3 Proven Ways to Get Referrals for Your Landscaping or Lawn Care Businesses

Published on January 12, 2017

The bad news?

Referrals can be the slowest way to gain new landscaping clients ...

… at first.

The good news?

When your business does referrals right, you get a snowball effect.

Good referrals generate a constant stream of extremely high-quality leads from your pre-existing lawn care and landscaping clients.

This guide will bury you in an avalanche of profitable referrals:

Why Referrals are Amazing for the Lawn Care and Landscaping Industry

No industry benefits from client referrals like the Green Industry.

The reason is simple: you sell a very “invasive” service.

You go to where your clients live and you change the way people see their homes. Clients must trust you.

It helps if you look like a professional, but...

In order to get loyal, very profitable clients, all Lawn Care and Landscaping companies need to break through the WALL OF DOUBT.

One Good Referral will Demolish your Client’s “WALL OF DOUBT.”

Good referrals do three things:

  • Make clients aware of you
  • Shortcut you past competitors (in your client’s mind)
  • Eliminate objections clients might have - before they even talk to you


Let’s say you are at an equipment vendor, and you want to get a new push mower. It should be strong enough to get the job done AND last a long time. Minimal maintenance.

You've narrowed it down to three choices - X Brand, Y Brand, and Z Brand.

Who would you trust more:

  • The sales guy who gets paid commission to sell you the most expensive mower


  • Your friend from Nashville who also operates a lawn care business

Most likely, you will trust your friend's opinion more.

The same goes for your future clients.

No matter who you are or what you look like, leads will see you as a sales person.

When Mrs. Smith wants to know who has the best Lawn Care service, she is going to trust her neighbor more than she will trust you.

That's why you need to get referrals.

Bonus: when you win Mrs. Smith over, she will tell her other neighbors how much she loves you. She will help her neighbors overcome their objections - because she truly prefers your business.

Mrs. Smith’s recommendations encourage her neighbors to buy your services, instead of someone else’s.

3 Proven Ways to Get Better Referrals for New Lawn Care and Landscaping Clients

To most landscaping owners, referrals “just happen.”

But if you really want to start a client avalanche, you will have to trigger it yourself.

1. Why You Should Target Your Best Clients

Some owners take the shotgun approach: they ask everyone for referrals.

This is a bad idea for one good reason:

Most of these referrals will be low-quality clients with messy properties. These are your “one-and-dones.” You will lose money on these referrals.

Instead, target your best clients first. According to the Pareto Principle for Business, start with your top 20% clients.

These people love your work, they always pay on time, and they rarely complain (if ever).

Why target these lawn care and landscaping clients for referrals?

Your best clients socialize with people who are similar to them. If Mrs. Smith lives in an upscale neighborhood, she will only refer other upscale clients.

Conversely, if you ask for referrals from late-paying clients who love to complain, guess what kind of referrals you will get?

2. How to Use Incentives the Right Way

Referrals should not feel like “business transactions,” - this creates friction between you and your clients. You don't ever want to say, "If you refer a client, I'll give you a free mow."

Instead, every referral should feel like a “gift.”

One of the most successful tactics we’ve seen is the “Gift Card” strategy. Here’s how it works:

1. Make referral gift cards for discounted services (like, “$25 off your first mow!”).

2. Hand these gift cards out to your best clients, and tell them - “Hey, if you know someone looking for more services, would you mind giving them this card? We would really appreciate it.”

This makes it very easy for your clients to refer new people to you.

3. Put a “fill in the blank” line on the card, like this:

I, _____, am referring ______, to XYZ Lawn Services.

Make sure your Client writes their name on the card! This is the only way to identify the referrer.

4. Send a ‘thank you’ gift to Mrs. Smith after she sends you a great new client. Restaurant gift cards work well. 

Mrs. Smith will be thrilled, and she will send all of her neighbors and family to your business.

3. Choose the Right Time to Ask

What is the worst time to ask for a referral?

Some people say, “The worst time is when you hand a bill to your client.”

But you can do much worse. We believe the absolute worst time to ask for a referral is when you fail to satisfy the client.

Don’t ask for referrals if you:

  • Broke something
  • Were late to the appointment
  • Didn't complete the job 100% to your standards

Bad days happen. Don’t make it worse by asking for favors.

So when should you ask for referrals?

After you perform your best work.

When you make a client happy, they will be happy to do more for you.

Use this to your advantage. When your team does the best job possible, when they are proud of those crisp edges and sharp corners, this is the best time to ask your clients for referrals.

If you can do just one thing to go from “a good landscaping business” to “a great one,” do it.

Satisfied clients will trust you. They will go out of their way to refer new clients for your landscaping or lawn mowing business.

Lawn Care and Landscaping Referrals are critical to your company’s success. Get them done right, and new, high-quality clients will flock to your business.

With these three tactics, you should be ready to build a new stream of new clients for your business. Keep up the good work, and be consistent when asking for referrals.

Go make some money.

Related: The 9.5 Best Ways to Market Your Lawn Care or Landscaping Company


Want a deeper guide to incentives and referrals? Service Autopilot Academy is the highest-quality business training on offer.

In a recent 5 hour Masterclass, they reviewed every strategy for getting the best referrals. It also comes with “done for you” materials, so all you have to do is implement.

Click here to find out more about how Academy makes lawn and landscaping companies thrive!

Lisa Marino

Lisa Marino is the Sr. Marketing Director for Service Autopilot. She uses her 17+ years in direct marketing, sales, and product development to push entrepreneurs beyond their limits. She's passionate about helping others grow their businesses through time-tested marketing techniques. When not writing, you can find her belting out a mean Stevie Nicks at a local karaoke night.


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