How can I create immediate income in my lawn care business?

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.

Regarding price…

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.

I disagree.

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.

Go make your first sell.  Not next month.  Now.



Door to Door Sales: Should I Pay Commissions

 Learn The Basics of Door To Door Sales…

The question is, should I pay door knockers by the hour, or by commission? There’s only one answer for this, by commission. There’s no scenario, where I would ever pay by the hour for door knocking. Now, if I had some available employees that were already on my payroll, where I’m already paying them and I’m not going to take them off payroll because I’ve committed to keep them on payroll even while we’re slow, then I would continue to pay them. But, I would offer an incentive of a commission.

I would still not send them out and say, “Hey, just spend the day door knocking and see how it goes.” No way. I would give them a very lucrative commission for every single sale. There is no scenario where I would not do this.

If you’re hiring individuals to door knock for you, then you’ve got to do a little work to find the kind of guy that will do this type of work. A great way is to talk to the guys that are already door knocking at your house, selling you other things, and see if you can swipe them.

There’s a couple of models for door knocking. The two models to consider are, one where you have an individual who canvases the neighborhood, knocking on doors, and attempting to make a sale. If they make a sale, you give them a commission. If they don’t make a sale, they don’t get a commission.

They tend not to work full time. They tend to work in the evenings and on weekends, and they’re getting a commission for every sale that they make. You’ve got to figure out what that number is. Be generous with it and don’t be cheap about it. Think about what it would cost you to acquire a new client.

For example, if it costs me a hundred dollars to acquire a client through door hangers, or a hundred dollars to acquire a client through direct mail, then I’m going to pay a guy a hundred dollars every time he makes me a sale, because I want as many sales as he can possibly bring me.

I’m not looking at this as a scenario where I am trying to save money. No way. I want the guy to make a lot of money, because I want the guy to bring me a lot of sales. That’s model number one, you pay a guy for making the sale.

Model number 2 is a two person team. You have a setter and a closer. The concept is, you have setters canvas the neighborhood, they knock on the door, they drum up interest. Their entire purpose is just to garner interest and ask if they can have a follow up with them. Can somebody come by and chat with them, can we give them something? And, at the minimum, they’re collecting names and phone numbers.

That’s what you’d call a setter. They’re setting the appointment. That’s their entire purpose. You’ll see this model a lot with roofers. Roofers will go around with a setter, and then they’ll come back around with a closer. The setter, will make a commission as well.

Then there’s a closer that follows up with that person. The setter gets the name and the phone number. The closer then goes back to the home, or calls them on the phone.  Their job is to close the business, to get the deal, to basically win a new client. That individual then makes a commission . Setters can make less than closers, or it could be a 50/50 split. You’ve got to figure that out. There are different models.

Great industries to look at are pest control and roofers. They both do a ton of door knocking, especially the roofers. Watch how they work. Read about how they work on the internet. I’ve actually never done that, which would actually be a pretty good idea. Read about it and see how their model works, how they pay, and what their commission is. I always talk to these guys when they come to my house so I can learn additional ways to do this, and I would recommend the same of you.

Next time somebody tries to sell you something, engage them and find out how they get paid. Find out how long they’ve been doing this. Find out the hours that they work. That’s how I know that most of these guys work late afternoons, into the evening, and then they work weekends. Most of them are students, or they also have another job. Do a little studying and you’ll get all the answers you need on this one, but look at those two models. Good luck.

How To Sell Lawn Care Service Door To Door (Tips & Advice)


Jonathan:         This question is from Scott, and Scott says that he has been door knocking and handing out business cards, and it has not been working, and he’s wondering if he’s saying the right thing, and asking for advice.

So I would start with, look at this from the home owner’s perspective. So you’ve got to really put yourself in their shoes to really figure this out. So I can’t tell you exactly what to do, but I can give you the clues to figure it out. So you have to first look at it from their perspective and imagine a couple scenarios. 1) They were eating dinner. 2) They were helping their kids do their homework. They were watching a television show. Maybe they were even expecting the FedEx guy to drop off something important that they were really excited about, and when they came to the door it was you, not the FedEx guy. There’s a million scenarios where you’re interrupting them and immediately the tension level goes up because you’re there to sell them something. You’re there to bother them. You’re interrupting. Maybe they were having a fight before they answered the door. Now, some of these things are things to keep in mind so that you don’t take it person when they’re a little rude to you or send you on your way, and it doesn’t feel like a very pleasant experience. But at the same time, you have to immediately overcome this.

So, from their perspective, when they open the door and see you, what do they see and experience? What is the subconscious feeling and thought they have in the first 10 seconds. You’ve got to make sure you get that correct. How do you look? How are you dressed? How do you speak? Do you smile? How do you present yourself? What are the very first words out of your mouth? Think of a marketing piece and a headline. If you get something out of your mailbox and that headline doesn’t immediately tell you what’s in it for and why you’ve got to have this now, well then, why would you possibly read that marketing piece? You wouldn’t. You’d throw it in the trash. When they open the door, what’s the very first thing you say? It’s like your headline. What did you immediately communicate that is in it for them? Why should they pay any attention to you, give you the time of day, and not just shut the door? So you’ve got to really think about the presentation and the experience. And once you figure it out, you do the same thing over and over and over again.

