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The landscaper
10-02-2005, 10:00 PM
What makes you stand out from the competition?
What would your list of things be to make you stand out from the million other companies in your same town. In standing out, I would want everyone in town to recognize my name and not be hesitant to pay a few extra bucks for my quality service.

Mower For Less
10-02-2005, 10:10 PM
This is an excellent question and one that I have been wrestling with for the last 3 years. I am going to be very interested in seeing some of the responses to this one. This is a very difficult industry to differentiate yourself from the competition, but I try to be professional in both my attitude and business practices. Return phonecalls promptly, do quality work, bill regularly (and with return envelopes!), use updated equipment, and a willingness to go the extra mile for a customer when needed.

These are things that seem difficult to put into words for advertising purposes. Word of mouth has been my best ally.

The landscaper
10-02-2005, 10:38 PM
It seems like a lot of things to get this point across cost big bucks. I like to try and keep my overhead down as much as possible but who knows....i will always be interested to see some of these lists.

sheshovel
10-02-2005, 11:07 PM
Your work should stand out and that will make you stand out.
Your way with people will make you stand out,take the time to personaly communicate face to face with your customers at least once a month

1MajorTom
10-02-2005, 11:23 PM
2 things we always hear:
Thanks for returning my phone call, the last 3 guys never called back.
and
You guys are very dependable, you always show up on time.

flam41
10-02-2005, 11:34 PM
only 3 lco in town aerate, none advertise, It is the only one who does. Gets me in alot of yards I wouldnt heve gotten chance to be in. Simple thing, if you can sell the jobyou alredy seem to go the next step from just mowing, to the health of the turf.

olderthandirt
10-02-2005, 11:40 PM
Offer something that know one else offers. A grass seed with your name on the bag. A differnt color mulch that only you can get made. There are many things available to use, you just need to think of your own and then hook up with the right ppl to make it happen

Az Gardener
10-03-2005, 02:55 AM
The best exposure is when someone else is tooting your horn. I am active in associations like The garden conservancy, and local garden clubs. My homes are always sought after for garden tours. That brings media attention this allows you to make connections. Well all of it does. Be prepared for all the attention your about to receive. Have a professional bidding policy and contract, something simple like a performance agreement. When I get called for a bid We send out what I jokingly call a propaganda packet. It has my monthly newsletter I wright, an introduction letter that lets them know what to expect. We do the same thing every time. A sample spreadsheet, this is how I do my bids. My clients are familiar with spreadsheets and it give them a sense of comfort and control, if the cost is to much they can see where the money is going and how to cut costs if they choose. It also has a sample of my performance agreement and my business practices (when time starts and stops, what happens in case of a missed visit, warranties etc. and most importantly, my hourly rates so they have a good idea of the cost before I even get there. I set the appointment for about 1 week after they call I get my packet out promptly and with a little luck if they are not serious they will cancel the appointment and save me time. When I do get there we fill out a customer questionnaire outlining clients likes and dislikes as well as all contact #s, kids name's, pets names. Try to learn as much about what the client expects as well as who is responsible for what. Am I watering the pots? or someone else. I also do a landscape evaluation if I am really busy I often charge for this service or if I get there and realize the place is a wreck form plant nutrition to irrigation to lights I also will offer to do an in depth written evaluation so they know what we are up against to get their property into shape. All these things lead to the undeniable conclusion this is a professional company. While my trucks and trailer are newer and clean I have no advertising, no signs on the truck, we don't even have business cards. I know that will piss alot of guys off and flies in the face of conventional logic. but if you want to stand out you have to be different. I have years of in the field experience but I have followed that up with classes and certifications. Connections are the key, be sure the best architects and contractor's in the area know who you are. Develop a newsletter and send it to them. I even let other Lco's know if they have a pita they can't deal with send em my way. Most pita's know they are, they just want what they want and are usually willing to pay for it. The one thing I caution you about is once you have the attention be sure you are prepared to deliver. I had a client tell me once you sell perfection and the crew does not always deliver. Iwas grateful he told me. All this takes time mostly on your part developing the systems writing the newsletter. I laid the groundwork by doing years of public service on association boards and just being a good guy sharing what I know. Nobody says hire me I do crap work. once you spend that advertising $$ its gone. The systems you develop are unique to your business and will serve you for many years. and for god sake don't send a fruit cake or Poinsettia at Christmas. IF YOU WANT TO STAND OUT YOU HAVE TO DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY!!

topsites
10-03-2005, 03:20 AM
Seems to me I don't gotta do a whole lot to set myself apart, at least half of them are newer / inexperienced... Not to say they don't do a good job, it's about that balance between profit and quality more than anything, I will not spend extra time to make sure it looks good if they're not paying for it, plain and simple.

