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View Full Version : What seperates you from the competition?


Big Jake
04-22-2011, 11:14 AM
I was having lunch with a successful business owner yesterday and was picking his brain about business in general.

I asked him what should a small business owner do to grow its business? His first answer was to find what separates you from your competition and capitalize on it. He said it may be a unique product or service.

So I am curious to hear from successful guys in this industry on what made your business better than the other guys? Pretty much everyone can make a go at this business if they want to but how did you put your brand above the others and make it the BEST.

I'm not hung up on equipment purchases, etc...that's part of it, got to have good tools. I am more interested in hearing business side of things.

My goal is to grow into a business that I don't have to be the operating the equipment.

thanks for your advice!:)

airsoft1779
04-22-2011, 11:28 AM
For me, 100% of my business is referrals and recommendations from the client. Everyone can mow grass and make it look great, so you need to separate yourself from them to get a more positive image over them and make yourself better then they are. A few ideas from me that I do will make the client like you a million times more. It is the little things that make the big difference. Some examples are this

1) if they are unloading groceries, help them. Bring in their trash can from the street when you can. Little stuff like this will make them LOVE you and they will talk about you to everyone about how great you are.

2) In every full service account I have, I have planted a vegetable garden for them. Since i was already maintaining the bed and it was available, I took 30 minutes and planted some vegetables. I just let them grow and then give them the vegetables. Takes just 30 minutes to install and thats all, and then you give them the produce and they LOVE it. Again, giving you a good image and SEPARATING you from the rest of them.

3) Spending the extra 10 minutes to make the yard really stand out. That means making it look spotless, down to every twig. You have to stand out!

4) I have found that if you create a little bit of a personnel relationship with them, they will be a ton more loyal to you year after year. But you don't want it to be a real personnel relationship, as you still want the relationship to be business, but just enough.

just some ideas..

DocClark
04-22-2011, 11:41 AM
Branding, running the same distinct, clearly recognizable, logo on everything, from trucks, mowers, biz cards, ALL advertisements, shirts, hats, etc...Also selling convienience, meeting the customer whenever I have to, even if it means moving my plans around. Also monthly billing, doing little things free like throwing down some fertilizer if I'm doing a big job and have enough profit to make sense, bringing the newspaper to the door, helping carry in groceries, well you get the idea. Wash the trucks every morning before going to work, park an extra vehicle in a Very high visability area so people get used to seeing your logo, but you must have a VERY distinct Logo and not on magnets, I'm talking it should cover your doors and maybe go onto the bed a little and be bright colors!

Advertise everywhere, ALL newspapers, Door hanger as many house as you can, preferably thousands of them. And ALWAYS use your logo that is very distinct and memorable. News channels have advertising available on their website only that runs around $50 a month at least in my area. Get on there, tons of exposure, very few calls but it drives the logo. People will get to the point where they start to think of you as a reputable biz instead of some guy with a mower.

Make things easy, affordable, and get people to like you. It takes a TON of money to do it but long term, I can see the light! I am still spending more money each month then I am making, but I am willing to do that to grow to the size that I want to be at.

DA Quality Lawn & YS
04-22-2011, 12:41 PM
For me, as a sole proprietor so far, my keys have been friendly eyeball to eyeball service, quality of service, professional way of doing business, and the fact that I do ALL my own business so people can put their trust in me, not some employee that they never met before.

That said, to grow, you need to pass some work on to employees at some point, so I plan to be VERY strict with who I hire in the future.

vencops
04-22-2011, 03:42 PM
1. I don't do business with people I don't know.

2. I offer MANY other services....other than lawn maintenance/landscaping.

Big Jake
04-22-2011, 03:49 PM
Thanks for the advice guys. Much appreciated.

wild willy
04-22-2011, 03:58 PM
if you combine airsoft..DA...and vencops you have the ultimate all around answer...it couldn't have been said any better.
you can have 100 idiot customers that dont care about you or you them or you can have a close knit group of customers that you want to shovel out 5 yards of dirt by hand from their backyard and not ***** about it.
I have a senior that is a shut in and every month I take her a loaf of fresh baked cheese bread...price $3.50 worth= endless...son gave me tickets to leafs game a few times as an appreciation...not that I wanted to see a losing team lol

Southern Pride
04-22-2011, 05:57 PM
Quality is #1. I used a guy today to just to get through the day and he was terrible. Even though he had trimmed/edged with his dad he wasn't holding up to my standards. I had to constantly go behind him on edging etc. If it's just me the final product is dang near perfect but for me hiring solid employees is crucial. It scares me to ever have to hand it over. I know that they just won't be able to do as good of quality. A $10/hr guy can only care so much...

