Everyone dreams of having more lawn care customers than you can handle. But what happens when that dream comes true? Problems can and will arise because of it. Then you can find yourself swamped, running in every different direction, constantly trying to put out fires. That is what happened to this one lawn care business owner as he shared with us his story on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum.
He wrote “I am a 20 year old college student who started my own lawn care business last year to help pay for college. My first year I had 45 weekly lawn mowing accounts, and am hoping to get 60-70 this year.
To get started, I offered a lot of the main services such as mowing, weed whipping, clearing off sidewalk, edging, aerating, dethatching, spring & fall clean-ups, brush removal, trimming hedges, etc. As customers began to ask for more services, I started to sub contract out weed control and fertilizing as well as stump grinding and tree trimming. My goal is to be able to handle all property maintenance issues.
This year I am hoping to expand to offer even more services such as pet waste removal, ie picking up dog poop. I figure I am already there mowing their lawn anyway, so why not pick up their dogs poop right and make even more profits?
Right now I just feel like I am doing too many things within my business. Sharpening the blades, changing the oil on my truck and lawn mowers, fixing things when they break, calling customers back, invoicing, mowing, and going door to door, etc. etc. I need to find a reliable trustworthy manager who can go out with an employee and mow the lawns without me. That way I can spend more time doing the books, staying organized within the business, advertising, marketing, and working in the office etc.
I was going to hire someone to be my bookkeeper and do my books because I am not good at getting invoices out on time and what not… but my dad has offered to help and could probably help me with my books. One of my friends has been working for me in the past year and I was going to hire him again this year, but I just don’t know if he has the motivation/is responsible enough to go out and mow the lawns with my other employee without me…. He’s not as friendly as I am when it comes to talking with customers, and I don’t know how good he is with telling what others should do and leading.
To get all those customers so early and so fast, I ordered a mailing list off of the internet from a mailing list company. It allowed me to send targeted marketing material to exactly those I wanted to service. I also went door to door with door hangers. I didn’t do this just once, I went to the same neighborhoods over and over again. I noticed that I got a lot more calls the 2nd and 3rd time around. I also posted a lot of flyers around grocery stores, coffee shops, and gas stations.
If you are interested in repeating my success with the marketing I have done, the first thing I would suggest is that you find out who you want your primary accounts to be. For me it was 60 year old homeowners and older, or single family mothers. So, I bought a list of homeowners that were either 55 or 60 years old or older within a 5 block radius of my house. (THEN MAKE SURE YOU MAKE SOME SORT OF INCENTIVE ON THE FLYER, I PUT A 10% SENIOR DISCOUNT ON MY FLYERS) I think the list totaled 500 names, and then I mailed it out twice. This year I used the mailing list company again and I bought a list of homeowners that lived on certain streets. (In my neighborhood it was the nicer upper class streets) I sent my mailings out twice to these people as well.
My biggest success for people responding has been when you hand write on the envelopes, but that isn’t as conventional as printing them. I’ve also been much more successful when I make doorhangers… People seem to notice those more. I paid a neighborhood kid to deliver them. I think a good going rate would be $00.10 per flyer. I paid $00.15 per flyer last year and that seeemed high. It depends on how big the houses are or the neighborhood is, because I asked him how long it took him, and after calculating what I paid him it ended up being somewhere $17.00-$25.00 an hour!
So mailing lists have worked for me, but I think on the cheap side, your best bet may be to just make door hangers and distribute them yourself.
I don’t know the difference in the success rate for writing the address or printing it… But I just talked to another lawn care business owner today who’s been in the business for 22 years and he told me he distributes a million flyers a year, and he said it is the best to put the flyers in the doors.
So try these different lawn care marketing techniques out but be careful to grow at a comfortable pace or you might find yourself scrambling to handle everything and believe me, it’s no picnic to do things this way!”
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