Just about every encounter is a marketing opportunity for the lucky owner of a lawn care service. Few business sectors have a target audience potentially so huge.
The guy behind the supermarket checkout stand has crabgrass, your barista’s waging war on dandelions. Your doctor’s lawn gets too much sun, your lawyer’s too much shade. Meanwhile that grass just keeps right on growing.
That puts a lot of pressure on your business cards. You should be walking around with a small stack of them of them at all times, and giving them out at the slightest hint of a conversational opening.
While for many business owners business cards provide an outcome to a previous interaction — an invitation to follow up if prospective customers liked what they just heard — for you, business cards are often the first point of contact. And if your business cards don’t look professional, prospective clients will not take your skills seriously.
Lawn Care Industry Snapshot
There are at least 10,000 lawn care service providers working in the United States today according to the Professional Landcare Network, an international association serving lawn care professionals and landscapers. (That number is almost certainly an underestimate since many individuals in this field work under the radar, informally and on a strictly cash basis.)
In two thirds of the country, lawn care is a seasonal occupation, going dormant during the winter months like the grass it services. The U.S. Department of Labor tells us that one out of every four lawn care workers is self-employed, providing services on a contract basis. In addition to lawn mowing and maintenance, these services can include hydroseeding and sod installation; weeding, fertilizing and pest control; landscape design; and landscape care. Many of lawn care workers work part time.
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The potential market for their services is huge, and has been given a boost from the “go green” movement and from aging baby boomers, many of whom own houses with big yards but who no longer have the energy or inclination for maintenance and upkeep.
The economic downturn has certainly had an effect: In 2009, the average lawn care company only grew two percent compared to the ten percent growth experienced in 2008, according to Lawn and Landscape Magazine – but that’s still positive growth.
How Are You Going To Stand Out From Your Competitors?
Face it – the guy who owns that lawn care business with the state of the art Houston John Deere is essentially offering the same service as the fifteen year old down the block when he knocks on your door and asks if you want your grass cut. The only difference between them? Marketing – oh, and the fact that the older guy’s Mom is probably not in his kitchen asking whether he wants milk or lemonade with his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
The Internet has leveled the playing field, giving small companies like yours parity with larger companies offering the same services – at least within the boundaries of your local community. But your marketing efforts and materials must be as well done as theirs.
A well designed website, eye catching business cards and bright, bold branding on the side of your vehicles and equipment are more useful tools than fliers or a Yellow Pages ad.
Business Cards: Your Passport To Success
You don’t necessarily need to have your business cards professionally designed or printed. There are many software programs and templates out there that will allow you to print out cards that look every bit as good.
Keep in mind, however, that if you do patronize the services of a local printer or copy center, you are more likely to get local referrals. If you decide to print your cards yourself, opt to do so on a laser printer rather than an ink jet printer: Ink jet printing smears when it gets wet.
You want to keep your business card simple and you want to keep it targeted. It should convey your business to prospective clients at first glance. Sound like a no brainer? Think back to the last time you cleaned out your own wallet. If you’re like most people, it was filled with business cards and you can’t remember why you collected them.
Lawn care business cards should include a graphic showing grass so that a prospective client knows immediately upon looking at it – without having to read it – what services it’s tied to.
Other information your business card should contain includes your business name, your business logo (yes, you should have one), a contact person (either yourself as owner/operator or a member of your sales team if your company is large enough to have one), the area you provide services throughout, your contact numbers, and the URL of your website.
Now you have a business card with all the right information, but it’s still essentially indistinguishable from many of your competitors who may be offering the same or similar services.
It’s time for fish bait! On the opposite side of your business card, you will want to include a useful nugget of information that guarantees your prospective client will not simply toss your card away at a later date.
This information can be anything from a brief summary of the lawn care cycle, helpful hints for ridding common weeds or pests, or more elaborate formulations on how the mineral content of soil affects grass growth. The point is, the information is something relevant that your prospective customers don’t already know. They will keep your card – and when the time comes to outsource their lawn care, they will have your contact information at hand.
In the end, of course, your most effective marketing tool as a lawn care service provider is a satisfied customer. Word of mouth is the most successful means of advertising a business.
Make sure all your regular customers have their own cache of your company’s business cards to give out next time one of their neighbors asks, “How’d you get such a beautiful lawn?” And if some check-out clerk starts to worry about his crabgrass, your lawn care business card will lead him where he needs to go.