When you know ahead of times the things others have tried that have worked or not worked, you can then more quickly apply the lessons to your lawn care business. Such lessons can save you years of problems with your own business experimentation. Here are some great insights as to what has and hasn’t worked that were shared with us on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum.
One lawn care business owner wrote “Here is a list of some of what’s worked so far (and not):
First and foremost, being very clear about our billing up front with our lawn care customers. I highly recommend that to anyone. We’ve definitely found that a collection problem is a sales problem. Being wishy-washy and just hoping a customer will pay you DOES NOT WORK. Also, dragging our feet and being afraid to ‘fire’ a knucklehead customer in the beginning has cost us time and money. We are now selective about taking on new lawn care customers. If price seems to be a core issue during an estimate (or on the phone to begin with), we’ve found that problems inevitably followed.
Issues with collections in the first few months of starting up is what led to doing our billing on the 15th of every month, making it clear payment is due on the 1st and that there is a $10 late fee after the 5th. Our billing procedures are written on our website. They are discussed with the customer on an estimate visit or follow-up and it is on the agreement the customer signs. We also do a courteous, friendly and breezy follow-up call around the 3rd if no payment has been received.
Sometimes people honestly forget and appreciate the call to avoid the impending late fee. So far, since instituting this payment policy it’s worked out beautifully and we have very few accounts that are in arrears or crazy late. You just have to be careful with budgeting your income when it all comes in almost all at once.
We MAY continue one or two services past the due date for a late paying customer while giving another courtesy call or two in that time frame. We still keep it friendly, but matter-of-fact. If they do not pay as agreed, we do not waste our time and continue to mow. That’s not to say that we aren’t more than willing to work with a customer that has a legitimate delay and/or they happen to contact us within a respective amount of time. We’ll also give the OCCASIONAL courtesy waive on a late fee to a good/well meaning customer.
Setting up a PayPal account that links to our business checking account was a no-brainer and easy enough to do. So many people pay their bills online these days and we wanted to offer our customers that same feature. Customers can pay through PayPal on our website and we do ask that they add a $2 ‘convenience fee’ if they do so. This helps to offset the small percentage of what PayPal charges us for using their service and our customers have no problem with it. A commercial merchant account may be in our future, but PayPal does the job just fine right now.
Setting up an informative and visual website and using every opportunity to direct the public to it is an ongoing must for us. Our website is integral in showing potential customers what we are about and what we have to offer. The web address is on the truck’s side windows and tailgate for those idle moments at stoplights, on our doorhangers, Craigslist postings, on the voicemail of the business cell phone, on our neon green work t-shirts…you get the picture. I built the website myself with the help of a template and I am in no way an I.T. tech.¬† There is no reason not to have a website at the prices available for hosting these days.
‘Top’ Posting on Craigslist EVERYDAY has been great. We make sure to use long, catchy, sometimes quirky subject lines in all caps AFTER deleting the posting from the day before, of course. If the subject line is long and in all caps it stands out from the other postings listed. We’ve found that if we did not post very regularly, there weren’t as many calls. We don’t lag more than a day at most now. A number of our latest new accounts have come from CL (and it’s our slow season). We repost 2 slightly different versions of the same body posting that is comprehensive and easy to read/skim. The Household and Labor sections have been the best sections. It’s great because CL completely free to advertise. We advertised in a free local shopper’s weekly for awhile and it was expensive with NO response at all.
Wasting A LOT of money on tri-fold brochures that we used in our very first doorhanger bags sucked. I finally narrowed the information down to where we got 3 times more inserts by doing a ‘tri-cut’ version where we utilized 1/3 of a page on both sides (black text with some clip art design on a neon green cardstock page). A local printer took care of the printing and cut them for us. We get our bags cheap from an internet site. Keeping it simple has paid off.
Outside of the manual and office work, I’d say studying up on the industry, its trends and consistently educating oneself about all the types of plants, pests, diseases and products out there is an ongoing job in itself. It’s very necessary, but not always easy to invest the time you want into that learning process. Customers always seem to appreciate recommendations based on good knowledge and expertise.”
So try these things out and if it has been helpful, can you email two of your friends about this article? Thanks!