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DFW Area Landscaper
05-31-2005, 09:11 AM
A lot of customers sign up for service and at the time they sign up for service, they are already with TruGreen or Lawn Doctor or another competitor.

If I had all the squirt/fert business from my mowing customers that is currently with competitors, I could probably double my squirt/fert business.

When people sign up for service, I always ask them if they are currently on a fertilizer plan with someone like TruGreen/Chemlawn or Lawn Doctor. About half of them will say yes, they are on a plan, but they've been happy with them. Some say things like "We will try you out for mowing and if that works out, we will see about switching the fertilizer stuff too." I never press the issue...I am glad to get the mowing business.

I realize I will never have the name brand identification that these other companies have. I am able to win a lot of fert/squirt business from customers who don't already use a service, but for those who do use a service, I am, for the most part, not winning the business.

I am considering sending out an offer to all existing weekly mowing clients that would go like this: "Send us a copy of your most recent lawn application bill and we will give you six months of free lawn fertilization and weed control service just for making the switch, provided that you stay with our weekly mowing service. The price for your lawn would be $_____ per application. Please call or e-mail for details."

Realize, I am not trying to get non-application customers to become application customers. I tried that last year on a very small sample of three customers and that did not work. The moral from last year's trial was that if they are too cheap to pay for it on their own, they can't be converted, even if you turn their lawn around and the place looks perfect.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

BCSteel
05-31-2005, 09:23 AM
In extra fine print below all of your other clauses you should put in another clause which states that all mowing customers must employ your services of fert & squirt, period. No other options. Then use the life-time-no-cancelation clause to lock them in for ever.

marko
05-31-2005, 11:10 AM
I would word it carefully. If they sign up for the last 6 months, then use someone new next year your are screwed. I would offer 1 free application or something like that (free insect/grub), free fert, free weed control. Don't give anyone free anything for half your season. Thats too much!

DFW Area Landscaper
05-31-2005, 11:26 AM
Do you think anyone would bother switching from a service they are happy with to my service over a single application? I don't think I would bother over this incentive.

I feel fairly certain that if I offered six months free, 95% of those who read the offer would make the switch. I would also get to see what other companies are charging per application. If I offered it towards the end of the season, the applications in the winter are the least expensive and easiest applications to make. One pass with the tank mix and on to the next lawn. In the summer, there is a lot of back-packing and spot treating that has to be done in addition to pushing the spreader. The nitrogen is the most expensive part of the application and I don't have that cost in the winter months.

Alternatively, if I offered it now, I would pretty much be assured that any customer who accepted the offer would not be canceling the mowing service within the next six months. They would also get to see the difference between my service and everyone elses because we put down a lot more nitrogen than most services, with the exception of Chemlawn.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

marko
05-31-2005, 11:30 AM
Gotta sell the fact that you are on their lawn 27 - 36 times a year, not 4 - 6 times a year like the big boys. When is the last time Tru Green stopped by to just "check out the yard"? Never happens because they are too busy doing apps. They are so busy here that they start their Pre M in Feb-March on top of the snow! If you see a fungus problem, or a broadleaf, you can take care of it instead of having to wait till they come up on your schedule again. Your there every week.
It would be nice to know their pricing schedule, but that is moot since most of the estimators they use could not find the correct square footage if you gave them the length and width. They just want the sale for the commision and could care less if it is feasible or not because the route guy will be doing the work.
I have seen several estimates up to 30% less in area that what it really was.

DFW Area Landscaper
05-31-2005, 11:42 AM
++++Gotta sell the fact that you are on their lawn 27 - 36 times a year, not 4 - 6 times a year like the big boys.++++

Can't sell that without lying. My mowing crews only mow lawns. They don't carry anything other than Fusilade II and Glyphosphate for bed weed control.

I know that people will respond to free. I offered all existing customers a $10 credit if they would agree to e-mail statements instead of regular mail. 3/4 of them took it because they were focused on the ten bucks. Perhaps one app free would work with most. I really don't know.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

GreenUtah
05-31-2005, 11:47 AM
Want the spray business from your mowing customers that are using the nationals? Start by harping on the obvoius. Those companies think nothing of 30% plus churn in residential customers. Unhappy? So what. Don't like mowing foot tall grass each week? And? What? You don't love our endless telemarketing for upsells when you're lawn is struggling and the sales people don't know/care what's already been done, just what you'll agree to? So you got an app you didn't order and refuse to pay it? See ya in court. ...With so many unbelievable openings created by the biggies, why not just point out the obvious to your customers. 1 stop shopping with a company that has more to lose than your next spray app. Sell results and service. If you need to find out what they charge, ask for an estimate on your own home. If you don't know all the atrocious things that they do by now, have them app your house too. I'd frankly be more worried about companies that are overachieving doing the right thing than the marketeers.

trying 2b organic
05-31-2005, 11:52 AM
1. Don't offer anything for free, they will switch because you will do a better job than thier current provider. Because they get free contstant monitoring for insects and disease. (you are thier weekly not monthly). AND last but not least because its one less bill if they pay you to do everything.

