As mentioned, I don't have contracts for people to sign up with me, so I can't really say "Free something with contract".
Seems to me that you can't offer the "freebie" up front, or there is no incentive for them to continue to use your services.
That said, since I'm a noob, a "cheap first cut" would get me in the door, AND give me a feel for how much time it actually takes to do a specific property. (I still have a hard time eyeballing and knowing how long it will take to mow) From there, I can determine an accurate price quote for potential future work.
Maybe something like:
FIRST MOW FOR TEN!
The FIRST TEN Craigslist readers to call/email will get their FIRST cut for $10.00*
No contract required, but if weekly/bi-weekly service is requested, special consideration will be given on pricing as an additional "thank you".
*Lawn size, mileage, and other restrictions may apply.
Offer expires one week from posting, or when ten person limit is reached, whichever comes first.
What do you think?
At 10mpg, $10 will at least cover my gas within a 10-15 mile round trip.
What about the number of "$10 offers"?
Too low, too high? Just right?
I can't afford to work for "nothing" for TOO many people. Hell, if I got ten calls, I'd be thrilled since I've gotten ZERO to date.
I need to have a "backup offer" for those who miss out... "I'm sorry, you are the thirteenth caller. To show my appreciation for your interest, I would be happy to offer a free estimate and give you $10 off your second cut of the season."
My one concern is the "FIRST" cut may be 1 foot tall grass!
I've already cut MY grass, but some people may wait another week or two.