PDA

View Full Version : New strategies?


EarthTones
09-02-2009, 10:50 AM
Ok,so I am new here,so first off hello fellow scapers.
Here is my situation & I would appreciate any advice from anyone who has been in a similar situation. I am 27 years old & run a small eco-friendly landscape maintenance/design company in usda zone 9, N. California,North bay area. I am licensed,insured & a member of the CLCA & love doing design work,but have to do mostly landscape/irrigation maintenance & small jobs to keep live. I have lived here in CA about 4 years & run my business for about 3 years here,before that I had clients back on the East coast for about 2 years.

My situation is this & I know times are hard right now,but as I sit here for day three this week of no work at all,I need some hope. I have had some decent size design jobs & good sized maintenance accounts. At first my business progressed decently for being a transplant,but now I'm in a hole. I've lost most my big accounts because the people said they were happy with my work,but had to make financial decisions & "cut back", now I'm starting to lose all my small ones for the same reason & I haven't had a design job in over a year. I'm basically starving & am down to 7 accounts,which are mowing & general maintenance,these do not pay a ton either,they range from $75-250 a month. I see many other larger companies in my area & many illegal looking dudes doing a lot of work around,so there is work out there.

I have at this point cut my rates to compete,I have a huge yellow pages ad,I have my logo & business/license info on my truck,I advertise on Craigslist, I go door to door,I always talk about my business to new people when I get a chance,I put cards/flyers out at all the local organic markets,I have tried putting out commercial bids,the list goes on,I always here word of mouth is the best & that worked for me back east,but not out here in CA,I've never gotten one word of mouth out here,only people that said how nice the work was & then they flaked out & I am losing all my clients steadily so word of mouth at this point seems like a sinking ship .

So,what would you experienced guys who have been through similar times do to start picking things up? I don't know where to start,I spent all day Mon. going door to door with cards,no luck.
There aren't many part-time jobs here & everyone I have had either let me go because they didn't have enough work or they don't want to hire because you have your own company & they are "not comfortable "with it. Man,this sucks,I just want to get working & build myself up,but everyone seems so stingy in this area,they either don't want to pay or they "do it themselves" or "already have a guy". There has to be some hope,I see chumpy guys doing crap work all over staying busy & I do top shelf,quality work & offer comparable rates & am just down & out. Sorry for the long post,thank you for any words of wisdom:confused:

topsites
09-02-2009, 11:49 AM
I think your sights might be set a little on the high side.

EarthTones
09-02-2009, 12:12 PM
I think your sights are set too high.

What do you mean? What should I do to get myself out there more & improve my situation so I can get busier?
I had 2 large accounts I had for 2 years & just lost them 6 months ago,one was $1,000 a month estate maintenance & the other was $500 a month,I has these for a while no problems. I 've had numerous $5-10,000 design/install job & a couple larger ones. So it's hard to go from that to nothing,if you know what I mean. I'm not expecting to start at the top,but I have my start already & need to keep it going.

I have tried to keep my sights/expectations low,a few months ago I picked up 2 houses next door to each other just twice a month mow & blows ones was $100 & one was $60 a month & although not estates,just tiny CA lawns,not much money,but I was excited & proud to have any work & I just lost those on Sun.,the guy wanted to cut back & do it himself & I guess he is going to mow the old lady next doors too while he is at it.

As far as saying chumpy guys too,I'm not being arrogant or a dick,I have nothing but love & respect for fellow landscapers/gardeners. I am talking about the high end houses where the lawns are half brown & the shrubs are trimmed too short and/or unnatural looking & they just look poorly done & you see the guy out there pretending to know what he is doing taking business from people who do know what hey are doing,but I guess the customers don't pay much and are happy? And also the large companies that do sub-par work but get work just because they are big companies,I hate this,they rush & do the crappiest job possible & get paid well. I guess I was just bitching because it hurts to be the man of the house & have nothing to do,while your wife goes off & works all day,comes home & bitches,I need to keep busy to pay the bills & stay sane!

A lot of companies here do a great job as well & that is a hard part of competition too,so many properties look immaculate & people are happy with their landscaper,so many nice properties are taken. I guess I haven't been here in CA that long if that is what you are saying & it will take time to build,but my frustration comes from,right when it seems like I'm building up,it all collapses again back down to almost nothing.:hammerhead:

rob7233
09-02-2009, 08:22 PM
I think your sights might be set a little on the high side.

I was kind of wondering what you meant by the above statement also...

Would you mind explaining your viewpoint and why?

SangerLawn
09-02-2009, 09:24 PM
I want to make sure this is clear….I do not mean any of this in a negative way at all!!!!

If you any money at all I would recommend getting a good sales man. The work is out there no matter who you are. For some reason your just not having any luck with whatever sales pitch you are using. Maybe a new face will bring your business back to life?

Mckenzie's Maintenance
09-03-2009, 12:24 AM
I have no experience in your situation...thankfully...but I wish you the best of luck

Az Gardener
09-03-2009, 01:16 AM
Don't pay any attention to Toppy, no one else does :laugh:

I see a myriad of problems from here, the biggest being you got some bad juju working right now. Did you vote for Obama? That could be it.

People sense desperation and you just need to shake that, and it is so much easier said than done.

Welcome to lawn site, check out my e myth thread in the business section, keep your head up and good luck.

Az Gardener
09-03-2009, 01:57 AM
Check your PM

EarthTones
09-03-2009, 03:44 PM
Thanks for the words guys. My girlfriend is young,cute & very good with people,she might make a good salesperson,or I may have to dress up & try a go myself because I can't afford to hire anyone right now.

