Got the insurance and three clients, now how about this?

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JokerOfAllTrades

LawnSite Member
Location
Conneaut, Ohio
Okay, so we're off and walking anyway. I've cut for two clients already and will probably be hitting the third tomorrow after the grass dries out a bit from our recent drenching.

I figure that my next steps are, in no particular order:

-Come up with a business name (pretty sure I've already done that, and I bought the website address just to be safe)
-Advertise, advertise, advertise!

It's that second one that I don't want to waste time or money doing. People talk about door hangers - is that really a good way to go, in this day and age? Personally, I don't want anyone coming to my house and putting up a door hanger. It'll make the dog bark, which might wake the baby if he's sleeping, and even if we're all awake, it will divert our attention so that someone has to check who's at the door. I would feel like I'm constantly trespassing.

Have people had a good return on any other kind of advertising? Nextdoor generated one client and I'm edging up on a month having their paid advertising service. (Nobody else has even expressed interest, and it probably helped me land her lawn when she discovered that I was the guy from whom she was already buying eggs. She found me through Nextdoor for that too.) I was thinking that I could target advertising by picking out properties that look like they need a cutting, particularly if they also look like nobody is living there, then finding the owner's information through the county auditor's website, and contacting them with a postcard or something that would include what I'd charge to cut their grass.

Some local full-service lawn care companies send out fancy-looking mailers, but they've always turned me off because a fancy-looking mailer means that they're charging prices high enough to be able to afford the design and printing of such mailers (not to mention the postage), and their fancy-looking fleet of vehicles pictured in the ad.

I'm thinking about doing roadside signs, but I recently discovered how expensive they are, so I might try to design them myself. (Fortunately I have one of those vinyl-cutting machines, so I could feasibly buy the blanks and print the stuff to put on them.)

I'd really like to know if there is some sort of uncommonly effective method of advertising, which most people might not even think to do.
 

Youngandfree

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
VA
Okay, so we're off and walking anyway. I've cut for two clients already and will probably be hitting the third tomorrow after the grass dries out a bit from our recent drenching.

I figure that my next steps are, in no particular order:

-Come up with a business name (pretty sure I've already done that, and I bought the website address just to be safe)
-Advertise, advertise, advertise!

It's that second one that I don't want to waste time or money doing. People talk about door hangers - is that really a good way to go, in this day and age? Personally, I don't want anyone coming to my house and putting up a door hanger. It'll make the dog bark, which might wake the baby if he's sleeping, and even if we're all awake, it will divert our attention so that someone has to check who's at the door. I would feel like I'm constantly trespassing.

Have people had a good return on any other kind of advertising? Nextdoor generated one client and I'm edging up on a month having their paid advertising service. (Nobody else has even expressed interest, and it probably helped me land her lawn when she discovered that I was the guy from whom she was already buying eggs. She found me through Nextdoor for that too.) I was thinking that I could target advertising by picking out properties that look like they need a cutting, particularly if they also look like nobody is living there, then finding the owner's information through the county auditor's website, and contacting them with a postcard or something that would include what I'd charge to cut their grass.

Some local full-service lawn care companies send out fancy-looking mailers, but they've always turned me off because a fancy-looking mailer means that they're charging prices high enough to be able to afford the design and printing of such mailers (not to mention the postage), and their fancy-looking fleet of vehicles pictured in the ad.

I'm thinking about doing roadside signs, but I recently discovered how expensive they are, so I might try to design them myself. (Fortunately I have one of those vinyl-cutting machines, so I could feasibly buy the blanks and print the stuff to put on them.)

I'd really like to know if there is some sort of uncommonly effective method of advertising, which most people might not even think to do.
First rule of business. Stop thinking like a cheap ass customer. You'll never make any money to support your family, no matter how temporary your business may be.
 

flashsmith

LawnSite Member
I've been in the industry in all facets for 30 years. I'm gonna give you straight advice.

1. Be prepared to struggle for at least 5 years before you think you have a viable business. If you are not in a position to grow it the right way you will fail.

