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General Business Discussions

A place to talk about general business discussions.
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  #1  
Old 03-31-2006, 02:31 AM
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Hi kc2006,

Let's look more into your current situation.

How many competitors do you find you have in the area?

How do you compare them to yourself?

Do they charge more or less?

What do you feel is your competitive edge over them?
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  #2  
Old 03-31-2006, 09:15 AM
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Currently if you look in the phone book I believe I counted roughly 70 companies, now then I know about 5 went out of business from last year and theres also a few that don't have an ad in the phonebook at all (these were just the one line ad's and actual picture ad's). This is for the whole county also, the 4 cities I work in I would say has about 30 guys tops running around.

I wouldn't compair much to them. Most of the companies around here don't do most of the practices I do. For example: uniform, at least a clean truck, professional letterheads/business cards/advertising. I'd say probably 5-8 companies have everything set up nice with a clean looking company. I don't say they're trying to show off with all new stuff, but they're clean companies.

Theres alot that sets me apart from the competition. I try to keep my business in touch with the clients. I send out newsletters, this year I'll be giving out little gifts like potted plants for certain holidays, little things like that to keep in touch. I noticed at the company I started at, the company was around for 25+ years, when I was there we knew everyone, but the company was not in touch with if there were problems in service. Alot of times people would just cancel out of the blue and never complain until that point. I want to also do "quality control" calls. New customers will get a call when their first invoice goes out, just to see that everything is ok and they're happy with the service, I think that will help get a good first step with new customers.

For the most part, companies around here are all in the same price bracket, there is the few companies that aren't legit and charge half of what everyone else does, but we seem to take care of them fast. I know alot of guys around here report them to the IRS if they find out.

Right now, my competitive edge is following through with everything. Alot of people that I talk to say they called other companies for estimates and they never showed. Last year I'd set a time with everyone but this year I'm saying "I'll be out sometime today or tomorrow" no one has had a problem with this and I show up when I said I would. So thats a big plus, because those companies that don't show up, the client ends up telling the other few that do show up their names and I'd imagine they tell their friends about it too if they discuss their lawn.
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Old 03-31-2006, 10:52 AM
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Have you been able to put together some letters to your current client base asking for referrals? Offering a discount to them and the person they refer? Here is a letter example.

Second off, are you asking your current customers if they have any side jobs they need you to do?

Right now any money you can make from them is very important, especially since you are considering getting a p/t job.

Also, how do you feel your expenses compare with your competitors? Are yours higher or lower or about the same?
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Old 03-31-2006, 03:19 PM
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The spring newsletter explained the referal program so I know I have a formal example of it out there, but I also explain it to all the customers when they first sign on with us. I also "reminded" the customers of the other services I offer in the newsletter and whenever I talk to them I mention little things that need done.

My expenses are much lower then most competitors I think. When I started the business I had money for equipment and I already had my f250 diesel. Right now I am a little in debt but only about $1000 (without looking at the books I couldn't give a deffinite figure). That's one of the area's I'm glad I stuck to. I hear all these stories of people that went head strong into the business and took out a huge loan and went out of business 2 months later. As long as I have some work, I'll still be around because the business doesn't require much to stay alive. However it's taking a serious hit to me personally, I'm making personal sacrifices to keep the business going.

TG, you saw the doorhangers I'm putting out right? Is there anything I should change to them, possibly start putting a price on them?
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Old 03-31-2006, 04:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ] Is there anything I should change to them, possibly start putting a price on them?
I think it would be something to try yes. As long as your prices are in the zone or a little below what others in your area are charging.

If you do try this, do it with a certain geographic area, so you can track when they call you, if they got the door hanger with the price or not.

Can you think of any promotional ideas you have been considering? Anything out of the ordinary you want to try to attract new customers?
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Old 03-31-2006, 08:07 PM
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This next batch of doorhangers I'll have made up with a little box to enter a quote. I normally try to find out where the calls are coming from so that shouldn't be a problem tracking the doorhangers.

