Ep064: Burke Jones

Today, we're talking with Burke Jones. Burke has a brand new company helping people have greener lawns and get rid of all their weeds in some of the nice neighborhoods of Kansas. He started with some door hangers that offered a discounted price and he’s had some success already, starting to build a base of customers.

We spent this whole conversation talking about taking advantage of the structure of a business with recurring revenue. The value he has is a business that every six weeks he's going to come out, do a treatment, and that will happen year after year after year.

It's very back end, very after unit loaded. He's building his business up to where he'll have people in the after unit that are just recurring year after year after year, but, you have to start with the before unit, you have to start with where you are.

We talked about the possibility of offering a free treatment at the end of the season as opposed to at the beginning of next season, when everybody else will be lined up, competing, trying to get new clients.

Burke's very excited about the possibility and understood the logic, because we talked all the way through the investment model and the ROI on the greatest asset he has, access to his treatments at cost.

For any recurring business where there is long term value in each client, being able to use this asset and treat the work you do to get clients as an investment rather than a cost is great way to look at the return.

We had a great conversation, I've had a lot of experience in this kind of a business and you’ll get a lot out of this episode.

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Transcript - More Cheese Less Whiskers 064

Dean: Burke Jones.

Burke: Hi Dean, this is Burke.

Dean: Burke Jones this fertilizer king of Kansas. Is that who were talking to?

Burke: That's correct. Sure trying to be.

Dean: Welcome.

Burke: Thank you.

Dean: Excited to help you get launched here. Tell me, what's going on?

Burke: We live in Kansas. I've decided, I've always had some side hustles going on outside of my normal day job. I was looking for something that had repeat customers, so that once you got them, you might have them for five years or however long they can stay with you. I though a round about way, my boys have a mowing business. We thought, "Well, if I launched a fertilizing business, a weed control business we could maybe get some of their customers to launch it with and go from there." I also like it because there's a barrier to entry. You've got to take a test. You've got to have a bond or insurance. You've got to get licensed by the state.

Dean: I didn't realize that.

Burke: Yeah. Not to apply fertilizer, but to apply any kind of herbicide or pest control. Anything you spray on weeds to kill them or bugs, that's what the license is for. So we launched it in August. We didn't get ... I think we got one of my boy's customers to come on board. We passed out about 800 door hangers. That had a little different message than what most people usually do. Then we did some advertising on an app called Nextdoor, which is like a Facebook for neighborhoods and communities. I put a couple posts on there so right now we have 12 customers that are what I'm calling annual customers. They've signed up for our at least our basic package, which is six applications a year. We start the first application in March and end in November. As I look at the numbers. More than half the people came from our door hangers, so we had a pretty good return on those. The rest came from Nextdoor and a couple friends fell in there too. You want to stop here or do you want me to tell you some more.

Dean: Tell me a little bit about it. When you're saying what are they getting treated for six times? You're doing it basically, are they monthly treatments through the summer month's kind of thing?

Burke: I would say about more like about every six weeks. Essentially what I'm selling is we're going to keep your lawn a consistent, nice green color throughout the year. We're going to kill 95% of your weeds. I'm never going to promise we're killing every weed because that's not possible. That's what they're getting. The size of customers that I've been targeting, I looked at the average on these customers is about $50 per application, so just our base package customer is worth about 300 a year. Then I've probably got about another two to 300 in upsells that I know right now that I could upsell throughout the year. Just doing some other over-seeding of their yard in the fall and aeration of their lawn in the fall. Then grub treatment in the summer for grub worms.

Dean: Got you. Right now what does it cost you to do a treatment?

Burke: Less than 20% of the cost that I'm charging them. It depends on the treatment. If its $50 is what I'm charging them, it would be 20% of that.

Dean: So $10 is what it costs you for-

Burke: Yeah.

Dean: Is that all in including the cost of labor?

Burke: No. That's the cost of material only.

Dean: How much would it-

Burke: I mean let's say you do it as a $12 an hour guy let's say because that's basically what I think most of your help would be. Right now I'm doing it all. One of the things about this business is you want to keep very tight routes. You don't want to be driving 15 minutes between customers.

