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djm2013
03-17-2013, 08:43 AM
Good Morning everyone

My name is Mike and I have owned a lcs for over 5 years, it was part time, then went full time and now is part time again. I also work a reg job but it is not enough to be comfortable, i wanted to sell the biz and work full time at this new job but the thought of letting it go is painfull.

I decided to revamp things, market and get new customers and higher someone to work the accounts and I can work my reg job. its a tough decision because I have had offers to buy my route and gear, but I want something to fall back on just in case. its stressfull, family is upset because I lean both ways.

guess thats it for now.

thanks

SNethercutt
03-17-2013, 08:53 AM
Well, it is a hard choice but you have other things to look at. I see a problem already.

Why did it go from full time to part time to where you had to get a job? Something had to be wrong for that to happen.

Also who is running your business. If your working, you don't have the time to make sure things are being done correctly. That leads to unhappy customers, and lost accounts.

Steve
03-18-2013, 11:58 AM
Hi Mike,

Welcome to our forum!

I have owned a lcs for over 5 years, it was part time, then went full time and now is part time again.

Can you tell us a little more about this?

djm2013
03-19-2013, 07:10 AM
Well where can I began, the whole thing about the lawncare biz started as a joke. several years ago I was a private investigator for the nys workers comp. I video taped people who were lying about there injuries. one afternoon I was talking to my dad while sitting on a surveillance job and I said "Dad I would know every door to knock on to ask to cut there lawn, because they cant and are afraid of being video taped" A few months later my dad came from Nevada with a trailer of repoed lawn gear and said here ya go, do lawn care. so thats how it started as part time. a website, a small ad, and work from someone who used to be my best friend netted me over 70-80k a year, not to shabby for something that started as a joke. The lcs took all my time so I stopped doing the PI work and it became full time.

The sad part begins when I learn the issues of working with and for your best friend on huge commercial accounts that make or break a company. I wont name names due to legal issues but it got so bad I became like tony soprano having to make decisions and seeking help "shrink" to deal with labor issues, state tax issues, insurance, people failing at doing there jobs and services that I dealt with on a daily routine. being on call 24/7, no vacations, and doing paper work for free at home for hours after I worked in the field for hours. it got to me. it ended relationships, interfered with time I had little of with my daughter, and trying to get health insurance in NY owning a small company was not happening. after some disagreements on situation between me and the best friend, my employment as a manager and a sub contractor came to an end when I gave my notice based on how miserable the relationship was and that the damage could not be repaired. I was respected for the gracious departure and followed through on all loose ends

Going from a 1 truck 1 crew to 2 seemed like a smart thing at the time, and it did double my gross, but the expenses caught up after the economy here took a poop. I sold a truck but still technically have two set ups.

this winter and last winter we had less then 20 inches of snow, we should have 60-80 per push accounts hurt, seasonal s were nice but it wasn't huge profit margins.

So this summer I decided to get a real gig driving fora world wide known company, insurance and 401k dental all the perks I drive in the evening and I can do the lawns and other services we provide in the morning and mid day.

I actually make more like this. and have insurance and a future for retirement, im 43, my daughter gets coverage "ex cant get it" and all is well for the moment.

A month ago the person who bought my truck had an interest to buy my whole company, we had a number and it would have been fair and smart, but they backed out at the last second.

I went into overdrive with a website update, pens, magnets, ads and display at bank and local stores. the biz will boom this spring, I can do most of the work with help and if it gets to a point where I can do full time driving, I can have someone do the routes and I just do the paper work, I still make a profit, my customers are still happy, and my 401k grows, Daughter gets braces. Girlfriend can plan a vacation with me.

I think I hit the mid life lawn care crisis this march and made decisions to deal with it. I came to this site to get back to basics, see what new fresh ideas are out there, sales marketing gimmicks stories of success, what works what dons', because I am the first to say I don't know everything about running a successful lcs.

I worked for a big player in the snow biz and learned a lot from them, went to symposiums, learned about chemicals and finance and transportation and labor rates and job costing. I met great people and had great times. But right now I feel like I am starting over.

