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05 Dec 2018

Lawn Care Pro Wins Toro Mower Giveaway 

Andrew Schroeder of Schroeder’s Outdoor Services LLC in Gibsonburg, OH has been named the winner of Toro’s 2018 GIE+EXPO giveaway. Schroeder picked up his brand new Toro® Z Master® 3000 Series zero-turn mower equipped with the MyRIDE® suspension system from his local Toro dealer, Willie’s Sales and Service in Fremont, OH. Willie’s has specialized in lawn and garden equipment sales and service for over 60 years.

GIE+EXPO prize winner

Andrew Schroeder of Schroeder’s Outdoor Services LLC, Toro’s 2018 GIE+EXPO prize winner takes delivery of his new Toro Z Master 3000 Series zero-turn mower with MyRIDE from Willie’s Sales and Service.

“We already run a lot of Toro mowers, so I was very excited to learn that I had been selected as the prize winner and can add this Z Master to our fleet,” said Schroeder. “I’m really looking forward to putting this new mower to the test in the spring.”

Schroeder’s new Z Master 3000 Series zero-turn mower is powered by a 25 hp Kawasaki® FX 708cc engine, and features Toro’s TURBO FORCE® cutting deck with heat-treated high-strength steel blades and a patented adjustable discharge chute. Additionally, the MyRIDE suspension system offers the operator up to 3.6 inches of travel and is designed to reduce impacts, bumps and vibrations to the operator. The operator can easily adjust the rear shock ride settings to account for their personal ride preferences without the use of tools.

“We’re thrilled that Andrew has taken delivery of his brand new Z Master zero-turn mower,” said Chris Vogtman, Toro senior marketing manager. “All of our products are designed to be there for our customers every step of the way, from start to finish, and the 3000 Series with MyRIDE is no exception. We wish Andrew many productive and comfortable mowing sessions with his new MyRIDE-equipped machine.”

The mower is valued at $10,999. For more information about the Toro Z Master 3000 Series zero-turn mower, visit the Toro website or your local Toro dealer.

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04 Dec 2018

This Week’s Hot Threads December 4, 2018








From selling your lawn care business to help with estimates, here are some questions from the landscape professionals on LawnSite forums this past week.

BUSINESS OPERATIONS

  • A LawnSite Member from Rochester Hills, MI is wondering how much a lawn business with around 70 accounts would be worth in his area? Share your thoughts…
  • A LawnSite Member from Florida is looking to sell his landscaping business that has around 150 residential accounts, sales of $200k, and four employees. He’d like to know how long he should expect it to take to sell the business, and if he’s more likely to sell it after the holidays. Share your thoughts…

BIDDING, ESTIMATING AND PRICING

  • A LawnSite Member who is new to the industry is looking for help on quoting a fall clean up for a customer. The yard is approximately 17,000 square feet, flat, and is fenced on one side. There are a lot of leaves that he will pile curbside for the city to pick up. Share your thoughts…
  • A LawnSite Member from Harker Heights, TX wants to know how other professionals charge for leaf cleanups. Do you charge hourly, or by square footage? Plus, he’s looking for recommendations for a reasonably priced leaf vacuum. Share your thoughts…
  • A LawnSite Member from north of Boston wants to know if anyone estimates jobs solely on square footage. His goal is to simplify/expedite the billing/estimating process and delegate it to the office/operations staff. Share your thoughts…

Do you need feedback on a professional challenge you’re facing within your landscaping or lawn care business? Tap into the wealth of knowledge at LawnSite, the largest and most active online forum serving green industry professionals.

As the only resource of its kind in the marketplace, LawnSite has been a coveted place for landscape professionals seeking peer-to-peer networking, business guidance and insight into industry best practices and trends since 1995.

lawn care business

Join your industry peers in this growing, dynamic community today:
Register For FREE!





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04 Dec 2018

This Week’s Cool Threads December 4, 2018








From accepting credit card payments to mixing brine, popular questions posted by the ice and snow management professionals on PlowSite forums this past week.

