Trying to think of ways to entice new lawn care customers

 

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Trying to think of ways to entice new lawn care customers

So we’ve been a pretty much purely commercial landscaping company for the last 8-10 years. Long story short, commercial clients are starting to get cheap so we’re trying to get back into residential work.

It’s proving to be tough to break into the market. To be fair, the season hasn’t quite begun yet so not too many people are looking for a landscaper or already have one. I’m trying to think of some things that we haven’t already done to get new customers.

Here’s what we have done:

•Social media posts. Facebook, Instagram, Nextdoor, we’ve been posting on those all winter and have gotten some work but not much.

•Doorhangers. We’ve been handing out door hangers in our immediate area (a ton of houses within 3 miles of where we park our equipment). This gets us the most calls quickly. We can hand out 400 and get 3 calls but most of them don’t convert.

•SEO and overall web presence. We have a local guy take care of our Google listings, website, and our SEO. We’re ranking higher on Google so I know he works but we aren’t getting very many customers or calls in general from internet searches.

I have another plan I’d like to try out so let me know what you guys think. I’d like to have a referral program, we don’t currently have one as I’m not really sure how well they work. I kind of want to limit it to something like “get your neighbor to sign up for our services and receive 10% off your next service” or something like that. Anyone know how landscape referral systems work?

Trying to think of ways to entice new lawn care customers

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27 Replies to “Trying to think of ways to entice new lawn care customers”

  1. I don’t know how well it would work, but when I worked for a small company doing wildlife removal, we would give a $50 or $75 credit to their next bill for referrals. The 50 or 75 depended on the job they referred to us and how big it was, plus if we sold the job and did work. We worked a lot on word of mouth so It might not translate as well to a landscaping business.

    Since the person that your referred too might be a reoccurring customer you might wanna think about giving them more if your making more money. Our average jobs profit was around $600.

    Not sure if his helps but figured I’d put it out there!

  2. I do residential lawn care. I got my first few customers from delivering flyers, then neighbours saw me working and asked for a card. Getting all these little pockets of customers really makes things profitable. If I can do 4 or 5 houses in one area without loading and unloading the truck between each one, I’ll make a lot more than I would making tons of stops. It’s also more mentally tiring loading and unloading the truck 20 times a day.

  3. A texting campaign for established customers is a must. The people who cleaned our gutters last year just made it SO EASY for me to say yes – they texted saying “we will be in your area next week – can we schedule you for gutter cleaning?” I responded yes, and they told me they would text the night before service and reminded me of the check amount and who to make it out to, to put it in a ziplock bag under the mat, and that’s it. So easy. So easy to say yes.

  4. May sound overly simple but make sure you’re doing a good job and realize your work is also advertising. I’m always impressed when I drive or run by a fantastic lawn. Sometimes the company will have one of those little signs in the yard by the sidewalk so you know who’s doing their lawn.
    On the other hand there are a couple companies that block the roads with their trucks and equipment in my neighborhood, often leaving their mowers in the street, they don’t stop blowing while you run or walk by. They drive me nuts and I would never use their service. Remember that your potential customers are watching you work while you’re mowing their neighbors lawn, be courteous to them.

  5. I got a discount on my lawn service because the next door neighbor already had them so they didn’t have to make two trips. Then my other next door neighbor got them too. It was just pure convenience and price.

    Maybe some way to let them know you’re already doing the neighbors and will give them a break in rates?

  6. One of the challenges of residential lawns is proximity and drive time. You’re burning gas and crew time just hitting up all the various locations. Even if you try to regionalize your days, still going to be very slim profits.

    Try this: pull a Visible (cell phone service) and do a party plan. Offer a slightly higher but reasonable fee (let’s say $50 a week, and discount it for the client and their neighbor to 45$ each, or client and 3 neighbors for $40 each, etc. You can limit a “party” to whatever you’re willing to do per lawn since you’re more likely to be on the same street and saving so much time between locations.(source: I convinced my lawn guy to do this for me and 5 neighbors on a cul de sac so we all saved a bunch and it really tightens up his timeline and he’s still happy with his ROI)

    Or this: Work on befriending other resi guys and offer to trade accounts from one region to another (negotiate what’s reasonable and equitable) so you can stay close to the commercial accounts that are still on your roster.