Guess thats all I have for now.

Steve
03-19-2013, 11:12 AM
This is an amazing story. It does make you wonder as you look back on this, what would you have done differently if you could have started again from scratch? What main lessons do you feel you learned from all this that you can now apply?

LawnBoy0311
03-19-2013, 11:27 AM
Here is a short story of what a guy I know did/still does.

6 years ago I got my honorable discharge from the Marine Corps and ran as fast as I could. Never looked back. I had no job, no bills and moved in with my inlaws to get back on my feet. I went to a school to be a security guard (they claimed to have loved vets, the interviewer was a retired Sgt. Major). He gave me the whole speach about how great the company was, so I took it. In a nutshell, it was a HUGE mistake, but I met another Marine at the school. We talked for a while, I said I was thinking of going back to cutting grass and his face perked up. Then he told me he had one and how he ran his.

He had a rig all set up and a 2 man crew. He worked full time, and his guys went out and cut. He paid them incentive to make sure they would build more lawns and stay productive. He wouldn't give me numbers, but said the more they cut the more they make. They don't want to lose customers because they won't make as much. He did the billing and paperwork. He was VERY organized with the crew, and knew what they were doing all the time and trusted them. He really did run a tight ship, and it worked out well.

If you could come up with a great plan, maybe that would be something to think about?

Steve
03-20-2013, 12:00 PM
I went to a school to be a security guard (they claimed to have loved vets, the interviewer was a retired Sgt. Major). He gave me the whole speach about how great the company was, so I took it. In a nutshell, it was a HUGE mistake

What's your view on what made it such a huge mistake? Do you think they misrepresented themselves or do you feel that you just wanted or needed more or something else than this group could offer?

djm2013
03-22-2013, 11:12 AM
This is an amazing story. It does make you wonder as you look back on this, what would you have done differently if you could have started again from scratch? What main lessons do you feel you learned from all this that you can now apply?

If I had to start over from scratch, I would not use the phonebook, I would not use post cards or mailers.

I would have social groups or meetings with commerce, I would friend board members of communities that have a homeowner association.

I would not work with best friends anymore.

I would not use the local labor ready offices

I would hire college students that are healthy and not into drinking girls and drugs.

I would not use work visa students.

I would start taking credit and debit on the spot with the technology that is out there today.

I would have a safety training meeting every other week

I would make employees sign off that they have been instructed on a job and the time requirements and if they fail my loss is there loss " in the profit sharing mode of pay" NY sucks when you try to dock people for failing.

no license - no job
no car - no job
no bank account - no job
behind in child support - no job, I dont get paid to do the paper work because you suck at taking care of a kid....

I would train people to do the work and use the trucks and hook up trailers in case one day I wanted to take off from work. there has to be someone you can trust.

I would explain that if someone runs out of fuel because they don't top off when they put something away, and walk a major retailers parking lot twice to get more fuel, there fired on the stop for stealing my labor production profits.

If someone tells me were "out" of fuel, there fired on the spot.

now that NYS wants to raise the minimum wage, were at a threshold where if someone says, thats not my job, i don't get paid to think, boom your fired on the spot.

my employees are at will workers, anyone can be fired for anything or nothing at anytime.

all trimmers spools are respun in the trucks while we drive to another location,

Oh yeah, if your texting, your fired.

speeding ticket, fired

never hire someone from a closed business, they were taught wrong, and lost money for the company, breaking them in costs you more and there going to want to be paid more for there "experience" .

I know some people here will argue about my views, but thats ok, its my views, and its what works for me now. you learn from your mistakes, and education and success stories.

what am I doing right now about all this.

in the past 48 hours I have

1. ordered new biz cards with facebook and website info
2. updated website with photos to be educational on the extra add on services
3. ordered lawn signs
4. new tires egr valve fuel air filters on the truck.
5. placed ad in the local paper that everyone reads
6. locked in month at bank for business promotion for bank members
7. bid properties
8. signed up with more nationals
9. did 2012 taxes
10. updated quickbooks with better member info and details
11. getting prices on trailer decals or wrap.
12. got pens I ordered.
13. looking at fuel storage as to save on purchases
14. looking at job apps for labor, everyone that has worked for me has been terminated.
15. typing on here is cheaper then shrink. its a good stress relief.

