It’s one of the most frustrating things to have to deal with as an owner of a small lawn care business, when you spend money on marketing and nothing is working. It can make you feel like you are in a ship that is sinking and no matter what you do to bail the water out, it comes in faster and faster. That is the problem a member of the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum was dealing with when he wrote “I don’t get it. I have put up lawn care fliers, handed out business cards, put adds on free internet ad sites and the local papers yet still I sit here with no calls at all. Several weeks have gone by with no calls at all. This is getting depressing. Is this the economy, am I doing something wrong? I want to suck all my marketing money back because I feel stupid paying for marketing when its not even getting my calls for quotes or anything.”
One lawn care business owner wrote “how often do you stop and talk to a customer who may have a lawn or other issue you could fix and explain how you could cure the problem for them? When you see another provider at a place and let’s say their quality doesn’t meet yours, do you ever talk to the home owner to see if they are satisfied? Very, very few people will come to you unless one of their friends have told them about you, you need to go to them.”
He responded “I don’t do any of that but it may not be a bad idea. I have thought about walking around and knocking on doors whose yard is in despair. I’m not sure I would feel right trying to steel a client away from someone ells by waiting until they leave and seeing if the customer is satisfied. Maybe it’s a last resort but I am not sure I feel good about that.”
I then asked if that is really stealing a customer or is that giving the customer a choice and a member suggested “take this for what it’s worth, I am in this to make money, if it was a neighbor who mowed a lawn across the street and I knew I would do a better job I would be across the street and I would get the account. This is business my friend, people are not going to track you down.
By dropping cards on properties that needed a service that we offered, I would estimate it generated me well over $200,000 in business this year, that is not pocket change.
Not being critical but step out of the box, up to the plate and hit a few home runs, the first few might be awkward but if you want the ship to come in, don’t wait go after it as it’s there waiting for you.”
Another business owner shared “Don’t limit yourself to problem yards (those in disrepair or the guy fighting with his lawn mower).
Target nice yards too. Prospective clients with nice lawns know how much work it takes to keep them nice. They are proud of their lawns and willing to pay a good price to keep them looking good.
Talk to them. If you’re just starting out, ask what their secrets are. If they do the work themselves, point out areas where you can be of service (pulling weeds, raking leaves). Once your foot is in the door, and you prove yourself, you can turn them into regular customers.
It’s a mistake to only target bad yards. Remember: Great customers beget great customers.”
I asked what is better though, targeting nice yards or messy ones and I got this opposing view “if you want to make money and get your name on the street fast, start with the lawn from hell and turn it into a golf course, I have done it many times which is why our growth is nuts this year.
I am not interested in a customer with a very nice looking lawn, a nice landscape or a very nice driveway. I feel it is wasting my time and theirs as I would be shocked if they would even talk to me and if it’s not broke they won’t fix it.
The reasons I have found most lawns are messy or need help is because the homeowner has not used the right products. They generally they do not overseed. They had grubs or cinch bugs at one point and didn’t take the time to find out how to bring it back. Poor quality lawn cutting can have a negative effect as well as there might be trees that have fallen, the customer had a quote but it was too expensive.
The target market for me is middle and upper middle class, generally speaking they just do not have time but they would like to to look nice.
If a yard is full of junk I would never stop, the only clean up jobs we do is leaves, branches and trees.”