Business Fundamentals

  • A PlowSite Fanatic from Grand Rapids, MI wants to know if other snow and ice management professions are accepting credit card payments, and if so, are you adding a 3% surcharge. What has been your customers’ response? Share your thoughts…
  • A PlowSite Veteran from the Kansas City Area had a situation where someone slipped, fell and was knocked unconscious shortly after he plowed and salted a parking lot as a favor to family. He’s wondering what his liability is. Share your thoughts…

Networking

  • A Junior PlowSite Member from Upstate New York ordered door hangers to market his snow removal service, but the delivery was delayed. Now that they’ve arrived, he wants to know if he should distribute them now, or would it be a waste of money because it’s too late to drum up new business this season? Share your thoughts…

Commercial Snow Removal

  • A PlowSite Member from north Iowa is going to buy back blades for a 3/4 ton truck, and is leaning toward a 14 foot model. He’s looking for suggestions on which brand to purchase. Share your thoughts…

Ice Management

  • A Junior PlowSite Member is looking for some advice on making the brine mixing process faster and more efficient. Share your thoughts…

PlowSite is the largest and most active online forum servicing snow and ice management professionals.

As the only resource of its kind in the marketplace, PlowSite has been a coveted place for snow and ice management professionals seeking peer-to-peer networking, business guidance and insight into industry best practices and trends since 2000.

snow management professionalsJoin your industry peers in this growing, dynamic community today:
Register For FREE!





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03 Dec 2018

Ready To Go Commercial?

equipment selection

Courtesy of Buyers Products & SIMA

Consider these points to help you decide where to upgrade your fleet.

What’s your next step?equipment selection

Grow my commercial (lot) business.

More area in less time is the key to success when clearing lots.

TIP: A plow with expandable wings allows you to efficiently plow large areas and still move between jobs quickly.

Become a dependable subcontractor.

You need equipment that’s reliable push after push.

TIP: If you need a new plow but you’re using a lighter truck, check out some straight blades that are optimized for lighter trucks. Many commercial-use plows have been released with weight strategically removed to accommodate lighter trucks.

Grow my driveway business.

If driveways are still your bread and butter, think about a V-plow. A V can work well in tight spaces and also clear large swaths quickly when fully extended.

TIP: Make sure the V-plow you choose has double-acting angle cylinders. They’re essential for back dragging up against garages in straight driveways.

What’s your biggest pain point?

Constantly having to reload material.equipment selection

Time is critical during a storm. Stopping to refill your spreader just gives the snow and ice more time to take hold.

TIP: A spreader with a double-walled poly hopper is lightweight but spacious. You can have up to 2 cubic yards of material capacity in the back of a pickup.

Salt freezing overnight in my hopper.

Any auger spreader needs dry, free-flowing material to work smoothly. It’s critical that you unload your spreader at the end of the day. Luckily, many spreaders offer easy swing-away or removable chutes to make bulk unloading a breeze.

High price of salt.

If high salt prices are eating into your profits, it might be time to consider a system to pre-wet your spreading material with brine prior to application.

TIP: Pre-wet reduces bounce, and help conserve salt. See Just Add Liquids.

What’s annoying about your current plow?

It’s a pain to get on and off the truck, especially when it “slumps” into the ground.equipment selection

Adjusting the mount height of your plow is a common struggle, especially if you dismount on bare ground and then the ground “slumps.”

TIP: You might want to think about a plow with easy height adjustment to take the hassle out of mounting.

It’s awful on gravel and uneven surfaces.

Gravel driveways, ripped up parking lots, etc. can cause your blade to trip. Constant tripping makes it hard to keep the snow in front of your plow and forces you to waste time repeating the same push.

TIP: If you’re running into these problems, consider a trip edge plow.

Takes many passes to clear a lot/doesn’t provide an even scrape.

Uneven scraping can make it impossible to do an efficient clean-up. Worse still, uneven scraping causes uneven wear, forcing you to replace your cutting edge more often.

TIP: Many new plows offer solutions like SnowDogg’s Floating A-Frame™ to help remedy this issue.

For more plow and spreader tips, check out the Buyers Products Youtube channel. It’s regularly updated with new product videos, tips, tutorials, and more. Subscribe to receive notifications each time a new video goes live. 

This article was featured in the Snow & Ice Management Association’s SB In Focus issue focused on transitioning from a residential to commercial snow company. Read the whole issue, sponsored by Buyers Products, here.

The post Ready To Go Commercial? appeared first on Turf.

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29 Nov 2018

9 Marketing Tips To Prepare Your Lawn Care Business For Spring

By Jake Hundley 

As 2018 winds down and we move into the new year, it’s time to start thinking about taxes, winter services, new equipment upgrades… oh yeah, and marketing your lawn care business for the spring.

lawn care business

(Credit: Comstock)

If you’re in a downward swing of services and income in the winter, it’s no doubt you’re probably getting amped up for March and April services. And you most likely want a big season opener after feeling like you’ve been skimping by the last and first parts of the year.