  7. I’d start a referral program with your local plumbers, irrigation,and roofing guys.

    Plug into the local Realtor scene, especially in Probate, Forclosure, and HUD.

    Know where your local folks shop. Is there a coffee shop or sandwich place around that people with a little extra cash like to go to? Ask to keep your card there.

    Run a deal at these places that only work if they have your business card.

    Here’s a little trick I’ve done for a local plumber: if you turn in my business card with the signature of one of my past clients, I’ll give you both 25% off your next order and give you a free consultation.

    That worked because the business owner didn’t have a CRM; his client ledger was a spreadsheet on Google Sheets that he pulled up on his phone. If the name matched, he’d mark it and give them the discount.

    I do SEO and Social, I gotta say, for the love of God supply him with as many before and after photos as possible. Photos and video are an awesome way to really stand out as a small business. Learning how to take photos and frame shots can really make your branding explode.

    Another local SEO trick: do a review campaign for Google My Business and Social channels. It goes a long way for trust, and when the reviews are real, people can tell.

    Even the best SEO needs help from their business to get an edge over their competition. Help them help you.

  8. I manage HOA’s in North Carolina, and I think a great way to get your name out there is to just contact Property Management companies and give them your information. Whenever an Annual Meeting takes place, no matter which association, one of the huge points of contention is the landscaping. I have people contact our office letting me know they are in the business and I always keep their info/business cards if I have one because I am always looking to offer up new options to our HOA’s. Another point of contention with contracts is that we pay a monthly fee for the entire year. When weather is bad, or you can’t mow etc, you are still getting paid, so if you can assure them that when you’re not mowing, you will still be earning that paycheck in other ways like trimming, picking up limbs etc. that really makes people happy. I know this isn’t really marketing, but just wanted to let you know the common complaints I hear so you can avoid them. Good Luck!!!

  9. We have a landscaping business. 90% are residential. Work is all year round thanks to sunny days in our city most of the year. We never printed any flyers or door hangers. We get calls daily or clients just book our service on our website. We almost never had to travel to give in-person visits. You mentioned you rank high on Google. I’m surprised you didn’t get more calls from Google. A referral program is a good idea. Have it on your website also. We also have a gift card feature too and have gotten some good clients from it. Other upsell items you probably have thought of. Tree Trimming, removal. Planting,
    Irrigation repair, install, Sprinkler repair, install, Sod removal, install, Grass over-seeding.

  10. Can you get access to what new home sales have happened in your area? I bought a house two years ago and felt like I got a lot of targeted mail for a while due to it. But first time home owners need a lawn guy. You could take a minute and look at the address in google maps to see how big the yard is before sending out the post card. Or send a hand written letter in a hand written envelope to really get their attention. This would take a lot of time but be cheap otherwise. You could hyper target richer areas this way too. And perhaps if you can’t find new home sales then use new mortgage transaction info?

  11. Get friendly with local irrigation companies. Plumbers too. I’m a remote office manager for an irrigation company and our owner has made friends with a lot of other landscapers, plumbers, etc. I’m often asked who we recommend for various tasks (had a call about landscaping just today), and we pick up new clients thanks to these folks recommending us in turn.

  12. If you have customers that you get along with, offer them X off their next bill if you can put a sign on their lawn for 1 week:

    “Your lawn could look this good. 877-555-1212 Logo, Mikes Mowing.”

    The advantage of this approach is that it will tend to cluster your jobs, meaning you aren’t spending as much time loading and unloading.

    Another idea is to have a sandwich board sitting there with info an an OBVIOUS flyer dispenser (It has to bee seen for what it is from a moving car.)

  13. Depending on your area, resi stuff won’t start until mid to late April. Resi customers are lazy and won’t call till the last minute. Just keep on your front of mind marketing so that when they think lawncare, they call you. then make it easy for them to be lazy. Quick estimate, simple “yes go ahead” from them, bill them and make it easy to pay or they won’t pay you.
    Your marketing mix sounds great, especially ranking high on Google. I get most of my work through word of mouth or people that just walk up to one of us and ask for a card, so the referral program is a great idea. Customers in this industry are pretty cheap to acquire (30ish bucks per person), but they only spend 1-2k per year and stay about 2 years. Keep that in mind when you give referral credits. But those are just my numbers in Missouri as well. Keep up the good work, and in a month or two it’ll all pay off. Just be sure to get the bids out in under 24 hours and you’ll have tons of new clients in 6 months.