Mike

LawnBoy0311
03-22-2013, 12:01 PM
What's your view on what made it such a huge mistake? Do you think they misrepresented themselves or do you feel that you just wanted or needed more or something else than this group could offer?

Well, it started when I got discharged. I left the Marines looking for a private security company. Going overseas again for $100K as a gun for hire was perfect...heck I just finished 4 years doing it! But little did I know those types of companies really want SpecOps guys, and very rarely hire infrantry guys like myself. So I found this security company near where I live. I called and spoke to the recruiter, the retired Sgt Major, and he sold the company really well. The main thing was, Marines watch out for their own, and this guy was a Marine. I got hired by them and went to "school" for 3 weeks. Upon completion of school, we were to get $3K and go full time. They explained anyone who qualified with very high scores at the firing range would be assigned to a private security detail. I ended up shooting a perfect score, then was givin a rent-a-cop uniform and told I was (like everyone else) going to check badges at a government building. There was no private security detail. There were also so many rules and regulations...one stood out the most to me. "You may only carry (1) 12oz bottle of water to your assigned guard post in a clear plactic container. No drink mixes, gatorade, or any of that stuff. You can only refill it twice a day". They also had things like mandatory overtime if your relief shows up late, be on alert 24 hours incase they call you to work, etc.

I went to human resources, handed in my still brand new uniform, and walked out. Since I made it to the end of "school" I got my $3K. I found out later a lot of others in the class did the same. The company was a revolving door, with a lot of pending lawsuits from previous employees. I was just expecting the job they told me, nothing more.

LawnBoy0311
03-22-2013, 12:03 PM
If I had to start over from scratch, I would not use the phonebook, I would not use post cards or mailers.

I would have social groups or meetings with commerce, I would friend board members of communities that have a homeowner association.

I would not work with best friends anymore.

I would not use the local labor ready offices

I would hire college students that are healthy and not into drinking girls and drugs.

I would not use work visa students.

I would start taking credit and debit on the spot with the technology that is out there today.

I would have a safety training meeting every other week

I would make employees sign off that they have been instructed on a job and the time requirements and if they fail my loss is there loss " in the profit sharing mode of pay" NY sucks when you try to dock people for failing.

no license - no job
no car - no job
no bank account - no job
behind in child support - no job, I dont get paid to do the paper work because you suck at taking care of a kid....

I would train people to do the work and use the trucks and hook up trailers in case one day I wanted to take off from work. there has to be someone you can trust.

I would explain that if someone runs out of fuel because they don't top off when they put something away, and walk a major retailers parking lot twice to get more fuel, there fired on the stop for stealing my labor production profits.

If someone tells me were "out" of fuel, there fired on the spot.

now that NYS wants to raise the minimum wage, were at a threshold where if someone says, thats not my job, i don't get paid to think, boom your fired on the spot.

my employees are at will workers, anyone can be fired for anything or nothing at anytime.

all trimmers spools are respun in the trucks while we drive to another location,

Oh yeah, if your texting, your fired.

speeding ticket, fired

never hire someone from a closed business, they were taught wrong, and lost money for the company, breaking them in costs you more and there going to want to be paid more for there "experience" .

I know some people here will argue about my views, but thats ok, its my views, and its what works for me now. you learn from your mistakes, and education and success stories.

what am I doing right now about all this.

in the past 48 hours I have

1. ordered new biz cards with facebook and website info
2. updated website with photos to be educational on the extra add on services
3. ordered lawn signs
4. new tires egr valve fuel air filters on the truck.
5. placed ad in the local paper that everyone reads
6. locked in month at bank for business promotion for bank members
7. bid properties
8. signed up with more nationals
9. did 2012 taxes
10. updated quickbooks with better member info and details
11. getting prices on trailer decals or wrap.
12. got pens I ordered.
13. looking at fuel storage as to save on purchases
14. looking at job apps for labor, everyone that has worked for me has been terminated.
15. typing on here is cheaper then shrink. its a good stress relief.

