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Gaining credibility as a newby?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by GreenAcresLC, Dec 3, 2007.

  1. GreenAcresLC

    GreenAcresLC LawnSite Member
    from KY
    Messages: 84

    Hello all. I am new to lawnsite. In the spring, I'll be starting a new lawn service biz. Mowing, trimming, edging, blowing...the basics. I think I need to check with my local ext. agent about licensing for applying fertilizer. Yes, I will be legit, filed all papers to start out as an LLC. I have filed LLC as a way to sort of separate myself from the business, as I have in the past with my trucking company. I will be getting business insurance to save my butt in the event of disaster, and the great old KY DOT which I'm so familiar with will be giving out another number to me, and probably ridding me of any profits I may make. I think I may have to get local permits, but I'll wait til the year starts to get those.

    The question I have is this:
    I have learned through owning and dispatching a few trucks that gaining credibility without low-balling to get started is nearly an impossibility. Is it going to be the same for me here, in the lawn service industry? I am prepared to give it my all, learn what needs to be learned, and get the equipment needed to grow, whatever. But how is this to be conveyed to the potential customer? As a new upstart, I have ZERO credibility in this business. I have no lawns to use as examples of my work. I really do not want to begin business as a low-baller who does cheap work and gets crappy results of rushing (you rush to make the lower price seem fair to you, right?) This just seems like a recipe for failure.

    How do you go about getting new customers to believe in your abilities when there is no proof to show them?

    Thanks for any input, this forum has loads of good information.
  2. privatelawn

    privatelawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 301

    Look and act professional and you may not be asked for refrences or how long you have done it for. No need to lowball you will maybe just not get the accounts that want references and stuff but evantually you will have some.
  3. EJD Lawnpride

    EJD Lawnpride LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 313

    Start with family and friends and use their lawns as examples. That's how i started 4 yrs. ago. It did help that i was an ex-golf supt. But not as much as just being professional and honest.
  4. landscaper22

    landscaper22 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 849

    I did lowball some accounts when I first started. Not because I felt I had to. I just didn't bid properly as a result of inexperience. Also, it took me some time to understand what it actually cost me to do business. I would not lowball on purpose. Just show the customer you are worth the money. My first couple of years, during slow times, I would sometimes give a lower price than normal on some odd jobs just to make some money. If you do that just make sure you are still actually making money. But don't discount regular mowing service.
  5. MJS

    MJS LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,316

    "Look and act like a pro" are the key words here. Wear collared work shirts, clean baseball caps (or no caps at all) and pants that aren't full of holes. Have a decent looking business card, and communicate clearly with potential customers. That's a good start for any business venture.
  6. LawnSharks

    LawnSharks LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 300

    Your work and work ethic will speak volumes! Just like everyone else is saying, do good work, dress professionally, treat their lawn as if it were your own and make them feel that the money they are paying you is well worth it. I'd also create a website with your services clearly listed. You can find a ton of pics of great lloking work on the web until you can replace these pics with your own. Simply state that this is a representation of your work.
    Good luck.
  7. Jay Ray

    Jay Ray LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,510

    Not only does the new guy have to build credibility from zero, he has to overcome the experience of customers who were lied to or received shoddy work in the past.

    Once you speak and say you will do it, you have to do it no matter what it costs you. If it hurts you bad, but you said it, and then you don't do it, you become just another bum in the customer's eyes.
  8. GreenAcresLC

    GreenAcresLC LawnSite Member
    from KY
    Messages: 84

    I appreciate all the feedback. You all said what I was kind of thinking: hard to begin with zero credibility, but not impossible. I do have an uncle who is a contractor who builds (very nice) subdivisions, and one of my college roommates from years back works for his father who does the same. I'm thinking I may start by approaching these men to start with, maybe they can lead me in a good direction with some of their neighborhoods. Or at least put in a good word for me. Is it a good idea to use friends and family this way? Anyway, thinks again for all of your feedback so far.
  9. Wells

    Wells LawnSite Member
    from SLC UT
    Messages: 0

    Credibility is achived by knowing your industry inside/out and presenting yourself as a expert in the field.

    Any lawn boy can cut the grass but the difference between the lawn boy and the professional lies in each ones knowledge of their field and their ability to diagnoise, treat, prevent and solve issues with a clients yard.

    How much credibility would a client have in someone that can't even identify the type of grass they cut?

    If a client asked you about thatch, different types of fertilzers or how much they should be watering their yard would you have an answer? If they asked about the benefits of areating versus power raking could you give an answer? What if they asked you to identify a disease in their lawn, could you? or if they were looking too topdress their yard would you know what they were talking about?

    By knowing your field you quickly gain credibility and word of mouth spreads much faster then it does if your the lawn boy who just cuts grass.
  10. landscaper22

    landscaper22 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 849

    This is true no doubt. But, if you have no background in this business, you will have to start somewhere. You will not have all the answers. You learn as you go. Find some good books about lawn management in your area (look for college text books from a school in your area that has a turf management program), and use the internet, and any other tools you can find to help you. When I started, I knew very little about proper lawn management. But, that did not stop my business from taking off. But, I was doing this part time my first year, so I never claimed to be some turf expert. I really spent a lot of time studying lawn management during the off season my first two years in business. It didn't take long for things to fall in place. But even now when it comes to diseases, I always send a sample off to be tested. I can usually diagnose it, but no need to guess when you can get a lab test to confirm the problem. Customers will love you for stuff like that.

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