2. Do not low-ball to get business. These types of customers are not the type you want to attract. Not only that you won't make any business contacts that could help you down the line.

3. No matter how Professional you look it won't matter to 95% of potential customers who already look at you as just another guy hauling a mower around working for beer money.

4. All of my good customers I have had for several years came over time and not from an ad or a website. I have a website and it's been the biggest regret or waste of money in my opinion I have made with my business. Marketers will hound you nonstop.

5. Read 2 and 3 over and over. Good Luck
 
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J

JokerOfAllTrades

LawnSite Member
Location
Conneaut, Ohio
I am glad that so many people show me in such short order why they deserve to get the ignore-hammer.

Flashsmith, thanks for not being one. You may not be aware that I'm only looking at this lawn-mowing thing as a temporary gig, for two reasons: 1) I'd really rather get back to what I used to do before COVID was allowed to ravage this country, 2) I don't see myself living in this area for a particularly long time. It may be only a couple more years. (However, I'm not closed off to the idea of doing this type of work wherever I end up after this.)

You said that your best customers came not through an ad or website - from where did they come?
 

Youngandfree

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
VA
I am glad that so many people show me in such short order why they deserve to get the ignore-hammer.

Flashsmith, thanks for not being one. You may not be aware that I'm only looking at this lawn-mowing thing as a temporary gig, for two reasons: 1) I'd really rather get back to what I used to do before COVID was allowed to ravage this country, 2) I don't see myself living in this area for a particularly long time. It may be only a couple more years. (However, I'm not closed off to the idea of doing this type of work wherever I end up after this.)

You said that your best customers came not through an ad or website - from where did they come?
Why do you want to ignore all the people that have gone before you and have the experience you are seeking? It's baffling.

I'm in my 3rd year as a part time solo guy. I'm doing 13, might add a 14th this week. Most are bi-weekly with 4 weekly. I work 40hrs m-f on my career, that I won't be quitting until retirement. I'm limited in the number of hours I can work on my business. My goal is to either have something when my retirement eligibility starts at the ripe age of 52. Or if something happens to my job, have a way to produce income. One thing that gives me an advantage I feel, is I'm not desperate for work. I can charge prices that I want to get paid. Right now, I'm tapped out on mowing accounts, but I have 1 I recently started and 1 a lady called me back on today. Both I priced $25/ cut higher than I normally would. They are priced high enough if the customer agrees, I'm stupid not to take it. The lady that called me back today declined my service last week when we first talked. I said $65/biweekly, 45/weekly. She wanted biweekly. She asked why the difference in price, and said she would cut it herself every other week. When I told her I understand her situation, but my business model means I need $65/cut unless I am cutting weekly. She politely declined and I thanked her for her inquiry. She called today to see if I was still interested or available to cut for her. I chuckled to myself.

Both those leads I got from by Google my business website. And both are closer to my new home and help accomplish tightening up my mow route like I wanted to do this year.

The key is I operate like a bigger biz with shiny door hangers or post cards. At some point, I let the client know my schedule situation with my fulltime career. But I surely don't price things like a guy with a honda in the back of a Toyota Rav4 that trims with a Ryobi trimmer. Do I underbid jobs sometimes? Yep, and try to learn from those mistakes. That's why I have a minimum charge of $45/cut. I have 2 lawns that take 9 minutes for one, and 15 for the other, both are glad to pay me $45/cut. Neither tried to talk me down to a lower price. The ones that do try and talk me down don't usually hire me, and that's ok.
 

flashsmith

LawnSite Member
There are legit businesses struggling right now. Usually this time of year I never pick up my phone I have so much work. I'm in a huge market and there are dozens of lawn businesses for sale right now. Work has dried up plain and simple. If you can't find lawns to cut in Central Florida something isn't right. That's the new reality in the short term. Add to that every guy with a truck and box store mower sniping lawns from legit businesses charging prices so low because they know nothing about what it takes to run a business. Everybody is struggling so don't take my advice and put a bunch of money in a business or even a short term venture and lose it or go get a job until you can get back to what you know. Cutting Lawns isn't the answer..
 
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