Two things you need to have for effective marketing are a phone/phone number dedicated solely to your business (with a business greeting) and business cards printed for distributing to current and potential customers. Do this because having a dedicated business phone and business cards helps to identify your company as a legitimate and professional lawn care business in the minds of your clients. I recommend Vistaprint for your business cards because they have easy to use software and are very affordable.
Marketing and advertising is what separates the successes from the failures. The goal to keep in mind in all of your advertising and marketing is that projecting and maintaining a professional image is key. You can do the best work in town, but if your company doesn’t project an image that reflects that, you will continually struggle to find customers and work. There are four main outlets for advertising your lawn care business that will yield decent returns on your investment.
1) Website – There is nothing that will get you more calls than a professional looking and informative website. It is a larger cost of both time and money up front, but produces yields that outperform any other advertising method. Once done, a website will need nothing but occasional updating of pictures and copy. A great website is key in the lawn care industry for many reasons. First off, not many lawn care, pressure washing, irrigation installation, and landscape lighting companies have websites and the ones that do usually have pretty amateur or sloppy sites.
This means that there is less competition online and it is easy to position your site very high in search ratings and on Google business listings in a relatively short period of time when using proper SEO techniques. More people than ever are going online to find services because of how easy and quick it is to do and you should be taking advantage of that. As an added bonus for having a website, you will get a majority of the calls from people that own second homes in your area or that are out of town and forgot to make arrangements for their lawn care. These people are often the best customers because
1)They aren’t there to complain about ANYTHING and
2) they are usually willing to pay higher prices because of their need to get it done.
It also lets your customers contact you via email or contact form on your website so that you can begin to build an email list to send out special offers or quick communication with your clients which will save you hours of time and energy over the life of your business.
2) Word of Mouth – This may seem simple or trivial, but you would be surprised how many people do not use this method of getting their business name and reputation out there to the extent that it could be used. This method is not really effective until you have a few customers, but once you do be sure to ASK them to recommend your business to potential new customers. Be direct about this and even offer to contact anyone whose name they give you. Don’t be overly aggressive about it to the point of being annoying, but being assertive and respectful and you will find that this is a great way to get new customers. One of the best rewards of word of mouth advertising is that you will often times get multiple customers in one area. This is very beneficial because close together homes require less travel time and equate to higher earnings per hour. Best of all, this method of advertising doesn’t cost you a penny!
3) Yellowpages Ads – This is the old school way of getting your name out there, but it is still effective, especially with the older crowd who hasn’t gone online yet. Make sure you talk to a representative and ask for deals such as a two for one price where you can advertise under both landscaping and lawn care or a little freebie thrown in somewhere such as a free pressure washing ad or text ad. Most of these companies are hurting for business with the rise of the Internet so use that to your advantage. The main problem with Yellowpage ads is that every company in your area has one, so make sure that yours stands out. Fork out a little more money for a slightly larger ad with your website, phone number, services, and anything that sets you apart or stand out and it will pay big dividends. Make sure that it is informative, to the point, and that it lets people know what they are getting the moment they see it. These ads can get a bit pricey, especially if you are in a big city since pricing is based on distribution, but in most cases is worth the investment if you are looking to grow.
4) Direct Distribution – Direct distribution is very popular, but has absolutely terrible returns on your time and effort in most cases with a dismal 1-3% conversion rate. That means that only 1-3 of every 100 fliers you attach to mailboxes will get a callback. I have found that it is worth it to do this only in areas where you already have a client so that that in your copy you can say something along the lines of “(company name) is currently doing work for customers in your neighborhood and would like to offer our professional services to you as well. We offer (list services offered) and then put your phone number and website in bold at the bottom and I like to offer a “10% discount if you call before ___ date” as a call to action.” Placing anything directly into a mailbox is illegal and I strongly recommend against it. In order to get around this buy a large pack of rubber bands and a hole punch, punch holes in a corner of your flier, staple your business card to the back, and loop the rubber band around the mailbox flag.
Your fliers should be postcard sized, look clean and neat, and be evenly cut. (a paper cutter is probably a good investment if you are going to do your own cutting). You can either print them yourself of have them professionally done. A great site for making distribution materials if you are familiar with photoshop or design software is http://48hourprint.com. They let you upload your design, print it, and have it to you within a week in most cases.
When writing your advertising copy, don’t let customers infer that you are the cheapest in town, but rather that you are the best and most professional in town. Competing in low price wars is a losing situation for everyone so don’t play that game. Follow these steps and your phone will be ringing in no time.