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  • Can't seem to get regular customers

    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?

  • #2
    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...

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    • #3
      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
      Start a profitable lawn care business.

      Comment


      • #4
        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.



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        • #5
          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.

          Comment


          • #6
            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
            Start a profitable lawn care business.

            Comment


            • #7
              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

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              • #8
                we give every estimate that comes in a lawn maintenance price... Whether they ask for it or not. Occasionally it works...

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                • #9
                  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.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    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.

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                    • #11
                      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.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        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?

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                        • #13
                          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
                          Start a profitable lawn care business.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            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

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                            • #15
                              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?
                              - Subscribe to my Lawn Care Marketing Blog Feed and get daily tips sent to you. Free!
                              Download your Free trial of Gopher Lawn Care Software.

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