Are you having a hard time getting started in your lawn care business and breaking into your local market?
Watch this video and learn how to get lawn care, landscape, tree care, irrigation (and any type of) business in the area you serve.
This is one of the more important questions that I’ve probably ever answered because, I believe it’s on a lot of people’s minds and, I believe it is a huge misconception.
The question is from Andrew. He wants to know how to break into a market that is controlled by industry veterans. They have been in the lawn care business for 5 or 10 years. He’s just getting started and the veterans have all the jobs and their customers aren’t willing to switch. Andrew goes on to say that from a money standpoint he has a small budget so, it makes it even more difficult to break into this market.
The way it is right now, and I think this is an important mindset, no matter what business you start, it is going to be in an industry that is insanely competitive. It is a rare business idea that there are not a lot of people already serving that market. In fact, if there’s not many people in that business or serving that market, it’s probably a red flag.
First and foremost, forget the idea that you’re going to find this thing that is not going to have a lot of competition. The alternative is that you invent something new, which tends to be in technology right now. In technology, yes, you could invent a new concept. The problem there is that you need an insane amount of money to educate the market, to get traction, and to get people to buy into what this thing. That’s usually not a good game to play either, unless you can go raise a ridiculous amount of money.
Let’s just take it off the table and just say, no matter what you’re going to do, it’s going to be ridiculously competitive. Once you get that in your mind, you no longer have to have that conversation. Now, you can focus on how to solve the problem. You’re the new guy coming into a market that’s crowded. A crowded market is a good sign.
Now, think about it from this standpoint. Think about all of those retail stores, restaurants, and service providers that you use personally in life. Think about how difficult it is to get a return phone call or to have someone follow up with you. Think about how difficult it is to get somebody to actually send you the estimate when they say they will. Think about how difficult it is to get good service, a quality product or solution. Think about the employees that come to your home to provide a service. How many of them seem knowledgeable and actually like their job as opposed to going through the motions to earn his 12 dollars an hour? That’s the typical experience. There are some great companies out there that don’t deliver that experience at all, but if you think about it, this is the experience you receive from a lot of companies.
The idea that in your market place, you’re coming into a market with tons of veterans, and all these veterans happen to be on top of their game…there’s no chance. The reality is that the majority of your market is under-serving the market. The majority of your market is filled with competitors that are less than awesome, and so, it gives you a tremendous opportunity. Marketing is the right way to think about this. I would add to this though, that when you think about marketing, my marketing education gave me more than a sales and marketing education, it gave me a mindset education.
The mindset education is this, think about everything from your client’s perspective. As an example, if you’ve identified that you want to be in this certain neighborhood, imagine their world and life as it is for them. Think about their wants and needs. What would be their ideal outcome of working with somebody like you? That really shifts everything. When you start to think about things from that standpoint, then you start to be able to figure out how to break into the market.
Now, I will say that in the very beginning of getting started, what I’ve observed in most businesses, they usually are a little bit of a slow start. You have to figure out what language to use, what the opportunity is, what the core market is, and what your niche is. Then, you can capitalize on that. But, it takes a little while to figure that out. You’re looking for that crack. Yes, you are coming into a big market. And yes, you are coming into a market with tons of competitors and seasoned competitors, but there’s a crack.
There are a lot of things that are happening. You’ve got guys that have made it and now they’re comfortable. You’ve got guys that have been in business for 20 years, but they got there slowly over time by of word of mouth, not because they were great. Then, you truly have some great competitors. So, where are your cracks? Assuming that maybe 20% of your competitors are great, that leaves you 80% of the market. Excellent service is key.
Now, if from day one, you provide ridiculously good service, making your clients feel cared for, wanted and valued, it doesn’t immediately mean that you will have great success. It’s an investment that will yield results over time. If you only have four clients, you’ve only got four clients to preach your message. When you have 500 clients, now you’ve got 500 clients talking about you.
That’s an example of how it takes a little time to reap the reward of providing great service. You can’t necessarily feel the benefits of it day one. It’s something you stick with and it yields results over time. That’s a core element, I believe, of eventually breaking into your market. So many of your competitors, as I said, have become complacent at customer service and that leaves you this huge opportunity. Focus on that area.
Number two, from a marketing standpoint, you’ve got to be seen. That means, if you’re serving a big market, you don’t spend all your money from a marketing standpoint, to try to be seen throughout the entire market. Rather, you focus on one neighborhood or small section of town. Yes, you hope to get work all over town, but you concentrate your small pile of marketing dollars on one small area. You want to be seen all the time. You knock on doors, put out fliers, send out postcards, and do whatever you can to be seen in that area. That means your trucks need to be painted and must stand out. You need to look the part. You need your potential clients to feel they see you all the time.
You also need to be different. If you want to break into a crowded market, you can’t look like everybody else. It’s very rare that you see a company that stands out. Customer service will make you stand out, but it’s a slow road to travel. Look at Zappos. In the beginning, when they ran out of money, all they had left was this idea the idea that they wanted to become the best customer service company out there for selling shoes. That became their angle and that became the thing that spread word of mouth. They had a client base to do that with. You don’t have that yet if you’re just starting out and you don’t have many clients.
Service alone won’t propel you to be a great company. That’s why you have to use marketing. You need to be different. You have to look different, appear different, act different, talk different, and everything needs to be different. Just think about what you see out there in the market place and who stands out, and what they’re doing that makes them stand. If everybody’s truck is white, then yours should be pink. If everybody puts their employees in a brown uniform, then you should be in a blue uniform, a pink uniform, a light green, a neon yellow, I don’t care, but different. If everybody sends a marketing piece that looks one way, yours should look different. If everybody puts a door hanger of a certain type that says a certain thing, your should be the opposite. Think about different because different matters.
