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As a young and very inexperienced small business owner, I could use some advice! I am in great need of marketing methods for a lawn business. So far, I have had some success with placing fliers on doors throughout different neighborhoods, but I am looking for ways that can ramp up the results. i would really like to get my business going. I enjoy doing the work, and I really love the FREEDOM that has come along with it. I am very grateful for Dan Miller who, through his ministry, has "motivated and guided me to change career paths. I could not have done without that initial "push" and I still need all the help I can get! Thanks in advance for anyone who has some insight and ideas!

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I'm sure there are other lawn care businesses in your area. Ask yourself, what can you offer to your customers that they don't offer. Give them something that helps you stand out. Like Dan says, "do it at least 10% better than your competition."

As far as marketing methods the obvious one would be create a Facebook page for your business. Offer a giveaway or free service once you hit 100 likes, 200 likes, etc.

I put a list of 101 together when I was desperately trying to grow, Ethan. I started by pulling 2 or 3 from it and doing them very well, then added more.

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Ethan,

I think the lawn care business is a great idea.  I see fliers often for advertising, but I never see fliers that offer tips.  Just take some of the space on the flyer and add a tip.  That would get my attention.  Something simple like "Best time to water your grass". 

Maybe you can leave a tiny bag of grass seed and attach it to the flyer.  That would really get my attention.  I mean really small bags (credit card size).  You would fill the bags just half way with the grass seed.  You can put a label on the bag that says "The grass is always greener when you call Ethan 888-888-8888"

It may sound a little silly but it's memorable.  Hope that helps.

Lisa

Ethan,

Love the way spirit in which you posted this! It looks like you already got some great advice. I especially like Lisa's creative suggestion the grass seed idea! It is something different and a bit fun.

Hmm....what about a great referral program from those that are already customers? Maybe a free mowing for each new referral (don't forget the handwritten thank you note for each referral - how about adding in a handwritten note to your customers once in a while as well - maybe put in a small note on the bottom that your business runs off of referrals and you appreciate their referrals or something like that).

How about expanding your business to include scrub trimming as well? Just a thought as it might be easier to provide outstanding services to your already loyal customers.

Best of luck!

Live Beyond Awesome.

Jen

Tell people that you can show them how to get their grass cut for FREE, all summer long!  Then put together a referral program by which if they refer you to a regular customer, they can earn one free cut for every client once they hit their third cut (or whatever you determine, just to make sure that they are a regular customer and not a one-timer).  If you had to cut some individual's lawn all summer long for free, but you got a ton of other customers from them, you could certainly do that.

Also, just do great work.  Show up when you say that you will, don't run over their garden, pay attention to details, and maybe go above and beyond a bit if you can.  If you see the homeowners there, talk with them and build relationships.  If they have a dog, have some sort of treat for them.  Do little nice things to make yourself stand out as not just a good lawn care guy, but as a good person.  Make an impact, and people will talk about you.  

These comments are on the money. Your current customers will be your best salespeople. Have you seen those ChemLawn signs in beautiful lawns after a service call? Those are a lot more effective than fliers on doors. As many others have mentioned, you can also borrow a page from the satellite TV companies by offering a cash bonus for referrals. Before you do that, however, just giving your current customers 10 business cards each might fill up your schedule without cutting your profit margins. Avoid the temptation to race your competitors to the bottom. Above all, say what you do and do what you say. A bad review on Angie's List could sink your chances. Finally, establish yourself as an expert on lawns by offering to appear on a segment of a local garden show (radio or TV). These programs can be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars in advertising for your business.

Ethan,

Invite a couple of competitors to lunch. They will tell you what worked and what did not work. They will probably even give you some work

Wow! What a ton of great information and inspiration! i greatly appreciate everyone involved in helping out and giving advice. I hope that all of this info can be of great help to many others in similar positions such as mine.

I have been needing to write thank you and referral letters to my current customers; I have been procrastinating but now i now have no excuses (not that I ever did, really). I was wondering for writing letters to one time customers, should I mention anything about going back to do work for them, and have my contact info there at the end of the letter? Are simply thank them for past business and reinforce my name and service without looking like I am trying to push anything on them?


The referral system seems to be simple enough and I think that it could really boost my business. I had thought more on the lines of giving current customers $5 or $10 off each cut for the rest of the season for every referred yard, but maybe the free cut for each one would more appealing.

I would also like to say that, again only speaking with very little experience to this point, I have been astounded by the lack of great service around the area I work in. The competition for lawn service in my area is very, very thick, but at the same time i meet with people who say they simply "gave up" on others because they would show up one week but not the next. I have made it a commitment and a mission of the business to provide excellent service and I have already been noted on it. I believe that with good work ethic plus the right combination of under-promising and over-delivering (which I am still working on) will prove top be one of the greatest marketing tools I have.


I feel nervous and a little intimidated when I think about calling and meeting a competitor face to face. Is this a typical reaction? I am having difficulty picturing a comfortable conversation with them, as I see them as being competition driven and not willing to give that kind of information freely. i am acquainted with a couple though, so perhaps I should begin with those.

I have also thought the chemLawn type signs because a few of my current yards are in great locations on semi-major intersections. I see those types signs on trees and power lines poles at city owned intersections, and I am wondering how that works? Is it legal to place signs in public areas like that? Some stay a while and some are gone the next day, but i never see who actually puts them up or takes them down.

The grass seed plan sounds like a winner! I really like it all around and I will implement it immediately! I know it would certainly stand out among %90 of marketing tactics that I see on a daily basis.

Thanks again to everyone who helped out!

Hi Ethan, and congrats on taking the initiative to strike out on your own. The lawn business can be very lucrative. I really dont like the "posting fliers on the front door" idea. That to me is a cop out cheapo advertising idea. Thats not really marketing. For one thing , most people rarely go out of or check their front door. I have literally seen phone books, religious materials, fliers, etc. that look like they had been there for months! I suggest you utilize a very old, antiquated, more direct method of advertising. The US Postal Service. Heres what to do. Take along with you a mini digital voice recorder. As you are driving and pass by a residence or business where you would like their business, speak into the recorder, the address "2365 Hillsboro Pike" for example. Then when you are at home, you address the dozen or more that you have for that day, on a 8x6 or so color post card that has a photo of a beautiful lawn on one side and your contact/business info on the other. Yes, this is not free. But it is a more direct approach, and it will work. I guarantee you will have more business than you can handle.That puts into the mind of the customer that you are willing to take the time and care to do their yard. They will be pleasantly surprised when they get that post card. No one does that anymore.

I just want to second Ralph's advice. Direct response marketing is a very effective way to get new clients. Not only does it work but you can monitor your efforts to see what your ROI is (i.e. when you mail out 20 post cards you normally get 5 leads). Then you know whenever you need 5 new leads you just need to mail out 20 cards. 

Ethan, You might consider going to www.score.org and sign up for newsletters and webinars, snd perhaps getting a SCORE Mentor    If there is a Small Business Development center close you could check them out. Arrange A meetingwith a SCORE mentor if possible.Some books are Entreprenuer's Lwn care guide and Michael Gerber's ".-Myth the idea behind "THe E-Myth is that just because you are a good technician does not mean you know how to run a business.Marketing books as"Marketing For Dummies " could be useful.There is a website where you can download books for free. it is www.freeee-books.net  Check out their free ones using Facebook and social media marketing.books. You might also look at "World Wide Rave" and "Crush It"The author of "Crush It" is Gary Vaynerchuk  His Video blog is www.winetv.com I think you may need to manage your growth and I think equipment can be an issue. good luck.

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