Dean: Yeah, I get it.

Burke: Last night I went out and I treated three customers in an hour and 15 minutes.

Dean: They're all close to each other.

Burke: They were all close to each other. Really all of my customers right now are within a one mile by three mile area.

Dean: Perfect. That makes sense when you look at it. Maybe your total thing is $20, all in for a first treatment. Now when you look at it, do you charge people per treatment or do you charge them for the season.

Burke: I charge people per treatment. It's the same price for every treatment and it's based on how big their yard is.

Dean: What happens when you do the treatment? What's the noticeable or transformative difference if you look at it that way?

Burke: Some of it is you've got to look at it as a yearlong thing because if a customer just comes on board and they haven't been actively treating their lawn, you could be a center ... The turf could not be as dense. It would have more weeds. Over the course of the year we would hope to thicken their lawn up, provide a consistent green color and get rid of the weeds.

Dean: Over the year, but nothing is going to happen dramatically right after you do the treatment.

Burke: If we had never treated them before, it would turn a noticeably greener color. That's the first treatment or they would see all their weeds dying. Those are probably the fastest that you would notice.

Dean: They would see a greener lawn and what was the second thing? All the weeds gone, shriveling up?

Burke: The weeds would shrivel up, yeah.

Dean: Now what motivates somebody to get that kind of a treatment? What do you think is the ... What drives that decision?

Burke: Well some people just think they can't do it as well as I can do it. That's one thing. They want to I think I've heard them say, "Well, my neighbor doesn't take any care of their yard, so that's causing me problems." There's that kind of thing. They just want a healthy, healthy lawn.

Dean: Yes.

Burke: They don't want to do it.

Dean: No. Of course not, nobody does. Is there anything bad that can happen? Is there anything dangerous or anything that can happen? This reminds me of, I do a lot of work with Mosquito Authority and a very similar seasonal treatment based business. There's utility value of you don't have any mosquitoes in your yard. Which is a great thing. Then there's also this little thing that mosquitoes can kill you. That adds a little fear. No one is going to die because your lawn is not green or is there some other deeper reason why people get their lawn treated?

Burke: Boy, that's a hard one. I think it could go to home value.

Dean: That's part of it. It could be, but that only matters if they're selling their house.

Burke: Exactly.

Dean: Because it's only going to be this season, and then next season the winter is going to come and they've got a fresh start kind of thing. It's one of those things that's there's that sense of pride and that sense of nobody wants to be the house with all the weeds in the nice neighborhood. If there's a lot of peer pressure in something like that too.

Burke: I think that's what it comes down to mostly. Some people have a lot more pride in their yard than other people. I think that's true. Bless you.

Dean: I thought I was going to sneeze for a minute there. That's another thing maybe is allergies. Does it cut down on that or are they ... It's mostly the visual type of stuff.

Burke: I think it's mostly visual.

Dean: Okay, that's fine. Tell me about your door hanger then, because you've got one of these businesses that when you start it up it's almost like this line that goes straight up to the right and just continues on over time, because as you get more customers you get more repeat. That's part of the value of one of those things that's a recurring service that needs to happen. Like pest control or any of those things. Once you get somebody, and you're the incumbent, there's no need for them to switch because they've got their weed situation handled.

Burke: Right.

Dean: Your business continues to grow every year because you're going to renew the ones that you have. Now you're first year, so you don't know what kind of renewal rate you're going to have. I think in most of those situations, you can anticipate a pretty high renewal I would think.

Burke: I would think.

Dean: That you could get 70 or 80% of them to renew next year. That would be good. What's going to drive it of course is getting new people.

Burke: Right. My-

Dean: What were you going to say? What was your-

Burke: I was just going to tell you about what my door hanger was this year.

Dean: Yeah. I was going to ask about that. Perfect.

Burke: Basically on one side it had our logo. It had a big bar that said, "Fall fertilizing special." We gave them their first application for 34.95 so we offered a discount. Tossed in a one line that fall is the most important time to treat your yard for the upcoming spring because it is. Then on the back side I had an informal headshot of me. Then I wrote an informal paragraph about how we're in their neighborhood. I live near them. I'm the guy that you'll see on the lawn. Right now I'm selling it that I'm the guy.