Whether you have a marketing budget set aside or are using this time to think about advertising ideas when the time comes, marketing your lawn care business for the spring starts right now! You want to be at the top of your customers’ minds at the start of the new season both traditionally and digitally.

Here are nine ways to accomplish that goal:

1. Get A Website

If you don’t have a website, you should seriously consider getting one. It can take anywhere between 2 and 6 months to start ranking well for certain keywords in your area on a new site, so now is the most crucial time to get a good site built that’s search engine optimized.

Without a website, you won’t appear in search engines, at least, not on the first page of results. This is because competitor websites, no matter how bad, tend to rank much better than social media pages. So if you’ve been relying solely on your Facebook page, it’s time to get your own website if you want to capitalize on the 74% of people using Google and Bing to research lawn care services in your area.

If you’ve thought about getting a website for awhile and haven’t yet justified it, here’s an article on 13 different reasons why you should have a website for your lawn care and landscaping business.

There are a lot of inexpensive options for getting a website that cost less than $20/month where you can DIY it like Wix, SquareSpace, or Weebly that are really easy to use. However, if you’re looking to build a site that attracts quality leads through search engines, I suggest having one built by a professional.

2. Start Advertising For Spring Services

The earlier you can go to market at the beginning of the year the better, because if you’re not getting in front of your customers early on, your competitors are. The good news is advertising traffic during the slower winter months is down due to the lack of initiative most green industry business owners without a marketing plan have. That means there is less to compete for in the advertising space!

So if you’re running pay-per-click (PPC) or paid social media campaigns, your costs-per-click (CPC) tend to be less and your impression share trends higher. That translates to more exposure for less money!

The trick is advertising with a sense of urgency, which means market services that are time sensitive based on seasonality. Not only do these services tend to have a higher ROI (aeration, fertilization, spring cleanup, etc.), but the time to have them done in the spring is limited and so are the amount of hours you have in a week.

When running your spring service ads on Facebook or even on door hangers, stress a sense of urgency. For example:

Grow a thick, healthy lawn this year with spring Aeration and Fertilization
10% OFF!
Call now before our schedule fills up!

There are actually four elements to this ad copy:

  • Intent: I stated the service and what the ad was for.
  • Offer: I provided an appealing incentive with 10% off.
  • Relate: The ad copy related to the customer’s need or want for a healthy lawn.
  • Urgency: The importance of taking action now incentivizes the customer to call now.

All four elements are needed for the most effective sales ad, but urgency is the most important. The urgency aspect of the ad copy is what prevents your customer from forgetting about you by putting you off. It also prevents your competitors from getting in front of your customers before they call you or take action.

3. Create Spring Related Website Content

If you already have a website, it would serve you well to optimize some pages on your website for spring related services. For instance, if you have a “Services” page but no service pages for each individual service, start by creating pages for those services that can be performed in the spring, like the above mentioned aeration and fertilization.

Having individual pages for your services, especially utilizing localized keywords, is sure to give you the extra boost in search engine rankings when the start of the season rolls around.

Already have optimized service pages for these? Start writing a blog based on high profile keywords in your area. People in your area might be using Google to research things like, “When to lay grass seed in the spring?” If this is the case, it would be an excellent opportunity to write a blog post on your site about the different considerations for laying grass seed, such as how compacted the soil is and how you can ensure strong growth with fertilization throughout the spring and summer.

Creating posts like this based on searched questions and queries attracts customers who may want to hire a professional after understanding what goes into growing the lawn they want.

The best part is, you don’t have to just write a post and only capture search engine traffic, you can also utilize it as content on social media and share to potential customers who may want that perfect lawn, but haven’t thought about the steps they should take to get there.

If you’re not sure where to start with keyword ideas, you can utilize the Keyword Planner in Google Ads, Google Search Console, or Bing Webmasters Tools.

You can even spy on what your competitors are ranking for in your area and outdo them with freemium tools like SpyFu or SEMrush!

4. Join Local Trade Associations And Groups

There’s almost no better networking for a local business than to join local trade associations. All you have to do is a quick Google search and see what kind of entrepreneurial or trade groups are in your area that you can join.

For instance, your local Chamber of Commerce is a given. Not only is it an opportunity to engage with other business owners in your area, you can also get a link and citation to your website (which improves SEO).

