View Full Version : Aeration - brilliant idea or scrubby?

09-13-2002, 12:01 AM
I've purchased a Plugr 600 aerator. I will pick it up tomorrow.

I am seriously considering doing a direct mail campaign to target certain neighborhoods, and offer a set aeration price for the neighborhood, a "one size fits all" approach.

And yes, I am considering something substantially below the $10 or $12 per 1000 sq ft benchmark that seems to be common.

I have found a website - http://quantummail.com that will let you target a neighborhood (put in an address, say that you want 250 pieces) and it will generate a mail list or use a zip code, etc. to generate a mailing. You can then custom design a postcard and they will print and mail it for about .42 each.

I could hit all of the 260 homes in my neighborhood for $120 to 140. I am thinking of offering a price of $89 for any home in the neighborhood if they call and schedule by a certain deadline (like within 10 days of the mailing) for October or November aeration. Lot sizes range from 8-14,000 of turf area.

I believe I could aerate any lawn in the neighborhood in less than one hour, most would be 30 to 45 minutes.

In my simple mind, that would yield a fairly decent hourly rate.

I know everyone talks about aeration being a premium service, but if I can generate 100 aeration customers this season at $89 per, I think that would be a great return on my investment in the aerator.

Comments, thoughts, criticisms.

What is wrong with this scenario?

09-13-2002, 12:09 AM
I would bet that your mailing would generate between 2-7 customers....

I think you are on the right track but increase the number of direct mail prospects dramatically to get to the magic number of 100.

09-13-2002, 12:14 AM
Right, I am just using that for an example, I know that I would have to get a lot more mailings or flyers out to generate 100 customers.

09-13-2002, 12:32 AM
Nebraska, nice to see you back.

Bruce, sounds and seems like a great idea. Also while you are there, give them a bid for other services.

I think the name of the thread was "aeration for $45", look at it for some pointers.

BTW thanks for the link.:D

09-13-2002, 12:56 AM
Bruce, there are going to be those that will tell you not to "devalue" the services by offering a lower than "usual" rate. Toss their advice in the trash because that is where it belongs.... This is the reason lawngodfather says "nice to see you back"..... I used an idea similar to what you have but took it as far as possible and generated a multitude of new customers that take advantage of many of the services that we offer that are more re-occuring than an aeration (hint: you can't aerate more than 1-2 times per year). I have had MAJOR increases with this method just as long as you are presenting the full package!

09-13-2002, 01:03 AM
Nebraska you must have been "real" busy, no email, no posts in months.

Lot's of work huh?

09-13-2002, 01:05 AM
3 trucks and 2.5 crews later.......some weird in law **** brought me back a few days ago...
that "****" was krap!

09-13-2002, 04:00 AM
I don't know about direct mail. But in general, this concept works very well.

I have a friend who owns a business where all he does is just aerating and dethatching. Day 1 he will go lay a few hundred flyers in a neighborhood. The flyers say, "AERATING SPECIAL TOMORROW." and he charges like $20 for front yard and $40 for front and back. (keep in mind, postage stamps around here. Aerating time = 10-15 minutes tops most yards 'round here.) The homeowners put the flyer out the next day with a check and if he sees the flyer on the garage he stops and aerates. He makes a good $500-1000 per day doing this.

There is another outfit called "Aerate America" who does the same thing, except they literally go all over the United States doing this. They hit nice neighborhoods in big cities all over the U.S.

It's a great concept. And it seems to work really well if it's aerating time.

Again, I think Flyers would produce a lot better results than direct mail would. But of course, flyers take work and effort. ;)

09-13-2002, 05:37 AM
well Jim the concept you mention might be fine if you know the lawn...what about irrigation lines, Invisible Fence, and the fact that there might be 'whatever' hiding a few inches under the turf...not having any kind of agreement signed would concern me a bit but I do like the marketing concept

09-13-2002, 07:52 AM
Do it, but multiply your quantity by 10.

I spent $1600 on 3000 direct mail pieces two weeks ago and have generated $6000 in in new business month-to-date. $4500 of this is in new annual accounts, the rest in aerations which of course get solicited for additional services.

One suggestion: don't limit youself to "any lawn in the neighborood", canvass multiple neighborhoods in which you already work and state:
$89 most lawns* call for details. This way you'll get more calls and can qualify more prospects.

I put out 3000 pieces and have received around 30 calls thus far but i continue to receive calls every day.

09-13-2002, 09:49 AM
Jim Lewis wrote
It's a great concept. And it seems to work really well if it's aerating time. Again, I think Flyers would produce a lot better results than direct mail would. But of course, flyers take work and effort.

Jim, I've gone both ways on this. Which gets thrown in the trash quicker, an unsolicited flyer or postcard? I am probably going to try the direct mail first for ease of getting them out. I might also flyer the same neighborhoods.

LGF wrote
Bruce, sounds and seems like a great idea. Also while you are there, give them a bid for other services.

