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Thread: Starting a Lawn Mowing business just before winter.

  1. #1
    Member lamlamchris's Avatar
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    Default Starting a Lawn Mowing business just before winter.

    G’day, my name is Chris, and I have recently started a lawnmowing business in the NSW Southern Highlands known as Lamb’s Lawncare. I’m still employed full time, but have already done a few jobs around the place, mowing, hedging, yard cleanups and the like. I’m interested in hearing opinions on starting this just before winter, and weather or not to advertise during this time, or wait until Spring. I had an ad in the local paper for four weeks, which finished last week. As time passed, the calls were fewer. So, what do you guys think? To keep advertising in local press during winter, or just pound the pavement delivering flyers, of which I have plenty, and will do regardless of the time of year. Any and all feedback is welcome.

    Regards, Chris.

  2. #2
    Senior Member BSD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting a Lawn Mowing business just before winter.

    Good one, I'm restarting at the far south coast, my opinion............the local papers are too expensive, letterbox drops and stuff can be ok, its coming into slowdown season so caution where you advertise. My opinion is Gumtree and focus on getting lots of dumb ass enquiries but over a few months the genuine ones will shine for you. Worked for me at Campbelltown for 5 yrs and it will work again down here. Cheers!!!

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    Senior Member 4 Gardens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting a Lawn Mowing business just before winter.

    Quote Originally Posted by BSD View Post
    Good one, I'm restarting at the far south coast, my opinion............the local papers are too expensive, letterbox drops and stuff can be ok, its coming into slowdown season so caution where you advertise. My opinion is Gumtree and focus on getting lots of dumb ass enquiries but over a few months the genuine ones will shine for you. Worked for me at Campbelltown for 5 yrs and it will work again down here. Cheers!!!
    where on the south coast are you heading?

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    Member lamlamchris's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting a Lawn Mowing business just before winter.

    Thanks BSD, good feedback, cheers and good luck with your venture.

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    Member kevinsuzanne's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting a Lawn Mowing business just before winter.

    Hi there chris,
    l would keep working fulltime until the business builds up& you develop a regular client base.
    Local papers and word of mouth worked for me .good luck

  6. #6
    Member lamlamchris's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting a Lawn Mowing business just before winter.

    Thanks for the advice guys, fully intend to work full time until things start to move in a positive direction, which is another good point. How do you know when to fully let go, and strike out on your own?

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    Senior Member BeetleJuice's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting a Lawn Mowing business just before winter.

    Quote Originally Posted by lamlamchris View Post
    Thanks for the advice guys, fully intend to work full time until things start to move in a positive direction, which is another good point. How do you know when to fully let go, and strike out on your own?
    Only when it's the quiet/slow time of the year and your still making enough $$$ to pay the bills,different states/areas have different results around this country with variable seasons and incomes

    For example here (SA) during the busy times i'll be out mowing 6 days a week averaging 8-9 homes a day,currently being dry and slow i work 4-5 days and only cutting 4-5 homes per day.My income has more than halved which will run like this upto 5 months a year then it grows quiet again around July/August/SepT being cold and grass going dormant,around Oct we start picking up again.Local guys on this forum can tell you what's it's like for your area.

    How to survive this,you need lots and lots of customers to carry you through the lean times..Did i say LOTS ?

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    Senior Member BSD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting a Lawn Mowing business just before winter.

    Already here at Batehaven. Cheers!!
    Quote Originally Posted by 4 Gardens View Post
    where on the south coast are you heading?

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    Senior Member 4 Gardens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting a Lawn Mowing business just before winter.

    Quote Originally Posted by BSD View Post
    Already here at Batehaven. Cheers!!
    Great part of the coast. Enjoy
    look out for the canberra invasion at Easter

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    Senior Member glassngrass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting a Lawn Mowing business just before winter.

    Off peak, while slow, can be a good time to pick up clients. The dash for cash cowboys have returned to their 'real' jobs, leaving many good clients without a provider.

