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New in Business - Need Help Building Customer Base

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by SLS007, Nov 28, 2007.

  1. SLS007

    SLS007 Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    Hi there everyone. I'm new in the snow removal business and am doing this for some winter work to help make the lease payments on my tractor which I will also be using in the other 3 seasons for rototilling and mowing. I do this part-time in the evenings and weekends as I work full-time during the day as a Commercial Insurance Underwriter. My main marketing focus was going to be flyers in a very limited area - want to work in my community within maximum radius of one mile from my home which is located in an upper middle class neighbourhood. Sounds great but here's my problem. Most of the homes in my area do not have mail boxes as mail is picked up at centralized stations throughout the neigbourhood and doorknob hangers have been limited in effectiveness due to strong Winter winds.
    I'm only looking to pick up about 10-12 good customers on a call-out basis - not monthly contract as that is probably the most I can handle in the time that I have available in evenings and with the equipment I have. I want to be able to drive the tractor directly to the homes rather than loading it up on my trailer and hauling it from site to site as this is too much additional time to secure the load properly and then the additional cost of running the gas guzzling van for the evening thereby burning up the profits.
    I'm using a Kubota BX2350 compact utility tractor with a 50" Buhler Farm King 3pt snowblower.
    The flyers that I have put out have not generated any responses but we haven't had a really good old Canadian snow event yet in our area! If all else fails I guess that I can wait for a good one and start up the tractor and head out door-to-door and see what interest that generates.
    Can any of you folks with more experience give me some insight into what worked for you when you started out? I can assure you that your advice will be greatly appreciated by this newbie.
  2. merrimacmill

    merrimacmill PlowSite.com Addict
    from MA
    Messages: 1,823

    I'm not sure the proximity of the homes, but are you planning on trailering? Or just driving on the street house to house?
  3. SLS007

    SLS007 Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    If possible I would prefer to drive on the street house to house. I've got my lights and slow moving vehicle sign (and insurance). Primarily my travel would be on residential streets. I really would prefer not to trailer and that is why I want to keep it very local. I know that I can pick up work within a 15-20 minute driving distance but when you're only charging $20-$40 a driveway it doesn't really pay to run the van, do the driving, load and unload. Absolute best case scenario would be two jobs in an hour if they were close in proximity. If I stay in a tight local radius it think it would be very reasonable to do 3-4 jobs per hour and just run the tractor. I'm sure my profits would be quadrupled.
  4. IMAGE

    IMAGE Sponsor
    Messages: 1,747

    Might be kinda tacky, but if your targeting people that drive by your place all the time (your neighbors) then maybe park it all set up and ready to go in the front yard, with a sign that says you are available to help them out when it snows, but to call or stop in today to get on the list, because it is first come first done.

    Also, make sure to aways have your driveway looking perfect after a snow, so they can see how clean and nice of a job it does. It wouldnt hurt to maybe play around on it while your neighbors are all shoveling either... they will get jealous and flag you down saying :help:
  5. SLS007

    SLS007 Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    Thanks for the advice Steve. Interesting idea but I think I'd like to keep the unit warm and covered so I know it will go when I need it but I think I can spin a good idea out of that. I can post some signs on message boards in the community with a picture of the equipment so that it draws their interest. What red-blooded man doesn't like to look at equipment. That can be the hook and then they will have a good idea of the capabilities of the equipment. As I've been meeting people while handing out flyers they tend to tell me that they have their own snowblower. This will show them I'm in a different league.
    I've noticed a funny thing about the neighbors - even when you offer to help them out for free just to be kind they don't seem to want any help. Go figure! Why kick a gifthorse in the mouth?
    Maybe we just don't have enough snow and the poor souls aren't tired of shovelling yet. Once we get hit with the "big one" maybe the phone will start ringing.
    (By the way Steve, do you know of a good Kubota dealer down there in Fargo. While the Canadian dollar is strong I've been comtemplating coming down to ND to pick up a loader for the tractor. I understand that the prices are way better down there. We're getting gouged by the dealers up here.)