Mike





This is some really good stuff! Thanks for sharing it with us!

On #12, you said you ordered pens. There is a bail bonds place in Baltimore that hands out TONS of pens to local business's, delivery drivers, anywhere they can. These pens are everywhere!! For anyone who lives in or near Baltimore, you know what I'm talking about-its those darn yellow and pink pens. But if you ever needs a bail bondsman, you'll know exactly who to call.

Steve
03-22-2013, 01:23 PM
I want something to fall back on just in case. its stressfull, family is upset because I lean both ways.

Have you figured how how many customers you would need to feel better about your business and be able to run it full time? How long do you feel it would take to get there?

djm2013
03-24-2013, 05:59 AM
Have you figured how how many customers you would need to feel better about your business and be able to run it full time? How long do you feel it would take to get there?

I am starting at a 20% Increase in properties for mowing, and at least 30 % in spring clean ups. The spring cleans ups are people who want the hard work done, and then they want to mow there lawns. thats fine. They have monster yards, bordered by forest. they do not have the gear to do the spring clean ups, just a mower, and we charge a premium for this because its a one off. We might up sell to a de thatch or aeration but we wont be pushy in weekly mowing. its a balancing act with those type of customers...

The weekly mows are for working couples who just don't have the time to care for there lawn. we do a full package for them and thats all they want.

we also cater to people who cant mow there parents lawns anymore. there out there. If the older folks are on a fixed budget, we can work with them on rates

I have learned you cant charge a flat rate across the board, that work around here. people earn 20k to 2 million a year in this market. we have to be flexible, we have to let them know we are flexible and understand there budget they have in mind.

we also have to know when to say no.


I am setting up a display of a lawn , pens, calendar magnets and flower watering pot and some different color mulch on a 6 foot table at my local banks branch, there highlighting local business bank customers in there lobby, free advertising works for me..

Steve
03-26-2013, 01:34 AM
I am setting up a display of a lawn , pens, calendar magnets and flower watering pot and some different color mulch on a 6 foot table at my local banks branch, there highlighting local business bank customers in there lobby, free advertising works for me.

This is great! You should take a picture of your set up. I'd love to see it and maybe also send it to the local paper and tell them a little about what was going on at the bank. Who knows, they might print it.

I have learned you cant charge a flat rate across the board, that work around here. people earn 20k to 2 million a year in this market. we have to be flexible, we have to let them know we are flexible and understand there budget they have in mind.

What are some of the ways you feel you can be flexible? What does this entail? I bet a lot of newer business owners are wondering about this too.

djm2013
03-26-2013, 08:27 AM
This is great! You should take a picture of your set up. I'd love to see it and maybe also send it to the local paper and tell them a little about what was going on at the bank. Who knows, they might print it.



What are some of the ways you feel you can be flexible? What does this entail? I bet a lot of newer business owners are wondering about this too.


When I roll up on a property or use google earth and street view to "size" it up, I can tell the value, income, and amount of money they have spent, or not at all.

I speak to them, and ask what have they spent on the lawn as in Time, other people, themselves or kids or neighbors. I ask if there mower is down, if I am replacing someone who cannot provide service anymore"that covers someone quitting or being fired from the job. Then I ask, what needs to be done ? and what do you not want to happen, what are your goals, and then I ask what is your budget, I stop and listen. if theres an answer I go from there.

If they say I don't know I tell them I will email,fax,mail or hand it to them, what ever they want, a proposal to cover there needs. they can look it all over at there pace and ask any questions they want about the several services we provide.

THATS HOW IT WORKS IT A PERFECT WORLD.

I can look at the house and lawn and shoot them a number, if they bark I say get me a neighbor to sign up as well and you both get 20 percent off.

I can meet a lil old lady on a fixed income, find out what she was paying before and what she getting, tell her I can match the price, and tell her what services that price will get her, and go from there.

