View Full Version : Hey There

03-18-2012, 10:38 PM
Made a few posts and thought I should introduce myself. I've been in the nursery/landscape/lawncare business most of my adult life. Mostly on my own since 1990, it's been a long, hard road. If I had a great success story to share I'd probably be enjoying some exotic drink on an exotic island surrounded by equally exotic ladies...:D

As is I'm sitting at my computer not so much looking at starting from scratch but figuring out the best methods to re-sell myself and services I best provide. I'm no expert or guru but I do have some experience that might be worth sharing. Just the same, sometimes folks from a different line of work or little experience at anything at all have a tidbit of brilliance to share. I'm an old dog but not too old to learn a new trick. I've stepped in a big ol' pile o' poo or two along the way hoping perhaps that once in awhile I might steer a pup from stepping in too many.

This forum has more potential for a think tank than others I've seen from the posts I've read. My goofy avatar? Well, you should never have your discharge chute buried in someone's hostas. (the mower was new, first cut, freshly hosed off)

Right now I'm going into my first season ever without a truck and the mild winter has brought work early. So that's my biggest concern now. I have every tool I need (not every tool I want) so a few small upgrades here recently that I can pit against their still functional counterparts for a fair review.

Without starting a pic thread, here's what my driveway often looks like through the summer:D (usually many, many more potted plants, divisions, seedlings etc.)

So cheers ladies and gents, here's to 2012:cool:

03-19-2012, 02:40 PM
I've been in the nursery/landscape/lawncare business most of my adult life. Mostly on my own since 1990, it's been a long, hard road.

Welcome to our forum!

What's your thoughts on some of the lessons you have learned being in the industry that long?

Any top 5 do's and don'ts for the new business owners you can share?

03-19-2012, 06:33 PM
Welcome to our forum!

What's your thoughts on some of the lessons you have learned being in the industry that long?

Any top 5 do's and don'ts for the new business owners you can share?

Whew, that's a loaded question. I'll work on this a little bit at a time. I'll get back to ya here in a little bit.

03-20-2012, 12:48 PM
I am looking forwards to it :)

03-26-2012, 11:02 PM
...and of course that's a good thing. Just now getting to recent email activity.

Do's and Don'ts. Whew, uhhhh. Hmmm?

1. Don't bite off more than you can chew. Better yet, don't bite what you don't want to do.

Please allow me to digress...:D

I started on the bottom as many of us do. A better start than some in concern to the equipment I could afford and a good market that could afford me. I knew alot about general landscape maintenance, more experience in some areas than others but enough working knowledge to compete in the market. Mowing was an option and once offered/advertised I gained some clients rather quickly. A few were word of mouth but the primary sales came from small local weekly papers and hand-delivered fliers.

Two situations you're bound to encounter. First being clients that nobody can keep (or want to keep). Second, dirtbags always on the prowl for the inexperienced businessperson that only hire at the lowest bid (i.e. who they believe to be the "easiest mark"). Clients on both of these lists are to be avoided at all costs. A complete waste of time, effort and associated frustration. No cashflow is better than bad business. This is about YOU, not the client. Sure, the client has something to gain from your service but you don't OWE anyone anything more than services provided as offered for PAY. Some folks will try to convince you that working for them (on the cheap) will give you prestige, bet that they are full of themselves (if not something else, dig?). Most perspective clients don't s*ck but there are many out there who do (regularly).

You're playing the "new guy" for real. They've played it out a hundred times and they get better every season. They have more experience! If you can smell it there's a good reason, because they stink! RUN. Don't bother with a high bid, they are going to be thorns in your a** sooner than later, just run. Politely inform them that you believe you're too busy "right now". They will continue their hunt elsewhere. Sadly, they will find their sucker (just be happy it isn't you). Oh, you'll watch their property asking "what if" but it won't be long before you see that they don't keep the folks they hire. I still experience this every year, sometimes I can "smell" it over the phone. word of mouth and neighbors who actually experience the work you do are the best sales.

More later. I'll gather my thoughts and continue...

03-27-2012, 02:52 AM
"1. Don't bite off more than you can chew. Better yet, don't bite what you don't want to do."

My intention was to provide basic landscape maintenance services at what I (unknowingly) believed to be a competitive rate. I was $10 under competitive in 1990. You get alot of bad business being cheap. Other than my pre-existing truck I had over $1200 invested in a Honda commercial grade mower, McCulloch trimmer and Echo handheld blower (and yes, McCulloch did make some quality tools 30 years ago my SX85 trimmer was nearly $200 back then, came with a handlebar and saw blade...)

Mowing grass for a living was never my goal. Mowing grass quickly became easy money. I was cheap. Worse than that I did a better job for clients than I would have done for myself.

Even now, to this day, I do not treat my "yard" the way I treated client's "lawns". At my house I mow it, blow it and fire up the grill (and a beer or two). In the beginning it's so darn easy to really kick it out for a paying customer whether they appreciate it or not. As time goes on, clients add up and weather factors in it just gets more and more difficult. Mowing "on the side" or in addition to other services becomes a ruling factor.

If lawn mowing isn't your goal, DON'T do it. Single largest mistake I ever made. I do it now only for particular people who understand my limited schedule. I quit outright for three or four years but I missed the torture and abuse of a big walk-behind. There is money to be made and personal satisfaction that ranks right up there with customer satisfaction. I know myself that I can lay out a better end product than the average ZTR mow-n-blow newbies. They have to schedule a week to pay the bills, I schedule 2 days. I don't hate mowing, I'm pretty darn good at it. A faster machine would only take me back to where I don't want to be.

That said, I don't like to mow. I can do a superb job at something I don't enjoy as long as it's money. Money I know. My Dad worked in the airline industry, they actually oversell flights to insure the plane is loaded (and you wonder why you're sitting in an airport for hours). Same thing with every straight-up mowing operation. To cover costs and turn a buck it's all about that freaking mowing, you can only do so much. Weather rules, screw the equipment issues, the weather owns you. Mowing is profitable if you charge a premium and pay a minimum. You'll always have to sell because people that don't like crappy service will dump you faster than you can sell new accounts. And then there's the equipment. Every JoeBlow thinks they can start and run a a lawn service/landscape outfit, truth is a college education might be a cheaper (or better) investment.

Sell yourself, what you're capable of and comfortable with. Time flies and if you're not planning on getting rich life is too short for 60 hour workweeks. Think about it.

03-27-2012, 01:02 PM
Great insights and great advice. Often we see newer lawn care business owners on here struggling with their customer base.

From your experience, it seems if your customer base is giving you too many problems, these are the wrong customers for you.

I bet though, as the new forum members are reading this, they are wondering, 'but who are the good customers and how do I find them?'

Do you have any advice on that?