Do this and you won’t have to worry about “what if my marketing doesn’t work”…
This question is about the fear of putting out door hangers or marketing pieces, blowing the money, and it not working. It is a very valid fear.
This individual says they refuse to work for anyone and they’re determined to make it on their own. I think that’s absolutely fantastic! I think you should do everything necessary and put whatever amount of time, hours, heartache, frustration, and expense you have to commit to this. You should do it to make this happen. It will set you up for a completely different life down the road.
I think you’re going down the right path.
This is a fear that everybody has. I’ve even had it. I’ve lost plenty of money making mistakes. Unfortunately, that’s how we generally learn.
I’m going to give you a piece of advice that you probably won’t like. But, if you follow it, you will be successful. The reason that your marketing won’t work, whether it’s direct mail, door hangers, or whatever the media is, you’ve got to make sure you’re going after people that can buy your service. Make sure you are in the right market. If these people can buy from you, if they can afford you, if they have a need, for example. The best way for you to figure that out is if you already have tons of competitors in that neighborhood, or in that area. If you have tons of competition right there … and I mean tons … then there’s a need. That’s the perfect market. You don’t look for a market where there aren’t competitors. You look for the market where there’s the most competition, because that means there’s huge need.
It is the message that matters. Of course media plays a part because you want to make sure it gets read and you want to make sure it gets seen. You want to make sure it doesn’t go straight in the trash. But, the message is the most important part.
This is where the advice comes in that may not be so exciting. How do you perfect your message? If you want to communicate and you want to make this stuff work, then you have to be saying things to your prospective client that resonates with them. What is it that you have to say to make people get off the couch and go to their computer to request an estimate? That’s really what this comes down to. If you think about it in those simple terms, you’ll be able to figure this out.
What would it take to get your prospect to take action? Be really realistic about this. What would it take? Let’s say somebody’s selling you something, not lawn care, because you know lawn care, but something else completely different. What if someone wanted to come to your home and wash your car every week? That’s a luxury that most people might not spend money on. So, what is it that I would have to say to you that would be so convincing that you would spend 35 or 40 bucks a week, or whatever that number is, for me to come to your house and wash your car every week? You’ve got to really think about it in those terms. That type of thinking is what you apply to solving the problem of insuring that your material is going to work.
The way you do this is you go knock on doors. It’s the fastest, easiest way. Just go knock on some doors. Tell yourself that this is a test. You may not sell anything, but you are going to learn an incredible amount just by knocking on doors. You’re not looking to make sales here. Sales are a bonus. What you’re hoping for is to figure out what people object to. When you ask to mow their lawn or take over their pest control, what is the objection that they say? Are they too busy, do they like their existing company, do they maintain it on their own? What are the objections? You’re listening for that.
Then you’re listening to what their frustrations are. They don’t like lawn companies, nobody remembers to close the gate, they accidentally scalped my yard or burned my lawn with chemicals. Listen to their complaints.
Next, listen to their dislikes. Are they looking for a bigger, well known company? Are they looking for a company that has uniforms and painted trucks? These are things you’re not really going to hear, but they’re examples of dislikes. What is it that they dislike about you? What is it they dislike about your competition?
With that, you’re concluding what their fears are. Their fears are that they’re going to overpay. Their fears are that you’re not going to do a good job. Their fears are that they’re going to switch lawn care companies again and you’re going to once again let them down like every other lawn care company has. Their fears are that they don’t know if your people are trustworthy and honest. Their fears are that you’re not really going to show up on the day that you promise. Their fears are on, and on, and on.
So, you’re looking for their objections. What do they dislike about me or my competitors? What are their complaints about companies like me? From that, you conclude their fears. This lets you craft the message. They have a checklist in their mind that are their buying criteria. When you, on your marketing piece, address all these things, so you preempt their objections, you position yourself to win this game.
The question isn’t really, “How do I ensure that I’m not going to make a mistake and waste my money, and my marketing’s not going to work?” The real question is, “How do I minimize it? How do I take the most risk out of this process of marketing?” The way you do that is you make sure you’re going after the right market with tons of competition. Then, you make sure you’re going after that market at the right time of year. Don’t sell me mowing in winter. Don’t sell me fertilization and weed control in winter. Don’t sell me irrigation when I don’t have an irrigation system in my lawn and you’re selling me repair work. You get the idea. Sell it at the right time of year. Sell me something that I can actually buy. Address and preempt my objections, my fears, my frustrations, and then give me a reason to do it.
I’ll add two more. Give me a reason to do it. Why in the world should I take action with you now? Why should I not just wait until next year? Why should I not just wait another month? Remember. It’s a hassle for me to drop my current company and go with you. Why should I work with you now? You’ve got to give me a compelling reason to do it. Just addressing my objections is not enough. You might have to give me something…a bonus, a gift, a freebie, something. Twenty-five dollars free to mow your lawn is not very exciting. You’ve got to get me something to make me move.
I’ll leave with this. On that marketing piece, how do you get me to look at your marketing piece over the other three that are on my door right now? How do you stand out, catch my attention, and get read. Why do I keep your piece, and throw your three competitors in the trash? How do you get me to notice you above every other piece on my door, all the other noise that’s happening in my mailbox and on my door? That’s the stuff you work on.
When you figure that out, then you’ve nailed it and you’ll minimize your risk. You’ll minimize your mistakes. Even the pros screw this up. There is no high-dollar marketing person that you can hire that will get it right all the time. There are so many variables. You will make mistakes. This is a game. You’re not just doing marketing once. You’re doing marketing over years, and years, and years. You’re going to have some screw-ups and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s part of the game, but the wins build the business. The wins make you rich. The wins give you a great lifestyle.
You’re playing the game to minimize risk and achieve as many wins as possible. The best way to do it is just get out there and start testing in small samples. Try little things. The way you learn the fastest is to go talk to people, hear what they say, and apply that to your marketing. Then, read marketing books. On LawnCareMillionaire, you can download my free ebook. That has the 34 best, most important books that I’ve read. A bunch of those books are about marketing. Read every book on that list and do everything I just said. You will be successful and you will make a minimal number of marketing mistakes. Good luck.
