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Phone Book Advertisment Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by GSL 23, Dec 15, 2003.

  1. GSL 23

    GSL 23 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 42


    I am looking into advertising in the yellow pages (phone book). I would like some advice. I am a small business looking to expand. Some of the options I have is 1 ad is a little smaller than a business card size for $135.00 and the other one is 3/4 of a dollar bill size for $289.00 a month. Prices seem fair but we were just wondering if we go to big with our ad if we are going to over do our selfs. We were planning to hire 2 full timers but if we have a lot of calls we might have less work time and more estimate time. We currently have 35 residential accounts and 3 commercial. We would like to expand double that. Running on a 3 man operation. If anyone has any suggestions please feel free to get back to us. Thanks for your time.

    GSL 23
  2. bayfish

    bayfish LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 641

    I went with the larger ad my first year as a full time service. Gives you a little more room to define what you offer. This year I may go with the smaller one. I have a dedicated business line in my home with an answering machine that specifically asks for a detailed message and address if requesting an estimate. This cuts down on phone calls to get addresses. Most people won't leave an address unless you ask. I also give my web address so they can send an e-mail through my website.
    Sometimes doing the estimates is a pain, but you won't get much work without those requests and you can pick and choose what you want. If it's an area you don't like, just call them and say you can't take anymore work and refer to someone else.
    Hope this is a help.
  3. Southpaw

    Southpaw LawnSite Member
    from Atlanta
    Posts: 88

    I learned about this when I was a room mate of a guy operating an LCO. His last name was Allen, so his name was way up at the top of the listings along with AA lawns. etc....

    I checked into it and found out that many people that search the YP get a few names and start calling them all. They hardly ever turn the page to get to the next 20 or so companies. What is the name of your company or will normal people find it? Not bashing you at all, just curious what kind of luck it will bring. If you have success, then I might try it too. But my company name begins with a P, way down the list.
  4. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,137

    Be careful about getting an ad that's too big. I had to downsize my ad this coming year because my old ad was bringing in more calls than I could handle. The thing you don't want to do is get a reputation of not returning calls, or not being able to handle a work load. That's almost worse than being obscure.
  5. NCSULandscaper

    NCSULandscaper Banned
    Posts: 1,557

    Be ready to expect a lot of calls with people looking for a job, people who are "tire kicker" people who just want free info.
    If you dont think you can handle the amount of work that your ad could generate, then dont put one in. You dont want a reputation of turning work away all the time.
  6. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,496

    I don't know. I've gone over the numbers on numerous occasions, and when it's all said and done, for this type of business, I just can't see the feasibility of it. Since we work on a clientelle basis, and many of us (like the poster) are small to mid-sized operations, I just can't see the good over the bad. Just doesn't seem to be the need there. Now, if we were doing just installations, or irrigation systems, or something like that, I could see it. But with mowing, once you establish the customer, they're usually going to be with you for a few years. Sure, then you move on,- but at THAT ratio? Everyone I've talked to that has done this (with the mowing) all say the same thing. The phone rings off the hook everyday with people asking. "How much do you charge to mow a lawn?"
    Then, they are calling from a 50 mile radius on top of that. Now, you figure you're paying between $1600 and $3600 a year for this ad. On top of that, you have countless hours doing "estimates" for people all over the countryside, many of whom have no inTENtion of retaining your services. There is just too much work that can be drummed up locally to be chasing and paying high dollar for the advertising. Once the plate is full, it's full. Period. Like I say, unless you have a constant need for new and different work to be coming in, it just doesn't seem logical for that. You have to cut alot of grass to pay for a 3600 dollar ad,....esPECially of your driving 30 minutes to get it. I'd rather hustle close to basecamp. Just my 2 cents.
  7. grasssin

    grasssin LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 361

    but the the yellow pages ad is a great way to get those customers if you are just starting full time like myself. I have tried every other option direct mailing, flyers, doorhangers and nothing has worked so far. I am going to run a 1/3 ad in mine for one year, Jan- Dec to establish a customer base and then downsize or get rid of it all together the following.............
  8. ParkerLawn

    ParkerLawn LawnSite Senior Member
    from KY
    Posts: 497

    Here's my experience with ads. I hate it every year when they start calling, "Hello, Mr Parker this is so and so and we need to upgrade your ad for next year and it will cost you $$$$$". I have never had terrific results with the ads but I do get business this way. I talk in detail to the customer about what they are wanting to do before I agree to come out and give an estimate. Over time I have gotten a good feel fo rthe ones who are serious and ones who just want to waste your time. I guess the way I look at it every year is if I only get 3-5 jobs all year from this ad, it will have paid for itself and it gets your name out there or at least people see it and will recognize it if they see you out. Sure you do alot of work that doesn't always guarantee jobs but you have to work hard and do this extra work to get good jobs. If it was as easy as placing an ad and we just sit there and count our money, than everyone would be happy. Advertising is a big expense and alot of work, but if you really want to expand your business, it is a must. I get 90% of my work form referrals but I have also gotten really nice jobs from ads too. Those 10% I treat just as important as the 90% and they usually become part of that 90%. Just my two cents worth.
  9. pcnservices

    pcnservices LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 614

    I once read an interresting article about how to write your yellow page ad in order to get the telephone ringing. Unfortunatly I lost that link but the one thing I remembered was NOT to put your company name at the top of the ad. And it make absolute sense to me.

    People are not shopping for a company - they are shopping for a service. Look at yellow page ads - they all have flashy impressive looking company name banners at the top and in the fine print you read what services they do. These ads dont work (or not as good as they should).

    People shopping for a lawn service in yellow pages will briefly browse over all the display ads, see all the company names and then the EYE CATCHING banner. I'm not a pro but my ad will look something like this:

    ∙ list your services
    ∙ offer a guarantee on your workmanship
    ∙ Licensed, insured, owner operator, member: lawn care association of XX
    ∙ FREE lawn assesment and estimate.
    PC & N Services Tel: ...................
    offer a FREE whatever (mention this ad and get a FREE mowing)

    The experts also say you should keep it short and simple. People don't want to read "busy" ads. Offer something for free and state your gaurantee.

    They say that 90% of yellow page advertising personell has little or no expierence in copy writing. They are sales people and that's it. So don't rely on them to write your ad for you. You give it to them the way you want it and insist in proof reading it before they publish it.

    Good luck. I hope this helps
  10. walker-talker

    walker-talker LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 4,771

    I can totally agree with listing your services. I get many more calls from YP and newspaper add saying "I see that you dethatch" or whatever the serivce listed. I have expiermented many times with ads in the newspaper and will always get more calls with services listed, rather than one service listed for the season. Anotherwards in the fall rather list "overseeding" alone, list all the services "overseeding, aerating, cleanup" and so on.

    Last year I had a 2" ad, no color and reveiced a fair amount of calls, but the ones for mowing were scattered throughout the city. I turned down many calls due to this. The cost was $45 a month for a town of 400,000. This year I went with a full color about the size of a business card and the cost is $145 a month. Last year there were only about 4 or 5 ads this size. This year there were a full page of those size ads.....probably 12 or 15. I wasn't too happy with the design either, was limited on time. That was my mistake.

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