Saturday, September 26, 2015

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Starting a BBQ Grill Cleaning Business
Part Seven

MARKETING THE NEW BUSINESS
Reaching Customers

Getting any business off the ground is challenging. And doing it on a small budget can be daunting. But at the end of the day, and as the old axiom says, it takes money to make money.

If someone believes that a free website combined with a dose of social media is the cure to the advertising ills, they are in desperate need of a reality check.

A business needs customers to stay busy and, ideally, return a profit.

And so I turned to "old media" in order to reach potential customers, or prospects, and my first effort involved an EDDM campaign.

EDDM is short for Every Door Direct Mail, which is a program of the United States Postal Service. A well planned EDDM campaign can be both affordable and very effective. Unfortunately, in my case, my first effort was not successful.


Out of a grand total of 4,624 (6½ x 9-inch) postcards, I only received 4 (yes, FOUR) phone calls. Only three of those calls resulted in actual paying jobs. Talk about a flop!

But I am not blaming the USPS for this. After talking to other grill-cleaning operators, I am learning (the hard way), that the month of August usually is the worst month in this industry, followed by December. I guess the end of summer and school classes starting keep most people focused on other things.

Of course that EDDM campaign wasn't the only marketing approach in my arsenal. I also signed up an agreement with a local ad magazine that offers a far larger monthly distribution (10,000 homes), in the same demographic group.

The first issue with my ½-page ad just went out a day or two ago, and I've already received two calls, one of them an actual appointment for next week, at a cost that is a fraction of what I spent on my first EDDM campaign. As a matter of fact, that one job pretty much covers the cost of the ad.

I also found another local ad magazine, which has a much larger circulation in surrounding areas that I'd like to reach and, again, for a fraction of what an EDDM campaign would cost.

I can reach 35,000 homes, mostly in West Volusia county (where I live), also with a ½-page display ad.

The other reason I like these type of magazines—versus stand-alone EDDM postcards—is because the great majority of the ads are home-improvement related, which (hopefully) means that homeowners, looking to have some work done, will keep them around for a while.
Plus, I am the only one advertising a grill cleaning service.

After meeting with the publisher of the West Volusia ad magazine, I decided to let them create an ad for me since she made some valid points when studying mine. We also made the decision to list the price of the service, since the ad copy will explain that the process can take up to three hours at the customer's home. Listing the price also serves as a filter to keep those customers who are not willing to spend the money if their grills are the throw-away kind.


TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS

My first job was to clean a built-in Viking Professional grill, part of an outdoor kitchen in a beautiful back yard, right next to the swimming pool and tennis court. When I was done—the job took about 2½ hours—the customer was ecstatic and asked to be put on the schedule every three months!

The following two jobs also resulted in very happy customers who want to receive service reminders every six months.


LOOKING THE PART

Another important part of marketing has to do with presentation.


I invested in having my company's logo digitized and had golf shirts embroidered, which looks professional. I also had the trailer covered with a very nicely designed custom vinyl wrap, along with custom-cut magnets for my pickup truck.

As I drive to and from jobs, I notice people look at the trailer, and I hope that some will eventually call to set up an appointment. Also, last week, as I was getting my equipment out of the trailer for a job, a woman walking in her neighborhood asked me for a business card, so the vinyl wrap and magnets work.

During the starting phase I will use a combination of EDDM and print advertising, which I hope will allow me to service enough monthly customers to reach the break-even point so I can build from there. This is why it is so important to create a spreadsheet where you can list all the monthly expenses, so you can figure out how many jobs you need to perform daily in order to reach profitability.

Business—large or small—is a numbers game, so make sure you know your numbers well. Then figure out a way to control those numbers, not the other way around.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My Grill Pro's Facebook Page is Live!

I recently launched a new page for My Grill Pro, my new and latest business enterprise on Facebook. The page has been open for a couple of weeks, and I am using this channel to post lots of before and after photos, along with commentary, of barbecue grills I clean in towns and neighborhoods in Seminole and West Volusia counties in Central Florida.

My Grill Pro on Facebook

So, if you happen to live in Alaqua Lakes, Heathrow, Lake Mary, Lake Forest, Longwood, Sanford, DeBary, Victoria Park in DeLand, or surrounding areas, please take a minute to visit my new Facebook page to see what My Grill Pro has been up to. And if I happen to clean your grill, you may see it featured on our Facebook page, as well as our website.

Thanks!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Cars I Love: Lyonheart K

The Lyonheart K model, supposedly powered by a 5-liter Cosworth V8 motor. The beautiful body lines remind me of a Jaguar XKE.


Cars I Love are photos of automobiles I find and collect during my journeys around the Interwebs. Whenever possible, I credit the source. —Luis