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View Full Version : As the season comes to an end, how did it go?


avetslawncare
10-13-2012, 04:25 PM
I thought I would start a thread to look back on the past season....what went right? what went wrong and some other stuff. I will start it out for us.

How many customers did you pick up this year?
What was the best and most profitable piece of equipment you bought?
What were some mistakes you made this year and learned from?
Who was the worse and best customer you picked up?
Did you go up on prices because of gasoline prices?
What was the biggest job you had this year? How much did you profit from this job?

Share anything else you would like

avetslawncare
10-13-2012, 04:36 PM
It was my first year, I picked up about 100 steady customers (on a schedule)plus recently got 18 from another company... than about 20 customers who called "as needed"

The best piece of equipment I bought was a zero turn Encore Xtreme....190 hours on it. This allowed me to do about twice the amount of work daily.......= very profitable

By biggest flaw this year was communication. It is unknown how many potential customers I lost because I did not answer my phone or return phone calls. Being my first year, it was just too busy and I couldn't handle more....to correct this, I plan to start a second crew next year.... send two guys out to do the mowings.... I will do the same, on my own.....but not kill myself over it, I will allow myself time to answer phone calls, do estimates and keep appointments.

Best Customer - a simple $40 mow, I haven't met the guy once in person...I mow his yard every 2 week....the check is in my mailbox about 3 days later....I haven't spoken to the guy once since....I wish all customers made it this easy.

Worse Customer - All of them were dropped..... just the customers that are a pain in the butt. I dropped one because they always wanted to know what time I was coming (even though they were all at work)...they also always wanted me to do extras and never willing to pay for it...Bye Bye, the funny thing is...I quit doing their house about 2 months ago, last week... they called me and asked me to come mow their lawn...haha I did it, why not... another quick 50 bucks.

When I started out, I was charging $40 minimum but mostly $40.... now, I won't go below $50. I have poured a lot of money into the business and people seem to be more than happy with $50.... plus, even if 2/3 of people say OK...that'll be great. I don't plan on increasing prices unless gas goes over $4 in SC

The biggest job I has was for a church...cleanup, 60 yards of mulch, major hedging, etc.....after materials and hiring help for a few days....I really only made about $1200 (spent about a week).....not great profit BUT it really helped get my name out there....so many people from the church wanted work done at their own homes....best of all, I got a year long contract for maintenance.... they had never had anyone do the church before, only volunteers.....and they have never been happier


All in all, a fantastic first year....money gets tight at times but what is to expect in the first year.... the only reason it really gets tight is bc I got divorced and am stuck with a massive house payment. I spent about $20k on equipment (not to include the new truck) but as I learned many years ago....it takes money to make money... no reason to go out and by Ryobi or something that will break so soon, especially when doing 10-18 years a day

Another thing I learned...advertising is pretty overrated (paying for it).....
google maps, Craigslist, word of mouth.... it's all you need!

Apex Lawn & Landscape
10-13-2012, 04:44 PM
138 customers in your 1st year!!? Mind boggling . Congrats

cuttingedgeron
10-13-2012, 05:40 PM
138 customers in your 1st year!!? Mind boggling . Congrats
I agree. Must not be many mowers in the same area as you are.

avetslawncare
10-13-2012, 06:09 PM
Honestly, it seems like everyone and their brother does it around here..... but they also just keep on building and building....Boeing recently opened a huge plant there, bringing in thousands of new homeowners.

When I started my business, I had to think of a way to separate myself from the other companies....make myself stand out! That is why I went with my business name, stands for "A veterans Lawn Care"...people love that....Air Force base close by.....means they are going to have a Veteran do their lawn....

I would certainly say I was blessed but also some good marketing and strategy on my end. Craigslist ads....I put some time and effort into them...include pictures and tell companies what makes me different.

I don't know what else to say....other than buy the right equipment and do a great job. Also, when starting out... I would work all day Saturday and Sunday so neighbors of the yards I did would see me out there......people would ALWAYS ask for a card and then I would have people on the same street on the same schedule....which of course, is when you start making money.

My advice to companies that are struggling.....make yourself different from the other companies....what makes you stand out?

CHEESE2009
10-13-2012, 07:50 PM
How many customers did you pick up this year?
I'm not entirely sure. I usually dance around the same amount, or less but higher paying clients.

What was the best and most profitable piece of equipment you bought?
A 2x4 that I nailed to the floor of my trailer to stop my tractor from crushing my other gear... hahaha!

What were some mistakes you made this year and learned from?
Well just like every year, I'm sure most of us slip into 'lazy mode', but I snapped out of it, knowing the consequences from previous years.

I did a lot better with answering my phone to not let problems escalate, but sometimes I just can't be bothered to put up with some clients, which often just makes things more awkward. I always end up with a few 'clingy' clients who need to be reassured every minute that I will show up... It just frustrates me...

Who was the worse and best customer you picked up?
The new clients I picked up are all great, but the ones I've kept from previous years have been stressful to put up with. As much as I'd like to drop them, I couldn't. These are the type of clients you just nod to whatever they say, and hope they leave you alone at some point.

Did you go up on prices because of gasoline prices?
Nope, but I went up on prices because I want more money for myself. :D

What was the biggest job you had this year? How much did you profit from this job?

