Copying Others wont Grow Your Lawn Care Business


How’s it going? I hope you’re doing great. I’m going to show you my screen and I’m going to show you several things. But before I do, I want you to imagine a situation where you have copied someone else’s website, you’ve copied what their trucks look like, you’ve copied what their uniforms look like, you’ve copied some piece of their business. It could be in our industry. It could be outside of industry. Just think of anything that you’ve ever copied. And when you copied that thing, did you know the why? Did you know why you were copying it? What the reason was? How it was going to impact your business? How was going to sell more revenue or make your clients like and appreciate you more, make your team want to stay with you longer, help you recruit more team members? Or did you just see another company doing something and say, “Oh, they’re successful, so that must be a good idea so maybe I should copy it.” My question to you is, do you know what you’re copying?

I don’t have a huge problem with swiping ideas. I don’t think you should ripoff, blatantly ripoff people, but swiping best practices, learning from other individuals, all that’s fine, learning from other industries, looking at what other people are doing, that’s great. Do that so that you can figure out how to grow your ability and your company, but know what you’re doing. Let me show you a couple things to make my point.

I’m showing you my screen. A friend texted me this image the other day. This image is from a lawn care company’s website. I’d like to now show you this image. This is my logo and my dog that I hired a cartoonist to create probably in about 2008 or 2009. You might see the similarities down to the hat, the color scheme, there’s differences, but you’ll see the similarities. Here’s the reason I want to bring this up.

This, I’ve had to deal with this many times, and a lot of the things that we do at this company are copied because we’re one of the bigger businesses in the industry at this point, at least on the residential side. I understand why things get copied. But the dilemma is and the motivation for this video is, do you know why you’re copying the thing and how it fits into your broader strategy?

What I thought would be interesting is to tell you the backstory on why we did some of these things, and if you or someone copies them or copy someone else’s thing, whatever that thing is, the point I want to make is you’re probably not copying anything that’s going to be a magic bullet, that’s going to get your company where you want it to go. I think that’s what happens when these things get copied. You can see the similarities.

Let me tell you the backstory on this real quick. The backstory is that way back I painted all my trucks yellow. This is what they looked like. There’s a ton of companies that use this truck, this setup. I actually got the idea and the inspiration for this setup from another company in my local market, the only company at the time that was doing something like this. I had lunch with them at one point and in talking to them I got the idea for something like this, this style truck, this style bed. And we used it for years. If you’re modeling it today, we haven’t used this design in years. I still have tons of them, but we don’t use it anymore. So if you are copying what you saw, a picture on the web, or you saw a picture on the web of our truck and you’re copying that, you’re not actually copying the best strategy anymore.

Here’s what happened. I had all these yellow trucks. I had tons of them. What I would hear clients and leads say it’s when they would be talking about us or referring us if they couldn’t remember their name is they’d say, all the guys, the guys with all those yellow trucks. Well, when I picked yellow, I picked yellow because I saw DHL trucks in my market, every time I’d see them, they’d catch my eye, and my favorite color’s yellow. I bought this car the same year I started the company and it’s yellow and I tend to buy yellow race cars. So I love yellow. So that was the motivation for picking yellow. I love yellow. It stands out. And I’d noticed DHL trucks that were getting … that I would always notice them.

That was the idea behind picking yellow, is it wasn’t about the color. The color does not matter. It was about a bright color that would be seen in my market. You could pick pink, orange, blue. It does not matter. What matters is that they get seen.

This was the early version of my truck. Well then I developed a new problem and that was suddenly or over the years now there were lots of yellow trucks in my market that I hadn’t seen or noticed that I don’t think were there before and so more and more yellow trucks came in the market and then I started to think, “Well, how do we differentiate further if there’s a lot of companies with yellow trucks?” Potentially the name is the only difference, but they’re modeling what the truck looks like and they’re using the color yellow.

That’s where I came up with the idea for a dog, because … and essentially a mascot. I hired a cartoonist, and I have eight or nine of these different images of him, this dog doing all kinds of different things. The idea of the dog was I wanted someone in the market to say, “All the guys with the yellow trucks with the dog on the truck,” or, “All the guys with the dog on the yellow trucks,” if they couldn’t remember the name because just saying the guys with the yellow trucks was no longer a differentiator.

So how did I come up with this dog? Because you might say, “Well, yellow’s the secret sauce.” Nope, yellow’s not the secret sauce. You might say, “Oh, well, the dog, that must have been important.” Nope, the dog probably didn’t even slightly matter. The reason for the dog was because I love bulldogs and I’ve had a couple bulldogs. My little mascot dog was named Chester and we used to use him in marketing. Why? Because my first bulldog was named Chester.

Then my second bulldog, he’s named Dozer. I got him about a year or two after we came up with this logo. So what happened is I was in a business group and I was describing to them what I was going to do, meaning I was going to come up with this mascot because I was having this yellow truck problem and I was going to use a bulldog. Everybody thought he looked really cool, but then everybody over thought, it’s like, “Oh, wait a second, you’ve told us you predominantly sell to women, so that probably means that you should use a golden retriever or a lab because they’re the most popular dog and they’re friendly with families, and bulldogs are friendly with families, but maybe people won’t understand that he’s a friendly dog,” and everybody started overthinking this thing and they wanted me to come up with all these other dogs. I was like, “Nope, I’m going with my bulldog idea,” and that’s how this thing came to be.

Again, back to my point, if you’ve copied my yellow trucks, and this isn’t about me. This is just to communicate a point because I have modeled lots of other people’s behavior over the years, lots of other things other people have done with almost no success. That’s the bigger point here. I don’t want to come off like I’m on a rant. That’s not the point. The point is I have copied things and those things did not work. They were not the secret sauce, they were not the magic bullet.

