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Tony Barnes
01-04-2010, 11:03 PM
Hello all I go by Tony and I'm located out of Cincinnati, OH. I was originally a commercial concrete man by trade then recently over the last couple years got into alot of decorative stamped and stained patio and walk work. Towards the end of last year I came across a incredible price on a 62" stander 36" toro with 2 450 back pack blowers and 2 fs 85 trimmers for under $3500. I Made the decision to begin self employment this year in the field of lawn care and decorative hardscapes, hoping to including my vast previous experience with stackable retaining walls, pavers and decorative concrete while also putting my new equipment to work. All knowledge advice and general help will be highly appreciated especially since i'm trying to do this while raising 6 kids 2 of which are adopted.

john willen
01-05-2010, 11:02 AM
Wow ! That's a lot of shoes! As far as the mowing goes use the pricing guides set out on this site and stick by them ! I use to think that I would rather make a little rather than nothing but low balling just got me in trouble the business will be there if you just stick to your guns. I can't count how many times i have been beat out by a lower bid just to have cust. call back later and need help because the other guy didn't satisfy them. some of them actually apologize for not hiring me the first time that makes it all worthwhile

Steve
01-05-2010, 01:25 PM
I Made the decision to begin self employment this year in the field of lawn care and decorative hardscapes, hoping to including my vast previous experience with stackable retaining walls, pavers and decorative concrete while also putting my new equipment to work.

Hi Tony,

WOW you certainly have a lot going on over there! We have seen a lot of members on the forum have less responsibilities and still not feel comfortable enough to make the jump to going full time with their business.

What pushed you to make such a jump? Do you have any advice for others who are in a similar situation as you as to how to do that?

Also, what kinds of things have you been doing so far to market your business?

but low balling just got me in trouble


John, I think most new lawn care businesses fail to realize this. Can you tell us a little how a business can get in trouble when they lowball?

Tony Barnes
01-06-2010, 10:48 PM
I believe the work i have been involved with eight years takes the fear of responsibilities or becoming overwhelmed away. I was a high-end commercial low-end industrial concrete lead field foreman for the last eight years! Daily task where over seeing and directing, "scheduling" all aspects of concrete construction over 4 crews based of 32 to 38 men. My luck of my deal happen to come at the time of a strategic lay-off for the first time in my employment with that company. This really made the decision making process of finding something else easier. It also eased the situation that i already had a easy convert able trailer accompanied by a skid steer and all concrete placement necessities. I believed this would be a good way to do what i like to do for me and with yard jobs could come decorative hard scape work and vice versa.

Marketing has been done thus far by expansive networking, first set of fliers ready to go out in about 3 weeks, signs on vehicles and trailer, yard signs for my own and expansive families yards. I was also lucky enough to pick up 25 yards with my purchase of this equipment of which all but one have agreed to resign this year. I believe a good year would be to fill my week with 75 to 90 yards per week and the rest of my time be placed in other activities prior listed. Again I realize this will require alot of my time and am more than willing to donate 90 hrs. a week of my time yet more if required.

I believe a good business is based on quality product or service nothing less, to stand by under all circumstance your word in which you have promised or shall we say guaranteed your contact, and finally scheduling scheduling scheduling!

john willen
01-07-2010, 10:46 AM
If you lowball you can look forward to 80 hour weeks just enough money to operate on and no time to do those big money jobs that can make or break you!

Steve
01-07-2010, 01:36 PM
I believe the work i have been involved with eight years takes the fear of responsibilities or becoming overwhelmed away.

How do you feel that ultimately helps you? A lot of new business owners may not understand this.

I was also lucky enough to pick up 25 yards with my purchase of this equipment of which all but one have agreed to resign this year.

It seems the first customers are always the most difficult to get. Did you find this to be the case? Any suggestions on how to land your first group of customers?

If you lowball you can look forward to 80 hour weeks just enough money to operate on and no time to do those big money jobs that can make or break you!

John, did you get to this point and if so what was it that finally made you see where the problem was? This can be an invisible problem most never are able to see and they sink.

john willen
01-07-2010, 04:14 PM
I realized that I was in trouble when I found that I was mowing 60 hrs. a week and couldn't afford the new equipment that I needed to expand. At the end of my first year I contacted everyone of my customers and informed them of the following years price increase and why. I only lost about 20% of them so I feel that I'm out of the woods. Maybe I can get that new Zero turn this spring

Steve
01-08-2010, 11:56 AM
What % did you increase your customer prices by?

