So, you decided to take the leap and start your own lawn care or landscaping company.
You’re feeling both exhilarated and a little scared at the same time because you need to find your first clients.
It’s easier than you think. Let me show you how the lawn care professionals start getting their first clients:
Are You Networking in Your Local Market?
When you are just starting out, the easiest way to find clients is through networking.
Rex Bishop, Director of Technical Education with the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) says that networking through your local Chamber of Commerce, joining local and county business associations and other networking programs are ways to find lawn care and landscaping clients.
Bishop also notes that you’ll be starting out with residential clients first—unless you know a property manager or business owner who wants you to work for them.
So, it’s beneficial to walk the neighborhoods surrounding your company to let your neighbors know you’re open for business. Design postcards and door hangers and start knocking on doors to see who needs lawn care services.
“It’s about building relationships, networking and communication,” Bishop adds.
Why You Need to Be on Social Media
Social Media is the newest form of networking.
You want to be active on social media—just act professionally.
You might not have a brand new truck with your logo, but still wear a shirt, be professional and don’t attack negative reviewers.
When you develop a following on Facebook and Twitter, the next step is advertising. Facebook advertising is one of the best and least expensive ways to grow your lawn business.
Your goal, though, is to save up money to hire a web designer to develop a website that will draw people to you and make you the local green industry go-to company.
Low-cost or Free Ways to Get Known Online
As you grow your business, you want to include other ways of getting your name out in the digital marketplace. Here are some low cost or free ways to build up your online presence:
- Sign up on Angie’s List: Angie’s List has been around for nearly two decades and homeowners trust this source to find service providers. You can join Angie’s List for free, but you’ll eventually want to advertise to find even more prospects.
- Other benefits of joining Angie’s List include:
- A low-cost way to advertise
- You beat out your competition when a homeowner calls you over them
- You get reviews that build your company’s credibility.
- Put your business on Bing and Google local listings: You can put your business on the virtual map, literally! Both Bing and Google have free local listings. While you may not have a website to include right away, you can still add your phone and text numbers as well as your email address.
- Get more referrals from your lawn care clients: If you do an outstanding job for a customer, ask them for a referral. At first, it’s uncomfortable asking your customers for their feedback, but you want to get into the habit of asking them.
You can use these mini-testimonials on your postcards, brochures or flyers as well as on your website. They’re marketing gold and make you look like a dependable and trustworthy lawn and landscape company owner.
Always, ALWAYS Respond
You have an excellent pipeline of customers who are happy with the work you do on their properties. However, there is one very unhappy customer who left negative feedback on your Facebook page.
You feel hurt, attacked and worried that all of your customers will leave you because this one person hated your service. So, you want to attack back.
Instead, always reply to the negative feedback and ask what specifically went wrong with your services.
Did you accidentally mow over a favorite plant? Did the fertilizer you use burn their grass?
Once you know the problem, you can calmly address it. Go and make it right if you did do something to damage your customer’s property.
You should aim to respond to every review and address the problem within 12 hours. After that, you have about 24 hours to start fixing it. This is the best practice to prove your customer service is top notch.
What Do You Do After Getting Your First Residential Lawn Clients?
Generally, you’ll need to gain some experience working with residential accounts before you take on the next level – commercial lawn accounts.
There is one stepping stone you can take:
Many homeowner and community associations hire lawn and landscaping maintenance companies to keep residential properties looking well-cared for and uniform.
Kelly Barnes, Chapter Administrator of Building Managers International, in the Tampa Bay area gives this advice on approaching HOAs and community associations,
“Communication is key! Especially if they are working with a community association. [There are] many players involved and they must be kept in the loop.”
“When approaching a community association, the property manager is the one you want to talk to. Going around them (property managers) and straight to the board annoys them. You need (property managers) to be on your side,” Barnes says.
When you’re first starting out, you need to pound the pavement, both literally and online, to find your first customers. Once you’re on a roll, and your handiwork becomes well-known, you’ll see your client load begin to grow too.
Wendy Komancheck is the owner of The Landscape Writer. She writes for lawn care, landscape and other field services. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. When Wendy’s not working, she’s at the local high school cheering on her two sons' volleyball games, taking walks with her dog, Hope, or helping out at church.Author's Website