LGF, Will do, also will add to customer list and do mailing in spring for annual services, etc.

RMDoyon wrote
One suggestion: don't limit youself to "any lawn in the neighborood", canvass multiple neighborhoods in which you already work and state:

I am not limiting myself to a neighborhood, per se, what I am thinking about doing on the direct mail is to generate a separate mailing for each neighborhood I target. That way I can set a price for neighborhoods. What I mean is I can determine an average size lawn for a neighborhood and set a price, $89 for this neighborhood, $49 for the neighborhood with small lots, $129 for neighborhoods with large lots, etc.

The mailing service seems that I can pick subdivisions to mail to if I have an idea of the street addresses, so I can design my message to say
"Aeration, any Cliffs lawn $89"

or "Aeration, any Lakewood lawn $119"

Thanks for your input!

LakeSide Lawn and Landscape
09-13-2002, 08:56 PM
I tried the aerating deal today for only $25 per yard the lawns are very small!Only got out about 200 flyers but i have already recieved to calls!I think that is a good sign for alot more calls, what do you guys think???

09-13-2002, 09:54 PM
Bruce , I posted this same answer on another lawn forum that I can't mention here or this post will get deleted.

'Hey Bruces, I saw today in the K.C. Star newspaper FYI section a article about aerating now to renovate the lawn and do it 2 times a year if bad yard. They mention it cost about $30 - $50 to rent a machine.

Yout might want to wait for a few days of rain before start aerating since I don't think you can get the machine to pull plugs yet in this concrete dirt.'

09-13-2002, 11:54 PM
I am just trying to line up some business now for later in the month or October.

I won't do any until we get some rain unless the properties are irrigated.

09-15-2002, 04:16 PM
I put a $49/lawn ad in a shopper paper this past spring after hearing about some guy in Georgia promoting his application work that way.

I had been running full page ads prior. It got me calls for cheap aerations and I converted NONE to programs and I didn't get program calls from that ad.

All my other ads got program calls and I sold pretty good off them. Unlike some I can only offer programs or irrigation services.

I tried to contact the company featured in the magazine article but I could never reach a live person and they never returned my call even though I said they could call on my dime.

I won't be doing it again unless I find out how others created success with it. I did limit the size to 9k with larger lawns higher.

A one time event but a bitter dissapointment.

09-16-2002, 11:52 PM
Well, I did the mailing tonight using Quantummail.com. I mailed to 270 homes in my neighborhood, decided not to use a flat price, gave price examples as follows

8,000 sq ft $69

10,000 sq ft $89,

call for free estimates,

schedule now for Oct & Nov aerations.

I customized an aeration cross section photo and added my logo on the address side, total cost was $204 including printing, postage and mailing.

It should go out tomorrow or the next day, I will post a picture of the card when I get it and keep everyone posted on results.

12-30-2002, 05:31 PM
so....what was the end result?

12-30-2002, 09:21 PM
Maybe it's just the black gumbo soil here in TX but if I were to discount services it would not be for aeration. I would discount a less labor intensive operation and then only if the customer keeps the service for an entire year. Cancellation prior to 12 months would void any and all discounts. Lowering your price and devaluing your service is okay with me. My problems with this occurs when individuals start whining about when customers start throwing it back with an either take it at your old price or leave attitude. I may look at you with a weird expression and say, "Man, I think you're nuts," but the bottom line is it's your business and to **** with what others think. My philosophy is charge what I have to create a comfortable profit margin and then leave it there. My Mama always told me, "If you're not going to make money at least be comfortable when you're doing it."

It sounds like you're trying to generate a spring time cash flow. My suggestion is too slowly convert your customer base to a 12 month pro-rated payment plan. All new customers go on this plan with no exceptions. Over a twelve month period I receive the same gross income. For roughly 4 months I have no overhead to speak of that is unless I get lazy and drag out an employee on a Sat. You need a well written service agreement, which I will help anyone with. I bit the bullit five years ago and will never look back at a "pay as you go" business. I go into spring with a flush of cash reserves, can take advantage of all the dealer sales incentives on new equipment (nothing makes them get so warm and fuzzy over a customer like a wallet full of $100.00 bills) and I never offer a discount anymore.

12-30-2002, 10:53 PM
$89 most lawns* call for details
hmmmm where have i heard that before?

12-31-2002, 11:00 AM
Originally posted by MacLawnCo
so....what was the end result?

Mailings took longer than I expected to hit the mail boxes. I misunderstood the lead time involved (didn't ask enough questions). I wound up with a couple of jobs that more than paid for the mailing (one will probably be a regular customer).

I would probably do the mailing again without the discount.

I think that if the timing would have been better (gotten them out sooner) the results could have been better. I did get fairly good results from my newspaper ads at standard prices ($10K).

12-31-2002, 11:53 AM
Hey Bruces,

I am thinking of buying a Plugr this winter... how do you like it?

Does anyone else use one... or prefer a different brand... and why?

Thanks, Clay