1. Wash your truck! If needed, paint your truck! Being able to read your business name and phone number on your truck is important, especially when it's parked in front of a landscape that displays your quality work. Neighbors don't always know each other, so you can't count on them picking up the phone and calling your client to get your name.

  2. Wear appropriate/professional clothes. This means no cut-off T-shirts, flip flops or smelly clothes. You want your customers to know you work hard, but that you are also a professional.

  3. Use the Yellow Pages. The Internet hurt the effectiveness of Yellow Pages; however, that does not mean you should not advertise here. Be sure to include an e-mail or Web site address.

  4. Customer referrals. If your customers tell you that you are doing a good job and are worth telling someone else about, let them. In general, people don't refer someone unless they are confident in the referral. The caveat is that you may not want to take on a referral if they are located in an area that would make your operation inefficient. An additional client in an area you are already working helps you increase profit, efficiently. Take on a client in a new area if you have been wanting to expand into that area. Increase your referrals by doing a professional job, in a professional way.

  5. Road signs/bandit signs/yard signs. These are an effective way to market an area. An 18-inch by 24-inch sign is best when viewed at 30 to 50 mph. You can use smaller signs if they are placed where motorists have to stop. Blue and white are the easiest to read, however, neon signs definitely catch your eye. Be sure the neon signs are not only eye-catching, but also easily readable. The message should be no longer than five lines and include a phone number. Even if the potential client is Internet savvy, they are more likely to write down the number — it seems that many of us think we can remember the Web site address, but that doesn't always happen.

  6. Direct mail: Send out sales letters, brochures, postcards and coupons. You can purchase address lists that are provided based on zip code or household income, to name a few categories. Be careful about offering freebies: Usually the potential clients who take you up on this offer never have paying for a service in their mind. Tie the freebies to a purchase.

  7. Opt-in or permission-based e-mail subscriptions. Your clients agree to receive your e-mails, at no charge. This began as an effective tool, but the ever-increasing volume of spam makes it easy for these e-mails to get lost or overlooked. If you do choose to send out e-mail notices, keep them simple. Most clients won't want to wait for your page to load or to have to go to your site to see your message.

  8. Web sites are terrific. While not everyone is hooked on the Internet, there are many people who go straight to a Web site or search engine to get more information on your business. If you've ever compiled a portfolio of your work, shown it to a potential client and seen their positive reaction, just think how many more people will be impressed when they see your work online. Be sure your Web site is high-quality and easy to navigate. If you are not Web page savvy, pay someone who is. Do your own surfing and note which pages are effective and which are not.

  9. With each new inquiry to your service, ask the potential client if this is their first experience using a service. If not, ask why they are switching service providers. You may gain some helpful information and throw up red flags. They may be a constant price shopper. Avoid quoting a fee without seeing the site. When quotes are given, don't apologize for what you charge — you know your expenses and your bottom line. Charge accordingly. There are companies who take pride in being the most expensive service in an area, and they usually do quite well financially. The companies who take pride in charging the lowest may not be making a real profit.

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