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A-Land
11-28-2011, 03:39 PM
I used to maintain about 15-20 maintenance accounts before I went to college. I ended up giving up the business and moving on but I'm considering getting back in now that I'm a few years removed, a few years older, many pounds lighter, and hopefully a few years wiser.

One of the mistakes I made when I was younger was I spent too much on the wrong kind of advertising. I did some direct mail one year in a manner I'd never do now and being 17, 18 years old I was too focused on the next equipment "toy" and didn't really have a vision for where I wanted to go with the business. I also really didn't understand marketing very well, and when a flyer shows up on your door from a company you've never heard of... The likelihood of that turning into a meaningful customer is low. So you have to do lots of them and spend lots of money. I had no idea how to hire someone or manage them effectively. I learned a lot though.

I have some time this fall, I was thinking about going out and pounding the pavement the old fashioned way and just going door to door, introducing myself, and leaving some marketing materials behind for those friendly enough to answer the door and probably leaving a doorhanger bag behind for people who aren't home although I loath those bags. Since I'd be starting over (This is going to be in a different area so I can't call old customers) I'm going to have zero name recognition and the worst result is someone who's never met me will now have an idea who I am. I'm 21 and I also find that adults who are well off, which is the majority in this area, take well to someone who's younger and wants to meet them and earn their business.

My question is, has anybody ever tried going out in the fall into a new area or with a new business, and have you had any luck? I'd also be open to signing up lawn customers... I love the dependability of lawn maintenance and because of the home prices it's not impossible to make money on it here like in some areas. I probably can't do any harm, right?

Just curious if anybody has tried a) the tactic I plan on using (And making it look good... Decent hiking boots, decent khaki pants, and a company logo'd fleece or something as it'll be nippy outside) or b) advertising at all this time of year for SPRING services (I'm not looking for last minute fall work, I will not be equipment-ready until the spring) and lastly, how has it worked for ya?

:waving:

Dr.NewEarth
11-28-2011, 06:15 PM
Get a website and advertise in the paper or even the yellow pages. Save your time and energy for real leads instead of knocking on doors.

Cheffy
11-28-2011, 06:27 PM
I am in there with you, I have run a profitable lco since 2004 but only part time . Now my regular work is in the can I am looking to double monthly revenue. So I put an add in the local paper not much response. I have set up a website on my own( free). I have been working with yellowbook. This will give me another website plus phone book add. With all that in motion I still feel it important to beat the crete . Have landed some contracts ,but I have all winter to shake hands and make good high quality contacts.

A-Land
11-28-2011, 06:52 PM
Get a website and advertise in the paper or even the yellow pages. Save your time and energy for real leads instead of knocking on doors.

Have plenty of energy, don't want to put a lot of money into brand development at this time of year hence this strategy.

fireman gus
11-28-2011, 07:53 PM
Phone adds aren't what they use to be. Set up a website. Also look at putting your web address on any free local advertising site. I have been amazed at the response our website has drawn. We started by putting our web address on www.local.com.

A-Land
11-28-2011, 11:00 PM
Phone adds aren't what they use to be. Set up a website. Also look at putting your web address on any free local advertising site. I have been amazed at the response our website has drawn. We started by putting our web address on www.local.com.

From what I've seen, although the economy is still doing well around here, there are certainly a good amount of people who are out of work and wake up one day a landscaper, a cleaner, a painter, etc, etc. And there's nothing wrong with that, people have to make ends meet and if I was 40, lost my job, had two kids, a wife, and a mortgage you better damn well believe I'd be all of those things the next day as well. I think those who are still doing alright are being a little more careful as there are more fly-by-night co's out there, and it's very easy to get your name in the yellow pages.

That's why when I look at it this time, I want the defining factor of my company to be me. Landscaping isn't rocket science and most companies do a good job. I want people to be loyal customers to my company because I run it and have a personal relationship with them. What better way to get that process moving than to introduce myself. Probably get a few people who just won't like anybody coming to the door, and that's alright, but I think framing your knocking on their door as an "introduction" and not a "sale" should set most folks at ease. Yeah it's a backdoor sales opportunity but leading with that you're there just to introduce yourself quickly and are new in the neighborhood, I think, most people would welcome, which is why I'm curious if anybody has any experience with doing it.

