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afpettijohns
03-18-2011, 12:16 PM
Hi, I'm Aleister and just started my lawn care service on January 12th 2011. I already have 22 customer but they are being raised via a route sales company that is undercutting the local cheap labor. I am striving to get my business into a point where I am a gardener, not a lawn boy.

Hope to find lots of information and help here. I think I will be here allot.

Oh, Gopher 2006 is great.
I would like to see it integrate scheduling into Google, Outlook or directly to my android phone.

Steve
03-19-2011, 05:22 AM
Welcome to our forum!

I already have 22 customer but they are being raised via a route sales company that is undercutting the local cheap labor.

That's a lot of customers for starting so recently! Nice work!

Can you tell us more about how that route sales company works? I don't think we have heard anything about that on the forum yet.

afpettijohns
03-20-2011, 12:52 PM
Welcome to our forum!



That's a lot of customers for starting so recently! Nice work!

Can you tell us more about how that route sales company works? I don't think we have heard anything about that on the forum yet.

It's a company that sells landscaping, maid and pool services. They charged me $4500 for a monthly gross income of $1500 and guarantee 3 months of service with all the new customers they supply me.

They advertise in the penny saver and such. They are giving me a couple new clients a week but very much underselling my services. A new client starting tomorrow in a very well to do neighborhood is getting me for $12 every other week service. On most clients I have been able to upsell them and my $1500 in gross income will be more to the tune of $2500, and add on services this month so far have reached over $1000 so not to bad.

I would like to charge more and am starting my own advertising campaign today. Why hand them another $4500 when I could do it myself.

If anyone is interested, I think this company does this all over southern California, I can give the info. It's a great starter but not liking being sold at as little as $8 for a mow and blow.

Steve
03-20-2011, 05:06 PM
Have you broken this down and figured out how much it is costing you to acquire each new customer?

Correct me if I am wrong here,

$4500 / 22 customers = $204.50 per customer?

If that is right, how long does it take you to break even then on each customer you are paying $204 to purchase?

This company seems to be focused on getting you customers but has absolutely no interest in getting you the best customers, in fact, aren't they trying to get you the cheapest ones?

What is your view on why go this route versus other routes to acquire customers?

afpettijohns
03-21-2011, 10:12 AM
Yes they are trying to lo ball me and that upsets me much. I am fully unhappy with that because I go to a customer and provide gardening with quality in mind and my customers recognize that with tips and quotes of appreciation. Cindy W (my first customer) tells me every time, "You are such a good gardener".

She was sold at $13 per week roughly $56 dollars a month that I am paying the route sales company $168 for her. I moved her up to $65 per month on an every other week schedule which brings her up to $30 per stop and allows me to do the quality work I want to do and she doesn't have to spend allot more. So, I made that money back in 2.58 months and she is a dedicated customer that will be with me for years.

On top of that, she has been sold on $340 of extra services that can be preformed at my visits so it doesn't cost me more for the trip out there. About $50 in expenses on that $340 for parts.

Most of those 22 clients have been upsold for more than what the route sales company sent me for. Roughly 3/4 are paying more than what the route sales company is charging me for, working out to close to $2500 a month for $4500. My return will be only two months but with the quality I give, I don't expect to have much turn over on clients.

Some clients are just cheap though and won't budge, they may be handed over to a second truck that will be a mow and blow, without my company name attached to it.

Now, I enjoyed the opportunity to work on my business and slowly move into my client base is the up side to all this. Also it gave me an instant business while I work on my own advertising and get my ducks in order.

All in all I think it was a good move to get me up and running. I will give you a full economic run down as soon as possible.

andersontl2
03-21-2011, 01:49 PM
Let me try to get something straight here...these numbers seem a little out of wack. You paid them $4500 dollars for a $1500 gross for 3 months? When I did the math it came out to $4500 you didn't make any money you just got your money back...What about cost of gas? Cost to turn your mower on? Etc? Does not seem like a good deal to me at all, you might want to look into just doing your own thing...You also stated that you moved one lady up to $65 per month...with $30 per stop, unless my batteries are low on my calculater that only comes to $60 per month...And the extra services are great but what are you going to do when the next batch of leads don't have any add ones?
Might want to check your numbers and see how you are doing profit wise, it's great to get on here and say you have 22 customers and make $1500 a month gross but the bottem line is NET...and with your numbers it seems like you are working way too hard for something that will not produce a profitable return of investment.
Good Luck and keep us posted!

afpettijohns
03-21-2011, 02:39 PM
Okay. Your calculator is fine. Multiply $65 x 12mo and divide by 26 bi-weekly stops in the year. It works out to $30 per stop and $65 per month.