Watch this video to learn Jonathan’s number one lawn care marketing tip.
When I’m asked to critique a door hanger, postcard, website, some type of marketing piece, the most common thing that I see is that piece is trying to do too much. It’s trying to say too much. It’s trying to be too much. When I say it’s trying to say too much, I don’t mean that it’s too wordy because I often find that a lot of copy and text works well when combined with the right imagery.
What I mean by trying to say too much is, it’s possibly trying to give so much information that it’s trying to go straight for the sell. It’s trying to give price, all the benefits, five different ways to get a hold of you, and what’s being imagined when that piece was created is how can I get them to sign up for my service?
Really, the way you want to think about it, and so this is a really important tip in whatever marketing piece you create, what is the next action that you want them to take? The final outcome, the goal is to sell. You want them to sign up but you have to move them, this prospect, forward in baby steps. You’ve got to make it effortless, so the reality is that when they receive your door hanger on their door or a postcard in their mailbox, all you really want them to do is to pick up the phone and call you, visit your website and fill out an estimate form or, send you an email. It’s probably one of those three things.
The real purpose of your marketing piece is to get them to do that. It’s not to go for the sale. That’s why it’s not always necessary to put pricing material onto your marketing piece. You don’t need them to know the pricing yet because you’re not going to make the sale yet. All I need them to do, all you need them to do is contact you. When they contact you, you can give them the next set of selling points that they need to hear. You can tell them about the benefits. You can answer their objections.
Then you can give them price because yes, they do need price eventually to make that buying decision, but they may not need it initially. That’s why in most of my marketing pieces I never run the price. It’s not necessary. The only thing I need them to do is contact me. Then the sales team will take the next step, or if they’re sending in a request for an estimate, then our sales team and our estimators or whomever will take that next step. But, all that marketing piece is supposed to do is get them to contact you.
When you think about it that way, that can allow you to mentally focus on that one task, and you can get all the unnecessary language and copy and text off of that marketing piece and focus just on that one mission. If you think about it that way, it will simplify the process that you have to go through to create a marketing piece. It’ll tell you mentally exactly what you’re trying to accomplish and how to go about that, and then you’ll find that your marketing is more successful.
Question: “I’m just getting started. How can I create immediate income in my lawn care business?“
One of the great things about the landscape industry is that you really can create immediate income.
You can go out and get work versus waiting for it to come to you. As a result it is possible to find work quickly.
All you have to do is walk down the street, knock on doors, introduce yourself and tell the story of your company. It takes a small bit of courage, but it works!
If you are selling commercial, you walk in the door and ask for the business. You ask to bid the property.
If they don’t need you now (most won’t), find out when their existing agreement expires or when the contract will go out for bid. Put that date on your calendar and follow up months in advance to ensure you have an opportunity to participate in the bidding process.
Don’t forget to ask for the name of the person who will make the decision.
These are the three fastest ways to get immediate income:
1) Knock on doors.
2) Put out door hangers. If you don’t have money, pass them out yourself.
3) Build a high quality website and run PPC ads. Google the term Adwords to learn more.
Let’s assume during the start up phase you are in the field 40% of the week. You don’t have enough work to fill up an entire week. So, the other 60% of the week you need to spend your time prospecting for new business.
I’ve heard many say when you are starting out, price low. Then, once you earn some business and your customers trust you, raise your prices.
Start out pricing yourself near the middle of the market or higher.
If you price too low, as you start growing, you will not have any money to hire help. You won’t have money to buy good eqiupment. You won’t have money to advertise your business.
You will get trapped in the field if you don’t have money.
Long term, the only way to make a lot of money is to get yourself out of the field and pay others to do all of the field work.
As you grow you will have less and less time to focus on sales and marketing. You MUST constantly replace yourself in the field by hiring help.
Doing so frees up more of your time to seek out new business.
If you stop marketing and selling, your revenue stream will dry up.
Each time you replace yourself in the field, resume exactly what made you successful in the first place…knocking on doors, distributing door hangers, online marketing, asking for referrals, etc.
As you hire ‘guys’ to help, demand hard work and quality. Don’t accept poor or slow work. If you look at an employee and realize that you could do that job in 30% the time it takes them, you’ve hired the wrong person.
There are plenty of great guys. A lot of those guys will surprise you by out-working you.
Don’t settle for mediocre people. It will kill your business and burn you out.
Once you hire your first foreman and have successfully replaced yourself with a self-operating crew, you have accomplished a major milestone.
Repeat this several times, price correctly, and you will find you have the money to hire an operations person to help you run the business.
Once you reach this point you are well on your way.
You will be ahead of most of your peers in the industry.
Watch this video and learn what makes customers remember you in your market.
Are you highly visible in your market? As you’re looking at your trucks today, pay attention to how they show when someone that doesn’t know you sees your trucks on the road. Or, if you have a whole bunch of white trucks, is that doing anything to constantly pound your name into your prospective client’s mind?
Just as important, when you send out marketing, or another client refers you, you want the person, the prospect, to have an association with your company. If I refer you to my friend, you want my friend to have thought, oh yeah, those are the guys I see all the time. I have see them.
That gives them confidence. That makes them feel like they’re making a safe, wise choice. So, running around in an all-white or all-black truck…well, if you’re my competitor, it’s awesome. I would prefer that you continue doing that. But, if you’re not my competitor, I’d suggest that you don’t do that.
Here’s a simple black truck and just look what the pink accents do to this truck. I guarantee if you have five of these running around, people will remember you. Your marketing will work better, referrals will work better, all kinds of things will work better.
Being remembered is important and when you’re seen, you need to be able to be easily differentiated from everyone else in your marketplace.
Listen to this lawn care door hanger critique to optimize your marketing and get more customers.