A-Land
11-28-2011, 11:03 PM
And just to clarify, I've done this before. Website and other advertising will go in the spring if I go through with it, if not sooner so I can direct people to learn more about me. This post is just in regards to the things I mentioned in my first post. The items are not mutually exclusive.

mowerbrad
11-30-2011, 01:22 PM
I think your on to something with your strategy. One of the issues I see is that. Not everyone will take kindly to the "door-to-door" sales thing you will be doing. I know in my area people really don't like people they don't know coming to their door trying to sell them something, you may even need a permit for that in you area.

I think its great that you want to make a name for yourself and your company, I just don't think that starting out with such an ambitious approach is the right way tk start out. If I were you, I'd try to get my name in front of people first and then do the knocking on doors thing. You may want to start with a few cheap ads in you local paper, putting out business cards tbrkughout you community (often times local businesses will allow this). Once people have seen your name a little bit, then start going to people's door. This way when you introduce yourself to them they will probably have seen your company name before and be a little more reseptive to you.

Showing your ambition is always a good idea, especially when you are younger, it says a lot about you. If you so decide to go out make sure you present yourself in a professional manner.

The biggest problem I do see is that advertising now may not result in much. Most people ade just thinking about what they are going to do about the snow/winter and won't even think about their landscaping needs until later in the winter, just before the snow starts to fall.

Best of luck!!!
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douglee25
12-02-2011, 04:20 PM
I too am in your same shoes. I printed up business cards and fall flyers about a month ago. I ended up going door to door one Saturday afternoon to try and get my name out there. Despite some people not liking door to door sales, I feel that I can sell myself if I can get in front of the customer. I have one potential lead thus far that I am doing a fairly large estimate for. Unfortunately I can't do much during the week because by the time I get out of my real job, it's dark outside. That leaves me with the weekend right now. Between other projects, the holidays, etc, it really hasn't left me with a ton of time to go out and advertise and sell the business.

What I originally planned on doing was targeting several local neighborhoods that were close by. I printed up almost 800 flyers that offered a free fall or spring cleanup if you signed up for the 2012 mowing season. I thought this was a fairly enticing offer with a pretty good value. I figured I would do around 400 fall flyers, then do 400 spring flyers. The problem I ran into within the first 50-100 that I distributed was that I think I totally was in the wrong neighborhood. They were middle class residents, but they just didn't seem very interested at all for landscape/mowing services. I have begun to slightly rethink my strategy and I think I am going to hit up slightly more middle class areas (2500 sq. ft homes with 1/2 - 1 acre properties). I used to do mainly postage stamp properties back in the day. I had a lot of them, but it kept me busy. I think now I just need to target a slightly different customer base and see where it takes me. I have the equipment to do that, so why not take advantage of it, right?

Doug

mattfromNY
12-02-2011, 04:37 PM
My first year I 'knocked doors' and got zero response from the people who I actually talked to. BUT, got good response from several (still customers to this day- 6.5 years later) who I left door hangers on their doors. One thing I noticed when knocking, many folks would look out the window to see who was knocking, but not open the door. Leave a door hanger and possibly they will call. I have had better response from 'knocking doors' at commercial accounts than from residentials. Just my experience for what its worth.

mattfromNY
12-02-2011, 04:39 PM
Maybe this time of year, give them a refrigerater magnet with a coupon or something to help them remember you when spring comes around.

kukmar
12-08-2011, 01:30 AM
I've been at this four years. I did flyer's, cards on posting boards, mailers, which all worked, but a website has been the best type of advertising for me. Make sure you have the web designer set up a "get a quote" page and have it sent directly to your email address.
I spent $500 on it and it probably generated me 5-10K IN REVENUE.

www.nwlawncare.com

goodluck