Think before you hire that lawn care salesman.

A lawn care business owner was looking to hire people to perform door to door marketing sales. They placed an ad in local newspapers that read ‘Well known lawn care company looking to hire, high-energy, out-going people with excellent communication and people skills. To take part in a fun and competitive working environment. We pay $8/hr plus sales bonus opportunities. This position involves being outside, and knocking on doors. It requires you to be on your feet and active through out the work week. It is an ideal job for high school or college students. Experience not required, we will train you.’ Now you may think, this is an easy way to solicit business by hiring a bunch of students to go out and knock on doors. But as you will see in this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, there are downsides to doing this as well.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I personally wouldn’t do it. Mainly because I wouldn’t want to annoy people. I think such sales tactics can make some people upset with your company. Once they are annoyed with you, it can be very difficult to win them over again in the future.

Early on, I used to have a lot of success with door hangers and flyers. I liked the method of canvasing when it was just me, the owner, doing it because you’re not really bothering anyone. You are just putting flyers in doors. The home owner might just throw it away, but you’re not going to piss anyone off just leaving a flyer on their door. Once you start hiring a bunch of students, who are totally not going to be into the job, knocking on doors, it’s a different story. Each one of your new employees is going to alter your intended marketing presentation with their appearance and interactions. Furthermore, most people who take jobs like these, quit shortly afterward and are highly unreliable. So you have to think, do you really want a group of unreliable, uninterested students representing your business?

When I used to utilize flyers, I could make them very inexpensively, printed black text on white paper and copy them for very cheap. So it was a very simple and cheap way to get our name out in front off hundreds of people a day.

I don’t do flyers much anymore these days partly because they don’t seem to be quite as effective as they used to be. But mostly because I’ve just moved on to other types of marketing that don’t require anyone to be out on their feet. My main problem with flyers or door hangers was finding reliable workers to do it.

Now, I love the internet. It accounts for a good 50% of the new customers we get. But the internet is tricky. Just having a website isn’t good enough. Even having a great website isn’t good enough. You have to get really good at making sure people FIND your website. There are lots of ways to do that. Some of them cost a lot of money, others are free. But that’s been something I’ve recognized more people gravitating to. Hardly anyone opens the Yellow Pages anymore. I even tried 2 Yellow Pages ads again last year, just to see if they would produce anything.

My wife almost shot me. She knew from our previous experiences with Yellow Pages that they never end up producing the results you expect. But I got suckered in once again. But that won’t happen again Yellow Pages is almost a total waste of money, in my opinion. The internet is the new Yellow Pages. And I don’t mean places like SuperPages.com, YellowPages.com, QwestDex.com or any of that. I mean just plain old Google and Yahoo and Microsoft Live. That’s where people are looking for businesses these days.

I think it’s imperative that you have a company theme or brand imaging or USP (whatever you want to call it.) That means having a common theme on all your vehicles, and that theme extends to all your business cards and estimate forms and website too. The vehicle lettering may not produce many calls (although we do get calls from that) but it reinforces your company name in people’s minds. So when they go to the internet or wherever and see your company name they’re thinking, ‘Oh yah! I’ve seen those guys around town. I think they do a home just down the street! I’ll call them!’

There are a bunch of good lawn care lead sites too that I pay for. I know most people don’t like them too much and we get a lot of crappy leads from them too. But we also get probably $200K-$300K per year off of the good leads that we do get from their company.

I am pretty much in favor of any advertising that is free or things that you only pay for when you get a real, live, interested customer. Things like service lead sites or Pay-Per-Click advertising I think are great because on slow months you pay almost nothing. You only pay a lot if you’re getting a lot of new leads/work.

Craigslist is free. So I advertise there too. But I rarely get calls from that. I think it’s worth a shot though, just because it’s free. But you can get a lot of cheapskates from Craigslist too. So I put a blurb in my ad saying that we’re not cheap.

So experiment with your marketing but as you do this, try your very best to maintain a professional image and project professional quality in all that you do. Hiring a bunch of students to go knocking on potential customer doors may not be allowing you to give the first impression you really are striving to give. So think before you hire someone else to represent your business.”

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