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HPI_Savage25
12-03-2011, 08:08 PM
Hello all, I am new to this forum and trying to read as much as I can. Anyways I am 18 and starting up a lawn care business. I graduated from High school in May and started working at a local Ford dealership 2 days after graduation. Worked with them for right at 6 months before I left and decided to go back to lawn care since I have been doing this since I was 12. I also just registed for classes at a local tech school for horticulture. My professor seemed really cool and said I could come and go as I need and just come in one day a week to catch up on whatever I miss and to take tests.

Onto the business side of things now. I currently have about 12 yards that I am doing but NONE are on a contract. I feel as if a lot of people try to get away from contracts if possible? Not sure if this is true or not although I would LOVE to have some yards that are on a once a week or bi weekly schedule. The fall time I love the customers that let me come once a week as I have much less leaves that are being hauled off.

I am trying to get another 10+ customers hopefully. I have business cards and just got 1000 door hangers in and have been slowly passing them out. I also have a website but not sure exactly what all to put on it? Any ideas?

Here is it right now: www.wrenslawncare.com

Thanks for all the info!

Mikes mowing
12-03-2011, 08:33 PM
I started doing comm. propertys this year with out contracts.
It was all weekly work.I stated I would not cut if it did not need it.
They like that a lot.basicly it became my call.I Cut april -october.
In october it became bi/ tri weekly.
Most people do not want to bond to a anumber of cuts per year.
I sell it like this, you pay me to matain your property.This what I do.
I do this so you can do other things.(run there busnines play gof,etc)

thegroundscrew
12-03-2011, 09:27 PM
Hello, this is Curtis Michael from Bellevue, Washington. I'm also a student at Seattle University. I am 17 right now about to be 18. I worked for the grounds keepers at the local country club in Medina (Overlake Golf and COuntry Club) but quit that to start my yard management business. So I am kind of similar to you.

Contracts are good to ensure a customer for atleast a year. Most people arent against it they just dont want to pay al up front. Giving them a monthly payment amount is actually quite nice. I have a simple Maintenance Proposal, not a contract just a proposal on my website. CHeck it out! www.thegroundscrewllc.com. Look around as well to get some ideas. Your site might be a bit bland and could use more imagery. It is also nice to have a Facebook and/or Twitter because social media is quite important. It has also helped me a lot make classified ads which can all be free. That has been most beneficial to my Company.

Good luck and i hope you get the future customers. Keep it up.

Steve
12-05-2011, 10:59 AM
Another thing to keep in mind is that although some customers may want to avoid a contract or a lawn care maintenance agreement just because they don't like them, others may want to avoid it if they feel they are unsure of the company providing the service.

So if you are new to the lawn care business industry, it is very possible as you go, you will grow into using them because you will get more comfortable with them and your customers will as well.

Do you think being newer plays into this?

HPI_Savage25
12-06-2011, 08:53 PM
Depends I guess. I have talked with a bunch of the business owners around here and a lot of them don't do contracts either. They just ask if they can do it once a week or so and then if the customer requests it to not be done then they wait.

Picked up another job starting Monday. If I can pick up 1 or 2 yards a week I will be happy.

turf&tree
12-06-2011, 11:59 PM
Go with the contracts all the time!!! Somewhere down the road a customer will refuse to pay you for one reason or another. I know in the south things are more laid back, but you will get burned!! If nothing else you are outlining payment amounts, payment frequency, number of services offered, etc.
I use them annually on my commercial accounts and usually only the first year on residential accounts. But especially NEW customers. Them I build a relationship. If they become slow payers, the following year I will offer them a pre-pay option or not renew them. I am running a business here I don't just do this for extra beer money. Also check with your city and state to make sure you don't need licenses for the work you do especially fertilizing. I turn in at least 6 companies per year in my state for not being licensed. I had to do it, they should too. Lastly get insurance. These are just some of the expenses In operating a REAL landscape business. We had 2 mishaps this year and were strictly accidents. I would have paid out $ 1,500.00. Instead I payed $ 250.00

Steve
12-07-2011, 08:10 PM
I turn in at least 6 companies per year in my state for not being licensed. I had to do it, they should too.

I am sure others consider doing this as well. How do you know if a company is licensed or not without talking to them?

We had 2 mishaps this year and were strictly accidents.

What kinds of things happened? It would be interesting to hear as I am sure these accidents were unexpected. Others might not expect these things to happen to them either.

HPI_Savage25
12-08-2011, 08:10 AM
I have had two incidents so far but nothing I would file a claim for. One incident was when I was weed eating around the house and the customer has walking steps and some of them has the pea gravel on top and it was overgrown as this customer likes to wait 3-4 weeks sometimes. Well a rock got thrown into a window on his porch. I didn't know till about 2 hours later and the wife called. She said she didn't know either but her bird was going nuts and wasn't sure what happened till she noticed a hole in the window. I immediatly called around and had a guy out to give an estimate and get the job done. New window/installation ran me right at $105.