I could roll up on a 2-3 million dollar home, charge em by acre ala cart for everything , show up with a contract and service tag to show them all we do on a visit and shoot them a price, give em a card, let them see the truck, uniforms, give a firm handshake and get "bank" on that account.

you simply have to adapt to them, you have to read there body language and talk there talk. never insult there intelligence. its not there first rodeo of wheeling and dealing, there in a million dollar home, they know more then me about something lol.

Never say this is how much it costs, they have no idea what that means

I say, this service will provide you with............and our rate for you is $$$$$

you can add services when your lawn needs it. and that is $$$$$$

we can bill monthly, or per visit and collect when your home, or we can do a seasonal rate, which will save you more in the long run and you can make 3 easy payments for the season and its one last thing you have to worry about.

Giving them options and listening to them is one thing to master, asking for the account is another. But being flexible and giving them a price they can afford and feel like there buying a service and not getting sold a service is nice as well to master. once all these are in place, you can do a lot.

djm2013
03-26-2013, 09:01 AM
This is what I show a new customer who wants to know all that we do. It speaks for itself

Steve
03-26-2013, 12:57 PM
That is a great form.

So that would be given to a customer who has already signed up and it would be a receipt of the services performed?

Do you have a similar form to show a checked off list of what you suggest? Or maybe could you use the same form and highlight services you suggest that they could potentially approve for next time you are there?

djm2013
03-26-2013, 07:46 PM
That is a great form.

So that would be given to a customer who has already signed up and it would be a receipt of the services performed?

Do you have a similar form to show a checked off list of what you suggest? Or maybe could you use the same form and highlight services you suggest that they could potentially approve for next time you are there?

Yes its a service tag we give to customer or drop in mail box, or give to manager on site.

its also a sales item to show our professionalism.

it also can be used by the customer to high lite services they want on next visit, or they can call and say hey what is this or that and how much.

it also can be be a business card, on top of the form is the name and number, just leaving that is a card and shows what we do.

it also is for litigation and tracking and billing and routing optimization.

it serves many purposes

Steve
03-27-2013, 11:27 AM
I think that is great. This process is well thought out and thorough!

djm2013
03-29-2013, 08:56 PM
something simple to hand out in bulk, pic is a little grainy but the cards has a shine to it. I do have other cards I have used in the past that are like a coupon, a magnet, appt card and so on..


OOOHHH
and a new toy at the rental place, a shiny new dingo

Steve
04-01-2013, 10:58 AM
I like the business card a lot. The only suggestion I would have is to make your email address as short as possible to make it easier to tell a customer over the phone or in person. Also when they first write it in to email you, the longer it is, the more of a chance of an error. But that is a minor suggestion. It looks great and very professional!

What made you decide on getting a dingo with a trencher?

djm2013
04-02-2013, 07:01 AM
I like the business card a lot. The only suggestion I would have is to make your email address as short as possible to make it easier to tell a customer over the phone or in person. Also when they first write it in to email you, the longer it is, the more of a chance of an error. But that is a minor suggestion. It looks great and very professional!

What made you decide on getting a dingo with a trencher?

Morning, well the dingo is just a new tool that the local true value store had and they wanted to show it to me, I asked them if I could take pics and put it on my facebook page to promote services I can offer and to promote them, a little cross promotion, and its all free. and If I get a booking from the facebook page by showing a tool we have access to, all the better

The email address. this has been a nightmare for 15 years. when our cable goes out, or time warner has a network failure , email stops working and emails bounce back into never land, and people who are emailing me get a response that the email is no good. that was with road runners email, djmlawncare@nycap.rr.com. that email is worse. so with gmail I can access it anywhere at anytime, and i never had gmail fail or go down.

I wanted to use DJM.mikerichter@gmail.com for 1 reason. its the beginning of the business, everyone calls me DJM, and its mikerichter, my name of course.

on the web, people just have to click to email me, its all over the place.

on the phone I ask for there email address and install the email on my iphone as were talking, or at home on the office computer. I send a quick hello and thanks for the inquiry to serve you for your lawn-care needs. and now I make sure I have theres correctly and they say oh yeah I just got a email from you, or I will check when I get home, and now they have to hit reply or add address and theres no typing, I try to make it easy for them.