There's been a few odd jobs here and there, but I wouldn't consider them highly profitable. I did a few thatch removal jobs early on which made me rich with enthusiasm for the new season. Lately I've been doing a few small sod jobs, but now I'm at the point I'm too nervous to overbook myself with any other work other than leaf removal.

CHEESE2009
10-13-2012, 08:04 PM
ALSO!

I think next year I'll be keeping my credit cards at home. It's way too easy to spend money. I usually keep them on me for gas, but then I end up buying drinks and food and stuff...

Gets expensive fast. I'll be sure to take drinks from home too, I'd easily save 1 million dollars.

Hedgemaster
10-13-2012, 09:22 PM
Who was the worse and best customer you picked up?

Same person.

Best because she would come out to pay wearing tight short shorts and a bikini top. :) (38DDs on a petite, fitness model's body)
Worst because she "fired" me because she thought the price her husband agreed to was too high. :(

LawnBoy0311
10-13-2012, 09:43 PM
This year was a pretty good year! It was my first year as a solo guy, I planned on getting about 8 customers, since it was only going to be part time. I work VERY early in the morning, and wanted something to do in the afternoon. I've been in this field for a while, so I figured....why not start up my own? My original 8 I wanted turned into 20. Then came a helper. I fired one, and got another. It was a good year, I made a lot more than I thought I would, but I worked like crazy for it.

Worst customer- signed a lady up for service. It was her and her sister. She refused weekly service, then a month later quit because I didn't weed her garden. All I could do was laugh....and told her, "you hired me to cut the grass...not weed the garden-but I can if you want me to." She found someone else. I wasn't upset at all, it was better to see her go since there were some other problems with her too.

On a side note, I have been doing some shrub trimmng jobs, its been highly profitable. Same with aerations and seeding.

Steve
10-15-2012, 12:48 PM
I did a lot better with answering my phone to not let problems escalate

For those having problems with this, what's your suggestion on the best way to keep problems from escalating on the phone?

CHEESE2009
10-15-2012, 08:40 PM
For those having problems with this, what's your suggestion on the best way to keep problems from escalating on the phone?

Here is a perfect scenario of how this problem starts.
-


A clients lawn is supposed to be mowed on Friday.
The lawn wasn't mowed, because it had rained. (not my fault)

The client calls Friday evening, I ignore the call for a pretty valid reason.
1. It's Thanksgiving weekend, I want a break.
2. I don't want to work on the weekend, and I'm not about to.
3. I don't want to load up for only one (1) client, plus other clients would see me, and they would want their grass mowed too, then my whole day of being lazy is GONE!

Basically, I had assumed the client would want me to mow the grass, which is why I didn't want to answer my phone and be put on the spot.

I had to avoid the clients phone calls until Friday, the day they are scheduled to receive service.

Now, imagine when you are confronted by the client how ANNOYING that situation becomes. Luckily I am a fantastic b.s'er.

-

Also, for the record. I hate working weekends just like everybody else, but I also avoid it because then my clients would expect it of me way too much, and I would never be able to have plans outside of work ever again.

Caskey Lawns & Landscapes
10-16-2012, 09:10 AM
It's been a great season for me :D It was too the point of really needng to hire someone but I held off and fought through it lone ranger style :cool: I really need to consider it for the spring though because I was really pushed some days to get estimates and other things done as well, My wife stepped up big time this year and helped out with the billing and taking phone calls for me...That alone was a big help :D

I really need to look into the way I do my billing though for next year, I have been doing monthly billing for my customers and there are several that are slow payers, a few that I have carried along for two or more months before they finally pay up....I'd like to hear some thoughts from everyone on the slow payers,

I'll tell you a story about this one lady I picked up in the spring this season, She is elderly and owns two homes, one in MD and the other in PA, I mow the one in PA, It's a bi-weekly ( which I hate with a passion ) mow in a heavily wooded area, every week there are branches laying in the yard :mad:
So, she is very kind and pays promptly BUT....she calls practically every time I mow to complain, Now the key here is that I have never met this women in person, Everything has been via phone calls, she wasn't even there when I did the estimate, so, she calls and tells things like ..

** Your MEN , are mowing to quickly :rolleyes: The cable guy was there when they mowed and told me they were only there for 30 mins..It always took my husband an hour too mow...

**Your MEN , put a tire track in the yard where they are turning thier machines...

This went on for about two months and finally I decided it was time to put a stop to it :D
I called her prior to the next scheduled day and ask her to be there and I would personally come along with ( MY MEN ) to supervise and make sure everything is too her satisfaction ;) She was very excited on the phone that I was doing this for her....

I showed up and she met me in the driveway , I told her I was glad to finally get to meet her in person, She ask me ( confused of course ) if my men were meeting me there...

No ma'am I don't have any men...I run my business alone and I do all the work myself...I have been the one that has mowed your lawn every time since spring, I have been the one that has gone around and picked all of your branches that have fallen off all these trees every time before I can mow..I have been the one to move your lawn furniture out of the way every time before I can mow ( and it's always back in the way the next time ) ...

Her face became the most awesome shade of red that you could ever imagine..

I ask her if she had any concerns or comments before I stared to mow her lawn :)

Her reply....No you are doing a fantastic job and the lawn looks great......

I haven't gotten another phone call from her since :D:D:D

avetslawncare
10-16-2012, 04:37 PM
haha well played sir....very nicely done....some people just like to complain...not sure why ...?maybe to keep you on your toes?