How Do I Get “Do It Yourself” Homeowners To Buy Lawn Care

Got a long question for you. I’m actually just going to answer part of it. Just reading the way that this individual wrote the email I can tell that he is quite thoughtful, he’s very articulate. I’m going to assume based on how he wrote this that he’s really thinking through his business and so I’m going to jump to that he’s in a rural market. He’s identified that within this market there’s probably not a tremendous amount of potential but he would like to try to build up a few crews and build that out as a base, he’s just getting started. Then he will spread out to another market, maybe 40 minutes away or 40 miles away, I don’t recall which.

He’s thinking about this challenge and he’s understanding that this market is not one that can support a big business so I’m going to read to you his question around marketing. He says, “In such a rural market with stiff commercial account competition, mostly do it yourself homeowners, and every property over two acres is a farm with their own equipment what marketing strategies can I deploy to best establish and facilitate growth? I know efficiency and maintaining operating costs low enough to price below the do-it-yourself threshold and the existing commercial operators are crucial. Hence, my decision on equipment,” and there was a previous question regarding equipment. “Is there anything I am missing? Are there any other methods to overcome the do-it-yourself mindset besides how much is your time worth to you approach?”

He’s essentially saying that I know my markets. I know in my market there are several opportunities. One of the opportunities, being commercial, is very competitive. The other is farms, that’s what you heard, they already have their own equipment so there’s a remaining market that I could potentially go after and build these two crews. However, the majority of that market is a do-it-yourself market. My immediate reaction to that is it’s going to be expensive to build this business. Trying to educate that buyer that they should go with you is an expensive proposition in that you have to educate the market and convince them. One of the reasons why they are probably do-it-yourself is because they don’t have much money.

During the next downturn, during the economically downturn, during the next whatever scenario that takes place that might cost them their job or a reduction in hours or whatever the scenario might be, even after educating this market and getting in with them you might see a pullback on their part in terms of using a service provider. It’s a business that is, one, more expensive to build and, two, more risk-prone to market forces outside of your control that can mess up everything you’ve built so I’m not discouraging you from building it.

I think the strategy … I’m assuming you live here and the strategy of let’s just get something up and running, potentially learn the business, and then move to another market, maybe keep this running as a satellite, is interesting if you’re committed to living in this area and unwilling to just simply move and start your business. The last point I’ll make before I answer the next question is, I do believe that there are many people that have started businesses where they live that are not in ideal markets. They’re really smart, they’re making all the right moves, they’re hustling, and they’re not seeing the success and progress that they feel like they should, given all they’re putting into the business.

It’s simply a scenario of being in the wrong market. It’s simply a scenario of you don’t have enough potential buyers and it’s not about you yet a lot of people beat themselves up. You do have a decision here. One, you can stay in this market and maybe struggle for the next several years to get a couple crews really going and profitable or you could simply just make the move and build all of that in a fraction of the time. There is that scenario so I would think about this … I would think about that, that could it potentially be better? I don’t know all your situations to just make the move now and start from scratch in the ideal market that’s closest to you. I’ll table that, that’s for you to decide.

Now, to your point. I think there’s one way I would think about this. I would not think so much about educating the market. I wouldn’t think so much about all the clever little things I could say that I might get in your head and have you say to yourself should I, just go ahead and hire a lawn care or whatever type of company. You could say, “Hey, spend more time with the family,” or, “We can actually save you money on your chemical cost. The chemical that we can get is …” You wouldn’t use the word chemical, that’s a bad word but you can talk along the lines of, “We can save you money on that, it’ll actually be more effective. You can play more golf, you can spend more time with the family.”
You can play all those emotional triggers. The dilemma is if at the end of the day they’re going to need to hear that message 15 times before they finally make the move that’s an expensive proposition for you from a marketing standpoint. The way I would approach this market is I would try to find that one little micro thing that I could sell them, that small purchase even if it’s a one time purchase. What’s the smallest thing that I can sell this group that the majority of them want? I don’t know your market. If they’re larger properties, if they’re multi-acre properties is there something unique to that type of a homeowner, to that type of a property where you could sell them a $99 service one time or you could sell them a one time $30 service?
Here’s the mindset. I want to be able to do some type of a marketing push both web and print, door hangers, direct mail, whatever the case may be, where the highest number of potential individuals that I’m sending that piece to our potential buyers. Even if … And I don’t need to go for the $3,000 sale, I just need to make them a customer at any amount. If it was $7 great. Can I make them a customer at $7 because then I have their attention and then I can build a relationship. Then from there, once I’ve made them a client, a customer, then I can focus on selling them more and more.

Then I can learn more about them and I can craft a solution for them that they might actually pay for. Once you get to know them you might find that this property they’re unwilling to pay for the lawn care, the mowing of the turf because that’s too much but they might be willing to buy fertilization weed control or some other services from you. Then a different homeowner, and you’ll never know this until you get to talk to them and know them, they’re willing to pay for turf care but they’re unwilling to pay for a different variety of services.

Can I just make them a client for the smallest amount and I want to, again, market a service to this group of potential clients that the majority are most likely to buy. I then make them clients. I’m not going to play the same game that we might play at our company where we’re just going to … We want you to call us and we’re going to make you a client over the phone and then we’re going to sell you stuff later. In your scenario, I want to sell them the smallest thing possible and then I want to go see them. It’s going to be a little bit slower business to build but it’s going to be critical that you go see them and know them so you can figure out what is their unique need that then identifies for you what you need to sell to them. It’s going to be different for each of these properties, I’m guessing.

Who knows? You might find some commonalities and then that guides your future marketing so that’s how I’m going to think about it. Sell them the smallest thing I can just to make them a client. Once they’re a client I’m going to go see them, I’m going to get to know them, I’m going to understand their challenges, frustrations, what do they need. I’m going to craft the solution unique to them and then I’m going to eventually try to get them to refer me to other people they know. If you find a buyer they’re probably friends with other individuals that have that amount of money or more who also might be your buyers.

That’s how I’m going to do it, break it down to the smallest thing you could sell them first. Make them a client, get to know them. Figure out what to sell them next, that’s how I’d approach this problem. Good luck.

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