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View Full Version : first season in business---advertising help!!


john b
03-11-2003, 07:41 AM
being my first season can anyone give me some advise on the best type of advertising?my goal this season is to build a good base of customers for the lawn care side and expand into other things later on.i'll be doing the work myself but i do have poeple that can come on board as needed.i also have a full time salesperson with alot of sales exp.but not in this line of business.

Jon99
03-11-2003, 08:32 AM
JMO, but while advertising is nice and needed, make sure you present a good image first, with the way you talk, dress and the quality of equipment...

PeteB.
03-11-2003, 08:43 AM
Hey John!

I am in a similar situation myself. I have worked in the industry for about 16 years...for someone else. I am about to strike out on my own this spring! I have seen that quality work and word of mouth are the two best forms of advertising. For someone just starting out and trying to establish a good customer base, I would suggest a newspaper ad, flyers, door hangers, and business cards. Then get out there and be visible,professional, and do good qulality work.
Where in Maine are you? And best of luck to you!

john b
03-11-2003, 09:06 AM
hello peter

thanks for the reply.i plan on using the ideas you gave.just trying to get as much as i can.i'm located yarmouth,just outside of portland.

john b
03-11-2003, 09:13 AM
thanks for the info.jon99.as i said i'm an ex-general manager of a dealershhip,so i can relate to your advice on image.just looking for any other ways to get leads.i've got the paper,business cards fliers and a few other things lined up.and all my equipment is new.
thanks for your help.

o-so-n-so
03-11-2003, 10:24 PM
John,
There is a lot of guys out there cutting grass. Some do good quality work and some do not.
To build a good solid customer base you must not compromise quality. It will take time. I have been in the Lawn care biz for 10 years and I only have about 20 accounts. ( I'm a part-timer)
I make as much on these 20 accounts as some guys make with 35 and 40 accounts.
I never advertise my work. My customers do it for me.

You do need business cards and never leave home without them.

john b
03-12-2003, 08:10 AM
sounds like good advice,o-so-n-so.thanks i'll keep it in mind.hope your season goes well.

thanks again!

aquaturf
03-12-2003, 10:30 AM
Try those cheap plastic roadside signs, and keep the message simple, like: Lawn Mowing
That way, people see the sign and the number. And DO NOT make the signs fancy. Also, get a catchy phone number like xxx-TURF or something. It has worked well for me!

wojo23323
03-13-2003, 05:17 PM
When I started part time I advertised in a HOA newsletter. Now that I will be going full time in June, I have begun advertising in that newsletter again. I get quite a bit of business from it.

Gr grass n Hi tides
03-14-2003, 09:42 PM
I'm new in this business too, so for about a month or more I read the lawnsite posts (new & archived). I've also been talking to a couple of local LCOs for a long time to get a feel, plus listened to perspective from just about everybody that gave it. After all of that I decided to:

(1) Buy a modest yellow pages ad although some would argue it is not a good idea;
(2) Had door hangers printed (3 per page at my local printer - they come with the little perforated cut in the corner & door handle hole at the top);
(3) Had business cards printed, of course;
(4) I'm on the phone calling everyone I know to let them know about my service;
(5) Obtained my pesticide license right off the bat so I can offer a more complete service;
(6) Got a small order of embroidered hats and short sleeve polo shirts (small orders can be had in the winter only in my area, in the spring/summer when business picks up they have minimums of 5 dozen & up);
(7) Doing some direct mail to new owners of property whose names came from the local Register of Deeds office.

We'll see how it goes. My whole thing lifts off next week, although I may be a little late in the game this year for landing commercial accounts. I had no control over that.

I put as much time into the "paper" end of things as I could this winter while I waited on the majority of my funds to become available.

Also, just read a great thread about "Blackburn Signs" which is a lawnsite.com sponsor! Everyone with a huge thumbs up. Those guys put out the yard signs you can leave with your Co. name on it. I may go with a few of those. They're affordable and professional looking.

Advertising-wise, I didn't want to wait two or three years to find out what works in my area. I think this way I get a good cross section in year #1 & go from there.

john b
03-15-2003, 05:15 AM
thanks for the info.looks like you've done your homework.i'm in the process of doing most of what you sugested plus a weekly newspaper i run a 1/2 page ad in that started last week.i'll be on the road starting monday and have a full time salesperson starting the first week in april.i never thought about new home owners{how to find them anyway}of the ideas you gave i think #7 reg. of deeds is great.


thanks for your help!

Gr grass n Hi tides
03-15-2003, 06:21 AM
I hope it all works out great for you in 2003!

millerjjr
03-15-2003, 08:37 AM
Hey Gr grass, you have some great ideas. You mentioned direct mail to new home owners, are you using bulk mail or regular postal rates, if bulk mail what are the rates that you are paying?

john b. An idea along with the new home owners is getting to know your reality agents in your area they can be great referrals especially when they have propertires that haven't been touched since the old owners left. Just a thought.