How would you approach these salesman deals? Door to door with flyers or cards? Where would be a good place to start to sell my company & it's organic/sustainable ethics without annoying anyone too badly?:confused:
Anyways,I was back to work today & have a few high end accounts tommorrow,so I feel a little better,but sitting around for three days with no work & bills rollin' in,no good. But again I appreciate the support & didn't mean to kinda ***** the other day. I just need to figure out how to better market,it seems when I try I annoy people,they already have a guy or company or they don't care,so finding the right salespitch & sales situation I guess is key.

Az Gardener
09-04-2009, 12:20 AM
Organic and sustainable sounds expensive. In this economy you need to be selling value. "Hire me to protect and increase the value your landscape has to your home." Perception is not everything but its important especially for your first impression.

Make a game of it, develop 3-5 pitches, get them down and then run them out there see which one yields the best results then refine it make it better.

I was also going with the "holistic approach" but was quickly shot down by a group of professionals who said sounds expensive. I tried to explain it wasn't they said dosen't matter you wont get the opportunity to explain it and if you do they wont believe it.

I took them at their word and went with the value approach and it does seem to be resonating. I have picked up 3 new accounts in the last month and have a big one to bid right now. I have not lowered my price but I have been doing more warranty or freebies. Many times I am 3-4 times higher than the previous guy.

EarthTones
09-04-2009, 12:44 AM
Thanks Az.
I have had others,including my mom say not to include organic in my advertising,because it sounds expensive & will scare people away. Truthfully it doesn't cost me much more in overhead & I charge reasonable rates,but I agree that psychologically,it may scare people & they may think $$$$$$$$ & be scared away. So good point there,but I thought it would set my business apart & be appreciated here in Northern Cal.,but organic honestly did better for me back East,because everybody here is organic,shmorganic.

Funny too,my mom was saying to try to tell people that you can increase & protect their property values with reasonable design rates & maintenance/clean-ups,I guess I should have listened. You are totally right though,I am worrying too much about my personal values & the planet with the sustainable pitch,so people are kinda selfish & concerned about their finances,so that is definately a good strategy to try & convince them their landscaping protects or boosts their property values,which here in the Bay area have dropped A LOT.
Do you think a flier or a small pamphlet is best? I am on a tight budget,but this weekend I will be printing up something with the real estate concept & a couple new pitches & seeing what happens. I do know a few real estate folks who said they would network with me,but they are pretty down & out right now & haven't gotten me squat,so I will take this into my own hands.

Az Gardener
09-04-2009, 01:07 AM
#1. Do a one page newsletter. Insert some pic's of your work if you can. List 5 things that their current gardener may be doing to cost them $$$. Educate them on what should be happening with their lawns, shrubs, trees,fertilizing, irrigation schedules, seasonal flowers, plant replacements, right now, this time of year. Don't sell you, give them education. They don't care that much about us they want to know how we can help them.

#2. Moms always right!

dvog
09-07-2009, 10:09 AM
I would get rid of the yellow pages ad an advertise on google.Its dirt cheap and i get tons of work from it.

mowerbrad
09-07-2009, 10:41 AM
Az is right, you need to develope a good sales pitch. It's just like the info-mercials on TV, they try to sell you something that you don't really need, but they make you think that you can't live without it. That is how you need to sell your company, something that your potential customer can't live without.

jada86
09-09-2009, 06:08 AM
You need to continue to market but directly to those who already understand eco-friendly services. Find groups in your area who focus on this and join them and network with the people. Connect with other contractors or vendors of eco products and develop a referral program for them. Eco friendly pest control contractors would be a good start. House cleaners is another idea. Let all the non-profits who focus on eco know that you offer eco services - place ads in their newsletter. Submit articles on eco friendly landscape to your local news papers, esp. the free ones. In our area, there are even free magazines about eco these days. They would probably love an article or two.

Do you have a website? If not, get one today!

LouisianaLawnboy
09-09-2009, 11:42 AM
Thanks for the words guys. My girlfriend is young,cute & very good with people,she might make a good salesperson,or I may have to dress up & try a go myself because I can't afford to hire anyone right now.

How would you approach these salesman deals? Door to door with flyers or cards? Where would be a good place to start to sell my company & it's organic/sustainable ethics without annoying anyone too badly?:confused:
Anyways,I was back to work today & have a few high end accounts tommorrow,so I feel a little better,but sitting around for three days with no work & bills rollin' in,no good. But again I appreciate the support & didn't mean to kinda ***** the other day. I just need to figure out how to better market,it seems when I try I annoy people,they already have a guy or company or they don't care,so finding the right salespitch & sales situation I guess is key.

There is a thread on here about Sales Guy, but anyway I think the way you need to get a salesperson on commission only. In the BLUE state of CA there are many people out of work, therefore there must be an excellent salesman that just can't get any work and might work for you on commission only. I mean 10% of a 10,000 is a 1,000.00, thats good money.

tinman
09-21-2009, 06:28 PM
I'd start a blog (if you dont have a website just buy a domain name and point it to a free blog on wordpress). This alone will not fix your problem but it will get you some work from people who are only shopping online. Create some content a do it DAILY so google will find your site for potential clients.

shane mapes
09-21-2009, 10:09 PM
welcome to lawnsite. i to are from the bay. Dixon bet wen San Fransisco & Sacramento. part of your problem is that the mow n blow guys are doing design work here because work is so slow. i do maintenance from Vallejo to Davis which is about 75 mile radius. i only work 2.5 days a week. i work with a few Realtors & i to do installs now because it is slow. you may want to try service magic. here were i'm @ it has helped me big time.i sign most leads i get. only get 1-2 per month. but it is work.