In debt and just getting my lawn care business started. What should I be advertising?

Matt: “I have been in the lawn care business for 6 months. The advertising I am doing is lettering on my truck, sign on back of trailer, business cards, and newspaper ads. So far I have about 20 customers. A family member owns a company in FL and started with a push mower and advanced ,buying out companies and there equipment and only been in business for 5 years and now owns $300,000 in lawn equipment, and covers 95 miles from FL to AL. The key pointer they told me was, just excellent customer service. I don’t really have a way I can talk to him to see how he succeeded so any advice?

Keith: “A couple of thoughts from me.

1) Advertising. As far as media goes, I found that newspapers offer the most return for your advertising dollar. Choose the placement of your ad carefully. I had little luck with display ads and regular classified ads. Instead, does your local newspaper have Business Classified ads? Or Business Listings Ads? These really seem to bring in the customers. You pay 1 month at a time. The cost in my area is often $150 for a month in a paper with circulation of about 100,000. Well worth the cost in my experience.

2) You say that you want to work on commercial accounts. You are probably a bit late this year (May) to get very many commecial accounts as they most likely have already been bid out. However, it’s never too early to begin cultivating relationships with purchasing managers. Pay a visit to your local city hall purchasing office. Get your company put on the bid list. This is the list they use when they are sending out contract applications on lawn care work. Also, tell them that you will do “non-bid” clean-up work. You might be doing dirty work like vacant yards but it gives you an inside foothold with your local government. It’s a step-up when big contracts come up for bid. School systems, public utilities, apartment complexes, large factory complexes, etc, all have mowing and upkeep contracts. Get your company name in front of the decision makers. They will remember you next spring…or this summer when their regular grass mainenance companies aren’t dependable.”

Matt: “I have a question, I know that some companies start small, like push mower and old riding mower, and work there way big. I did the opposite. I stated big like commercial mower and all other things and have debt coming soon like $345 a month for all the lawn equipment and plus now have truck payment of $151 a month.

Now with me starting big and all the debt, will I still come out ahead and it wouldn’t matter how I started? I think I can achieve it. One other problem I have for the fall and winter is that I did not get a bagger with the mower, I got the mulching kit. I think my better chance to go steady in the fall/winter is to get a bagger. I have a positive outlook on my goals. Are there any secrets or keys to open the door,lol”

Keith: “I was thinking a bit more about your question this morning.

There has been some great info in this thread about what TO DO. I have a bit of advice on what not to do.

Especially if you have some debt in your truck and equipment, you might feel forced into taking whatever jobs come along. After all, you might think that a $20 job is better than no job at all.

When you are estimating and accepting jobs, think long term. If you get the reputation of doing cheap jobs in your community, it is far too easy for you to become typecast in your work. I have found that quality jobs beget more quality customers and cheap jobs will only get you more of the same.

Hey, listen, there is NOTHING wrong with doing $20 lawns and I don’t want to offend anyone who does those…I know several people who make good livings with that type of lawn. However, I would recommend always having a minimum price ($35 as an example). Let your customers know that you do dependable, quality work. Never let them down and they will be customers for life and they will recommend other quality customers who will be willing to pay your price.

Oh, one more thing that might be helpful to you. Open lines of communication with the more successful lawn care business owners in your town. Some of them might not like that there is another competitor out there. However, some of them will welcome you into the industry and they will be happy to share tips and ideas with you. A successful LCO who is overrun with customers might even give you some of his smaller accounts if he knows you will do quality work.

Keep at it. It seems you are on the right track.”

Troy: “I started out in horrible debt at first, and it took me a long time to recover, believe it or not I am still recovering from some business debt.

I bought two commercial mowers at first and racked up around $7,000 in debt. I only had about 10 customers at the time too. My best advice I give to all companies, do not go into debt unless you can pay off that debt within a years time. If you don’t, it will just hurt you in the long run by limiting your purchasing and budgeting procedures.

Try to purchase every in cash or in credit if you can pay it off in a year. Sure, truck purchases are the exceptions though. If you need certain items now and then, such as aerations, walk behind leaf blowers, de-thatchers, etc. I would suggest to rent them. You actually will save money in the long run.

My best advice though for you right now is one of two things; grow big and fast now to pay off your equipment, or sell off items that you do not use and use that money towards your debt.”

Greg: “I was reading your story and I would like to add something. I have been in the business for 1 year now I started out with a push mower and a cheap blower and edger and using my wife Kia Sportage. And working on weekends with a full time job also. As I got more accounts I got better equipment, as I paid of one thing I got another. I have only 45 accounts, it is hard to get past 45 as every community is gated.

When I quit my full time job I got a job delivering pizza at night, I talk to my boss and he lets me advertise on the boxes for free. It is good way to control the areas that I want to get my company name out there. As I get new customers I lose one. I just started to request contracts and see how that will goes.

I have had one customer that asked me to do a yard cleanup one flower bed at each time I come. Stay away from that as I leaned the hard way. You work hard do a great job and the customer decides the hard part is over and he could do the rest himself. I going to stay away for customers that won’t sign contract for now on. I have lost a lot on money for people that won’t pay……. I wish there is a way I can get the money from them?”

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Lawn Care Business Books And Software.
How To Get Lawn Care Customers Vol. 2
The landscaping and lawn care business plan startup guide
A rebellious teenagers guide to starting a landscaping & lawn care business
The GopherHaul Lawn Care Business Show Episode Guide.
Stop Lowballing! A Lawn Care Business Owner\'s Guide To Success