Gr grass n Hi tides
03-15-2003, 09:56 AM
millerjjr -

Most of these things I'm doing, I picked up the ideas right here on lawnsite. I swear this board is an incredibly great resource. Got a question - post it & you have pros letting you know what they think almost instantly.

Your thoughts about real estate agents - Bingo. I'm doing that too. The very first thing I did when this whole idea hatched was sit down and make a list of friends and people I know in the area to call. A couple of them are in real estate, one owns a restaurant, etc. The gal that cuts my hair is putting out a bunch of my business cards & fliers.

As far as the mailings go, I did't look into bulk rates, but maybe I should. I thought I would target specific areas/neighborhoods only, instead of the blanket approach. I'm thinking I'll get enough of the blanket type calls from the phone book (and possibly a newspaper ad or two). I'll send out about 300 - 400 letters to begin with at a cost of about $150.00. Not too bad. From what I can gather the return rate should be about 1 or 2 clients per every 100 mailings. I had a rubber stamp with my company name on it which I'll use not only for the direct mail but also for SASEs I'll mail to clients together with their invoice.

A few clients here, a few there, and all via different advertising modes. Dependability, quality and professionalism will be my mantra & hopefully through that I won't need to advertise much in the future and instead rely on word of mouth - the very best source. Got to start somewhere though!

LawnMowerMan2003
03-27-2003, 04:08 AM
OK, here's something I did that worked better than flyers for me, and was pretty cheap. I made my own signs and posted them on telephone poles near intersections. Now, as a disclaimer I will mention that there could be a city ordiance against this in your area and you could get fined. That being said, it has worked great for me, as long as I put up a good number of signs. There are a couple of important things to remember if you decide to try out this strategy.

1. Don't pay a sign shop to do it, make the signs yourself. People will probably tear down your signs, so you want to keep the sign cost down. I estimate mine at about around $2 a sign.

2. When you make your sign, I'd reccomend making the letters at least 4-5". Any smaller than that and people are not going to see it, so you're wasting your time.

3.Put the sign close to an intersection, because people aren't going to notice is much if they're speeding by at 50 miles an hour.

4. Put your minimum price on the sign, Lawn Care, and your phone number. With 4-5" letters that's about all the room you'll have.

5. Buy large sheets of corrugated plastic at a sign supply place. I think they are around $6 a sheet here, and one sheet is enough for 5 signs with 5" stencils. It is not that difficult to cut yourself.

6. Use spray paint to do your sign. You can spray paint your sign in less than a minute.

7. Use a this piece of wood to brace the sign across, or the wind can bend the corrugated plastic in half, and make your sign unreadable. I use roofing nails, because they hold the plastic the best. Staples can come out.

8. I reccomend using a step ladder to post the signs, if possible. That way, your competition will have a more difficult time removing them.

9. Don't just put up 2 or 3 signs. It won't be worth it. Remember, your cost per sign should be around $2-$3. You could put up 20 signs and you've only spent $50, which you could have paid for a little ad somewhere that might get you 2 or 3 calls. You should get more than 2 or 3 calls from 20 signs. If you're lucky you could get 2 or 3 calls from just one sign, if it's in the right place and it stays up for a while. But remember, once you put up your signs, keep checking them cause people will take them down. I get some complaints every once in a while, but usually only if the sign is close to a neighborhood entrance. Some homeowners associations get kind of pissed off about it.

If you're passing out flyers I encourage you to try this out, because I think your time is much better spent. Again, there's the possibility you could be violating a city ordiance, so you may want to look into this first. I wouldn't want anyone to get fined, but I've been posting signs for years and have only had a few complaints. If you decide to do this let me know how it works out.

LWNMWR1
03-27-2003, 12:37 PM
living in a small town it is best to do truck signs or lettering and business cards. believe me the calls will start and you won't have time to think before to long. be smart, be friendly, be honestto both the customer and yourself. you will start to make money then you can decide where you want to go.

LawnMowerMan2003
03-29-2003, 01:09 AM
Well, I paid $40 a few years ago for magnetic signs, and had them at least a year before I changed my phone number. I considered it a waste of money, because I don't think I think I had any calls from the truck signs. I wouldn't consider San Antonio a small town, which could be why the truck signs didn't work so well, since there's so many services. I'd have to agree with the business cards, and word-of-mouth advertising, but when you first start you need more than that, in my opinion.

