Wisdom from water

October 1, 2010 -  By

This year Cutting Edge Lawn Care based in Austin, TX is on track for 10% growth in revenue. In fact, over the last three years they’ve managed to increase by 10% each year, despite the weak economy. Jerry Tindel, business manager, says the fact that Austin did not experience as difficult economic problems as other U.S. cities is certainly one factor in their success.

However, there’s more to it than that, as Austin wasn’t without its own problems — including a drought. “A drought is probably the next worst thing that could happen to a lawn mowing company,” Tindel says. “It lasted 68 days with temperatures more than 100 degrees. We had four summer months with a total of only 2 inches of rainfall. That’s really bad.”

So how did a company that does all lawn maintenance for 90% residential clients grow its business during a drought? “By making the biggest change in our business policy since we have been in business,” says Tindel, adding they actually implemented the new policy in 2007, during the first really bad drought they experienced and that it has continued to help the company grow through the most recent drought. “We decided to only accept new clients who have a sprinkler system, want weekly lawn services and would accept one of our annual service plans. That was a huge change, which resulted in us turning down five out of six prospect calls we received. Even though we turned down 86% of our calls for quotes, we grew 21.6% that year. The reason: Those new clients brought in almost three times the sales as the ones we formerly added.”

Previously, Tindel says, four out of five customers were biweeklies who were not on contract. “In a drought year, we would mow them between 11 and 15 times,” he says. “But for our new weekly contract clients, we mowed 43 times a year, which results in about three times the sales volume when you add in the mulch and other services they buy because they want a prettier lawn.”

How did Cutting Edge Lawn Care secure such top-notch clients? With top-notch service and aggressive marketing, Tindel says. The company puts money into advertising in good times and in bad. “We always advertise,” he stresses, “because good advertising works.”

The company also doesn’t miss an opportunity to market itself. It uses its trailers as billboards that advertise and promote the company in new areas. And Tindel knows how much appearance counts in this industry. Employees are professionally dressed and equipment is in good shape. “Too many lawn guys are in their old pickups and ragged clothes,” says Tindel.

While Austin wasn’t as hard hit as the rest of the nation, not everyone went unaffected, and Cutting Edge decided to help prospective clients who were experiencing harder times by modifying their annual service plan proposal to offer two different levels of service. “Our standard service has always been to quote the total cost of 43 service visits per year and include eight free ones so we visit our clients’ properties 52 weeks a year,” Tindel explains. “We changed the name of that to our ‘Premium Service’ plan and then offered a ‘Minimum Service’ plan, which includes only 37 service visits.”

About half of new customers signed on for the Minimum Service plan — evidence it was a smart and much-needed addition to their offerings that likely helped them secure new clientele. Tindel hopes he can move these clients into a Premium Service plan when times get better for everyone.

LM Staff

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