Lawn Care Marketing Secrets Part 2 Added

Track 8 - Lawn Care Marketing Secrets Part 2. audio version has been added. It contains tons of great marketing ideas for your lawn care business. Listen to it while you mow or drive!

  • How to find clients during your slow season?

1. Go through your list of customers and give a call to older customers. Ask them how they feel their yard is looking? Do they need fall cleanup services or anything else?
2. Create a special. Possibly trim your profit margin slightly and create a seasonal sale. Take advantage of bargain hunters. Remember, even though sales can be a great way to build business, be mindful that they don’t become expected.
3. Repackage your products. Could you put together a spring or fall cleanup service along with an annual fertilization plan and sell it as a package deal for the holidays? Maybe even as a gift card?
4. Schedule future business now. During the off season you could offer your customers a discount if they pre-paid for service they would receive later that year.

  • Suggestions on buying customers?

Instead of trying all these different tactics to gain new customers, what if you simply bought them from another company? Eric of Lepping Lawn & Landscape asked “Is there a basic valuation when buying an existing mowing business from another company? The company is reasonably large and would like to get out of the residential lawn business.”

Joel Larusic of said “This is a very good question… one that comes up a lot. It is touched on in pages 63-64 of my book but I can give you the short answer here.

As a very general rule I would say that a residential customer is worth about the value of one month’s revenue. However, it may be more or less depending on a several factors:

1) Where you live? In my area, residential customers are not all that hard to come by so it is not likely to go much higher than 1 month’s revenue. If you live in a ‘tighter’ area, be prepared to spend a little more.

2) Is there a signed contract? How long is the contract for (1 year, 2 years). This will affect the price too.

3) How much do the customers spend in extras each year. If they spend a lot in extra work consistently then expect to pay a little more for them.

4) Are the customers new? In other words, what is the existing customer loyalty like. If they are new to the seller, they are likely to drop you after you buy them. If they have been around for a while they will likely trust the decision of the seller to have you take over.

In any case do your due diligence in researching the customers. Find out the answers to the above questions and ask for job costing information on each of the customers so you can see what the actual profit of the job is. Also ask for a complete accounting record for each customer (do they pay on time?). Work with the seller to come up with a suitable transfer period. At the least, have them write a letter of explanation/introduction. Ideally though, they would personally introduce you and perhaps even work side-by-side with your for a few weeks to ease the transition for the customer.”

Bruce from Scott Maintenance Company asked “I am currently operating a business in which I am buying from another company who is getting out of the business. The selling price is the value of 1 year on a 2 year service contract in which I perform the service and the seller gets the money for that year. In return I get the balance of his customer list. The business gross per year is approx. $50,000 CDN. I am guessing that I am paying him about $9,000 for the 1 contract which is approx 1- large and 4 small properties. This deal is verbal only. I want to write up some form of “transfer” or “non-compete” agreement. If you have any comments I would appreciate them.”

Joel LaRusic of responded by saying “buying customers is a great way to build your business but there are some important things to consider.

I would use caution proceeding with your deal. Currently your seller is holding all the cards. I am assuming that, for the first year, you are doing the work and he is getting the money? (as opposed to you getting the cheques and then paying him). So he is in control of the money. As well, he has indicated only verbally that he will hand over all of his $50,000 in contracts at the end of the year. Short answer then is that you are smart to demand both a signed agreement regarding the conditions of the sale and a non-competition agreement. Consider these other points too.

- General rule of thumb for buying customers is that they are worth about 1 month revenue. If they are commercial you’ll pay a little more and if there is a signed multi-year agreement in place (which you said there is) then this will push the price up too. So it could be worth as much as 2 or 3 months revenue depending on the situation.

- What about the other $40,000 worth of contracts? Are they commercial or residential? Are they long term customers or brand new (the longer that the selling company has served the customer the more likely that the customer will trust that he or she is being treated fairly - and will accept you as the new contractor). The $9,000 you mentioned seems a little steep but it really boils down to the value of the other customers on his list.

- Ask to see his books - you have the right to examine them. Ask him to provide job costing information so that you can see if the customers are profitable. Ask for a complete account history of all his customers. Ask to see them now, not at the end of the year. If he does not want to produce them, be prepared to call off the deal.

- I am leery about going a full year doing the work for him. Working together for a couple of months makes good sense and helps make the transaction smooth for the customer… but a year? If possible offer to reduce this time even if you have to pay some cash. A year is a long time and if things get awkward half way through, you will likely end up with the short end of the stick.

