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jasonw
12-28-2009, 09:30 AM
I'm not meaning to offend anyone here but I had a question that makes sense to me. There are just over 40 thousand members here. Is that 40 thousand failures or struggling business ventures? I am hard pressed to thing of a success story around here? Has anyone really made it in this industry? Care to share some numbers and or info on how you did it?

Steve
12-29-2009, 10:16 AM
I think we have seen many business owners grow overtime on here.

I don't know what the percentages are but I bet there are many who were never able to get their business off the ground and then just stopped posting on the forum.

It's a shame but most of the time, when you give up on your business, you don't really feel like talking about why you gave up on it. Or talking about what went wrong. Many times, we can learn so much more from hearing what went wrong than what went right.

Care to share some numbers and or info on how you did it?
This question made me think of the story on McDonalds. As Ray Kroc was building the company, he was made aware there were corporate spies that were within his company and they had gotten hold of his operations manual.

When he was told this, his response was something to the effect of, he didn't care. They could read his entire operations manual from cover to cover but that wouldn't allow them to recreate his business. That wouldn't help them create the energy, will or drive to succeed. It wouldn't recreate the culture the company had cultivated.

I think it holds true in this industry as well as ever other industry. The success of a business is going to always go back to it's leader.

We can talk about all these methods to attract new customers or how to optimize your business website or any other topic, but the thread that weaves it all together is the entrepreneur. And entrepreneurs are as unique as snow flakes. Each and every one of them differs greatly.

So when I think about the original question, I think the important stuff is not the figures or the general info how they did it but more of what behavior or personality traits do they have and utilize that another business owner doesn't? How are they better at reading people? How do they differ in their ability to sell themselves? How do they differ with the energy and drive level?

I also think about Donald Trump. Here is a guy that can write books until the end of time on success and yet never create a Donald Trump clone. There seems to be no way to convey the level of drive and focus he has and capture it in a book. I think it's within those qualities where the X factor lies. What I mean by that is, the factor that pushes one forwards regardless of everything else. The drive that makes one put in just that little bit more energy than another. The thing that makes one stand out over another.

My point on all of this is, it is hard to convey that X factor.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

jasonw
12-29-2009, 12:36 PM
Its no secret that I have been down for months now. No calls no work no nothing. I have never failed at a business venture which makes me feel like this industry is a wast of time. I did finally get a call yesterday after months of waiting, it was right here in town. My ambitions were high again. I was very happy. Because of the bad economy and the house was right down the road I explained my charge is $40 per cut but because of the location I will give him half off. Old guy on a fixed income barely making it so $20 per cut it is. He about through me out of his house. He said he would not pay more than $20 per month and wants it done 4 times per month. He said he would rather give a neighbor kid $500 to get in business than pay $20 per cut. I never thought it would but this really hurt my feelings. I left there lower than I was before he even called. I have had people say no before, I have given quotes and never got a call back, but this one for some reason took the cake. I now sit here and think screw it. Time to get out of this and get into something that is going to draw real money. I have been doing this more than 6 months now, never have I done anything and still been in the red for this long. normally after the first month or 2 money is rolling in, with this money is just rolling out. I think about all this and it reminds me of how lawn care people look around here. They look and act like unemployable drug addict losers. Maybe its because they just cant make enough to get out of there slump, I wander if anyone here makes enough? Dose anyone make enough? I don't mean just enough to get by but I mean enough to make it worth while? I have tried to change the image around here. Everyone ells looks like they don't shave ever and there trucks are 6 different colors and falling apart. My truck is nice, when I go to give a quote I have a brand new luxury car that I take with me and make sure I am dressed nice. I almost worry people will see me pull up and automatically think I will cost them to much. $40 per cut and edge isn't to much is it?

CHEESE2009
12-29-2009, 01:47 PM
Steve, that was an amazing post & so very true.

There are some employees out there who know how to run a business more than their own boss, but it doesn't exactly mean they can. It's very strange & hard to figure out.

Two people may have the same knowledge on how to run a lawn maintenance company, though one person may be a pushover while the other may be aggressive.

Your customer can be a customer, or they can be your boss.


As for Jason,

I have no idea if $40.00 is too much per cut, depends on the size of the lawn. Either way, there is always someone out there able to do something for a lower price & you do not have to sacrifice anything.

If he wants to hire a kid for $500.00, why did he waste your time? There is always one a-hole of a customer out there. I've had my share & have been seriously frustrated, it haunts you forever.

The good news is, your not in the wrong, the customer is. He was upset because he didn't feel like paying that much, though that was your price!


As for wondering if anyone has able to make it worthwhile in this business. It's hard to say, it depends on the person & what they want to achieve.

Personally, I'm only looking out for myself & the family I will have in the future. I am not looking to hire 10 people, purchase 10 tractors, or trucks.

