How do I deal with 100’s of lawn care competitors?

There are many business strategies you can utilize when presented with high levels of competition. You can start a price war and see who can last. You can improve your quality and seek out customers who are willing to pay for higher quality. You can find a niche service others aren’t offering or one that offers you a profit margin you need to stay in business. Which strategy would work best for you? That is a topic which was brought up on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum.

One business owner asked “I kid you not, everywhere I look I see another lawn care business. In the newspaper there are 40 (count) ads just for lawn mowing. Last year there were 5! When I am out handing a person my flyer, they have an attitude once they know I am a lawn care business owner. I HATE to promote this but lately I have been advertising I will beat any of my competitors prices. Even with that, the customers take it as a joke because everyone, all 45 of my competitors say that exact same thing and don’t back it up. PLEASE HELP! HOW DO I DEAL WITH THIS?”

A second lawn care business owner said “I hate to say this, but it’s a recurring theme. I didn’t want to believe it at first but I learned to get past it. I have found, you’ve got to hit up family, friends, and anyone else you know. Use your social network the best way you can to get weekly mowing jobs. My best lawn care customers have all come this way. It’s also about momentum. Doing a great job at one person’s house makes it very easy to approach their immediate neighbors. They see you every week and know the quality of your work.

I keep advertising on craigslist, in the paper, with door hangers, and use direct mail to keep a constant presence in the market. I am hoping that over the years my ‘brand name’ recognition will be built by those who have seen my ads again and again and my truck working in the community.”

A third added “with the economy the way it is, many people are unemployed with little hope of finding a regular job. Starting a lawn care business, with it’s low start up cost, is a way for many to pay bills and get food.

If your competition is honestly able to provide a good service at a lower price, that’s just business and competition. If  the competition is doing low quality work then that is the way to compete with them. Say in your ads that you can fix the harm done by those cheap guys. Point out that you are a professional, insured, pay taxes, have lots of experience … whatever shows that your work is honest, better than the cheapos, and worth the price. Some customers want quality and are willing to pay for it.

If you can’t beat ‘em on price, then beat ‘em on quality.

Over the years I have found that it is important to learn what your customers really want. What they value. Don’t build a business based on what you think they want. Do the research. Be flexible too. Adapt your business to what the customer wants. They will pay for what they want not what you want. It is also necessary to have more investment capital than you think is needed. No matter how much you think you have figured out what the right amount is, have more before you start.

Another important lesson is don’t quit your day job until you are sure you can swing it as a business owner.”

A fourth said “I think trying to beat your competitors on price damages your business and the industry as a whole. The cheaper we become, the less value people think we have. The majority of low ballers in my area are either just doing it for beer money so they don’t really care about making a living from it or, they are illegal. I fail to understand why somebody would want to work so cheap and not make a real living from it.

You need to charge what you are worth. Even if you have low overhead costs, at the end of the day do you really want to go out and work your tail off for just $12 a mow or would you rather work your tail off for $25 a cut? As others have said, don’t be in a race to be the lowest priced, instead try and do the best work you can and attract customers willing to pay for quality service.”

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