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View Full Version : A different spin on gaining customers


K.Carothers
12-23-2004, 10:38 PM
It's winter and time to turn on the mind to unique ways to gain customers. I have an idea and wanted input on it. Don't hold back on comments and remember that this is only an idea.

Most customers don't get fertilizer on their lawns throughout the year. These are the lawns that slow down to every other week in the summer. Of course the lawns that are treated need cut weekly. I was thinking of offering to my new customers Free 4 step fertilizer program throughout the year with signed contract for cuts. You say you will lose money but will you? For starters you can high bid all these customers(at least $5 more per cut) with 32 cuts/yr=$160 more per account. Second, since you are fertilizing the lawn it will keep growing during the summer months keeping the every other week cuts to every week adding another 8+cuts per lawn at an average of $30/cut=$240/yr per account. Third, sell the customer a grub control treatment and the final winterizing treatment=$60/account. Fourth, the customer feels they are getting a steal and the ones that have a fertilizer co already will drop them. And finally, your accounts lawns would look great adding value to your quality of work= more drive by customers wanting your service.!! We all know how much the mark-up with fertilizers are. I guess you can call it a loss leader with great profits at the end of the day. Just a thought I have been tossing around and would like all the pro's and con's of this idea.
Thanks
P.S. Merry Christmas Everyone(if I can still say Christmas in America)

wrestlingcoach
12-23-2004, 10:42 PM
don't forget the extra special chemical licenses and fertilizer licenses and the great added Insurance.

desert rose gardening
12-23-2004, 11:16 PM
if you can afford it try it for a year. Not all of my customers want fretilizer, so some of them I put on anyway, not many maybe five or so. I don't want to mow a yellow lawn. And where I work in this country and the size of most my lawns I can fertilize four lawns with a fifty pound bag that costs about $11.50 or so. As you can tell most of my lawns are small tract homes. And like you said if you charge more to Begin with, it wont cost you anymore. Then you have to think about the following years how you want to do it.

out4now
12-23-2004, 11:45 PM
Sounds like a good idea mostly. Here grass doesn't slow down till well into October. The only things I can see that may be a problem are if you bag clippings, more dump fees so better include that cost and a Nitrogen rich grass ( a heavy feeder) will produce more soft tissue and could more more suspetable to damage depending upon the variety. Are you going for Milnorganite most of the season and then a spike of an ammonia based as grass starts moving towards dormancy or what? What type of fert program?

Soupy
12-24-2004, 02:20 AM
Sound like a good idea. If you are going to charge $5 extra per cut you are still charging for the service (at a discount). I would try to sell the program at full price first and if they don't bite then you can let them in on your free program. I think a phone call explaining that to prove the benefits of apps. you are willing to perform the service at cost for the first year.

Cudo's for thinking out of the box :)

Mico Landscaping design
12-24-2004, 02:30 AM
Ask bobby he knows everything :waving:

Soupy
12-24-2004, 02:40 AM
Man, Bobby is on vacation and still can't catch a break :) I bet he doesn't make it the whole 2 weeks though. He will find a coffee shop somewhere with internet access.

walker-talker
12-24-2004, 03:39 AM
I have been kicking around this idea in my head all year. I had never really thought about it until another local LCO told me that he does this. Except he puts down fertilizer and no charge and does not even tell the customer.....which I would not recommend at all.

PR Fect
12-24-2004, 09:39 AM
K, yes you can say Merry Christmas! And Merry Christmas rigt back at you! We tosed this one around a few years ago, even thought of ferting at night when the clients place was closed. You know, they see the lawn looks great, and you get all the credit. I estimated 4 to 5 more mowing's per year. Lawn with Fert and irrigation 26 to 28 mowing's per year, just Fert program 21 to 23 per year, and natures way about 16 - 18 mowing's per year. So how much freebies do you do? How about watering it also? And the big one, what if your other customers who pay for a Fert program find out? I think what you really are talking about is selling a full service lawn care program, for one set price. If they do not fertilize now, I found them to be cheep, and not wanting to spend for a full program. And sometimes your worst paying clients. So do you really want to give your service away to that part of your customer base? PR

NickN
12-24-2004, 10:32 AM
K,
I believe you'll be selling yourself short by adding a 4 step program for $160.
Try selling your existing customers,that do want fertilzer apps,more services,like lime apps.,aerating,spring and fall cleanups.You'll make less stops(same customers) while increasing your income at the same time.It's a win/win for both of you.
We tend to think in terms of more customers are better,but actually we're missing out by not selling every possible service to our existing customers.

i_plant_art
12-24-2004, 11:01 AM
i think it is a good idea but only offer it to new customers. why give something for free to and existing account the whole idea is to gain more customers right. Also it would work better if when you went out to fertilize you plastered the neighbors mailboxes with advetising literature everytime you are there trying to sell your fert&squirt. that whay if some of the neighbors signed up it would help make up for the cost having one paying account across from a freebie. but it does sound like a good idea i would limit to a certain sq.ft though it would suck to have to spray a 1 or 2 acre lot for free 4 times a year. Good luck with it when season comes in let us know how it is working out for you.

