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View Full Version : Creative idea...will it work?


lawnranger44
12-07-2004, 07:52 PM
Alright, here is my idea to get more work in our target area next year:
Go door to door in one of our target development (about 90 homes). Tell them there is a special offer for their area. FREE MOWING if you schedule it on April 15 (for example). We fill up our schedule for April 15 with free mowings. Only catch is you need to listen to our 5 minute sales pitch (we introduce ourselves and our business, show them pictures, etc.). On April 15, we mow like crazy, will be able to do 30-40 if they are all in the same development. Ideally, a decent percentage of people will see what awesome work we do and ask us to continue. If we don't get too many jobs from it, at worst, we will still generate alot of talk (the whole neighborhood will be talking about us), and it will only be one day's work. What do you think? Will it work?

RedWingsDet
12-07-2004, 07:56 PM
I think thats a great idea, however, not to be mean, I doubt it'd work...

I had about 15,000 flyers sent out, and they all said if they respond by a certain date they get the 3rd week cut for free.

know how many calls I got? NONE, 2 pranks and that was it! OH ya, it costed me about $600!!!

However, it may be different for different areas, again timeing is a key issue too!

Good Luck man, it certainly cant hurt any!!!

Mo Green
12-07-2004, 07:59 PM
Give it a shot. Let us know how it works out for you.

locutus
12-07-2004, 08:04 PM
I dont know. I have a general aversion to giving away my labor. Seems like you are about to break one of the sacred ,though unwritten, lawncare commandments. " Thou shalt not work for free". This seems like a despiration move to me, likely to be picked up on by your prospective customers, and used against you in negotiations. You are likely to do a lot of free mowing with very little return on your investment.

RedWingsDet
12-07-2004, 08:08 PM
I dont know. I have a general aversion to giving away my labor. Seems like you are about to break one of the sacred ,though unwritten, lawncare commandments. " Thou shalt not work for free". This seems like a despiration move to me, likely to be picked up on by your prospective customers, and used against you in negotiations. You are likely to do a lot of free mowing with very little return on your investment.

he wont be working for free as long as he raises his other cut prices up a few bucks to make up for that one day of work...

for instance, say he cuts the 3rd week free. Say his average cuts are like $25, well he shoulda make his average price for that piticular lawn that hes cutting for free on the 3rd week like $28 or $29 or hell even $30. That way he will make up for it in the long run and have a few more clients!!!

lawnranger44
12-07-2004, 08:14 PM
I know, it is difficult to think about giving away work for free...

However, I think this puts our most sellable quality in front of everyone to see: our great work! Another thing: people judge us since we're teenagers and assume we don't run a professional business. If they could see our work and our presentation, they would see us for what we really are: a professional, legitimate business.

KINGjosh
12-07-2004, 08:45 PM
I say do it, you never know unless you try! If anything you'll learn not to ever work for free or for cheap!

Lawnchoice
12-07-2004, 08:56 PM
I think thats a great idea, however, not to be mean, I doubt it'd work...

I had about 15,000 flyers sent out, and they all said if they respond by a certain date they get the 3rd week cut for free.

know how many calls I got? NONE, 2 pranks and that was it! OH ya, it costed me about $600!!!

However, it may be different for different areas, again timeing is a key issue too!

Good Luck man, it certainly cant hurt any!!!


What time of year did you place these flyers out there and when is the start of the mowing season in MI ?

goose
12-07-2004, 09:01 PM
Try it . I know it works . I have 2 crews in one neighborhood for 4 days a week because of that same idea . Been doing it for about 6 years. All of our customers are all on yearly contracts.
Goose

tonygreek
12-07-2004, 09:08 PM
i'd view it as not really giving your work away for free, but simply view it as utilizing some of your marketing budget to cover the expense. no different than colgate giving away free tubes of toothpaste. the manufacturing division does not eat the cost, some internal group or another covers it out of a marketing pot of money. people will either take it and enjoy it for what it was worth, just a free tube o' toothpaste, and ultimately will stick with their brand of choice. another part of the population will be glad they were introduced to the product and become regular buyers. it's the definition of marketing at it's very core.

i'd be all for it and think it's an idea worth proving or disproving. just be sure everyone looks the part of a quality lco professional and you'll be ahead of the game.

tony

DennisF
12-07-2004, 09:24 PM
It's a good idea, but I wouldn't load up the schedule with free cuts. I would offer it to 5 or 6 homes that could use a real good clean-up. Then do a very high quality service on those 5 or 6. Spend a lot of time making them look like they got professional service. Then let your work sell itself to the rest of sub.

