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good way to get new lawns? just starting out

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by mayhem69, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. JMK26

    JMK26 LawnSite Silver Member
    Male, from Missouri
    Messages: 2,444

    Google the term "marketing mailers"

    Shop around, find the best price.

    I'm surprised none of us pointed this out earlier. But before you even start marketing, you should have a business plan put together and a marketing plan. At the very least some kind of basic plan should be in place or else you're going to get calls and be caught with your pants down when someone asks you for proof of liability insurance or a cop or State regulatory agent stops to asks for your business license. Then you'll be on here asking us what you need to do to get better organized, then asking us how to get insurance and asking us what we would charge for "this lawn" and wanting us to do all the foot work for your business when we already did it for ours.
    Asking for advice is fine, it's up to you to do the footwork.

    interesting article on being licensed properly.
  2. CRC_PP

    CRC_PP LawnSite Member
    Messages: 43

    Good advice for sure. :drinkup:

    Liability is the single most important thing to not overlook at this early stage. The idea that you can't afford it is short lived if/when something happens that results in a severe if not fatal loss to your business.

    I have 2 million in coverage for liability and it includes carpentry and roofing riders and I pay a little under $900 a year for the coverage.

    Not sure of other states but here in PA they have minimum amounts that they can charge you for liability.

    In PA unless you're doing fertilizer or pesticides no business license is required. PA is pretty loose in that regard.
  3. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Yes. That's a much better way to go.
    No. I actually just made black and white flyers at home on MS Publisher and took them to Staples and had them make thousands of black and white copies at the economy pricing. It worked for me at that time. But knowing what I know now, I wouldn't do that again. It made us look cheap. And the kind of clients we were attracting weren't as good. Though it did work. So I cannot discount it totally. I just think there's a better way to do it, knowing what I know now. The better way is a nice full-color flyer printed professionally from a place like Uprinting.com. If you do it right, you can get a really nice professional door hanger made for like less than 10c each. Much classier way to go.

    There are some who do that, yes. In my area there are only two companies (out of a thousand of more LCOs in our area) who do that. I think it's one of the least-classy ways to advertise. Again, most people just consider it littering. But there's a certain segment who will actually call. And you can put your flyers out 10x faster that way for sure. The problem is; even though it may lead to more calls, you're pissing off more people than you're impressing. Doesn't really make your company look like a class act. Flyer on the door or in a custom-made mailer sent to targeted neighborhoods is a much classier way to market. Even newspaper flyers. Newspapers can insert a flyer for you for a real affordable rate. They'll even do all the printing. One of the companies in my area does that as their main method of advertising and it works real well for them.

    Also, look at diversifying your advertising. Flyers are cheap. But you gotta to sooooo many of them to really get results, that you end up spending so much time and money on them you sometimes would have been better off doing another kind of advertising.

    Instead of spending $1000.00 or more on flyers ($200 on a graphic designer, $500 in printing costs and countless hours spent putting them out), I think you'd get better results spending $500 on someone creating a really nice, but basic website and $500 on Google Adwords (Pay per click) advertising. You'd get a lot more calls and they'd be from people who were already actively searching for a company like yours. So they'd be really hot leads. That would be a better expenditure of the $1000.00, IMO.

    Or do both. Nothing wrong with doing different kinds of advertising. I just find the web to be the most effective in terms of ROI. We get a return of $28 for ever $1 we spend on internet advertising. That's a way better return than you can get with any other kind.

    If all you can do right now is cheap black and white flyers copied at Staples right now, so be it. But at least put them on the doors of the houses. Use your free time wisely.
  4. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,507

    We average 5 complaints for 10000 flyers.

    5000 flyers generates 25-35 calls on average.

    I don't so this for lawn care, but another business.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Just because people aren't calling you, doesn't mean they don't find it annoying. I get flyers in my driveway like that a couple times a year. They always go straight in the trash. I'd call and complain but the company wouldn't really give a crap anyway. They're some cheapskate company who really doesn't care if they annoy people. So I don't even bother. Most people are like that. They don't like it. They're prefer you didn't litter their driveway. But they don't feel like wasting their time complaining because they know it won't do any good. Evidenced by the fact that you still do it - even though you continually get complaints.
  6. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,507

    Numbers don't lie. I'm willing to accept 5 calls in 10k targets. It doesn't have anything to do with being cheap. Its direct targeted marketing. Its very very popular in a different industry.

