Do you have to give something away FREE......

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by 1MajorTom, Jan 10, 2005.

  1. 1MajorTom

    1MajorTom Senior Moderator
    Posts: 6,074

    to get a new client?
    I see people on here saying they are giving away "2 free mowings", and I wonder, is it really necessary? I understand it is a marketing strategy to get the customer "in the door" so to speak, and I know that with every new customer signed on there is a potential to upsell your services.
    But to get the new client to give you a call, must the word FREE be somewhere in the advertisment?
    By using this advertisement ploy, does this increase the chance of reeling in the clients that are heavy price shoppers and tight with their wallets?

    I'm against using the word FREE in our ads, and I would like to hear how you all stand on using this tactic to get customers.
    Neither way is wrong, just looking to start some conversation.
  2. mastercare

    mastercare LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 289

    The only thing I give away for free are estimates! Otherwise I won't use the word. I have however used a sales tactic that has worked for reluctant customers.

    Sometimes you hear the old objection that "What if I'm not happy with your work?" from people who have never seen or used my services. To these people I respond:

    "Its only fair to give you a chance to try my services before you sign up for a full year. So, what I'll do is cut your lawn for the first two weeks. If, after those first 2 cuts you're not completely happy with the quality you recieved, you can simply give me a phone call, and I'll remove you from my schedule. By the way, I've never yet had anyone take me up on that offer! If you're happy with the cut, then there's no reason to call, and I'll just bill you monthly for the entire season. What's the worst that could happen? You'll get 2 free cuts out of the deal, or you'll get excellent service at a fair price."

    This has closed several accounts for me....and I have never had to give away 2 free cuts!
  3. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,501

    One free mowing is my way of saying thank you as part of our client referral program Jodi. Other than that, my feeling is charity begins and stays at home...
  4. Lux Lawn

    Lux Lawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,267

    Most of the time I will give something away for free on my flyer.
  5. Soupy

    Soupy LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,125

    Are you really giving something away for free? Or is it part of the cost of marketing? It is up to you to try and figure the best method of obtaining new customers.

    I don't have any offers on my Door-Hanger it is just a nice full color informational hanger with pictures of work etc. But I wish I would have offered some bait to get more calls. I don't view the free mowing's as free work. I view it as another form of advertising cost. If you can real them in with a free mowing and spend lees on conventional advertising then your bottom line isn't going to change. The cost to obtain the customer remains the same.

    Lets say you spend $5,000 on advertising with out a free mowing and land 50 new customers. The cost would be $100 to obtain each customer. Now lets say you spend $5,000 on advertising but include 1 free mowing's at a rate of $35 (some might be higher or lower, but the value of the customer changes too but that is a whole new thread) per mow. But your response is 100 new customers signing on. You just dropped the cost of obtaining a customer to $85. You spent less and didn't give anything away for free because you counted the $3500 in free mowing's as part of the cost to obtain the customer. So you actually made $1500 more then you would have if you didn't offer the free mowing plus you obtained twice the customers for twice the gross revenue.

    I know I only used 1 free mowing's, but the more free mowing's you offer the better response you will get. One free mowing will grab some attention, but 2 or 3 free mowing's is going to get everyone looking for service to call. Just think about what you would do if you were looking at the ad. Let's say you have 4 advertisements sitting in front of you for lawn care (and you needed lawn care). 3 of them were just informational and one of them were offering 2 free mowing's. Which one are you going to call first? I know that you are going to say that quality of the flyer matters, but for argument sakes lets say they are all created equally (because the free mowing has nothing to do with the quality of ad). I am betting that 90% of you are saying ad #4 with the free offer. It is in our blood as an americans (which is just smart)to always seek the best deal as long as quality doesn't change.

    I hope my ramblings help some of you to "think outside the box".
  6. Wells

    Wells LawnSite Member
    from SLC UT
    Posts: 0

    I don't think that it's necessary to give anything away for free but when you're just starting out and need to build up your clientele it sure helps keep the phone ringing.

    I agree that by using the word free you might be marketing to the price shoppers more so than others but you must admit when you see the word "FREE" on any advertisement you generally continue to read on to see what they are offering.

    It must work because you find it in almost every type of business. Disneyland runs promotional deals all the time like: "Kids FREE with paying adult" or "Adults Play for the Kids' Price". Restaurants offer a "Two for One" price on a certain menu items. The grocery store offers a "Buy One get One Free" on different items. The Movies offer a buy one ticket, large drink and get a "Free Popcorn". Giving things away in order to generate additional business happens all the time.

    I'm guilty of doing a "loss leader" from time to time. Once in a while I will give away a free spring aerating with a yearly maintenance contract, around here an aerating goes for about $30. for about 5000 sq ft. I may give away several hundred dollars of free work per year but in return I pick up allot more than I ever give out.
  7. impactlandscaping

    impactlandscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,332

    I think when you are offering "free this" and "free that", it devalues the image of your company to an extent. If you don't value the service of your company, Joe Homeowner won't either. It will be a forever battle of price cutting and skipping of services with some people. I guess it all depends on the target demographic of clientele you are targeting.
  8. Soupy

    Soupy LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,125

    Why can't you offer a free mowing and still have value in your company? I might be different, but a discount coupon or free offer does not make me feel any different about a company. Tire dealers offer 1 free tire with the purchase of 3 all the time. I sure don't look at them and say to myself, "they must have poor customer service I better go down the road and pay a higher price." I also don't think to myself that I can go in there and start asking for everything else for free.

    You always run the risk of getting bad customers. But what does the add have to do with it.

    I will agree that a flyer made using a black marker and a copy machine might make some lowlifes think they can push you around. But we are not talking about the quality of the ad. How you promote your image has nothing to do with free mowing's. Hopefully you will advertise the free mowing on an ad that isn't made using a black marker.

    Edit: I wanted to add that this method isn't new to the service industry. I get adds all the time from carpet cleaners (1 free room with 4 room cleaning), auto shops (free oil change with complete break service), and many more. Plus my example of tire shops are service oriented too.

    The thing I don't understand is why the carpet cleaner sends me special offers through direct mail after I have been using them for years. I already get my carpets cleaned way to often, what they are trying to achieve is beyond me. But hey, thanks for the free cleaning :)
  9. impactlandscaping

    impactlandscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,332

    I'm not trying to pizz on anyone's toes here....I'm saying if you are offering free services all the time on coupons, ads, flyers, will tend to get price shoppers more than solid leads. People will think " if he's giving a free mow and 10% off a maint. visit, either his prices are already so high he's recovering it within the discount, or he doesn't really have a structured business plan"..People equate "free" with thinking they are in charge of the show. The word "free" attracts too many of the wrong type of clients, IMO.The main purpose of coupons and freebies is to open the door for upselling. If you don't or can't upsell to the bottom tier of clients, was your "free" giveaway really a smart move? :D
  10. TClawn

    TClawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,036

    if a customer is looking to higher me they will not care about the free mowing, if they do I probably don't want a cheap skate like that.

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