    Decent signage on your trailer will be the best value advertising ever spent. Flyer drops can work - esp if you find an area with some neglected homes. People often keep these attached to their fridge and I've had calls five years after a flyer drop. Knock on these doors and offer to quote whilst there. In peak periods more are looking to the papers, but likely by then you won't need to be advertising for work. It is time consuming tho, but is useful in building rapport and experience dealing with people. Even a knock back at the time is still an opportunity to introduce yourself, give them a card or flyer, and an opportunity for a call at a later time.

    Suggestion - make a habit of asking those who enquire just how they learned about you. That is valuable info.

    Pick up a great new client as a referral? - be sure to reward them. A free mow for them may be in order - but I don't believe in devaluing our service by providing it free regardless. Online you can get a nice carton of red wine delivered for under $200. Grab a case and give a bottle to every client where their referral becomes a new client. You think they are now even more motivated to generate more decent leads for you?

    So my tips for lowest cost leads (in order) - signage, uniform (you're not a dash for cash cowboy), and tell clients you offer a reward for referrals, cold canvass homes, flyer drops.

    Off peak can be a struggle to survive. The regulars become less frequent and quicker. Build your client base to survive. Come spring, you'll be time poor - likely need more than double the work hours possible.
    That is the time to employ. I never counted on making much if anything on casuals. The financial benefit isn't about capitalising on peak period - but keeping a good, regular client base serviced and hanging onto them for the next off-peak. Filling in the income gap in winter is the life-saver. As work slows in autumn, use your casual less until you no longer need them.

    By turning a dash for cash cowboy into an employee, they now working for you instead of against you !
    David

  11. #11

    Default Re: Starting a Lawn Mowing business just before winter.

    Quote Originally Posted by glassngrass View Post
    Off peak, while slow, can be a good time to pick up clients. The dash for cash cowboys have returned to their 'real' jobs, leaving many good clients without a provider.

    Decent signage on your trailer will be the best value advertising ever spent. Flyer drops can work - esp if you find an area with some neglected homes. People often keep these attached to their fridge and I've had calls five years after a flyer drop. Knock on these doors and offer to quote whilst there. In peak periods more are looking to the papers, but likely by then you won't need to be advertising for work. It is time consuming tho, but is useful in building rapport and experience dealing with people. Even a knock back at the time is still an opportunity to introduce yourself, give them a card or flyer, and an opportunity for a call at a later time.

    Suggestion - make a habit of asking those who enquire just how they learned about you. That is valuable info.

    Pick up a great new client as a referral? - be sure to reward them. A free mow for them may be in order - but I don't believe in devaluing our service by providing it free regardless. Online you can get a nice carton of red wine delivered for under $200. Grab a case and give a bottle to every client where their referral becomes a new client. You think they are now even more motivated to generate more decent leads for you?

    So my tips for lowest cost leads (in order) - signage, uniform (you're not a dash for cash cowboy), and tell clients you offer a reward for referrals, cold canvass homes, flyer drops.

    Off peak can be a struggle to survive. The regulars become less frequent and quicker. Build your client base to survive. Come spring, you'll be time poor - likely need more than double the work hours possible.
    That is the time to employ.
    I never counted on making much if anything on casuals. The financial benefit isn't about capitalising on peak period - but keeping a good, regular client base serviced and hanging onto them for the next off-peak. Filling in the income gap in winter is the life-saver. As work slows in autumn, use your casual less until you no longer need them.

    By turning a dash for cash cowboy into an employee, they now working for you instead of against you !
    Don't concentrate on any one form of advertising. Use many forms and as you learn what your returns are on each type put the appropriate funds/time into each.
    Come your peak season you should have some knowledge on what works best so the spend as much as you can afford to make a BIG IMPACT
    http://www.southeastmowing.com.au
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    http://www.southeast-mowing.com.au
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    www.facebook.com/SouthEastMowing




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  12. #12
    Member lamlamchris's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting a Lawn Mowing business just before winter.

    Thanks David for your comprehensive response. There’s a lot of good information here, a lot of which I hadn’t thought of, thanks again.

  13. #13
    Member lamlamchris's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting a Lawn Mowing business just before winter.

