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Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by lawn guy 300, May 27, 2010.

  1. lawn guy 300

    lawn guy 300 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 65

    I'm starting a lawn service next spring. It will be a solo project the first season. I'll try to land some small commercial accounts, but my accounts will probably be mostly residential. Anyway, I have a few questions. How can I land 50 customers to start out with? I thought about sending 5000 postcards to get a 1% response of 50 new clients. Anybody have any success using this strategy? I'm also trying to get a general idea of how many lawns I can handle on my own and how much I can make per week on my own just starting out. I have a 48" commercial mower and all the other goodies necessary to run a basic mowing service.
  2. 360ci

    360ci LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 992


    I'd start with local free advertising, this year if you can just to get your name out NOW. If you want to spend the bucks go for handouts, for sure! As for the 1% respondents, you'll more than likely only get about 10-20 seasonal clients.

    My busiest was 23clients a week, and I work full time. I'm down to 11 a week, which is more manageable for my schedule now, but anyway, I can do all my 11 yards in a day. Most take 30-45minutes each, including traveling time if I do them on my own. If I get my brother to help me out we can shave 3-4 hours off that time.

    I was going to get a 48" WB this spring, but due to trailer costs I decided against it for now. I run anywhere from one to three 21" WB mowers. If I go out by myself I'll only take one mower of course but I can cut down each visit to 10-20minutes having two guys cutting and myself trimming and tidying up.

    If you wanted to go all out full time, once you get the client base, you can put in 10hour days 4-5 days a week and net a couple hundred bucks a day, or gross around $350-400. If you charge $25/lawn, that'll be less of course.

    After I factor in vehicle and trailer maintenance & fuel, business taxes, license and insurance, not to mention labour expenses I'll net in 30-40% of what I gross, which is high for the industry, but my equipment is rather fuel efficient and maintenance friendly. Everyone is different too. I only advertise for a few weeks during the start of the growing season here in Ontario, then I fill up my empty client slots and perhaps gain another 1-2 folks in the process.
  3. GrassIsGreenerLawnCare

    GrassIsGreenerLawnCare LawnSite Senior Member
    from VA
    Posts: 636

    man ur not gonna land 50 accounts just by sending out postcards/flyers lol. gaining accounts takes time and hard work and word of mouth. Getting accounts isnt as easy as it sounds and DEFINATELY doesnt happen overnight! Flyer response rate is lower than 1% id hate to tell u. Did u ever think that everyone and there mother has already sent out flyers to the whole enitre community already? this is my first year starting out(licensed/insured LLC) and i have done every advertising scheme u can think of short of TV. Newspapers are a joke, Flyers/postcards are kinda bunk (but u need to hand deliver if u expect results which takes time), yard signs, signs on trees on main roads, putting flyers in middle of sunday papers, and the best thing that has worked is word of mouth. U need to get out there and do the best job u can (and not lowball) so people realize how good of a job u do. then u will finally see some calls coming in. but if u think u are just gonna be able to send out a bunch of postcards and get 10-50 accounts u are dreamin. trust me i though it was gonna be alot easier too, but its not
    Last edited: May 28, 2010
  4. Bibbee Lawn Care

    Bibbee Lawn Care LawnSite Member
    Posts: 139

    Very much agreed with everything GrassIsGreenerLawncare said....except I have had very good luck with my newspaper ad this year.
  5. lawn guy 300

    lawn guy 300 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 65

    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. lawn guy 300

    lawn guy 300 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 65

    I sent 3000 postcards, flyers around town, and about 300 door hangers and I landed 5 jobs.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  7. Big Bad Bob

    Big Bad Bob LawnSite Bronze Member
    from zone 5
    Posts: 1,074

    That's a start. Keep plugging away. With hard work, smarts and a little luck, you'll make it.
    By the way, how many responses did you get from those 3300 contacts? In other words, how many bids did it take to get those 5 jobs? Oh, and are these one time jobs or seasonal?
  8. lawn guy 300

    lawn guy 300 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 65

    I got about 10 responses, did a few one time or a few times jobs, but kept 5 seasonal accounts. I didn't have to bid. They were residentials. I figure if I advertise ten times as much I can get ten times the responses. Also, I'm gonna target older people primarily with the postcards, but I'll advertise to the general public as well. I'll start interviewing companies about their current lawn service early in January, then give them my card and a free estimate (lower by 20%) a week or so later.
    I have a car payment I'd like to get rid of replaced by my business loan payment, which would include the cost of a $5000 work truck. It's a year old car. Any ideas on how to possibly trade down like that?
  9. Big Bad Bob

    Big Bad Bob LawnSite Bronze Member
    from zone 5
    Posts: 1,074

    Well, getting one time or a few times jobs, gives you exposure. People see you out working and they at least know you exist. You will find that referrals will get you more business than any advertisements. But people have to know you exist. When you go to a garden center or a nursery be sure to give out a few business cards. In fact, offer them to people everywhere you go. That means the grocery store, the gas station, the movies, the mall, everywhere. You will get a lot of people who will immediately throw them away but I have found that 1 customer can get you 3 customers through referral, sometimes. Also, offer a referral reward. Say $20.00 for each referral. You have to set boundaries on that though to avoid mowing once, paying the referral and then getting dropped. Say, after one month of paid service then the referrer gets the reward.
    As far as your trade down question, I've seen people get their asses handed to them on a stick by trying to trade down. You would probably be better off selling the car out right to a private party and starting from there. A dealer is not going to want to give you any advantage, for the most part. Good luck.
  10. g21

    g21 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 326

    I would spend the Fall and early winter months developing a promotional program and getting into the community this winter to promote yourself. Local groups, advisory boards, church, family are your best place to start. 50 is very aggressive out of the box. But with you pounding the pavement during the fall and winter, picking up 20 shouldn't be too difficult. One of the methods that has worked well for us over the years is working with landscape design/build firms that don't provide maintenance. Go introduce yourself and see if they would be willing to use you as a referral when they complete a new landscape.

    Good Luck!

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