It keeps happening over and over and over

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by DFW Area Landscaper, Jul 13, 2005.

  1. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    I am leaving so much money on the table with fertilizer apps. It is driving me nuts.

    I would love to have all the chemical business my mowing clients are currently giving to competitors.

    But how do I get it?

    When they call me for mowing service, often times they are already with Chemlawn or Lawn Doctor or another competitor. I do not push the product very hard. I am glad to get the mowing business. But when they mention they are with a competitor for that stuff, they probably volunteer to switch to my company about 10% of the time. The other 90% of the time, they are staying with the other company.

    Then, another thing that happens a lot is, they sign up for fertilizer & weed control service with a competitor after we've been mowing the lawn for a while. I'm pretty sure they just don't realize we do that too. They think of us as the lawn mowing company. I think the mentality in my area is that you hire one company to mow the lawn and another company to do the chemical apps.

    So how do I get these people to pay us for the fert apps instead of a competitor?

    I mean, I am quoting prices every time when they call for mowing service. I know my prices are lower than Chemlawn's prices. I have had a lot of people mention that when they sign up for service. But then they still won't switch. They stay with Chemlawn.

    I have thought about printing up a professional advertisement that would say something like: "Get six months of FREE weed control and fertilization service for the lawn. Call for details." Then, when they call for the details, I would just tell them that if they can make a three year verbal commitment to have us do the mowing and chemical apps, the first six months of chemical applications are free. Something like that.

    Ideally, I'd like to give the customer the free six months during the last six months of the three year agreement, but that just doesn't appeal to the "now" mentality of consumers. It has to be NOW in order to work with americans, doesn't it?

    Any advice?

    Later,
    DFW Area Landscaper
     
  2. TURF DOCTOR

    TURF DOCTOR LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,138

    No don't do it free, it's hard to compete with large companies.I know what you are saying we mow yards for 30 bucks they come in and spray for 60.
     
  3. AL Inc

    AL Inc LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,218

    You said in one of your first sentences that you "don't push it very hard". Push it hard. Mention it in your first conversation with a new client. Send a monthly newsletter or flyer with "Fertilization Services Available" or something like that. And if they don't go for it this year, remind them again next year. It's all basic marketing.
     
  4. kevinsky

    kevinsky LawnSite Member
    from Nevada
    Posts: 75

    I sell the whole lawn care package or nothing at all. We mow, fertilize, treat weed, thatch and aerate once a year.This way I am in control of when to fertilize and how much! For the tree and shrub care I sell an associates service and make a commission.
     
  5. lawnguyland

    lawnguyland LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,108

    Full service or nuthin'. I will not work for a customer that has another company do it. Endless headaches and no dough. Fertilizer program at a minimum or see ya later. I don't require pesticide apps, but if they do want them, I do them.
    I know you've been at this a long time so realize that you shouldn't give anything away for free and that mowing only bites as far as an income goes. Be a lawn nazi or suffer the low pay consequences.
     
  6. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    I have had nothing but bad experiences when I hard-sell my services.

    The full service or nuthin is not an option for me. We have a ton of bi-weekly mowing clients who are restricted from fertilizing the lawn.

    My best success has come from marketing and advertising, not from selling. In other words, advertise heavily and take orders when they call. Very little selling involved. And that's the way I like it.

    So the solution for me is to figure out a way to send a piece of direct mail to my existing customers who are using a competitor's chemical service and get them to switch. I don't mind giving up something in order to get them to switch. But I can't give up too much.

    My mowing customers all commit to six cuts as a minimum. If I can get them to commit to more cuts in exchange for a few free apps it would be worth it to me. I'd also be willing to give away a free app to get their chemical business.

    I am thinking perhaps I should do this: Offer the service on the phone when they order mowing service. That's what I am doing now and I am getting about 10% of the opportunity. If they are not already with a chemical service, I have great success offering mine in the spring when there is henbit and dandelions everywhere. But once the heat comes, I can hardly give the chemical service away. During the summer months, my only opportunity to grow this portion of the business is to steal it from competitors when home owners call for mowing service. So after I offer the service and they elect to stay with a competitor for chemical service, I would like to follow up with some sort of offer by mail. I am considering these options:

    1.) Switch your chemical business to us and your first application is free
    2.) Commit to three years of mowing and chemical service and get your first six months of chemical service for free
    3.) Use us for both mowing service and chemical service for three years and the chemical apps are free in year four

    I like option 3 the very best but it doesn't appeal to the "now" mentality of the american consumer very well. Option 1 just isn't enough incentive to get them to switch, in my opinion. Option 2 just sets me up for the "we sold our house" or "we lost our job" firing anyway....unless of course there was some caveat that said if they cancel prematurely we will back bill for the applications we've already done. I can probably get away with that one since I have a credit card on file and I can collect when they call to cancel.

    Which option would work best or would you recommend another offer? If so, what would the offer be?

    Later,
    DFW Area Landscaper
     
  7. Bgaz

    Bgaz LawnSite Member
    Posts: 45

    We only take new mowing jobs that either have no commercial fertilization or are willing to switch to our company. I have been able to covert 100% of our current mowing customers by explaining how too much fertilizer applied to their lawn is not good for the turf, that they only need 3-4 apps- not 6-7!, and it cost our company money to constantly double and triple cut. If we have to double cut then its my problem because our company put the fertilizer down and I can live with that. We also saved them money by putting less application down.

    If they didn't want to make the switch then they would have to find a new mowing service, which out of 95 accounts not one choose that option. :D

    We also only treat lawns that we mow.
     
  8. yrdandgardenhandyman

    yrdandgardenhandyman LawnSite Senior Member
    from midwest
    Posts: 953


    If they like to deal with so called specialty companies maybe you should set up a seperate company for fert and squirt. Then subcontract to yourself and they get the illusion they have 2 seperate companies. Maybe even get fert and squirt jobs for lawns you don't currently mow. Could open a door for you.
     
  9. Lawn Sharks

    Lawn Sharks LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 394

    Personally I think you will have a hard time with those long time frames. People don't want to think of their lawn care like a car payment. A burden for four years.

    What I do is put on every invoice that services are available. First app free if switching from a competitor. Also mention that you will then have better control over how the lawn looks as you intergrate the fert and mowing on a beneficial schedule.

    Never forget to ask them "Wouldn't you rather get one bill for all your lawn care needs?" Most jump at the chance.
     
  10. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    Lawn Sharks,

    You have a good point, but at the same time I just don't think a free app is going to get them to switch. The way I look at is, if Comcast offered me a free month or even three free months to switch my broadband service, it wouldn't be worth it to me. If they offered half a year free, that might get my attention.

    I've had a lot of customers ask me if there was a discount if they signed up for both services, but it seems like most of these inquiries were from people who signed up for both anyway. I've done the math and offering a 10% discount for customers who take both won't work. Mowing prices are just too low. I doubt a smaller discount would serve as a catalyst to get them to switch.

    Later,
    DFW Area Landscaper
     

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