I am critiquing this door hanger, and giving feedback. Originally there was a phone number at the top left, in the center there was a logo, and at the right there was a web address. Down below it said “call today”. It had a phone number, it said “visit us” and it had a web address. I’ve removed the identifying information, and I’m critiquing this door hanger for an individual. You can listen to my feedback. This is in no specific order and I’m not going from notes. I’m just going to go down through here and give some pointers.
On this door hanger there’s no door hanger hole and I personally think that is ideal. I don’t believe you want a door hanger hole, so I think that’s good. In certain markets you may feel that you need one, but generally I don’t see most door hanger companies using the hole to hang the door hanger on the doorknob. That’s good that gives you more space. In your email you mentioned that on the other side of this door hanger you were going to use some pretty pictures and some imagery. My suggestion would be that you use some imagery on both sides, and also that both sides have some compelling information.
Whether the door hanger has a hole, or you rubber band it to the door, what you don’t know is which direction this will hang on the door or which side will face out. You can imagine that the individual grabs the mail off their door and they walk it to their trashcan in the kitchen. You don’t know which direction your door hanger will be facing as they’re holding that and walking your door hanger to the trash. For that reason I recommend that your door hanger has a headline and something compelling at the top on both sides.
My first thought on this is at the top you have a phone number, your logo, your web address, and so it could be that that’s the first thing I see. But, nothing about that communicates to me what’s in it for me. So, you have just a couple minutes to catch my attention. Your main hope with this piece is that I am in need of lawn care, and when I see this I think to myself, “Well, lawn care’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’ll call these guys.” You’re banking on lawn care, and the words “landscape” and “lawn care” to resonate with me because I have immediate need. But, that’s the only way you’d grab me at this moment with this piece.
My suggestion would be that at the top, you have some type of a headline that grabs my attention, and states a benefit to me. That headline could be what you’re going to do for me, what problem you’re going to solve, or some type of promotional benefit of what I’m going to get. Such as, if I sign up for lawn service, I’m going to get a free iPod shuffle or something along those lines to catch my attention. But, you’ve only got a couple seconds to do it, and it needs to be at the top. I’d recommend that same statement to be on both sides because you don’t know which side I’ll be looking at as I walk your door hanger into the house to the trashcan. That’s point number one.
You need to think about what your client’s number one, two, and three wants are, what their top one, two or three fears are, and you need to answer those in the headline. Give them some reason that they should contact you versus anyone else. If I’m your competitor and my door hanger’s on the door with yours, why is yours going to get their attention over mine? You need to have some type of headline that pulls them in, gets them to read, and continue reading this door hanger.
If for your services you have lawn maintenance, landscapes, snow removal, and then you have some additional services down here. I think that is important to call out the specific services that you offer. You don’t have a price on here, anything like that and I think that’s perfectly okay. What you’re doing here is you’re calling out the key services so that if I have a need, I see these and I think, “Oh this might be for me”, and I continue reading. Good job with that. I would continue that. You might try a slightly different design. Let me come back to that, let me mention design.
If you’re going to print ten thousand of these and you’re going to distribute them, you’re going to have some cost. I would recommend spending one or two hundred dollars, or some amount of money, and get somebody to quickly put together the design for you. I know you’re running out of time here, but it could make all the difference in your results. By spending a couple hundred dollars you could potentially double your response rate. I would absolutely have somebody help you with the design of this. The cost could be all over the board. They could lay it out in Photoshop or Illustrator or professional software and they could get it laid out in font. They could use all the same font types and they could make it look really nice for you and bring in some imagery and your logo and make it look like you’re a large operation.
This is not doing justice in appearance to your business. In terms of what you actually are as a business, this doesn’t look nearly as professional as you are or nearly as professional as your website. Your website looks really professional, but this doesn’t communicate that same message. I would recommend having a designer try to bring that same level of look and feel and professionalism to this, so that when I see this I get immediate confidence that this is a professional company. I would spend the money on that. I’ll just focus on copy from here on out.
The reason I said all that is, within that design I would probably somehow bullet point or call out the services here. It’s maybe not the first focus point. The first focus point, the biggest copy, the thing that my eye falls on, should be the headline. Then this would be another focus point, but not the primary one, somewhere on here where all the services that you offer are grouped together. That would be one thing I’d do.
The direction you’re going with an interesting fact, that’s a good one. Your thought process, in my opinion, is good. I hope you don’t take offense to anything I say here in terms of critiquing this. I would go a different direction based on what I’ve learned. I don’t know your market, so it may be different. My hunch is that you’re not trying to convince the guy that doesn’t have his lawn mowed to suddenly start hiring a company to mow his law, or provide whatever service you’re trying to sell. Rather, your buyer is most likely someone that already has lawn care company, has already decide that it’s worth spending the money, and doesn’t need to be convinced; they’re your easiest sell. I would market to them.
For example, if I was competing against you in your market and you gave me 20 home owners that don’t buy lawn care and haven’t in the last three years, or you gave me a list of 20 home owners that buy lawn care and have been buying lawn care for the last 5 years, I would only market to those people and I’d ignore the 20 that don’t buy lawn care. There are a small number of them that will convert and most that do convert may not stay with it long term. I don’t even want to focus my energy on them. You don’t know who those individuals are when you’re putting out your door hangers, so you need to at least craft your message to your most likely buyer and your most likely buyer already has a lawn service.
The direction here is good. An alternative would be to speak directly to that individual that has lawn service now. What is their concern going to be? Their concern is going to be that my gates are not being closed, that the last lawn care company that I had, the one that I’m looking to replace, doesn’t show up consistently, that the company I have now when there are weather delays or problems they don’t tell me what they’re doing or when I can expect them. They just show up, they don’t answer their phone when I call, I never get my invoicing on time, it’s always a different individual at my home and the work is never consistent. You could go down the list of the complaints you’ve heard from your potential clients about the companies they’ve been working with and that’s why they’re calling you. Answer those objections here.
