Bidding foreclosed property mowing jobs blind!

Are you finding yourself doing more waiting around for work than working? That’s the spot this one lawn care business owner found himself in before a chance encounter with a realtor friend opened his mind up to a new marketing method that seems to be getting him back out working. He shared with us his lawn care marketing technique on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum. This might be a marketing method you would like to experiment with too!

He wrote “my lawn care business is hurting right now. I only have six customers, but that looks as if it is all about to change. A realtor friend called yesterday and asked if I’d mow a vacant yard for him that is pending short sale. I stopped by and took care of it for him. Afterwards he said he’d put a $500 lawn fee in the closing. This got me thinking. Anyway, he emailed me a list of distressed, vacant, or foreclosed homes in the area and I’m in the process of emailing them all 200 or so! The problem is that there’s no guarantee of getting paid. The house has to sell first.

My friend said that in today’s market, short sales, foreclosures, etc are very likely to sell in a 6 month listing period. In this area most lots are in the 7,500 square foot range and lot size is listed in the mls (multiple listing service), but I thought I’d be better off setting a flat $100/ yard/ month rather than visiting 200 properties to estimate.

From the realtors perspective, with the grass cut, the home looks nicer and can sell faster. They know my price up front and they don’t have to pay me while they’re waiting for it to sell. Actually, the bank would end up paying it so it’s really no cost at all to them.

Here’s a copy of the email I’m sending. I’m kinda nervous about it, as it could be risky and it goes against the whole ‘never give a quote without seeing the property theory.’ Most real estate contracts are 6 months and after the sale, with this, I feel I would have an ‘in’ to continue to mow for the new owners. It seems like a real estate agents would have a hard time saying no to this proposition!

Email example:

Hi, my name is Andy of Andy’s Lawn Care, and I was hoping to help you out with your property at 53 Main Street. I have an offer that’s a little bit different that I think you’ll like. I’m currently helping realtors in the area that are selling distressed properties, short sales, foreclosures, vacant, etc. Here’s the part you’ll like. I’ll keep the property looking great for you to show, as well as making vacant properties appear ‘lived in’ from the curb, preventing theft or vandalism. My fees is a flat $100/ month to be paid AT CLOSING, so there is no money out of your pocket. I don’t get paid until you do! My fees could be added to the closing costs, and if the property doesn’t sell, I don’t get paid. Together, we get your home sold faster and you don’t risk spending more time and money into a home that may not sell. I thought that by putting off my paycheck until closing, it would be more helpful to you and you’d know I’d have an added interest in making your property look beautiful. Let me know if I can help.

Thanks, Andy

You can sit around wondering how things work, or just do it and figure it out as you go. Out of the 60 emails I sent, I’ve received a few replies that make me think I may work with them in the future. I also acquired 3 yards at $100/month to be paid at closing and tomorrow I’m doing an odd job digging up roots at one of the realtor’s personal residence for $150 (hopefully 2 or 3 hour job). This same realtor has a vacant home that is way overgrown and I’m taking care of it this week to give it ‘curb appeal’ for $1,000 which he already cleared with the bank to be paid at closing.

This job is going to involve massive bush and tree trimming, but it will be great for those before / after pictures, I am looking to use in my future marketing and on my website. This is also one of the new three ($100/month yards). These all seem like great people too, which is important because I really want to make sure I get paid.

I’m not sure when I can take care of all this because as I was writing this, I just took a call from ANOTHER realtor who wants to meet me tomorrow and wants me to take care of two of her properties!

With foreclosures / short sales, this risk is kind of a calculated act of faith. Two of the homes are owned by the realtor, so I don’t have to worry about the home not selling before the realtors contract running out. So it seems as safe as it could possibly be, but there is still a lot of risk involved. Anyway, all this activity has put me back in business!

I was thinking about my realtor job bidding /quote process today. Until I’m maxed out with work, I think I’ll keep going with this, then I’ll pick and choose customers I want as they come along after. If I have a choice between working for less money than I’d like or not working at all, I will choose working. I can’t complain about my bills if I’m at home not willing to work!
Soon I should be comfortable turning down undesirable jobs. It’s all a confidence thing for me and I’m building mine up as we speak. When money’s tight, every job is important. But as my schedule fills up and my bank account improves I will feel a lot better about all of this. I want to get to the point where I actually feel guilty for charging too much on a job.”

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The GopherHaul Lawn Care Business Show Episode Guide.
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