Fescue and Sons will rely on Red's knowledge of the local community and top-quality landscaping skills. Initial outreach will involve direct canvassing of the neighborhood. This will be supplemented by ads, showing properties we have worked on, and brochures and fliers hung up in local businesses.
We will also rely on word of mouth, so part of our strategy is to treat every job as if it were the most important client we have ever had. Phone calls will be returned promptly, services will be done professionally and on time, and customers will be treated with respect.
Fescue & Sons Yard Care's competitive edges will be our high quality work and unflagging professionalism.
During the first summer, Red will do all of the lawn care and other work, with some help from his son, Rye. Starting in May of 2006, we will hire a second, part-time employee as a landscaper. Red, Rye, and the landscaper will always work as a team, allowing for direct supervision of all workers and direct involvement with the job at hand, to ensure customers receive the high quality they expect.
Fescue & Sons Yard Care's second competitive edge is professionalism. In our business, this means returning customer inquiries promptly, showing up on time, bringing all necessary equipment, reserving breaks for times away from the customers' yards, and cleaning up thoroughly after ourselves when we leave. To facilitate communication, Red will have a cell phone at all times, where he can be reached directly or receive messages, if he's in the middle of a job. Cell phone reception in most of the town is quite good, despite being a rural area.
All of these sound like simple things, but they will help us stand out from the local competition.
Our marketing strategy in the first year relies largely on face-to-face contact between Red and potential customers, and word-of-mouth from satisfied clients. In the second year, we will place more ads, and in different papers (such as in the nearby city), as well as trying to generate more word-of-mouth from our customers.
Fescue & Sons Yard Care sales strategy will be based on one-on-one communications with potential customers. By going door to door in his own neighborhood, Red can become more familiar to these folks and take advantage of his outgoing personality.
In the start-up period (the month of June), we will set up the office, and purchase the necessary lawn care equipment. At the same time, Red will spend three to four afternoons a week, especially on weekends, going around the neighborhood to scout out problem lawns and talk to potential customers. There are at least two weekends coming up that are likely to be scorchers, when potential customers will look outside and think that the last thing they want to do is go out and mow the lawn - these are our best days to canvass the neighborhood, offering a service many do not even realize they want.
After getting in the door, Red's challenge will be to effectively communicate his experience and skills in lawn care and related work. He will bring a portfolio of some of the nicest lawns he has worked on in the past, when working as head landscaper for ABC landscapers, and photos of our own lawn, which is more similar to the ones in the neighborhood. He is also willing to offer a free estimate and cutting for those that are interested in a possible contract. Although some of the free cuttings will not turn out to be long-term customers, our competitive prices and superior service will turn most of the leads into customers.
By year two, the business will be ready to expand outside of the neighborhood. At that point, we will place more advertisements in the local paper to generate business. When people call with questions, Red will have already built up a loyal following of customers who can serve as an effective referral system.
We will consider ourselves "open for business" and start our fiscal year in July, 2005. We anticipate working on an average of 21 lawns per week in July, starting at around 10 the first week and up to 30 by the end of the month. These are reasonable initial forecasts for our area and our prices. We expect good feedback and word-of-mouth, as well as continued canvassing, to increase our customer base each month through the end of the season.
In September, we will begin advertising our end-of-year garden prep and winter maintenance services, which will supply revenue over the winter. Since the climate here is mild, many gardeners put off their seasonal clean-up and garden prep until it is too late. Weeds continue to grow all winter, long past when gardeners want to be out in the yard, and uncompleted garden prep forces them to do much more labor in the spring to get the garden back in shape.
Winter maintenance includes things like trellis and shed repairs, helping gardeners organize their supplies and seeds, and fixing or building cold frames for early vegetables.
Direct cost of sales for all of these projects includes gas for powered equipment and transportation costs, most equipment repair and maintenance, and the cost of any items used up in the process, like mower blades or edging strings. Unlike most big lawn care services, we are tracking direct labor costs as operating expenses, not direct cost of sales. These amounts can be found in the Personnel plan, and are reflected in the Profit and Loss statement.
We also plan to do occasional tree stump removal, for which the direct cost of sales is higher, since it includes the cost to rent the equipment. If this becomes a larger part of our business, we may buy our own equipment.
We have established some basic milestones to keep the business plan priorities in place. Red is in charge of all goals directly related to yard care and employee practices, while Kikuyu will oversee our marketing materials - brochures, business cards, ads, etc.
We have sketched out only a few milestones past the first year, as details of that implementation will become more clear in the spring of 2006. For now, we are focused on setting up the office and collecting customers.