Tony Barnes
01-09-2010, 04:43 AM
I feel i have been enlightened by a very strenuous daily scheduling feat and even larger demand for a quality product due to the numbers of the same field locally. This is my standing ground and basis to know i am and i can produce a better quality product that i intend to get compensated for accordingly!

In the marketing aspect of discovering my first 25 sorry to say but that was not the case i was fortunate enough to make a equipment with finishing out his yearly contracts deal. So in all actuality I kinda inherited my first customers but am very proud to say my minimal amount of time with them and their yards last year were enough to earn my work ethic and quality a return trip this year for all but one. (That one was the gentleman's mother i bought the equipment from) I also appreciate the fact that i have managed to talk 19 out of 24 of the remaining customers into a 12 month payment structure for 35 weeks worth of cutting to insure my lively hood in the winter next year.
Now for the other 40 to 50 customers i would love to pick up this year and it will be a good year!

I actually submitted a price increase also to all the yards i inherited mostly hovered around 14 to 18% which i know can sound drastic but he was working for chicken feed honestly, and yet by the increase in workmanship they were happy to pay no questions asked

Steve
01-09-2010, 11:42 AM
and quality a return trip this year for all but one.

A lot of forum members will be looking to do this with the new year here. What do you feel is the best way to get your previous years customers to resign up with you in the new year?

Tony Barnes
01-23-2010, 05:54 PM
Upon inheriting these customers I used basic customer relations to stay on their minds and fresh during the off season. This method was thank you letters upon completion of last season, Christmas cards and welcome packets of what can be expected of customers returning this year. My belief is that based on my seasonal contracts which base payments on start of season in march until final payments in Feb I can remain fresh on their minds for the start of the prior season, set to begin only a month after their contract completion. Just makes sense to keep me around then in prospective jan. and feb. when usually looking for a contractor I'm already in front of them.
My basis of a seasonal bid: First say it's a $70 cut that cut becomes $65 with signature of a yearly contract based on 35 cuts. $65 a cut multiplied by 35 cuts becomes $2275 divide the total equally by 12 months for $189.58 a month payments beginning on first cut month!

Steve
01-24-2010, 03:54 PM
My belief is that based on my seasonal contracts which base payments on start of season in march until final payments in Feb

This is really interesting. I think most contracts I have seen go from beginning of Jan to end of December, why did you choose a March through Feb time line?

Tony Barnes
01-25-2010, 09:22 PM
I went with what I believe worked best for me and my customer. I asked myself If I was looking for lawncare service and a gentleman presented himself to me, stated his service would bill on a yearly contract starting payment in jan though most of his work would not begin until mid to late march. Would I bite?? Couple things 1) Is this desperation he's requesting money prior service 2) Is this guy going to be around in march to even start service "lets admit recession $200 a month could be used elsewhere" 3) What happens come march when I'm completely not happy with the quality though I'm already possibly $600 + invested! Plus lets admit human nature we usually go for what fresh on our mind so when looking for service are my customers going for the guy who dropped a flyer in jan and early feb, or the guy they just wrote a check to two weeks prior and are reminded of every time they open their check book or receive a bank statement. Just works well for me at this point to be fresh on the mind, Yet possibly might not for others you just need to sell it. I mean come on really we are laboring salesmen without it where would the biz come from without selling it.

Steve
01-25-2010, 11:02 PM
I also appreciate the fact that i have managed to talk 19 out of 24 of the remaining customers into a 12 month payment structure for 35 weeks worth of cutting to insure my lively hood in the winter next year.

I got a little confused trying to follow all this. Did the above only apply to the customers you inherited or do you apply this to all your customers, new and old?

Tony Barnes
01-27-2010, 07:31 PM
This definitely applies to my current inherited customers but is a open and discussed topic with all customers, and really pushed to sell on all new customers but it still becomes their option. I would ideally love to have all my customers on what I refer to them as a even billing program. I offer and place in visual knowledge for customers a 5 dollar a cut discount on yearly even billing program which over 35 cuts is $175. I believe the saving plus the option for even billing is what sells this.

Visual 35 cut for $70 = $2450 to be paid over approx 8 months is $306.25 a month

on even billing

Automatically is $175 off leaving $2275 divided by 12 months = $189.58 a month plus insure my survival in the winter!

I find it alot easier to sell $189 a month vs $306 anyday especially these days.

Steve
01-27-2010, 09:30 PM
Do you think it would be possible to not give the discount and call it the 'Budget Billing Option.'

Where the fee is broken down over 12 months instead of 8 months. It would still be cheaper 'per bill' for the client and in the end you would get the same amount of money.

What's your view on that?