If you offer free service to customer with a lawn that already looks pretty good you won't make a big impression on that customer since he already knows that his lawn is in good shape.

RedWingsDet
12-07-2004, 09:37 PM
What time of year did you place these flyers out there and when is the start of the mowing season in MI ?

they went out late april I think, i cant remember, maybe even may. But let me tell you, I was about a month late. Oh well, next year im doing everything by hand and not paying to have it done. And im going in the yellow pages.

Start of the season I belive is april. Im not quite sure really, this was my first year. Im sure some Michiganders will chime in on this one :) :cool2:

HOOLIE
12-07-2004, 09:53 PM
This is one of those ideas that could work very well...or be a total bust. I don't know that I would try it myself. I'm just thinking, if someone knocked on my door offering a free cut, in mid-April, when the grass is kickin', I'd say go for it, but I wouldn't necessarily sign up for the rest of the year. You'll most likely pick up some business, I'd be interested to see how much.

lawnranger44
12-07-2004, 10:00 PM
Yeah, I think I'll give it a try...we will only lose money in gas, and if it works, we'll know we can try it again somewhere else, if it doesn't, we'll know not to ever do it again! :D

i'd view it as not really giving your work away for free, but simply view it as utilizing some of your marketing budget to cover the expense. no different than colgate giving away free tubes of toothpaste. the manufacturing division does not eat the cost, some internal group or another covers it out of a marketing pot of money. people will either take it and enjoy it for what it was worth, just a free tube o' toothpaste, and ultimately will stick with their brand of choice. another part of the population will be glad they were introduced to the product and become regular buyers. it's the definition of marketing at it's very core.

That's exactly, this is our version of a "free sample"...Just we are limiting it to one single day.

Randy Scott
12-07-2004, 10:26 PM
How long and how much will it cost you if all 90 of the homes let you mow for free?

Here, by April 15th, everyone is pretty much signed up with a professional company. I don't know exactly when your season starts, but we usually mow the third week in April.

As stated before though, it is a form of advertising, and no advertising is ever guaranteed. Results could be good just as easily as they could be poor. Much like flyer's and/or yellow pages. I say go for it. Your 16, you live at home, $30 in gas and your labor, not a big loss.

lawnranger44
12-07-2004, 11:40 PM
Here, by April 15th, everyone is pretty much signed up with a professional company. I don't know exactly when your season starts, but we usually mow the third week in April.

I'm not sure if that's exactly when we're going to do it. It will depend when I can get back from school (I'm 18 and in college actually, my brother is 16) and when the lawns will be ready for their first mowing. We will probably go door-to-door over spring break possibly, which is in March, which is before most of these people have looked for a professional service. (Believe me, these people r lazy about this sort of thing.)

kthhayes
12-08-2004, 12:05 AM
It could be risky in that you might get the cheep people who want everything for nothing, you do cheepen your appearance, but....
That is great "BUZZ" marketing, if you do it in a neighborhood, and they all talk, and your work is great, you might land 5 or 10 jobs, and to get off the truck takes so much time, you will have less drive time wasted per time of day vs billable hours. Please let me know how it turns out!!!!!

Keith :cool2:

dhess
12-08-2004, 12:13 AM
Alright, here is my idea to get more work in our target area next year:
Go door to door in one of our target development (about 90 homes). Tell them there is a special offer for their area. FREE MOWING if you schedule it on April 15 (for example).

how about just charging $4.15 (april 15th 4/15) to get the buzz going more...exact change only! no checks! :D

Plus this might help filter out the peeps that just want free stuff and you'll never hear from again.

Aaron Marshall
12-08-2004, 12:29 AM
I think it sounds like a great marketing idea, imo two major concerns:
1) I think you should get out earlier than march, granted some people procrastinate (as us students do), but I found that Mid March was way too late last year (we have a very competative LC industry)
2) Are you really going to be able to portray your quality of work when doing 30-40 lawns? Granted if it was just mowing it might work, but say you get to one that didn't do fall clean-up and didn't do spring clean-up yet, that would throw a major wrench in the system as far as time is concerned. As long as it was only cutting, show up with a bunch of buddies, look and act proffessional (wear company t-shrits, etc).

Very interesting idea, you will deffinetly get the neighborhood talking. Coming from a fellow college student, I can understand people not taking you seriously, I'd say try it, and put on your "best shoes" for the plan and hold on tight!
Aaron

JimLewis
12-08-2004, 02:02 AM
Sounds like a decent idea. Worth a shot, I guess.

But I wonder if your time would be better spent just having you all put out flyers all day long instead. I've always had great success with flyers. So much that I haven't had to do any for a long time now.

