If you are not doing this, you will struggle to grow your lawn care company.
We’re working on a project right now at ServiceAutopilot. It requires that we call about 10% to 15% of our members, about 300 companies. What we’re finding is that to get them on the phone generally takes a couple calls. That’s a broad generalization, because there’s a whole bunch of clients, members that answer on that first call. However, there’s a lot that we have to leave a voicemail for. We’ve been having this discussion internally and that’s the point of this video.
It is absolutely imperative that you answer your phone and that I answer my phone. Your marketing doesn’t work very well if you don’t answer your phone. Your customer service isn’t very good if you don’t answer your phone. The most common scenario is that when someone is looking for a service provider, they have a list of a couple people that they probably found on the web or they got door hangers off their door. They called the most interesting one first. If they don’t answer, they don’t leave a message generally, and then they call the second one, and then the third one. If that third one answers, and they sound good and give a fair price, they get the business.
The game is speed, and when you don’t answer your phone, you’re losing the game of speed. Clients want things to be easy and fast. When you’re the guy that doesn’t answer, when you’re the company that doesn’t answer, you don’t win the business. Your competitor does. After you spend all that money on marketing and you don’t answer your phone or I don’t answer my phone, then it feels like, “Oh, this marketing thing just doesn’t work. None of this marketing works.” It’s generally because the calls aren’t getting answered.
Sometimes that even means not answering the calls on Saturdays. If you want to win the game in the big selling season which, depending on your business, might be spring, it might make sense to answer the phone on Saturdays. It might make sense to answer the phone into the evening. This is really interesting, because at ServiceAutopilot, of all the cloud-based software systems out there in the industry, we tend to be the one that attracts the bigger or more successful companies.
If you were to analyze our clients, you’ll see that we have a lot of bigger companies. We have a lot of companies, a lot of people, but if anybody is going to cancel ServiceAutopilot, it’s the little bitty company that’s just got a crew or a tech and it’s because they won’t do even a single training with us. They won’t learn the systems, so they just go to another system that’s really simple and super, super basic that can’t do that much because it’s easier to use.
The reason I wanted to say that is I wanted to point out that when I say that many members aren’t answering their phones, one, we have some incredible companies that do. That’s how they built their companies is they’re willing to do the things that the little guys aren’t willing to do. That’s how they got big.
I wanted to point out that even within our client base that tends to be bigger and more successful than the clients that other companies have, we still see many of our members not answering their phone. It’s absolutely imperative, critical that you answer your phone. It’s the difference maker. It’s the thing you cannot ignore.
I wanted to record the video to remind you that if you’re not answering the phone, spend the money on that. It will improve your customer service and it will make all your marketing work better. You’ll sell tons more work. You’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes. Figure out how to answer the phone. It’s a difference maker.
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.
Go make your first sell. Not next month. Now.