other would be for paint ball. The resident could call YOU and say they wanted to come play paint ball with you. Or maybe their kids do.

You could have a paintball schedule on your website. You could have your mowers plastered with a couple of paintball shots. Or your truck or your trailer.

You could get the neighbors to talk about you and say 'oh yea that guy Russ is great. He not only cuts my lawns but my kids love it when he hosts a paint ball day.' You could also get some video of the event on your website.

Think big picture. Do this stuff as you are running for mayor. You want people to know about you. You want your community to really love you. Stand out! Do something different. Get it to the point where if someone said, 'Gee you know Russ, you could be the town mayor everyone knows you!' that you know you could run and WIN!

What's your take on something like that?

rdlawncare
03-01-2009, 01:16 PM
Thanks again for the feedback. I like your suggestion of hosting a paintball game using my company as the host and inviting other people with similar interests to participate or thier children. That sounds like a good marketing technique. I will have to look into something like that.

I am also looking into presentation folders. I seen a link on your site about a welcome kit and thought maybe I could do something similar but as a presentation type of thing. I can see my logo and name on the front cover and inside my business card attached to the bottom right of the folder. I can put a letter about who I am and what I do. I can also put a mission statement. I can put the top reasons to hire a lawn care provider. I can throw in my contract so they know what to expect up front and a referral card just in case someone else is looking.

Now, I seen something about a newsletter. My company consists of only me. Do I copy a relating newsletter from another website or different company and place that into my folder? If so, what types of newsletters should I put in there?

Also, if you want to take a look at my website and let me know what you think of that, that woudl be cool. www.rdlawncare.com

Alright, look forward to your response.

Steve
03-01-2009, 03:54 PM
Also, if you want to take a look at my website and let me know what you think of that, that woudl be cool. www.rdlawncare.com

Did I miss it but I didn't see your phone number or email address.

Now, I seen something about a newsletter. My company consists of only me. Do I copy a relating newsletter from another website or different company and place that into my folder? If so, what types of newsletters should I put in there?

I would look around the internet and get ideas, then create your own. This could be a great place to promote all the things you are doing to be a part of your community too. Like your paintball trips. Talk about different seasonal lawn related issues. Things customers or potential customers need to look out for. Then talk about how you could resolve those issues.

I'd love to see what you come up with.

rdlawncare
03-01-2009, 04:57 PM
Hey Steve,

The phone number and email address is at the bottom of each page. The contact us page send the request straight to my email address also.