Now, someday I'm going to change that, but for now. And that I'm a lifelong resident, so I understand how our temperature extremes and weather can affect their lawn and I can help with that. That resonated because people ... Almost everybody has referenced the fact that I live near them, which I thought was interesting. I just personalized it a little bit. A couple of people they called me because of the first application discount. They made sure that when I billed them ... Because I've treated some people already that they got that discount. It worked pretty well. Better than I thought it would for the fall. The big marketing time is in the spring, obviously.

Dean: Of course. Unless you can set it up in the fall. I'm going to talk about something like that here. Let's talk about this. When is the end of season in Kansas?

Burke: The last of ... We're applying product this month and then we'll apply product really at the end of November. It's going to feel like winter. The grass won't be growing. We put the fertilizer down so that it goes to the roots and the grass doesn't soak it up. That's the last application. We still have a window here to get more customers.

Dean: Yeah. How many customers do you have right now?

Burke: 12.

Dean: You've got 12 right now. What would you say would be a great target for you?

Burke: Well, when I started I said I would love to get 10 and I'd be ecstatic to get 20. To show the results I've seen now, I think a great number would be 30 people by the end of November.

Dean: Where are you going ... I'm talking about as in maturity here? What are you looking? Are you looking to build a fertilizer empire here or?

Burke: I'm looking right now to get enough customers to help pay for my kids colleges.

Dean: Okay. That works, good enough.

Burke: I think realistically just because I don't want to be working every weekend. I'm guessing that threshold without hiring someone to help me is going to be between 50 and 100 customers. It also depends if I want to ... I can upgrade to different equipment that makes the application process faster and less tiring for me. There's some other upgrades that could happen in there that might allow 100 customers in the same amount of time as 50 or 60.

Dean: Really the whole thing is that this is a ... The whole name of this game is to get yards under management, that's really it. Once you start doing the thing then you're the guy and it's up to you to keep those relationships for life, right?

Burke: Correct.

Dean: Thankfully once you get them, that's probably the truth because nobody needs to go and shop there fertilizer situation or their weed situation if the job's being done and they're happy with their lawn.

Burke: That's correct.

Dean: It's a before unit jump start here with the after unit ... the lifetime value of these clients is tremendous. If you look at it. You start somebody this season and you renew 80% of them every season after that forever, there's a really great increasing lifetime value of that. Now when it comes down to it, let's talk about and isolate your door hangers here. You put out 800 door hangers. How much did you spend on that? Did you do them yourself or did you have somebody deliver them or?

Burke: We put them out, so all we have is the printing cost.

Dean: You had about $300 or something into the door hangers.

Burke: I think it was something like, I think it was 225.

Dean: You've got $250, $225 whatever for the door hangers. We won't count your delivering them yourself for now. Let's just look at that, your hard costs because you're willing to put in your sweat equity for this, right?

Burke: Right.

Dean: You look at it, how many clients did you get from the door hangers?

Burke: Let's say probably five.

Dean: You got five clients from the door hangers. That's, let's call it $250 just to make it easy for the math here. It cost you $50 to get that new client. You charged them 34.95 for it.

Burke: For the first time.

Dean: It cost you 10, so you ended up you had a $25 cost for contribution to overhead. You add that after your cost of good for it. That was basically your numbers work out that hopefully if you continue to do the treatments with those people that you will have a lifetime client there. Now what's really interesting and what we've been experimenting with is this idea of doing, of getting a free treatment as the first introduction, because your cost of it is $10 no matter what. That's all it costs you to do that. The perceived value of it is $50. By giving it away initially you have a really great opportunity to build a lifetime relationship with those people because A, they don't have a fertilizer incumbent yet because they would have already had their fertilizer situation handled. They wouldn't need you otherwise. When you look at it that what we've found is that you can get probably four or five times as many people to respond to take you up on a free offer as opposed to paying any amount of money.

Burke: Interesting.