MoCut1
03-30-2003, 09:11 AM
ALOT OF GOOD IDEAS,,,IM IN MY FOURTH YEAR AND I WILL
PICK UP SOME NEW ACCOUNTS THIS YEAR,BUT I HAVE
5 OR 6 THAT I HAVE BEEN DOING ALL ALONG,,,GOOD
QUALITY OF WORK GOES ALONG WAY!!!!!NEVER SHORT-CUT
BECAUSE I MAKE AS MUCH OFF OF THOSE YARDS AS
MANY MAKE OFF 10.....BE HONEST AND MOST OF ALL DEPENDABLE.
:angel:

wayne volz
03-30-2003, 07:18 PM
John,
Several good ideas have been shared here by your peers. Here's my two cents worth.

You say your goal s to establish a good base. What is that projected number. You need to9 know what it is you want to accomplish before deciding on the method or the costs associated with achieving that goal. Referrals are always good as stated in many of these posts, but if you are trying to establish a large number of accounts, this may not be enough.

Are you looking for both Residential & Commercial? If so, your approach will be different and the timing of advertising will also change.

Many considerations need to be addressed on your end before we can really offer you the advice you are seeking. Think about it and let me / us know.

Good luck and have a profitable year.

Dave in K.C.
03-31-2003, 07:15 PM
I am only in my second year but:
1) I added lettered stickers to the window of my vehicle(has helped when in nice neighborhoods)

2) when ever I can possibly get a corner house I will bid $5 less a weak to put a sighn in their yard. Most will jump all over the idea as long as the HOA will allow it

nclawnman
04-01-2003, 11:10 AM
DONT LAUGH!! I got the idea from some big comapny that done it years ago. Make your flyers so that they fit into a 7x8 sandwich bag usually a printer page cut in half (soo two flyers per printer page) Then go to k-mart or where ever and get a few bags of landscape rocks. then add flyer and rocks to baggie close and there ya go. at k-mart they have 50 bags for 2.29 they are not the fancy zip bags. those are to exspensive. (best yet brand) bag of marble chips cost around 3.00. I have done this many times this past winter and spring. I tried at first to cut a slit in the baggie right under the zip and just hang them on the mailbox latch....but the wind will take them off just as fast and you have to stop at every box. Now i just rock em and i can pass out 400 in less than 2 hours. This is with a driver!!! I have started passing out my flyers after dark and after everyone is home so there willl not be as much traffic.

bruces
04-01-2003, 11:45 AM
Not in my yard. You are littering.

I wouldn't even consider hiring you.

Personal opinion, but I don't like it!

LawnMowerMan2003
04-02-2003, 03:39 AM
What kind of response rate did you have doing this? Sounds like it saves time, but I'd be afraid people would just throw it away without really looking at it, if it was on the ground.

nclawnman
04-02-2003, 09:46 AM
It was kindly low. I only got about 15 calls so far but while i was out working two people stopped by and they knew who i was and that i lived in the neighborhood and aaske dme to do stuff also. ( i put on the flyer that I lived in the neighborhood, for the flyers that i passed out in my neighborhood) did that make sense??? Most of the people in my neighborhood know my truck or know me!!!
What would you suggest??

LawnMowerMan2003
04-03-2003, 07:35 PM
15 calls from how many flyers?

nclawnman
04-05-2003, 08:52 PM
i hate to say it but we probbaly passed out 500. I waited to late here as i just passed them out two weeks ago!!.:dizzy:

LawnMowerMan2003
04-06-2003, 07:41 AM
Well, that doesn't sound bad to me. If average response is 1%, then your repsonse rate was 3 times better, plus you said you could pass out 400 in 2 hours, so for aproximatley 2.5 hours of labor (plus your flyer expense, which shouldn't be too much) you had 15 responses? Sounds pretty good to me, in fact I may try it myself. :)

I just finished my flyer, so I'm hoping it's not too late. Seems to get even busier in the Summer for me though.

nclawnman
04-06-2003, 08:03 PM
I put color pictures and words on mine and it was going to be like 60 cents per copy at the copy place, so that came out to 30 cents per flyer. I ended up printing them out on my computer and it worked well. I put two flyers per page. half pages so they will fit in the baggies!!!

LawnMowerMan2003
04-06-2003, 09:50 PM
Well, even 30 cents per copy is a little expensive for me right now. My flyer is just black and white. I guess I'll just try it out and see how it does.

nclawnman
04-07-2003, 11:19 AM
I print my black and whites at the printing place for 4 cents a copy if i do it. they also let me cut them in half there for nothing!! so that means 2 cents per flyer!! So you should go to the print shop for black and white. At k-mart yoiu can get 50 baggies for 2.29. 7x8 i think or 6x8. (best yet brand) good luck!!

CrazyBlonde
01-30-2010, 03:06 PM
:nono: This is what the customers think of those who put rocks in a baggie with a flyer and throw it. Look! NOT Happy!:nono:

http://www.goodexperience.com/tib/archives/2007/02/lawn_care_adver.html