YardPro
12-08-2004, 07:37 AM
it's not giving your work awa for free.
it's spending the equivalent of very taegeted marketing.

if you were to spend $ on advertising, how long would you have to work to payfor that advertising?

lawnranger44
12-08-2004, 09:40 AM
But I wonder if your time would be better spent just having you all put out flyers all day long instead. I've always had great success with flyers. So much that I haven't had to do any for a long time now.

This has been our target development from day one. We have peppered this place with flyers for years, and we have 3 lawns there but I still think that most people in there are naive to the fact that we even exist. So, I agree that flyers should be the first step, but it's already been done.

GrassBustersLawn
12-08-2004, 03:28 PM
I still see it as GIVING AWAY YOUR WORK. Instead of that, why not offer a free "WORKS" car wash certificate or something? You are going to end up cutting alot of people's yards for FREE and you'll never see them again.

Mike

lawnranger44
12-08-2004, 03:51 PM
It's just the same thing as a free sample. Free samples can often be less expensive and more effective than any other form of advertising. And they get to sample OUR WORK, so they'll know exactly what kind of quality we're talking about.

Gatewayuser
12-08-2004, 03:55 PM
I think its a good idea!!! You won't lose that much its only 1 day. I might do that too.

jbell113
12-08-2004, 04:35 PM
I dont think I would do it for free. Maybe you could charge $10 and still get the work. It would be hard for anyone to turn down a cut for 10$. These people might be a bit leary of you offering free cuts and think its to good to be true (thinking theres a catch) and usually if it is to good to be true........... it usually is, JMO

Remsen1
12-08-2004, 04:41 PM
It sounds like an interesting idea. My worry would be running into lawns that haven't had a fall or spring clean-up.

Maybe you could write "does not include spring cleanup". In other words "if the yard is a mess, you'll be charged". When you get a call and you get the address, go check the property and talk it over with the homeowner before the free event.

Norm Al
12-08-2004, 05:42 PM
thats an awesome idea!

lawnranger44
12-08-2004, 05:45 PM
My worry would be running into lawns that haven't had a fall or spring clean-up.

Yeah, that would suck, but this neighborhood has no trees whatsoever, so that really shouldn't be a problem. We are going door-to-door to tell them about the offer, and if there is a lawn that looks like crap we probably won't knock. But I doubt that will happen.

Cheesedawg1
12-08-2004, 05:52 PM
I dont think I would do it for free. Maybe you could charge $10 and still get the work. It would be hard for anyone to turn down a cut for 10$. These people might be a bit leary of you offering free cuts and think its to good to be true (thinking theres a catch) and usually if it is to good to be true........... it usually is, JMO

This sounds like a better idea also. When I first started off 3 years ago I put out flyers stating first cut is $15. I got a lot of hits from this. People saw my work and I slowly picked up customers. Your free cut idea may get you a lot of work or may not. But I would definetly offer a very small price instead of free.

Cheesedawg1
12-08-2004, 05:54 PM
Yeah, that would suck, but this neighborhood has no trees whatsoever, so that really shouldn't be a problem. We are going door-to-door to tell them about the offer, and if there is a lawn that looks like crap we probably won't knock. But I doubt that will happen.

ANother thing that worked for me when I was 14 and 15 was in my target neighborhood I rode my bike around with my flyers in my hand towards the evening hours. I think it was May or late April because this was the time when everybody started takin the kids for a walk and just a stroll around the neighborhood. It helped me pick up many customers.

karen1122
12-08-2004, 06:01 PM
Great Idea!!

First of all, don't think that you are working for free. You are trading your time in for advertising.

Second, it is difficult to differentiate your work from others, and a demonstration would be the best way

Third, by doing many lawns in the neighborhood at one time, you would get more bang from your efforts. Not only would each potential customer see the improvement in their own lawn, but the work would be showcased over the majority of the neighborhood.

Please let us know how it works out.

Expert Lawns
12-08-2004, 06:26 PM
Start of the season I belive is april. Im not quite sure really, this was my first year. Im sure some Michiganders will chime in on this one :) :cool2:

End of March, yearly April is when we can usually get started on our spring cleanups

coonman
12-08-2004, 06:32 PM
Did I read that right? Somebody sent out 15,000 flyers and got 0 responses. That is truly unbelievable!! Year after year we get 3-5 calls per 100 door hangers. I don't think we have ever had to put out more than 1000 to get our routes full. Try the door hangers if you have'nt already.

RedWingsDet
12-08-2004, 06:33 PM
Did I read that right? Somebody sent out 15,000 flyers and got 0 responses. That is truly unbelievable!! Year after year we get 3-5 calls per 100 door hangers. I don't think we have ever had to put out more than 1000 to get our routes full. Try the door hangers if you have'nt already.


