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Steve
12-17-2010, 02:37 PM
What is the biggest business problem you are dealing with at the moment?

CFD192
12-17-2010, 06:21 PM
whether or not to take on snow plowing as an additional service. At this years end of season for mowing, I sent out surveys and asked about snow removal. Well beyond my belief, 80% of my customers said that they would be interested in snow removal. I have a Ford F150 and now with everybody asking about snow plowing, I am wondering what to do. One, do I just put a plow on my personal truck to make it through the year, or do I try to purchase a used plow truck and hope that even though it is used, that it will make it through the winter. Next year, I should be able to purchase a truck, however, I was wanting it to be a dump truck. So that is what I am dealt with. I also am in between a dump truck or not a dump truck?

MAKLawnCutter
12-17-2010, 06:58 PM
Okay, a few questions and suggestions...

"Snow Plow" - How old is your pick up? Is it a 4x4?

"Dump Truck" - They have kits for this!

Depending on the year and dependability of your current truck, you might want to consider keeping it and just modify it as needed.

http://www.northernhydraulics.net/dump_bed_kits.php?gclid=CObe_tLL9KUCFSda7Aodnxm4pg - pick-up conversion kit

http://www.truckaddons.com/Catalog/subpages/snowbear_polarpro.htm - this snow plow hooks into a 2" receiver installed on the front of the vehicle. Cheapest of the 5 i have seen

Its all in how you look at the situation, i bet you could make your current truck work till the wheels fall off ;).

Matt

CFD192
12-17-2010, 07:29 PM
current truck is a 2007 with 30,000 miles and 4x4 on it, crew cab. the only downfall is this is my personal vehicle, i am just using for business purpose for this year. Also what are some suggestions for pricing of residental driveways per plow, under an hour of work.

MrLank
12-17-2010, 09:57 PM
Biggest problem I'm having is receiving payment for snow removal. I mean it's not like mowing where customers can just set payment out before I come on their day. So I'm either having to make another trip to pick up payment or wait for them to send it. Them sending it would be alright, but it seems like it slips their mind rather easy.


CFD: I don't drop my blade for under $35 a drive. Most drives take under 10 minutes to clear if you want to do a good job. Now if you're going to have someone clearing walks, then I'd make it $45 a clearing. If you're doing it yourself, depending on the size of walks I'd mark up to atleast $40.

jklawncare
12-17-2010, 10:03 PM
get a cheap plow
look on craigslist for a used one
you can find one to make it through one season for 500 and under im sure..theres about 4 around here alli n pretty good condition except for a little rust on the back or on the mount.

if you could get a truck next year go for it

you can get a dump bed kit from the site MAK sent you too but i know
there is one other place that has been mentioned on the forum and im saving up for one of there kits

no fabricating or anything is needed just some bolts and they work great..

stealthdumptrucks.com

then you could even get some side pannels to go around the bed..like the truck caps but with no top..i havnt seen anything like that..maybe some of you have..

but..i think i just got a fantastic idea on making something if it hasnt been made before..this way..for all of those that use open trailers with no sides..or enclosed trailers..you can extend your bed capacity..ill look into it..if its not done..i think im gonna have to start making some prototypes :D

jymie
12-18-2010, 04:05 AM
Biggest problem I'm having is receiving payment for snow removal. I mean it's not like mowing where customers can just set payment out before I come on their day. So I'm either having to make another trip to pick up payment or wait for them to send it. Them sending it would be alright, but it seems like it slips their mind rather easy.


CFD: I don't drop my blade for under $35 a drive. Most drives take under 10 minutes to clear if you want to do a good job. Now if you're going to have someone clearing walks, then I'd make it $45 a clearing. If you're doing it yourself, depending on the size of walks I'd mark up to atleast $40.

Can you set them up on autopay with thier credit cards? That way the day you do the driveway, you can process the payment and not have to chase them down to get paid. OR have them pay for the season up front. Of course you take a chance on getting way to much snow and not getting as much but at least you have the money up front. The plus of that would be if you dont get as much snow you make out if the payment is up front.

wellbiz
12-18-2010, 08:26 AM
What is the biggest business problem you are dealing with at the moment?

