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Old 03-13-2010, 05:14 AM
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To say our year is starting off to a bang is an understatement, we are receiving an average of four inquiries a day and the jobs are not small, I was talking with a new employee on the way home yesterday about this, while our local economy did not experience the harsh down turn that many areas did, there are many local companies in this industry hurting.

Last week I started an ad in a paper that is local to an area we do most of our work in, it's 20 min outside the city, about 30,000 homes, middle to upper class, I highlighted wood cutting and chipping as we had a few severe wind storms over the winter and honestly its a good 6 weeks away from any type of landscaping, spraying etc. This Ad had been really paying off, the other thing that is generating a lot of inquiries is referrals and the website.

I have three, three person crews out chipping, yesterday I was working with a crew doing a job for the owner of a flooring company in our city, fairly new house, the owner is one super nice fellow and has a very large company, he came home at noon with his business partner to see how we were doing and was shocked at the progress. I have a vested interest in establishing a strong rapport as they do a lot of new home flooring which gives me a potential in for new home landscaping.

Anyhow his business partner asked if we worked in the Fall River area, this is on the fringe of my service area and I said if the job is big enough we will bid it, he built a new home last summer and wants roots removed, brush chipped, fill levelled, top soil and sod, he said he had three quotes and the one quote he would have accepted he didn't as he had an uneasy feeling about the company.

Being lunch and only 15 min from our site, I said lets go have a look which we did, he told me what the quotes were and I was a little shocked as it was far higher than what we would bid, I am not sure if they were high because the others had to rent machinery, high overhead to do it or simply had no experience, anyhow I went in between what we would normally bid ($11,000) and his bid ($17,000) and said we would do the job for $14,500, he accepted on the spot.

The other thing and this happens all the time, keep in mind the crews I have now are for the most part new employees and they keep texting me saying how many cards they are giving out, guy across the street wants to talk to you etc. It is critical if you are not on the jobsite to have at least one person that knows everything you can do, they don't have to be an expert, that is our job but at least a good basic knowledge, have cards on the site and have that employee take the prospect contact information and a brief description of what they would like. If I do not have a truck or trailer at the end of the clients driveway we have a large lawn sign stating work being completed by Oakridge Yard Care, Cards available below, I have a card holder on every sign as people out walking or driving by do not always have a pen.

I get constant feedback from new clients they chose us because we responded almost immediately to their inquiry and we always answer their emails, I understand a Blackberry or Iphone is not for everyone, in my case inquiries from the website go to my Blackberry and I respond within the hour, this has won us a tremendous amount of new business and continues to do so.

Sometimes I will even take a picture with the Blackberry and send it to the client at work, they start showing fellow workers and everyone seems surprised a company would take the time to do this, it only takes seconds and yes we pick up business from the customers office doing this.

The key I guess is do things, small and big others are not, always looking for that small added touch. I mentioned before on excavation jobs if the homeowner has small kids and many seem to, I let them take a picture of their child on a piece of gear with me and I give them a John Deere hat or T shirt, in the big picture this costs me next to nothing but you are cementing a relationship with the client and you make that child's day.

I give pens we turn in the workshop with our company name to landscaping clients, I choose highly figured domestic woods, just another outside the box thing we do.

This year is very exciting so far for us, yesterday was an amazing temp day, it was probably 52 which I would guess is a record for us, most of the snow is gone and I doubt we we get another storm. So this weekend all the snow gear comes off and I have 11 bids to do today and tomorrow, we have two crews out working today at sites where the gear already is so I am free to get the other things done.
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Last edited by picframer; 03-13-2010 at 05:18 AM.
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Old 03-13-2010, 01:26 PM
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Congratulations on a great start to the year. I am finding little things make a big difference.
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Old 03-13-2010, 11:04 PM
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The other thing and this happens all the time, keep in mind the crews I have now are for the most part new employees and they keep texting me saying how many cards they are giving out, guy across the street wants to talk to you etc. It is critical if you are not on the jobsite to have at least one person that knows everything you can do, they don't have to be an expert, that is our job but at least a good basic knowledge, have cards on the site and have that employee take the prospect contact information and a brief description of what they would like. If I do not have a truck or trailer at the end of the clients driveway we have a large lawn sign stating work being completed by Oakridge Yard Care, Cards available below, I have a card holder on every sign as people out walking or driving by do not always have a pen.
Andy, do any of the employees have the ability to give an estimate for a job or no?

Also, what's the best way to keep them motivated to want to hand out business cards?
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Old 03-14-2010, 06:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve View Post
Andy, do any of the employees have the ability to give an estimate for a job or no?

Also, what's the best way to keep them motivated to want to hand out business cards?
Only one employee who was hired to do sales can give estimates and the one thing he can not estimate is drain systems or septic fields, that will come in time. I am not a control freak when it comes to pricing and even I make some mistakes but they generally do not cost that much and if I do make a mistake, I will quite often find something else that needs to be done and ask if they would like a quote, add a little to it to offset. A lot of the jobs we do simply require a lot of experience to quote, mowing, pressure washing, spraying are pretty straight forward, everything else is not.

Motivating employees to hand out cards really depends on the employee, some take off and just do it, others are simply too shy, I am ok with both as not everyone is cut out to be a sales person, these guys know time is money, if they are on a site where we are charging by the hour, it's tough if the owners are around to stop and look at a neighbours yard or answer a lot of questions from someone walking by, I ask them all to take a few min but keep in mind the customer where you are is signing your cheque, be friendly but keep it short, I will meet with them.

I believe both clients and prospects respect this and we have never had a complaint from either, if a prospect threw a fit because the employees or even I said we would come by at lunch, after the end of the day or whatever, it's probably not the kind of client we would want to be working for anyhow. We are fortunate in that if I have to walk from a potential job, it's no big deal, we have more than enough on our plate today and for the next few weeks, by then we will be into spraying then mowing, pressure washing etc.

My issue at the moment seems to be transportantion along with needing more staff, I have the vehicles but I have 6 guys that can't drive a standard, I don't have time to start training and two are under 25 so my insurance will not cover them this year, I have a special ryder for my son to drive however he is in Florida on training, I have no idea what I am going to do Monday as I don't have time to play Taxi. I will figure something out today, may have to just buy a cheap car that is an automatic or something.
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Old 03-14-2010, 10:28 AM
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It is great to hear you are off the a great year Andy, keep up the great work
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