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swbluto
06-16-2011, 10:38 PM
Hello all! So far, my business has a total of 8 regular customers that we got within 2 weeks, and I'm looking for more! I have a goal of 30 by the end of this month and I'm looking for a way to "fast track" that. Anybody have any good ideas?

So far, we've been handing out advertisements and I've been handing out about 200 door-hangers a day on average. I really hope to increase that to 600 a day (On sunny days, lol), but I'm experimenting with the ad to maximize our call back rate. Right now, it seems our ads average about 1 call back per 200 delivered which seems fairly low... anyone have any good ideas to improve that?

I'm getting to the point where I'm thinking about going door to door or do some cold-calling. I was also thinking about doing lawns for free that happen to be near busy streets in exchange for putting up signs. Anyone know if signs actually work? Do they *have* to be situated near an intersection with a stop-light or stop-sign?

I'm looking for ideas of any and all types to get more customers and I want a lot. Like, 100s of customers.

ALC-GregH
06-16-2011, 10:41 PM
All I can say is, GOOD LUCK. There's no magic wand you can wave and poof, you have 100 customers. It will take years to grow enough to gain that.

Golfpro21
06-16-2011, 10:46 PM
don't offer anything for free....you will never get to fair market price if your start at free....plus your are selling yourself short.

As far as handing out door hangers /advertisements, its a numbers game.
We have the great advantage of having inhouse marketing so we have great mailers.ads and door hangers. We usually can hand out 100 and get 6-10 calls, and close on 3-6 of those.

Good luck

mowerbrad
06-16-2011, 10:55 PM
If I had a landscape company call me "out of the blue" just to see if I needed any services, they would be immediately hung up on and I probably wouldn't ever choose them to do a job around my house should I have a job for them. Cold calling makes you more like a tele-marketer, I can't stand getting calls from tele-marketers.

You could offer a referral program for your current customers. Give them some type of incentive for having their friends/neighbors hire you.

elitelawnteam1
06-16-2011, 11:01 PM
enroll your company in google places. select the towns you service. so when a potential client googles lawn service in xyz town, they will see your website, company name, contact info

topsites
06-16-2011, 11:06 PM
Hint: I think 30 customers by the end of the year is still quite the admirable goal.
Hint, hint.

swbluto
06-16-2011, 11:25 PM
As far as handing out door hangers /advertisements, its a numbers game.
We have the great advantage of having inhouse marketing so we have great mailers.ads and door hangers. We usually can hand out 100 and get 6-10 calls, and close on 3-6 of those.

Good luck


;). I like the idea that "mailers ads and door hangers" are a numbers game, because then if I put out enough, I should get back enough calls. But, wow! 3-6 closes out of 100 ads? What's your secret? With that kind of redemption rate, I'd be up to 100 customers in no time!

Here's our ad that seems to have a redemption rate of 1 customer out of 200 ads distributed. Our most recent test distribution had a price of $14 per lawn (The lawns in the neighborhood were small) and we distributed 200 and got 1 call back. I distributed 200 more today, and got zero call backs. I'm going to distribute 200 tomorrow using the $19 price and the lawns in the neighborhood are "medium sized".

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l214/swbluto/Untitled.jpg

These are printed out in black and white on white card stock, and then I custom cut it and drill it and attach it to the door handle using rubber bands (So it doesn't fall it off when the wind blows). Is there a way to improve this ad?

The average temperature in my area during the summer is 60-70 degrees and so everyone loves to mow their own lawn, so I'm guessing that might be why our callback rates suck.

205mx
06-16-2011, 11:28 PM
Hello all! So far, my business has a total of 8 regular customers that we got within 2 weeks, and I'm looking for more! I have a goal of 30 by the end of this month and I'm looking for a way to "fast track" that. Anybody have any good ideas?

So far, we've been handing out advertisements and I've been handing out about 200 door-hangers a day on average. I really hope to increase that to 600 a day (On sunny days, lol), but I'm experimenting with the ad to maximize our call back rate. Right now, it seems our ads average about 1 call back per 200 delivered which seems fairly low... anyone have any good ideas to improve that?

I'm getting to the point where I'm thinking about going door to door or do some cold-calling. I was also thinking about doing lawns for free that happen to be near busy streets in exchange for putting up signs. Anyone know if signs actually work? Do they *have* to be situated near an intersection with a stop-light or stop-sign?

I'm looking for ideas of any and all types to get more customers and I want a lot. Like, 100s of customers.

where are you located?

swbluto
06-16-2011, 11:28 PM
Hint: I think 30 customers by the end of the year is still quite the admirable goal.
Hint, hint.

:laugh:. Pessimistic, lately?

topsites
06-16-2011, 11:28 PM
Oh, I see what you're doing...

Well, I tell you the secret...

You just have to keep putting out 200 / day, every day.
Until you hit your goal.

swbluto
06-16-2011, 11:29 PM
where are you located?

Spokane, WA; summers average about 60-70 degrees and it's not humid at all.

205mx
06-16-2011, 11:40 PM
With a population of 208,916, according to the 2010 Census, It seems that it may be due to the weather. I used to live in a REALLY small area, but it got HOT in the summer. I had plenty of customers.

madisonpressurewashing
06-17-2011, 01:28 AM
I believe the national average for door hangers is 2-3%

Kelly's Landscaping
06-17-2011, 01:31 AM
When you send out your bills if you do that put and offer to your customer's for like 25 dollars off for each new account they refer you that you sign up. Sad but that has been the most effective thing we have done this season we have easily signed up 20 new ones in the last 2 months that way.

swbluto
06-17-2011, 02:50 AM
I believe the national average for door hangers is 2-3%

I've been reading online, and it seems people have been getting response rates anywhere from 1-2% and then there are those who claimed they ordered and distributed 500 door-hangers and got nothing back. So, it seems results vary widely.

