Ladder of Success - 1500-3000 Lawn Care Customer Base

You made the decision years ago that this is a good industry and one that you can grow your business in until you retire or sell it.  Overall, you have a good relationship with your employees.  Labor can become an issue however, and good people and service are at the core of your business so you must always be recruiting.  Maybe a good part of your original "team" has moved on and the quality of service you started with has dropped off slightly.  When that happens, your cancel rate goes up.  A good portion of your marketing budget goes to replacing the customers you lose as cancels.  Customer retention has to be your most important marketing objective.


Maybe you're servicing a few areas where it doesn't pay to go and are spreading your labor force too thin with too much drive time.  With employee turnover, perhaps some employees don’t have the same customer service focus that you need them to.  Sales seem to be harder to come by with so many competitors selling on price.



What to do?

First and foremost, improve customer retention.  Call your customers before each treatment to let them know you are coming and ask if there is anything specifically that you need to pay attention to.  Call them after treatments to make sure they are satisfied.  Re-train your employees on how to improve customer service.  Get rid of areas that are not profitable or are too difficult to service.  Look at customer density by zip code and if there are zips or neighborhoods that you are struggling to service well, let those clients go.  Sell them to your competition if possible.


Make sure you have an ongoing training program in both sales and customer service for all of your employees.  Read more about TRAINING.


As far as generating new sales goes – don’t jump on the price bandwagon.  You can’t win.  Besides, most of your prospects don’t want the cheapest price – they want the best value.  Sell them that and then provide it.


You also may want to consider multiple spring mailings to your best targets or a fall mailing campaign.  (Read more about DIRECT MAIL.)  Fall is typically a harder sell than spring, but if done correctly, it can be profitable. Most of your competition won't be doing any marketing in the fall.  Timing and local weather conditions are critical for fall mailers.  For example: if it's been an unusually wet summer and lawns are still lush and green, no matter how they were treated or who treated them, fall campaigns will be a tough sell because consumers see no reason to switch.  On the other hand, if the weather's been hard (drought, disease, insect damage) then you can expect a higher response rate in the fall, but you should also expect a corresponding higher cancel rate of your current customers (unless you happened to keep their lawns green throughout the drought).


If you're market share is wide spread over much of the city, TELEVISION ADVERTISING may be something to consider. TV advertising reaches a broad spectrum of lawn prospects.  You can target prospects that match the demographics of your customer base by choosing the right networks and programming.  Good creative is important in making television advertising work.  If possible, create a television commercial that will entertain as well as promote your business.


  • WEB SITE - The foundation of your marketing strategy.


  • Business Cards - An inexpensive way to make a big impact (less than $0.07 + postage)


  • DOOR HANGING - Neighbors of Current Customers ($0.16 each + labor & fuel costs)


  • Pre-Pay Letters to Customers, Cancels, and Prior Year Rejects - Send a Pre-Pay Letter to customers and customers that cancelled during the previous two years.  Offer them a substantial discount of 10-20% if they prepay for the entire full season.  Filter your cancel file to remove bad debt/problem customers.  You can also find success mailing the same or a similar offer to leads that did not close from previous years.


  • Direct Sales - Knock on a few doors while you’re out treating lawns, especially if you work on Saturdays or evenings when people are home.  You may come home with three new customers to add to the route you just treated.


  • TELEMARKETING – Call previous cancels and rejects and make them an offer they can’t refuse.



  • Fall Direct Mail - Targeted list; especially successful with poor weather conditions leading up to 1st week of September


  • Spring DIRECT MAIL - The best time to generate quality leads and long-term customers is in the spring in most markets.  Direct Mail, when accurately targeted with a highly selective list, can generate lots of new leads and sales profitably.  Multiple spring mailings to your best prospects can also be profitable.


  • Premium TRUCK SIGNAGE - Truck sales account for between 2 - 4 % of new sales each year. You can make a lasting impression with quality truck signage.  Investment depends on size and quantity of graphics; include your web site address on your trucks.


  • TELEVISION ADVERTISING - Can be targeted by network, cable system, and programming to reach targeted prospects.


  • Invest in continued training for both you and your staff through local, state and national trade associations and local colleges.  Learn how others have become successful and put yourself in a good position for solid future growth.