marketing for commercial accounts

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Nathan, Oct 12, 2000.

  1. Nathan

    Nathan LawnSite Member
    Posts: 193

    I currently have about 95% residential accounts and the few commercial accounts have come about mostly through being at the right place at the right time. I would like to begin going after more commercial accounts but don't know the best route. So far all I have is contacting property management companies and physically introducing myself at the places of business that I am interested in. Anybody out there have and good results with "Breaking into the market". PS I do have quite a bit of experience with doing grounds maintenance for commercial accounts, it's just that I worked for someone else when I did it so I wasn't involved in the marketing side of the operations.
     
  2. RYAN

    RYAN LawnSite Member
    Posts: 211

    your story sounds about the exact same as mine. I too would like more info on how you guys out there go about getting them. I have started making phone calls and knocking on doors and I think that is the best way to go about it. Is that the way you guys do it? Give us more info
     
  3. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,494

    It sounds like you guys could use a good intro letter. Put it on professional stationary, and have it end with something like. "If there is anything we can do to assist you, or if you have any questions about our complete line of professional services, please feel free to give us a call. We look forward to serving you this season."
     
  4. AB Lawn Care

    AB Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Posts: 585

    I also do about 95% residential,and would be interested in which method of marketing or would be interested in having a look at any intro letters.

    Thanks!
     
  5. Skookum

    Skookum LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 675

    I have gotten every commercial account I ever went after. I watch just the ones I want. When they have shrubs with 2-3 feet of growth is the best time to hit them with an introduction.

    A letter is fine, but personal is where it is at. I have found that if I walk in with already set price on paper with several different programs and price ranges, looking good on printed letter head, I walk out with the business.

    How do you do a price ahead of time? Easy, say it is a resturaunt. You eat there a few times, walk around, check it out. Go do drivebys at night after they close, sit in the lot and mow the place in your head, plan where to park, trim the shrubs, etc. Go during the day, how busy are they during your mowing time, do you really want the hassle, will it fit in your already running schedule, etc..

    Something else I do is watch who is doing the work now. Where is it that they lack. Use that info when talking to the property manager, but do not just knock down your competitor, say what they are good at and what they are doing good, but you can do better where they lack. Also mean it.

    Shrubs are the easiest way for me to get an account. Let's face it, a place with neat shaped shrubs looks like it is kept up. I have found most of my competitors want paid for everytime they showup to trim shrubs, they usually try for three times a year. Problem, not all shrubs grow on our schedules. They trim 3 times, but do not trim every shrub, but want paid for it. So, inbetween the visits there are always shrubs with growth. I make sure no growth over a few inches, usually comes to trimming each shrub the same 3 times but maybe 6 actual visits a year to get every shrub, equalls out same time. Give the customer what they are paying for is all you are doing.

    I do not go to heavy on the pointing out weeds in the grass, unless very bad, same with beds. I might have weeds myself if doing it later.

    Best thing is to be positive and confident and do not make promises that you can not keep. Remember one well kept place is worth it later for getting more accounts.
     
  6. CommercialCuts

    CommercialCuts LawnSite Member
    from Mo
    Posts: 37

    Great answer skookum, all i service is commercial and industrial accounts, i dont know how many i have gotten just by keeping and eye open and then when i see something that needs to been done, i jump in there with a sales pitch. Make up some nice business cards and give them out to contractors, your name will grow like you wouldnt believe. Good Luck!!!!!!!!
    PS. i too am always looking for new ways to bring in more business, it is a never ending battle!!!!
     
  7. Nathan

    Nathan LawnSite Member
    Posts: 193

    Thanks you guys for the insights. Commercial cuts, when you say that you just go into the business is there usually someone that has the authority to make a decision on their grounds maintenance or do most commercial places have to set you up with a property manager. I am also curious as to whether anyone sees businesses being tighter or looser with their money as compared to high end residential accounts.

    By the way I am new to this site and have to say it is an incredible asset to all of us landscapers who have been in the field for years wondering how our peers did things but never had the opportunity or time to ask questions. Thanks.
     
  8. Skookum

    Skookum LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 675

    Each place is different. Chain stores might have one person for several stores that might only come to town once a month. Another chain might allow the store General Manager make the decision.

    But, just walking in will get the ball rolling. I admit that I have been lucky a few times to actually catch a owner or property manager there when I walk in, but I have also done it by just talking to an assistant manager. Get the name of the GM or higher up District Manager and a number to contact them. Leave info with the assistant to be given to the higher up, but call back, or ask about the GM's schedule, when they might work next so you can come back in a day or two.

    My wife is a GM of a National chain resturaunt. She gets tons of mail everyday. She, like most managers, never open letters unless it is from one of their current vendors. She does not have the time to read solicitations, so she just tosses them, I've seen her doing it before. Her old boss was the same way. She also, has the final decision for hiring grounds maintenance vendors for her store. So, just sending a intro letter to a prospect might not get it done.
     
  9. Stinger

    Stinger LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 252

    Start out by choosing a group of commercial properties you wish to target. Compile folders for information on each one. Meet with a property manager or whom ever makes the outside decisions. Get all the specs from this person. Ask: Is it a yearly contract? What ammount of insurane is needed? Do you require my employees to be uniformed? When do you pay? Make an occasional phone call or stop by to see if there satisfied with the current service. This lets them know you're in the game and the level of service you provide to your customers. Try this with a dozen or more prospects. If you get one or two then great! If you get more than you can handle then be picky, good luck!
     
  10. CommercialCuts

    CommercialCuts LawnSite Member
    from Mo
    Posts: 37

    Nathan, Yes sometimes its just that easy catch property manager in the right mood and if hes pi#@ed enough at the current lawn company then your in like flin. But the majority of the time that gets the ball rolling and before you no it your phones a ringin. Ive been in sales just about all my life door to door that is and any idea you come with try it. Your going to get the door slammed in your face about 99% of the time but all you need is a few of those 1% to get you going.
     

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