    That being said, we may switch to eddm and see how it does. Its about 200 more for the same round, but it's hard to beat the numbers.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  7. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    I'm not saying it's not at all effective. I'm sure it leads to calls. Almost anything leads to calls if you do enough of it. It's just a numbers game. As long as you're okay with annoying people and advertising that way, do what you want. I'm not here to convince you otherwise. But if you think people don't consider it annoying and littering, you're deceiving yourself.

    I do question whether it's the most effective kind of advertising, however. The numbers your quoting equate to about 1/20th of 1% conversion rate. That's pretty low in marketing standards. The advertising that we do costs us more to do, but we get about 3-5% conversion rate, a 28x ROI and it nobody considers it littering.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2014
  8. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,507

    If Youre talking about AdWords.. yes we do that too

    My roi is very similar to that. And they're all one time jobs
    Posted via Mobile Device
  9. Tom-N-Texas

    Tom-N-Texas LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 370

    1. nice-sized space ad in your most popular local yellow pages book. Probably costs $250/month or so.....well worth it in my case...all you need is 3 regular customers to pay for this...the rest is gravy. For me this generated dozens of new customers and tens of thousands of dollars extra revenue.

    2. google adwords....nice thing about this is you can start/stop/slow down your advertising according to the time of year and/or your need for new accounts. During the growing season I set a daily budget of $10, which is $300/month. I get calls every day. Towards the end of the year I had to remove the ad, as I couldn't keep up with the work.

    To get the best of both of these advertising methods you will need a nice website that is appealing, friendly, colorful and should motivate your customer to go with you...your goal should be to make your website better than your competitions'. Your prices should be fair for you, yet affordable for the customer. I like to keep my prices on the low side for my new customers and then raise their price up a bit after the first year or so. I also raise prices every year for any customer who, for whatever reason, makes life difficult for me. I will also be pruning several accounts that I just don't care to deal with any more. Out with the old, in with the new.
  10. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    I'm surprised to hear that's worked well for you, Tom. The consensus around Lawnsite for years has been that Yellow Pages were a HUGE waste of money. I, along with many others here, have never had good results with YP ads. I tried them for years. At one point I even had the 2nd biggest YP ad in the section. Never paid off once.

    Also, I have to point out that it's fallacious thinking to say that 3 regular customers will pay for the cost of an ad. In our business, you're doing real well if you have a net profit of 20%, when all expenses are accounted for. But let's say you do have a net profit of 20%. That means that you'd need $1250.00 per month - year round - worth of work in order to pay for that ad. And that's just to break even with what you spent. Let's say a good account for you is a $250.00 per month account. And let's hope that's a year-round account too. Assuming all this, you'd need TEN new accounts just to pay for the ad. And keep in mind that you'd be making ZERO profit on those 10 accounts. You're only making profit accounts #11 and on. What if your ad only nets you 12 new accounts the whole year? Now you have a whole lot more yards to maintain, but you're only making money on two of them. That's a loser deal! No thank you.

    Let's say your ad nets you 15 new accounts that year. Now you're doing 15 new accounts, but only 5 of them are you making any profit on. Still, not a great deal. Plus, we're doing a LOT of positive assuming here. Chances are they won't all be $250 a month accounts. Chances are they won't all be year-round accounts. And chances are if you really understand net profits, you aren't making 20%. I'm being generous in my assumptions.

    To really make the ad pay off, you'd have to be landing a lot more than 3 accounts. It's not like those 3 accounts cost you nothing to maintain. There is all sorts of overhead costs that go into maintaining any account. If it was basically free for us to maintain a property, we could all drop our prices to next to nothing and still be making good money. But you know that's not true. We charge what we charge and we're lucky to make a decent profit on maintenance accounts. You're theory only works if the 3 accounts you're talking about don't cost you a dime to maintain. My old Yellow Pages sales guy used to try that trick on me all the time. Sounds pretty convincing until you really think about it. Then you realize that's not true at all. It's fallacious thinking.

    I do agree with everything else you said in that post, however. About the Adwords and the great website. Those two things make a HUGE difference.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2014

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