What you’re doing with the interesting fact, great idea, but how could you tell me some of the benefits that I’m going to get. Bullet pointed lists work well on this stuff; it’s easy to read. It’s easier to read a bullet point list and it’s easier for the mind to quickly sort it out then it is to have to read several paragraphs. It might be that you bullet point out some differences and why we’re your best solution.
That’s another point. I would use more of “you” in this. This is about “you” as in the client. When you’re talking, make sure you’re using a lot of words like “you” instead of words like, “we”, “our”, “us”. Try to shift the writing just a little bit so you’re focused on the person that’s reading it, because it’s about them. You might make your headline something like, “You will receive this”, “you will get this”. Something, again, about them, that’ll be part of the headline. Then, make your bullet points, again, something about them. “You will experience this.” “You will get this if you use our company.” List out the ways you’re different than everyone they’ve used in the past. Tell them what the services are that you offer, and then give them a reason to take action with you.
“Spring is right around the corner. We are now booking our lawn mowing accounts for the year. So call today.” My critique here would be yes, you’re reminding them that spring is right around the corner. Again, I hope you don’t think I’m being too harsh. Where I’m going with this is I don’t know if “Spring is right around the corner” is necessary to say. They know it. The reason I say that is, one thing I’ve learned, and I don’t necessarily do a good job at this, is I’ve heard that great writing is about editing out every unnecessary word. I tend to be a wordy person and so I don’t think I’m necessarily good at that. I’m thinking that maybe this doesn’t help sell anything. I would probably edit those words out and focus on just power words and bigger things that you need to communicate because you have limited space.
Where I felt like you were going, “We are now booking our lawn mowing accounts for the year.” You could go a couple directions with this. One, maybe you are trying to say that “We serve your neighborhood and I’ve got one crew available. We can accept 14 more accounts in your market, in your area, in your zip code, in your city, and then we’re filled up for the year.” Maybe there is some angle like that where you can tell me, “You need to respond right away if you want to do business with our company.” At the top you lay out in the headline the benefits of why I should use you. In the middle, you tell me what you can do for me and why my experience with you is going to be different. Why are you better than all your competitors? Then, at the bottom give me a reason to take action immediately. One could be that it’s limited, in some way there’s a limitation. If I don’t take immediate action I’ll miss out, there’s scarcity. That could be that we only have one crew in your market and there are only this many slots left on that crew and we won’t have availability until next year.
Then can you give me something? If I sign up and I become your client, could I get something from you? You have to imagine what those things might be that you could give away, that you’re comfortable giving away. I don’t tend to like things like $5 off, or the second mowing free. People do that and I think it works, but I think you can come up with something little bit more powerful. What is an account worth to you? What could you potentially give them that would be of value to them? You want to work maybe those two things in. Can you create some scarcity? They need to call you right now or they’re going to miss out. Then, what do they get if they call you over the other door hanger?
If I’m looking at these two door hangers and they both look about the same, the companies feel about the same and appear to be pretty good, then why is it that you’re going to get the call over the other one? What can you give them to get them to call you? Maybe it’s as simple as promising you answer the phone and you’ll get them an estimate the day of. That’s pretty difficult to do in spring. Think about that and those points.
I would put your headline and such at the top. At the bottom, that’s where I think our logo, your name, phone number and email address or web address is most important. I would make the top a headline versus your logo and your name. Again, it’s all about them. They don’t really care who you are until after they start working with you and like you. Right now your logo means nothing to them. My logo at CitiTurf means nothing to anybody, nobody cares. What they care about is what they’re going to get and how they’re going to benefit. I make it all about them at the top and then have your stuff more towards the bottom.
Continuing on with your second piece, just a different version. I again, would say that make sure you use both sides. You have room to put copy on both sides of this piece. On both sides you want to have your headline, and on both sides you want to have your web address, your phone number, potentially your logo. Then you could vary the copy in the middle. I’m picturing a headline at the top, phone number, web address, things of that sort at the bottom on both sides, and then the middle could change.
I would like to see, in my opinion, some imagery on both sides. It doesn’t have to be a lot, maybe a nice use of color, things of that sort. I’ve violated what I’m about to say with success, but I tend to prefer black copy not white reverse copy. Not a black door hanger with white copy. It tends to be a little more difficult to read.
Continuing on here. The nice thing about this is that lawn maintenance, landscapes, snow removal, are right at the top. I immediately know what you do. That’s important. Your headline should probably include lawn care or something like that in it, that way I immediately know what you do as I’m walking your piece to the trash. It might make me pause and think, “Actually, I’m looking for a lawn care company. Maybe I should read this.”
A couple things I’d like to see you do on this…105% lawn mowing guarantee, what does that mean to me? What does it mean exactly? It would be nice if you made that guarantee a bit more powerful and said, “It’s 105% money back guarantee!” meaning that if you are dissatisfied with our service and for any reason we can’t make it right, then we will pay you back the full amount of that service that you paid us for, plus 5%. Maybe even with your picture next to it to make it a bit more of a powerful guarantee.
GT Lawns loves cutting grass and it shows. I would say on this one, this is more about you then it is about me. How could you re-position this line to make this to my benefit? Right there you’re talking about yourself, 33 years, that’s okay in my mind because you’re building credibility. Again, this “still having fun” is a little bit about you. Not that it’s bad, it’s just how could you maybe reword this to make it about me and what I get out of this? I get to work with a company that has 33 years of experience, I get to work with a company that has a strong reputation taking care of high profile properties in my local market. What are those big benefits that you can communicate to me and word in such a way that it’s about me and not so much about you? That’s definitely something I’ve learned over time, is make it about them.
