"Renewing" Your Company

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by mtdman, Nov 7, 2004.

  1. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,137

    I often wonder if companies and businesses get "old". Especially those who have been around for a while. What I mean is, people know your name and business, but overlook you for newer companies that they haven't heard of before. Do people have a tendency of overlooking established businesses in favor of new ones? For instance, if your company has an ad in the phone book, and it's been in there a while, will potential customers overlook you for someone new who they haven't heard of before? Can you over-advertise, wear out your name and business, make people weary of hearing from you?

    It kind of goes against brand and name recognition, I know, but I often wonder how much of this goes on. Listening to the radio all day, I hear ads over and over again for the same mortgage companies, car dealerships, etc. I kinda get preturbed when I hear the same ads and same voices and same names over and over again. Especially from some of the bigger companies. I would not consider dealing with them just because their ads annoy me. I know it sounds corny, but I think that advertisers can piss off their intended target.

    So, if this does happen, what can be done about it? Are there ways to renew your company, make things different, attract new customers that might otherwise be weary of your company? Is there a way to make longevity a good thing, and keep it from being a negative?

    I ask because next year will be my 10th season. I'm kinda looking to re-invigorate the company and the name and recognition. I thought of a name change, but I hate to throw away what recognition I have after 10 years. But at the same time, I don't want my company to become "old" to my potential clients, keep them from coming to me and going to any new people.

    Any thoughts?

    :D
     
  2. Gene $immons

    Gene $immons LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,028

    You make some points that I have not thought of. I would not make a name change, unless you really don't like your company name. I would suggest a new advertising slogan or logo design and re-invigorate the business that way.

    I was talking to a friend of mine who has done this for 26 years and has 13 crews. He said that every year they still distribute 50,000 pieces of mail advertising in the spring. Then they spend the entire year catching up.
     
  3. PLI1

    PLI1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 254

    I would think as long as you do good work, are dependable , treat your customers well and listen to their needs, you don't need to worry about your company getting "OLD". If I was planning on spending thousands on landscaping my home, I would want an established company to do the work vs. someone brand new. And by all means don't change your name. Your company name is your identity. No sense in confusing your current and potential customers. Just my 2c.
     
  4. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,372

    Personally, here's my .02.

    I look at it this way. If you were a landscaping company, always looking for new installs, then MAYBE, but only if you're not out there doing good work.

    As far as lawn maintenance, at the position where I'm at, I only want my 38 people back every year, my same 38 commercial accounts, unless I can pick up 1 or 2 more that'll have a better profit margin, then drop the 1 or 2 that don't.

    As far as growing "old", this was my 16th year, been doing this since I was 16. I think it's more the one running the show has a tendency to let things get "old" more so than prospective clients. You get in your complacent mode. Like of like a marriage, you're always going to have to work at it.

    From what I can see, and I say this from my own personal experience, we as lawn care operators, or any business owner for that matter, probably over think things too much sometimes, after all, if you're into just the maintenance, there's times you're doing nothing but sitting on your butt for 30-40-50 + hours a week, thinking about nothing or everything, especially when you've been doing the same lawns for 5-6-7+ years.

    I've accused myself of overthinking situations, when in fact, if I just went and cut the grass, everything would be fine.

    mtdman, if it gets to where you're losing business for no other apparant reason, while the new up and comer is getting it all the while not chopping your prices, then maybe a new enclosed trailer with flashy lettering, or a red truck instead of blue, or whatever to change things up a little, drop hints to your customers that "hey, got me a new trailer" something like that so they can see that yeah, that does look nice, then they notice new things for you. I don't knock on someone's door, or call them up and say "make sure next week you come out and see my new trailer", but if they happen to stop me, I make some story up saying, "yeah, had to get a new trailer, the other one had run out of depreciation" "Had a hard time keeping things on schedule this week" something like that.