Since I think my advertisement might not be the "best" type out there, I went online researching tips and found this resource at http://www.businessknowhow.com/marketing/flyer.htm and then tried to make a door-hanger that used their tips as much as possible (Sort of...). What do you guys think?

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l214/swbluto/Untitled2.jpg

I'll admit the wording is a bit... odd... so I'm thinking I'll hire someone a bit more verbally sophisticated than me to word it.

Joe Midwest
06-17-2011, 04:03 AM
http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l214/swbluto/Untitled2.jpg


No offense intended... but this flyer looks kind of gimicky. The one you posted earlier started out with a statement that is a bit on the political side... which should be avoided.

IMO, keep it simple and concise with just a little class. The prices seem kind of strange, that can actually scare people off.

mnglocker
06-17-2011, 08:18 AM
NEVER put prices on door hangers or fliers.

And I've got to ask, with those prices are you insured? Are you a registered business with the state?

I won't even pull up for the prices you're listing.

topsites
06-17-2011, 08:35 AM
:laugh:. Pessimistic, lately?

See now I was trying to be nice but you can't do that around here, every time I get some smart crack come back
and I happen to find that very disrespectful, I try and help people, they're new to the Industry, full of questions but
they don't want to hear it, try and help them and they come back like they know it all and smart back at guys who
have not just a little over 3,000 lawns under their belt, put yourself in my shoes, how would you feel!?

So here's your answer:
No wise guy, I'm trying to tell you to slow down, you're already lowballing hard and you're fixing
to really go down that road, it takes most of us YEARS to build a customer base, not weeks!

You're not the only one, the half of the rest of the noobs all figures they can just rush right through the process and come
out the other end a ready-set-made lawn boy also, well don't feel too bad but it doesn't work like that.

Try taking 3-4 YEARS to build to 50, not by the end of the month.

Thank you now.

delphied
06-17-2011, 08:37 AM
Even the low ballers cant get business. That warms my heart.

JB1
06-17-2011, 08:41 AM
Even the low ballers cant get business. That warms my heart.



lmao :laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:

mnglocker
06-17-2011, 08:49 AM
Even the low ballers cant get business. That warms my heart.

http://i210.photobucket.com/albums/bb4/953kdjs/tumblr_lfct7cFY3z1qan99n.gif

swbluto
06-17-2011, 11:19 AM
Even the low ballers cant get business. That warms my heart.

You don't know the local market around here. Half of the people I talked to said they loved mowing their own lawn (Probably because it's 60-70 degrees all summer), the unemployment rate is 10.2% here (Nationally it's 8.7%), it's an industrial town, there's about 1 tractor per every 10 cars pulling lawn equipment down the road and if you go on craigslist, you regularly see guys advertising for $15 a lawn.

I'm definitely not the "low baller" in my local area. Believe it or not, those are the acceptable prices in my local market. Also, the $14 price for the neighborhoods with small lawns was purely experimental and apparently it didn't come through.

swbluto
06-17-2011, 11:23 AM
See now I was trying to be nice but you can't do that around here, every time I get some smart crack come back
and I happen to find that very disrespectful, I try and help people, they're new to the Industry, full of questions but
they don't want to hear it, try and help them and they come back like they know it all and smart back at guys who
have not just a little over 3,000 lawns under their belt, put yourself in my shoes, how would you feel!?

So here's your answer:
No wise guy, I'm trying to tell you to slow down, you're already lowballing hard and you're fixing
to really go down that road, it takes most of us YEARS to build a customer base, not weeks!

You're not the only one, the half of the rest of the noobs all figures they can just rush right through the process and come
out the other end a ready-set-made lawn boy also, well don't feel too bad but it doesn't work like that.

Try taking 3-4 YEARS to build to 50, not by the end of the month.

Thank you now.

Thanks for your hard-earned experience. I wasn't aware that getting customers would be a long, drawn-out journey (Or, at least, getting 30 shouldn't seem to take more than a month.).

swbluto
06-17-2011, 11:28 AM
NEVER put prices on door hangers or fliers.

And I've got to ask, with those prices are you insured? Are you a registered business with the state?

I won't even pull up for the prices you're listing.

We're licensed, but we're not insured. Is insurance really necessary for less than 20 weekly customers? I was thinking about getting insurance when we grow larger than 20-30 customers, because then I'll be able to afford it and it'll actually be worth it. 8 weekly customers doesn't really seem to carry much risk for property damage.

swbluto
06-17-2011, 11:36 AM
No offense intended... but this flyer looks kind of gimicky. The one you posted earlier started out with a statement that is a bit on the political side... which should be avoided.

IMO, keep it simple and concise with just a little class. The prices seem kind of strange, that can actually scare people off.

The price I was experimenting with was purposefully different so to attract "more attention", but you're probably right that would likely scare off customers. Would multiples of 5 be better (15,20,25, etc.) and would going with a ".99" ending attract more business?

Also, I've heard that ads with prices get more responses than ads without prices, so I reason if we go with an "acceptable price" that's the average price for a lawn in a neighborhood, they wouldn't have to call us for a quote that could make them feel obligated, which may deter some customers, and so we'd get more customers. Since it's the average price for a lawn in the neighorhood, we'd "gain some" on some smaller lawns and "lose some" on larger lawns (And the very large lawns are specifically excluded from the coupon), so it all works out.

STIHL GUY
06-17-2011, 11:36 AM
instead of a ton of customers at $19 a mow why dont you just charge a little more and make th same amount of money with less customers. $19 is not very much money after figuring taxes insurance gas equipment and all that.

also word of mouth is great advertising so just keep doing good work and make people happy and they will tell everyone they know. good luck!