What does your business card look like? First of all, business card isn’t exciting to me. What can you give them that when they close the door they set it on the counter and when they look back at it, it reminds them why them must do business with you, or why you’re doing something, giving, delivering something that they they need? How do you keep that thing you just gave them from going into the trash. Did you use a magnet that maybe they throw it up on their refrigerator for a later time? Did you give them a gift? Did you give them something that has value that they’d want to even keep? A business card, ah, that’s just … There’s no value there. It’s not a gift of anything. There’s no value why they’d want to save it. So what can you give them that they would not want to throw away, or they’d want to save because they think they’ll use it or they’ll need it at some point. So you’re also working to make sure that thing you hand them doesn’t go in the trash as soon as they close the door. Because maybe they’re not ready for you now. Maybe they’ll be ready in four months, and so you want them to save that thing.

Other considerations would be how you’re communicating what’s in it for them. So for example, if you knock on the door and say, “Hey, I work in your area. I want to grow my business. I need some more business. I’ll mow your lawn. It would be good for me.” You wouldn’t say it that way, but you get the idea. What are you communicating? It’s all about you. If they open the door and you say, “I would like to mow your lawn for free for a year. In fact, if you’ll look across the street at those five homes across the street, notice how awesome the lawns look? I will mow your lawn for free for one year. No catch. You don’t have to pay me a dime, no tip, nothing.” Clearly that’s absurd, but what’s the difference in the two examples? The first example it’s what’s in it for you, you being the guy trying to sell. The second example, it’s all about them. That would be the dream come true situation. They open the door and you’re super professional, incredibly nice. They just immediately get this incredible first impression. You’ve immediately conveyed trust. And then you say, “You know what? Because you’re such a great person, I’m going to take care of your property for free for a year, no catch.” Well, of course, who wouldn’t want that?

So your job is to figure out the middle ground between the first and second examples I gave and give them something as close to that second example. Clearly you can’t give away lawn mowing for free for a year. But what can you do to gain their trust, maybe give them something of value that they would want to use you, try you. And so you have a far better chance when you knock on the door of winning their business if you somehow do those types of things. You immediately reposition the experience from “I want something from you,” to “I have something I would like to give you that will be a huge benefit to you and you will absolutely want it.” You being the home owner. How do you immediately convey trust? What do you leave behind that won’t end up in the trash? So what can you do? When you’re knocking on doors, I think you put yourself out there a bit. Your expense is your time, and that’s it. So I think you have some money on the table to give away.

What could you do? Could you give them something? What could you give them? Because the better the bonus, the more compelling the offer, whether it’s something you mail on a direct mail piece, where you’re advertising a bonus, an incentive, versus knocking on their door. Even when you’re knocking on the door, you still need to give a bonus incentive to make them take action now. For example, you knock on the door and you say, “I take …” You don’t start with this, but you immediately communicate the benefit for them and introduce yourself, convey trust, and then you mention, “I take care of three of your neighbors on this street, and I just wanted to knock on your door and let you know that …” Well, this is not the way to do this, so I didn’t think this through ahead of time, but the idea being, “I wanted to knock on your door and let you know I take care of three of your neighbors. I noticed that your sprinkler head was leaking, and I just wanted to let you know. And also, by the way, we’re running a special right now where for any client that signs up for service with us, we’re giving away a free iPad, or iPhone, or iTouch.” Or whatever, something, iPod. You get the idea.

Now clearly the value of something like an iPad that you would give away for mowing their lawn is too great. But what is it that you could give them as a bonus? That’s the same concept. And I’m not saying you have to give that thing away, but what is it you could give away? Because that’s a lot more compelling that just saying, “I would like to take care of your lawn because I take care of your neighbors.” Well, why should I take action right this minute? Whereas, if you say, “If you sign up tonight, and by the way, the proof of the quality of my work is the three neighbors across the street that I now take care of. If you sign up tonight, we’re running a special and I will give you a free iPad.” Again, you’re not going to use an iPad, but it communicates immediate value to them, and they don’t want to lose out on that. So what is it that you could give them of value. And it could be something so much smaller. Obviously, it would be something so much smaller than that. But if you want to win a lot more business, then you’ve got to think about it in that way. Think about all those different things. And there’s more, but if you start working on those things and you perfect it, when you find what works, you keep saying and doing the same thing over and over again, you’ll find that you have success.

I would end with this. If you’re knocking on doors, trying to sell lawn mowing, for example. At the end of the year, most home owners are not interested. They’ll just wait till next year to make a decision. They don’t want to deal with it now. If you’re knocking on the door to sell lawn care in spring when the grass is just about to start growing, or better said, has just started growing, a lot of people need it. In fact, everybody needs lawn care at that moment in time. Your chance of success goes way up. So make sure you’re doing your door knocking at the right time of year, selling the right type of service that they need, right now. It’s all about right now. Whatever you’re selling, it can’t be a scenario where they might need it in three weeks. They’ve got to need it now. So whatever time of year you’re knocking on doors, be selling the thing they need today. That’s the best chance of getting them to take action today.

So, good luck.