You also need to take away clients’ risk. It’s all about risk reversal. If you want me to do business with you, and you’re an unknown commodity, what is it that you can say and do that will get me to give you a try. I don’t have a freaking idea who you are, I’ve never heard of you, I’ve never seen you, but you want me to give you a try. You’re a little more risky than True Green or some of the other bigger names, because they’re a known company. With you, you could be just like all the other guys that have been a bad experience. They eventually quit showing up, they never close my gates, they always blew grass under my garage door, they whatever. They gave me the low price and they were only worth keeping for one season and then I had to go re-shop it.
You want to make sure that you take the risk away from your prospect. You’ve got to consider their fears, frustrations, and all the things they hate about companies like you. Then you reverse that and do what’s called risk reversal in marketing. You use testimonials, marketing copy, and guarantees to overcome their fears.
For example, I think it’s Benjamin Franklin Plumbing that uses the guarantee that if they’re late, they pay you. I might be getting the company wrong, but I think it’s them. Well, it’s genius. What did they do? They took the most common complaint about plumbers, they are late or give you a huge window of wait time, and made it part of their guarantee. That is now what they are known for, and that one thing just so happens to be the biggest frustration of most consumers that use plumbing.
Think about it from that standpoint. I’ll give you another one. Wow, One Day Painting I believe is the name. It’s the guy that founded 1800 Got Junk. Great company. I don’t know if you’ve ever been through a situation where you have had your home painted. My home, to paint it, was a multi-week project. In fact, I just had the downstairs portion of my house painted and it took two weeks just to paint that. It’s a fairly big house with a lot of rooms and we used different colors in each room. On top of that, when you consider the rounded edges where two colors meet, it adds more time and difficulty because of the attention to detail that it requires. There’s a lot of little challenging things. It was a hard job.
We had to live through the smell, having rooms taped off, and the guys coming in and out of our house. The guys were awesome. But, I really used them because I like them. It was not a great experience but, we knew the contractor. If it weren’t for that, we would have used somebody that could do this faster.
Think about it. If the common experience for the consumer is a feeling of dread, frustration, and inconvenience because of how long it takes to complete the job and the lingering paint smell, think about how powerful their name and marketing is.
Everything about that company communicates that they are going to solve my biggest concern and frustration.
One company guarantees that they’ll be on time for plumbing or they’ll pay for every minute they’re late. The other one says that they will paint your entire house, not matter how big, in one day. They both answered the biggest problems in their market. That’s great customer service. Then they also address my point of being seen. Both of these companies have painted their trucks and included their guarantees on their trucks. They’re also different. They’ve completely differentiated themselves from everybody else in the market.
Using guarantees, they are capturing testimonials. Think about it. If you go in, you answer the biggest objection, the biggest frustration, and then you capture testimonials from clients talking about how great it was to get their house painted in a day. How incredible it was that, my gosh, the plumber was on time. He’s always been on time for the last five years I’ve used him. Then he was actually late for four minutes one time and he paid me for the four minutes. I didn’t even care about the four minutes, but he paid me anyway. Think about the power of that testimonial.
You have tons of these and you take all of that to this really competitive market where half of the guys you’re competing with are lackadaisical and apathetic because they’ve been doing this for so long. Really, they’re bored with their businesses and you’ve got all this energy. You enter the market and you do all these things. I think you could be extremely successful.
I guess my last point is a point I made earlier. Think from the perspective of the buyer. Think about what they want, what they’re going through, and what challenges they are having. Think about what they don’t know that they need. For example, you might be in a market where a lot of guys are using the same people over and over again. The reason they’re using the same people over and over again is because nobody has told them there’s something better.
If you drive around an F-150 pickup truck all the time because you can buy it for 30,000 bucks, and you’re thinking, for that price it’s the best truck you can get. Then, one day somebody comes to you and says, “Hey, you can buy a Ford Raptor, that’s normally 60,000 bucks for 30.” You never knew that before. Wouldn’t you suddenly say, “Screw the F-150! I’m not buying that. I’m buying the upgraded Raptor from now on.” Until you found out you could buy a 60,000 Raptor for 30 grand, the F-150 was satisfactory. It was good enough and you were happy with it. One day when somebody tells you, “Hey there’s a new world you don’t know about. There’s this new thing you can get. There’s a new way of doing things.” Suddenly then you’re looking and you have a need. Before that, you just assumed that’s how it was.
That’s how it is for a lot of your clients. They’ve tried other companies, done business a certain way and that’s just what the lawn care market does and how lawn care guys do it. If you’re different, they don’t know you’re different. You’ve got to tell them your different and you’ve got to show them you’re different. When they find out there’s something better, there’s another way, they will give you a try. But, you’ve got to do all those other things I talked about.
When I started my lawn care company, I guess about eight years ago, I was a nobody. People have been mowing their yards forever. The market fully existed and was insanely competitive even before we started up in 2005. Nothing has changed, it was that way in 2005, and I started as a nobody. Now I have, I guess, the biggest residential lawn care company around my market. I just did what I talked about.
Now, I didn’t do it in the first couple years because I didn’t know better. My business wasn’t growing fast enough and it wasn’t very profitable. I had to start searching for ways to do it differently. Everything I just told you is what I did.
If you follow that model, do some research and reading, and thinking like the buyer, you will totally break into your market. One day, you’ll wake up, after a whole lot of struggle and frustration and pain because, keep in mind, that’s where learning and breakthroughs come from, and realize you have created an extremely successful business. It happens over time. The key is you have to make the right moves every day. You must be doing the right things to end up with that type of business. It is 100% totally possible, no question. No market in the United States, Canada, Australia, or anywhere that you cannot break into. Be confident of that, and do the things that make you different than everybody else. In five years, your business will be really interesting. Good luck.