THEGOLDPRO
06-17-2011, 11:44 AM
Sounds like your in the wrong market for landscaping if every other car is pulling a lawn tractor around, and most people are either poor or un-employed in your town. scrap the lawn care idea and start painting houses instead. paint houses for 19 bucks a pop i bet you get some calls then.

mnglocker
06-17-2011, 01:01 PM
We're licensed, but we're not insured. Is insurance really necessary for less than 20 weekly customers? I was thinking about getting insurance when we grow larger than 20-30 customers, because then I'll be able to afford it and it'll actually be worth it. 8 weekly customers doesn't really seem to carry much risk for property damage.

Insurance isn't about the number of customers, it's about covering your ass if something happens.

TheBetterDoorhanger
06-17-2011, 02:06 PM
If you are going to use door hangers to advertise your company you should definitely use our Band-It Stick-It Door Hangers. They enhance distribution & ROI.

~The Band-It is used to attach the flier/business card/ post card etc. to the door knob (works better than the hole & slit style because they actually will attach to all the styles of door knobs & will actually stay put instead of ending up in the yard).
~The Stick-It is used so the customer can put your ad inside their home on the fridge, keeping it out of the drawer & top of mind.

We also offer a Stick-It Postcard mailer that works great . Feel free to call me directly if you'd like more information on mailing lists, how to get started with a direct mail campaign etc.

If you are interested in FREE SAMPLES of our products go to this link & we will mail some out to you right away: www.AdeasPrinting.com/sample-request

For product information, pricing etc. visit this link www.AdeasPrinting.com/door-hangers or of course call or email me directly & I'm happy to help you with any questions about design, print or mailing services.

Robin
Adeas Printing
866-778-4254
robin@adeasprinting.com

Mikegyver
06-17-2011, 04:07 PM
I got my packet from Adeas...wow they are as good as they say!
mike

TheBetterDoorhanger
06-17-2011, 04:29 PM
I got my packet from Adeas...wow they are as good as they say!
mike

Great Mike! I'm so glad you like them. Let me know if you want me to send you an estimate so you can order.

Sincerely,

Robin Christopherson
www.AdeasPrinting.com
866-778-4254
robin@adeasprinting.com

Mikegyver
06-17-2011, 04:31 PM
Thanks...right now i am going to do biz cards...but will look into y'alls stuff in the future.
mike

yamahatim
06-17-2011, 05:28 PM
We're licensed, but we're not insured. Is insurance really necessary for less than 20 weekly customers? I was thinking about getting insurance when we grow larger than 20-30 customers, because then I'll be able to afford it and it'll actually be worth it. 8 weekly customers doesn't really seem to carry much risk for property damage.

College mowing business start-up - $250
Starting out with 8 customers a week at $19 each - $152
Operating with no insurance and a rock breaks a window - pennyless.

For everything else there's MasterCard...and you're going to need one.

TheGoat
06-17-2011, 06:11 PM
If you are getting customers with flyers, keep doing them.

personally I NEVER price in any of my ads.

the moment you slap a price on there you have relegated yourself to competing on price instead of quality.

if you get in the door because you are inexpensive, you will go the door again because because a meth addict with no lic/ins/taxes can do it cheaper.

Sell on quality, sell on your knowledge of lawns and landscaping. never sell on price.

Deland FL lawn service (href "www.hungrygoatlawns.com")

yamahatim
06-17-2011, 06:32 PM
If you are getting customers with flyers, keep doing them.

personally I NEVER price in any of my ads.

the moment you slap a price on there you have relegated yourself to competing on price instead of quality.

if you get in the door because you are inexpensive, you will go the door again because because a meth addict with no lic/ins/taxes can do it cheaper.

Sell on quality, sell on your knowledge of lawns and landscaping. never sell on price.

Deland FL lawn service (href "www.hungrygoatlawns.com")

That is the BEST advice you have gotten yet. People buy from people and they want the best value and the best quality they can get, that does not mean the lowest price.

Exact Rototilling
06-17-2011, 11:52 PM
We're licensed, but we're not insured. Is insurance really necessary for less than 20 weekly customers? I was thinking about getting insurance when we grow larger than 20-30 customers, because then I'll be able to afford it and it'll actually be worth it. 8 weekly customers doesn't really seem to carry much risk for property damage.

One has to have a license to operate a "lawncare or landscape biz" in WA state under the landscape category if you are removing anything from the property or modifying it? The way I understand it if you are a neighbor kid and leave the clippings not a big deal. If you aerate you need a license. Rototilling or modify property...you need a landscape license.

Are you sure you're licensed? Or are you just a registered business? The qualifier to get a license and a bond in WA state is having commercial insurance. Are collecting WA state sales tax? If not then you are not legit. Labor in WA is taxable. Unless something has changed in the last few years....? Less complicated in WA state unlikely.

I'm licensed boned and insured in WA State. I have a blanket license for Liberty lake and Spokane Valley. WA is not very small business friendly. Spokane craiglist is full of so-called legit lawncare co. You go to their web site their UBI # can't be found with rare exception. My WA UBI number is on my trailer and signage and biz cards etc. to see in plain view.

So basically legit Co. in your neck of the woods have to jump through all the hoops and headaches. Can they really afford to work that cheap?

MOturkey
06-18-2011, 10:48 AM
I'm going to throw my 2 cents into the mix here. You seem like a nice kid, ambitious, in fact. I like to see that. However, there is more to running a business than having ambitions. Mowing lawns isn't the internet. You have to actually put boots on the ground and do the work. Do you have a reliable work force lined up capable of handling 100's of accounts, reliable being the key word here? Having 50 customers a day calling because no one has shown up to mow would certainly be a valuable learning experience for you.

Many of the guys on here have forgotten more than you will ever know about this business. Listen to them. Volume-based businesses can, and do, work, but you are not ready to run one. The fact you don't recognize the need for liability insurance proves that. It isn't about windows, it is about the possibility of a rock thrown by one of your mowers hitting a kid riding down the street in the side of the head, causing permanent brain damage. Do you think 100 yards at $19 a pop is going to cover legal fees, let alone the actual damages?