  14. Local FB groups. Find the active ones for towns or areas or county. Follow the rules on advertising. They’ll usually let you place an ad every Monday or first of the month. Also look for people searching for services. I live near a town of 35k and people are always hunting for a lawn service.

    See if HOAs have a monthly newsletter you can advertise in or if they have a community bulletin board you could put a flyer on.

  15. Have you considered your local landlords? Not the property management companies (unless of course you wanted to) but the the local guy/gal who has quite a few properties and doesn’t use a property manager. Does most of the work themselves. They might be glad to unload some of the lawn work to free up time for other things.

    I have a friend who owns rentals. They seem to be in clusters of 2 to 4 within a few blocks of each other. There could also be the potential for some of the other work you mentioned like mulching and so on. Curb appeal and all that. If the properties were close enough together that you could offer discounts for signing up 2 or 3 etc (list the addresses so no one thinks you will discount 2 or 3 lawns all over town, cuz you know someone will think that). Landlords usually have other landlord friends to refer.

    Also, what about house flippers? Do the landscaping and mowing until it sells. But they are looking for minimal expenses to get higher profit. If you can pitch the sale to great curb appeal will help sell your property as it welcomes potential buyers. The yard and flower gardens already look great so the buyers won’t be thinking they will have to add getting the lawn looking nice to a To Do list.

    The property flippers would maybe be agreeable to you leaving a magnet on the refrigerator. It can hold a paper saying your company did the landscaping and what services you offer and to call (phone number). And offer them some sort of incentive if you wish. Discount or some sort of bundling – have these 3 services done get this other one free!

    Okay. This is huge coincidence. I received in the mail a letter/flyer from a local lawn service. If you purchase an annual plan, you get 50% off the first application. Looks to be spraying for weeds. It doesn’t say how many times they spray or the cost.

    I have received flyers from them in the past for mowing services. If you signed up and paid before Earliest Date, you paid *x* amount, saving $200 (I just picked an amount. I don’t remember the actual amount). Signing up and paying before Next Date you saved $150. And so on.

    Hope you get tons of good ideas from the commenters.

  16. “I’ll pretend to be your brother-in-law so you can lie to your former lawn care guy when you say you don’t need his services any more and you don’t want to hurt his feelings.” It may be very situationally-specific though.

  17. Try a sponsored Google business listing, that will put you at the top of the results on Google when someone searches for lawn care in your town.

    Pay to boost a post on your Facebook business page. This is the best bang for your buck exposure you can get these days. A few dollars will get you thousands of local views.

    Offer referral incentives.

  18. Think political and use yard signs. Hand pick roadside lawns and offer your services at a discounted or even free rate in exchange for them posting the sign.

    The sign needs to be smaller with a white background that’s CLEARLY readable at road speed. Preferably tucked somewhere at end of the yard so passersby can see the yard, then see the sign.

  19. Make it to do business with you as easy as possible. I would leave a letter at each door, or hanger that said that we will be on your street on a certain day from x time to x time, here is a menu of services, check off what you want to be done, sign and leave it on the floor hanger, we will leave the bill under the mat.

  20. Why not change the business model completely and look at government contracts? If you can get your small business certifications and get yourself registered, you could open yourself up to tons of lucrative opportunities. I actually worked with a lawn care company who did just that. The government, whether federal, state, or local, has tons of land that needs care.

  21. Not pretty, but if I had a residential landscaper came to me and said they’d also pick up my dog poop I’d probably hire him.

  22. >This gets us the most calls quickly. We can hand out 400 and get 3 calls but most of them don’t convert.

    They’re not supposed to mostly convert. Only a fraction will. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. What you should do is work on increasing conversions, changing your text, providing offers, etc.

    And door hangers are also long term. They’ll throw them in a drawer and call you in the spring.

  23. Look up WhizBang 6 box program and see if you can implement it into your business. It’s widely successful in the retail segments.

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