But I did come up with a new one I've been practicing this year exclusively, and for me, it rocks: Regular customers take priority One always.

Example:
Some guy comes up to me and offers double money to cut his grass: Sorry Charlie, regular customers come first.

The regular customer is LEAST likely to deal with rate increases, and MOST likely to get the work done. The regular customer ALWAYS gets the phonecall returned OR I show up and do something about whatever.

Who is a regular customer? Those who have been with me the longest and, for the most part, call me more than once/year thou I got a few of those, too. A regular customer is someone who doesn't mickey mouse me around, pays me on time, and as a general rule, is pleasant to deal with.

Everyone else can feel free to kiss my azz thou from time to time I pick up another regular.

jeffex
10-03-2005, 05:25 AM
I think returning phone calls and dependability are very important. If you want to charge more you have to have a rapore with your clients. Most of us would like to mo and go and never see anyone but their check. Spending time listening to your customers and explaining services and the cost benefit to them helps upgrade services. If you have a relationship where they trust you to do a good job price wont be the only deciding factor. When my son and or wife help me I make shure to send them to the door to collect. My customers love this. It helps with OUR image as a family run MOM and POP lawn service. Thats our niche.for example , one of my customers had her son move back in with her and offer to cut the lawn for free. She stayed with us because she didn't want to loose us when he moves out. If I had crews I would be out daily talking to customers .Selling services!!!! The guy who cut my Mothers lawn way back would show up with 5 or 6 guys and he would come inside for a chat while his crew worked. They had 250 + lawns and he was the guy to call for lawn cutting. People looked forward to his VISITS. they didn't care what the lawn looked like as long as it was cut. he was clearing $800[ 15 yrs ago]a day doing volume work not high end specialty clients.

Roger
10-03-2005, 06:20 AM
Just show up! I rarely get comments on quality of work, equipment, or other choices ... "We never knew when the other guy was coming."

The landscaper
10-03-2005, 09:04 AM
So, you don't have to have the 40,000 trucks and brand new trailers full of nice equipment. Seem like the majority is just showing up an being personable which is me already. I like to talk with my customers here and there just so they dont think there working with some huge company that doesn't know who they are. I was able to pick up some jobs like that as well. Telling the customer if they go with another guys service, they're most likely just going to be one of a million customers and another stop during the day.

I also think you have to brand your company. Business cards, fliers, truck signs, shirts, ect... Everything you can get your name on....do it. Just like kleenex or Q-tips, both of there names are so branded when you have a runny nose, you want a kleenex, not a facial tissue.

LwnmwrMan22
10-03-2005, 09:17 AM
I've got a 24' enclosed trailer with my name all over the side and back, with my truck lettered.

I also try to get the corner properties, or properties on all the busy roads so people see me everywhere they go.

It's the only advertising I do / have done in 8 years.

95% of everyone else out there just has a pickup with a trailer behind.

IF that was your original question, on how to get more people to call you, it's the only way.

Yes, how your perform your job may land you more accounts, but if no one knows the name of your company, how will they know it's you performing the work?

BSDeality
10-03-2005, 09:18 AM
Get an image/logo and use it on everything... billing, estimates, biz cards, envelopes, return envelopes, trucks, trailers, signs, shirts, hats, sweatshirts, advertising, babys foreheads, well, most of those anyways :).

When a guy asks his neighbor for the name of a LCO he's going to say the name of a company he sees around a lot (visibility). He's not going to remember your company if you have your truck lettered with mailbox letters, or if you have a red truck and a blue truck and a grey primer truck, nor if you have no visibility at all. You have to beat your company logo into their brains anyway possible. Consistency is key. When you see those big golden arches as you're traveling down the highway in an unfamiliar place, chances are (unless you don't do fast food) that you will go to McD's instead of the local place. Those golden arches represent consistency.

