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When to start getting customers

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by eruuska, Nov 2, 2004.

  1. eruuska

    eruuska LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 454

    Hey everyone,

    Help me out here. I'm starting up in the spring, and I'd like to hit the ground running with 30 customers. Maybe that's more than I can reasonably expect, but it's still what I'd like. I had been planning on canvassing my town and one other with door hangers and then following up with a mailing. I'm now assembling a mailing list using data from www.reverseaddress.com. You can go there and enter a street and a ZIP Code, and it'll give you all the listed phone numbers with names and addresses on that street. I'm going to be done with 2 towns with total population of about 7000 in the next few days.

    I don't have any handheld equipment yet, and I don't plan on getting my insurance policy until maybe February or March (before I do any actual work, or course). I don't have any sort of uniform yet either.

    But as usual, I'm getting impatient. That is a problem with me. Once I get an idea in my head I can't sit still and just wait. I gotta get going and do something about it.

    Would it be a bad thing to go ahead and start sending out mailings to the people on my list now, and start collecting contracts for next spring? Is it too early for that? Bear in mind that before I start working I will be legit (insurance, proper taxes paid, etc.), and will have the full complement of handheld equipment. I'll start using homeowner-type mowers but plan on replacing them at my first opportunity.

    Please tell me whether I'm an idiot or not.

  2. Team Gopher

    Team Gopher LawnSite Platinum Member
    from -
    Messages: 4,040

    Hi Eric,

    Good for you. Why should you wait? How about getting out there now and advertising services you can do starting today? You could hang holiday lighting. Or come up with other ideas. Then you will have a jump start on spring with all these potential customers.
  3. eruuska

    eruuska LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 454

    Team G,

    As usual, terrific advice. I had a lot of time in the car today, and consequently lotsa thinkin' time. I had to go do some maintenance work at a vacant house we own about 1.5 hours from us (long story), and today was gutter cleaning day.

    Anyone do any gutter cleaning work? I always cleaned my mother in law's gutters, and if I didn't do it I don't know who would have. Today I did about 60 linear feet of absolutely filthy gutters in about 20 minutes. I'm sure with a little practice I could knock that down to about 10 or 15 minutes, and I bet people would pay $20-$30 for this.



    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    There's always been a demand for gutter cleaning in my area. If I could just work up the nerve to get up on some of these roofs...

    There's one company near me that does nothing but gutter cleaning year-round. They run maybe 8-10 crews from what I can see. They advertise $35-$75 for an "average" house, whatever that is. I've watched them in action, usually 2 guys at it for no more than 10 minutes.

    Now, for the cheaper forms of advertising, like flyers/door hangers, why not give it a try now? Anybody I've ever talked to in marketing has told me that you need to hit an area multiple times to get the best response. After getting your flyer a few times they will begin to recognize it and not immediately throw it in the trash. So at the least a round of advertising now could be "setting you up" for the Spring.
  5. pbillings

    pbillings LawnSite Member
    Messages: 50

    Hoolie.....Ive been told on this website and other people I know, "not to advertise until mid feb. or early march." I thought it would be better to get those door hangers out and post cards in the mail now and then hit it again right before spring. Like you said, "hitting an area multiple times." So, maybe it won't be a waste of my time starting now?

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981


    Its true that you won't get nearly the response now that you'll get in the Spring, and maybe zero response in the dead of winter. But a couple rounds of flyers/doorhangers between now and March may give you a better than anticipated response come Spring.

    Plus, there are always people that don't get around to cleaning up the leaves. You could drive around and look for yards like this in the winter.

    I mean, I wouldn't spend a fortune on advertising during the off-season, but people do switch companies and look for new LCOs at all different times of the year.
  7. tinman

    tinman LawnSite Bronze Member
    from ga
    Messages: 1,346

    We do gutters (inside & out if wanted) If I'm pressure washing it I do most of the blowing out with the washer, unless the house is cut up & would make a bigger mess by blowing wet leaves all over the house. In that case we just clean em out by hand. For high work I use a guy that works for my Dad (painting). He's used to ladders & high roofs & is a great help.
    For a small house , not high at all, that I already do lawn service for , probably $30 to clean out leaves (60 if not a customer). $150 to clean inside & out ( Cleaning the gutters in / out takes about as long as washing the entire house)
  8. billc

    billc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 119

    If you can afford them, have magnetic business cards printed. If your door-hanger is card stock, a dollop of rubber cement will hold the card to the door-hanger and make it easy to remove. The home owner keeps the magnet on his refrigerator (does anyone ever have enough of these?) and when spring rolls around he's been staring at your name and number all winter. Hit them again with the door hangers and you should get good results.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    One of my customers owns a home remodeling company. I thought this was clever, he plasters the back of his truck with magnetic business cards. Painted on the truck are the words "Take One Please". When you look closer to realize all these business cards are stuck to the side of the truck. He said a lot of neighbors passing by stop and take one.

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