The average lawn care business tends to find things slow down in the Fall and Winter but that doesn’t have to always be the case. You can go out and drum up business if you want it. Let’s look and see how a member of the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum did this. He wrote “yesterday I was out visiting some of my lawn care clients. Basically working out schedules and drumming up business for the winter months when a client that uses my service for things like spring/fall cleanups and hedge trimming started asking about winter snow removal. I gave them a price and they were quite happy and agreed on the contract.”
I think you are touching on a topic many readers don’t understand. Can you give us a little advice on how best to go about doing this? Do you just go to each customer and knock on the door and ask them if they need any help or what is the best way to do this?
He responded “No, not generally, this client had requested for me to book them in for a fall cleanup when I had trimmed their hedges this summer. I wanted to find out when they felt it would be a good time as our leaves here this fall have been late falling (some trees already bare and others still green … even if they are the same variety) which has made it difficult to determine when to schedule. While I was there we were talking about snow, I recalled them say that the wife had a tough time keeping the sidewalks clear last year, so I mentioned that I had a few openings for winter contracts and wanted to give them the opportunity to take advantage of one of the available spots before I filled it with someone else (creating a sense of urgency). I do make a point of at least once a month, talking to clients while I am on site working to see if there are other things that they would like to have taken care of. It gives me an opportunity to say ‘Oh, I do that or I know of someone that does that.’ It has opened many options for me this year.”
What other things have popped up over time by asking customers if they needed any other services?
When a customer brings up a service that you need to sub-contract out, how do you deal with a sub contractor? Do you take a fee or do you just let them handle it all on their own with no referral fee?
“It has varied as to what the need. Just recently I had a lady asking about trimming her large trees. I only have the equipment to handle hedges and smaller ornamental shrubs, so I recommended one guy in town that does large trees. Another customer asked about some stucco work repair. That one I didn’t know of anyone who offers that service, none the less, it opens the door. I did have one day, while chatting with a client, hear her comment about a latch that was seemingly broken on her screen door … I looked at it very briefly and it was not broken, just out of place and only required removing and adjusting the clasp and put back on. I told her to grab a screwdriver and I fixed it in a matter of minutes. Didn’t charge her either … figured she’ll stick with me forever that way. To me, having a good long term client is worth more than just the money at the time.
I haven’t charged any referral fees either.”
What % of added work do you feel comes from you pointing out a potential problem and what % comes from asking the customer if they have any issues you could help resolve?
“That is a good question. I really haven’t kept track, but I would estimate it would be about 5 to 10% … which is not a whole lot, but then again, I’ve been able to pick up seasonal contracts from such, which in the bigger picture means growth in business.”
5 to 10% added work is nothing to take lightly. Many business advisors would suggest a small business not grow more than 20% each year. So by asking your current customer base if they need help with anything else, you already could gain half the business growth you should be shooting for that year already taken care of! To be able to grow like that from your current customer base is fantastic. As we all know, it’s easier to sell more to your current customer base than it is to reach out and find new customers.