According to Marketing at Work, the average business loses about 10 to 25 percent of its customer base per year. Smallbiztrends.com reports the number of customers a business loses annually is 15% on average.
Whether the number is 15 or 25, the math is the same: If you lose 25% of your clients a year, by the fourth year you won’t have any. If the rate of loss is 15%, it will take 2.6 years longer to effectively carve your livelihood down to nothing.
Statistically speaking, the lawn care business is no different with any other market sector when it comes to retaining clients. As a service industry, lawn care can be impacted by a bad economy. People cut costs when the economy is failing. The other sure way to lose clientele is to provide poor service. When weighing expenses and costs of doing business, clients expect to get superior service. When they don’t, they go elsewhere.
As sure as clockwork, as the calendar rings in the New Year, everyone from commercial building owners to multi-family HOA’s take a hard look at the expenses from the year prior.
Successful companies have learned that marketing will keep clients in the fold, reducing the attrition that comes at a dear cost.
Even if snow is forecast for another three months in your geographic location, now’s the time to set your marketing in motion. Like right now.
MAKE A PLAN
Even if you’ve been in the business for some time, there’s a chance you never built a marketing plan. The saying that you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been has never been more true.
Maybe you never had a formal business plan, but you got lucky those first handful of years and now you’re making bank. Client numbers increased and you hired more crews to keep up with the work. Don’t fool yourself. You still need a plan. It helps to keep your focus as the business continues to grow.
A solid marketing plan includes the following:
- Cell phone and phone services
- eMail (plus the dedication to using the technology)
- Website and social media/SEO
- A Google presence
- Business cards, Invoice template
- QuickBooks or another bookkeeping service
- Truck/trailers wrapped in branded design
- Uniforms for the entire crew to wear
- Yard signs to post when a landscaping project is underway.
Unlike successful landscaping companies of yesteryear, you don’t need to print an overload of brochures, door hangers and envelopes. You still need a business card. Make sure the font is no less than 10pt so that it can be read by people over 40 because they are your target market. Include your contact information…including a street address.
Look into a phone service, one that you can train to answer specific questions, teeing you up to speak to the potential customer later. Or answer your own phone…before the third ring all day and in the evening too.
Get a website. It’s your online showroom. It validates you and your service. It’s important that your website be responsive (it moves seamlessly from desktop to tablet to cell phone.) One more thing: get a secure certificate, an SSL. Google changed its policy in 2019 to show in the search line whether a website has an SSL or not even when the site is not for the purpose of online shopping. It looks wrong to have the notation “Not Secure” on the domain line.
Unlike Field of Dreams, just because you built a site doesn’t mean they will come. You have to infuse your site with social media and SEO.
Serious business functions come with owning any small business. If you don’t like paperwork or eschew filing reports, you need to find someone who does. This kind of paperwork is not optional. Fines and fees can become an unnecessary burden when you’re late or fail to pay.
One of the greatest failures in the lawn care business is irregular or incorrect billing. You bust your tail mowing the lawn to perfection, and then irritate the client by slow billing? Submit clean, clear invoices on time and regularly.
Wrap your truck/trailer/car in a professional wrap. Nothing is as effective as a wrap to promote your business on every section of highway you travel. Just be sure that you drive carefully and obey traffic laws since your identifying deets are obvious to everyone in the next lane.
Dress your crews in professional coordinating sheets. Short sleeve with a cuff looks eons more professional than a T-shirt. But a T-shirt is better than not. Go the extra mile and furnish everyone on your crew with a safety vest. The vest communicates that your company pays attention to safety rules. It gives prospective clients some comfort.
The best time to get passersby to notice your work up close and personal is WHILE YOU’RE DOING IT. Realtors already practice this trick, posting OPEN HOUSE signs in the neighborhood pointing people to the right house for sale. In the lawn business, put the open house sign at the curb so that passersby notice the quality mowing and/or landscaping in action.
Now that you’ve taken the time to read about marketing, it is 10 minutes closer to mowing season. Get on mowmore.com to preview the new products you’ll need this season. Then step on the marketing.