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Competing with existing Companies

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by Hopper1124, Jan 2, 2003.

  1. Hopper1124

    Hopper1124 LawnSite Member
    from Ohio
    Posts: 54

    Any Advice on this subject? I am in Cincinnati, Ohio we have 4 main lawn care companies Trugreen, Showcase, Scotts , Greenlon

    I am looking into getting my License and starting a Lawn Service I am educated and have been in the industry previously. We have loads of homes here and more being built, but how do you get your foot in the door to homeowners on a low budget?

  2. f350

    f350 Banned
    from mi
    Posts: 424

    "but how do you get your foot in the door to homeowners on a low budget?"

    your new company just failed!!!!!
    how can you compete with a billion dollar powerhouse on a "LOW" budget? scotts is fast becoming a company to watch..
  3. dougaustreim

    dougaustreim LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 488

    It will probably be a slow process, because without tons of marketing money, you really will have to depend on word of mouth to spread the word. We have grown our lawn care division significantly over the years, and almost all of the growth is by word of mouth. The first year we did applications, one person was able to do the whole round in one day. Now it takes three trucks 30 days or more.

    First of all operate as a LAWN CARE company not a marketing company like all of the national firms really are. Develop a sound agronomic based program that works. If you produce results, you will get customers. Often we will get a call from a small town for a new customer. Usually within two years, we will develop a whole route in the new community. We set up our applications based on the needs of the lawn, not on cash flow needs. Success then leads to happly customers and then good cash flow.

    As an aside, F-350, if you can't offer good positive advice, or at least constructive criticism. maybe you should just keep quiet. When people ask for advice, that is what they are seeking, not a put down.

    Doug Austreim
    Austreim Landscaping
  4. f350

    f350 Banned
    from mi
    Posts: 424

    sorry doug, but my advice is sound and realistic. the question was how to operate and compete with heavy hitters on a low budget.. the question was answered, simple and to the point.. no need to jerk this guy around and fill his head the same way all of you do the 15 y/o boys. i love how guy's like you repeat themselves, " act like a lawncare company, not a marketing company " well how about operate like a business, make the money and retire.. sorry guy, but i'm in it to win it, at any and all cost from any angle possible. you can take offence to most things i say but, why sugar coat reality, if your looking for a support group join AA..
  5. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,969

    Hopper, there are a few on this board who are all mouth and no mind. I'm sure you are intelligent enough to pick them out. Hint: their trucks always seem have the largest male copulatory organs on this site.

    I got started in lawn care when Chemlawn was moving into our area over 20 years ago. They would do any lawn for $10 a stop plus $3/K. I had to charge at least 50% more than that to make a living. Could have used cheaper products, but I stuck with quality work. Chemlawn put most existing larger lawn care business on the defensive, from price alone. But my business grew every year, sometimes more than doubling each year. My prices are still at least 50% higher than all the big guys. I'm not here to compete, I'm just trying to do it well.

    On a small basis like you are in, personal service and competent management will always succeed, if you have the confidence to make it so. Don't worry about your low budget versus anyone else's budget. Just take your time to learn, and always keep your eyes open. If you learn how to project this in the future, you could even run a large business the same way. Lots of guys, and gals, do. Doug's advice above is the best you'll find.
  6. Hopper1124

    Hopper1124 LawnSite Member
    from Ohio
    Posts: 54

    If anyone is interested in allowing me to pick their brain on some ideas that would be great. I have a landscape background but I have a desire to do fertiliztions anyone would like to answer some of my questions I would like that.
  7. boohoo

    boohoo Banned
    from USA
    Posts: 77

    Each company especially the large ones is only as good as the technician they send out so there is always a market for a quality operator. Personally I dont consider "word of mouth" marketing as such if you are trying to grow 3 or 5 fold every season. Its not a commodity you can purchase like advertising, telemarketing etc. Dont get me wrong its an integral part of the business.
    As much as we always complain about telemarketers it is the number one way to grow a business just takes a lot of balls to keep getting rejections. Depends how you define "compete". F350 makes a valid point. Is yourself having 500 Lawn customers "competing" with a company having a local branch with 15000 customers.
  8. Green Sweep

    Green Sweep LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts: 322

    "Getting your foot in the door" is a very common dilemma for any new business. Of course, you wont have the money to telemarket or send out mass mailers like TG or Scotts. Telemarketing is the fastest way but it is also the most expensive(financally & mentally). Word of mouth works if you already have a good customer base. Getting that base is tough. One thing that I havent read in other replies is what you have to offer. You really dont want to 'low ball' but you need to have some kind of offer to lure these people away from the big companies. A free lime application, a discounted grub control or aeration...something. Yes, it will cost you money. Unfortunately most people will react to 'free' or 'discount'. Get yourself some nice literature made up, put on your best salesman's suit (or neoprenes) and you'll do well. Then, of course, do quality work to maintain & grow your customer base.

    Oh yeah, my brother lives in a new plan of homes in Hebron, Kentucky & all 200 lawns in the plan look terrible. Maybe a good place to start!?

  9. dougaustreim

    dougaustreim LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 488

    One thing that we promote that is well received is NO TELEMARKETING. People are sick and tired of phone calls. Every year when TGCL starts their phone calls, we start getting calls from new customers. I sometimes think they hire us just to get even with the telephoners.

    Targeted direct mail has always worked well for us

    Doug Austreim
    Austreim Landscaping
  10. lawnstudent

    lawnstudent LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 472

    Superior quality
    Superior Customer service

    Like the folks have said before, the big guys hire mostly temperary help for technicians. For most of these people its just a summer job, not their careers. It certainly is not their company. If you know what you are talking about and really care about offering superior customer service you can be succesful.

    You can market succesfully on any sized budget. Do your research. Go to the library and check out books on marketing for small businesses. Ask small businesses in your area how they got started. Attend classes at your local community college on marketing for small businesses. Attend seminars. Anything that helps prepare you for marketing. It all helps and there are no easy answers. Flyers and direct mailings don't have to cost alot and will get you business. Can you compete against the big guys? Yes, but it's hard work. Will you crush the big guys? Not likely, but you can create a niche for your company and make a descent living. Will you be succesful? No one here can predict that, but I don't think we should discourage anybody from trying. Good luck.


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