Now, the $1500 a month is how much they initially sell the customer for. They guarantee that the customer will stay with me for 3 month and hold no claims on those customers. If a customer say for $65 moves in a month, they have to replace that customer. The customers are mine for as long as I can hold them. So that $1500 in monthly mow jobs turns into a potential $18000 for the year if I keep everyone happy and all else goes right.

Everything is going right, my customers love me and in the first two month of business I have grossed over $1000 in add on sales (sprinkler repair, initial cleanups and such). Not to mention most customers don't have a problem with up-selling them to more than what the route sales company sold them on. That $1500 is turning into much more.

I appreciate the math check, hope this makes it clearer.

I am only 2/3rds through my contract with them, can't say I am perfectly happy with them lo-balling, I am doing the licensing, insurance, taxes ect... but it got me started and I have quite a few really good clients out of it.

Steve
03-22-2011, 07:14 AM
As it sounds like you have hit the ground running with your business, what business lessons do you feel you have learned so far in this short period of time that you feel you will be able to apply into the future?

afpettijohns
03-22-2011, 02:33 PM
Even though I don't like the prices that I'm being sold at, it did allow me to get my feet wet. Actually sopping wet. I am finding this forum and your lessons incredibly helpful. The Gopher software is helping me get my ducks in order and get me organized.

Some things could have been looked at closer before getting into business. For one a commercial mower. I purchased a Honda $400 consumer model and hope that my very close attention to maintenance on it will let me get to the point where I can buy a commercial one.

Consumer: 200 hrs ($400)
Commercial: 3000 her ($1200)

Wow, that was an eye opener.

I will trudge along for now and I think the new business owner would be wise to try out a route sales company to like I said, get your feet wet. I grew up in apartments and didn't know much more than push a mower, charge a fee. With these cheap clients I can get my barrings and techniques up and running before destroying a really nice lawn. :o

I feel that I've gained enough knowledge and experience, through them, to tackle a better class of client now.

Thanks for everything so far Steve. I really appreciate everything you do.

Steve
03-23-2011, 12:36 PM
How will you change your marketing as you wrap up using their services? Also do you feel you will change who you are marketing too?

afpettijohns
03-23-2011, 05:29 PM
How will you change your marketing as you wrap up using their services? Also do you feel you will change who you are marketing too?

I'm developing flyers, post cards and maybe even a brochure.

I wrote my website http://www.afpettijohns.com my self and it's great but many people out there are still computer shy. The brochure will be for people that don't access the internet. Basically my site on paper to advertise my extra services to current and new customers.

I am in many area, huge territory but have a few areas that people would mind spending a bit more money for a greener grass. I will be going door to door and leaving the flyers or post cards in those neighborhoods. Hopefully cinching down my drive time between stops a bit.

Most of my customers from the route sales company are coming straight out of the Penny Saver and thought it would be a good place for an ad that mentions "Insured Maintenance", since most that are advertising there are lo-ballers with illegal immigrant workers. $7 to mow a lawn? Can't lo-ball here, I would starve to death. The Penny Saver also gets into everyones hands, even the computer impaired.:D

Steve
03-24-2011, 05:20 PM
Most of my customers from the route sales company are coming straight out of the Penny Saver

Really? So they advertise in there to get you customers? Do you know what else they are doing? You could repeat a lot of their methods if you know what they are up to.

afpettijohns
03-27-2011, 04:50 PM
I am currently working on a customer survey to send with my invoices so I can improve my services to current customers and find out all the avenues that the route sales company used to contact them. The Penny Saver was found out because a few customers mentioned it. I suspect that is all they are doing.

There Ad, ""FREE QUOTES"" ____'s Lawn Service. Average front lawn $8. Average front and back $13. 1(800)000-0000

I was thinking of battling that add with, "Is your gardener insured to protect you? Would you like personal, Quality Service? Call 1(800)000-0000"

That accompanied by my initial estimate including taking soil samples and a well thought out introduction letter may prove to be the key.

What do you think?

Steve
03-28-2011, 09:21 AM
That's a good idea. You could also go with the marketing angle that you "fix $8 lawn mowings."

There are a bunch of angles you could go with to battle the low end priced lawn care.

Experiment with one, see what kind of results you get and then experiment with another and compare the results.

Keep us posted on how all this goes.