The next occurance I had was at my grandma's house. I had my walker, blower and edger laying at the top of the driveway. Had just blown some stuff into the yard. Then started weed eating on the side of the house. Came back to grab the blower and it was gone. Looked all over for it thinking I misplaced it. Luckily it was a small Echo PB260. I used that as an excuse to go buy a BR600

turf&tree
12-08-2011, 09:09 AM
Steve, in Ohio I can go to the Ohio dept of agriculture website and cross reference a companies name, phone number, or persons name to see if they are licensed. If the search shows no info I send their info to one of the inspectors I know and he digs deeper. I am licensed in 10 catagories. Turf, ornamental, aquatic, structural pest control, termite, fly and vector, etc. I took the time to study, take the tests, and pay the fees. So I expect all my competitors to do the same. As far as mishaps or accidents go I had a stone thrown from a string trimmer that took out a patio door. The bigger mishap was trenching 6" deep for a sprinkler line and hitting a 3/4" natural gas line buried 4" below grade. Code in Ohio is 18" but since I didn't call utilities to get it marked prior my insurance company had to pay. It cost me my $ 250.00 deductible. The gas company charged $ 785.00 for 15 minutes work fixing it. Is insurance important, yeah I think so!!! I was talking to a guy last night that fixes people's cars in his garage. I asked him if he was insured in case someone's brakes fail? He said no, because it has never happened. I never hit any gas lines either UNTIlL THIS YEAR!!!

Steve
12-09-2011, 01:55 PM
and hitting a 3/4" natural gas line buried 4" below grade. Code in Ohio is 18" but since I didn't call utilities to get it marked prior my insurance company had to pay.

That is amazing! Who would have thought it would be there and so shallow in the ground!

You would think that if it weren't done to code, it would be there fault! WOW

How long does it take them to mark out utilities usually from the time you call?

turf&tree
12-10-2011, 06:13 AM
In most cases less than a week

Steve
12-10-2011, 02:31 PM
Well it's a great lesson to be learned. I am glad you shared it.

in Ohio I can go to the Ohio dept of agriculture website and cross reference a companies name, phone number, or persons name to see if they are licensed. If the search shows no info I send their info to one of the inspectors I know and he digs deeper.

Have you noticed any difference in the competition since you started this or does it always seem to be more and more unlicensed businesses?

turf&tree
12-11-2011, 08:37 AM
It is mostly the guys that quit their factory jobs and become " landscapers"
They think they can fly under the radar with no insurance and no license. Most of the time they won't even put their name on their truck. I will catch them because they drop a flyer off at my house or my customers houses. Then I check them out and report them. For them straight fertilizer is allowable according to the state. It is when the put weed or insect control in their brochure that I can report them. The fertilizing part Is only a matter of time to be licensed for.
Yes I hate the fact that this business is so easy to get into without any training!
I spent a lot of time and money on education and still do. I am completely insured and pay all of my taxes. And yet I get underbid every day by someone with no education whatsoever and who does not even want to learn about our industry or get insurance or a license. Yep I am bitter.

thegroundscrew
12-12-2011, 12:13 AM
I agree Turf and Tree with education being everything. It is what separates the average joes from the professionals. However, these average joes takes the jobs of these professionals which is completely unfair.

I'm just turning 18 and I have only one year of education and will continue furthering my education. It is very important to furher business prosperity and to take out those that are not.

But with this economy and turmoil everyone is trying to get the cheapest goods and services they can.

Paying taxes suck but like me and all the professionals out there it is a necessary thing whether we like it or not.

Curtis Michael
President
The Grounds Crew
(425) 765-2638
www.thegroundscrewllc.com

Steve
12-12-2011, 11:18 AM
I hate the fact that this business is so easy to get into without any training!

Do you find yourself at times offering other services that the start ups can't perform or compete on?

Or are there other ways you look to position your company so as you are not competing head to head with these unlicensed/uninsured startups?

turf&tree
12-13-2011, 08:45 AM
Curtis, you sound very mature for your age. You sound like you have a good head on your shoulders. One thing I have learned about being in business is always have a level head. Don't let your emotions rule you. I am glad to see you are headed in the right direction. Let me know if you need any help at all. I have been doing this for 34 years.
Steve! I offer my clients full service. I am versed in commercial and residential construction as well, so I can offer customers other special services as well. Years ago I had a customer looking for a siding company. I was slow at the time and did the job for him.
The main thing that separates me is all of my literature has my credentials on it. Licensed, insured, check us out on Angie's list, our website, the fact that we take credit cards, etc. Professionalism!!!
Can't stress it enough!

turf&tree
12-13-2011, 08:48 AM
Btw Steve, I would still like to see your estimating products for apple devices.
You are missing out on some serious $$$$.
Sending this from my iPad.
Jim