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Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Sean Adams, Nov 18, 2005.
A couple of things I have written and sent to people are below...thought they may be helpful....
If you are looking for the best examples of contracts, estimates, proposals, flyers, door hangers, letters, as well as information about taxes, employees, marketing and how to estimate as well as much more be sure to visit www.lawncaresuccess.com
Everyone who owns a business in this industry has a different reason for owning the business and a different idea of what they want their business to be or become. There is nothing wrong with being a solo operator and keeping your business small and manageable. This information can still easily apply to you. But if your goal or intent is to grow your business, this information will definitely come in handy.
In order to grow your business you must advertise. Sounds simple, huh? You may have heard this before because I have said it many times Running a business without advertising is like blinking in the dark no one knows what you are doing except you.
You must let people know you exist, know who you are, and know what you do. This email is not going to be about the different methods of advertising. This is going to be about the importance of advertising and understanding how beneficial creating a brand can be. If you would like information on different methods of advertising and examples to go with them, go to www.lawncaresuccess.com - there is plenty there.
When creating a brand, the very first thing you must take into consideration is the name of your company. This is what people are going to have to identify with. This is what you are going to be putting out there for everyone to see and look at.
There are different beliefs when it comes to choosing a name for your business. Some believe it is important to clearly state who you are and what you do so there is no confusion. For example, Johnsons Lawn Care & Landscaping is a simple descriptive name of a company who is owned by someone named Johnson and they provide Lawn Care and Landscaping services. Others believe that creating a catchy, maybe even off the wall name is even more effective even if it does not clearly state who you are and what you do. For example, Green Clippers is a name that does not necessarily indicate that this company is in the lawn & landscape business, it does not indicate who the owner is and it certainly does not describe the services offered. Could this name create confusion? Sure. Could this name be effective if advertised and marketed properly? Definitely.
My suggestion is simple. If you have the intent to grow your business merely from truck signs, referrals, etc
then going with the first option is probably your best bet. However, if you plan to embark on a campaign to grow your business and name recognition with many different advertising techniques and you intend to brand your companys name, be creative and do not be afraid to try a name that is out of the ordinary and different from the norm. Perfect examples outside of the Green Industry are monster.com, ebay, yahoo, etc
If it werent for these companies branding and advertising efforts, would you have any clue as to what they offer? Probably not.
If you do intend to go with a creative name for your business, you should try and incorporate a logo in your name that might at least give a hint as to the service you offer. Eventually, the logo will become every bit as important as the name itself. Using the example Green Clippers your logo could be a pair of scissors opened up, with the appearance of blades of grass flying around. You get the idea.
Now in order to create a strong brand name you have to get known because there is one simple fact that rings true with consumers people buy based on familiarity. If there is a name of a product or service that is continually in front of a group of people, they become familiar with the name even if they do not know much about the product or service. And when it comes time for them to make a purchasing decision, people often feel comfortable and secure going with a name. Yes, many people will shop around and try and find the best product or service that suits their needs and budget. But many people will hire companies, especially service companies whose name they hear the most.
There is a saying in the marketing world
. To know you is to love you. That is why I said Get Known. Bombard people with your name. Be seen everywhere you can. Beat the name of your company into their heads and when it comes time for them to hire someone, who are they going to think of first? You!
And here is one last fact you should also realize
Familiarity beats performance.
What this means is that people rarely hire the best company to provide a service. Instead, they usually choose the company they are most familiar with the company they know the most about the company they see the most places the company that appears to be the most popular. You have probably even experienced this yourself. It is common to see people hire a company to provide a service when you know that you or your company could have given them a better price, done a better job, and been more genuinely concerned with the clients satisfaction. Why? The answer is because they do not know you well enough
.but that other company must do a good job and be the best since I hear their name all the time and everyone else is hiring them. I just saw a commercial for a cable provider a small unknown company. Their offer was great 4 free months of service, 150+ channels, a DVR all for $39.99 a month.
My first reaction was
I have never heard of them they could be a fly by night. It is a good deal but it is probably safer for me to stick with the cable company everyone uses and we have used for a long time. Even though I am paying 4 times that price and I never was offered a DVR and it is a royal pain in the butt to get problems solved, Ill just stick with the company I am familiar with.