My advice? Quit putting the cart before the horse. If you are serious, develop a business plan. Market dictates a price range, not every price. You don't have a clue as to your actual costs at this point. Lack of profit can't be overcome by volume. Good luck.

swbluto
06-18-2011, 01:24 PM
I'm going to throw my 2 cents into the mix here. You seem like a nice kid, ambitious, in fact. I like to see that. However, there is more to running a business than having ambitions. Mowing lawns isn't the internet. You have to actually put boots on the ground and do the work. Do you have a reliable work force lined up capable of handling 100's of accounts, reliable being the key word here? Having 50 customers a day calling because no one has shown up to mow would certainly be a valuable learning experience for you.

Many of the guys on here have forgotten more than you will ever know about this business. Listen to them. Volume-based businesses can, and do, work, but you are not ready to run one. The fact you don't recognize the need for liability insurance proves that. It isn't about windows, it is about the possibility of a rock thrown by one of your mowers hitting a kid riding down the street in the side of the head, causing permanent brain damage. Do you think 100 yards at $19 a pop is going to cover legal fees, let alone the actual damages?

My advice? Quit putting the cart before the horse. If you are serious, develop a business plan. Market dictates a price range, not every price. You don't have a clue as to your actual costs at this point. Lack of profit can't be overcome by volume. Good luck.

What are some general numbers for insurance costs? My previous point is that the risk at this point is too low (As the number of customers is too few) to justify the cost of insurance and money needs to be allocated to other more urgent matters, but as more customers are gained and the risk becomes sufficient, then yes insurance would be needed. As far as the other costs, they've been quantified and they're well under control. It helps that our marketing strategy has in mind an "ultra tight route" so our vehicular and travel time costs are low.

swbluto
06-18-2011, 01:28 PM
One has to have a license to operate a "lawncare or landscape biz" in WA state under the landscape category if you are removing anything from the property or modifying it? The way I understand it if you are a neighbor kid and leave the clippings not a big deal. If you aerate you need a license. Rototilling or modify property...you need a landscape license.

Are you sure you're licensed? Or are you just a registered business? The qualifier to get a license and a bond in WA state is having commercial insurance. Are collecting WA state sales tax? If not then you are not legit. Labor in WA is taxable. Unless something has changed in the last few years....? Less complicated in WA state unlikely.

I'm licensed boned and insured in WA State. I have a blanket license for Liberty lake and Spokane Valley. WA is not very small business friendly. Spokane craiglist is full of so-called legit lawncare co. You go to their web site their UBI # can't be found with rare exception. My WA UBI number is on my trailer and signage and biz cards etc. to see in plain view.

So basically legit Co. in your neck of the woods have to jump through all the hoops and headaches. Can they really afford to work that cheap?

I filed the Master Business Application and I'm pretty sure I have a license and a UBI number. I'm not "bonded" as that requires insurance, yet, but we will be. And, yes, we're collecting the state sales tax as required by all licensed businesses.

JB1
06-18-2011, 01:37 PM
What are some general numbers for insurance costs? My previous point is that the risk at this point is too low (As the number of customers is too few) to justify the cost of insurance and money needs to be allocated to other more urgent matters, but as more customers are gained and the risk becomes sufficient, then yes insurance would be needed. As far as the other costs, they've been quantified and they're well under control. It helps that our marketing strategy has in mind an "ultra tight route" so our vehicular and travel time costs are low.



doesn't matter, your mowing grass and have a vehicle on the road you have liability, only one little screw up and you will find out how cheap that insurance would have been.

delphied
06-18-2011, 01:50 PM
doesn't matter, your mowing grass and have a vehicle on the road you have liability, only one little screw up and you will find out how cheap that insurance would have been.

When you mow lawns this cheap. you really cant afford insurances or any of the real costs of doing business. This is why lawn mowing has become a waste of labor. There is no real money in it.

swbluto
06-18-2011, 02:18 PM
To be honest, if we had to pay the $15 in travel costs including gas and time associated with typical lawncare that's supposedly a "real cost" of doing business, we'd be charging at least $35, too. So, our "prices" are more reflective of our actual costs of doing business and our cost-minimizing strategy than just simply charging people out the nose for conducting business the outdated way.

JB1
06-18-2011, 02:21 PM
sounds like you have it figured out, justify it any way you want.

delphied
06-18-2011, 02:25 PM
sounds like you have it figured out, justify it any way you want.

He sure doesnt need any advice nor does he want it. No more time to waste on this idiot. Fifteen dollars to drive to a lawn? You have no clue.

swbluto
06-18-2011, 02:31 PM
Fifteen dollars to drive to a lawn? You have no clue.

Lol. Yeah, you're right, it's probably higher than that. :laugh:

$3 in gas, $2 in vehicle maintenance costs, 15 minutes in time @ $50 per hour -> 3+2+.25*50 = 17.5.

Well, I was close.

swbluto
06-18-2011, 03:02 PM
Oh, by the way, the point of this thread was finding out the most effective way of finding new customers. We've been doing door-hanger ads but our current design seems to only get a call-back rate of 1 out of 200 while others claim a call back rate 4-6 times higher with theirs. So far, I've heard...

"Keep it short and simple"

"Stay away from the political"

"Don't advertise prices"

"If you're going to advertise a price, don't use a 'strange price' as that could scare off customers."

I'll implement these tips in our next iteration. I was also thinking about doing a professional full-color door-hanger instead of the current black-and-white hanger that's printed from my printer, and I was wondering if anyone has an idea how that might affect the response rate?

We'll also experiment with cold-calling to see how that works out. I've heard of someone else who did this and they easily filled up for the mowing season. Also, a .gov website on cold-calling said it was a legitimate way of finding new customers, so love or hate it, if it works, it works.