I think that talking about your people, your training is valuable. I think that it’s worth mentioning that. I think sometimes we have to be a little more clear on what that means to them. For example, why do I care that you train your people? That’s definitely something I’ve learned. We spend all our time in this business so a lot of times when we picture what we’re saying … for example, we have a visual picture that goes with the words we’re saying such as, where was it, “detail is in the people”. You have a mental picture in your mind of what that means because you’ve been doing this business for so long. But, Mrs. Smith hasn’t the faintest idea what you’re doing and actually thinks what you’re doing is very easy and doesn’t put value into how hard what you do is. The “detail is in the people” might mean nothing to her. Who knows what that picture in her head will be.
Sometimes when you say something like “we train our people”, it’s not so much “we train”, it needs to be repositioned as a statement of benefit, such as “we background check our people” . I would not say it this way but, “We background check our people to protect your family” or something along that line. Background check is the word you want to use but what does that mean to me? What that means to me is that you’re not going to put anybody on my property that you haven’t checked out and you’re not 100% certain that I do not have any concerns about them being around my home, my belongings, or my family.
When it comes to training, what does that mean to me? That means that you’re going to actually close my gates, that I’m going to get a consistently well mowed lawn every single week, there’s not going to be route marks, there’s not going to be debris left in the yard, that the edging is going to be good. What does that training mean to me? You’ve got to almost paint the picture of what that means. State that as a benefit.
When it comes to services, I even like to state the service as a benefit. You can say lawn care, but maybe you want to say something along the line of “beautiful weed free healthy lawn” or “we make your flowers brilliant”, I don’t know, that’s not a good word. How could you state even flower installation in a different way? How could you state flower installation in a different way? Let me add this…you do lawn care, what’s the result of lawn care? You’ll end up with a well manicured, healthy lawn. What’s the benefit of snow removal? It will ensure you can get out of your driveway and eliminate the risk that you slip and fall. Or, however you want to say that. Tell me what the benefit is. You can work the benefit and the word snow removal into one sentence and outline what you can do for me.
I would go back through this, work on some headlines, work on maybe restating some of these services into bullet points. Then I would also think about why you are better than all of your competitors and tell me what those reasons are. Why should I do business with you? Just lay it out for me and then give me a reason. Here you’re making an attempt, our schedule fills up in April, you’re making an attempt to tell me that I better hurry up or you’re going to be full in April. You’re creating some scarcity and reasons for me to take action. Maybe you could define that just a little bit better and make it a little bit more clear to me why your schedule filling up in April matters. Such as, my example I used earlier, you have one truck in my neighborhood this year or you’ve got 14 spots available, do I want one? Historically they’re filled by April 17 every year, or something like that. Tell me why I should take action.
Charging Higher Prices Benefits Your Clients… The Video Above Explains Why.
The question is, “How much do I charge a lawn care client? I don’t want to overcharge or undercharge for landscape services.”
The main point I want to make about this topic is that you absolutely don’t want to be the low-priced company.
When you are the low-price solution provider, you can’t hire the best employees, have the best trucks and equipment, or spend the most money on marketing to out-market everybody else. You can’t afford to do all those things that ultimately make you a much better company at customer service. If you can’t afford the best employees because you don’t charge enough, then you don’t really have a good business. Great employees make your life easy.
Your strategy should be to be one of the higher-priced providers in your market. Not because you’re gouging your clients, but so that you can deliver incredible service to your clients. Most clients expect very little out of a lawn care business. If you can deliver anything better than the norm, you have the chance to wow them. You have the chance to get a lot of referrals and really grow your business.
Strategically, go in with the goal to be an average- to high-priced service provider. Start out average to learn the business. Get in the marketplace and study your competition. Use your competition as your guideline for quoting and for pricing. Use those same prices with your clients. Then study your own business. Learn your own business so you know how to price effectively.
If you have no knowledge whatsoever about pricing, there’s really no magic formula that says charge $55 per man-hour and this is what you do to figure out exactly how many hours there are going to be on the job. It’s all a learning experience. It’s about getting burned a couple of times and then never making those mistakes again. It’s about asking clients what they paid previously. It’s about price shopping your competition. It’s about having your friends ask the competition to come out and do an estimate at their home so that you can learn what they would charge. It’s about doing whatever you’ve got to do to figure out how to price.
Again, no magic solution, you just have to get out there and see what others are charging. Go on their websites and look around. You’ll start to build a feel. If you’re starting out first in residential, it’s really easy to figure out pricing.
Commercial, that’s a whole different deal and is a lot more difficult. That’s why I generally don’t recommend somebody that is just starting out in the lawn care industry to begin on the commercial side until you’ve got your feet wet. You have to understand the relationship of time to square footage, time to man production, time to equipment size, and then task the right equipment and the right size to the right property and the right area on the property. You also have to make sure you have the right guys working on the right task at each property. It’s a whole different game.
I recommend starting out in residential where it’s easy to figure out what your competition’s charging. Then go into the market and charge the average to get your feet wet. Learn the business for yourself. Then before you know it your pricing questions all go away.
If that doesn’t help, please ask another question and I’ll be happy to clarify again.
Watch this video to learn the best time to distribute door hangers.
This question comes from David and it has to do with the timing of placing door hangers and marketing on homes. He has been waiting until the “perfect” time to put out his door hangers but has noticed that competitors have already taken over some of the properties in the neighborhoods that he wants to target. He wonders if he should continue to wait and follow his schedule or if he should go ahead and get his marketing out there.
If I’m targeting, and aggressively going after a neighborhood, then I would think in terms of putting out door hangers, and other marketing, more than once.
The ideal time generally, to market lawn mowing, is when the grass is just starting to grow, the weeds are just started to pop up, and the weather is just starting to warm up. It feels like suddenly the birds are chirping and spring is happening and the grass is going to go from dormant to a little bit of green in the next week or two. Right there, at that moment, is the ideal time.
Now, if you’re doing fertilization and weed control, then you back up. There is an earlier time point that makes sense because weeds have already started to pop through the dormant grass and so homeowners and commercial properties are already thinking about this. If it’s pest control, or irrigation it’s different and so on.
