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How to get my first clients?

(7 Posts)
puddinghead Sat 08-Oct-11 19:53:46

Well, I'm starting a gardening round after having done a year's training (practical at a posh house/gardens open to the public) and RHS course (so I've got credentials). I've got a first client which is sort of friends which I'm using as a kind of 'practice client), but I'm wondering the best way to get some more? I've had some postcards done off Vistaprint and been round to a few Post Offices and put some in a few local shops and yesterday did leafleting door to door.

Maybe I'm being impatient but how long do you think I should wait for the calls to come in? Should I also put an ad in the local paper (that was my next avenue)? Any tips welcome!

TheMitfordsMaid Sat 08-Oct-11 19:55:51

Puddinghead, I am going to send you a private message because I don't want to say anything on here that might out me, but I do want to share a few things.

watersign76 Sat 08-Oct-11 22:04:55

Ooh I want to know Mitford's secret!!!

Seriously..when I started out I attended a women in business networking lunch do. When we all did our 1 min pitch, a new gardner stood up and engaged everyone with her pitch, she wanted "everyone to love their garden". When it came to the last bit where you have to say who you want to speak to during the coming month, 10 out of the 22 of us all said the gardner, nobody else was as popular. I hired her and I know somebody else did, plus she was following up others.

So, if there is a local networking do, I'd give it a go. Most will let you attend as a non member before signing up for the year.

Google networking and your area and get out there with some business cards.

Advertising is generally most effective if you advertise more than once. I'd do the leaflets and networking and see if that has any effect as a first step. Have you also told everyone you know? Esp locally, you need to be bold.

Hth

TheMitfordsMaid Sat 08-Oct-11 22:26:22

It isn't really a secret, but if I posted openly I'd be identifiable to anyone who knows me, and I don't want to have to name-change again.

puddinghead Sun 09-Oct-11 13:14:26

Thanks, that's interesting Watersign, I kind of thought I wasn't 'businessy' enough for something like a networking event, but I'll look into it now.

watersign76 Sun 09-Oct-11 17:21:07

Sorry Mitford my attempt at humour.

puddinghead definately. I think the key was the people in the room were a good potential source; busy running their businesses and earning enough pay the £000s a year to be part of the network; time poor and can afford you.

Do go to a few of them before signing up to any of them, I found they all felt different.

Other ideas:

* Offer to talk at the local, library/community centre/festival. It is indirect, but will help build your profile locally and also "endorse" you to others.

* Offer a few hours as a prize at local fete/bazars/festivals. "5 hours from RHS trained local gardner, puddinghead". In addition to the profile raising at the event/beforehand, you may end up selling the prize winner more work in the future.

* As a non-gardner I might think that gardening can generally be left until the summer. Does your collateral from vista bust this myth "Put in the work in winter and see the benefit in the summer?".

* Do you have a website? It will be a good place to put pics of new clients. At first your web will be your on-line business card. A few people on here have talked about www.mrsite.com/ as cheap and good enough initally. Obviously there are all the other things like pay per click etc.

*Talk to those that can refer you work and vise versa; builders, cleaning agencies, local nurseries & DIY shops.

Good luck, hope the phone starts ringing soon.

WS

missmehalia Sun 09-Oct-11 17:37:24

My husband's a landscaper and got going by networking with garden designers. Postcards through doors (you can pay people to do it for you by postcode) worked well. Look out for people doing hard landscaping who don't do maintenance contracts and let them know you're around. Keep photos of all you do (particularly before and after pics) and make sure you've got a website to refer people to. There are peaks and troughs in demand so be ready for those - you may be inundated in spring but winter may be very quiet. It really can be word of mouth that is the winner, so gather testimonial and use it on your advertising material. Make sure to tell lots of people what you're doing (you'd be surprised how many self-employed people don't!) Use the winter to look for 'piggybacking' opportunities with other businesses, and always negotiate on advertising costs, which can be huge. Tree surgeons, local nurseries, florists, garden designers, hard landscapers could all do word of mouth for you. My husband's client base are nearly all older/retired people, so think about how you could reach them. It sounds obvious, but also notice which areas around you have the biggest gardens and target them!! Good luck.

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