Offering free leaf cleanups in the fall?

Marketing is always an experimental process. Altering different variables and testing those marketing elements is the only way for sure to know what is working and what isn’t. In this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, we hear from one entrepreneur who promoted free leaf cleanups and how he made out at the end of the year.

One lawn care business owner wrote “as a marketing experiment this year, I decided on offering free leaf removal to customers who signed up for a full year of lawn care. Well, starting this past Sunday I went to my client’s properties to do my ‘free leaf removal.’ The local township removes leaves in bags that are placed on the side of the street for free. I’m just 2 days into it, 3 properties, and I ALREADY have a trailer full of about 25 bags. This is just blowing them and putting them into the bags. I can’t believe how many leaves have fallen! I could have sworn they didn’t fall like this last year.

I had thought this would be a good idea to gain more customers and keep my schedule busy in the fall. When I first started promoting it my customers thought this was a great deal and they stayed with me for the entire mowing season. The clients I do it for, do pay more than they had the previous year because I thought it was going to involve more work. Next year though if I do this again, I am going to buy a lawn vac. That’s how I should have done it this season. Using a leaf blower and rake takes up way too much time.

Such a promotion is unorthodox so to speak and I would not do it with the cheap clients as it would be a waste of time. I’d only do this with customers who sign up for an entire year of lawn care and make it worth my while.

This was an experiment that turned out good for business.”

A second lawn care business owner said “leaves are very profitable for me. If I were to do leaf pickup for free it would cut me income by more than a third. If I were to bag them it would cost me $100’s of dollars in bags alone, plus gas and wear and tear on equipment and ME.

Bagging leaves sucks. I either tarp or mulch them and vac them up and haul away.
I did some free work years ago. Picking up sticks after wind, a light snow removal. Little jobs. But it’s been my experience that people get uncomfortable with free work. Even long term clients. Anyway I don’t do much free work any more.”

A third added “for me, I don’t think I’d ever be able to offer a project as big as a leaf clean-up for free. I do offer a discount to new lawn care customers if they sign a contract for a year’s worth of maintenance for next season. The discount is credited to their at the end of the mowing season. I do this to make sure I don’t give the discount and not get the client.

In the past I have performed a few ‘mini leaf cleanups’ for free and the only reason I did that was because otherwise, I couldn’t have mowed the lawn. If I didn’t mow the lawn, the customer might have got it in their head that their lawn didn’t need any more mowings that year and then I’m screwed out of my few last mowings for the season.

Even with those free mini cleanups I performed I only blew leaves off the lawn and not mulch beds or anywhere else. This way, I’m not screwing myself out of a true cleanup - which I can be PAID for. I am very cautious about giving anything away for free because I need to maximize my profits from the time I have to spend. Otherwise I won’t be in business for long.”

Read more about Lawn Care Business Bidding Tips, Upsells, And Disasters To Avoid. Learn how to improve your bidding process with this book and be prepared before hand by knowing what you should be looking out for before a problem occurs.

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