Let’s just use a simple example of mowing. There is an opportune time. If you have a budget and all you can do is put out one or two blocks of door hangers or letters, then you wait till the time that will give you the highest probability of selling the most work.
Who cares that you’re going to lose a job here or there? Who cares? You want to go after the most. You will lose the work on the early movers. You’ll lose the late movers as well. So be it. But, you need to put your door hangers out at the time when the greatest number of people are going to be receptive, and so you don’t want to panic. Don’t worry about the early movers.
Now, the ideal scenario is that you have enough door hangers or enough letters to put them out more than once. David mentioned that he was putting out letters.
When I hear letters, I generally think of something you could produce on your own or at very low cost. Also when I hear, it’s a neighborhood across the street, I think, if you’re just starting out, you could put those out yourself and could do it 7 times if you had to. If that’s the scenario, then don’t wait. Get your letters out now, and then get them out again in 2 weeks, and then get them out again in 2 weeks. I mean own it. Pound that neighborhood. If it’s a good one, then it’s one you want to own.
The answer to your question David, comes down to your budget. If you have virtually no money, and for whatever reason you can’t print more of these things, then you wait until the absolute best moment when the greatest number of people are potential buyers and you don’t worry about those that are moving a little more quickly.
If you have a little bit of money and you can afford it, then you go out and you put them out multiple times. That’s going to give you the highest chance of success. You start a little bit early and you put them out several times. That’s the winning formula. Good luck.
Something to think about today is how are you communicating with your clients. What are you not proactively handling. What I mean by that is, this morning when I was out running before work I stopped and snapped a picture of this lawn with my iPhone. Actually, as I continued running I noticed this exact same problem in a bunch of the lawns throughout my neighborhood. We’re under watering restrictions. We can only water once a week, so everyone watered this morning. In a lot of the lawns the sprinkler head did not fully retract. What happens is, as you know, the grass grows up around the sprinkler head and then the mowers come through and mow the lawn, hit the sprinkler head, break it, we have to fix it. We didn’t do anything wrong but the customer does not understand this problem. They don’t realize this is happening. It’s not their world. They don’t think about it, but we get blamed. When we get blamed they look at it as laziness, or even worse, when we hit the sprinkler head because there was grass all around it, the crews don’t even know, they hit, they break it. Next week they have a gusher in their lawn and they think we’re, again, inept and too lazy to bother to tell them that we caused damage to their property. But again, they don’t fully understand why this happens, how it happens, and why we don’t know about it.
In your business you may or may not have this scenario but you’ve got other scenarios, just like I have other scenarios where innocent things happen, and we just don’t think about communicating those things to the client, so how can you proactively tell your client about this? What could you put on your website? What could you have prepared that when a client complains you could send them a link to a video you recorded explaining the problem, or send them a pre-written email explaining the problem and apologizing, then also telling them “Here’s watch out for in your lawn so you can help us avoid this.”
Being proactive can make all the difference. This is just one example. Think about how this applies to all kinds of different aspects throughout your business. Are you highly visible in your market? As you’re looking at your trucks today, pay attention to how they show when someone that doesn’t know you sees your trucks on the road. Or if you have a whole bunch of white trucks, is that doing anything to constantly pound your name into your prospective client’s mind? Just as important, when you send out marketing or another client refers you, you want the person, the prospect, to have an association with your company. If I refer you to my friend, you want my friend to have thought “Oh yeah, those are the guys I see all the time. I see them.” That gives them confidence. That makes them feel like they’re making a safe, wise choice. Running around in an all-white, all-black truck, while if you’re my competitor is awesome. I would prefer that you continue doing that. But if you’re not my competitor I’d suggest that you don’t do that. Here’s a simple black truck, and just look what the pink accents do to this truck. I guarantee if you have five of these running around, people will remember you. Your marketing will work better, referrals will work better, all kinds of things will work better. Being seen is important, and when you’re seen you need to be able to easily be differentiated from everyone else in your marketplace.
When I was at GIE in Louisville, Kentucky I was reminded that you really don’t want to buy the cool mower. What I mean by that is walking through GIE, and every time I do I’m reminded how many different brands there are, how many manufacturers there are selling walk-behinds and riders. There’s Scag and Toro and Exmark. Those are just my local brands. Then when you get out of those brands there’s Dixie Chopper and Walker and about ten other brands. You probably have a whole different set of brands in your market than I have. It’s so easy to go to the show or hear somebody that you’re talking to on LawnSite or in some other market talking about how great their Gravely is or their Walker or whatever.
It might be fantastic. It may be the mower you wish you could have. But the dilemma is, if you don’t have a dealer right there with you that you can build a great relationship with to get parts overnight, have it fixed immediately, then you really don’t want to buy the cool, best mower that happens to not be in your local market. You’ve really got to buy the best of what’s available to you in your very close proximity of your shop, because when you’re down and you have that much money in a piece of equipment you got to get it back fast. My word of caution is to be careful of the recommendations of friends. Be careful of what you see at the show no matter how great it is. Still only buy what you can easily source parts for that’s right near your shop. Buy only the equipment that you have a local distributor that could fix it right away and it’s not a very far drive for your office. That makes the most financial sense, because labor is where all your money goes, and you want to maximize the efficiency of your labor by keeping them on the very best equipment possible. You got to get it back quick when something goes wrong.
If you’re not using custom trucks and custom truck beds it’s worth taking a look at it. It’s worth considering, especially here over the winter. Optimizing your fleet to give your team in the field the opportunity to be as efficient as possible is smart business. Labor is your number one expense. The more you can drive that down, the more money you make. It’s way cheaper to invest in better equipment, better trucks, better truck beds, than it is to invest in more and more people. Here are several pictures from GIE of custom truck beds. I’m a big believer, as much as you can I think you want to get trailers out of your business as much as you can. Like I said, you want to drive that non-billable time out of your business. The way you do it is by giving your guys a perfect setup to work with by minimizing load and unload time, by making sure they can find all their tools.
