It used to be that going door-to-door and passing out fliers was the best method for finding new lawn care customers and grow your business. Passing out fliers is easy but often ends up expensive when 50% of your colorful fliers end up in someone’s trash or on the ground in a parking lot. This doesn’t mean that doing things the “old way” doesn’t work anymore; it’s just that it’s labor-intensive and it takes time out of actually making yards beautiful. Here are some “old school” and “new school” tips to grow your customer base.
1. Jobsite Advertising
Although considered “old school,” job site advertising still works and it’s the cheapest way to let your local market know who you are. Always post one or two “yard signs” at the property you or your crew or working at. Your company phone number and web address (if you have a website) should be in big bold letters. Do not try and get too much information on the sign, make it easy to read for passersby, especially in a neighborhood where there is vehicle or foot traffic.
Truck and trailer advertising is very important as well. Don’t clutter your message and make sure your phone number and web address are prominently displayed. Make sure your message is also on the rear of the vehicle or trailer so it can be viewed easily at a traffic light or stop sign.
2. Online Advertising
Having an online presence is the most affordable advertising a contractor can have, but you must help prospective customers find your website through content marketing. When you’re building a website or having one built (recommended), always make certain that the content on your site (blog articles) is automatically shared on your social media accounts. THIS IS FREE!
Speaking of social media, make sure you have a business page on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These are all free and a “plugin” in your website will automatically post your articles or copywriting to these accounts for friends, and friends of friends to see. Forget Google+ because it is being eliminated. Instagram is another platform that is free and is a great place to post before and photos of your work.
3. Focus on Local Advertising
Unless you want calls or messages from people living three states to the north of you, keep your advertising local. Yelp and Google allow you to setup mini-websites for free and you can have reviews posted to everyone will know you’re the greatest lawn service on the planet.
To get a free business list in Google My Business, start here for step-by-step instructions. Remember, you are creating an ad to tell people in your marketing area that you are open for business because you are a business!
To get set up with Yelp, go to their home page and click on the “Sign Up” box to get started. If you need help getting started with Yelp, there are many tutorials on the web that can help you create your account.
4. Job Boards
Last, but certainly not least are the job boards out there that can hook you up with local prospective customers in your marketing area. Yes, they charge a fee for providing the advertising and the leads for you but it’s money well spent. Remember, new customers from a job board can give you referrals that cost you nothing. Here are some job boards that you can check out:
- GreenPal – GreenPal is a job board dedicated to lawn care businesses and clients.
- TAKL – TAKL is a platform that connects customers with service providers for just about any chore imaginable.
- HomeAdvisor – HomeAdvisor is one of the biggest job platforms out there and many contractors have built their businesses using this platform.
- Thumbtack – Thumbtack is another job platform similar to HomeAdvisor that spends considerable money advertising services and getting customers for your business.
Your Bottom Line
It’s simply amazing that with today’s technology, any new contractor business can sign up with several job platforms and get more customers than you’d imagine. These aren’t people that are thinking about hiring a contractor, in fact, most prospective customers on these sites place an order during their first visit. Yes, you’ll have to pay a fee or commission (you build it into your prices), but after a short while of doing a great job for these customers, your phone will be ringing from referrals that want to business with you.
Lastly, in future articles, we will drill-down in each of these job platforms and give you the pros and cons of each platform and how much they charge.
Protect your Business and Yourself
It’s critical that subcontractors and specialty contractors put a hedge of protection around their business to mitigate the risk of being in business. You’ve worked hard physically and financially to create your business, now it’s time to put your commercial insurance package in place.
Here is What We Recommend
General Liability: Contractors General Liability will be the foundation of protection for your business. The coverage will respond if you or your employees are found liable for bodily injury, property damage, or have a products/completed operations complaint. The coverage also covers defense costs for your business to respond to any lawsuits brought by a third party.
Workers’ Comp: Many states will require contractors to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their workers before they can begin a project. Accidents will happen at the job site that can result in an employee becoming injured and missing work. Your workers’ compensation coverage will provide financial assistance for medical expenses and lost wages.
Surety Bonds: It’s very likely that your state will require you to be licensed before you can begin operations. Most states and customers will require contractors to offer a license or surety bond before you are allowed to bid on a job or begin working.
Commercial Auto: Typically, most contractors will have light and heavy vehicles that require commercial auto insurance to make certain their vehicles can be repaired or replaced in the event of an accident, vandalism, or theft.
Tool Coverage: Also known as Inland Marine Insurance, this policy will provide for reimbursement for expenses to repair or replace tools and equipment. Your tools represent an important part of your livelihood, so we always encourage carpentry contractors to consider this valuable coverage.