expanding business

deeproots(8b South Ga)August 21, 2006

irrigation company... does some landscaping:

I feel like I've gotten some very good customers in one town/area.

Word of mouth has gotten me 95% of the business.

This is a town of 30k people or so.

Since I have let the nursery aspect of my business drop by the wayside I'm looking to expand the irrigation/landscape aspect to other towns.

There are three other towns in mind withing 20-30miles. Since the first area (where I currently work) mostly happened by accident and word of mouth, my question is:

"How do I expand into these areas where no one knows who I am?"

I've taken an ad out in a local paper/shopper in one area. I've never been much for the door to door approach.

Joining the chamber of commerce is a possibility in the next 6months or so, but I'm looking for a good way to get my foot in the door.

Once I get 5-10 installs word will most likely spread, but until than the question is still, how to break into a new area?

any suggestions would be appreciated.

Drew

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mylu

Roots this is an excellent topic to be discussed. We too find that breaking in to a new area can be difficult.

One thing to look at is your advertising budjet. Radio and TV can get the word out the only issue is how to know what value they brought your company? It's very hard to measure.

We used to run radio adds but you have to ask every new customer "how did you hear about us?"
Can I assume you have a add in the yellow pages in those towns?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 12:25PM
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miss_rumphius_rules(z6 NJ)

Here's some ideas...

A targeted postcard mailing. Go to modernpostcard.com. That's who I use. You can specify towns, and demographic data. You'll get calls, but you have to qualify them on the phone.

Make sure you have a web page-even if it's just your contact info. People surf the web before they look in the phonebook. Mine costs me 3.95 a month and I get more business from it that anything else other than referals.

Real estate signs for the sites you're working on or have just completed. Drive bys will stop and ask.

Ask you clients for testimonials and put them on your website.

Newspaper, radio and TV are great if you have money to repeat, repeat, repeat. The ideas above will give you more bang for your marketing/advertising buck.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 7:23AM
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inkognito

It may be wise to do a bit of market research before embarking on an advertizing campaign. You need to analyze your present clients and why they choose you and not another firm and if this leads to something unique you could choose to exploit whatever that is. You should also learn something about the other towns that may not favour irrigation or what you have to offer. Develop a network of clients, suppliers and others as soon as you can.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 4:11PM
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lnscapr(z7 VA)

I've had a design business for 13 years...and am busier than I want to be most of the time... with no advertising. I'm a real believer in good old fashioned networking and passing out business cards. Some of my best contacts are builders and re-modelers, small garden centers,architects, realtors, interior decorators, landscape contractors who do not (or do not want) to do their own design work and, of course, satisfied clients. For an irrigation contractor I'd suggest building a good rapport with your suppliers (let them know you'd appreciate their recommendations),local landscape designers and landscape architects and engineers, plant wholesalers, building and remodeling contractors (new homeowners always ask their builders to recommend service people), sod companies, and garden centers. I was surprised that many landscapers sub-contract their irrigation and landscape lighting systems to other companies. (Lighting is another area that many irrigation folks seem to be expanding into these days.) Keep your eyes peeled for Home/Garden shows. For a minimal fee you can rent a booth for the weekend and meet/greet quite a number of people. You could also "direct market" by putting together an attractive flyer describing your services and mail it to these kinds of businesses (using the phone book as a resource) and adding a personal note and your business card. Sometimes developments have their own "newsletters" that sell advertising space very inexpensively The possibilities are endless. Once you get a few good leads and several satisfied clients...quality work and word-of-mouth will do the rest. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 8:44PM
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txjenny(z8 TX)

Try joining a neighborhood association as a business sponsor. I just joined the Downtown Neighborhood Association as such for $100, and they feature you on their website. Go to their happy hour gatherings, drink a beer, meet people and pass out your business card. I've received several jobs from a past client who was so happy with my work that he went on his own neighborhood association's website and recommended me.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 11:24AM
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clfo(z7 with luck)

All very good suggestions on this thread. I'd add the following:

Drop off flyers at realators - their clients are often new in town and may need help.

Post flyers in the libraries - the people who frequent local libraries are often older (retired) and in need of help because they either can't physically handle the outdoor stuff or they no longer want to spend the time on the yard.

Think about what is happening locally: drought, a particular insect pest, new developments going in---anything with a tie into the landscape. Send out some comments about this story to editors at local papers. Send your thoughts on plants that do well/don't do well - make it short and sweet - to the local garden writers or lifestyle editors at the papers in the area you want more work.
good luck! C.L.F.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2006 at 9:00PM
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