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Best way to grow customers by 50%

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by M&M, Sep 14, 2015.

  1. M&M

    M&M Senior Member
    Messages: 312

    I've been plowing for 13 years. Last year my route was just over 60 driveways in 1 town. I purchased a second truck (2015 Chevy 2500HD) and plan on putting a 9'6" XV2 on it in a few weeks.

    I'm going to run 2 trucks this winter and I'm working on growing my customer list by 50% (30 driveways). In the past I have been very specific on the area of the town I would plow in. I'm planning on opening up my coverage to the whole town. It's actually a great spot for residential plowing. Driveways are too big to shovel, wealthy homeowners, relatively close neighborhoods so not a lot of drive time.

    What has been your best marketing plan to gain customers. I have done everything from flyers in mailboxes in the early days (yes I know it's illegal but it's very effective), to direct mailing of postcards (pricey), to offering a free plow for existing customers that refer a friend or neighbor.

    I plan on spending time and money and would like to hear what has worked for fellow residential guys.

    Thanks for the help.
  2. theplowmeister

    theplowmeister 2000 Club Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,514

    1st I drive around where I am thinking of plowing. I write down the address of houses I want to plow. I dont want to plow drives that are smaller than my plow or with walls on the sides of the drive or no place to put the snow.

    Go to town hall purchase "list of persons" "Voter list" "resident list" whatever the town calls it.

    you now have addresses of drives you want to plow and a list of town residents (most lists are alphabetical AND by address). put them together and mail a letter to a person. tel them what you do and why they need to have you do it. and then tell them WHY they NEED YOU.

    contact your old customers and see who would be willing to be a reference for you. I also offer 25% discount if my old customer can send me a new customer. So if he sends me 4 new customers he gets a free year of plowing. It works
  3. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Buy some nice signs and ask your currant customers if you can put them up for awhile. Neighbors like to use the same guy.
  4. M&M

    M&M Senior Member
    Messages: 312

    That's a great idea. I don't think I even need to buy the list. We have an online database that I can match names with addresses pretty easily and populate a spreadsheet and print out envelopes and letters off that. Do you include a price in the letter or wait until they contact you before you talk $$?

    I charge per plow and offer a free plow with each referral. That comes to less than 10% off. Maybe I should increase that for more incentive. I know I would be making it back on the back end for sure.
  5. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    No freebies in plowing,people are willing to pay for this service ,why give it away?
  6. M&M

    M&M Senior Member
    Messages: 312

    GV, there's an asphalt seal coat company up here that offers $20 off if they can put a sign out front for either a week or two I can't remember. That might be a way to provide incentive to current customers by offering a free plow or discount if I can put a sign out prior to the winter. Cause we all know that plowing money is made before the first flake flies. It's just going through the motions during the winter.
  7. M&M

    M&M Senior Member
    Messages: 312

    I see it as paying for advertising. The direct mail system I used in past cost me more than the free plow did for each customer gained.
  8. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    I would forgo the mailing, and knock on doors. First impressions sell the product or service. A letter is impersonal and way too easy to not even consider. Dress the part of a professional working man, drive the new truck, have an insurance binder and contract with you, and sell yourself.
    They are not buying snow removal, they are buying YOU. Sell yourself.
  9. ponyboy

    ponyboy Senior Member
    Messages: 934

    Sounds good but in my area I don't even hear what people knocking on my door have to say nor does anyone I know
    Really shows how areas are different
  10. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    I turned down more calls this last month then you guy can plow. Around here its sit back and talk phone calls.
  11. Defcon 5

    Defcon 5 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,512

    Grandview puts Tim Hortons signs in his customers yards...
  12. theplowmeister

    theplowmeister 2000 Club Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,514

    ONce they call I go and meet them face to face and that is when I talk price.
  13. iceyman

    iceyman 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,521

    Hostile gv
  14. Mattsautobody

    Mattsautobody Member
    Messages: 89

    if you take a flyer to a local water dept, normally they will put the flyers in with the utility bills
  15. M&M

    M&M Senior Member
    Messages: 312

    Really? That's interesting. Most of the town in on wells but there is a part of it that's on a public water supply. I'm going to look into that. Thanks!
  16. SnoFarmer

    SnoFarmer PlowSite Fanatic
    from N,E. MN
    Messages: 7,921

    Never heard of this.
    That would never happen around here, a public entity spending time doing advertising for the private sector .
    Someones head would roll at the water dept.

    you could go to the post office and do a bulk mailing,
    but if you want results go knock on doors them hand out your flyer along with a bid on each drive.
  17. M&M

    M&M Senior Member
    Messages: 312


    First of all huge thank you to The Plowmeister! I did exactly what he suggested and here's the breakdown.

    I used the online home tax assessment website my town uses and made a spreadsheet of 1200 names and addresses on homes on street I already plow on or are very close and would like to plow.

    I wrote a letter explaining who I am and why they should hire me. I spent quite a bit of time to get this exactly right. (This letter is was the key to a successful campaign.)

    I sent out 2 rounds of 1200 letters in envelopes with an actual persons name with a postage stamp from the local post office. (Again key.) I waited 2 weeks between the 2 mailings. So each person got 2 of the exact same mailer 2 weeks apart.


    As of today I have secured 23 new clients. I have 15 more that I'm at various stages of the sales process with them. I only got one confirmed "No" so far.

    I'm confident that I'll get at least half of the remaining 15. I'm also confident that a few days before the first snow people will be digging those letters off their desks and calling me. I'm planning for another 5 minimum.

    Cost: $2,300
    Confirmed new clients: 23
    Expected new clients: 12
    Total new clients: 35

    Cost per client: $65 - $100

    It takes some time to get the right list and right wording of your letter but it works.

    Plowmeister, if you ever head up to southern New Hampshire hit me up! Beers/scotch are on me!
  18. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Seems like a lot per customer ,
  19. Mr.Markus

    Mr.Markus PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,107

    I'm doubling my price this year in the hopes that I'll lose 50% of my customers.
    That way I'll make the same money as last year with half the work...;)

    SHAWZER PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,123

    Sounds like a good solid plan ....Thumbs Up