Yellow pages??

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by SW Landscape Maintenance, May 5, 2006.

  1. SW Landscape Maintenance

    SW Landscape Maintenance LawnSite Member
    Posts: 64

    Ok I'm a solo operator. 50 clients per week right now. 25 of them are on contract year round, all residential. Get a lot of referrals. Can not operate like this the rest of my life if I'm going to stay in this business. Need to increase sales. Would like to have at least 75 customers 1 employee part time etc. Should I advertise in yellow pages or put a nice coloured flyer together? What I'm afraid of is if I go the yellow pages I will be running around doing estimates and zero work getting done. I'm fussy and don't want to leave my clients in someones hands . I think that the yellow pages are costly and even more so when you are running around doing estimates for people who are fishing for the cheapest price. I'm not cheap! Just need some input and ideas. Are the yellow pages the answer? Do they really work? or continue on and offer some type of referral program with my existing clients?:confused: :canadaflag:
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    First of all if you have some spare cash, just go with a plain text listing for a year and see how that works. Even if your spare cash is considerable, get a smaller ad so you can gauge the response without getting swamped but if you get TOO busy then you raise your prices and all is good again.

    I wouldn't get too big an ad for starters and I wouldn't spend more than what you can afford to completely waste. I say this because I spent almost 2 thousand on advertising last year and if I got 6 calls from it ... But, it was spare cash and I learned my lesson (next time spend less because I could've stuck a grand in my pocket without hurting my own feelings lol).

    The next thing to take into consideration is the amount of Lco's advertising in the section you will be in. I do not know if you have control over this or if they decide but if it's a lot of them that makes a wild difference. It also makes a difference if you're near the top or down to the bottom alphabetically, (un)fortunately depends on your business name.
  3. J Hisch

    J Hisch LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 952

    I would work your customer base for refferals first.
  4. PMG

    PMG LawnSite Member
    Posts: 22

    A couple of questions for you:

    1) Do you only do residential?
    2) What happens to the referrals you get?
    3) Do you have a customer referral program?

    There are a couple of reasons NOT to use the Yellow Pages. The first one is price, it is costly to run an ad at this point for your company, number 2 is your companies name, if it is listed as SW Landscape Maintenance, you will be to far down on the listing for people to call. If they know your name and want to call you they will look for your name, if they are just shopping for price, they will not get to your company simply because it is just to many people for them to call.

    Do Not put together a flier! unless you are looking for the cheap customer. Fliers are looked at as cheap advertising by customers and they will expect the same from you...something cheap. You see them all the time, hanging in grocery stores, posted in places they just don't belong and it is just not professional.

    I would stick with the customer referrals and offer them an "incentive program" for referrals that sign a contract with you. I have put together a customer referral program that I would be happy to share with you. It can be customized to meet the needs of your business and your customers, it will be much more professional and better received.
    I would also start to pursue commercial customers, start small and let them grow. Do small chain restaurants, hotels, etc. Don't over tax yourself where your performance will suffer or so will your customer base. Try to get high visibility customers and invest in site sign-age saying something to the effect of "Landscape Maintenance Provide By" this should help get your name out and will ultimately grow your business.
    One other thing we have done is this....We would go into a high end neighborhood. Start with the corner house (high visibility) offer them 3 months free lawn maintenance if they would refer you to 3-5 of their neighbors and you sign a contract with the referrals they provided. This will provide you with what will be up to 6 customers (including them) and because most neighbors will be within a 3-4 house radius your travel time will be nothing, saving you money and getting you more customers.
    By the by at the end of 3 months, this customer must sign a contract for the remainder of the season at a discounted rate. Hopefully as time progresses you will be able to secure several customers in the same neighborhood.

    Good Luck
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Around here everybody and their brother uses the Yellow Book to advertise, which means 200-some Lco's are in it but look in the Yellow Pages and there's hardly a dozen of them there. Granted the Yellow Pages is double the price of the Yellow Book, but at the same rate a simple text entry in the Yellow Pages only runs $75 / month and with a dozen entries it doesn't matter to me if I am last, where in order to compete with the 200-some that advertise in the Yellow Book, I'd be looking at spending a minimum of 4 thousand / year.

    Now I done wasted my 2 grand last year and am none too amused that I got 6 phonecalls for the money, other than the fact that the Yellow Book, once listed always listed, now gives me a text entry free of charge for life but regardless of that, I know where my advertising money is going this year.

    But as far as mediums, I still find the newspaper to be the best value for the cash.

    The only other thing I just gained from the original thread starter is your prices may be too low. If you're finding yourself with a full schedule, I would not hesitate to raise prices a little bit at this point, mostly for all the exigence and new customers anyway - Don't raise prices on services already agreed upon, just on everything else that wants to come along.
    While you're at it, have some fun figuring out ways to get the work done faster so as to increase the profit. The trick here is to find the methods that get it done the fastest but with at least the same if not better results, the goal is more speed AND higher quality but if nothing else, don't sacrifice quality but do increase speed.
  6. AintNoFun

    AintNoFun LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,807

    when we used to do a lot of residential work direct mail was always good for us. yellow book = waste of money, the #'s that the salesman are going to give you is B.S. trust me. (actually have a lawsuit pending with yellowbook but i'll get into when its all taken care of) yellow pages is good but super expensive, try to find some old books see if the same guys are in there year after year. if they are then it must be doing something for them. like others said if you dont spend the huge money to get the biggest ad your gonna be so far down on the totem pole to be called it isn't even funny.... we also always had great success with fliers. Dont even bother doing fliers if its not going to be a full color piece. there is nothing that looks cheaper than black text on a pink or yellow piece of paper. spend a few hundred get something professionally designed and it will pay off....
  7. SW Landscape Maintenance

    SW Landscape Maintenance LawnSite Member
    Posts: 64

    Thanks guys for all your input. I think I'll stick with the referral program for now. I'am a believer in looking after the customers that I have. I hate it when people are fishing around for the cheapest price and I think thats what the yellow pages will bring. Thanks again!:canadaflag:
  8. Frontier-Lawn

    Frontier-Lawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,949

    the most bang for my buck i found is swap out deals. i do the lawn for this guy in xchange for a monthly add like this

    its win win for both of us
  9. LawnGuy73

    LawnGuy73 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,945

    I've been advertising in the yellow pages for years, you do get alot of calls, but you also get alot of people that are just prices shopping. They want you to give you a price for there lawn over the phone without even coming out to look at the property, which I won't do. :rolleyes:
  10. Green Grass and More

    Green Grass and More LawnSite Member
    Posts: 26

    I've never used the yellow book but have heard that it's a waste of time. If you put yourself in the customer's shoes, all they will do is start at the top most of the time when they don't know who to call. At least that's what all my family does so in my opinion, it's just a waste of money. Spend it on door hangers, fliers, business cards, whatever.


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