It seems some lawn care businesses can find traction at a certain point and take off while others continue to flounder. Why is this? A member of the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum shared with us how his business finally started to take off and what he did to help.
He wrote “The season just recently started and already I am busy as hell. It’s going to be a long season. I have a lot of new lawn care clients signing on and I am dropping the slow payers & pain in the ass clients from last year.
In 2009 I lost a ton of vacant rental properties I was maintaining in 2008 through a couple property management companies, not because I lost the account but because most of the rentals had tenants. That kinda sucked. However, I gained a bunch of new year round lawn care clients who signed contracts with me. I did more landscape design & install work, More trimming/pruning, & added fertilization as a service.
I actually was cutting a few less lawns per week than in 2008 but was doing more volume of work from each existing customer. So by taping into my current client base I was able to increase revenues significantly over my 2008 figures.
I think some guys fail to get their lawn care business off the ground because of poor business management & going about their business the wrong way. If you try to be the cheap “budget” service provider, you’ll go broke. There is always somebody cheaper, customer loyalty sucks that way. You (hopefully) realize your not making money so you speed up & quality suffers. Customers are mad that the quality stinks, you’re mad because the money stinks. Nobody is happy & the neigbors certainly aren’t going to hire you.
Then what you do next is figure you need more clients & since people aren’t hiring their lousy service at $20 bucks a cut they need to drop it to $15 a cut right? WRONG! If you do that, you’re an idiot & you’ll be working at Mcdonalds by mid August. Thanks for stopping by the industry! Don’t come back.
Instead of going that route, it’s very important that you provide a quality service at a fair rate…. Be reliable and your business will grow.”
I think this is brilliant! What led to offering this? Was it just that your customers were asking for more or were you looking for it and promoting them as upsells?
I think a lot of newer lawn care businesses aren’t going to see this, but do you feel that there is a higher profit margin in offering these add on or upsell services than there is in mowing? So in a sense does offering the mowing services, open the door to selling more services to your clients?
“Well I did actively work at upselling these add on services to existing lawn care customer. Yes, almost anything is more profitable than just mowing, however it is what keeps you in front of your clients all the time. In a sense it is a nessesary loss leader.
Once you serve a client for a while, answer their questions & inform them of any problems with the lawn, or plants, & trees, they tend to trust you more when you recommend another service should be performed. It all adds up even little trim & prune jobs… $25 for that tree, $30 for those bushes etc. adds up to another $100/day = an extra $2,000 + for the month. Now add a couple little landscape jobs in each month. A couple fertilization jobs & you are adding $3-5k each month on top of your lawn revenues. Not counting the occasional complete landscape overhaul.”
Because lawn care is highly competitive, is it ever worthwhile taking on a customer if you feel that the mowing end of it will break even at best? In hopes they can be upsold to?
Do you find all customers can be upsold or should you only keep customers that you can upsell to and get rid of the others?
“I am not interested in doing anything at a break even rate. I really don’t need the practice at this point. Not everyone will buy the upsell type services & that’s ok. I don’t drop customers for not buying other upsell services. My point is that lawn care can keep you in business & keep you from starving day to day, the other services turn better profit typically.”
Great points to keep in mind when you are looking to make your lawn care business grow. If you go down the cheap mowing path, you can see how it can become a death spiral for your business. Instead of being cheap, provide a quality service and build trust. That seems to be the best way to upsell customers on more lawn care and landscape services.