Penncare
06-18-2011, 03:16 PM
Everyone else has tried, but I will make one last effort. Business is about more than just numbers, however, there are some things that must be considered:
1. What are your actual costs? You have to add in all the time you spend on anything business related, from putting out the flyers, getting the gas for the mowers, trimmers, purchasing them, maintaining them routine and unforeseen matters, etc. Then and only then will you know your costs.
2. Consider the fact that running a business is not for everyone and there is no substitute for experience. I like you have not been doing this for a long time, but I guess I can say I am smart enough to know how dumb I am and that I can learn a lot from others.
3. As it has been said many times, once you start telling people you are selling cheap, the word will get out and you won't think it sounds so good when you hear someone saying if you want someone cheap just call XYZ, but I use "Cheap-it-isn't" and they are worth every penny. Most people will never be convinced that the service provided by XYZ is as good as "Cheap-it-isn't" because of for whatever reason we have had this phrase drilled into our minds from birth, "you get what you pay for."
4. The owner of Cheap-it-isn't likely earns a better income than the XYZ owner and works less for it.

I hope for you all the best in what you do.

swbluto
06-18-2011, 04:25 PM
Everyone else has tried, but I will make one last effort. Business is about more than just numbers, however, there are some things that must be considered:
1. What are your actual costs? You have to add in all the time you spend on anything business related, from putting out the flyers, getting the gas for the mowers, trimmers, purchasing them, maintaining them routine and unforeseen matters, etc. Then and only then will you know your costs.
2. Consider the fact that running a business is not for everyone and there is no substitute for experience. I like you have not been doing this for a long time, but I guess I can say I am smart enough to know how dumb I am and that I can learn a lot from others.
3. As it has been said many times, once you start telling people you are selling cheap, the word will get out and you won't think it sounds so good when you hear someone saying if you want someone cheap just call XYZ, but I use "Cheap-it-isn't" and they are worth every penny. Most people will never be convinced that the service provided by XYZ is as good as "Cheap-it-isn't" because of for whatever reason we have had this phrase drilled into our minds from birth, "you get what you pay for."
4. The owner of Cheap-it-isn't likely earns a better income than the XYZ owner and works less for it.

I hope for you all the best in what you do.

Good information. I'm not really striving to be the "Low cost" guy in the long-term, but I am doing that starting out because I want to get customers quickly as there's only 4 months left in the mowing season, and the later you get them, the less money you earn over the year. Our quality is relatively good (Better than high schoolers but not quite as good the well-established professionals; We are seeking to get better everyday, though!) and people have remarked on it, so I don't think we "lack quality". By next year, I plan to starting entering commercial contracts and plan to ultimately operate in commercial so our residential beginnings isn't really where our direction is in the long-term. This first year is really our "training grounds" for later business success where I expect to make mistakes and learn from them, including pricing mistakes.

And, I don't really care if "I'm not cut out to be a business owner", as I'll learn valuable lessons regardless if that's ultimately true. Time will tell and I'll let that be the ultimate judge.

elitelawnteam1
06-18-2011, 11:43 PM
Good information. I'm not really striving to be the "Low cost" guy in the long-term, but I am doing that starting out because I want to get customers quickly as there's only 4 months left in the mowing season, and the later you get them, the less money you earn over the year. Our quality is relatively good (Better than high schoolers but not quite as good the well-established professionals; We are seeking to get better everyday, though!) and people have remarked on it, so I don't think we "lack quality". By next year, I plan to starting entering commercial contracts and plan to ultimately operate in commercial so our residential beginnings isn't really where our direction is in the long-term. This first year is really our "training grounds" for later business success where I expect to make mistakes and learn from them, including pricing mistakes.

And, I don't really care if "I'm not cut out to be a business owner", as I'll learn valuable lessons regardless if that's ultimately true. Time will tell and I'll let that be the ultimate judge.


you are trying to get customers fast, but what type of customer are you attracting when you offer a low price? I'll give you a hint, what's the meaning to the acronym? PITA

Penncare
06-19-2011, 12:01 AM
The last post seems to indicate you are taking the positive approach and like you said even if it does not succeed you will learn a lot, and far too few will tell you that they learned more from failure than from success. What I wrote was not to be derogatory or condecending as I have failed at business, one that was grossing over a million per year and ended in the crapper because I let my ego and those around me telling me I was great blind me.

swbluto
06-19-2011, 12:05 AM
you are trying to get customers fast, but what type of customer are you attracting when you offer a low price? I'll give you a hint, what's the meaning to the acronym? PITA

I'll take a PITA customer over no customer. :laugh: Plus, while it's true that roughly 20% of our clientele are "PITA"s, 80% aren't and that makes it all worthwhile. When we grow larger and look to get rid of the PITAs, we could easily get rid of them with price increases. (And if they're willing to pay the price increase, then so much for the better!)

justanotherlawnguy
06-19-2011, 12:06 AM
;). I like the idea that "mailers ads and door hangers" are a numbers game, because then if I put out enough, I should get back enough calls. But, wow! 3-6 closes out of 100 ads? What's your secret? With that kind of redemption rate, I'd be up to 100 customers in no time!

Here's our ad that seems to have a redemption rate of 1 customer out of 200 ads distributed. Our most recent test distribution had a price of $14 per lawn (The lawns in the neighborhood were small) and we distributed 200 and got 1 call back. I distributed 200 more today, and got zero call backs. I'm going to distribute 200 tomorrow using the $19 price and the lawns in the neighborhood are "medium sized".

That door hangar is just as dumb as ever other door hangar! Haven't you figured out door hangars are a waste of time!!! How long does it take to pass out 200 flyers? Then to get no calls, what a waste..
http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l214/swbluto/Untitled.jpg

These are printed out in black and white on white card stock, and then I custom cut it and drill it and attach it to the door handle using rubber bands (So it doesn't fall it off when the wind blows). Is there a way to improve this ad?