Duramax99
12-24-2004, 11:44 AM
If Bobbygedd saw this thread I think he would have heart failure.

out4now
12-24-2004, 11:53 AM
Yes this thread would deffinately not sit well with his union.

cutnedge
12-24-2004, 12:13 PM
It's been my experience that the customers who will not buy into a fert-program are also the ones who are the most reluctant to pay for a weekly cut---no matter how fast the grass grows.
It sounds as though you have customers who have already bought into the fert-program and weekly service. Why take the risk of losing them by offering a new customer,of which you know nothing about, the same service for less? We both know how quickly word of mouth spreads.
I believe it would be best to either sell everyone on your past fert-program, or clean the slate and offer everyone(including existing customers)the newer program.

ozzys cuts
12-24-2004, 01:52 PM
Not a bad idea but I would bump the average mow up alittle more but only offer it to lawns with irrigation systems if you dont water in the middle of summer all the fert in the world won't make it grow

fastlane
12-24-2004, 02:22 PM
Do you avg. 32 cuts per year in Pittsburgh? I only get about 28-30 in Berks County. I think you would need 40 or more cuts per year to keep cost closer to the cost of a regular cut . I'd try to sell a regular fertilizer program.

Soupy
12-24-2004, 06:15 PM
i think it is a good idea but only offer it to new customers. why give something for free to and existing account the whole idea is to gain more customers right. Also it would work better if when you went out to fertilize you plastered the neighbors mailboxes with advetising literature everytime you are there trying to sell your fert&squirt . that whay if some of the neighbors signed up it would help make up for the cost having one paying account across from a freebie. but it does sound like a good idea i would limit to a certain sq.ft though it would suck to have to spray a 1 or 2 acre lot for free 4 times a year. Good luck with it when season comes in let us know how it is working out for you.

I had a strange dream last night. I hired a carpet cleaner and told him what I wanted cleaned. For some reason I had to go next door and help my neighbor with something and when I returned my wife had paid him and he was done. I then realized I forgot to have him clean a room upstairs. Anyway I looked out front and noticed he was still in the area because he was handing out flyer's to my neighbors.

The dream seemed to be focused on the carpet cleaning but I think my mind was telling me something else. I already canvas neighborhoods I work in a couple of times a year, but I don't do it while I am working. So I can't figure out what the dream meant. It might just be that my carpets do need cleaned :)

I know, I have weird dreams :help:

K.Carothers
12-25-2004, 12:13 AM
I had a strange dream last night. I hired a carpet cleaner and told him what I wanted cleaned. For some reason I had to go next door and help my neighbor with something and when I returned my wife had paid him and he was done. I then realized I forgot to have him clean a room upstairs. Anyway I looked out front and noticed he was still in the area because he was handing out flyer's to my neighbors.

The dream seemed to be focused on the carpet cleaning but I think my mind was telling me something else. I already canvas neighborhoods I work in a couple of times a year, but I don't do it while I am working. So I can't figure out what the dream meant. It might just be that my carpets do need cleaned :)

I know, I have weird dreams :help:

If I was Joseph from the bible I could figure out your dream. All I am saying is that if 2+2=4 then does it matter how you get the 4 as long as its morally,ethically, legally acceptable? Mix the numbers anyway you want but at the end of the day how much cash do you have?

LwnmwrMan22
12-25-2004, 12:31 AM
If I was Joseph from the bible I could figure out your dream. All I am saying is that if 2+2=4 then does it matter how you get the 4 as long as its morally,ethically, legally acceptable? Mix the numbers anyway you want but at the end of the day how much cash do you have?


2+2 won't equal 4 anytime you're giving something out for free.

K.Carothers
12-25-2004, 11:07 AM
2+2 won't equal 4 anytime you're giving something out for free.

Its all in how you work the numbers. 2+2 will always = 4

GrassMasterNC
12-25-2004, 06:15 PM
I like the idea...how do your numbers look? I mean, what will it cost you to lay the fert and how much more will you make with the extra contracted cuts? Someone mentioned something about pesticide licenses...do you even need one if it's for free? May be a loophole if you look into it...here, the law says that if you are applying anything to someone elses property for a FEE, then a license is required...but if it's for free....nah...better have the license -just what you learn in the class alone will be worth it. Let me know what your numbers look like though! Sounds like a great idea if it'll bring in MORE $$ than without the offer! Merry Christmas!

Matt

LwnmwrMan22
12-26-2004, 12:55 AM
It's winter and time to turn on the mind to unique ways to gain customers. I have an idea and wanted input on it. Don't hold back on comments and remember that this is only an idea.