- Having said that put everything in writing whatever you decide to do. Record customer names, addresses, revenue and costs. Make sure the selling company agrees to help you with a smooth transaction (ie by writing letters explaining the situation and assuring customers that quality will not drop) and document this in the signed agreement too. As well, as you mentioned, put that the selling company cannot compete against you (at least for the customers on the list) for 2 years or so.

There is a lot to consider and a lot to lose here so caution and prudence is key. If you have any doubt, talk to a lawyer and/or an accountant to help you with the deal.”

  • Should I advertise a flat rate year round price or one based on the monthly services performed?

Forum member kc2006 asked “I did the math and my minimum charge is $25 for mowing. There’s roughly 28 weeks in a season here ($700). If I were to bill monthly it comes to $100 a month plus tax. If I were to bill year round (12 payments) it would be $58.33.

This could be a huge advantage for getting customers attention from my flyers. At the top I could put
“Weekly Lawn Service Starting at $58.33 a Month!”

That would drive my competition nuts and make them say this guys a moron, and the customers would probably flock to see what the hitch was. I’ve been saying I want to get most of my clients over to 12 month billing, it would be nice to have income all year round.

But just wondering what all you guys do? Do you bill per month or do you bill all year round? Why are you doing it the way you are?”

Joel LaRusic of said “I only ever bill year-round if I offer services year-round. I think people find it psychologically difficult to cut checks when there is nothing happening, even if they know deep down that it all works out. On the other hand… some might appreciate a balanced bill.

Have you thought about offering some sort of reduced service in the winter months? For example, I would often offer litter control, blowing off, snow clearing, trimming, bed maintenance, etc (of course it all depends on the area of the country you live it!) The visits would be short… even 5 or 10 minutes but the customer does see some value as you are still there every week. Not all my customers would go for it but many would and they loved it. As well, it is some income for you in the winter months.

Thinking as a consumer… I would have to say that I would be a little offended by an ad worded as you suggested – “Weekly Lawn Service at $58.33/Month!” It implies weekly visits year round. I think you would need to state in the ad that the cost is year round but the service is not or it would come off as underhanded. That’s just my opinion though.”

Forum member Soupy replied “It’s called budget billing. I have heard it to often from little old ladies that they just can’t afford $157.50 each month during the 8 month cycle. Well how about $105 for 12 months then. That’s $52.50 that can pay for the phone bill, water bill, or what ever they need to budget for.

Your not scamming anyone, in fact you are offering them something (credit) at no additional cost. How could anyone be offended by that?

Sure, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if they don’t want to pay yearly then they can always pay during the service months. I even let them pay weekly if they choose.

I never advertised price before, but it has gotten to where we have to compete with the ones that do. I don’t see anything wrong with advertising your lowest price (many businesses in other industries do). If the 12 month billing is how that low price is achieved then so be it. Hey, if they want they can pay one time and be done with it. It’s up to the customer how they choose to pay even though most service companies make you pre-pay, or pay at time of service.

I agree that it should be stated at the bottom of the flyer the terms for the $58.33 price. Put an * next to the price at then state the terms at the bottom of the flyer.

Mine says this. * Some restriction may apply. Price is starting price for weekly maintenance in your area for up to 34 visits based on 12 monthly payments. Price may vary depending on size of lawn, landscape obstacles, and amount of trimming. We offer other billing options to choose from.

Granted that I have not sent these out yet, but I did real well with our aeration flyer that had the price listed. I did the same thing, but at the bottom explained that it was for up to 5k sq. ft. and that each addition 1k would be $xx.xx amount.

The truth is our weekly price would not work, so that is why I am using the lowest possible price (12 month price) which is the price for most lawns in the targeted area. I wouldn’t advertise that price in an area that doesn’t fit the price.”

Joel LaRusic responded “I think your disclaimer is good… and that was my point. I would not be offended by a company offering some budget billing and I do not think it’s a scam. My point was that without stating on the ad: 1) the number of visits that the cost is based on and 2) mentioning that the cost is over 12 months you are not being up front with the customer.

No problems with a balanced bill in itself!”

  • Partnering up with a pizzeria to gain more customers.

An idea I was thinking of this year to help you better market your business and get your name out is to partner up with a local pizzeria or eatery.

If you could find a local pizzeria that would be willing to pay for printing of door hangers and you could distribute or the reverse. I think it might be a good idea to have something like this with coupons on the one side for the pizzeria and then seasonal services you offer on the other.

These door hangers could be distributed multiple times through out the year. This would help keep your name out in the area. They would be including useful information, coupons as well as your seasonal services.