Im not saying stop concerning yourself with the quality of your service and instead concentrate on branding your name. If you can find a way to do both, you have found the solution the key to the growth of your company and the retention of your client base.
If you have any questions, would like to order any information, or would just like to discuss things, feel free to email or call me any time. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my office number is (412) 415-1470.
Very helpful. Thank you.
Thank You! for taking the time to produce a wonderful news letter, and for keeping us all up to speed, its very much appreciated!.S.Geraldo.
A month and a half ago I was on the phone with a business owner from South Carolina. He has been in the industry for over 15 years and has owned his own business for the past 10. He called me to discuss a serious problem he was having. He told me that he was getting really frustrated constantly having to find new customers to replace the customers he keeps losing each season.
I asked him why he was losing customers and his response was who knows.
I asked if he had older clients who were passing away or if he serviced a lot of younger executives who are often relocated and he said nah, nothing like that.
So my next question was how often do you talk to your customers?
His response as rarely as possible if I can help it.
He then went on to tell me that he does excellent work, knows everything there is to know about plant types, turf types, diseases, cures for different diseases, preventative measures for different diseases, how to mow and trim properly, how to prune properly, etc
In other words, he definitely knew what he was doing and he made it clear he trained all of his employees well.
The problem was obvious to me he provided his service well, but was not a very good service provider.
I asked him if he had schedules and systems for maintaining trucks and equipment he fired back definitely every Tuesday and Saturday. I then asked him if he bills his clients around the same time and in the same manner each month he instantly responded, no doubt I bill the last day of each month with a net 15.
But then the conversation got interesting. I then asked him ok, so how do you talk to your customers or communicate with them in some way?. A bit irritated, he responded, like I said, as rarely as possible.
. well, thats your problem.
I explained that he needs to have a schedule, or a system built into his business for client communication and care just like he takes care of his equipment, his trucks, his invoicing, etc
Many market studies have been done and it has been proven over and over again that people often fire their service providers for no particular reason.
As a service provider it is your job to make it very difficult for people to give you your walking papers. The way to do this is to keep the lines of communication as wide open as possible. If you do not want to do this, you will always have a problem and you should probably not be in the service business. If you cannot do this effectively, find someone who can.
Whether it is on the phone or with a letter, you need to let your clients know you care and let them know they can talk to you and that you are accessible. Ask them what is good and not so good about what you do for them. Get them to open up to you show them you care and you want to be the best at what you do.
This could mean one letter a month, 12 total, and 2 phone calls a year. It will not only allow you to develop a relationship with them, but it will give you some serious insight into what people think of you and what you do for them. You will see trends things will be revealed to you that you probably never would have guessed or figured out on your own.
Im not saying you have to invite them over for dinner, but by communicating with them a level of trust and concern will develop and the likelihood of them mysteriously replacing you will be minimal. It will also make it easier for you when it comes to scheduling, raising prices, etc
People will be more understanding and willing to work with you because they will feel they will not be able to find a service provider who cares and is on the ball like you are
. Of course having reasonable prices and the work being done properly matters too.
You schedule your services, you schedule your equipment and truck maintenance, you schedule your invoicing why not schedule your client communication process the same way with the same concern? It will have an impact
.and below is proof.
Hey Sean I wasnt even going to call you back in October, but I thought what the heck. Turned out our little chat has been a big turning point in my business. I did what you suggested, sent out a letter, asked some questions, and the feedback I got was $#@%^& incedible!!!! Then I sent a Happy Holiday letter to all my customers and for the first time in 10 years I actually received xmas cards from customers. Next month Im sending out a letter asking people if they want anything new in way of services. Thanks again for everything and keep it up at LawnSite.
I started a newsletter last year This is my third year in business. The response was overwhelming. I get more compliments on my newsletter than my services (I'm starting to develop a complex). I make it more fun than sales oriented. Since a majority of my clients are retirees, I include a calendar with holidays, recipe of the month and plenty of jokes. I list the services for the upcoming months and ask for takers.
This year we had a terrible drought. I put in my service for repair work and I made more money for repairs than I did for July and August, the height of the drought.
Great newsletter i was just thinking this morning of ideas to advertise more in 06' great site! and merry christmas
Sean good stuff.
Great Info.... Thanks....
Sean, Great Job! Loved the newsletter and your point of view on branding. Makes a lot of sense. Keep it up, really enjoyed reading it.