You have probably copied things, and those things, you spent a lot of effort on them and they did nothing to make your business better, and the reason is you didn’t and I didn’t know why we were copying them. We didn’t understand the broader strategy. We didn’t understand the context of how that thing was used inside of strategy. There’s no magic bullet around yellow trucks. There’s no magic bullet around a dog or a bulldog, or this is a mascot, or having a mascot at all. It’s part of a broader strategy, and I gave you a little bit of insight on how I got to that strategy.

Another one and this is the thing that’s probably copied the most in my market is this guarantee right here. This is an incredibly dangerous thing to implement inside your business. If you’re not top of your customer service and quality this guarantee will burn you. But yet, tons and tons of people have copied it.

When you copy it, if you’re not going to, and I would ask that you don’t copy it or at least not blatantly, but if you do, you do, my point here is that if you copy this thing and your service and your quality is not set up, you’re going to get burned, you’re going to pay competitors to fix your problems. Also, if you set up a guarantee and you put it on your website and on Facebook and you do nothing else with it, it’s a giant waste. You’re not going to get much leverage from it. You have to have it on every marketing piece. You have to lead with it. It has to be your USP, your unique selling proposition. It has to be tied into everything you’re doing.

When we came up with this guarantee, and we don’t talk about it quite as much these days, it was very important in the early days, it’s not as important now, but when we came up with the guarantee, the way we came up when we came up with it the point was that it was used in every marketing piece. It was front and center. It was used as this is why we’re different than everyone else. So we got great value out of it.

But if all you do is throw it up on your website, you’re not getting much marketing, you’re not getting much value out of it. All you have is downside in that you may potentially have to honor this thing or people are going to come back on you and give you bad reviews when they don’t like something. I could elaborate on why that is, but I’m not going to in this video. Or people will try to abuse it and say, “Oh, well, you’ve been mowing my lawn for 36 cuts and I didn’t like this cut. I want the whole year back,” and then you’ve got to deal with that, it causes you a lot of trouble. So if you’re going to copy this, you better do it right and you better go all-in or it’s just a big giant pain in the butt. It’s not a silver bullet.

The other thing that gets copied all the time is my website. I’ve had to get cease and desist issued to do takedowns because my website’s been copied. Here’s the other point. This website is not awesome. If you’ve copied this website in the last five years, you’ve copied the wrong website. This website is not awesome at all. It’s not even … I would never build this site today. The thing you don’t know about my business is everything that we did correctly in the early days and the strategy that we followed and strategy is a huge part of how we got here, it happened or what it’s done is it’s built a company where we don’t have to do any marketing except upsell marketing. We can’t handle all the leads that we get every year.

This website while important is fairly insignificant, and that’s an exaggeration. It needs to be rebuilt. But I’ve got a million other things going on and we already can’t handle all the leads. If I was building my company from scratch, there’s no way in the world this would be my website. There are a million problems with it. There’s a million things we’re not doing. So if you’ve copied this, you just, you might have thought, and I’m not saying you did, I’m using this as an example, but if this was copied, you might think, “Oh, that must be their secret sauce.” No, I see this as a negative to our business frankly and it’s going to get rebuilt and replaced.

And that’s the big point I want to make. If you take something that someone’s doing out of context and you copy it without understanding the broader strategy or understanding how that thing fits into the strategy or understanding how it’s used, like I gave the example in my guarantee, this was not something we slapped on the website. This was on everything, our headline to around, it was front and center, it was our USP, it was everything at a moment in time inside the business. If that’s not how you used it, then there was almost all downside to even having a guarantee.

I hope that makes sense. I shared a little behind the scenes on how some of these things came to be. Some of it there was actual strategy behind it such as there was absolutely strategy in why I picked a color, there was absolutely strategy in why I picked the dog, but there wasn’t strategy in him looking like this, there wasn’t strategy in him being a bulldog versus a lab, there was no strategy in yellow versus orange versus pink. I picked the color I liked. I picked my favorite dog in the whole world, bulldogs. Those are how I made the decisions.

Now there were strategy behind the guarantee, I told you about that, that at the time this website actually there were a lot of good things going on on this website but it never actually got fully finished out, like the body copy is so subpar, unbelievably subpar. This is not a good website. But it still performed and we don’t need it to perform because we already get so many leads. I hope you get the idea and I hope from this you’ll take away the idea that I need to understand the why behind of what I do.

For example, we have this thing called Service Autopilot Academy where we teach companies how to build their companies. Many of the sessions I teach are three to six hours. That is a long session. I do that every month. The reason they’re so long is because I could just say, “Go put out this door hanger, go put out this postcard, go build your website like this, do your Facebook advertising like this, recruit like this, build an employee handbook,” whatever it is I can tell you to do it, but if I don’t tell you why, then you don’t understand how to do it for yourself, you don’t understand how to make it better than what I suggested for your client, for your market, you don’t understand where it fits into the broader context of your overall strategy.

The why it’s unbelievably important. You have to actually learn this stuff and internalize it and know it so that you can truly implement it in a very strategic way. That’s the takeaway, that’s the big thing I want to encourage you to do, is go deep with this stuff, learn this stuff. And then when you’re out there in the marketplace in our industry, in other industries and you’re seeing great, innovative ideas and you take those ideas and you model them and you improve upon them, if you understand why that company is probably doing what they’re doing, the marketing concept, the psychology behind it, then you can make that thing even better than maybe what they’re doing or you can tweak it to be your own and work for your business, and then you’re going to see results.

But generally swiping some headline or some marketing copy or a website or a color combination or a logo or any of that stuff, it doesn’t move the needle, it does not move the lever whatsoever inside your business and therefore it was a fail.

I hope that helps. See you later.

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