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hillside lawn care
01-11-2010, 10:10 PM
Hello everyone. My name is Cody. I recently started a lawn care, landscaping, and snow removal business in Plainfield, Indiana. I have worked for very well established companies around Indianapolis for the past 3 years, and decided to try to do this on my own. I just got up and running in October of 2009, which around here is basically nearing the end of the mowing season, which is what i would like to focus on the most. I have done just about everything landscape wise, from mowing to mulch, pruning, paver patios, installing drain tile, and snow removal. I am trying to find out exactly everything I have to do to be legal in this state. I have a tax ID number, but i read that I do not have to register my business name, Hillside Lawn Care, with the secretary of state, because i am a sole proprietorship. I have commercial insurance on my truck and all of my equipment is covered on my policy, and I have a $500,000 liability. The main thing I need to do is get my name out, and I need to know the best and fastest ways to do this. I am only 18, but I honestly do know what I am doing with this line of work. Any advice? Thanks

Steve
01-12-2010, 12:18 PM
Hi Cody,

Welcome to our forum!

The main thing I need to do is get my name out, and I need to know the best and fastest ways to do this.

What kinds of things have you been doing so far to promote your business?

When you worked at the previous business what kinds of things did they do to promote their business?

Did any of the marketing lessons you picked up from your previous job help?

hillside lawn care
01-14-2010, 07:50 PM
Well, all the places I worked at before were very well established and didn't have to do any kind of advertising and still kept 24 or more guys busy early spring through late fall and everyone came in for snow removal. So far, I have handed out about 2500 flyers, and handed out about 100 business cards myself. I have very little business right now, so word of mouth is very hard to achieve at this point.

Steve
01-14-2010, 08:10 PM
Well, all the places I worked at before were very well established and didn't have to do any kind of advertising and still kept 24 or more guys busy early spring through late fall

That is very interesting.

Looking back on all that now, what do you attribute that too?

How can you get to that point?

What do you feel they did to get to that point?

grassslinger
01-14-2010, 10:00 PM
Hi Hillside, you are right in that October is a terrible time to start the business, but don't be discouraged. Don't waste time in the newspaper for new customers. Door hangers work well cause you can target the types of customers you want. Flyers can work too if they look professional. Don't spend a lot of money on yellow pages but get your name in there even if its the smallest ad. You have started well with the business cards but don't stop. I've been in full time for 5 years now and still looking for new customers every year as we grow. Find your niche and work it. Hope this helps!

Steve
01-15-2010, 01:06 AM
I've been in full time for 5 years now and still looking for new customers every year as we grow.

Welcome to our forum!

When you look back at your past 5 years, what do you feel you wish you would have known earlier when it comes to finding customers?

Where do you feel most new lawn care business owners get messed up when it comes to finding customers?

hillside lawn care
01-15-2010, 05:44 PM
That is very interesting.

Looking back on all that now, what do you attribute that too?

How can you get to that point?

What do you feel they did to get to that point?

The most recent company I worked for began in 1986, and it was the owner and one employee working, installing retaining walls using railroad ties. Two years later, the owner purchased a Kubota tractor and added grading and seeding to his services. The maintenance side of the company didn't start until 2003, but built up very fast. I'm not sure the progress of the company between the tractor and maintenance but I do know that he built a very big company in what I would consider a somewhat short time. After leaving the company, I tried to ask the owner what he did as far as getting the maintenance side out to customers, and letting them know that it is a service offered, but he was very sour about me leaving to company to try to begin my own. He wouldn't tell me anything really. I know it was probably easier to establish a company back in the times that he started his than it is today, but I still see numerous trucks out every day during mowing season. I saved enough money to buy the equipment I have in full. I purchased them from another business owner, the brother of a guy a bailed hay for. I bought a 36" cub cadet walk behind, a 48" john deere walk behind, and two stihl trimmers, and a 10' X 7' utility trailer. I also have commercial insurance on my vehicle. I have recently been considering selling the John Deere mower, and starting out with just my cub cadet, aiming for mostly residential and small commercial accounts. Once I, which hopefully I do, get enough accounts to stay very busy, I want to buy a zero turn. Is this a bad idea? Should I keep the bigger mower as well, so I can accept those bigger accounts, or sell it and wait until I can buy a zero turn? thanks

Steve
01-15-2010, 07:49 PM
I know it was probably easier to establish a company back in the times that he started his than it is today

What's your view on why you feel that is the case?

