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Rough time with marketing


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A place to talk about general business discussions.
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  #1  
Old 03-30-2006, 08:26 PM
kc2006 kc2006 is offline
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I wanted to post some threads to try and get some help from others as there's so many knowledgable people on this board, heck I come to this board more now then I go to the large boards.

I'm struggling to make way in this field, plain and simple. For some reason whatever marketing methods I use, they don't work for me. I know it's still early this year, today was our 3rd nice day and really got people out and playing with their yards some but after last year I'm just really nervous.

Right now I have an ad in our less popular phone book (less people use it then the sbc/att book), the largest church's bulletin in the area, an ad in the local community paper that goes to all the homes in the 4 towns I work in (nice ad too, 4"x4"), and so far I have 3500 flyers out (I have 1500 more to put out then I'm going to order more), and I also have my website address on every advertising piece. I also have an ad going in the AT&T phone book but that won't come out until April. So far I've had 7 calls this year, 3 from flyers, 3 from the phone book, and 1 from the newspaper ad. Of those 7, 2 were out of my area, 1 canceled the meeting for an estimate due to an emergency, 1 never called back after I went and looked at the property and they weren't home, one was just a price shopper, the only call I got for mowing I landed, and I have to go check the other out tomorrow its a clean up.

Last year's advertising was just 8000 flyers went out and the ad in the phone book, and I will admit the flyers were not that great, I think this years door hangers are 100% better then last years.

Really any help would be great. It seems I mostly get calls for other work (mulch, shrub pruning, cleanups), when I really need to fill up on mowing. Heck I've thought to go as far as just putting mowing on advertising to try and focus on that service alone. So that's what I need to focus on, some way to get more calls for mowing work. We have Tiedeman who need's application work, and I need mowing, Tiedeman, send me some maintenance customers!
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  #2  
Old 03-30-2006, 08:32 PM
Billz Billz is offline
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Well, I went all out toward mowing this year. Last year I mailed something basic with all our services, and did alot of one time clean ups and gutters for people whos lawn guy was smart enough to turn the job down.LOL
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  #3  
Old 03-30-2006, 08:42 PM
kc2006 kc2006 is offline
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Thats what I'm getting Billz, it's like I get all these calls of "stupid work". I know in the early stages of owning a company you can't be picky on work you take, but geez I get all the stupid calls for work that no one else will touch, and most of the time I won't touch either.

Like I told Gopher in a PM, capital is getting very thin so I'm at a loss as to what to do. If it doesn't happen in the spring, I'll have to get a part time job to support the business for awhile, and I'm perfectly fine with that, I won't let the business go under, even last year where it was very rough I still managed to pull through and profit.

Just for reference, last year I had 12 weekly customers, 6 of those were large yards, so it wasn't too bad. I ended up cutting a few at the end of the year that were just a pain in my side. Last month I sent out newsletters with contracts and only received 4 back...So that's whats got me worried. I have to call all the other customers tomorrow and see if they received the newsletters and if they intend on being customers for the 06 season. Hopefully they tossed the letters with out looking at them or something, I just can't see why so many wouldn't return the contract's.
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Old 03-30-2006, 08:47 PM
Billz Billz is offline
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Well, I still have a bunch who haven't returned ours either... They have been with us for a long time, but still haven't responded. I will be calling or visiting everyone tomorrow, hopefully it will be harder to say no in person.
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  #5  
Old 03-30-2006, 11:41 PM
tiedeman
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Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] (kc2006 @ Mar. 30 2006,9:26)]I wanted to post some threads to try and get some help from others as there's so many knowledgable people on this board, heck I come to this board more now then I go to the large boards.

I'm struggling to make way in this field, plain and simple. *For some reason whatever marketing methods I use, they don't work for me. *I know it's still early this year, today was our 3rd nice day and really got people out and playing with their yards some but after last year I'm just really nervous.