2. You talked about the branding issue, the way you make it a non-issue is to back up your claim that you offer fert programs with a very professional postcard explaining and pricing you prgms. You are like me and use designoutpost. I wanted to sell prgms to my cut customers, check out the postcard they did for me to convince people that they can get the same level of service or even better from thier "cut guy". If you want to do it right it will cost a few bucks and take some time. Better to do it that way and charge full price than jump in blind with huge discounting. Its a different philosophy of selling and you already know which one is better. You will want to be the premo service at a reasonalbe price. If you offered me 6 months free I would think it was cute that you were trying but would definatly pass.

DFW Area Landscaper
05-31-2005, 12:08 PM
Honestly, it's a double edged sword. I agree selling against Chemlawn's telemarketing is a smart idea. No one in their right minds would appreciate that as a customer, though I suspect Chemlawn is doing a better job of disguising their telemarketing calls as "we are concerned about your lawn".

That being said, if they switch to me for any other reason, it is a lose-lose situation. If I offer it for free, it will look like I am begging for business if I don't do it in a most professional manner. This could easily lead to a very slippery slope with an otherwise perfectly good mowing client. Once they smell weakness, they will eat you alive!

On the other hand, if they are switching to me because they are unhappy with their current service provider, that's a red flag in and of itself too. There simply aren't any companies that are doing such a lousy job that they should lose customers over it. If they are switching to my service because they are dissatisfied with their current company, odds are, they will be unhappy with my service too. So in the end, I may end up losing a good mowing client that might have stayed with me for mowing only for years on end. I find that customers who take both mowing and applications will almost always cancel both services when they cancel one. Almost never will they cancel just one or the other.

Bottom line is this: If they are using a competing application service when they sign up for lawn mowing, they will almost never make the switch. If they aren't using a competing service for applications, I can snag them if they actually care about the lawn. But the fact remains...I am somehow leaving an aweful lot of money on the tables with regards to the applications business because a tremendous number of my customers are using me for mowing and someone else for the apps. Just had one sign up this morning for lawn mowing...me for mowing...Lawn Doctor for apps.

Maybe there is a better sales pitch I could offer when they call for mowing. Any suggestions?

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

marko
05-31-2005, 12:10 PM
++++Gotta sell the fact that you are on their lawn 27 - 36 times a year, not 4 - 6 times a year like the big boys.++++

Can't sell that without lying. My mowing crews only mow lawns. They don't carry anything other than Fusilade II and Glyphosphate for bed weed control.

I know that people will respond to free. I offered all existing customers a $10 credit if they would agree to e-mail statements instead of regular mail. 3/4 of them took it because they were focused on the ten bucks. Perhaps one app free would work with most. I really don't know.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

If they are carrying Fusilade 2 and Round up they cant look for weeds while they are mowing? Invest some time in training a guy in each crew to do your work for you (your eyes) and report to you at the end of they day. Hey, potential problem at 123 Anystreet. Sounds like you still need to streamline and prioritize some. I thought I read about you calling customers of the service the day before. Why would a $50 - $60/hr employee (you) do that over a $7 - $10/hr employee???? There have to be a ton of stay at home housewifes that would love the work at home option to earn some extra money during the day. Could probably do your billing/CC transactions too!

DFW Area Landscaper
05-31-2005, 06:45 PM
I've given it some thought and offering six months or even a single app for free is just a sign of weakness. Once they smell weakness, they will eat you alive. I need to get something more than just their business in exchange for the free service. A twelve month mowing commitment might be a pretty fair deal.

Perhaps a professionally designed postcard sent to the customers that says:

Get Six Months FREE!

You've tried our weekly lawn mowing service for a while now and you've seen first-hand our commitment to quality at an affordable price. We've also noticed that you aren't a chronic complainer and the relationship appears to be going well. That's why we are offering, for a limited time only, six months free of lawn fertilization and weed control service when you commit to 31 cuts, which is twelve months of mowing service, with our company. After the six months of free application service is over, each application is only $XX.xx. We make six applications per year. See how good your lawn can really look with our service.

In order to qualify, just return this postcard, along with a copy of your most recent lawn application invoice to the address listed below and check the box that says "I agree to a 31 cut commitment for lawn mowing service".

Something along those lines.

Good idea or bad?

Thanks,
DFW Area Landscaper

BCSteel
05-31-2005, 07:11 PM
Good idea or bad?


It depends wether or not your trucks are allowed on the road. Better make sure your saftey inspections are up to date first. And dont forget to make sure that your liscence plates are clearly visable as well.

