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picframer
11-20-2009, 06:23 PM
If you are like me you love pictures....

This is an update of the Pool job backfill and landscaping job I posted about three weeks ago, we had to take a two week brake as this is a massive job and at the time I only had two excavators, but when I recently added the 27 and hired another operator, we are making a small dent in projects to get done.

Image:
1. Pool almost finished with the backfill, it looks great
2. Side of the house, when we started this was a walking path for the propane delivery guy then a major drop off, its bow about 16 feet wide
3. Back of pool with the 27D up there making a rock retaining wall
4. The 2520 hard at work, OMG I love the 2520, she is the best all around work horse I own
5. Driveway keeps washing out, bedrock is about 6 below surface but I was able to fig in and around enough to make a drain
6. Plastic, what we do is lay the pipe on the bedrock, two layers of 6mil plastic then lift it over the 1 clear stone, then we build the driveway up with crushed granite and basically create a barrier so water cant keep washing the driveway away, this is an idea I had a few months ago, I have done 6 like this and it works perfect.
7. 1 Clear stone is in
8. Now ready to to the driveway next week properly, we are working through the weekend but at another site, I am down to 9 employees so we are trying to keep everyone happy.
9. The new post hole Auger on the 17D, OMG this thing is slick, you can dig an 48 hole in about 45 seconds
Dead beat, probably put 70 hours in this week but I can hardly wait to wake in the mornings to get at it.

picframer
11-20-2009, 06:24 PM
Here is what it looked like

Steve
11-21-2009, 10:49 AM
That is really fascinating to look at! The home owners must be super pleased with everything. I can't wait to see how the driveway looks when it's all completed.

picframer
11-21-2009, 08:26 PM
The issue is the owners have so many projects and keep adding to the list, great for cash but not great for planning on my side.

Here is how we get an excavator up over a 50 degree grade, 6' drop....most wont do this but to me there is ver little risk, if I am operating the machine.

Steve
11-22-2009, 02:05 AM
The issue is the owners have so many projects and keep adding to the list, great for cash but not great for planning on my side.

This is really interesting! What was the initial call to you from the customer for? And what other services did the job snow ball into?


Here is how we get an excavator up over a 50 degree grade, 6' drop....most wont do this but to me there is ver little risk, if I am operating the machine.

Does that freak you out at all doing that for fear of rolling it or no?

picframer
11-22-2009, 05:50 AM
This is really interesting! What was the initial call to you from the customer for? And what other services did the job snow ball into?




Does that freak you out at all doing that for fear of rolling it or no?

The bid was to backfill around the pool. Four other excavation companies turned them down to to the danger level. this area is solid bedrock with a crazy drop off. I have the equipment that can do this, it was slow at first and I explained to the client from the start that it would be charged by the hour and the start would be very slow as we had to build paths down the bedrock hill to ensure safety, they said they didn't care, they just wanted it done.

Then they saw a driveway we did next door to them, their driveway was washing out three to four times a year, they had an excavation company rebuild it every year, here paving companies generally will not pave ontop of bedrock which is what their driveway is for the most part, what the other excavation companies failed to do is two things, divert the water from a side hill washing out the driveway, then crown the driveway so that any water goes towards your drain, then compact the driveway using a ride on compactor (we will rent a 5 ton for this), yes it's expensive but I will only do a job, if it is done the way I think will cure the issue.

Then they decided they wanted a fish pound dug out, there is an area up by the house where we could actually dig.

Then they made a comment they really liked the fill we were having delivered, can you make the path beside the house much wider, so it's now about 16 feet wide, almost 200 tons of fill.

Then on Thursday the owner stopped by the site (he owns a heat pump install company) said he wanted an area cleared so that he could put a baby barn (storage) unit in

Then yesterday he calls and wants trees cut and chipped by his septic field so that he can have a nice back yard. And can you come back in the spring and put top soil and sod in??? Sure but IMG it's almost an acre they want cleared.

Does this stress me out? Yes, this is a massive project and they keep adding, then people out for a walk or walking their dog or driving, they see us/equipment working on this hill, stop and ask staff about our services, want quotes etc.

I leave the equipment there to do the job which saves money but we just don't have the staff or the time, so what happend is jobs that we should now be starting can't and a few of those clients are riding me to get to their house and get their project done.....I have had to tell some clients and a very nice way, you may wish to consider hiring someone else, every frgiggin one has said no, we want you. I keep adding equipment ($115,000 in the last four weeks) and we still can't put a dent in projects.

I had an older couple call on Friday, they saw one of our chippers at a site and wanted a quote on cleaning their yard up, it was close so I went at lunch, OMG it would take three guys 6 weeks to do it...they understood, it's by the hour and they want us to start, in this case I have the equipment but not the staff.

Steve
11-22-2009, 12:31 PM
I think it is great that so much is going on and it is a great example how one project can lead to another and another and another.

Doing good work and being visible can really lead to more work. It may take a little time to get to this point but these are the basics of growing a business and readers should take note of it.

picframer
11-22-2009, 06:25 PM
I think it is great that so much is going on and it is a great example how one project can lead to another and another and another.

Doing good work and being visible can really lead to more work. It may take a little time to get to this point but these are the basics of growing a business and readers should take note of it.

It is and I am not complaining I just find it stressful to have to put other clients off. Then driving today as we were doing leaf collection we had three calls, doing sites neighbours want to be done, I find saying No very hard to do but I won't go back on my word to signed clients and we only have 12 employees on the weekends and we are not even putting a dent in the projects to do as we just keep getting loaded up, I keep buying equipment, hiring and training staff and it just hasn't stopped or slowed down, add to that we have never in our history had a November so warm, most of the guys are working in shorts and T shirts, we have always had a least a foot of wnow by now

Steve
11-22-2009, 06:53 PM
I bet there are others reading this that get to a point where they need to expand their work force but new issues pop up.