Dean: It's an interesting thing that the winning move that we've had with the ... In so many situations like this is to give away the first treatment so that you now have somebody, you've identified somebody who needs and wants the service. You get a chance now to bond with them and you trigger that reciprocity as well. They feel like, now they owe you because you've done something for them. If you look at that instead of getting four treatments, you were able to get 20 treatments and it costs you $10 to do those. You're investing $200 of hard costs, plus the $250 that you spent to do the door hangers and you get 20 opportunities instead of getting five opportunities.

Burke: Five. Then on the next treatment I'm making $1,000 instead of $100.

Dean: That's exactly right. That make sense?

Burke: That's pretty eye opening. I know there's a national company. They're advertising a first treatment of $29 if you agree to EZ Pay and if you sign this contract.

Dean: Anytime you start hedging your bets like that, people are looking for loopholes. They look for that. They look for you to protect yourself against them. They look at it are there strings attached? You're saying because that's the first thing. Whenever you are going into it, just purely with no ... That they could take advantage of you, they won't.

Burke: We have everybody sign an agreement. It's just saying, "Yes, we want to do this program and this is the price." They can cancel tomorrow if they wanted to. All they have to do is call me and say, "I'm done. That's it. I'm not going to ... There's no contract, it's just more of an agreement of here's what we've agreed to. That seems to have helped like you say. People don't want to be tied into an agreement. They've done that. Some people have done that and they regret it. In this industry there's a lot of ... It's questionable tactics people do and then they're locked into a contract and they can't get out.

Dean: I think that it would be so much, even as you're coming to the end of the season. Even as you're coming to the end of the season, that even if there's not ... Right now there's a chance that you could get the last treatment, to get them to pay for one more treatment, like the season ending treatment.

Burke: Yeah.

Dean: I think that it would be a very valuable thing for you to do is to plant your $10 in the yards of somebody who has no chance to pay you back until the spring. Let that percolate over the season. Then you have the relationship with them for coming into the beginning of the season. If I were looking at that, because it's not, it wouldn't be very much. If you can get ... I don't think there could be a better way for you to invest $1,000 than to get 100 people to let you do a year end treatment for them for free to set up a green lawn in the spring.

Burke: Yeah, that would be incredible.

Dean: That's the way I would think about it, is I would look and see how many people would let me bury $10 in their yard over the winter and harvest in the spring, turn it into $300.

Burke: Exactly.

Dean: That's really what's going to happen and because most of your competitors, they're not out trying to get new clients in the fall. You'd have the whole place to yourself.

Burke: Yeah, you know what I saw. A couple things I've seen is, and I live in one of these neighborhoods, so I understand what these people get marketed. It's a nice area. I've seen either one of two things. One is if anybody is marketing in the fall, it's they're marketing too many things on one card. It's like, "We mow, we tree trim, we clean gutters." I'm just doing one thing. I'm fertilization and weed control. There's some national companies that are out there. I also think some of these local companies get big and they get complacent. They live off referrals. You can go and pick off customers. I'm really surprised where I'm at right now a month into it. I don't know if it would be a door hanger, post card, whatever. We just say, "We want to fertilize your yard for free?"

Dean: Yeah.

Burke: Would that be the message?

Dean: Yeah, it really would. What's the name? I might even look at going to some of the HOAs or just going into named communities. Do you have named communities?

Burke: Yeah, they're all named. There's probably where I've marketed so far, just in the strip I'm targeting, there's probably five or six named neighborhoods. If you look at EDDM it's almost by neighborhood or you could combine a couple. Forest Ridge and Forest Lakes, blah, blah, blah. You could say, "A special offer for Ridgeport or whatever rather than-"

Dean: Yes or make it an event for that ... How long does it take you to do that treatment? About 20 minutes or so you said?

Burke: Yeah, at most, it's probably by the time I get there, fill the spreader, walk the yard, load back, that was probably 20 minutes.

Dean: If you had in a neighborhood, you could just go door to door kind of thing. Go down this one, this one, this one. That would be helpful, right?

Burke: Oh yeah.

Dean: If you had more of them. When you think about that, what do you think? How many people don't have weed and fertilizer support?

Burke: It's interesting, out of all of my customers, this was like, they didn't have anybody before me, except for two people. Those two people, one guy was unhappy with the quality. The other lady was just unhappy with how much she was having to pay every month. I'm not cheap. My prices, I would say I'm right in the hunt with everybody else. There's some national companies, they have sales forces and they're really good at selling. They sign people up to these programs that cost $1,000 a year kind of thing. They're on the lawn every month with mixed results. You just don't need to be on the lawn every month.

Dean: I got you.

Burke: It's a business decision, it's not a need for the lawn kind of thing.

Dean: I got it.

Burke: Everybody else was new. Either they just moved into the house, they didn't have anybody or they got tired of doing it themselves or they were frustrated with the results they got themselves.

Dean: Perfect. If you were to look at it, if you had a day or a weekend, or the last two weekends in October or whatever, however you play it out. That if you look at it that you took, what would be the name of one of these communities?

Burke: Let's say Ridgeport.

Dean: Ridgeport. If you had a post card that was like a public notice that was free year-end lawn treatment for Ridgewood. What was the name of it, sorry.

Burke: Ridgeport.

Dean: Ridgeport homeowners and you had the map or the satellite view of that area outlined on the map and you outlined that you're doing it on Saturday and Sunday whatever that day is. How many homes are in Ridgeport?

Burke: I want to say maybe 500 homes in that neighborhood, maybe 400 something like that.

Dean: So 500 homes, imagine you could fit them all if you were to think about getting ... If you could get 20 or 25 homes of these in that kind of area. All that type around there, you could do three an hour, for a Saturday. Gearing towards that where people put this on the ... Everybody rallies together in a way kind of thing. It's almost like the big pick up day that the town will do where you can bring out your refrigerators and bring out your stuff. If it was the year end thing and it's free and they don't need to do anything, except sign up for it. I think that would be a really good way to make some in roads into Ridgeport and to start the year off with as soon as it comes out that you come back and you start the season. You become their incumbent weed and fertilizer guy. Then you've got your signs all there in the spring.

Burke: Every time we treat by law we have to put this little sign in their yard that says we treated. Logistically though what I ... I'm buying into this. I don't understand this. When they schedule, I could put a form on my website or something or they could call me. They could say, "Yes, I want this."

Dean: Yep.

Burke: Then would I follow-up with them then and give them our agreement for the future treatments or are you saying wait until spring and then call them and say, "We did that free treatment for you. I would love to come by and tell right now on the phone how much it would cost to go forward with us.

Dean: Right, because you know. That's the thing. You're telling them that ... I think you would do that after you do the treatment and drop off, have a conversation. Show them what you've done, what you do and that you will come back in the spring and pick up and handle the whole situation for them. They don't have to pay anything now. They don't have to obligate themselves to paying anything in the spring either. They're not committing to anything. What you're doing is now you are ... In the spring if they decide that they're going to do some weed control, now they've got all of the options available to them. I'm saying if you don't do this. They don't know you. You didn't offer them a free treatment. You just went through the winter and you're starting at the start line next year with everybody else, ramping up your marketing to, "Choose me. Choose me. No. Choose me."

You're competing with everybody at the start of the season. They don't know you anymore than they know all these other people. They're going to go and choose somebody based on the price or a special offer or whatever it is that it's a lottery basically, whether you're at the right place at the right time next year. If you contrast that. That you offer this free treatment in the fall with zero competition, zero obligation, zero cost. You get to meet homeowners in Ridgeport who want their lawn treated, to set themselves up for a great spring. Now when we fast forward to the beginning of the season. Now you're a guy that they know. They've got a guy. They know you. They like you because they met you and you did a great job. You live in the neighborhood, and you were kind enough to do this for them for free. They owe you the courtesy of if they're going to pay somebody to do their weeds, that they'll pay you. That is such an advantage for $10.

Burke: Right. Absolutely. You would say, just if I got a chance to meet them when I was doing their application for free, great. Then come back to them in the spring. That's when I would, I guess I'll call it "sell them on our full program" as opposed to when I'm there doing the free thing, I could show them what we could do for them next year and what the price would be.

Dean: Yeah, I would say both. That you do that and you leave them with something. You leave it where you have a booklet or a brochure, something that describes how it all works. Then you will call them in the spring to set that up.

Burke: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Dean: Right, I just think there's no better way that you could invest $1,000 over the-

Burke: Yeah, I agree.

Dean: Over the winter to have a harvest of potentially $30,000.

Burke: Out of 500, I wonder how many people would actually do it. That would be the originally thing.

Dean: Let's say that you could ... We can extrapolate from other results of other things that we've done. Let's say if you did 500, that you could potentially get let's say, let's just do different numbers that you could get 10 or 20 people perhaps.

Burke: Yeah, I think so.

Dean: In that. I think that there's a lot to that.

Burke: Yeah, I do to, because that's the trick to this business is, is that I don't want to be differentiated on being the cheap guy all year.

Dean: No.

Burke: I'm differentiating myself some because I'm the owner and I'm doing it. People do like that. Someday that may change, but for now that's fine. Yeah, if you can endear yourself to them with a free treatment that could be interesting. No one else is doing that.

Dean: No, because everybody else is like well if they don't have any skin in the game, they're not really people that they're higher quality prospects if they'll pay 34.95. The truth is what you have is you've got access to your service at cost, which is an asset. You're looking to deploy that in a way that is setting yourself up for the future.

Burke: Yeah. That's really interesting. I think it's a way I could get to 50 people next year.

Dean: I would think you could get to 100 people that way.

Burke: I do to. I could do the same thing in the spring.

Dean: Yeah.

Burke: That first treatment and send another round of post cards and do the same thing.

Dean: I think so, but it would be great to have that head start and let that germinate over the winter.

Burke: Yes.

Dean: Then it starts out that way.

Burke: Then in the spring I could start out with a nine word email.

Dean: Well that's exactly right. That's exactly right because what you're building from that is you're establishing yourself. You're building a relationship with that one person. You know their name. You know their address. You know their phone number, you know their email address. All the things that you would get in order to go do that free treatment. You're building that list, plus you get that goodwill.

Burke: Exactly. No. That sounds awesome. That sounds really good.

Dean: I just think that is a great thing. I would start to also look at does Ridgeport have a Home Owner's Association newsletter or a message board or a Facebook group or some way to get in front of Ridgeport. What's the name of the next neighborhood? If you're looking at it that Ridgeport is all your ideal clients, what other neighborhoods are like that?

Burke: There's 2,500 people that live in this strip that are all of my ... Just in that three square mile are. That are all my targets. They would fit my target. They have eight to 10,000 square foot lawns. It's nice neighborhoods, nice ... They all have sprinkler systems, it's that kind of thing. My hope, I hope I can get 100 people out of that 2,500 people. That would be-

Dean: That's reasonable. That would be reasonable.

Burke: Because it would all be really close to each other.

Dean: Yeah, that's completely reasonable.

Burke: Yeah, I think so.

Dean: Now, then it becomes that whole message of if you plan on having a green, weed free lawn next spring, what you do now can make a difference over the winter.

Burke: Exactly.

Dean: To get people preparing start a green weed free lawn next year. Starts with what you do now.

Burke: That's the message.

Dean: How do you articulate that message? Is that true first off?

Burke: It's absolutely true.

Dean: Then that's the story.

Burke: The type of grass we have here, the nitrogen we drop, we drop the most nitrogen in the fall because that's when the grass needs it to develop strong roots and everything so that in the spring it comes out strong.

Dean: Yeah, that's perfect. That's the message, that's the season. That free treatment is the thing. I think there's something to having that Ridgeport focus. The post card is just going to be Ridgeport and is Ridgeport a gated community or is it an entry community? Is there a way that you could put a bigger sign at the exits to it over a weekend or something.

Burke: It's not gated, but there's delineated entrances to the neighborhood. There's probably two or three entrances, they have their neighborhood name sign and all that right there. I could definitely do some kind of banded or coroplast right there. That's interesting, because you could even target that to Ridgeport rather than to have it up at the same time that the post cards are hitting.

Dean: Does the mail get delivered right to each individual house or do you have super boxes?

Burke: I'm trying to think. I think they have in that neighborhood, I think it's where they have eight or 10 boxes together.

Dean: Part of that could be some flyers on that on Friday before the following weekend or whatever.

Burke: True.

Dean: I'm just thinking about how can you get that message out in Ridgeport. Do you have clients or friends in Ridgeport that would allow you to put a sign on their lawn for a couple of days.

Burke: Yeah, I've got actually three clients in there. What's weird is there's a lot of cul-de-sacs in these communities and so these guys are back in a cul-de-sac, so no one driving down a main road would really see their sign.

Dean: Got you.

Burke: Maybe if they have a Facebook group I could target an ad straight to their group too or even have one of my clients post a thing on it.

Dean: Exactly. A lot of times if they have an HOA newsletter you can do an insert or an ad in their newsletter. They may do that or they may give you that if you're offering a free treatment. If you're not selling anything, that this could be an opportunity for you.

Burke: Exactly. That makes a lot of sense.

Dean: All these things, I would look at it as how can you get as many of those homeowners as you can to sign up for the free end of season treatment.

Burke: What we call it is winterizer. It's the winterizer.

Dean: Winterizer.

Burke: This is a little bit of to the side, but it's an interesting thing. When I started when people would call me I'd go meet with them and we'd walk through their yard. Initially I thought I had to go in depth and say, "Here's what we do on each treatment. I could just see their eyes glazing over." Then I just started saying, "What we really do is we keep your yard a consistent green throughout the year as long as you water it and we get rid of 95% of your weeds." They say, "Okay."

Dean: That's all, nobody wants to get the ... Nobody is a greens-keeper or wants to understand the science of lawns and all that stuff. Nobody needs to know that depth of information.

Burke: They just want to trust you. What you say you're going to do, is what you do. That's really what it boils down to.

Dean: Yep, and no better way than to give them a gift like that.

Burke: Now that's really interesting. I could really see that getting quite a few customers still this fall. I mean, free treatments still this fall.

Dean: Oh yes. Absolutely. I think that's the move. You know right now you put out 800 and you got four or five. That's been my experience, that's roughly half a percent. That's been my experience, that if you put out, if you offer a free treatment that you could end up getting four or five times that. That puts you right on the same thing in that 20 to 25 range.

Burke: That makes a lot of sense.

Dean: For the same amount of money.

Burke: That's really interesting. Okay, that solves that. I'm going to do that. I'm just now thinking through the end of November. You don't want to send those out too far before the date. I'm sitting here trying to think if we could even get a treatment in say the first week of October, then the next treatment would be the end of November. There are two opportunities here. If I hustled maybe I could get a post card out real quick to pick up some apps the end of September, the first of October, and then I could approach those people for paid treatments in November.

Dean: Yeah, that's right.

Burke: I could do another one free treatment in November.

Dean: And test.

Burke: Test it. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Dean: It's all very exciting.

Burke: That's very exciting. You know, I've followed you for years. Just your whole real estate, that whole system you put together there. I see nobody doing that. That's one of the reasons I was so excited to talk to you because you do things nobody else does, just like this.

Dean: It's just kind of funny. It is kind of funny that there's very little evidence if people doing any kind of direct response at all, in anything.

Burke: I get post cards probably at least once a week from realtors because my neighborhood is popular based on the prices. It's just a picture of them saying, "We're realtors." It's like, "I don't care." Tell me how much my house is worth or something.

Dean: Yes. Exactly.

Burke: It's just amazing to me that they spend that kind of money and they get nothing. It's just amazing to me.

Dean: There's a thing, that would be a good thing in your neighborhood too, whatever the name of your neighborhood is.

Burke: Oh yeah. Absolutely.

Dean: I think you've already identified who those 2,500 things are. It would definitely be worth it to test 500 in Ridgeport and see what happens.

Burke: Exactly. That's what I think.

Dean: I'm excited.

Burke: If I pick up more than three, it's better than ... It's the same as what I'm doing now. I'll get more.

Dean: The chances are, of course you're going to get more. I think that's the thing is, you can't do worse. It's all those people who paid you to do it are a sub-set of the people who would allow you to come over and do a free treatment for them and be thankful for that.

Burke: Is there much to overcoming the skepticism of people?

Dean: I think that some people are skeptics and when they say, "What's the catch?" "There is no catch. The catch, I live right around here. I've got clients in your neighborhood. I would love to keep your yard completely green and weed free. I just want to start out by giving you something. Start the relationship that way. Just to get to meet you."

Burke: That's interesting.

Dean: No hard feelings if you don't want to continue, you're not obligated in any way to do that.

Burke: Do you think I should give them multiple ways to sign up or should I just make them call me or do it on the web or by email? As long as I get the information I need.

Dean: I think that it would be the easiest thing, but you could test right away would just be to have them call and schedule-

Burke: Schedule it.

Dean: Or to call and listen to a free recorded message. At the end of the free recorded message they can leave their contact information for you. That's easy. Do you have a hotline service or do you have a voicemail service like that? Or an auto-responder?

Burke: No.

Dean: Well check, gogoCLIENTS.com, I have a system that has all of that. It's got the landing pages, the auto-responders, voicemail, texting, all of those tools that you would need to make something like that run, and it's a 30 day free trial.

Burke: Yeah. There you go. I could use them for 30 days and then sign up.

Dean: That's exactly right.

Burke: I think the free recorded message would be interesting because then it lets me dispel that skepticism right off the bat.

Dean: That's exactly right.

Burke: Okay.

Dean: Introduce yourself, tell them exactly what you do and how this is to help you get a jump on the spring. What the treatment is that you actually do. There's no charge, no credit card, no obligation. If they'd like for you to come out and do that, just leave your name, and your address, and telephone number, and your email address if you have one. I will contact you and schedule to come out.

Burke: Yeah.

Dean: It's pretty simple.

Burke: Yeah, it is. I'd be willing-

Dean: With gogoCLIENTS, you can pick a local, the number that you pick is you can pick a local area code number. You can have extensions so you can test different neighborhoods. You could have the phone number, extension 101 for Ridgeport. You could do extension 102 for whatever the other neighborhood or 103 so that you're the same people too. For more details and to schedule your treatment call this phone number, enter extension 101. It's a 24 hour free recorded message.

Burke: That sounds good. I'll check that out.

Dean: Awesome. Let me know, send me over your door hanger or your post card or whatever you're going to put together. I'd love to take a look.

Burke: Sounds good, we'll do it. I like the idea of a satellite image.

Dean: This has been fun.

Burke: Yeah, this was fun, very good. Thanks for spending time.

Dean: Okay. Thanks. I'll talk to you soon.

Burke: Alright. Thanks Dean. Bye.

Dean: There we have it. Another great episode. I love talking about businesses that have a very, very strong after unit component to them, where it's built into the model that you are building a clientele that's going to continue to be clients for you. That you're going to serve them again, and again, and again. If that's the case and you have that recurring model, one of the best assets that you can deploy is to start the relationship with offering a free sample, a free treatment, a free trial of something like that. I mentioned to Burke at the end of the call, that's exactly the model that we use with gogoCLIENTS.com. We have all of the tools for business owners who want to do online marketing, so landing pages and auto-responders and toll-free voicemail and texting and a CRM all wrapped into one tool kit.

The way that we start relationships with people is that we offer a free 30 day experience where people can come in no required start and exercise everything, see how all the tools work. Try it out for yourself and then we know that a percentage of people are going to like what they experience and will continue to use the service on an ongoing basis. If you have a business like that, that might be a responsible great strategy for you. I would encourage you to think that through, listen again to this episode and really think through how this might apply for your business. If you want to continue the conversation you can go to MoreCheeseLessWhiskers.com and you can download a copy of the More Cheese, Less Whiskers book. If you'd like to be a guest on the show you can click the be a guest link. That will let me know that you would like to be on the show and we can hatch some evil schemes for you. That's it for this week. Have a great week and I will talk to you next time. Bye-bye.