Marketing once again

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by LawnMowerMan2003, Oct 14, 2003.

  1. LawnMowerMan2003

    LawnMowerMan2003 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 768

    I still believe this is the most challenging thing for a small business, especially if your average job is only making you $35, because of the number of customers you need to make a decent living. I realize I may have picked a bad area to run a lawn service, since most customers will not mow every week, and the hot weather can be tough on the grass. In addition we are very close to Mexico, which makes us a source for cheap labor. All those factors aside, I have had my share of satisfied customers in the past, and I know there are customers who care about more than the cheapest price. It just seems to be so slow finding them that it makes it difficult to get started.

    I realize word of mouth is the best way to advertise, but how long can you afford to wait for that to happen? What do you do before word of mouth is bringing you enough business? I live in a fairly large area, so word of mouth doesn't spread like in a small town. Should I focus on marketing to encourage word of mouth? I suppose that would be referals incentives? Those of you who get your business by word of mouth must remember back when you first started. I know flyers work, but I have a difficult time motivating myself to pass out flyers, because they are so slow. And last time it seemed like every customer I managed to land with flyers were the ones with the biggest yards that I underbid, except for one who has just been difficult, not leaving the money for me like I ask, skipping one payment entirely, asking for free hedge trimming after I already gave her a discount for a weekly rate, and then not having it cut weekly... Just makes flyers even more discouraging, though I'd have to admit they did make me a profit. Is there a better way??
     
  2. T.E.

    T.E. LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 799

    Lawnmowerman2003 I know the feeling I would like to find a way to advertise that is highly effective,lol Here is what has worked for me. I put an ad in the biz. section of the newspaper. ( in the service directory) I run this ad for 30 days at a time. Yes, It is expensive but thats part of the biz. Flyers I had 5500 flyers professionally made flyers and got three calls landed one and I quit them because the wanted all the extras free! Good luck
     
  3. LawnMowerMan2003

    LawnMowerMan2003 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 768

    What is the averge calls in a week/month from the business section? I was going to place in ad in that same section but for some reason I never put it in. I can't remember how much it was going to cost, but I think around $100 for a week, for the minimum ammount of characters. At one time I saw quite a few services there, but I didn't check up to see how many left the ads in for a while. Somebody was telling me the number of subscriptions here, something over 200,000, I believe.
     
  4. Team Gopher

    Team Gopher LawnSite Platinum Member
    from -
    Posts: 4,041

  5. T.E.

    T.E. LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 799

    Daily 400,000 Sunday 500,000 I picked up between 15 to 20 new accounts and several of these are good accounts not just mow blows what I mean by good accounts is that ferts, aerating, hedges, leaves, weekly with irrigation. There are some calls that are not worth receiving. but that goes with everything. For thirty days the ad cost $400 to $450 Tony
     
  6. lawnman_scott

    lawnman_scott LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,547

    what about the yellow pages? Your in a big market, so it wont be cheap, probably 2-500 per month. But, its well worth it, and in a big area, it will work IMMEDEIATLY.
     
  7. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,137

    I found that word of mouth came after a few years of advertising through various methods. It takes a while to build your rep, and until then you have to rely on other means. I used street signs, fliers, newspaper, phone book, you name it. After about 3 years of intensive advertising, I could throttle back and let the rep do its work.

    :D
     
  8. Rustic Goat

    Rustic Goat LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,194

    JMO, from experience in my town/area.

    Yellow pages, way too much $, not enough response.
    Newspaper-Biz Section- It's a joke, everyone that's ever even thought about going into any biz has an ad in there. Dozens of scrub type lawn services. Lots of calls from folks that want ridiculously CHEAP service.

    Using either of the above, would mean you'd have to be willing to travel to any part of town, San Antonio is way too spread out to consider that don't you think? Why add to your expenses for fuel and frustration factor in traffic?

    Working your local area, places you want/prefer to work in, with door hangers, flyers, yard signs, corner signs, and best of all, word of mouth advertising is by far the most productive in the long run.
    Reality= It can take up to 2 to 3 years to build up what you'd consider a decent customer base. Good part of that is it'll be a client list of customers that you've almost hand picked.

    Diversify when/where you can to get more $ rolling in.
     
  9. LawnMowerMan2003

    LawnMowerMan2003 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 768

    It seems that people have mixed opinions when it comes to yellow pages, and maybe even the paper.

    Rustic: You have a point about San Antonio being a large area to cover. But if enough customers were established I think I could work out a schedule so there would not be much driving time between each lawn, by doing different areas of town on certain days.

    While there is no guarantee that I would be as successful as Tony, if I picked up 15-20 new accounts from the paper I think it would be well worth the cost.

    I see the point about the time to establish a good customer base as well. Maybe I'm just need more patience.
     
  10. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,232

    If you can afford to do the YP try it. This was my number one account getter, many threads on YP some do great some are a complete waste of money. You might want to check out your YP first, if theres 6 pages offering lawn care it might not be worthwhile.
     

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