It could be done with flyers too but I think might look better with door hangers. What are your thoughts on this?

Forum member ‘maelawncare’ said “well I tried this last year. I went through a local Pizza Hut that I knew the manager of. It did not work out too well. I believe we did about 1k flyers/coupons and didn’t get one call or customer. Oh and I used the flyers that was made by you guys.”

Chestin Salisbury of said “Another way to do this would be to let the pizza company deliver your flyers for you. Instead of creating door hangers, create a flyer that would get attached to the top of the pizza box so it gets delivered every time a pizza gets delivered. That way, you’re not out spending time delivering flyers, the pizza company is doing it when they do what they do anyway.

A couple of things to keep in mind to make this a successful campaign though:

Start off with a powerful, attention grabbing headline. It should say something like, ‘XYZ Lawn Care Wants to Buy Your Next Pizza For You!’, then go on to explain your offer that would include a free pizza at some point. You would of course need conditions attached to the free pizza but you wouldn’t necessarily want to explain those conditions in detail on the flyer. The whole purpose is just to get them to pick up the phone and call you. When they do call, you can explain the offer in greater detail and any conditions associated with it.

You would also want to incentivize the pizza company. Tell them you’ll pay them $XX or XX% of every service call you get from the flyers. Make it worthwhile for them to want to partner with you. Perhaps you could offer to distribute one of their special coupons or offers to your customers.

Something to keep in mind with this type of promotion though. A lot of pizza gets delivered to apartments, which make horrible prospects for lawn care companies. As a result, you’d want to see if there’s anyway to limit the distribution of the flyers to homes instead of apartments or condos. This could be a little tricky and with as cheaply as you can print a flyer it might not be worth worrying about, but definitely something to keep in mind.”

Joel LaRusic of said “I think sharing the costs of advertising with other businesses is a great idea. I have used it successfully in the past although never with a pizza company. Not to say that the pizza idea isn’t a good one. Team Gopher brought out a good point in that the door hanger is likely to be around for at least as long as they use the pizza coupon.

As for putting your flyer on the pizza box I think that LawncareMarketingMagic hit the nail on the head with the comment about reaching the correct market. Apartments are useless to us. Even houses… how do we know they don’t rent? I think the key when partnering with ‘Buddy Businesses’ in this manner is trying to find companies with similar markets as you. How about pool cleaners, home cleaning service, exterior house services (gutters, window washing, pressure washing, painting). These types of companies are also looking for middle to high income home owners… just like you.

Doing some reciprocal marketing projects with each other (i.e. envelope stuffers in each other’s bills) and sharing each others customer lists could be very profitable for both parties!”

Forum member “Two_Dogs” said this “I’ve thought about this also, I’m well acquainted with the owner of the local pizza place and its main market is delivery. I don’t think he’d be willing to pony up for the printing though.

I thought I could pay for the printing, likely even print the fliers myself in order to help defray the cost. I figured if I was going to spend any money on this sort of piggyback promotion I would rather spend it in the form of a discount for a menu item. I figured the cost of this could be absorbed, for the most part in the service provided (thought of tieing it to chemical applications).

This is in a town only about 4 miles from my home/shop, I realized at the end of season I kind of dropped the ball on this one as I largely ignored this market because I thought it to small (pop 2000). I want to target this area in a limited fashion if that is possible, this year.”

  • Attend Trade Shows.

Anthony from said “I attend the Home & Garden shows in my area each year. I honestly get booked for practically the entire season through them. Think about it, about 20,000 potential customers coming to you, not you reaching out to them.”

  • Create a coupon book

Elwood suggested “I have offered discount coupons for OTHER services than what I am targeting if a one year agreement is signed and it works very well.

Offer a FREE $100 coupon book if they sign an agreement for mowing. Your coupon book can have $25 off shrub trimming, $25 off fertilizing, $25 off spraying, $25 off flower planting or any other services that you provide. They will take advantage of the coupon, see your quality results and chances are very good they will have you perform the same service, at full price later in the season or next year. A great way to get your foot in the door and also hit them hard on up sells!

First, it works like a charm! Second, there is a large number of people who DON’T even use coupons once they have them, but they feel they are getting $100 for FREE when they sign up. Of course, my coupons expire on 12/31 of that current year and they are not transferable.

I have sold a TON of up sells this way. In most cases, by only giving $25 off any service, I am not giving away most of the expense, just the profit and maybe a small part of the expense. Then, like I said, after seeing the results, it is usually a home run.”

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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