Originally Posted by Steve
Welcome to our forum!
With all of your experience offering many services, have you figured out which services you would like to offer? Will you be focusing mainly on lawn care or do you want to apply pesticides? Maybe even offer tree work?
In the past with the other companies you have worked with, what kinds of marketing did they do that worked in your area? Was this something that you kept an eye on or talked to the owners about?
I bet the more you think about it, the more will pop up in your mind as far as what you have seen that has worked for others.
Thanks for the reply! I don't plan on advertising as a tree service, mainly because I dont want to get inundated with tree jobs and also because the startup would probably take considerably more cash than lawncare and also because I would need employess right away...all things that prevent it. I will keep my eyes open at customers homes for simple tree jobs such as removing dead branches, "hangers", corrective pruning and offer those services on a case by case basis. As for the pesticides, I do not have a dealers license so that limits what I can do by law. I have a commercial applicators license (turf and ornamentals) and plan to offer to apply over the counter pesticides and fertilizers. But yes in general I plan to focus primarily on lawn care although until the business grows and the number of mowing accounts reaches a level that keeps me working every day I certainly will welcome most any requests including landscape/hardscape, fence installation etc...
As far as advertising, the tree service that I worked for was small but well established (20 years) and ran by 1 of only 2 "Board Certified Master Arborists" in the entire state of Iowa. In this community of nearly a half million people he had no problem keeping us busy year round just based on repeat clients and word of mouth (and of course drive by new clients). As for lawn care and landscaping advertising experience, everyone I worked for was in the yellow pages. Funny the way it worked, the bigger the company the smaller the ad was what I noticed. One guy I worked for had only been in business 1 season (I joined him mid summer in season 1). He had a half page ad and although his physical appearance was an eysore he had alot of accounts! Not to sound judgemental but it seems that common sense would lead one to believe that if you have tattoos on your neck, face and covering your forearms and wore 3 inch leather and studded bracelets that your appearance might hinder you when it comes to selling yourself but he was successful! He had top of the line eXmark equiptment and advertising so I think that speaks for itself. He told me that his original investment in the company came via a $35,000 loan. Not many have those resources including myself. He also had a cargo van with nice wraparound graphics and a nice logo.
One of the problems of doing business in this community is that it may be close to becoming "saturated". Im sure you are familiar with this term but for those who don't, it means that there are already enough lawn care companies as the community can sustain. A quick check of the newest phone book shows 143 businesses under lawn maintenace. Granted at least 30 of these companies are not mowing AT ALL but are just listed there because the yellow pages gave them a buy one category get one free deal, such as a tree service or landcaper. Even if there are only 100 of those 143 companies who offer mowing ther are probably another 50 (at least) who arent in this phone book. Using 200 as the number of lawn Care companies in the area and using the accurate population of 400,000 people you get 2,000 people per company....sounds saturated to me and sounds like I have to be better than them if I want to make it!!! And remember 2,000 people doesnt mean 2,000 households...probably more like 700 households per company. I guess you could equate that to being the only lawncare company in a town of 2,000 people.
Still another problem is that we have at least 4 different phone books that come out each year. Then of course there is the economy....alot to think about.
As I said before I think I have a couple things that will give me a "leg up" on the competition which is cash on hand for startup (as opposed to having a loan to repay) and of course my experience. Also, not that I am going to win any beauty contests, I sure as hell dont have any tattoos on my face and I have a good repoire with people in general. I have some experience with giving estimates as I was the foreman of the tree crew and bidding jobs was one of my duties. I do have some work to do in learning to bid lawn care
though because I have no idea what other people are charging. I sure don't want to be the cheapest guy in town but I also dont want to bid myself out of jobs either.
Thats it for now...thanks again for the advice and also thanks for hosting this forum! It's a huge help for people like me who are maybe feeling a bit overwhelmed with getting started in the business.