If you want to build a successful landscaping business, you need lots of customers…
But how do you find them?
One of the biggest challenges of running a landscaping business is making sure you have a constant supply of customers coming through your door. When you know what work’s coming in for the week, it’s easier to plan out how many employees you need and how much money you’re going to make.
The unpredictable nature of landscaping work can make it difficult to earn a steady income. What happens when work slows down because of drought or bad weather? What about when winter rolls in? If you’re not sure when or where your next project is coming from, it can be tough to budget out your monthly expenses.
In fact, finding and keeping a steady stream of customers is one of the biggest challenges of running a landscaping business - and where most businesses end up failing.
But not you!
To create a constant supply of customers, you need to approach the process in two ways:
- Find lots of new customers
- Retain customers with consistent work
The goal here is to create a foundation of clients who always have work around the yard, and to supplement that foundation with new customers who have one-time projects.
Ready to find those customers and start making money?
Finding Your First Customer
If you’ve already done your research, you know that there’s a pretty good demand for your services. What you need to do now is reach out to those potential customers…
Without wading your way through tons of competition.
For this reason, forget advertising your services on sites like Craigslist and Facebook. Every other landscaper you’re competing with is on these sites - and that means you’ll be fighting more established businesses for their scraps. Take a look at these techniques to get customers without the competition:
Use mailing offers.
If there’s a lot of online competition, you need to find a way to capture clientele attention offline. One great trick is to create a bunch of beautiful, glossy postcards with your name and contact information. For the postcard, use a high-res photo of the best project you’ve ever done. Place those postcards in mailboxes within your local neighborhoods (bonus points if you target upscale residences). It can take some time, but pretty soon the calls will start rolling in.
Contact real estate agents and property companies.
One of the fastest ways to find landscaping work is to offer your services to real estate agents and property companies. Google apartment buildings and real estate agents in your area and contact them with special pricing (more on that later).
One word of warning - you don’t want this to be a long-term solution. The best money can be found working with high-end clients in nice residential areas. However, real estate agents and property companies can be great starting points if you’re looking to establish income and referrals.
Put your number everywhere.
If you have a truck, plaster your number on it with an enticing call-to-action (for example, a 10% discount for new clients could prompt phone calls). Order business cards with all of your contact info (you can get them for cheap at sites like VistaPrint). Make sure all of your social media pages contain your business contact info, as you never know when someone in your network might want to hire you.
Speaking of which…
Build your online presence.
What’s the first thing you do when you’re looking for a new restaurant or want to find a great vendor? Chances are you look online to see their reviews. It can be challenging for brand-new landscapers without reviews; however, you want to make sure you have some kind of online presence. If people Google your name and come up empty, they might be less likely to hire you.
You don’t need to go overboard with your online presence. You can create a simple website in a couple of hours using services like Wix or SquareSpace. Be sure to include a few photos of work you’ve done in the past, even if it was for yourself. Remember, you’re using your website to show off your skills; if you’re good at what you do, the clients will eventually come knocking at your door.
These techniques are great ways to find work without competing online with more established landscapers. Once you start getting phone calls from interested clients, you can switch to using different strategies to ensure they become repeat customers.
Turning One-Time Projects Into Long-Term Clients
So you’ve got a few projects coming your way - awesome! But how do you turn those one-time projects into consistent work?
Simple: Make it so that your customers are so impressed with your work that they’ll keep you in mind whenever they have another project. Delivering exceptional customer service is the best way to ensure that clients call you time and time again for additional projects. That means showing up to work on time, being polite and friendly, completing the project on time, and being 100% transparent about pricing.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to try out these tips:
Offer repeat client benefits.
Let’s say you cleaned up a client’s yard at the end of autumn. That client was super-pleased with your work and is open to hiring you again. Sweeten the deal by offering discounts for working with you again in the spring. Just be sure you can afford the discounts; you don’t want to end up pricing yourself out of business.
Another repeat client benefit could be an annual check-in where you do a walk-through of their yard and make recommendations about what might need to be done. This is a great way to offer any additional landscaping services you might offer, like tree trimming or pesticide treatments.
Ask for more work.
Be straightforward with the fact that you want to work on additional projects. Let clients know you enjoyed working with them. Send them flyers in the mail, or shoot them an email a couple of months after a project to check in and see how they’re doing. Plan on touching base with all past clients at least three times per year. It’s a great way to scoop up additional projects!
Send out text messages.
As you take on more projects, ensure that you collect phone numbers and email addresses. Plan on sending out text messages to past clientele every quarter or so. Text campaigns are a highly effective way to get in front of your customers. Think about it this way - when’s the last time you ignored a text message?
Don’t just blast off a random text message; make it worth a customer’s time to read what you have to say. Offer a seasonal discount, send a reminder that they need work done, or just phrase the text in such a way that it sounds like you’re checking in.
Create enticing services.
If you want to secure a customer for the entire year, try creating packages out of your services. For example, instead of charging for a single lawn maintenance visit, offer an annual package where clients can call on you for biweekly visits during the summer months, as well as spring and fall clean-up. It’s a great way to build a steady stream of income; plus, you won’t have to spend too much of your time trying to find new clients.
A lot of these tips require texting, emails, and other marketing materials - make sure you’re budgeting accordingly. Get an unlimited texting plan where you can shoot out promotional texts. Sign up for an email service that allows you to create professional-looking emails (MailChimp and Constant Contact are two great email services for small businesses).
One important note: Engaging in any type of marketing requires listening carefully to what your customers have to say to you. If a customer asks to be removed from your emails or your text messages, take them off immediately. Otherwise, if you keep texting or emailing them, you could end up in serious legal trouble.
Finding customers - especially when you’re just starting out your landscaping business - can be a pretty significant hurdle to overcome. That’s why we wanted to provide you with actual strategies you can start using right now. Put in enough time and effort, and you’ll quickly see customers lining up to work with you.
Before finding new customers, don’t forget to run a landscaping insurance quote to ensure you’re covered.
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