When an industry is easy to get started in, like the lawn care business, there can be many competitors. But what is a new lawn care business owner to do in order to stand out? The easiest path most new business owners tend to take is to follow along with what everyone else is doing. But doing so, however will only make things harder on you. The key to success is to differentiate yourself and your business. To stay out. To find a nice. Now let’s look into this further from a post on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum.
A new lawn care business owner wrote “I went through the Yellow Pages that cover my 4-county area and found that there are about 190 lawn care and landscape services. I’ve also checked out some of their websites and found some to be very impressive. Not only in how they are set up but also in the services they offer.
The variety of services these competitors offer is vast! In the future I’d like to offer the same services, but I would have to hire people that actually know what they’re doing as far as chemical applications, landscaping, sprinkler systems and outdoor lighting, that won’t be for a while though. So far, the only services I know I can offer will be mowing, edging, weed eating, blowing, flower planting (if they know what they want and where they want it,) and hopefully trimming shrubs.
I know they are pretty unimpressive services when compared to what the others are offering. Do you think it is possible to succeed with these limitations…and so much competition?”
One lawn care business owner suggested “you can offer many of the services, you personally don’t know how to perform, right now by sub-contracting out the work. All you have to do is get a sub-contractor agreement in place with someone that does the type of work you are selling and have it say something to the effect of they will not pursue your customers. Then have them do the work and you can make a percentage off the job. In the end, if the service is performed properly, your customer is still going to be happy with the end results.
As far as the number of contractors out there, don’t worry too much. Most will be gone within 5 years and replaced by others, only to see the cycle repeat. Don’t waste a lot of time worrying about your competition but do keep track of their progress/success. Not to the point of obsession though. You can learn a lot, if you keep your eyes and ears open to what works and what doesn’t.”
A second lawn care business owner said “in a competitive market you need to find a niche market and/or find your competitive advantage. In other words, find what you can do that others can’t.
You don’t have to provide all the services that the others do. Focus on what you can do and do it well. Also, find out what the others are charging for those services so you can have an idea of what to charge for the same service.
The other companies may offer so many services but they may have different people within their company doing them. So when a client wants three different things, they may have to talk to three different people within the company. These three different people are not going to be able to offer the same personalized service experience as a single sole proprietor.
What I suggest you do is offer personalized services. They can call you and you will be the one talking directly to them. Instead of having someone give the bid, and someone else do the work. Some customers require A LOT of attention. If you have the time, shoot for these types of customers. Other companies will drop them because they don’t want to take the time to handle them. Their loss can be your gain.”
A third said “I started out like this pretty much. I targeted two groups of people. The first group was seniors citizens. They usually want you to do a lot more than just mow their lawn and most will be there watching you do the work. However, if you take the time to do it right and talk to them, they are great clients. They always pay you right on time, some even pay early. Most of them include an extra tip in their payment. If they like you, they give lots of referrals. I suppose the opposite would be true also, if they don’t like you they will give you a bad review to their neighbors but I haven’t run into that.
The other group I targeted was houses with yards that need some extra clean up in order to bring it up to par. To get their attention, I would give them a flyer that explained my clean up services with an estimate on it. On the flyer it stated that if they signed up for monthly service then they would get 50% off their first yard clean up fee. It has worked great for me so far but you do have to take a small loss for the first two weeks and work for almost nothing. Over time, if you keep the customer, it gives you a steady income for the following months and years to come.
The targeted clean up group was mostly middle class. Giving them the clean up discount and the ability to spread out the payment made the difference. With the seniors I started out in neighborhoods that were retirement communities around golf courses. They seemed to be more affluent neighborhoods and this is were I got many of my referrals. I also went to local senior centers and asked them if they knew of places that had middle and lower income seniors who could use my services at a discounted price. The centers gave me some good leads and let me put flyers up on the bulletin boards. These I would give a discount up to 25% off but amazingly enough, most of them when they got the bill paid the full amount ignoring the discount.
As my schedule filled up, I had to change a bunch of the ways I handled things. First off, I offered the clean up discount until I filled my schedule up. I now no longer offer the clean up deal because I no longer have the extra time to do it. I also am more picky about which customers I will take on because I can no longer travel all over town to do jobs. To maximize my profits, I now look for customers who are closer to my current customer base. I also schedule neighborhoods all together to save time and fuel.
I used to do extra little stuff for clients because I had the time. Things like picking up dog poop in the yard, wiping off patio chairs and tables etc… Since discontinuing those extra perks, I have only had a few customers ask me why I don’t do it as often anymore and when I explain that thanks to them, my business is growing and I don’t have as much time anymore. They seem to understand.
The downside to all of this is that I am now leaving the door open to a new lawn care company to compete against me and offer the same personalized services and add-ons, I used to offer. I guess, such is the way this business goes. If I start seeing a drop in my total customers, it will be a sign, I need to get back to the basics. Until then, I am going to find ways to maximize my profits and minimize my expenses. “