This last picture here is from Tony Bass’s company where they sell custom trucks. I don’t know what they cost. I’m not endorsing them. I’ve never actually even met Tony but I’ve heard great things about I’m. He is right. He is completely on to something that custom truck beds in all different forms. They could be open truck beds. They could be on the back of a Ford Ranger. I’ve got a bunch of those. They could be on the back of F150s. I’ve got a bunch of those too. Or they could be on Isuzu MPRs, which again I have a whole bunch of those. Custom truck beds work, and what Tony is selling with this one picture right here, again I can’t endorse it. Don’t know any about it but he is dead right, and you should look at it in your business whether you work with somebody like him or you figure out how to do it yourself. There’s a lot of wisdom in this approach and there’s a lot of wisdom in efficiency and getting trailers out of your business as much as you can.
You want aggressive salespeople. You want people that are going to sell and they’re going to be like a bulldog, and they’re going to get that deal, and they’re going to get it closed. But you can take it too far. I think it’s something to watch out for. As you think about your sales team, growing your sales team, as you think about how you’re selling, here’s a watch-out to be very aware of. This is a picture in the upstairs of our house in our workout room. We had some water. I actually peeled the paint off of it. Wasn’t actually this bad but we could see some bubbling under the paint. We had some water coming in so we had a leak detection company come out and take a look at it. If you open the window and you look outside the window … That’s kind of a mess, I guess from dirt over the years, but you could see that … Well these are just some pictures outside the window where some water was coming in right around the edges.
We just needed to caulk the windows. Really at the end of the day that’s all we needed to do was caulk the windows. I needed to get this fixed right away so I had this leak detection company out. They looked at my window. They told me a scary story about how big of a problem this is and how it was going to ruin all of the walls in my house over time, and I was going to have brick problems and on and on and on. They quoted me a price to take care of this window of $700. It was not only to fix it but it was also to make it right in terms of making sure this could never happen again. They had this special silicone … It wasn’t silicone, it was some kind of special caulk, but they were also going to do some work on the window itself. We actually ended up letting them do it because I just wanted to get it done and I didn’t have time to deal with it. But then they went and looked at all of our other windows. I will say they did a fantastic job. The work was excellent. It was probably more than I needed to spend. Actually, there’s no question it was more than I needed to spend. But then they gave me a quote for $8,000 to make sure that none of my windows had this problem in the future. I’m pretty certain they felt we had some money to spend so they threw out a quote and thought maybe I’d take it.
Well we didn’t take it but we did let them do this one window. Then, while they’re doing this one window, the sales guy, my wife is home and he’s walking around in our house while his team is working. Then he has this fictitious conversation with his daughter on the telephone about how this is worst window situation he’s ever seen in a house of this type, and how terrible it is, and how the builder screwed us over, and how the alarm company screwed us over, and blah blah blah. We let him fix this. Again, they did a fantastic job. Then we got a second opinion and we got the rest of our windows done for $150 caulked versus his $8,000 quote. One, I think he’s a fraud, but two, I think that it was an overzealous sales guy. Let’s forget the part about them being sort of a fraud and that that they were trying to get $8,000 out of me, but just the whole fear factor of telling us how terrible it was, telling us how this is a huge problem. It really made my wife unhappy to be told that we have such a problem, that something’s wrong with our house, that there’s a flaw. The whole presentation was screwed up because they were trying to sell fear.
The second part of the problem was that then, when they’re actually doing the work, they again tried to use fear to sell us on the idea that we were going to have this massive problem that had to be taken care of and we really needed to spend $8,000 right away. Presentation is everything. Consultive selling is everything, but when you do it or your sales guy are trying so hard to make the sale that they try to scare you, if your people are doing that they’re taking it way too far. These are the kinds of companies that even though they did a fantastic job on the one window they did, I’d still give them a one star review on Yelp. I actually thought about doing it but because I’m in the business I know how much I hate it when people give me bad reviews, that I didn’t.
But they deserved a one star review, not for their work but for the salespeople that they were using to sell it. I will never use them again. I will never refer them. I will never recommend them just because of their sales guy. Watch out for that in your business with your most successful, most aggressive sales guys. Are they selling you a bunch of onetime work but you’ll never have repeat clients because of the way they got the work? And even worse, the clients that you do get, they’ll never refer because they just don’t feel comfortable with the way you sold the work. These are thing to really think about. It’s more than just the numbers when you’re selling. There’s more to it.
If you’re in the residential business and you’re thinking about going into commercial or you’re in commercial and you’re thinking about going to residential because you’ve heard of all the money that’s in the other business, I can tell you that I’ve been in both, in multiple industries. Here’s what I found, and I think this will hold up in most, but it probably doesn’t hold up all the time. Residential involves a lot more phone calls. Residential requires a much higher level of service. Residential requires a lot more customer touches. Residential is generally harder, in my opinion. I like residential.
If you’re going to expand from residential into commercial, the contract or the amount they’re willing to pay, their quality requirements are probably lower. That’s a broad statement. How do you take people on your residential team and say, “When you’re doing homes or residential properties, do a crazy good job.” Whatever that crazy good means. “When you’re over here at this commercial property, do good work but don’t spend as much time. Do a little bit less.” How do you do that and keep your commercial quality level from becoming your residential quality level?
If you’re in commercial and you want to go to residential, you generally can’t take your commercial quality level, your commercial customer follow-up level – again, broad statements here – and be successful in residential. Residential will drive you out of your mind. There’s too many transactions, too many moving parts. It will drive you crazy. Before you go from commercial to residential, be aware it’s a totally different game. Be staffed for it, have the technology for it, have the training for it. Again, that big people problem, it’s very difficult to use the same people to do commercial as residential. It’s almost like two different businesses in most businesses.
