We can be our own most valuable resource and also our own worst enemy. Depending on our mental state of mind, we can see our business as growing and moving forwards or being doomed. Which path you choose is up to you. If you can realize you control the destiny of your business, you can empower yourself to step up and take charge when the situation calls for it. In this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, we see an example of how two lawn care businesses get two different results based on the owner’s own state of mind.
One lawn care business owner wrote “I am depressed beyond reason and can’t find any lawn care jobs. For a while I had a great situation going with my lawn care business. Due to budget cuts, I lost the main client I had and that really effected my bottom line. After that I advertised mainly online through free internet classified ad sites. I was hoping to survive this year if I picked up some new lawn care clients, but unlicensed low ballers are under cutting my bids. They are mowing lawns for as cheap as fifteen or twenty dollars. I can’t make any profit on those prices and we are over run with them. I hung flyers around town, told everyone I know, passed out cards and I just don’t know what else to do. I can’t afford advertising in the local paper because it’s over three hundred to put ten lines in for three weeks.. I’m sitting on a zturn mower, dump trailer, tons of equipment and all with monthly payments for them. Where do I go from here? Aside from standing on the sidewalk wearing a billboard and trying to stop people to talk to them? Any other ideas on how or where to advertise? I am just about ready to give it up. All I need is five or six decent lawns to help out a little, any ideas?
I think most of the problem I am running into this time of year is that people already have a lawn care company, but since a lot of the home owners are not working now, they are doing it themselves. I was talking to the local mower repair shop owner and he said he’s selling small zero turns as fast as he gets them in, mostly to homeowners. When I was there, he had to have at least fifty of them out and being prepped .. I was totally shocked..
My marketing message might not be getting out there enough, but I just can’t afford too much in the way of advertising right now. I did have a few new customers call and ask about clean up/debris hauling, but the jobs just aren’t worth it. They want you to do it for a hundred bucks a day, and you would need three people for a day to get some of these properties cleaned up!
With the customers I currently have I feel I do a good job on their properties. I even had the neighbors come over last year while we were mowing and said how great the lawn looked. They were glad we were mowing them because it looked so poor when the other lawn care company was previously mowing them. But as I look around I find a lot of those same neighbors who complimented me are doing their own lawns now.
The big mistake I feel I ran into was counting on this one commercial property for the majority of my income. I mowed this property every year for the last eight years. This job also included snowplowing in the winter. This job alone took at least two days a week to service and because of that I didn’t have the time to try and get more lawn care customers. They dropped me last minute when they got their property maintenance funding slashed. They SHOULD have told me in advance but waited until the last minute. So now I am finding myself getting behind and it gets worse daily.”
A second lawn care business owner shared “this is no time to get depressed. Once you do that, you are taking yourself out of the game. You need to take action now and get up out of your seat. Get a bunch of business cards with some kind of coupon on the back. Every free minute you have, start knocking on doors. It is a time consuming pain in the ass, but it is cheap and has the best return. When it comes to marketing your business remember to sell yourself, and service second. There is a reason that these other competitors are selling their services cheap. Point out the value you bring to the home owner. Show them how you are insured and how that protects the homeowner from being sued. Build value in yourself and your business. Take care of your customers and you will get new clients.
Also try and tighten up your routes. In other words, don’t spend $300 on a newspaper ad that covers the whole city. Put that $300 towards canvasing a small area several times throughout the season. If you can make it so all your accounts are close together you can cut down one of your biggest expenses (drive time). You don’t want to be paying employees to just drive around, you want to pay them to cut lawns.
Get creative, put out some fliers saying “WE FIX 15$ LAWN CUTS. CHEAP LAWN CARE CAN COST YOU THOUSANDS IN THE LONG RUN”. Then list the negatives of cheap lawn care: no insurance (they can get sued if something happens), they don’t pay taxes, they hire illegals, there are so many more reasons. Then list all the positives of hiring a quality company that does a quality job.
For example, Let me tell you a story of a new residential lawn care account I recently signed up. The customer called me and was angry about their current lawn care provider. I asked what they were paying and what they were displeased with and they said they were paying $16 dollars a mow. This discount lawn care company was using big zero turn mowers on this little lawn and was doing a terrible job. They tore up turf and cracked glass block windows along the bottom of the house. So I told them ‘I know your paying $16 right now, but I can do a lot better job for just a little more and you won’t have to worry about any further damage to your home or property.’ They signed on the spot.
After I finished her first lawn service, this customer realized that I worked hard and was honest with her. I then was able to upsell her on more services. I went back the following Monday and spent 2 hours working flower beds and spreading mulch. This week I’m returning yet again to trim her hedges in the back yard and trim a big tree in the front yard. I have estimated this to be another 5 hours at her house. I will also gain more customers by having a lawn sign in her yard advertising for me. As my vehicle is parked out front, I will possibly gain more customers with my business card distributor that is affixed to the side of my truck. This allows people walking or driving by to take a business card and contact me later. I’m a firm believer that if you treat your customers well, they will come back and with friends. This customer has already got me 2 more customers from her neighborhood and has helped me keep my bank account growing.
I have found, there are two types of lawn care customers. One type just wants the lawn cut so the city won’t give them a ticket (discount customers). The other hires a professional because they want a beautiful lawn. The key to making money in the lawn care business is feeling out these new callers as they call and ask them the right questions to see which kind of customer they are.
You want customers who desire a quality lawn mowing and are willing to pay you for that service. Trying to chase after the cheap customers is a losing battle that will leave you broke.”
Improve your bidding with these lawn care business calculators for Android phones.