I just opened the window blinds and its snowing...4.2.13 unreal.

Steve
04-02-2013, 12:00 PM
and If I get a booking from the facebook page by showing a tool we have access to, all the better

That is brilliant. When you show off such a piece of equipment on your website, do you think people know what it is in general or what it can do for them? Or maybe even how an average home owner would use it?

Or do you explain the services you can provide with it?

djm2013
04-03-2013, 06:21 AM
That is brilliant. When you show off such a piece of equipment on your website, do you think people know what it is in general or what it can do for them? Or maybe even how an average home owner would use it?

Or do you explain the services you can provide with it?

All the above, on the site we have a menu page with pictures of products that we use and below each picture is an explanation of what each one does.

People I have seen over the years for the most part, do not like what they dont understand. If you explain something in the most simplest way and let them think they are understanding what your services are and why they might need it to do a task completely and correctly and efficiently, they wont twitch when they see the price and are asked to sign the contract.

Steve
04-03-2013, 12:03 PM
People I have seen over the years for the most part, do not like what they dont understand.

This is fascinating! Do you have any example of running into this with your business? How do you know when this is what you are running into and that is when you need to explain more?

I bet a lot of newer businesses never even understand when they are dealing with this as an issue and therefor are never able to correct it.

djm2013
04-05-2013, 09:39 AM
This is fascinating! Do you have any example of running into this with your business? How do you know when this is what you are running into and that is when you need to explain more?

I bet a lot of newer businesses never even understand when they are dealing with this as an issue and therefor are never able to correct it.

One example is letting someone know that I didn't want to steal from them. They looked at me funny and I explained why they need a de thatch service

I can put down fertilizer, and charge you 400 bucks, then in a month do it again and say the lawn is really un healthy and it needs more.

or I can get the layer of thatch off the dirt and out of the good grass, that leaves an opening for the fert to get into the dirt and do its job.

I break it down like this to them. say you had to put a drop of paint on a plate, you have one drop, one plate. but there is a sponge on the plate, the drop of paint will not get to the plate. by removing the sponge the plate will get the drop of paint.

it sounds kindergarden, but sometimes ya have to break it down to that.

then all of a sudden they realize your not stealing from them and your making sense. then there checkbook comes out and you have a customer.

djm2013
04-05-2013, 09:42 AM
Decided today to accept cards as payment, or pre pay.

intuit has a gopayment program, called them and got signed up

1.75 a swipe if you do the monthly charge of 12.95, I will take in more then the percentage is paying the 12.95 is cheaper in the long run then paying 2.75 and no monthly fee.

you can use your phone, swipe the card or key it in, but keying is a point more.

Steve
04-05-2013, 04:10 PM
Oh very interesting! You have to keep us updated on how all this works out this season!

GreenBlue
04-06-2013, 09:30 PM
Decided today to accept cards as payment, or pre pay.

intuit has a gopayment program, called them and got signed up

1.75 a swipe if you do the monthly charge of 12.95, I will take in more then the percentage is paying the 12.95 is cheaper in the long run then paying 2.75 and no monthly fee.

you can use your phone, swipe the card or key it in, but keying is a point more.

I've used Intuit Go Payment in the past with my advertising business I had, and I loved it. Plan on using the same thing with my lawn service when we're ready to open.

djm2013
04-12-2013, 08:28 AM
So I had some pics up of a new dingo I could rent and someone saw it on the facebook page and called me and asked if could make holes with an auger attachement to plant a green giant arborvitae and I said sure it can.

I go to the customers house and he explains he wants a privacy wall of trees, 430 linear feet of privacy, thats 85 to 90 trees.

after doing the math the product alone could be 13-18k dollars and labor maybe 160 hours with 3 men, rentals and attachments and transportation and fuel and odds and ends could be a nice profit on a large install, also wants mulch 2 inches deep and 2 feet from either side of the trees along the whole wall...

and a watering schedule for the season with labor for that as well...

and all I did was ask true value if I could take a picture of the dingo and put it on my fb page....cha ching...

