Renewal letter to 900 customers...

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by redbuckcavs, Jan 14, 2009.

  1. redbuckcavs

    redbuckcavs LawnSite Member
    from indiana
    Posts: 135

    Next week we''ll be mailing our renewal letter to our customer base (aprox 900 accounts) offering a early bird prepay discount if they prepay prior to March 1st.
    In years past we would do the following sequence:
    1) Jan 20---mail renewal letter with discount opportunity
    2) March 10--send out another letter to the customer base who didn't respond to the initial letter (extend prepay opportunity to March 20)
    3) March 30 Any customer who hasn't responded yet would get a call telling them we will be starting soon so "PLEASE MAKE UP YOUR MIND"

    I realize alot of companies do the AUTOMATIC renewal, However I've tried this aproach and too many customers refuse to pay for a service they didnt order!!! (with the fert cost being very high I cant afford a NONPAYING customer)

    With the economy scaring everybody. I thought about sending out a coupon for a FREE service to all the customers who respond prior to March 1. Hopefully this will prevent them from shopping around and I will receive a great responce, so I wont have to spend time and money mailing another letter.

    Now I need to know what I can offer for FREE
    ** Aeration--too time consuming
    ** Free Perimeter Pest app ?
    ** extra fert During step #1 ?

    any suggestions would be appreciated
  2. PROCUT1

    PROCUT1 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from TN
    Posts: 4,909

    Thats nuts.

    I had 500 customers when I was in business and there was no way at all that i would ask for renewal every year.

    When they signed the initial agreement it said in very big letters " This agreement will continue from season to season until cancelled"

    My billing was automatic credit card billing. So when we started up the next year, we billed the lawn cut in advance of the day of service. Any cards that came back declined got a phone call.

    I found most people would continue on forever as long as their credit card worked. Very few cancellations.
  3. grass4gas

    grass4gas LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 473

    How much of a discount do you give to entice them to pre-pay?

    This "Free service", is this in addition to the discount on pre-paying, or to people who respond, but don't want to or didn't pre-pay?

    IMO this would have to be an either/or offer. I don't offer the pre-pay option to "all" my customers, although I may this year.

    I send out my renewals the end of January. I just may add a "freebie" service to the ones that might be on the fence.

    This free service needs to be quick and easy to apply. Maybe a Dormant Oil application to their shrubs. Leave material behind showing the benefits, and you may be able to get them on a full season program. Be curious to see some of the ideas members come up with.
  4. redbuckcavs

    redbuckcavs LawnSite Member
    from indiana
    Posts: 135

    We offer a 8% discount if they prepay.
    This year I seem to be more worried then ever. I did raise my price 10%(first increase in 4 years) I think alot of homeowners are going to be "on the fence" so therefore I want to entice them with a "FREEBE" to continue their lawn care service
  5. philk17088

    philk17088 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 17,386

    Your letters are costing you approx $500 but yet you say you can't afford an application made to a customer that wouldn't pay due to confusion on the automatic renewal. I'd take the chance and save the bucks. On the last service remind them that they are automatically signed up for the next year.
    2nd part
    Why would you offer anything free?
  6. redbuckcavs

    redbuckcavs LawnSite Member
    from indiana
    Posts: 135

    If I decide to do a free service

    #1 ---I'm already on the property

    #2 -- a free insecticide on the "landscape" plants (Sevin) would only cost a small fraction (I would let them know its a $75 value to make the offer look great)
  7. lawntennis

    lawntennis LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 415

    Just automatically renew them. The cost of a few unpaid applications due to cancellations can't possibly match the cost of a free service to everyone.
  8. Turfdoctor1

    Turfdoctor1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 705


    despite what everyone else is saying, I think you are doing the right thing. A renewal letter done the right way is gold in terms of customer retention. I sent mine out about 2-3 weeks after sending out Christmas cards with a picture of me and my 8 months pregnant wife. I have gotten a ton of unexpected prepays, several new referrals, and countless well wishes back already. 0 cancellations so far.

    However, I would have to agree that an 8% prepay discount should be enough in and of itself. If you are wanting to give an additional "free" service, I would definitely go the landscape insecticide (sevin) route.

    good luck.
  9. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,225

    Sure--send out two automatic renewal letters. State it in no uncertain terms that you will continue automatically. If not prepaying, then send a second letter as a reminder to rienforce the first letter. Accept a few "We didn't get the letter." excuses, and try to retain thame as customers (if you want them) by offering a freebie--like the second ap free. Or the Sevin treatment. Or maybe an overseed with premium seed. Or 15 minutes hand or chemical weeding of their flower garden. Or plant 10 petunias.
  10. LawnTamer

    LawnTamer LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,988

    You need to change your service agreement, it needs to be an automatic renewal. We send a prepay letter out, and offer a small discount, but then, they get a notice right before we come, that reminds them that the service agreement is still in effect and we will be there on x date, so they need to have gates unlocked and pets in etc.

    Out of hundreds of clients we get maybe one each yr who complains. I point out that the service agreement states in bold, red ink that service will continue each yr until it is canceled. Then if they boob anymore, I ask them to name any other service agreement that self terminates, phone, cell phone, dish, you name it, NO ONE in business has a self terminating service agreement. They usually pay, if they don't they go into collections like anybody else.

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