Yes you heard correct. I had 15k put out. and 0 responses other than 2 pranks. Oh well. Im going to order some nebs door hangers!

locutus
12-08-2004, 06:40 PM
I dont agree with the free lawn cut being equivailant to a free sample, say at an Ice cream store or something. When you receive a sample of something you've never tasted, it seems reasonable. I know what my lawn looks like when mowed well.

Lawnchoice
12-08-2004, 06:51 PM
I dont agree with the free lawn cut being equivailant to a free sample, say at an Ice cream store or something. When you receive a sample of something you've never tasted, it seems reasonable. I know what my lawn looks like when mowed well.

I agree here.

A sample to me is a portion of what you would get if you purchased the full scale version.

I don't think sample is the right term to use here.

IMO there just isn't enough time in the day to give stuff away for free. Just not worth it in my business model.

Precision
12-08-2004, 07:12 PM
I think that the idea of charging a token amount will make more sense to the potential client.

Make it gimmicky, like some one said, April 15, makes it $4.15. And if April 15 is tax day this year, you could incorporate that into you advertising.
Something like
The tax man takes away and we give back. Tax day mowing $4.15.

If you write it off vs your advertising budget it might just be a good idea.

Disregard Premier's comments on the flyers. Statistics say 1-3% response on any direct marketing. Of course that assumes the flyers are not a figment of someones imagination and that you actually pass them out.

I would go through the neighborhood and talk to whoever you can and flyer the rest.

Carolina Cutter
12-08-2004, 08:08 PM
Alright, here is my idea to get more work in our target area next year:
Go door to door in one of our target development (about 90 homes). Tell them there is a special offer for their area. FREE MOWING if you schedule it on April 15 (for example). We fill up our schedule for April 15 with free mowings. Only catch is you need to listen to our 5 minute sales pitch (we introduce ourselves and our business, show them pictures, etc.). On April 15, we mow like crazy, will be able to do 30-40 if they are all in the same development. Ideally, a decent percentage of people will see what awesome work we do and ask us to continue. If we don't get too many jobs from it, at worst, we will still generate alot of talk (the whole neighborhood will be talking about us), and it will only be one day's work. What do you think? Will it work?

Did you used to sell time shares or condos.....LOL

Carolina Cutter
12-08-2004, 08:13 PM
how about just charging $4.15 (april 15th 4/15) to get the buzz going more...exact change only! no checks! :D

Plus this might help filter out the peeps that just want free stuff and you'll never hear from again.

Excellent Idea........but my season usually starts around March 15th...hmmmm

YardPro
12-08-2004, 08:45 PM
I dont agree with the free lawn cut being equivailant to a free sample, say at an Ice cream store or something. When you receive a sample of something you've never tasted, it seems reasonable. I know what my lawn looks like when mowed well.


what's the difference in giving away the work, or spending the money generated by the same amount of work on advertising.

if you comp $750.00 worth of work, how's that any different from spending $750.00 on advertising.


this is the reason big businesses will take on work for a loss at high profile accounts. it's one of the best ways to market your name.

dhess
12-08-2004, 09:37 PM
another idea might be just mow the front yards for cheap or free price.

I know usually mowing a bunch of front yards grouped together is always much easier than the whole yard in some areas. Plus this way it will give them a taste or *sample* of what you can do.

Then in your spill tell them if they really like your service and sign up for a contract you'll return and finish the back free.

Also, make sure you get a chance to talk to them AFTER you've performed the service so you can throw in that

"yeah doesn't the yard look great..."

or

"wow what an improvement huh"

or

"its a shame to even charge to cut such a perfect yard like this"

ect..

locutus
12-08-2004, 09:42 PM
what's the difference in giving away the work, or spending the money generated by the same amount of work on advertising.

if you comp $750.00 worth of work, how's that any different from spending $750.00 on advertising.


this is the reason big businesses will take on work for a loss at high profile accounts. it's one of the best ways to market your name.If this happens to be a neighborhood you already operate in, your work is plenty of advertisement as well as word of mouth. No need to give away your labor or spend money on advertising. This has been my experience. Others may differ. To give credance to the original post, one day in a target neighborhood, simply as an experiment to see what will happen, I dont see a problem with that. It's only if it becomes your only way to advertise that it strikes me as just one big give away.

Likestomow
12-08-2004, 10:19 PM
Your great mowing quality is not your strength. Your strength is the fact that you are teenagers! You live at home and don't have to make the rent each month. It doesn’t matter if you have good equipment, you have zero overhead.