DFW Area Landscaper
05-31-2005, 09:31 PM
Am I the only LCO on LawnSite that is struggling with this issue?

No one else seems to be experiencing the same problems. I guess there just aren't that many LCO's that mow lawns and do chemical apps. I only know of two others in my area that do both. I suppose consumers are trained to think this way too...hire one company to mow and one to do the chemical apps.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

cantoo
05-31-2005, 09:51 PM
DFW, I don't like the wording on this part "We've also noticed that you aren't a chronic complainer and the relationship appears to be going well." I would leave that out or change it to something better. Something like " to serve you better and save you some money we are offering ......" The saving money part is one stop shopping.
We don't really go after our customers who have someone else spray and fert their lawns but we do target the neighbours especially ones that are real weedy and that seems to wake them up to the fact that we can do weed control. It's hard to change someone when they feel they are already getting a good job done, especially if it won't actually save them money.

marko
05-31-2005, 10:19 PM
Your giving away 6 months for free. Who would not take you up on that? At least only give a 10 or 15% of for 6 months, or beat Chemlawns price for 6 months, something. Why give them a chance to use you for 6 months, then tell you to hit the road, they are going back to chemlawn????? Will your mowing price cover the costs of supplies etc? Sounds crazy to me.

Runner
05-31-2005, 10:32 PM
With me, it is company policy. We do NOT mow anything anyone else ferts. Period. When asked why, even though I really want to say "Because we don't have to.", I restrain myself. lol I tell them the benefits of what we offer compared to what they use. Also, the fact that I AM the company, not some 8 dollar an hour "hose jockey" wanting to finish his quota for the day so he can go home. I get into the nutritional aspect of it a bit (without getting TOO scientific...most people dont care), and educate them on what their lawn COULD and SHOULD look like. From there, I am able to say, "Let's just do one ap, and I'll guaranTEE your lawn will have better results than it's ever had with any other service you may have had. Consider this, you are already in the door,...AND you already have a customer who USES a fert. service. They're already in the market! Also, the point about being there all the time is a MAJOR. As a mower, you are truly concerned about the long term health of the turf.

DFW Area Landscaper
05-31-2005, 10:47 PM
Runner,

I agree. I am already in the door, so to speak, with a purchaser of a product I sell. I am not getting the business and that is what is driving me crazy. As for making it a requirement that they use my service, I don't like issuing the ultimatum. Truth be told, I'd rather have the mowing business and no fert business than have nothing at all. Most customers of fert companies seem to think they're under some sort of contract. I think they are just politely telling me "no".

Marko,

You're right. I think 6 months is too much to give away based on what I've seen with churn within my customer base. I am just brain storming, trying to come up with a way to get the business that I am leaving on the table.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Triple R
05-31-2005, 10:56 PM
I won't take any clients that have another company doing fert apps. I simply state that if I mow it then I want to control the growth rate. I also don't put up with clients fertilizing thier lawns. If they do I have a talk with them and if they keep applying nitrogen then they can find someone else to deal with the growth.

All the maintenance bids I do are broken down to lawn maintenance, lawn weed control, bed maintenance, bed weed control. Lawn fert is bid into the lawn maintenance so the client can decline the weed control but still has to use me for the fert. If they already have a fert-n-squirt company I usually end up with the weed control too. As previously stated use the fact that your company will be onsite weekly as a selling point, it works.

marko
06-01-2005, 08:25 AM
With me, it is company policy. We do NOT mow anything anyone else ferts. Period. When asked why, even though I really want to say "Because we don't have to.", I restrain myself. lol I tell them the benefits of what we offer compared to what they use. Also, the fact that I AM the company, not some 8 dollar an hour "hose jockey" wanting to finish his quota for the day so he can go home. I get into the nutritional aspect of it a bit (without getting TOO scientific...most people dont care), and educate them on what their lawn COULD and SHOULD look like. From there, I am able to say, "Let's just do one ap, and I'll guaranTEE your lawn will have better results than it's ever had with any other service you may have had. Consider this, you are already in the door,...AND you already have a customer who USES a fert. service. They're already in the market! Also, the point about being there all the time is a MAJOR. As a mower, you are truly concerned about the long term health of the turf.


Take to heart what Runner said when he tells you that they are already your mowing customer, and they use a fert service. This is more than half the battle of expanding your business. You know they purchase a service that you sell (weed and feed), and concentrate on them rather than passing out fliers/cold calling to get your 3-4/1000. Since you have strayed from justmowit's therory of "do one thing and do it a lot", maybe you should start training your guys (one on a crew) to start getting into the apps, or at least being able to apply fert after a mowing job. You could come by 2 days after a mow to apply any liquids. Just a thought. Another thought. Start telling new contacts that call you for fert and squirt that you must also mow the lawn. Then explain the benifits.