It took me a year and a half to figure out I didn't like my original logo, now I have a new one that I am extremely happy with.

DynaMow
10-03-2005, 11:29 AM
Get an image/logo and use it on everything... billing, estimates, biz cards, envelopes, return envelopes, trucks, trailers, signs, shirts, hats, sweatshirts, advertising, babys foreheads, well, most of those anyways

BSDeality, is right on the money, I do all of these. What you think of these?
Local 4th of July parade, Coach and sponsor Little League Baseball, involved with LL Baseball by lining fields, dragging fields, occasional mowing of fields. Pulled a float for homecoming parade. I always, well almost always, wearing a shirt with my company on it.

The goal is to have the guy standing behind my at during checkout at the local supermarket, standing roadside at parade, watching son play ball, recognize my name and logo, so when it comes time for them to need a service, they see that name and are familiar with it. Which is another reason for your advertising to get noticed.

The landscaper
10-03-2005, 01:36 PM
Where do you guys come up with logos? Make them yourself or have help with them. I just use my name right now, no logo, just name and number. But i would like to get a logo going.

LwnmwrMan22
10-03-2005, 04:18 PM
Best thing you can do, go buy Microsoft Publisher, or another publishing program.

You can use it to create all of your own business papers, if you don't have a connection at a printing company.

Remsen1
10-03-2005, 04:41 PM
go to gophergraphics.com. they're a sponsor too.

Flex-Deck
10-03-2005, 09:49 PM
What makes me stand out!
1. I show up on the day I am supposed to and mow timely
2, I change patterns to eliminate wheel tracks, and mow straight lines.
3. I mow with sharp blades and level decks.
4. I trim - EVERY TIME. (Actually my decks do most of it - Heh - Heh)
5. I sell quality, and charge for it.

I do not do the following.
1. Take old customers forgranted. (Heck - don't have to manicure that spot - it really doesn't show)
2. Assume that my job is adequate in the customers eyes - I call and talk to them periodically to ask them if our service is meeting their expectations.

Wells
10-03-2005, 11:06 PM
In order to stand out from the competition you need to be willing to do things differently than the way others do them. Usually this approach is going to cost you more up front but will pay for itself in the long run. The idea is to get your clients and potential clients to start talking to other people they know about your company and the things you're doing.

Here are 16 ideas that should help get you started in becoming a little bit more unique than the other companies out there.

1. While everybody else is handing out business cards made from card stalk,
you could be handing out metal business cards. People can't help but show them to friends and family.

2. Instead of just including a return envelope with your monthly invoices you could be sending them a pre stamped envelope. (The extra .37 cents per client isn't going to bankrupt anyones business) Also, recently I came across a stamp that you can add your own photo too. You could have some stamps made up with a company logo or company picture.

3. You could have some yard signs made up like the Fertilizing companies do the say "Landscape maintained by company so-and-so". Then place them on all of the properties you maintain for constant advertising.

4. In your final invoices you could do a customer appreciation month. The ides is to give something special to all of your clients to say thank you. Perhaps you could give your clients a $5 or $10 gift certificate to Home Depot, movie tickets, dinner certificates or perhaps a free mowing.

5. Business Card Magnets are always a good to hand out to new and potential clients but spend the money to have the nice ones done from a print shop rather than the peel and stick style. The magnets are also useful for hanging your fliers on customers doors or for a paper weight if you leave the flier on a door step.

6. If you do the Home-Shows, or Lawn and Garden Shows you could have some tattoos made up with your company logo on them. The tattoos will attract the kids to your booth and the parents will have no choice but to follow their kids over to your booth. While one person applies the tattoos on the kids the other person sells services to the parents.

7. If your State has a "Adopt a Highway" program you could consider this as a means to next to free advertising. You usually just have to clean your portion of the highway twice a year and in return the State puts up a sign on your portion of the highway with your company name on it.

8. When doing a proposal always provide a hard copy to the client and add a couple of pictures of the property and the square footage. The idea is you want the clients to feel that you are truly interested in their property and if they feel you are willing to go extra with the the proposal you will be more willing to go extra with the yard.