I just want to cover my expenses & make a little extra. Whatever it takes to receive more than minimum wage is decent by me.

Figure this, in lawn maintenance we have 5 days of work a week if we leave out weekends. It's up to you to decide how much work you are able to take on, & how much stress your willing to go through.

It's a difficult thing to pick up more customers, but they do exist. Ask yourself a question & think of every possible way to answer it.

"how can I receive more business"

Add something to your list of services, maybe a customer will only decide to hire you for grass if he sees you do a good job trimming a hedge for him.

You can also try advertising in different cities, maybe the one your in is over saturated with other lawn maintenance companies?

Maybe you are able to do a lawn job for less than another company you see around town? What's to stop you from advertising to people who are already with a company? At least you KNOW they hire for grass, instead of advertising to people that probably do it themselves. You have a better chance advertising to the interested market, than a random market. You don't really have to lower your price, just offer a better variety of services.



Personally, I'm not satisfied with my business yet. I do know what I need to do, the problem is how will I follow through with my plan. I know I will fight for business & most likely lose some to get some.

I don't care if I waste $100.00 on gas trying to reach new customers in different towns, because even if I don't get any, I will have at least tried.

I feel like a hunter, & occasionally I will be the prey. It's just the way it works.

The joke is, "what would you do if you were sentenced to life in prison"

Obviously the wise thing to do would kill the first person you see!
The bigger prisoners will think you are crazy & hopefully leave you alone.

My point I guess is, take what you can while you can, because someone else is ready to do the same thing back to you.

I guess you can imagine your customers as food, if you don't get it, someone else will. And if the food is already being eaten by another company, you can decide then if your hungry enough to take it from them.

My company is skinny & starving, & I'm ready to take food from the fatter companies.



Alright, I'm done with analogies, HAHA!

Wow I just go on and on and on....

Steve
12-30-2009, 10:00 AM
No calls no work no nothing. I have never failed at a business venture which makes me feel like this industry is a wast of time. I did finally get a call yesterday after months of waiting, it was right here in town.

When you reflect on previous businesses you have owned, do you feel you went about them in a different way? Was there anything different you did with them than you are doing with this one?

When you look at what you wrote 'after months of waiting' it seems that could possibly be a sign. Is it possible you are feeling burnt out with this right now?

I would think to get customer you would have to be more proactive?

Do you think that is factoring into this at all?

jasonw
01-05-2010, 12:23 PM
When you reflect on previous businesses you have owned, do you feel you went about them in a different way? Was there anything different you did with them than you are doing with this one?

When you look at what you wrote 'after months of waiting' it seems that could possibly be a sign. Is it possible you are feeling burnt out with this right now?

I would think to get customer you would have to be more proactive?

Do you think that is factoring into this at all?

I think months and month and months is a huge sign, a sign that this is a worthless venture. I have done nothing now that I have or have not done before, I don't get it. I have taken part in every bit of advertising possible. Local paper, handing out and posting cards and fliers, door to door, everything and have nothing to show for it. Right now I am bringing in $90 per month on this and that just will not fly. Not sure what the deal is but I have had enough. I have a couple other things going right now that are looking very good. I think its time to focus on them and not on this anymore. On a lighter note at least I have all this new equipment for my own yard, Sigh....... What a wast of time and money. I feel I have been had.

Steve
01-05-2010, 02:28 PM
As you reflect on this so far, do you feel it has anything to do with heavy competition in your area? The down economy? Lot's of out of work folks? Or is there something else?

JRojas
01-05-2010, 10:33 PM
I just wanted to say that I really think that some of us can make it in this business. I have just started up and am still in the process of looking for more clients. We started in October 2008 and it was tough for the first few months but when spring time came around we started getting customers. We gave out cards door to door, and let our friends know that we just started. The best advertisement is mouth to mouth. Some of our customers told some new customers about us. I started with me and two of my brothers. I kept my full time job and let them handle the yards. We now have about 40 different size yards, residential and business. You just have to give it as much as you can. I am in the process of going full time and quitting my full time job. I just wanted to make sure I could make it before quitting. We just signed a big contract and will start on it in February. At present it looks like we will make it. We do our best to make all of our customers happy and so far havent had any major complaints or problems that werent fixable. The best thing to do is to give the best customer service you possibly can and the rest will take care of itself. So my best wishes to anyone who is trying to make it. May God bless you.

cklandscapingorlando
01-06-2010, 05:59 AM
I worked for a guy named Larry a few years back. He ran a nice sized comp. The last I heard from him, his profit was 15mill for a year. Trugreen , brickman, valley crest, these are billion dollar comps. I'm not even close to these guy's. But theres money to be had. Are you a landscaper or a lawn boy? Do you know what your doing? Any yahoo can run a mower. Any 12 year old can cut grass. You need to be a pro, convey that your a pro, and do pro work.