I tried to ask the owner what he did as far as getting the maintenance side out to customers, and letting them know that it is a service offered, but he was very sour about me leaving to company to try to begin my own. He wouldn't tell me anything really.

What was your view on how he managed the company? Do you feel he did a good job or were there things you felt he should have done differently that held him back from growing further?

Do you feel you learned any management skills from him that you can now apply in your own business?

Once I, which hopefully I do, get enough accounts to stay very busy, I want to buy a zero turn. Is this a bad idea? Should I keep the bigger mower as well, so I can accept those bigger accounts, or sell it and wait until I can buy a zero turn? thanks

I guess this would come down to your strategy. Are you looking to continue to accept bigger accounts?

hillside lawn care
01-17-2010, 12:16 AM
What's your view on why you feel that is the case?



What was your view on how he managed the company? Do you feel he did a good job or were there things you felt he should have done differently that held him back from growing further?

Do you feel you learned any management skills from him that you can now apply in your own business?

The way the company was managed was very well set up. The management knew what they were doing, and talking about. The president was rarely ever around the office. He never had to be. I don't think that anything is holding the company back from growing larger, but I do have some not so great feelings as to how the employees are treated. When it boils down to it, we were the guys out the doing all the work, yet we never received any respect. One of the main reasons I left to try this on my own, was because I was sick of being treated that way. All of the management would constantly downgrade all of the employees, and push extremely hard for faster work, while still wanting to keep the high quality the company was "known for." Anyways, I could go on all day about them. Management skills wise though, I feel like it is difficult to use the same ideas that the management for that company uses, because it is a very large company, and I am just a one guy crew. I have talked to many small business owners, none having more than 3 employees, all lawn care, and got a lot of great ideas to run the business, from billing, when to bill, how to charge, how to look and sound professional. But I think the greatest advice I got so far, was to learn everything I possibly can about everything lawn care wise, and use that to my advantage while talking to potential customers.

Steve
01-17-2010, 11:53 AM
One of the main reasons I left to try this on my own, was because I was sick of being treated that way. All of the management would constantly downgrade all of the employees, and push extremely hard for faster work, while still wanting to keep the high quality the company was "known for." Anyways, I could go on all day about them.

This is very interesting because it answers the question why do employees leave to compete against you.

The more we all know about this, the more we can retain our employees and keep them happy all while growing the business.

What else stood out that made you want to leave? What did they do to their employees that you have learned not to do to your future employees?

racerdude711
01-22-2010, 04:53 PM
Hi, I also have a one man crew (currently) lawn service. I'm 16 and started about 4 years ago. I agree with you when you say you need to learn everything possible about lawn care stuff. That's exactly what I've been doing. Everything from grass, flowers, trees, mulch, fertilizer, diseases, ect. It really pays off when your having a one on one conversation with a customer that may have a question. I feel it really makes you sound professional.

As far as the old company you used to work for, I think the management is making a HUGE mistake. When I get my first employee, (which i hope to this spring), my main goal is going to be to keep him motivated, but yet treat him as a friend. You have to remember that "Your employee's are your Company". If you are bad mouthing your employees, disrespecting them, and so on, why would they want to give there best effort on the job? They won't. You treat them bad, you make your company look bad. Not a good way to business at all if you ask me. Can't think of a worse mistake! (well probably could but you know what i mean)

As far as which mower you keep, if it were me, I would probably focus more on the small residential lawns. When you get down to numbers, your making more money mowing smaller lawns, (although they're a pain in the @$$). Just think about how much sq. ft. a residential property is compared to a commercial property. Then look at how much you charge for a residential, and how much you charge for a commercial. So when it comes down to it, your making more on a residential per sq.foot than a commercial. (99% of the time) So if it were me, keep them both if you can afford it, but sell the 48" if you could use the $$$. (and who couldn't use the $) ;)