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Customers gained from advertising

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Pecker, Nov 6, 2004.

  1. Pecker

    Pecker LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,454

    This was the first year I've advertised (small yard signs), just wanting to expand some. Every customer I've gotten from advertising or from cold-calling has turned out to be short-term (3 to 8 cuts).

    They either suddenly call and say they don't need me any more or start accusing me of not doing good work when I know that I have. One had always been polite but one day I got a stern message from her saying she was just really wasn't happy with the job I did at all. She was like "you missed a spot last time here and the whole yard is too high and doesn't even look like it has been mowed. . ." (the one who did that waited 6 days to call and complain. It had rained the whole week after I cut and the grass grew about 3 inches. On the day of the cut that she was referring to, she came up $3 short and said it was all she had. I didn't want to embarrass her so I took it and said ok. I really think this one was playing me because her daughter's car was parked in the yard along the curb while I was mowing. The daughter left before I did, so I went back and mowed/edged that part. This was one of two areas she said I missed on the call 6 days later. I'm starting to think that she manifested in her mind that I shorted her because she shorted me. But I didn't. Also, that same day she asked why I didn't blow out the carport. But I couldn't get to it because there wasn't room for me to walk through there with my backpack, so she moved the car and I blew it).

    Although it doesn't really make sense, it does stand to reason that the best and long-term customers come from word-of-mouth. However, it just seems that all the ones who call off my signs seem to work out for a while and then turn to crap. I don't understand why this is because my prices are fair, I do precision work, I'm polite, professional, and have good etiquette/customer service skills. . .I even bathe weekly ;)

    I guess it boils down to "easy come easy go". But I'm just used to long-term customers. The best ones have been word of mouth and those who stop by while I'm working at another property. The ones who stop by and ask for a quote obviously have watched my work and like what I have to offer.

    Where does it seem that I'm going wrong? I've won the last 3 out of 4 quotes, which tells me my prices are fair or even a little low. I deliver the exact same cut each time.

    Maybe its nothing to do with me because I know alot of these people are just trying to make ends meet financially. Maybe I'm targeting the wrong neighborhoods.

    Anyhow, what have been your experiences with customers from advertising. Is this just the way they are? Am I doing something wrong?
  2. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Posts: 2,585

    Yes in general, I have found that the type of prospective customer that calls from an ad is more times than not, either a low price shoppter, or is a problem in some other way. We only advertise each fall for about 4 weeks.
    No question that the best work comes from referrals which is why we send every new customer a letter about our "Referral Reward Program" when we send them their first invoice even if they are only a one time landscape customer. This works fairly well.
    The add we run is rather nice compared to most other ads and because of this I think it scares off the low price shoppers which is actually my intent as I want the ad to scare off people who want JoesMow&Go type service.
    I let the ad kind of act like a customer "screener" if you get my drift
  3. impactlandscaping

    impactlandscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,332

    Liek GarPa said, I believe it has a lot to do with how your ads and signage are worded and laid out. The more professional looking your advertising, the more qualified leads you will generate. We use 2 -18 x 24 full color 2 sided yard signs on every job we do, and usually get at least 1-2 calls for other work in the same neighborhoods from them.(they are up on the first day , and stay up about a week after the job is done..)The only other sources of advertising I did this year was 20K direct mail, full-color fliers to targeted zipcodes twice this spring, and our YP ad.., the rest is referral and word of mouth. You have to have a target client in mind when doing your advertising, because you have to "speak" to the right kind of potential clients when they see your ad or yard signs, which will help weed out the undesireable , unquantified leads.JMO. :)
  4. Firstclasslawn

    Firstclasslawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 341

    Hey man its most likely not you at all but I would check your work, go behind your workers and check theirs, if you have a pattern of customers telling you its quality of work then pay attention and see if it is, this is my first year in the business and I charge high I think and I have only lost a few customers to lower prices NEVER had customer call and complain about work, My philosophy is charge what you want to get and then take time on the yard and make sure its done PERFECT and you will get paid what you want and have customer for life most likely----I have few customers who I charge $45 per week that tell me You know I can throw a rock and get my yard done for $30 BUT they are in and out of here in 10 minutes and my yard looks like crap thanks First Class you guys are doing great job.....
  5. Littleriver1

    Littleriver1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 811

    I have found, most customers never tell you the real reason for droping you, and most LCO's don't tell customers the truth about droping them. If the service is bad they say they want to cut it themselfs or cry about price. So if they cry about bad service then it's probably not the reason. Stop worrying about it and move on. If your giving bad service you already know it. Do the right thing for every customer with a smile on your face.
  6. Pecker

    Pecker LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,454

    Thanks for all the excellent advice fellows. I know its not a quality issue because I work solo and take great pride in my work. I'm like you Firstclasslawn, I work for a price I'm comfortable with so I can spend time to get things perfect. Also Impact, I think next year I'll try a higher quality/appealing sign and pay more attention to targeting.

    One question though: Last year I had 12"x16" signs placed near street corners but next year I'm thinking about using small yard signs in my customers' yards. What is the proper etiquette when putting a small lawn sign on your customer's lawn? I should ask the customer first right? Wouldn't that make them feel empowered to an extent as opposed to feeling "run-over". What is ya'lls opinion on this.
  7. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Posts: 2,585

    I have always asked if its ok to put up the yard sign and never have I had a customer say no to my request. But make sure you take it down when you say you will. We normally do 7 days.
    If theres one thing I;ve learned over the past few years that you can take to the bank is that TIMING for advertising is EVERYTHING. For a certain service, you must advertise precisely at the time people are thinking about a certain service. For example, advertising for leaf removal in early Sept is not nearly as effective as doing it in October. Ads for snow, work best after you've had your first flurries of the year.
  8. JustMowIt

    JustMowIt LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 367

    It is not your work, it is usually money issues & it gets blamed on the work. Only 60% of our new customers become core customers. 40% are very flaky & it does not matter whether that chased one of our trucks down, or called from advertising.
  9. Smithers

    Smithers LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,265


    I really thought that FirstClass said it best, but then you said you work solo and do an amazing work.

    I am just a little concerned that you said "it has happened a few times". I'd go to the customer's property, be very polite, and ask them to point out things that they say you missed or overlooked. When you do that, you actually show them that you care and they feel important.

    If this was the only time that it happened, dont worry about it. move on and get someone else. There are plenty of people that would pay more just to get a great cut.

  10. Pecker

    Pecker LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,454

    OK. Thanks again. I appreciate the info.

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