Great question. Besides my small collection issue with a few clients that I was talking about in another thread, my biggest problem is what direction I want to take my business next year.

I want to consolidate my routes and increase my weekly lawn clients. So after the hoilday I need to spend some quality time with my marketing/business plan and fine tune it for the 2011 season. I also need to purchase another mower. I currently run a 36 Ferris walk behind, but I took on some larger residential lots the end of the season and I think I could really benefit from a small zero turn or a larger walk behind. I also need to consider hiring a part time employee. I wanted to stay solo as long as possible but if I can continue my growth rate I will probably need to bring on someone by early June.

I really would not call these problems, but more of a challenge when growing a business.

wellbiz
12-18-2010, 08:40 AM
whether or not to take on snow plowing as an additional service. At this years end of season for mowing, I sent out surveys and asked about snow removal. Well beyond my belief, 80% of my customers said that they would be interested in snow removal. I have a Ford F150 and now with everybody asking about snow plowing, I am wondering what to do. One, do I just put a plow on my personal truck to make it through the year, or do I try to purchase a used plow truck and hope that even though it is used, that it will make it through the winter. Next year, I should be able to purchase a truck, however, I was wanting it to be a dump truck. So that is what I am dealt with. I also am in between a dump truck or not a dump truck?

You might not even need a plow. Not sure how long/big the driveways are in your part of the country, but where I am they are all very small. I wasnt planning on doing any snow removal like yourself, but I had alot of my local clients request it. I went out and purchased a nice snowblower and can do a small driveway in 7-12minutes. With drive time I can average 3-4 an hour. Pricing is competive at @$25-35 a drive. I would like a plow and a new truck, but it wasnt a feasable purchase for my business this season. I have a pretty good client base but picked up 3 more clients earlier this week when we had a big snow. All were word of mouth or neighbors who came out and inquired. I am hoping to add a few more as the winter drags on and maybe turn some of them into lawn clients for the summer.

Steve
12-18-2010, 03:41 PM
my biggest problem is what direction I want to take my business next year.


What different options do you feel you have ahead of you that you could choose from?

wellbiz
12-18-2010, 04:44 PM
What different options do you feel you have ahead of you that you could choose from?

Steve, I really have a few things that I could do. When I started I thought I would just stay a solo operator and only do lawns with the occassional landscaping job. However I found the landscaping pays better and there is a lot of competition in the area for guys who just mow and go. In addition I ended up doing a lot of these small landscaping jobs that really helped my bottom line.

So some options I am considering are:

1, Stay solo and increase my lawn count by @ 10 to a total of @40 and cut 3-4 days a week and fill the other couple days with small landscaping work.

2, Try to increase my lawn count to 60-70+ and hire a helper getting away from alot of landscaping and concentrating my marketing to just lawn clients. Past clients and referrals will keep me busy with small landscaping, weeding, and mulch jobs one to two days a week.

3, Increase the lawn count to @40, hire a helper and increase marketing for my landscaping doing more and bigger jobs.

I am leaning towards #3. I would like to add more complicated landscaping jobs, maybe some water features and outdoor lighting. I really would like to find a niche and try to specialize. With the high unemployment in Michigan there are alot of low-ballers driving the price down on lawn cutting ($10-15 any size lawns is common in the paper and on craigslist).:mad: I can still compete, but it is a harder sell when my price is a minimum of $25 per cut and that is for a very small lawn. You can only sell the benefits of professionalism, being licensed and insured, etc so much. Of course that is a topic for another thread.

However the competition for landscaping and other services like hedge trimming, sodding, etc is not anywhere as bad. Seems most of the low-ballers either wont or dont know how to do alot of these tasks. To be honest I like the landscaping more. The lawn you cut only stays nice for a day or two, but I can drive by landscaping projects I did in the spring and they only look better as they mature.

The Cleaning Doctor
12-18-2010, 04:51 PM
Biggest problem I'm having is receiving payment for snow removal. I mean it's not like mowing where customers can just set payment out before I come on their day. So I'm either having to make another trip to pick up payment or wait for them to send it. Them sending it would be alright, but it seems like it slips their mind rather easy.