Pass out flyers that capitalize on your strength. Tell people that you are teenagers who work cheap and are dependable. People are looking #1 for price and #2 for dependability.

You can easily mow a $35 yard for $25 or $30 and still come out smelling like a rose. If you price your services right you will achieve volume, and you know what that means.

I find it difficult to compete with teenagers who market their greatest weapon… low price.

lawnranger44
12-08-2004, 11:07 PM
Pass out flyers that capitalize on your strength. Tell people that you are teenagers who work cheap and are dependable. People are looking #1 for price and #2 for dependability.

This may work for some teenagers, but not for us. We try to give the most competitive prices, yeah, but I wouldn't say we work cheap. We want them to see our work so they will realize that we DON'T work cheap...and WHY we don't work cheap: because we are a legitimate, tax paying business with professional equipment.

YardPro
12-08-2004, 11:12 PM
If this happens to be a neighborhood you already operate in, your work is plenty of advertisement as well as word of mouth. No need to give away your labor or spend money on advertising. This has been my experience. Others may differ. To give credance to the original post, one day in a target neighborhood, simply as an experiment to see what will happen, I dont see a problem with that. It's only if it becomes your only way to advertise that it strikes me as just one big give away.


i guess i had infered from your posts that you were unwilling to ever give away work

he only does a few houses. probably done while the most of the neighborhood is at work and will never know it is his company doing the work.

lawnranger44
12-08-2004, 11:25 PM
he only does a few houses. probably done while the most of the neighborhood is at work and will never know it is his company doing the work.

Exactly. We are in and out in less than 90 minutes.

yrdandgardenhandyman
12-09-2004, 12:53 AM
I dont know. I have a general aversion to giving away my labor. Seems like you are about to break one of the sacred ,though unwritten, lawncare commandments. " Thou shalt not work for free". This seems like a despiration move to me, likely to be picked up on by your prospective customers, and used against you in negotiations. You are likely to do a lot of free mowing with very little return on your investment.


How much did PremierLandscaping say those flyers cost him? $600.00. And with no payback. Even if he sells the 30 - 40 lawns at $30.00 a cut, it cost him $900.00 - $1200.00. And probably with similar result. But with no result, it would only count the contact time as lost.Not counting the little presentation. But, as has been said many many times, you have to adjust your tactics to the area you are in and you have to stay tuned in to what is important to your potential customers.

tonygreek
12-09-2004, 09:52 AM
going back over the thread, i see that this is already a development that you've already carpet-bombed with advertising and you've received only 3 jobs out of it? if that's the case, could be the wrong choice for that sort of a marketing tactic if they haven't bitten yet. maybe you should think of doing it in a new development that you haven't really hit hard before?

"Excellent Idea........but my season usually starts around March 15th...hmmmm"
you could do like some of our local pizza shops are doing with a "beat the clock" special where you get a 2 topping pizza for the price that corresponds to the time. it's a great idea for them that it gives people incentive to utilize the excess capacity of the pizza shop during the leaner hours, such as 5:00pm. the price rises as it gets later, which is when the business also starts to peak. you could flip this and do a "beat the tax man promo" where you get the first cut for whatever price the calendar date is, prior to 4/15. it gives you money to cover fuel, and is a bit more witty than just saying "it's free". actually, if you could handle the capacity, you might even get a local paper to run a brief on it since it's a uniquely different promo.

tony

locutus
12-09-2004, 12:30 PM
i guess i had infered from your posts that you were unwilling to ever give away work

he only does a few houses. probably done while the most of the neighborhood is at work and will never know it is his company doing the work.Yardpro, You infered right. I will never give away my labor/profits as a way to advertise, though I dont have a problem with others wanting to try it. I just dont advise it. Do you think that most of the people opting for the free cut are genuinely looking for an lco? I dont think so. Lets say a few opt for service after the free taste. I contend that he could have gotten those accounts anyway.

JarrodsDad
12-09-2004, 12:39 PM
How about offering your current customers cash back for each referral they get you. So if you mow someones lawn by referral, you kick back 10% for the person making the referral. Give a little, get a lot. payup

Word of mouth is the best, and cheapest, advertising you will ever get. Just make sure you do good work first! :)

Any thoughts about this idea?

lawnranger44
12-09-2004, 12:46 PM
How about offering your current customers cash back for each referral they get you. So if you mow someones lawn by referral, you kick back 10% for the person making the referral. Give a little, get a lot.

Word of mouth is the best, and cheapest, advertising you will ever get. Just make sure you do good work first!

Any thoughts about this idea?

I agree, if we could expand by this method it would be ideal. But our current customers either don't care or are stupid, because no matter how much we remind them that they get a discount for referrals they make none.