How much money have you put into door hangers or fliers? How many have you put out? How much hussle have you really applied.

Really man, to say I'm not making money after only 6 months, sounds really....

There are only 3 things that make a business profit. 1) Time. 2) Luck. 3) money. I've seen guy's get rich and not know a thing, that luck. Right person right time. I've seen others not market at all but their good so over time they build a solid business, Thats time. I've seen other go buy a mower and put out 75,000 fliers off top, thats money.

Steve
01-06-2010, 12:38 PM
I worked for a guy named Larry a few years back. He ran a nice sized comp. The last I heard from him, his profit was 15mill for a year.

What did you know of his story? How did he break out to those higher profit ranges? How did he stand out from his competitors and what made him better?

What do you feel you learned from him?

cklandscapingorlando
01-06-2010, 06:47 PM
What did you know of his story? How did he break out to those higher profit ranges? How did he stand out from his competitors and what made him better?

What do you feel you learned from him?

Well he made it that big cause he put in money. He paid folks to go around and bid. He bought out a spray comp for the lisc. He kept over head down.

I think for the most part, he just spent money to get the work. They aint any better than anyone else. In alot of cases they suck. But if you can pick up 2 for every one you loose you still grow. It's all about the bottom line there and Larry is not involved enough. He's a great guy but the super's tried to cut cost by any means and he just did'nt know what was really going on. For exampl one super would send 3-4 guy's out for a contract stating 6. They lost over half a mill in just the maint because the detail could'nt be done with half the guy's needed

M&A Lawn Care
01-06-2010, 07:52 PM
To start off 12 year olds can be smart.... Ever sense I could push the toy lawnmower behind my dad. I have liked to do yard work. Thus as I got older I wanted to start a lawn care business. So I started mowing yards at the age of 12 for people in my neighborhood. Then I started M&A Lawn Care. I went online and did extensive research about the area I live in and the competition in the area. Thus I came up with my pricing and got knowledge of the common grasses and plants where I live. I started with just the equipment my family had which was a push mower, broom, hand clippers, and assorted hand tools. Obviously when I started I could not drive so my parents had to drive me all over the place. I took the back seats out of the family van to be able to haul what I had around. To market myself in the beginning I created a primitive flier and passed it out in the surrounding neighborhoods. At first I didn't get any calls and the ones I did the people would not hire me for my prices. Then my luck changed I got one job and that customer told his friends and the calls started coming in. With the jobs coming in I was able to purchase more productive equipment. I also started doing things I hand never done using my own yard as my learning grounds thus being able to offer new services. Then I purchased a used 5x10 utility trailer, got my license, and acquired a truck for free that needed an equivalent of $500 of work to get it moving. Then I got a Zturn mower. With the truck and mower I was able to expand my area and my mom was happy that her van wasn't always dirty anymore. So I hit the area with fliers, signs,and door to door averting. Then I had to cut back because of schooling. Finally today I am back on the growing curve and doing well for an 18 year old still in school. As always I'm still open to advice and will gladly share what knowledge I have.

Steve
01-06-2010, 08:04 PM
He's a great guy but the super's tried to cut cost by any means and he just did'nt know what was really going on.

When you say the super's, what do you mean? The building superintendents? Or something else? I am lost here.

cklandscapingorlando
01-07-2010, 09:09 AM
The supervisers. We had 3 for maint, one fert, and one landscape.

Steve
01-07-2010, 01:39 PM
Ok that makes sense.

Well he made it that big cause he put in money. He paid folks to go around and bid.

Were these salesmen that went door to door or what did they do to make sales? What do you feel they did that made them most effective?

cklandscapingorlando
01-07-2010, 07:05 PM
Him and the super's supervisor would go around and bid and kiss butt all year. Very good business mind, but once he steped back from the day to day stuff the quality went out the window

Steve
01-08-2010, 01:25 PM
Him and the super's supervisor would go around and bid and kiss butt all year.

Ain't it something to see what it takes to push things to that higher level. It seems like they really became ambassadors of their business and that's something most owners are either not interested in doing or have the time to do.

Very good business mind, but once he steped back from the day to day stuff the quality went out the window

Do you have any thoughts as to how to keep quality up when the owner is not interested anymore in the day to day operations of the business?

Looking back at it all, can you see what you would have done differently?

cklandscapingorlando
01-08-2010, 05:48 PM
I would have run alot diffrent. I would have taken a bit less profit to pay a little better. This will help keep good help. I would not tolerate slack work from any one, this drves down moral, I would be on my supers butts to keep the quality as tight as can be, I would have monthly lunch meets with my formen and best guy's. This will keep you and them on a more personal level and make sure every ones on the same page. I would have had one clean up crew that was trained in detail so when a comlaint comes in they can hit the place hard and make every one happy. I would have had the formen check in with property managers when they get on site and before they leave. This keeps you in their face and give 2 times a visit for any issues to be brought to light for the next week. I would personaly supervise my supers. If you have 4 or less then each week of the month 1 route gets a drive through and the managment gets a talking to. This make sure every thing is top notch and puts you as the owner in a friend ship position with managment

Steve
01-09-2010, 01:06 PM
I would have taken a bit less profit to pay a little better.