If you had a wordpress site (I am looking into Joomla also) I can make it so that you can invoice online and they can either spit it out their printer because it emails a PDF or they follow the link in the email to view and then pay the invoice via paypal.

fieroboi
12-18-2010, 10:54 PM
My biggest problem I'm dealing with is the guilty feeling I get when I have to turn away new clients. We have gotten a fair amount of snow lately and the phone has been ringing like crazy with potential new clients asking for monthly snow service. I feel bad having to turn them away as I have too many clients to handle already. Many have asked if I know of any reliable snow removal guys cause the one they already have doesn't show up. Sadly I can't even help them out with that either ... What a strange situation to be in!

Lloyd
Blue's YardFX
Camrose, Alberta

MrLank
12-19-2010, 11:23 AM
Can you set them up on autopay with thier credit cards? That way the day you do the driveway, you can process the payment and not have to chase them down to get paid. OR have them pay for the season up front. Of course you take a chance on getting way to much snow and not getting as much but at least you have the money up front. The plus of that would be if you dont get as much snow you make out if the payment is up front.

Jymie I currently have 11 customers that did a seasonal contract and pay a monthly charge. The problem is my other 17 that are per clearing. I currently have someone working on my website(wish he was moving faster) and I want to setup a payment option on it. Most of my customers found me from craigslist, so I know they have internet. So we'll see when that day comes how much stress it will actually take off. :)

jymie
12-19-2010, 09:35 PM
Jymie I currently have 11 customers that did a seasonal contract and pay a monthly charge. The problem is my other 17 that are per clearing. I currently have someone working on my website(wish he was moving faster) and I want to setup a payment option on it. Most of my customers found me from craigslist, so I know they have internet. So we'll see when that day comes how much stress it will actually take off. :)

I have a paypal button on my website. I get more use by sending invoices through paypal. All you need is the customers email address and a paypal account. The customer does not have to have a paypal account to pay the invoice. This spring I plan to get an android phone and accept credit cards through the android phone. I think I will be going with these guys...

http://www.merchantanywhere.com/

Growing Green
12-19-2010, 09:42 PM
I have a paypal button on my website. I get more use by sending invoices through paypal. All you need is the customers email address and a paypal account. The customer does not have to have a paypal account to pay the invoice. This spring I plan to get an android phone and accept credit cards through the android phone. I think I will be going with these guys...

http://www.merchantanywhere.com/

I use paypal invoices as well. Looks like a cool system and automatically keeps up with whether customer has paid it or not.

Matt

jklawncare
12-20-2010, 12:25 AM
Right now my biggest problem is rebuilding my entire company almost from scratch and deciding what to change this year..i have a new name and new logo so no one will probably know who i am. i have a car this year. and i will be more dedicated as well as having previous knowledge from the past few years.

This year i will be focusing more on long term prices instead of monthly earnings.

I will also have an employee working for me on a low budget.

With school in the way i dont have a whole lot of time to mow..and weekends arent always free.. so the most i think i would be able to handle is 20-25 but for a teenager i think thats plenty..i have no virtual overhead besides equipment costs , car insurance, and gas.

Right now im focusing on how im going to be marketing myself
i plan on buying 2 sets of advertisements (most likely post cards with double sided tape on the back) and i will be handing one out in february for fertilization aeration lawn maintenance etc.

and then another set in march for lawn maintenance
i will buy 1000 for february and depending on how many sign up i will buy another 500 to 2500 postcards.

jymie
12-20-2010, 07:48 PM
jk, I would include on all your upcoming advertising your last company name in some way like this:

JustKut Formerly known as .........
New name , same quality etc, in business since 2008 or what ever. That way they know your not a startup and you have some experience.

That way, if they know your last name, they will know the new one and link the two together.

jgontarek
01-06-2011, 01:16 PM
My biggest problem I'm dealing with is the guilty feeling I get when I have to turn away new clients. We have gotten a fair amount of snow lately and the phone has been ringing like crazy with potential new clients asking for monthly snow service. I feel bad having to turn them away as I have too many clients to handle already. Many have asked if I know of any reliable snow removal guys cause the one they already have doesn't show up. Sadly I can't even help them out with that either ... What a strange situation to be in!