    Quote Originally Posted by South East Mowing View Post
    Don't concentrate on any one form of advertising. Use many forms and as you learn what your returns are on each type put the appropriate funds/time into each.
    Come your peak season you should have some knowledge on what works best so the spend as much as you can afford to make a BIG IMPACT
    Thanks for the information, very useful, cheers.

  14. #14
    Senior Member RSM-Gazza's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting a Lawn Mowing business just before winter.

    Chris,
    When I started I quoted everything that came my way and took on anything I could handle. But rejected work that was sus/or thought they where going to screw me or the gut feeling was that I wasn't gona get paid.
    I did some crap jobs back then.
    Then as I developed a solid base of regulars which occurred quite quickly, I then focused on being a little selective and looked for quality homes with good gardens/roses/trees/sprinkler systems. Also some very good commercial customers of the same quality in the mix.
    Trees drop leaves for some time during Autumn and early winter, so if the lawns are slow at their house the leaves/pods will make a mess and keep you getting called regularly. Then in Winter they need some pruning. Roses need hard winter pruning during the slack of the brief winter = more work.
    Fine tune the business after your up and running, the customer that wants you in spring, drops you in the heat of summer (jan/feb), calls you a few times leading across Easter and drops you across winter is not the primary customer you want to chase once your up and running. The good customer will tell other good friends/neighbours how well Chris executes his work, it can flow on from there.

    Good Luck, but take what you can in beginning and present yourself well everyday.
    Cheers Garry

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    Senior Member RSM-Gazza's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting a Lawn Mowing business just before winter.

    Chris, A bit more for you.

    Starting/Launching September 2010
    I did the advert launch within two local free midweek papers everyweek in color in the rear tradies pages.
    Then every second week on pension week another advert the size of a can of coke in same colored format with pictures of me and the rig within the same paper at around page 7-9 and it had to be on right side page of open newspaper too, (not the left page)
    I knew the advertising mgr of one of the papers too.
    At the time of seeing the paper people in early August, I asked if you do a small business feature page I'm in, call me, They did a full page on the right side again with 4 local business having a 1/4 page each in October. Bugger the cost, I just wanted in and it had to be on a pension week again.
    Plus also in the dieing Yellow Pages back ten.
    All advert's = yellow pges where all the same in format and color and matched my doubled business cards and Trailer and car graphics, CONTINUITY in recognising my business was the aim in all advertising.

    The local free papers where quite cheap for the every week advert, but the planned 6-8 fortnightly inserts closer to the front pages where a quite a bit dearer as expected. I budgeted $3,000 for print/media and $1,000 or what ever needed for the trailer graphics and I had close contacts also for the trailer/car signwriting so I got a 4 sided trailer complete detailed job done for just under a $1,000. I wasn't charged for the car to be done due to my contacts. With my second Hilux I dropped the car signage as it wasn't needed anymore.

    Within 10-12 wks I was booked out/run off my feet and the phone would not stop ringing day/night and I did have an after hours number included initially to gab what ever came my way.
    Well believe me it rang and rang and rang. I was crossing between both our local country cities one day and I got 12 calls in 2 kms, message bank was going mad and I couldn't cope with the enquires and time on quoting.
    Called both papers and had to retract advertising effective immediately, although my advert contracts where close to finishing anyway and the following year pulled out of yellow pages. Y/Pages are dead & buried now anyhow.
    There is one Media adverting trick that I was told to do which I won't disclose on a public forum, as the Advertising Mgr in one of the Newpapers I knew as I used to be her boss years ago in my old career.

    Also selected an easier to remember Telstra number too when I got my bus mobile signed up. Choose the best number I could without Telstra charging $200 for a even more easier number.
    If you advertise, do it on Pension week, letter drops 2-3 days before pension week money comes in, Monthly salaried people usually become rich on the 15th day of each month. The wives/partners hang out for the 15th.

    Things work different in different areas/regions and I know my region well due to my prior career. It worked for me as I was totally sh***ing myself with the money invested in hilux/custom trailer, tools/gear plus rideon, PC/software, advertising, MYOB, Chemcert/White Card training, etc, etc.

    I've never advertised since the above story, except for the excellent signage on the trailer towed around whilst out working.

    Best Wishes Chris for success.
    Cheers Garry

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