9. As others mentioned you need to always return your phone calls but before first you need to make sure your getting messages. Every missed phone call is a missed opportunity. You need to give any potential client a reason a leave you a message rather then moving on down the phone book. In your message you could mention that you always listen to and respond to your messages every 10 to 20 minutes. Also you could add that if you don't get back to them with a certain amount of time that they can take 10% off any one of your services.

10. Let your clients know that you have a QA/QC plan in place. This is always a good selling point and I can't think of anybody else offering such a thing. Have one guy that goes around periodically and does a quality check of the serviced properties. Then on the clients invoice let them know that their property was checked for quality assurance once, twice or three times that month.

11. Provide all clients a company account representative. The rep can be the same for all clients and can even be you. The idea behind the account reps lets your clients know you feel their account is very important to your company.

12. After acquiring a new client provide them with a packet of company information. The information packet could include such things as a company introduction page, a thank you for choosing us letter, terms and conditions page and a list of company contacts and phone numbers.

13. Take a few extra minutes at each location to make sure everything looks right. You should spend more time working on your quality and less time working on the quantity. Once your quality is tight your work will sell itself.
Also if you take an extra minute to pull a couple of weeds or prun a broken branch the customer will notice.

14. Spend the time to remove any weeds growing in the cracks of the driveway, sidewalks and gutters. Nothing looks worse than a nicely cut lawn with weeds growing up in the gutter and cracks of the sidewalk.

15. Spend the time to periodically communicate with your clients. Anybody can show up and do a mow and go but take the time and get to know your clients. Make each one feel as though they are your favorite customer and you should have a long relationship.

16. If you want to be seen as a professional you need to look and act the part. Have company shirts printed, sweatshirts, rain-gear, coats and hats are also good to have your logo on. Have your company name and logo decals on your truck, lawn equipment and even your cones could have a company decal on them. Also a nice enclosed lawn trailer is always going to get more attention than an open one with equipment hanging off of it.

If your not willing to spend the money in order to stand out from your competition then you better get ready to settle in with the crowd of hundreds of other companies.

Wells
10-03-2005, 11:28 PM
Seem like the majority is just showing up an being personable which is me already.
Sounds good but it really doesn't make you any differnent then the next guy.

Returing phone calls, mowing with sharp blades, mowing on the same day, doing quality work and using good equipment is all good advice but how is that any different then everybody else????

I would actually like to hear some ideas that make your company unique.
Do you run with the pack or are you unique? Let hear em.....

olderthandirt
10-03-2005, 11:32 PM
I would actually like to hear some ideas that make your company unique.
Do you run with the pack or are you unique? Let hear em.....
Post #7......................

The landscaper
10-04-2005, 12:00 AM
I agree, you could easily adopt a busy section of road and have that advertising forever. Good idea there wells.

The landscaper
10-04-2005, 12:09 AM
I also try and socialize with the customers here and there. Especially older folks, they love to see and talk to someone whenever possible.

The enclosed trailer is great, as it is a moving billboard. People may drive by and not even notice you mowing if your using an open trailer, but a large white "billboard", who can miss that.

One last thing and I will quit rambling...The quality check is great. I think people may really appreciate the extra effort to stop by and make sure there lawn is perfectly manicured.

Great posts and keep them coming. This is probably one area where everybody struggles and falls into the crowd. I like that saying "only dead fish flow in the current"

I like the packet for new clients. That could be a great way to get off to a good start and start the referral process already. Put coupons and things for services, lists of all services. This would be a great place for pens, magnets, cards, and any other "freebees"


I have been working on a logo lately, so I can start branding my name and logo into everybodies heads. I want everybody in my working area to think of my company whenever they need something done.

Having good polite, not looking like ex-con employees can help too. You can sell yourself and your company all you want....but if your employee shows up looking like he has just gotten out of jail, what will they think.

I have company shirts for empoyees, and they wear kahki pants and boots. Also ear protection and eye protection for an extra touch of professionalism and safety.

lawnrangeralaska
10-04-2005, 12:56 AM
competition? i have none , i do good work and people like it so basically i have no competition. i am it.

brucec32
10-04-2005, 02:32 AM
2 things we always hear:
Thanks for returning my phone call, the last 3 guys never called back.
and
You guys are very dependable, you always show up on time.

I would say the same thing. Plus do what you say you will do w/o excuses. So many companies "expect" customers to deal with their breakdowns and employee no-shows.