Right now I have an ad in our less popular phone book (less people use it then the sbc/att book), the largest church's bulletin in the area, an ad in the local community paper that goes to all the homes in the 4 towns I work in (nice ad too, 4"x4"), and so far I have 3500 flyers out (I have 1500 more to put out then I'm going to order more), and I also have my website address on every advertising piece. *I also have an ad going in the AT&T phone book but that won't come out until April. *So far I've had 7 calls this year, 3 from flyers, 3 from the phone book, and 1 from the newspaper ad. *Of those 7, 2 were out of my area, 1 canceled the meeting for an estimate due to an emergency, 1 never called back after I went and looked at the property and they weren't home, one was just a price shopper, the only call I got for mowing I landed, and I have to go check the other out tomorrow its a clean up.

Last year's advertising was just 8000 flyers went out and the ad in the phone book, and I will admit the flyers were not that great, I think this years door hangers are 100% better then last years.

Really any help would be great. *It seems I mostly get calls for other work (mulch, shrub pruning, cleanups), when I really need to fill up on mowing. *Heck I've thought to go as far as just putting mowing on advertising to try and focus on that service alone. *So that's what I need to focus on, some way to get more calls for mowing work. *We have Tiedeman who need's application work, and I need mowing, Tiedeman, send me some maintenance customers! *
When a situation happens like yours I always tell the customer, "Sorry, I no longer provide that service, but I would be more than willing to offer you an estimate for lawn fertilization which I currently do." I am doing an estimate tomorrow just because of that. A lady called me up, asked for an estimate for spring clean up, I told her that I no longer do that, I only offer fertilization. She sounded very interested in it and told me to stop over tomorrow to give her a price.

What I have found out for advertising is start with the most stupid simple stuff that you never would have thought of.
1. Send letters out to landscaping only or irrigation companies telling them about the services that you offer, and keep you in mind for referrals.
2. Offer free advise in a local newspaper articel. Kind of like "Ask the Experts" thing.
3. Try the similar approach to my TruGreen idea. When you see another lawn care company mowing a certain house, write down the address, and market to them.
4. Send out letters to real estate companies offering your services. Tell them of the value of a welled maintained lawn when trying to sell a house
5. Join the local chamber.
6. Network with other local businesses. If you buy stuff from a certain hardware store or business all the time, tell them to refer some work your way.
7. Attend home and garden shows not necessarily with a booth, but to network with the local businesses there.
8. Try to think of different pitches; Such as I am trying the "local company" technique, and "Free 15 Point Anaylsis".
9. Perhaps try my technique of the 15% off just to get your foot in the door.


Now some other ways that I advertise as well that probably help. I am sure that you probably already do stuff like this.
1. Descent size color yellow pages ad in the area phonebook
2. Website
3. Always announce your main service on your answering machine if people call
4. Have a website
5. Advertise in other directories such as local lake cottage directories.
6. Join both local, state, and national organizations
7. Send out personal direct mail letters to customers
8. Ask friends & family for referrals
9. Offer referral discounts to current customers
10. Have a 800 number
11. Have professional looking business cards, letterhead, etc.
12. Always try to get your business card in someones hand
13. Register your website with search engines
14. Wear uniforms.
15. Clean shaven, shirts tucked in, etc.
16. Send out holiday cards to customers with coupons inside
17. Contact past customers
18. Signage not only on truck, but also on trailer. Don't forget the back gate of the trailer either. People driving behind you can see it.
19. Expand to further cities to build a customer base

That is all that I can think of right now. I know there is more though
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  #6  
Old 03-31-2006, 01:58 AM
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Hi kc2006,

This is just my thought and others may disagree. As you are trying to expand your business reach, I would advertise and promote the jobs others won't do along with your mowing. It could be a good way to meet people and get to know them. Once you get to know them, you can offer them a price on mowing as well. The toughest thing always is trying to get your foot in the door.

Why not advertise gutter cleaning now along with mowing? What ever you think they need for each specific season. Promote spring cleanups.

Another thing we have seen that seems to be successful is marking the cost per lawn on the door hanger. Those who have been doing this have been very happy with the results.

Tell us more of your thoughts.
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