If you were to look at your situation from a third person perspective, what advice would you offer to take this business to the next level?

How does one, who finds themselves at this point, take the next jump and what is the next jump to take?

picframer
11-24-2009, 06:57 AM
I bet there are others reading this that get to a point where they need to expand their work force but new issues pop up.

If you were to look at your situation from a third person perspective, what advice would you offer to take this business to the next level?

How does one, who finds themselves at this point, take the next jump and what is the next jump to take?

That's a tough question, I guess we have to look at saying No and I have never been good at this, also be careful in getting cought up in a lot of to do work on the books, just do what you can do with the resources you have but get a plan in place to grow if you feel the work is there and you can afford the equipment.

It's all a balancing act and I feel I have been on a rollarcoaster this past year, first year was tough for me on the staff side as I had to train everyone, learn a lot of things myself, take the company in a different direction when I realized by inital plan would not bring in the income, get the equipment, training again, most staff went back to University in September so we had to start looking in August again, my son took over this which took a major amount of heat off.

Just growing pains, thank god I had the knowledge I do or we would have been in serious issues.

Steve
11-24-2009, 01:30 PM
Next year is going to be quite exciting to see how it all grows and gets more stabilized.

picframer
11-29-2009, 04:56 AM
Next year is going to be quite exciting to see how it all grows and gets more stabilized.

Yes, when things settle down, probably January, I will write a post on some things I have learned, what I had to change etc. might be a good read for those starting as this has taken every friggin business skill I have learned to make it a shocking success in it's first year, it took a lot of creative approaches and the equipment to do it, very, very little advertising yet I see my site has over 10,000 hits, I built the thing in April, that is unherd of for this service industry in a city this small. I track visitor locations, 92% are from Halifax where I live.

We won tons of jobs due to my Blackberry, a very common comment is we hired you because you replied within min's......do you set at a desk all day? LOL no it comes to me on the jobsite and I reply, set up an appointment and I put it in the calander.

It's little things like this that may be outside the box for some that will make you a winner.

Steve
11-29-2009, 01:49 PM
We won tons of jobs due to my Blackberry, a very common comment is we hired you because you replied within min's......do you set at a desk all day?

Sometimes it is one thing that makes a huge difference.

This is something that many new business owners simply might not do because they are swamped. You could probably go through a local phone book in any area and make many calls during the day where you simply have to leave a message and hope they get back to you.

How would you advice others handle incoming calls and emails? Should they answer all calls during the day that come in? Should they respond to all new estimate emails within minutes too?

How important is it that they get to the new site that day to give an estimate?

picframer
11-29-2009, 10:14 PM
Sometimes it is one thing that makes a huge difference.

This is something that many new business owners simply might not do because they are swamped. You could probably go through a local phone book in any area and make many calls during the day where you simply have to leave a message and hope they get back to you.

How would you advice others handle incoming calls and emails? Should they answer all calls during the day that come in? Should they respond to all new estimate emails within minutes too?

How important is it that they get to the new site that day to give an estimate?

Sorry for the delay:

I respond within 2 hours always, esually 30 min, meet within 48 hours.

I do not take calls on sites I am being paid by the hour, staff can only take calls at lunch but have a seperate ring tone if it's from me.

We can't get to a site the same day unless its a day I am out giving a quote, we will not leave a site to give a quote, we run a very tight schedule.

Steve
11-29-2009, 10:39 PM
Do you feel there is a sweet spot in the amount of time that a lawn care business owner should return calls by?

If you can't answer all incoming calls, would it be worth having an answering service or no?

picframer
11-29-2009, 10:42 PM
Do you feel there is a sweet spot in the amount of time that a lawn care business owner should return calls by?

If you can't answer all incoming calls, would it be worth having an answering service or no?

Same day without question or you will loose. Answering service is out, they want to speak to the owner or at least someone who knows what they are talking about. Call on the road using bluetooth, you have time and if you want to make the time,it sets the bar a little higher.

Steve
11-29-2009, 11:09 PM
Do you ever call other companies in the area to see how quickly they pickup their phone or how long they take to get back? That would be really interesting to know.

I do wonder if you found they called back faster than you initially thought, would this raise the bar in the area when it came to competition, or should this not be such a big concern?

Is it important to be faster than everyone else or just as long as you get back to the potential customer within the day?

picframer
11-29-2009, 11:28 PM
Do you ever call other companies in the area to see how quickly they pickup their phone or how long they take to get back? That would be really interesting to know.

I do wonder if you found they called back faster than you initially thought, would this raise the bar in the area when it came to competition, or should this not be such a big concern?

Is it important to be faster than everyone else or just as long as you get back to the potential customer within the day?

Never, this is all customer feedback which is all that counts.

I think getting back is critical, customers use the net a lot, they fill out a contact me form from my website and I contact them right away, I have not sen my competition using blackberries.

The other thing that bugs clients is companies using hotmail, gmail, live etc as their mail client, the feedback is if you are for real, you will have a proper email address and I agree 100% with that feedback.

The key to all this is to gather information from your clients and prospects, it will tell you what you are doing right then you have to run with that feedback.

Steve
11-29-2009, 11:32 PM
The other thing that bugs clients is companies using hotmail, gmail, live etc as their mail client, the feedback is if you are for real, you will have a proper email address and I agree 100% with that feedback.

That is fascinating! I would never even think to ask about something like that! Did they just come out and tell you this stuff or do you make it a habit to ask them why they chose you?