Finding other local entrepreneur or business networking events is as simple as heading over to meetup.com and searching for entrepreneur related topics. People are always looking to connect face-to-face. Use your slower business time in the winter to join these groups, network, and stay active for both getting your foot in the door for commercial accounts and working your way up to those high-profile accounts.

5. Reach Out To Local Businesses

Speaking of commercial accounts, the end of the year is usually when businesses address their next year budgets. Late fall and early winter is prime time for reaching out to local businesses. Here’s the problem though: you can’t expect a local business to reach out to you. If they are having their lawn maintenanced already, there is no need for them to research new lawn care companies. This is when you need to do the legwork and reach out to these businesses.

If you’ve been doing your networking throughout the year, then this is the time to inquire and pitch a new year contract with that commercial account you’ve been trying to get.

But remember to be confident and professional in your approach.

Now that you know this is the timing, you may want to check out more ways to gain commercial clients.

6. Optimize Your Social Media Pages

Have you been neglecting your social media pages this season? It’s easy to do when you’re out in the field and running your business. Finding the time for proper marketing, branding, and maintaining a professional, online appearance is difficult.

Whether most of your customers come from social media or not, people are looking for your brand not only through search engines like Google or Bing, but also through social media. They’re looking at your community presence, your brand personality, the quality of your work, and most importantly your reviews on multiple platforms.

Residential customers are looking at your Facebook profile while commercial clients are taking a look at your professional appearance on LinkedIn.

Take the time this winter to give your social media pages a professional makeover. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at this guide on how to optimize your Facebook page.

7. Door Hangers

Spring time yields a huge influx of customer calls and website form fills which means you’ll likely have an uptick in customer property visits and new clients. Take this opportunity to have door hangers on hand to do quick 9-bys (or however many houses you want to canvas) and place door hangers nine houses in both directions and on both sides of the street.

If done according to the formula above, you’ll have canvassed 36 houses around one customer’s house.

Now obviously this takes time, so stick to customers in nicer neighborhoods where routine lawn maintenance is in the majority of their budget. Targeting neighborhoods that don’t meet this requirement is a waste of your time.

Keep in mind, the industry standard call rate on door hangers is 1% or less. So in theory, you have to deliver 100 to get one call back, and that’s not a guaranteed sale. However, it doesn’t have to be that. Having a professionally designed door hanger that’s engaging with a good call-to-action (CTA) can prompt a lot more prospective customers to call.

If you’re looking for a professional design, Joe from The Small Business Store does excellent work.

8. Wrap Your Truck (Or Get Magnets)

A nice truck wrap goes a long way in getting you noticed. Everytime you go quote a yard or service a lawn, you’re driving a mobile billboard. If you have the funds or capital to invest in a full body truck wrap, it will make you stand out from your competition. However, wraps tend to be a bit more expensive than stickers or magnets.

You could be spending anywhere between $1,500 to $4,000 in a quality truck wrap with the design included, but winter is the perfect time to do it since your vehicle may be out of commission during the wrapping process. However, if you live in an area that is prone to ice and snow, make sure you keep salt buildup off your new wrap to keep from damaging your investment.

Now think about doing those 9-bys with your door hangers with the newly wrapped, eye-popping truck. While you’re walking up and down the street delivering door hangers, your branded truck is acting as a large billboard that entire time, increasing your exposure and ultimately, hopefully, your door hanger response rate.

9. Professionally Designed Business Cards

Take the opportunity to really get professionally designed business cards instead of the VistaPrint ones you likely designed yourself. A professional business card can be the deciding factor on whether or not you get that commercial account callback.

It reminds me of an exercise a few years ago at a sales meeting. All of us formed a circle in the room and took out our business cards. Each of us then passed our business card to the person to the left. The person to the left had two options for the business card:

  • Do nothing with it
  • Tear it in half

If the person to the left tore the business card you handed them, it was because it was not “impressive or engaging.”

When you watch someone tear up your own business card in front of you, it changes the way you look at your brand appearance in the smallest details.

Do you think someone would tear your business card?

Spring Marketing Starts Now

The jobs may be slowing down, but your marketing should start to pick up in the winter in order for you to get a head start in the spring. Use the slower time at the end of this year to really focus on your company position in the new year and dominate market share both offline and online when the spring service calls begin to come in!

 

lawn care businessJake Hundley is the CEO of EverGrow Marketing, a digital marketing agency that caters to the landscaping and lawn care industry. They create digital marketing strategies utilizing SEO, SEM, Social Media, Website Development, and UX optimization to deliver high quality leads with a measurable and positive ROI.

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