The average temperature in my area during the summer is 60-70 degrees and so everyone loves to mow their own lawn, so I'm guessing that might be why our callback rates suck.
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topsites
06-19-2011, 03:11 AM
Let me clear something up, what I found from back in the days...
Don't think I can't lowball, don't think I've never done it, do not make the mistake of assuming I don't know about running numbers.
It is only by doing exactly that, I found out what follows.

I found there exists, for any job, a cost.
That cost is fixed, you can't change it, I can not change it, the customer can not change it.
It costs what it does to get out there and run the machines to do the job.
Whether that cost is 18.77 or whether it is 26.54, whatever it is, that's the cost.

There is nothing anyone can do about it, that cost figure is fixed and invariable,
you may not know what your cost is but that doesn't make it go away, guessing
at what the cost might be doesn't change its actual expense.
It is what it is.

Then there is the profit.
The profit is the figure money difference between what the customer pays, and the cost.
So for example, if cost is $28 and the customer pays $30, profit = $2.

Keep in mind, most solo operations live purely off the profit.
There is no labor costs for solos, the owner operator gets paid out of the profit, it's that simple.

That having been said...
When selling a product, most customers seem to instinctively know about what they should be paying.
And, most customers won't pay much over the cost, they understand we make a profit, but most aren't about to let us retire next year.

Taking all of the above into account...
If a yard's cost is $28, it will sell like hotcakes at $30 a cut.
Not so hot at $35 a cut, nowhere near as hot, hardly lukewarm, I get less than half the customers to agree at $35.

However...
The profit is $2 on the $30 cut...
And $7 on the $35, 3.5x as much profit.

Translation:
You not only get more customers with the $30 cut, but you NEED to.
The guy who does it for $35 doesn't have to work half as hard in a day.

Trust me, I know.

7625
06-19-2011, 03:56 AM
If I charged what you do, I'd be out of business the first week. I wouldn't be able to afford to fill up my truck,rider and other equipment with gas the first week. I should hire you to do my yards at that price and while you are working in 99 plus temps I'll sit back and watch. But for that price, you know the old saying, " You get what you pay for" and I would probably lose my yards. Don't see how anyone charging that kind of price can make payments on equipment or repairs. Lots of luck.

swbluto
06-19-2011, 04:28 AM
I should hire you to do my yards at that price and while you are working in 99 plus temps I'll sit back and watch.

I've noticed the common theme around here is that the "low ballers" drop off like flies once the hot weather hits (Because assumably the "low ballers" push which is unbearable in 99 degree weather, *snickers*), and that the implication is that hot weather keeps the average price levels for those who "stick around" higher. Man, with the kind of market dynamic, I *WISH* I lived in mississipi or wherever that was hot. I'm guessing the majority of you don't live in the far north where summers are lucky to reach the 80s and so the low ballers *do* stick around pushing down price levels for everyone, including me. So, I have to charge a price around that area just to be competitive. I checked out the prices of professional services (The kind that drive to your lawn on a weekly basis) and it was $27 and the craigslist 'special' is typically around $15, so I'm not exactly the "low baller" in my neighborhood. It's not quite as high as the typical professional, but I'll readily admit the quality isn't quite there. It's definitely getting there, though.

indy2tall
06-19-2011, 09:13 AM
We're licensed, but we're not insured. Is insurance really necessary for less than 20 weekly customers? I was thinking about getting insurance when we grow larger than 20-30 customers, because then I'll be able to afford it and it'll actually be worth it. 8 weekly customers doesn't really seem to carry much risk for property damage.

I am so sorry Mrs Smith that my mower threw a rock that hit your son in the eye walking by on the sidewalk. We don't have insurance because we don't have 30 customers yet so would you mind paying for the eye surgery yourself. He really should be fine because there is not much chance of something bad happening with only 8 customers.

Yeah, that should work!!! Why buy insurance?!!! :hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead:

rywnygc
06-19-2011, 10:45 AM
The only lawn I mow for 15 dollars takes 4 passes, about 20' long with a 21" pusher. Total time with mow,whip,blow and go: about 4-5 minutes.

What kind of mowers are you using? The reason I ask is because I am a debt free company. I buy equipment when I have the money to do so. With those prices, I would never be able to afford new equipment.

I am currently a solo op in my second season (first full time season) and in the last 2 months, I have brought in about 9k between mowing and clean ups. After taxes, insurance, equipment upgrades, truck lettering, DOT equipment (fire extiguishers, first aid, triangles, flares, etc), fuel, business cards, signs, blah blah blah..... I have only "made" about $1,200. My normal minimum to drop my gate (aside from rare lawns, like the one previously described) is 35.00.

I guess what Im trying to get at is, don't do it wrong. Take the initial hits like everyone else does. Pay the tolls. Then charge accordingly. Don't be affraid to demand more money for your services. People aren't stupid....well...yeah they are...but people do know that low prices indicate sub par product. Turning down business from customers that wanted cheap work has helped me in the long run.

If you have reasonable (but professional) pricing, quality work, professional appearance, and a good, honest, dependable work ethic; you will get customers. Word of mouth is an amazing thing.

rywnygc
06-19-2011, 10:51 AM
What kind of mowers are you using?

Nevermind, I just looked at your website. Thanks for the mid morning chuckle. I'd like to pour diesel on an electric mower. Do you pull them in a prius? I love my loud toros and my big ol' diesel Super duty.

yamahatim
06-19-2011, 12:18 PM
LOL, I went to his website too. My lawn would cost $341.89 for him to mow based on his calculator. Do I get a discount if you use my electricity?

swbluto
06-19-2011, 01:16 PM
Nevermind, I just looked at your website. Thanks for the mid morning chuckle. I'd like to pour diesel on an electric mower. Do you pull them in a prius? I love my loud toros and my big ol' diesel Super duty.