Most customers don't get fertilizer on their lawns throughout the year. These are the lawns that slow down to every other week in the summer. Of course the lawns that are treated need cut weekly. I was thinking of offering to my new customers Free 4 step fertilizer program throughout the year with signed contract for cuts. You say you will lose money but will you? For starters you can high bid all these customers(at least $5 more per cut) with 32 cuts/yr=$160 more per account. Second, since you are fertilizing the lawn it will keep growing during the summer months keeping the every other week cuts to every week adding another 8+cuts per lawn at an average of $30/cut=$240/yr per account. Third, sell the customer a grub control treatment and the final winterizing treatment=$60/account. Fourth, the customer feels they are getting a steal and the ones that have a fertilizer co already will drop them. And finally, your accounts lawns would look great adding value to your quality of work= more drive by customers wanting your service.!! We all know how much the mark-up with fertilizers are. I guess you can call it a loss leader with great profits at the end of the day. Just a thought I have been tossing around and would like all the pro's and con's of this idea.
Thanks
P.S. Merry Christmas Everyone(if I can still say Christmas in America)

I'm not trying to come across as rude... but here goes.

Here's why 2+2 doesn't always = 4.

You're going to sell something to someone for free. You're going to want to look into your licensing and insurance costs for the year. Your comment about we all know how much the markup is, well, markup is profit. If you're giving something away for free, that's no profit.

With only charging $160 / year ($5 / week / 32 weeks) that's $40 / application.

Now I don't know how you're going to apply, what you're going to use for the equipment, but if you're going to do it with a smaller broadcast spreader, and you've only used $10 in material (including price to go and pickup material), that's only $30 / app in labor charges.

Now I see that you're probably doing what looks like per time billing, since you said you can get more work because the grass will keep growing in the summer months. This is only true if the customer will actually water the account for you.

I also hope you're talking about doing small residential accounts, since a larger account could easily take $160 / material alone for one application.

Now I realize I didn't add in the $160 + $240 to get the $400, which, theoretically would change your $40 / app into $100 / app, but the reason is because you're going to have to believe the customer is going to water the grass.

The other reason is because if you're putting down a load of fertlizer, and you all of a sudden get a week of 75 and rain, now you're either mowing at 2+ times / week, or bagging, or double / triple cutting the lawn to keep it looking half way decent, thereby reducing / eliminating any profit you were going to see out of the deal.

You said you want pro's / con's, I'm just trying to shoot you the con's. I wish I had people to bounce ideas off of back when I started out.

I also agree with an earlier post, good that you're thinking out of the box. I try that all the time.

The best thing I ever did was just go to a flat monthly fee with my mowing / fert apps. This way you can set a budget and you know what your bottom line is every month, for the most part, unless you have a very major repair.

Doster's L & L
12-26-2004, 02:09 AM
I cant believe that most of the members here are condoning this idea.

K, its good to toss around ideas, dont get me wrong, but i think its a bad idea all the way around. I dont know how large you plan to grow or what type of business you are persuing, (strictly the best... mowing, fert/squirt, aerating, the works OR simply doing what the customer will allow). Either way is fine, but YOU have to decide what YOU want out of your business. Lets say you want to provide ALL of your customers with "the works". I can see how you would be able to set a standard price per 1K lets say $75/week for "the works" on say a 5K lawn. You're charging $15/1K per week on every lawn you maintain. This is an example of a set price per unit area.

You on the other hand want to simply charge $5 more per lawn per cut with "free" fert. This is not gonna give you any accuracy at all in how you figure out what you made at the end of the year on any of your accounts. Basically, what im tryin to say is.... set a price based on a unit area. 1K sqft is a measurement. "lawn" is not a measurement. Which is more accurate? increase the price to $5 per lawn vs lets say $2 per 1K sqft?

Now lets say you went the other route. You start charging a set rate for each service per 1000 ftsq for fertilize, weed control, etc. If you tell your potential customers that you will give them a DISCOUNT (whatever you deem it to be) on said services, this will still be likely to gain yourself business in the future. This lets them know that, "Yes, he's professional enough to charge me OPENLY for the services and more than likely hes good at what he does too!" I simply wouldnt do the "FREE" gimmick.

One thing you will run should you try this concept is the price shopping people. These folks are good, hard workin people like yourself, but what they do is, they already KNOW what 15 other people will charge to do their lawn, so when you go to them and shoot a price that is $5 more than everyone else, you're gonna get shot down anyway. So in this business, you really need a price for this and a price for that and if they want pretties to go along with it, you will need to have a rate for that too.

Oh yeah, get your license and insurance! You dont want a damn $10,000 fine on your ass while you're giving away all of that free labor and $10 a bag fertilizer.

BTW, i agree with cuttinedge and lwnmwrman22. Good posts!

K.Carothers
12-26-2004, 12:23 PM
Thanks everyone for your honest input. I like it when you are honest on your beliefs/experience even though it may shoot my idea down but that is how you grow your business by tossing around ideas and getting input-I love that about this site. I take nothing personally here on your comments and if I did I shouldn't ask questions. I notice some members ask questions and get pi$$ed off at the responses-not me, its all about learning and all of us brings something to the table. I don't have time right now but I want to revisit some of the post later tonight with my spin(I'm spending the day with my 2yr old- a bonding time between dad and son).
Thanks