Free Lawn Care Services: Good or Terrible Idea?

lawn sprinkler

Why free lawn services are worth every penny you spend on marketing strategies and tactics…

Let’s start here:

Who do you know that doesn’t want free stuff? “Free” is still the most powerful word in marketing.

“Free” has a hypnotic effect on your clients.

But most business owners don’t know how to use it – the right way.

People love free, but if you use it poorly, they’ll think you’re trying to scam them.

So how do you make your free promotions credible? More importantly…

how do you make money from giving away lawn care services – for free?

A Dangerous Lawn Care Marketing Strategy

Giving away services for free can cost you a lot of money.

When you do it wrong, you’ll end up working for free.

If you’re new to the Lawn Care Industry, you might want to check out these 11.5 Best Ways to Market Your Lawn Care and Landscaping Business. They’re proven to work, and will grow your business faster.

However, if you feel like you’re out of options… and you really want a fast injection of new clients (and profit) in your lawn care business:

Try this strategy.

First, we’re going to start with your “client lifetime value.”

1. What is Your Client Lifetime Value?

Gotta spend money to make money, right?

Well, before you promote anything, you need to know how much you can spend to acquire a new client.

Essentially, you need to know these numbers:

  • How long does a weekly mowing client stay with you?
  • How much do you make per job?

This article will show you how to do the rest.

Once you know how much a client is worth to you, you can typically spend 1/5th to 1/3rd that amount to acquire them (and still be profitable).

So, say a client is worth $500 over their total lifetime. You can spend $100-$167 to acquire them.

2. What Does “Free” Really Mean to Clients?

When you’re a business, free doesn’t make sense… right?

I don’t blame you for being hesitant, because if you give something away for free it will cost your business money.

But your clients really love getting something for nothing. Here’s why:

  • They feel obligated to “pay you back”

If your clients have a good experience with your free offer, research indicates they are 20% more likely to pay it back by referring your work to someone else. What’s more, companies often make more money on giveaways because consumers feel obligated to buy more.

  • They are easier to impress

According to the this article, a free service comes with low expectations (“Hey, it’s free, why not try it, what do you have to lose?”) and neutral perceptions (“What’s the worst thing that can happen if its not great?”).

Yet, the real win is if your product or service proves useful, expectations are exceeded and perception shifts to positive (“It’s not only free but it’s way cool and so worth it!”).

  • The power of free over discount?

In Chris Anderson’s book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price, an experiment was conducted to show that people’s perception of value was tied to price.

The experiment proved that when offered two products, one for a discount and one for free, people would almost always choose the product that was free. People love getting something for nothing and if given the option, they choose free over cheaper.

How Do You Market “Free” (the Right Way)?

Start with a service that is perceived as high-value.

Keep your free service giveaways unexpected:

  1. Perform good deeds at the right time. I know a residential landscaper who finds nearby lawns that look unhealthy at end of the growing season. He offers free lawn care treatments and leaf clean-ups. You’d be surprised how many people sign up for his services because of this. It increases his route density drastically, saving him tons of money.
  2. Free services that lead to paid services? Free quotes are a no-brainer. One of the hardest parts of selling is getting your foot in the door. If you can build other free services that lead to paid services (or paid services where you can tack on a really easy “free” service), you will amaze every new client.
  3. Put a value on it. If you’re going to offer a freebie, the least you can do is talk about the value your clients are getting. Make sure you put a value or price tag on it so the customer knows what they would have paid if it wasn’t free. “A $100 value – completely free!”

Prove that Your Offer isn’t “Too Good to Be True”  

“Too good to be true” decreases your credibility.

To avoid this, explain how you came to offer such a great free deal:

  • Did you mess up and get overstocked with a certain product?
  • Did you get a great deal from your supplier?
  • Do you just want to say thank you in a meaningful way?

Whatever the case for a freebie, give a good reason for it.

What Else Should You Give Away?

Obviously, you can give away free services…

…but there might be a better idea. One that will earn you more money, without costing your company time and labor.

Giving away free information is the easiest and lowest cost answer – while still giving your clients incredible value. It also positions you as an expert.

1. Write how-to articles and shoot instructional videos.

Include “insider information” as a free giveaway for new customer lead generation.

Your how-to guide could be a written article, blog, podcast or video on particular subjects of great interest to your target market:

  • Watering guides
  • Flower and plant videos
  • How to aerate your lawn
  • How to install an irrigation system
  • How to grow a new lawn in your region
  • A guide to common lawn pests in your region

2. Classes and workshops.

Use this venue to gain momentum in the off-season and reach out to your community. Once spring rolls around, everyone starts thinking about their outdoor property. Find out what people in your area would be interested in learning about prior to spring and formulate an ongoing circuit of classes during this time.

3. Consultations and audits.

Free consultations and landscape audits (usually priced at $400 and up) will reel in customers. In addition to your estimates of what it will cost to do work on a prospect’s yard, add free detailed explanations and advice commentary in your report alongside the dollar values.

Use “Free Service Contests” to Win the Masses

Contests are one of the best free giveaway promotional tactics in your arsenal with a multitude of social media marketing goals you can accomplish. Use Instagram or advertise your contest on Facebook to see quick returns and get a bunch of new leads.

You can spend as much or as little as you want, both on the prize itself and your marketing efforts behind it.

Before you begin any social media campaign, it’s important to decide what marketing goals you want to accomplish:

  1. Find new followers and customers. Make sure that these “follows” and “likes” are coming from the right people. If you’re getting 1,000 new page “likes” from people who will not become customers, your Facebook contest is not helping your business.
  2. Keep your existing customers engaged. Reward them by being eligible for the contests even though they’ve already used your services in the past
  3. Improve your organic reach (the number of people who had an unpaid post from your Page that entered your screen)

Free is Your “Foot in the Door”

Free services are a terrible idea…

…unless you do them right.

Then, they’ll get your foot in the door, and help you acquire new clients who are worth so much more.

Give away free information, position yourself as the friendly expert, and you’re going to grow 10x faster.

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick Hoffman is Marketing Director at Service Autopilot. He specializes in managing marketing campaigns and giving marketing strategies to the Lawn Care, Landscaping, and Cleaning Industries. When he's not writing, he's reading books on marketing, self-improvement, or science fiction. Contact Patrick: patrick.hoffman@serviceautopilot.com

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