Lloyd
Blue's YardFX
Camrose, Alberta

Im right there with you, I recently started building a groundup,and totally maxed myself with good long term contract clients and clients that pay on time and I hate turning away work, I thought about buying more trucks, but then you run the risk of them never calling again, it's a catch 22 and even worse that not many people are dependable,honest and hard working!

chrisw23
01-06-2011, 02:27 PM
Hi im chris im 18 and own a landscaping business in new jersey. I am very very dedicated to my business and it can be very stressful to me at times. i just purchased a detatcher and looking to get an aerator to try and do a seeding program this year but still have a few questions. Alot of my lawns are lawns that the owners dont take the greatest care of them. Some may have some weeds and mixtures of grasses etc. Well i feel like to put seed down i need to be putting it down on like plain dirt to come up the nicest. I feel even if i thatch areate and seed a lawn before seeding theres still going to be weeds and such that affect it. Also a few of my customers have souza grass but are interested in seeding still. Do i have to buy the type of grass seed that each one of my customers have? i just feel like if i put a normal seed down that my guy would recommend it wouldnt do anything to that out of control growing souza. Im very worried about seeding and not having the best outcome because alot of my customers have been using me for years and i know this is going to be alittle more expensive then most of the work i do. Also i mow with a brand new 36 inch wright stander. i tend to compare my work to the other companys in the area. It seem that alot of my lawns you can see the tire marks from my mower almost like the ground sunk on the spots that i normally mow. Im only 140 pounds soaking wet so its not like im some big guy putting alot of addition weight on my machine. Its looks like i was mowing wet lawns or something. Ive seen other companys that use the same mowers or even bigger and never have this problem. Im starting to think i may have too much air in my back tires. It the little things like this that drive me crazy. Thanks for any help in advance. CHRIS

To sum it all up alittle better is there an important step i need to do before aerating and seeding? and is there certain seed to use on certain types of grass? And what are some of the tricks for getting the best groomed lawn? i know sharp blades are very important and i do stay up on that its just those ruts on the ground that drive me crazy. Is it really because i may just be running with too much air in those tires?

jymie
01-06-2011, 02:51 PM
What I do to combat the mowing rutting you see is my first cut is one width around the exterior, then the next cut is a half cut then all full cuts from there to the end, then the next week I would eliminate the half width cut and use full width cuts. That alternates where you drive the tractor or mower. You can also accomplish this by diagonal cutting as well every other week. Aerating puts holes into the ground which provide a place for seed to go. The deeper they go the deeper the roots. That translates to a stronger lawn. When seeding just on top of the soil I find its best to rough up the soil lay the seed down then rough it up a bit more.

Steve
01-06-2011, 05:10 PM
Im right there with you, I recently started building a groundup,and totally maxed myself with good long term contract clients and clients that pay on time and I hate turning away work, I thought about buying more trucks, but then you run the risk of them never calling again, it's a catch 22 and even worse that not many people are dependable,honest and hard working!

What have you found is the best way to deal with this? Do you feel your ability to handle this will change in the future or do you prefer to keep your operation the size it is now?

jgontarek
01-07-2011, 08:42 AM
What have you found is the best way to deal with this? Do you feel your ability to handle this will change in the future or do you prefer to keep your operation the size it is now?

Steve,

Dealing with it is hard, who in there right mind can justify turning business away in this economy.

What i have been doing is taking the name address and phone number of the new potential client so i have it for the future. I then let them know the situation, I'm a start up, blah blah blah.... I feel that honesty is the best way to do business.

As far as growing the business I plan on doubling in size by next winter and within 5-7 years I want to grow to servicing all of New England by using business partnered sub contractors in various areas.

I also plan on using my "potential client list" next year when doing my marketing, I want to call them all and explain that I have doubled in size and would love the opportunity to earn their business for the season.

It all seems good on paper but as we all know it never goes as planned, right now I'm 100% on track for doubling business next year, as far as my 5-7 year plan, a lot can happen in that time, so only time can tell.

:D

Steve
01-07-2011, 06:24 PM
As far as growing the business I plan on doubling in size by next winter and within 5-7 years I want to grow to servicing all of New England by using business partnered sub contractors in various areas.

What is your view on the benefit of this path vs. hiring employees?