I wonder if having an American workforce that is well paid and professional would make one stand out, but I doubt many are willing to risk that strategy.

It would be kind of like being the QuickTrip (a convenience store chain) of the lawncare biz. They do everything better, starting with hiring sharp pleasant people for more money, and their always full parking lots show it works. I used to work for a company that did business with convenience stores. It was a pleasure to deal with them. I loathed going into 7-11's. Guess who's not still around here?

topsites
10-04-2005, 02:49 AM
This just happened to me today ...


You know how you do everything you think is right, you do it all for them, you do all that fancy crap to try and stand out, do a good job right?

So then one calls me last evening to talk about something I don't normally do but seeing how things are slow, why not, right? Not for cheap, but more reasonable than the pro (it was a tree)... So ok, told customer would take a look at it today ... and by the time I get there, some dude in a raggedy looking truck had it all done.

Oh yeah, I got a call this evening to let me know it was taken care of.


See how that works?

Mower For Less
10-04-2005, 09:53 AM
So your saying you stand out by not getting to your customers fast enough? Make them wait, it will build percieved value, it that the lesson??? :rolleyes:

Kevin

Wells
10-04-2005, 06:21 PM
Joining your local Chamber of Commerce is also a idea that might work well for you.

The Chamber that I'm associated with puts together and distributes Welcome Bags to all new residents that move into our City. The bags are usually filled with all sorts of coupons and Freebies from various businesses around the City. We add a lawn care coupon to the bags. Seems like the cost is around $15 per every 100 bags.

With people moving in and out of your City all the time it might be worth looking into as you are always targeting new potential clients before they start receiving fliers from other companies.

ed2hess
10-04-2005, 10:49 PM
One thing that made a difference for us was use of internet for estimates, problems, billing, and payments. We limit the phone use and don't have much personal contact with residential, on the other hand we pamper the commerical a couple times a week.

The landscaper
10-04-2005, 11:06 PM
Does anybody have a voicemail that says something like..I will return you call within 24 hours or ......... something like that. Wells had brought that up and that would be encouraging for a customer to hear when they call in

daveintoledo
10-04-2005, 11:10 PM
Offer something that know one else offers. A grass seed with your name on the bag. A differnt color mulch that only you can get made. There are many things available to use, you just need to think of your own and then hook up with the right ppl to make it happen

why cant i think like that, oh wait, i can haahahahaah

The landscaper
10-04-2005, 11:13 PM
Olderthandirt, do you do any of those things, the grass seed or mulch ideas. If so, how do they work out for you?

Wells
10-04-2005, 11:40 PM
Does anybody have a voicemail that says something like..I will return you call within 24 hours or ......... something like that. Wells had brought that up and that would be encouraging for a customer to hear when they call in

My voice mail actually says that I wil get back to you within The Hour.
The are very few instances where I haven't been able to get back to a client within that time frame.

The landscaper
10-04-2005, 11:51 PM
Thats pretty good. That must really look to new customers. Sets a good first impression.

How about branding your name by giving out t shirts and things to have other people wear around. Or could be hats or whatever. Just another way to have your name everywhere. This upcoming season I am going to focus on branding my name and image. I feel that will work well and have been looking forward to seeing the response from it.

olderthandirt
10-04-2005, 11:55 PM
Olderthandirt, do you do any of those things, the grass seed or mulch ideas. If so, how do they work out for you?

Yes I do those things and they work out great those 2 ideas alone grossed me an EXTRA 80k this yr. And the reason I know is that we ask the customers or they mentioned it.

The landscaper
10-05-2005, 12:13 AM
Holy S**t, 80k from your name on grass seed bag and different color mulch. Is it mostly from the mulch? I didnt realize you had such a large company. Congrats.

Where do you get the mulch made up and what is your special color?

olderthandirt
10-05-2005, 12:33 AM
Holy S**t, 80k from your name on grass seed bag and different color mulch. Is it mostly from the mulch? I didnt realize you had such a large company. Congrats.

Where do you get the mulch made up and what is your special color?

Not from just selling the grass seed, but from installing MY seed which as I explained to my customers is superior to other brands. And we have a Copper color mulch that is mixed just for us

The landscaper
10-05-2005, 08:36 AM
Is the seed actually any different or does it just have your name on it.

copper mulch sounds sweet.