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Indie Award semifinalist Mower Man reaches thousands on social media

December 6, 2016 -  By
David Ovando, aka the Mower Man, has made a name for himself in the landscape industry through his large social media presence.

Despite being a small, one-man operation, David Ovando, aka the Mower Man, has made a name for himself through his large social media presence.

David Ovando’s origin story mirrors that of many industry professionals. What started as a side job, cutting a few lawns to make a little extra money, turned into a career and a passion.

“I just wanted to make $600 to pay rent,” said Ovando, owner of Mower Man Lawn Services in McKinney, Texas. “In the first couple months, I made $10,000-$15,000, and I was like, ‘Oh, crap! This is becoming a job. I need to get a business license, get better equipment and start marketing for real.”

Eight years in, Mower Man isn’t yet competing with the big guys. The one-man company will pull in about $55,000 this year. But the novice landscaper has done something the big guys, armed with digital marketing experts, struggle to do: build a strong online brand.

The Mower Man has garnered nearly 10,000 social media followers. Predominantly on Instagram, where he has more than 7,000 followers, Ovando’s feed gives onlookers an unpolished view into his life, his company’s story and his learn-as-you-go attitude. He’s even caught the attention of companies like Gravely and SureCanUSA, which both made him a brand ambassador.

Now, Mower Man Lawn Service is the sole landscape company in the running for Stihl’s The Indie Award, which honors the company’s independent small business of the year. The company, which has been nominated four years in a row, made it to the semifinal round this year, further than previous years. On Dec. 14, Ovando will find out if his small business will win the $10,000 prize package, which includes a $5,000 grand prize, a $1,000 Stihl equipment certificate, a small business web starter package from marketing firm Meridian Group, a vacation and more.

“Winning The Indie Award would be the biggest thing for my family and for my business,” he said.

Considering the company’s roots, it’s no surprise Ovando continues to focus on digital marketing and social media. His first leads were generated from a Craigslist post. From there, he built a Facebook business page and started posting photos of his work and soliciting reviews from customers. The page helped him legitimize his company in its infancy.

“Before Facebook, people used to ask me for 15 or 20 references to make sure I was a real business,” he said. “But after I started posting pictures of my work and Facebook exploded with reviews, customers could just go on there and see what I could do.”

That was back when Mower Man was operating in Bentonville, Ark. To say the company is eight years old doesn’t tell the whole story, since the first six years consisted of searching for a permanent home. After about two years in Bentonville, Ovando took his business and family to San Diego, where he quickly realized the drought had dried up the pool of clients looking for mowing services, which is 90 percent of his company’s revenue. Moving on from there, he settled in McKinney, Texas, where the company currently operates.

“One day my family was house sitting, and we saw a map of McKinney, Texas, on the wall,” he said. “I started doing research about the city and Money magazine called it one of the best places to live in 2014, so it seemed like a perfect place for my business.”

Money described McKinney as an emerging business hub, less than 30 minutes north of Dallas, that has been able to retain its Southern, small-town vibe.

After two years in Texas, the move has been successful and the business has found a permanent home, Ovando said. Now that he’s made a name for himself in the city, he expects revenue to double.

11950402_899214033496601_642700674358566503_o“I started getting business before I was even done unloading my truck,” he says. “And it hasn’t stopped.”

More than finding the right market, a successful rebrand also caught local eyes. Ovando hired a local artist to develop a new logo, which featured a cartoon-version of Ovando riding the same red Gravely ride-on mower that he uses. Coupled with expanded efforts, the new logo essentially turned Ovando into the Mower Man, creating a fun brand with a human face.

“We knew we needed to get noticed,” he said. “After we launched the new logo, social media just took off and people started recognizing me around town and saying, ‘Hey, that’s our new mowing guy. That’s the Mower Man!’”

Social savvy

Instagram is the best platform for landscapers, Ovando said, because the use of hashtags makes it easy to gain impressions. He’s also experimenting with You Tube and new platforms like Periscope, which lets users share live video on their Twitter feed.

Social media newbies can take a few lessons from Ovando. The first is consistency is key. On Instagram, he sometimes posts as often as two or three times a day. This is extremely frequent and time consuming, and it might be overkill for some. Still, a consistent presence is vital to success on social media. For starters, maybe try one or two posts a week.

Second, you don’t need to be a digital marketing or photography expert to produce content that tells your company’s story. The Mower Man pages, which have evolved from pictures of Ovando’s kid, are evidence of that. Ovando said those who don’t know what to post should try to give followers a behind-the-scenes look at their business. This includes pictures of projects, equipment and employees and a discussion of what’s new and exciting about the company.

The biggest piece of advice he gives is “just do it.” Companies that don’t have online presences need to “get started now or get left behind,” Ovando said.

“Social media has really helped me become noticed as a business owner and as a company,” he says. “Social media is the biggest thing that a lot of people are missing out on.”

Vote for Mower Man Lawn Services to be named Stihl’s Independent Small Business of the Year here. Voting for “The Indie Awards” runs through Dec. 11.

Check out Mower Man Lawn Service on social media:

Photos: Mower Man Lawn Service


About the Author:

Dillon Stewart graduated from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, earning a Bachelor of Science in Online Journalism with specializations in business and political science. Stewart is a former associate editor of LM.

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