I'd like to extend wires from my electric mower into your toro's fuel tank and short-circuit it. :P I love my quiet electrics and how they cut without harming human health unlike other mowers with their noxious hydrocarbon and nitrous-oxide pollutants.

swbluto
06-19-2011, 01:16 PM
LOL, I went to his website too. My lawn would cost $341.89 for him to mow based on his calculator. Do I get a discount if you use my electricity?

Sure! With $3 off, that'll be a total of $338.89.

indy2tall
06-19-2011, 01:38 PM
I love my quiet electrics and how they cut without harming human health unlike other mowers with their noxious hydrocarbon and nitrous-oxide pollutants.

Hmmmm, I wonder where the vast majority of electricity that powers your little electric toy mowers comes from? Oh no, you evil hypocrites ....gasp, choke, wheeze, we get it from burning oil and gas and coal. :laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh: If you really want to be true to your environment saving creed why don't you cart around a couple dozen goats and let them graze each lawn down to the proper height? You could even charge a premium for natural goat dropping lawn fertilizer! :laugh::laugh::laugh:

dgw
06-19-2011, 01:42 PM
after years of doing this , i still stay busy with mainly referrals and networking


i occasionally use a lead company and have a website


but i always make sure everyone i meet knows what i do

swbluto
06-19-2011, 01:48 PM
Hmmmm, I wonder where the vast majority of electricity that powers your little electric toy mowers comes from? Oh no, you evil hypocrites ....gasp, choke, wheeze, we get it from burning oil and gas and coal.

Numero uno, powerful things come in small packages.

Numero dos, at least the emissions from coal plants and burning oil and gas is not in my backyard.


If you really want to be true to your environment saving creed why don't your cart around a couple dozen goats and let them graze each lawn down to the proper height? You could even charge a premium for natural goat dropping lawn fertilizer! :laugh::laugh::laugh:

It has nothing to do with saving the environment (Though, it does help there, too), it has to do with sparing human health. Have you wondered why cancer rates have more than doubled since the beginning of the industrial revolution? I'll tell you why, it's because the carcinogenic byproducts of combustion and other carbon sources (Like coal and hydrocarbons) has pervaded our society over the past century thereby increasing cancer rates. Of course, the nuclear frenzy during the 50's and 60's increased it a bit over the past couple of decades, but it all adds up. Think of that the next time a loved one dies of cancer.

Goats are actually a pretty good idea, as Google is starting to use goats in their lawn. However, I do wonder about how 'green' they really are when they fart.

Get Some...
06-19-2011, 01:56 PM
:hammerhead:

MOturkey
06-19-2011, 02:07 PM
This thread just keeps getting better and better. :)

swbluto
06-19-2011, 02:48 PM
[QUOTE=swbluto;4068420]Numero dos, at least the emissions from coal plants and burning oil and gas is not in my backyard.[QUOTE]

Oh, so as long as you can't see it, it's ok. Nice.


I love how dumb azz kids always know everything.


It's called particulate density, and you have a hard time convincing me that you breathe in less fumes from 2-strokers 3 feet away from your face than a coal plant 20 miles away.

(*Hypocrite warning... I do use 2-strokers at this point, but we are definitely moving beyond it when I can afford to buy the equipment needed.)

rywnygc
06-19-2011, 02:59 PM
Kid, you are preaching to a brick wall. I dont care about human health. Too many people care about human health. Thats why there is world hunger, and antibiotic resistant diseases, etc etc. Because people want other people to live. We are the only species that doesn't let nature weed out the weak. So to me, YOU are part of the problem. If I had not been run over, I would still be in the desert "thinning the herd". You go on shaking your green fist in the air, I'll go on cheering the sunami that kicked Toyota in the teeth.

indy2tall
06-19-2011, 03:53 PM
It has nothing to do with saving the environment (Though, it does help there, too), it has to do with sparing human health.Have you wondered why cancer rates have more than doubled since the beginning of the industrial revolution?

I am going to guess that someone close to you has died from cancer and that is why you have these opinions about gasoline powered tools. While I can sympathize with you having lost several close family members to cancer also I would like to point out several gaps in your reasoning. First is that it is generally acknowledged across academia that the industrial revolution started in the late 1700's. Reliable cancer incidence and mortality rates were not even kept until the mid 1900's so your statement about cancer rates is full of goat dung. Making up stats to bolster your argument might impress a mushy brained coed but not educated adults.



I'll tell you why, it's because the carcinogenic byproducts of combustion and other carbon sources (Like coal and hydrocarbons) has pervaded our society over the past century thereby increasing cancer rates.

While this statement has a small portion of truth in that cancer incidence rates are rising, FEWER people are dying from cancer. According to the National Institutes of Health publication 92-2789, in a recent 40 year period the incidence of cancers other than types directly attributed to smoking cigarettes has risen 30% but the death rate has actually fallen 20%.
Furthermore no credible study attributes the higher incidence of cancer to byproducts of fossil fuel combustion. Perhaps you have watched to many repeats of Al Gore movies.


Of course, the nuclear frenzy during the 50's and 60's increased it a bit over the past couple of decades, but it all adds up.

Another made up statistic which while it sounds impressive is also full of goat dung. If nuclear power causes so much cancer why does France (who gets over 75% of it's electricity from nuclear) have a lower death rate from cancer than the United States?

Oh yeah one last thing, life expectancy has gone up 50% in the last 100 years so gasoline engines aren't exactly killing us off.
Ok swbluto, your turn. :drinkup::drinkup::drinkup:

rywnygc
06-19-2011, 03:59 PM
guys, none of this is helping him and his friend get 100 customers. We should be nicer. In fact, you can have 3 of my customers. I'll pm you the contact info. Of course, they are outside of your area....a little. But now you're up to 11!

elitelawnteam1
06-19-2011, 04:46 PM
guys, none of this is helping him and his friend get 100 customers. We should be nicer. In fact, you can have 3 of my customers. I'll pm you the contact info. Of course, they are outside of your area....a little. But now you're up to 11!

they'd have limited transportation options

1. A horse and cart
2. Chevy Volt w/ mower strapped to the roof
3. WALK


Do you honestly believe that an individual with three lawns to mow is going to make a terrible impact on our planet? Because you are using equipment that does not use gas, you will be working harder, sweating more, and drinking more of the earth's limited supply of freshwater.