It sounds like you're interested in starting up but wanting to just do business and not get dirty and hand things off as soon as possible. I say go out and cut 10 yard in a day yourself and find out for yourself the right way (your way) of doing everything. This will come in 10 fold when it comes time to train guys. If you just try to hire guys and cut them loose you'll sink the boat. It takes ALOT of hard work, focus, etc.

yardguy28
04-22-2011, 06:56 PM
for me i think it's customer service.

i treat clients how i would want to be treated by a lawn service. i provide service like i would expect a lawn service to provide it to me.

while i won't say my actual prices make much of a difference but i'm more interested in providing my clients with quality services at a FAIR price than padding my pockets.

i work with clients to get the money. if they need a payment plain i will put them on it. i also make suggestions as to what is the cheapest route to get the job done.

for example. i offer 2 different ways to do fall clean ups. the first way is come on a weekly basis mowing up the leaves and blowing out the mulch beds for a little extra than the weekly mowing price. the second way is to show up 2 or 3 times and remove all the leaves from the property.

9 times out of 10 its cheaper to come on a weekly basis mowing them up and spending maybe 15 min. top blowing out the mulch beds. i will always push for this way. sure it makes me less money but its easier for me to do it this way and saves the client some money.

if you try to save clients money i feel they are more likely to stick with you for a few reasons. one they will have more money to spend on you in the long run. secondly they feel you care. your not just some greedy person out there to make a buck at whatever cost.

topsites
04-22-2011, 07:02 PM
for me i think it's customer service.

if you try to save clients money i feel they are more likely to stick with you for a few reasons. one they will have more money to spend on you in the long run. secondly they feel you care. your not just some greedy person out there to make a buck at whatever cost.

Oh yeah, I forgot...
I spoil them.
Rotten.

Oh, it's bad.

I mean I set up appointments to do the work when they ARE home!

So they can come out and do that thing of breathing down my neck and all of that.

They love it.

Golfpro21
04-22-2011, 07:39 PM
CUSTOMER SERVICE

treat them like they are your only customer, return phone calls promptly, show up when you say you will show up.....use professional equipment, professional invoices/quotes/receipts, look professional, align your company with other professional companies in your area

TNGrassCutter
04-22-2011, 08:28 PM
Honestly my name separates me from other companies here. Instead of going with one of the hundred _________'s lawn care we have here I picked a different name.
Posted via Mobile Device

tacoma200
04-22-2011, 10:23 PM
Honestly my name separates me from other companies here. Instead of going with one of the hundred _________'s lawn care we have here I picked a different name.
Posted via Mobile Device

I heard of one company called "MoBetter Lawn Care". It was on a post for most unusual lawn care names. I got a laugh out of it.

GMLC
04-23-2011, 09:34 AM
Professionalism! Smile and look into your clients eyes when you talk to them. Clean uniforms, I use polo shirts. Clean trucks and equipment. Don't do good work do perfect work. Use proper english when talking and on all paperwork. Take a moment to talk with your clients about something other than work. Appreciate the business!!!!
Posted via Mobile Device

lukemelo216
04-23-2011, 10:24 AM
I agree the most with what gmlc stated. We use a uniform company, everyday fresh clean new uniforms, with company name and their name on them. Every job is done at 100%, we make sure of it. If its a multi day job, everything is moved out of the way, put in a nice organized pile, tarped and tied down, and everything is cleanup off the drives walks etc. Even if it takes us 30 minutes at the end of the day, we do stuff like that, it shows the customer you care. I also like what someone else said, to bring in the garbage cans, or bring up the paper for them. If we are mowing and the cans are out and emptied, we will grab them and walk them up to the garage door for them and put them there.

Most importantly answer the phone. I always read on hear and have talked to clients too that no one answers the phone. When I am out of the office and in the field, the office line is forwarded to me, and I will stop what I am doing and answer the phone. Especially if its a potentially new customer. New customers have told me, i called 3 companies and out of those 3 you were the only 1 to answer. I simply checked them off the list.

I try to limit the conversation and basically just say ok, is there a time we can meet or can I get your address and get you an estimate right away?

Which leads me to my next point. This year we are trying to always be the first company to get our quote in. I dont know how many times cutsomers have said to me, thanks so much for the quick responces and getting us our quote the same day or at the latest the next day (for general quotes, specialty items obviously take longer). It really stands out. People dont want to wait for you to return their calls at 7 at night to talk to them (unless it was otherwise schedueled or told to), and they dont want to wait 4 or 5 days for a simple quote. I always chuckle when I am on here and somone is asking what to charge on a monday night, then friday they say well I turned in the quote today and lost, and its always for something really simple.

Ive explained in another thread about our detailed estimate portfolio we submit or commercial and higher end residential accounts. On the middle class accounts I have a portfolio I bring along that I can show them referrals, pictures or work, insurance certs, company profile, all of our services.