Advice on getting new residential clients

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by gwynnsh, Nov 18, 2009.

  1. gwynnsh

    gwynnsh LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    Hello,

    I'm looking to start my own lawn care business (probably start out part-time cutting a few yards at first) but I'd like to eventually do it full time (maybe by myself at first) or with my brother a little later once I get things established. I've looked over this site quite a few times (really great questions & answers) & finally decided to join since there is so much valuable information. I guess my main question is this: How do I go about getting my first few residential clients to get started & how often should I cut/trim, etc? Also, what about payment from clients: Should I collect strictly cash or check after every job? I already have a truck, 5' x 8' trailer, riding mower, 2 push mowers (one personal pace) a trimmer & an edger (I also have a hedger but it's battery operated so I'd need to get a gas unit) to get me started. Thanks for listening & any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Hunter
     
  2. PestPro

    PestPro LawnSite Member
    Posts: 114

    Knock on lots of doors
     
  3. vanncann

    vanncann LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 452

    When I was in that area it was hard to get clients. Word of mouth is the best way. News papers and flyer's did nothing for me for picking up work.
     
  4. Allens LawnCare

    Allens LawnCare LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 926

    Marketing isn't free, your best bet is to use heavy footwork. Go out, introduce yourself...start with one.....don't grab the bull by the horns, grab him by the balls.....For the best result, don't wait for work to come to you, go out and find the work.
     
  5. unkownfl

    unkownfl LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,838

    At least get business cards made! Then knock on doors or use door hangers. Business cards is a minimum. If you want to try a lead service like service magic then go for it. I use them its been working out. You just have to stay on it and be a low baller at first since you don't really have a name.
     
  6. lukemelo216

    lukemelo216 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from ...
    Posts: 1,267

    Ya hit the marketing hard. Id try and use a small mailing list and postcards.those always work good for me. As far as mowing goes its all dependent on the area. Here its the middle of April to October some time every 7 days. Down south Id imagine its probably every 7 days april through oct then bi weekly the other months. but Idk I am not from there. I cut and trim every visit and then edge every other visit. Full service customers get that every week and then once a month bed edging and 3 times a year hedge trimming. Also i do fall clean ups and spring clean ups.

    As far as billing and paying goes I do net-30. weekly paying gets difficult. the customer has to be home or leave the money somewhere. plus its kind of inconvenient for them sometimes. if they insist i will accept it and let them know i will be there this day and if they wont be home leave the check under the door rug. usually this is older people who want this. All my others its do the work 1-30(31) mail bills the 1 due 15 business days later so usually around the 20/21. never had any problems.
     
  7. gwynnsh

    gwynnsh LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    Thanks for all the responses. I'm trying to figure this all out during the winter months so I can be ready for the spring. What about a nice looking ad on craigslist? If not, how about a small ad in the phone book or newspaper? I'll only be working part-time to start out so I'm assuming that I won't have to get a business license unless I decide to start a full time business, or will I? (I'll be working out of my home). I guess the advantage to getting a business license is that you could actually have a professional name & then you could promote easier with a website, magnets, business cards, etc. Also, what exactly is service magic: unknownfl?

    Thanks again!
     
  8. gwynnsh

    gwynnsh LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    I know this is kind of subjective but i'd like to be able to get some jobs & also make some money without working hard and barely making ends meet. I'd hate to low-ball on estimates but then again how else would you get customers to start out? If I'm mowing, trimming, edging & blowing a lawn (let's say 1/2 acre on flat land here in South Alabama) how do you go about estimating/charging for that job? I've heard that if you estimate the time it would take & then add $1.00 per minute you can't go wrong but I also want to be able to get some new clients without charging too much & not going broke in the process. I would think that a free estimate would also help get some possible clients. Thanks again.
     
  9. Allens LawnCare

    Allens LawnCare LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 926

    Your not considered a lowballer unless your cutting someone elses throat on purpose. You WILL burn yourself several times through out your new business startup. They are mistakes, errors in estimating. Stick with your price but you'll have to consider it a lesson learned
     
  10. MarkintheGarden

    MarkintheGarden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,067

    I would suggest that you use fliers or doorhangers and cover the areas that you want to work in. There is nothing better than getting customers in groups on the same block or area. Create a flier that has a certain image or personality, set yourself apart from the other guys, and do not use a generic flier that looks like what the contractor scam artists would use.

    Do not offer low prices, as it is better to mow ten lawns for good money than to mow twenty lawns for cheap.

    As you start to get customers, let them decide how to pay, either each service, monthly, etc. Later down the road you can work out the system that works best for you and your customers.

    A business license is often not that expensive. Liability insurance will probably cost more. Find out these costs and whether or not you get them right away, charge enough so that you can get them soon. The problem with lowballing is once you start it is hard to turn it around.

    Image is everything if you want to avoid being at the bottom of the food chain. If you want to mow for the lowest dollar, then image is of little signifigance.

    If you want to make good money, you need to project a good image, provide customer service relations, and deliver reliable and quality services.

    Good luck!!!
     

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