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View Full Version : New(er) Landscape biz, and New to Gopher


RyansLawn
11-28-2012, 11:05 AM
Hello all,

My name is Ryan, a landscape business owner in the Northwest Suburbs of Boston. I just completed my first business year (almost still a few Fall clean ups), as I opened my business this past March. I have read that 90% of landscape businesses fold in the first year, so I am excited to be a part of the 10% that have been profitable in the first year. I recently bought another truck ('07 F-250) with an 8ft Boss plow to service my clients with snow removal services this winter.

I left a good banking job in March to pursue this dream full time. I have always been attracted to beautiful landscapes and helping create them. I was doing small landscape and mowing jobs part time for people and found with just a few customers it was pretty damn profitable. I decided that I was tired of "Big Brother" and the corporate scene so I jumped two feet in to make it happen. I started with a beat up Toro 21" push, and a crappy weed eater wacker that I stuffed in to the back of my Jeep Grand Cherokee! 500 flyers door to door provided my starting base of customers. After acquiring a$2200 revamp landscape job I was soon too big and had to buy a truck asap! I showed up to the estimate and the woman asked "where's your truck?!" Fast forward to today, with two part time workers, two small commercial accounts, 33 weekly lawn customers, and 13 snow removal accounts I cant imagine still being a banker!

I have learned SO MUCH in this first year. Trial and error, endless research on grasses, fertilizer, aeration, lime etc have made me leaps and bounds better than where I was. Mistakes to me are extremely necessary and inevitable in this business. Every time I made a mistake I could smile knowing I was learning crucial elements in improving my business in the future. I realize that you can never really stop learning in any business, especially this one. Knowledge is power.

I have done numerous searches on a variety of topics throughout the year to better myself and my service. Most of these searches have resulted in Gopher Haul being towards the top. I have read some of these posts, and watched videos and they have been informative to say the least. Steve seems very knowledgeable, and driven which is what attracted me to this forum. Also, many of you have contributed great things in helping Steve provide an insanely helpful forum to the public.

I am looking forward to being a regular part of this site to contribute, and more importantly, pick up valuable information from those more experienced than I.

Steve
11-28-2012, 02:04 PM
Hi Ryan,

Welcome to our forum.

I would venture to guess, having experience as a banker really helped you in business operations and planning. Do you feel your banking experience came in handy?

Were there any steps you felt that came easier to you that other start ups could learn from? Any tips you could share?

RyansLawn
11-28-2012, 08:27 PM
Steve,

My experience in Finance as a Banker did indeed help make my start up easier to get off the ground.

I understand from my previous work experience and education that there are three vital ingredients to operating a successful business in my opinion.

1. Customers (Marketing). You could have a not so good product or service, but if you can understand how to market and advertise effectively you'll be ok. Couple this with a good or great product/service? You are WELL on your way to success.

You must must must go door to door. Ring door bells, introduce yourself, and sell your business. My pitch is very simple when I knock on doors: "Hey how's it going? Really quick my name's Ryan, I run a landscaping business here in (your local town) and I was just passing out my flyer to some of the residents today. You will be AMAZED at how much business you book on the spot. Landscape, mow lawns from 8-4 then go pass out 100 flyers and meet people. On average I was booking roughly 2 jobs/lawns per 100 flyers. If you don't do this you are KILLING your business.

2. Invest in your business. I didn't go out and get a loan for equipment and buy a huge truck right away. I simply reinvest in my business. I would take roughly 40% of my profits and reinvest. Some of my equipment was borrowed initially. A good friend of mine/mentor is a business professor at one of the Colleges in Boston. He would constantly be telling me to invest in my business. I think its important to find a fine line though. Don't go crazy and throw yourself into a ton of debt right away. Don't spend all your profits on new equipment, you'll drown yourself. When I first started there were a ton of things I wanted and still do want, but be patient and know your limits. As you grow, increase your investment process.


3. Minimizing expenses and maximizing profits. Sounds cliché, but it's not easy to do. Some of the biggest companies in the world have problems with this concept. Some of the greatest entrepreneurs of all time (Rockefeller, Carnegie) were exceptional at this. You really have to watch your dollar especially when you are first starting because A. you have limited clients (limited profits), and B. most have start up costs they are trying to offset.

Maximizing Profits: I knew from the get go that low balling was a stupid way to grab business. I'm offering the same service as the guy who charges $40/lawn, why limit my income potential? I priced estimates at what people are accustomed to paying. Why have someone question why you are so cheap? My business card says professional landscaping, so that's what they get, and they pay a professional price.

Minimizing expenses: Things like logistically planning your day to help ease gas costs, and only hiring help when you really need it are important whether you are a seasoned pro or first starting out. Try to do as much work by yourself as you can. Until it gets to the point where you are killing other profitable jobs because you are spending too much time on a job by yourself. Again a fine line is needed here.

Anyway I hope this helps some of the brand new guys/girls for Spring 2013.

Sincerely,

Still kind of new guy.

Von Bobbeh
11-29-2012, 02:14 PM
Good job man! Sadly I can't say I did nearly as well as you but I am ending the season "profitable" as that I have better equipment then when I started and I am out of dept. I am going to be working a 9-5 for the winter.

Again congrats on showing "the man" who the real man is!

willshome
11-29-2012, 03:59 PM
Maximizing Profits: I knew from the get go that low balling was a stupid way to grab business. I'm offering the same service as the guy who charges $40/lawn, why limit my income potential? I priced estimates at what people are accustomed to paying. Why have someone question why you are so cheap? My business card says professional landscaping, so that's what they get, and they pay a professional price.


I LOVE THIS!!!!!!! I think this is very well put and I hope everyone on here reads it a few times. spend some time marketing and make a real living

P.S. Hi from greater Brockton

Steve
11-29-2012, 04:43 PM
Ryan,

That is great advice. I think you are really going to have a kick *** year.

Sadly I can't say I did nearly as well as you but I am ending the season "profitable"

Knowing what you know now, if you could redo the year, what would you do differently to have improved parts you felt could have been improved upon?

RyansLawn
11-30-2012, 07:06 PM
Good job man! Sadly I can't say I did nearly as well as you but I am ending the season "profitable" as that I have better equipment then when I started and I am out of dept. I am going to be working a 9-5 for the winter.

Again congrats on showing "the man" who the real man is!

Being clear of debt is a great thing and must feel really good. Picking up new equipment is also very exciting. I remember when I picked up my Husqvarna 150BT I was like a kid on xmas for a couple days. Ha.

Hope you continue to grow and are more profitable next year.

RyansLawn
12-01-2012, 08:47 AM
"P.S. Hi from greater Brockton"

What's up from Acton! Us Mass holes gotta stick together. :cool: