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How To Get Your First Customers In Your Service Based Business 

An owner operator knocking on doors

So, you’ve taken the plunge into the service-based business arena. Congratulations on embarking on this exciting journey! 

In this article, I want to delve into the strategies that have proven effective in garnering those crucial initial customers in service-based businesses like land clearing services (which is our focus), tree removal, and similar. Importantly, these same strategies to get your first customers can be used for almost any service-based business, so whatever you’re planning to start, read on!

Once you’ve settled on your niche and/or are ready to start your service business, it’s time to strategize on how to attract your first clients.

Pro Tips to Winning Clients With Service Businesses

Understand Your Target Audience

Begin by pinpointing your ideal target demographic. 

This step is pivotal as it will shape your marketing efforts and increase the chances of reaching potential customers who are in need of your services.

In my case, I found success by targeting a golf course community with ample forested areas who clearly had land and brush that needed to be tuned up. By targeting this affluent area, I could see that they had needs (a messy yard or forested area) and also the means (cash in the bank) to pay for services. And chances are, many of these people were ready to outsource headaches.

Direct Outreach: Making Personal Connections

A direct, hands-on approach can yield significant results when you’re strategizing to get your first customers.

Set a tangible goal, such as reaching out to a certain number of potential clients. Armed with informative flyers outlining your services and contact details, hit the pavement and start knocking on doors.

While you can’t guarantee that every door will be answered, the act of making direct contact is a great step in promoting your business. Your personable impression will leave a mark, and whether they “buy” from you or not, they’ll remember you for: 1) themselves in the future or; 2) their friends and family. 

Make your name and business memorable enough that they can find you in the future, even if they toss your flyer in a week.

Engage Meaningfully with Prospects

When someone does answer the door during your efforts to get your first customers, seize the opportunity to engage with them in a real way. 

Introduce yourself and succinctly explain the services you offer: “Hello, I’m [Name]. I recently launched a tree removal and care service and I’m doing free consultations in the area. Do you have any tree-related concerns you’d want to talk about?”

This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your expertise, for free. Explain how you would trim or remove their trees, the equipment you might need (make sure you get the right equipment), etcetera. Yes, you may find that some people will take your advice and “DIY” it, but most people will recognize that you’re a professional, that you have the equipment, and would just as soon outsource the work to you. 

Taking advantage of laziness is great, and people are inclined to do the easy thing when they can. If you’re there, ready to work, and they have a problem, there’s a great chance they’ll use your services. If there’s interest, provide a quote on the spot and, if possible, schedule the work then and there. 

If not, leave them with a flyer and politely encourage them to consider your services in the future and to check you out on social media (you’d better have a presence!). Now, you’ve got one more way to stay in front of them when they do need your help.

Persistence Is Key in Getting First Customers: Talk to a LOT

Don’t be disheartened if you run into closed doors. 

Slip a flyer under the door or tuck it beneath the doormat to ensure your message reaches as many potential customers as possible.

At this point, it’s a numbers game, and you just need to get in front of as many people as possible. That could be in-person, but it also could be just leaving marketing material anywhere and everywhere.

Success in getting your first customers hinges on persistence. Not every interaction will result in immediate business, but consistent effort will enhance your chances of success in the long run.

An owner operator getting his first customer

Make a Memorable Impression

You need something sticky in order to help get your first customers. That might be your personality, but it could also be a catchphrase, your business’s name, your logo, or your website.

I’m reminded of these marketing campaigns that center on negative feelings: in my area, a car dealership ran billboards with the phrase “I HATE Miller Ford” or something similar. Of course, people are curious and visit to see what it’s all about. 

In the end, their message was basically “great deals”, but the method stuck, and if you ever consider a Ford, you’re probably headed there.

Keep It Simple and Stay Connected

Throughout this process of pursuing your first customers, maintain a straightforward approach and refrain from aggressive sales tactics.

People see right through aggressive sales tactics. Focus instead on delivering value (often for free!) and cultivating relationships with potential clients.

And remember, securing those initial customers is just the beginning of your journey. 

Once you get your first customer, the goal is to deliver 5-star customer service and build trust with your community.

After you deliver 5-star service, the goal is to go get the next customer. 

You can check out our door-knocking strategy to get more customers in this article: How to Use Door Knocking to Drive Revenue for Your Local Service-Based Business.

Wishing you the best of luck in your endeavors,

Austin and the Owner Ops Team

Learn How To Start and Grow Your Business With People Just Like You

One last thing.

Are you a fellow service business owner eager to connect with peers and foster mutual growth? Or are you just considering starting a service business?

Join our Slack channel community at the OWNR OPS Alliance.See you inside!