Do you feel there is an ideal way to create a pay structure? Should it be based on the income from a job? Should end of the year bonuses be used or should you just try and pay a little more than your competitors?

cklandscapingorlando
01-09-2010, 04:41 PM
Well first this comp had formen that had been there for over 5 years making 9hr. Now I dont think every guy need more money. But when guy's have proven to have your comps best intrest in mind, you want to hold onto them. Money is one side of that. The other is respect. Good morning, thanks for doing such a great job, let me buy the crew lunch for doing so well this month. Back then I would quit a job about every 12 months. Mostly because I felt I was'nt respected enough. More money would have helped for a short time.

You fire under productive guy's and you praise the productive ones. If you have a really productive crew, or one that gets complements from the client, give them a small bonus. If you had an over and beyond year, bonus the guy's out. Include you better guy's in the business discussions. Ask them what they think of this or that. Your stroking ego's but any one who's real good at something, needs that from time to time.

I know I feel awsome when a client say's chuck your doing a great job. Another thing, never complain in the morning. Never get on a guy's case before the jobs done. If a guy needs talking to, do it before they go home not before they start work.

Your guy's is what makes you money. You can sell as good as anyone, but they keep the work, and keep you looking good.

Steve
01-10-2010, 12:30 PM
How would he compensate his sales staff?

Were the crews expected to try and makes sales too?

cklandscapingorlando
01-10-2010, 06:56 PM
The sales guy's made salery and no the crew never sold anything

Steve
01-11-2010, 03:42 PM
The sales guy's made salery and no the crew never sold anything

Throughout your experience with it all, have you seen a situation when it comes to sales staff or crew selling that seemed to be ideal?

cklandscapingorlando
01-11-2010, 06:16 PM
I think that a residual income might work the best. Meaning a % of the contract every month for a year. This means the more you can get in the more you get out.

Steve
01-12-2010, 11:47 AM
Also, it could possibly retain good employees!

cklandscapingorlando
01-12-2010, 05:09 PM
I have thought about that. Like a profit share each month. Tell the guy's you can get like 5-10% of the profit each month for that crew. So if you profit 1000 that month the crew splits a 100 bucks or 50 or what ever you went with. I think this would make them work harder which means more work gets done. Cause if they can bust out an extra 500 a month they get that extra 50.

This would only work with quality people though. Slackers would start skipping things to get done faster

Steve
01-13-2010, 12:02 PM
Could they then get the money at the end of the year like as a Christmas bonus, to help keep them all year long? Also what about if they lost a client due to poor service, could money then be taken away from that profit sharing plan? So it reaffirms good behavior and work ethics?

cklandscapingorlando
01-13-2010, 06:42 PM
You would have to deduct if they lost a property for any reason. If not then it's not profit share if you loose profit. You could give it once a year. I think the first week of Dec would be good so every one has xmass money

qualitylawnsbrewton
01-13-2010, 11:46 PM
I began in the lawn maint. industry 3 yrs ago. Working as a restaurant manager i had acquired 4 customers grossing me 325 a month, then i lost my job and had to hit the ground running in June of that year. By Nov. i had gross monthly sales of 2300. Fast forward to today employing 1 full time and one part time employee gross monthly sales around 10000 and working on a couple big contracts that would nearly double gross sales. Lawn maint. is like anything else "IT WILL ONLY WORK IF YOU DO!" Oh and about your 5 dollar a cut guy you should have told him you wouldnt waste your time, he'd done nothing but complain anyway, thats what always happens when you go after cheap customers. We wont get out of the truck for at least 35 dollars. Some people give a look of shock, I just smile and tell them thanks anyway. When they say they could get it done for half that, i just ask why are you calling me. I have told several customers that if they were happy with a 20 dollar cut they wouldnt be calling me. I dont want to be known as the cheapest, I want people to say he may be a little expensive but he's the best. Thanks William

cklandscapingorlando
01-14-2010, 06:28 AM
I'm not sure I understand your point. Who's cutting for 5 bucks? What you make does not translate to any market in the US unless every other aspect of not just business but living is the same.

Steve
01-14-2010, 02:43 PM
I began in the lawn maint. industry 3 yrs ago. Working as a restaurant manager i had acquired 4 customers grossing me 325 a month, then i lost my job and had to hit the ground running in June of that year.

Welcome to our forum.

What business lessons do you feel you have learned that have helped you do so well?

Did you pick any of those lessons up from the restaurant industry?