As for promotions, I always offered 15 percent off mulch installs, last year I offered 2 free cuts with a one year service agreement. Of all the calls I got and landed I never had anyone mention the 15% off, it seemed like no one cared. Then after reading about alot of people stopped putting offers and found better results because possibly people think your so good you don't have to offer a discount to get business?

After answering the other post about the fertilizer license, I had a thought. What if I offered 1 free fertilizer application for new customers? It wouldn't be a pre-emergent, just a regular fert. The cost of the product would most likely be about the same as 1 free mowing and would be a double benefit because now the yards may grow alittle healthier and I might be able to sign application work up...

1800gotjunk just sold a franchise in my area, they only have 2 trucks here so far and I see them everywhere, I swear they tell them just to drive around even if they don't have work just to be seen. The other day I had about 5 of my friends call me up and say I had to go up and get a picture of them because they were doing their hour of standing in a parking lot with wig's on and signs that said "Got Junk" in front of their truck. I've thought about doing something like you showed Troy with the banner on the trailer and offer free mowing to locally owned stores that have small front strips of lawn in return that I can park the trailer out by the road for X amount of time (on busy roads). Good idea or no?

I think I've said before on here, but a friend (retired) has a company part time, the only advertising he's done is had a small 36"x36" sign in his front yard that was hand painted and stenciled, he has way more work then I do now and thats been his only form of advertising...He lives in the same neighborhood as me, but his house is at the bottom of the main road of the neighborhood so it gets alot of traffic in front of it. That's why I feel putting the big banner on the trailer and parking it out would work well.
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Old 04-01-2006, 03:04 AM
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Hi kc2006,

Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]What if I offered 1 free fertilizer application for new customers?
YES! Great! This is a great idea. It's better than the free mow because it is a different service you can potentially sell to them. Once you do the free application you can try and upsell the rest of the year applications. Explain to the customer why it is important and what kind of results they should expect to see.
Keep all your options on the table and experiement. You never will know what will work until you try!

Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]they were doing their hour of standing in a parking lot with wig's on and signs that said "Got Junk" in front of their truck.
HAHAHAHHA Troy here is another great idea for your crazy marketing post! See how being outrageous can get attention and create buzz? We are tallking about them now and spreading the word. The same can happen for you and your company.

Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]I've thought about doing something like you showed Troy with the banner on the trailer and offer free mowing to locally owned stores that have small front strips of lawn in return that I can park the trailer out by the road for X amount of time (on busy roads). Good idea or no?
I think it would be a great idea. The only thing I would be concerned about is someone stealing your trailer. But maybe you can lock it somehow. Or simply use lawn signs instead of a trailer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]he has way more work then I do now and thats been his only form of advertising.
This is the benefit of constant promotion. Also free!

There are plenty of things you could do to get free constant promotion as well. All you have to do is think and experiment.
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  #8  
Old 04-01-2006, 02:33 PM
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Well just got back from a small home & garden show that was going on, I didn't even know it was going on and we decided to stop (sadly I didn't have business cards or anything with the name on it, and I looked like a bum not shaved but oh well). Talked with a couple of guys that do other work, one does only landscape lighting, the other does concrete work (like borders for beds, chemical staining) and got to talk alittle with them about this area and left my name and number with them for referal work and got their business cards too.

But the best was a guy that has a promotions company that he runs part time. I met him last year, he does alot of work with the racing field and does a good job promoting it. He has a spot at the local fair and the largest car show in the area (attracts thousands of cars) and it's basicly a giant give away booth, has little glass boxes where people enter for give aways. The cost is only $55 I believe, I'll deffinitly be doing that. He showed me the one box they had at the show today, and the show was fairly small and still had what appeared to be a couple hundred entries in it. Like he said, it's a good cheap way to build up a mailing list of prospective clients.

I also got some good idea's for the landscape design I'm going to be doing in my back yard so it was a good day
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  #9  
Old 04-01-2006, 02:58 PM
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That makes me happy that you went. I think that very few people realize the importance of networking. Even going to a simple garden show can help out big time. Heck, I went to three just this past spring only to network really.
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Old 04-02-2006, 04:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]I also got some good idea's for the landscape design I'm going to be doing in my back yard so it was a good day
Take some before and after pictures. I want to see
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