Shrinking service area
Weekly mowing, blowing, trimming, edging, core aeration and snow removal: the majority of lawn care services offered by Ring Lawn Care and Hansen’s Lawn Care are identical.
�The reason this works is that we stay in our own areas,� says Richard Hansen. �It enables our service areas to be smaller. Most people think that’s a negative because there’s not as much potential for business in a smaller area, but this enables less time driving.�
Hansen stays within a 3- to 4-mile radius of Woodbury, while Bryan Ring focuses on a 7 to 9-mile radius of Stillwater.
For example, Ring took on a customer in Oakdale. But the more he made the 20-minute drive, the more he told himself the property was too far away to be profitable, even though it was a sizable account. So he handed the account over to Hansen, who’s based less than 5 miles from it. �When you shrink your service area, you’re making routes denser so your profitability goes up and your expenses go down,� Hansen says.
�If you’re not driving 15 miles to these clients, you can be more serviceable to them, especially with snow removal, where 15 miles could be several hours. Concentrating our efforts close to home has made us more serviceable and kept our costs down tremendously.�
Referrals also make sense for services like fertilization, because Hansen isn’t a licensed applicator like Ring. Likewise, Ring typically refers landscaping work to other local contractors because he’s mostly set up for lawn care.
�If we get any landscaping jobs that will put us out of being serviceable, we will pass that along to another contractor � no charge, no finder’s fee or anything,� Ring says. �It has built my brand with my competition and other landscapers that I will give them jobs, to the point that they trust me so if ever something comes up, they know who to call on this side of town.�
But it wasn’t just the accounts, the equipment or even the website from Ring that helped Hansen grow. It was the mentor-like guidance from Ring, who learned the hard way how to build a business. He has started in 2002 with 20 accounts and a John Deere ride-on mower that he hauled on a tilt-bed boat trailer behind a minivan.
�Watching him model his business and adapting those lessons into my business made a significant difference in how I progressed � the way I’ve seen him interact with customers, the way he answers calls, knowing how to bid jobs properly,� Hansen says. �He told me, �You’re not going to encounter as many roadblocks as I did because you’re learning from my mistakes.’�
Circle of referrals.
The serendipitous Craigslist meeting in 2011 was the start of a referral network now comprising seven contractors located just far enough away from Ring’s headquarters to avoid direct competition. They regularly refer business to one other, and have even become close friends.
This model allows each contractor to focus on the services that are most profitable to their business, and to pass on other jobs in a way that builds rapport among local competitors.
�This network has actually helped me keep my passion and drive high. They’ve helped me take my business to a different level because I’m in a position of mentoring,� Ring says. �I didn’t seek out people to build a network; it just happened because good people that iphone hookup app I trusted came together in a circle that could actually benefit each other.