I’ve got a book recommendation for you. The book is The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King. I highly recommend this book. It’s about a guy in the early 1900s that went from literally nothing to a banana mogul. He was ridiculously wealthy for that time, and he built his entire business on the banana business. It’s not a simple story. What went into him building this business and all that he went through, it’s absolutely fascinating. I really recommend this book. I read a lot of business books. I read some self-help books. I read a diverse set of books, but they tend to be themed around business, marketing, sales, things like that. I don’t read a lot of books just for pure entertainment. Although, I find it entertaining to read business books.
The experience I had with this book was that it was really well-written and it kept my attention the entire time. It felt like I hadn’t read a really well-written book in three or four years. It reminded me what a really well-written book is. A lot of times, your really well-written books are not business books; they’re books you would read for entertainment. Two things about this; it’s a great story, it’s a true story. It’s sort of like reading a biography, in a sense, but it’s just really well-done. If you’re into reading and you like business books, I think you’ll find this entertaining.
Quite a number of companies that do not accept American Express because American Express does charge higher fees, so they don’t take American Express and I understand. I think that’s a mistake. I would highly recommend that you do take American Express. I’d set up an account with American Express. If you accept credit cards, take American Express, but an option is … It’s really important to have American Express when you serve the commercial market. If you’re really concerned about this, one thing you could do is on the phone when your team is speaking with a client or when you’re in person, just say, “Would you like to pay with Visa or MasterCard?” You’re immediately implying that it’s one of the two choices. You might not even promote that you take American Express. However, when asked or pushed for it, you’ll have the ability to take it.
Don’t promote it; have it and then accept it when you need to. If you don’t just make it available and say, “We take American Express,” then you won’t have to worry about as many people just automatically using their American Express. For example, I use my American Express for everything, but if they don’t have American Express or they don’t take it, then I have a Visa card as well. Everybody has a backup card, I would imagine.
I would recommend, number one, accepting American Express, and then if you’re really worried about the fees, just don’t promote it, don’t ask for it. Maybe change the language you use internally in your business to get the MasterCard or Visa, but then happily accept it when that’s all that they have or if they’re a business. Most businesses want to use American Express, and it puts you at a deficit compared to your competitors or it’s not fantastic customer service when you don’t accept it.
To get started in business, the absolute easiest way to do it is to just start. I know that sounds silly, but let me explain. When you think about building a company, you think I’ve got to find customers; I’ve got to set up an LLC; I need to get a bank account; I’ve got to buy equipment; I’ve got to buy a truck. You imagine all the stuff that’s going into your business. Also, when you’re starting a company, you’re picturing what that business is going to look like in a year or two years when it’s operating and running. None of that matters now.
Most guys that dream of starting a business and tell everybody they’re going to start a business and buy info products when starting a business never get started because they’re thinking about it all wrong; they’re trying to do too many things. All you need to do is make a thousand dollars. That’s all you’ve got to do. You provide one service and make a thousand dollars. It doesn’t even need to be a recurring thousand dollars.
On a side note, there’s all these businesses that you might think of. For example, maybe you want to be in the lawn care business or maybe you want to be in the cleaning business, and then as soon as you do a thousand dollars worth of work or five thousand dollars worth of work, you realize this business sucks. I don’t like this. I couldn’t imagine doing this all the time. The best time to figure that out is right now before you buy equipment, buy trucks, get licensed, all that other stuff. Just focus on making a thousand dollars. Block everything else out of your mind; don’t worry about anything else. You just want to make a thousand dollars.
Then after you make your first thousand dollars, then your next goal is to make one thousand dollars on recurring money each month. Just set your business up so each month you have enough work coming in if you do nothing else that you’ll make a thousand dollars. It’s that simple. You don’t think about anything else. You don’t buy any equipment that you don’t absolutely have to have to provide that one service that will make you a thousand dollars a month. If you keep it that simple, it’s not nearly as intimidating. Your odds of being successful because you actually get started will go up tenfold. Go make one thousand dollars immediately. Only do that and nothing else.
Good morning. It’s about eleven o’clock in the morning on Monday and I’m heading into the office. My family and I just got back in town at about four o’clock this morning. We were out of town for the weekend, a surprise event. My aunt had passed away, completely unexpected, never would have guessed. We just got back in town and it got me thinking. I was talking to one of my cousins over the weekend and it got me thinking about wills.
I for a very, very, very long time put off doing my will. Even after I had accumulated a fair amount of assets and I had kids, I still had put it off. I had it on my to-do list, but it just kept getting bumped and bumped because I knew that I needed to go to a lawyer and I needed to get this thing done. This is my suggestion for you. If you’re in a situation where you’re like me, you’re crazy busy and you’ve delayed for many years and you said, “I’m going to do a will. We’re going to get a will done or we’re going to redo our will; it’s been so long.” You keep putting it off because you know that it’s a lot of effort to go find a lawyer and then deal with the lawyer on it.
What I ended up doing because I had put if off so long, it dawned on me, let me just take a first easy step. I did this quite some time ago, and I just went and I did it on … You can go to Nolo.com; you can go to some different websites. I just went and did it online, and I recommend that you just do that, just as a first step. I’m not saying that’s the only thing you should do. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use a lawyer. In fact, if you have a lot of assets, if you own a couple of businesses or your business is complicated, if you have a number of key man life insurance policies, if you have quite a few different things like that, you really want to- and you have kids, you might want to consider a lawyer.
At least as a first step, for a hundred bucks, there’s LegalZoom; that’s where I did it. There’s Nolo.com. Go to one of those sites. Just do you will. It will take you a couple of hours. It will force you to get everything organized, and it will force you to double-check all of your insurance policies and everything to make sure that your beneficiaries are the right people. If you have the wrong beneficiary on your life insurance policy but in your will say something different, I believe that the life insurance policy will trump the will. It will make you get everything organized and together.
I’d highly encourage you to go check on your will today, your life insurance today. If you haven’t done a will, just go spend a hundred bucks, knock it out in a couple of hours, and then keep on your to-do list going to see the lawyer, but at least get it done today, especially if you’re a business owner with kids.