    If you keep things a little personal, the customers that you've had for years will stay with you. It's getting the new ones that takes some time, sometimes.
     
  5. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Posts: 4,900

    Nope would never change the name, or the way we work, advertize etc. If it ain't broke don't try to fix it. People pay for experience and that what sets us apart from some of the competition. And with experience you learn to do a better job in a more efficent way. Just part of the growing process. jmo

    Mac
     
  6. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,137

    Mainly I'm wondering from an advertising stand point. If you keep advertising the name every year, do people eventually become immune to your advertising? Build up a tolerance to your name from always hearing it? Does it affect the effectiveness of your advertising then? Whereas a new name might stick in someone's head having not heard it before? And if so, are there different ways of advertising to shake people out of their tolerance to the message?

    I'm not considering changing the way I work or anything like that. I've noticed that when I try different means of advertising, the first time around I get a great response. Consecutive attempts get a lesser and lesser response. For instance, last year I put out street signs for aeration in the area. Got a TON of response off them. This year not so much, although I'm not sure if I pushed it quite as much as last year. Etc.

    And LwnmwrMan22, I think sometimes I overthink things. Your point about slower times is a good one. Right now it's the end of the season, and I'm wondering what to do to improve next year. I've got lots of time while doing leaves all day. Overthinking can be an enemy, especially when you think you have to change everything or do things differently every year. Good point.

    :D
     
  7. Bull

    Bull LawnSite Senior Member
    from NC
    Posts: 308

    mtdman, I think you have made some good points concerning advertising. Here are a few things that I find work well on a continuous basis. Although I live in a small area (6,000 in the city limits with another 60,000 +/- in about a four to five mile radius. Networking and community involvement make a large difference in a focused or somewhat centralized area. By this I mean support your local athletic foundation through advertising, join the Chamber of Commerce, advertise in real estate brochures to target potential new customers, become a volunteer firefighter (it symbolizes trust) and they see you giving to the area in which they live, be active in your church with grounds projects ( other members appreciate this), set up an information booth at festivals, etc. My point here is do things that are fun, low cost usually, makes you a part of the community and puts you in connection with "key people" in your area that attract other people and business owners.

    I am restructuring my business next year as well with the following plan.
    #1 - reduce customer base by 30% (non-preferred accounts)
    #2 - work independently (using 5th guy so far this year)
    #3 - rely on 3 other LCO's if I need time off etc., two of them are my best friends and one is my brother-n-law. We all have that relationship.
    #4 - Sub out to those above the things i do not want to do (plugging, applications, etc) but still profit from them.
    #5 - streamline equipment - dropping a 60" ztr and a 48" wb - going to a 60" walk behind.
    #6 - this is the most important thing - my quality is what has always set me apart from 90% of other LCO's in my area. I have realized that there is a % of people who are willing to pay for this type of service. When I am done I will have 18 premium accounts (comm & resi) that pay premium prices.
    When it is said and done I will have full service accounts limited to 18 clients and a list of people who will want my services but due to my self imposed constraints will have to wait. As someone drops off of my client list (for example they die) then the next one in line will pay the premium price for getting into the club so to say.
    Now before everyone rips this apart from a critical standpoint let me assure you that I have not listed all of the details in this thread. Also remember people want what other people have. That even extends to how their lawn looks. Especially the group of people who I am targeting.
     
  8. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,137

    I have considered that last point of yours. Creating an aire of exclusivity around my business so that people will want me because only certain people can get it. That's what they are doing with that new g-mail thingy. And kinda like Cartman Land on South Park.

    :D
     
  9. Norm Al

    Norm Al LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,227

    #7 PRICE-older established lawn guys think they are worth more! new companys are willing to cut prices to get work. It doesnt take long for an old lawn company to get humbled into realising that they can be replaced in about 2 minutes. Thats why just being a grass cutting company is a scarrey proposition. Most companys expand immediately into areas that is hard for the average guy to fill!
     

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