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View Full Version : New to the forum...1st year startup lawn company


green2man0
11-30-2011, 08:30 PM
Hey all,
My name is Aaron. I'm 26 years young and have been working in the lawn care industry for the last 7 years. I graduated with a degree in Horticulture (2007). This year I had the opportunity to to move out of state and start a franchise lawn care company. We do fertilizer sprays/weed control/insect/disease controls, and fungicides...and a few odds and ends like aerations and small prunings. I have my applicator license. No mowing or irrigation or installs. I'm coming from Montana where my business partner has a established business we gross 1.2 million annually. Any word of wisdom in getting a business going and dealing with the headaches of starting a ground up business. My first season just finished up (all rounds completed). It's just me down here right now...probably for the next year or two also. This season I grossed 25,000 and have around 100 customers. It's not bad but I was hoping for more the first year. We did get started late though...we got setup and finallly started going around march/april 2011. 2012 will be my first official "FULL" season. When it come to customer service and technical stuff like chemical mixing I'm 100% confident. I'd like your advice on new market sales and marketing. So far I have my rounds and season scheduled for 2012. My plans so far are: November 29th I sent out a bid proposal letter to property management companies and apartments...100 letters...all included a professional letter which included our services and my business card...I used a program called sales genie to target the the top grossing members of this group and in those letters I put in one of our commercial brochures. February 2012 im going to do the same to landscaping companies to see if we can get some subcontract work. Were planning on leaving around 20,000-25,000 door hangers next spring between March-June. In between we are going to try and service the local AAA Baseball field in exchange for advertising (sign on the outfield wall)(maybe some radio mentions)(Free tix would't be bad either:). For current customer were going to run timed postcard for spring services EX: 2 weeks before we pull our aeration invoices we'll send customers w/o aerations a postcard....we'll do the same for tree fertilizations, fungicides, insect/disease control, and vegetation control applications.

Sorry to ramble on so long....hopefully you guys have a better idea of who I am...i've been browsing the site for a couple days now and I wish i would of found it years ago. So say hi or leave me any advice you think is helpful.

P.S. We do cold calling in the spring (early March) mostly exleads and call back current customers to try and get upsells. I will probably call new resident also...we are members of the chamber of commerace and they send us a monthly list of new residents.

Thank you,
Aaron S.

Steve
12-01-2011, 09:01 AM
Hi Aaron,

Welcome to our forum.

This year I had the opportunity to to move out of state and start a franchise lawn care company.

Any word of wisdom in getting a business going and dealing with the headaches of starting a ground up business.

Most franchise lawn care businesses will have this all set up for you. Can you give us a little bit more insight as to what you are doing? Maybe you are starting your own franchise concept?

No mowing or irrigation or installs.

Have you considered teaming up with a local successful lawn care business and then swap customers and leads with them? If you provide a service their customers could use and they provide a service your customers could use, this could really get you plugged into the local network faster.

This season I grossed 25,000 and have around 100 customers. It's not bad but I was hoping for more the first year. We did get started late though...we got setup and finallly started going around march/april 2011.

Ideally, when did you want to get started in the season? What would you have liked to see for your first year as far as customers and gross?

Have you talked to your partners about how they had initially got the word out about their business?

Also, I see you are sending out a lot of marketing material, but what are you doing to go out and meet people? How are you planning on plugging yourself into the local network?

green2man0
12-01-2011, 12:55 PM
Hi Aaron,



Have you considered teaming up with a local successful lawn care business and then swap customers and leads with them? If you provide a service their customers could use and they provide a service your customers could use, this could really get you plugged into the local network faster.

I started doing a bit of that last season 2011...contacted a few local (larger sized landscape) companies and did a bit of subcontract work for them...kind of a trial run. As far as exchanging leads that was going to be my next step this coming spring. Ex: you do the mowing i'll do the fertilizer, weed control, take care of the trees and address any fungicide/insect/disease issue.



Ideally, when did you want to get started in the season? What would you have liked to see for your first year as far as customers and gross?

Is far as our expected gross for the first year we were hoping for 30,000. Fell a little short but we did get started late. My sales goals for next spring are 40,000+ which means adding an additional 100-150 customers and focusing more on commercial sales. My market has around 60,000 SFDU's so over time a 1,000,000 gross annual number is very possible, in regards to sales/service.

Have you talked to your partners about how they had initially got the word out about their business?

My business partners come from the world of telemarketing. Our last 3-4 years we did't have a sales manager and the numbers became flat...could be we just peaked (very possible) we were #1 in the area as far as our services go. Most of the advice i've gotten from them is to make yourself as visible as possible...talk to as many people as you can and market and sell as much as you can. Ex: I talk to every homeowner I see when out doing a route...if their outside by one of my properties i'm gonna go say hi and tell them what we do. I take our truck out into traffic and make ourselves very visible...We got new graphics and paint on them last winter (International 4700) can't miss the thing. We run a few TV spot in the spring (March-June)

Also, I see you are sending out a lot of marketing material, but what are you doing to go out and meet people? How are you planning on plugging yourself into the local network?

I've tried to meet as many people as I can. We are members of the chamber of commerace and I attend a few events and pass out business cards and mingle with them. Were members of the Oregon Landscape Contractors Assoc. (OLCA) and know quite a few members in the group. Last season 2011 and this coming year we are going to participate in the annual Home and Garden show again. That paid for itself by about 5x last year...plus it's a good way for a new company to showcase our product and let's me introduce myself to tons of people.

Steve
12-01-2011, 02:53 PM
Early on in a new business, I think there is a lot of energy looking to be utilized. You want to hit the ground running and be as busy as possible.

As you can see from many of the posts on here, this harnessing of all your energy tends to not happen right away. It takes time for people to hear about you. Time for them to get to know you and then time for them to hire you and pass your name on to their friends.

If you find yourself with time on your hands and looking to harness it, don't get frustrated. If you aren't able to use it to make money because your customer list isn't full yet, instead use it to reach out and make friends and talk to new people.

Did you get a chance to look at all that I wrote to you? If you go out and meet up with other business owners that don't offer your services, that might be the best step to landing a lot of customers quicker than anything else.

Also, do you have any insights as to how the franchise you are in is set up? Is it something you buy into or is it something that is being built with you?

green2man0
12-02-2011, 01:12 PM
As far as the franchise setup...it's something you buy into. Basically you pruchase the franchise and then have the rights to use the name/products/services in your area. The franchise rights were purchased about 10 years ago by my current business partner. The franchise gives you access to marketing/sales materials...training...business structure...ect. There is a 6% royalty we pay for services produced. Part of the royalty fee includes access to discounts on trucks, products(our brand name weed control/chemicals cost less than what most people can buy generics for) also includes TV spots in the spring, and local advertising, and a huge marketing database...I have a database for 60,000 (names addresses phone #'s) in my area. Plus there is a huge level of support from other franchisees. Most of the owners in the NW I'm on a first name basis with...they are like a family...which is awesome. It's great to have a support structure like these guys.

Steve
12-02-2011, 06:30 PM
That is very interesting! It will be neat to hear your review of the franchise structure as you move forth with it. We have seen a few franchise reviews and some of them have been shocking!

Check out this one. It might help give you a heads up too as far as what to watch out for.

UK lawncare business franchise disaster (http://www.gopherforum.com/showthread.php?t=13503)