When you say you have a goal to have x amount of customers, don't you think the process of mowing them will take a bit longer. I hope you have lots of extension cord to mow those 1+acre properties

Penncare
06-19-2011, 05:24 PM
I extend a kind invitation to come to my yard and mow with the electric and I will also let you use my electric weed trimmer at now charge. You will need to provide the 1000' foot drop cord so you can get to the mail box and around the trees in the front yard. The way I see it I have about 10 yards all in one spot around my house and I am willing to pay your rate of $15 times 10 and I won't even charge for the electricity.

swbluto
06-30-2011, 09:22 PM
At the advice of other posters, I started increasing the asking price. I noticed that our response rate was one out of 80 when our asking price was nearly 15 dollars, 1 out of 200 when it was $20 (So far.... it's only been out 3 days), and the most recent batch was asking for $25 and I sent out 450. If economics suggests anything, I'll probably get less bites as the asking price goes up, but I'll see!

vencops
06-30-2011, 09:32 PM
At the advice of other posters, I started increasing the asking price. I noticed that our response rate was one out of 80 when our asking price was nearly 15 dollars, 1 out of 200 when it was $20 (So far.... it's only been out 3 days), and the most recent batch was asking for $25 and I sent out 450. If economics suggests anything, I'll probably get less bites as the asking price goes up, but I'll see!


My guess is, if you're getting undercut (at those prices).....they're doing it themselves.

I wish you lived near me. I'd let you do my lawn (at least once). I mean no disrespect when I say that. That's a helluva price.

Penncare
06-30-2011, 10:03 PM
My father started his business about 40 years ago and I worked with him some while in college and grad school. He never wanted for business and was by far the cheapest and best in the area. He could have worked 24/7 and for most of my childhood almost did. He was working his tail off and making a modest income. When I was in grad school he was cutting back some to about ten hour days and was always stressed that he could not get to everyone and said he was probably going to start working more hours once I could no longer do the work level I was at. I told him that there is no doubt that he provided the best service within a 50 mile radius. I told him that in the few months before I began grad school I wanted to change the whole rate structure. He was not a big fan and said at the rates I planned he would feel more like a rapist than a technician but he finally gave in probably just to shut me up. I doubled every charge and for some things tripled them. He told me that I would probably be putting him out of business as he was losing more and more customers every day. I just asked that he give it a few more months. By the time I had to leave for grad school he was working the hours he wanted and making way more money for half the work. He never looked back and others in the area who offered the same service often told him that they wished he had done it long before that. I will be the first to admit that when starting you will have to be at a lower price point, but don't do like my dad did and work years for less than you are worth.

Country Club Lawnscapes
12-20-2011, 02:56 AM
Is this guy serioius with the electric mowers???

205mx
12-20-2011, 09:48 AM
Swbluto, how can you justify a $20 cut? Take you 20 minutes?
I'm not raggin on you, just curious as to why you don't value yourself, equipment, and importantly your time.
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casey humphrey
12-20-2011, 12:49 PM
WOW! I only have one huge commercial account that takes me 8 hours to mow. It is a big freakn area and no windows or stucture near by to break. I still have insurance. I have all mine with one company and that way you get a lower rate. I plan on going full time also. In Feb. I will spend 100% on marketing my self. I have learned ALOT from this site on what to and what not to do. I have been doing lawn care part time for 5 years and learned from my marketing mistakes. Don't put pricing on any fliers/brochures cause you have to drive to the property and take a look at how long it will take you to mow the grass add your hourly rate and what ever else they want in the CONTRACT such as edging and trimming of the hedges or what ever and add tax bamm there is the bid. I charge 55-60 per hour depending on which mower I am using I have 52 zeroturn that machine gets 50 an hour I also have a 60 deck this machine gets 60 and cause it can mow faster. Some people think thats kind of a wierd way to price but it seems to work for me. I also heard a dollar a min. works purdy good. You will find out through the years you will spend 30% of your time mowing and 70% of your time marketing your self when first starting out. Once you get about 50 customers things seem to get a lil easier on the marketing side of it cause your name is out there but I would still spend as much marketing as possible. I even went as far as taking 2 classes in college last year on this lawn care thing. One was markeing and other businness management trust me it will pay off in the long run. Good luck to you.

Darryl G
12-20-2011, 12:57 PM
How did I miss this tread the first time around...electric mowers...really? So you have to plug into the customer's outlet to mow? "Hi, Mrs. Smith, this is Little Johnny from up the road, I'll be mowing your lawn today, please remember to leave your extension cord out the window for me."

BESSY12
12-20-2011, 05:19 PM
It's been my experience that fliers or door hangers do not work nearly as successfully as actually speaking to people. It's time consuming and you feel like a broken record selling your pitch a bunch of times, but it's the personal connection that gets the customers. The same goes for door to door sales. If you speak directly to the prospected customer, your chances are higher.

Thanksman
12-20-2011, 05:47 PM
How did I miss this tread the first time around...electric mowers...really? So you have to plug into the customer's outlet to mow? "Hi, Mrs. Smith, this is Little Johnny from up the road, I'll be mowing your lawn today, please remember to leave your extension cord out the window for me."

lol...im sorry but that is funny:)

ClineLawnCare
01-07-2012, 11:27 PM
Let your work speak for you! advertising is very expensive for what you get out of it in most cases. we pick up at least 10 accounts a year just from word of mouth from the best advertiser you have(your customers!) do good work and your checkbook will eventually thank you.