GreenBlue
04-12-2013, 08:32 AM
So I had some pics up of a new dingo I could rent and someone saw it on the facebook page and called me and asked if could make holes with an auger attachement to plant a green giant arborvitae and I said sure it can.

I go to the customers house and he explains he wants a privacy wall of trees, 430 linear feet of privacy, thats 85 to 90 trees.

after doing the math the product alone could be 13-18k dollars and labor maybe 160 hours with 3 men, rentals and attachments and transportation and fuel and odds and ends could be a nice profit on a large install, also wants mulch 2 inches deep and 2 feet from either side of the trees along the whole wall...

and a watering schedule for the season with labor for that as well...

and all I did was ask true value if I could take a picture of the dingo and put it on my fb page....cha ching...

That's awesome! Update us on if you actually get the job, and how it goes, plus take pictures, I would love to see the final result. :)

djm2013
04-12-2013, 09:13 AM
Here is the property, the trees that are there have been almost thinned out to nothing due to road work and a water drain basin installed.

djm2013
04-14-2013, 06:49 AM
Description Qty Rate Total
Mini Skid with Auger to make holes - per day 2 300.00 600.00T
Mini Skid operator labor 16 27.50 440.00T
Labor for installing trees. 90 27.50 2,475.00T
Green Giant Arborvitae 6-7 feet 90 207.99 18,719.10T
Mulch- any color delivered and installed cubic yards 20 60.00 1,200.00T
Weed barrier cloth for mulch beds 1 460.00 460.00T
Machine operator for leveling property with soil from site 4 27.50 110.00T
Cubic Yards of Top Soil delivered and installed 12 45.00 540.00T
Grass seed for area as discussed installed 10 58.00 580.00T
Fuel for Mini Skid 25 3.85 96.25
Trees need to be purchased up front and 50 percent down of
remaining balance to secure rentals and material, remaining balance
to be be paid upon completion. Thank you
$27,230.28

GreenBlue
04-14-2013, 01:09 PM
Description Qty Rate Total
Mini Skid with Auger to make holes - per day 2 300.00 600.00T
Mini Skid operator labor 16 27.50 440.00T
Labor for installing trees. 90 27.50 2,475.00T
Green Giant Arborvitae 6-7 feet 90 207.99 18,719.10T
Mulch- any color delivered and installed cubic yards 20 60.00 1,200.00T
Weed barrier cloth for mulch beds 1 460.00 460.00T
Machine operator for leveling property with soil from site 4 27.50 110.00T
Cubic Yards of Top Soil delivered and installed 12 45.00 540.00T
Grass seed for area as discussed installed 10 58.00 580.00T
Fuel for Mini Skid 25 3.85 96.25
Trees need to be purchased up front and 50 percent down of
remaining balance to secure rentals and material, remaining balance
to be be paid upon completion. Thank you
$27,230.28

Congratulations.

djm2013
04-14-2013, 10:14 PM
Congratulations.

Thank You. Looking forward to the task and taking many pics to add to the portfolio... Just need some warm dry weather, its been wet and cold here for too long

Steve
04-15-2013, 11:16 AM
That is brilliant work! Congratulations!

Take pictures and show us what you are doing as you go.

I look forwards to hearing your review of the job when it is over.

djm2013
04-16-2013, 12:13 PM
Amazing how a conversation between two people can change when its all on paper. I covered everything he spoke about and explained all that we do. when I sent the quote I didnt hear from him for 2 days. Then I get this response....and no nurseries around here install...

and I was cheaper on the trees then the internet with free shipping...

sometimes ya have to just walk away but politely..



ME: Hello, Just wondering if you had time to look at the estimate and if you had any questions.

Please call anytime


Customer: Yes, your estimate is extremely high. I have speak with nursery, they can do it much cheaper . Thank you for your time.

Email from cell phone.


My response to him....

Hello. I'm sorry you feel it's high. I Costed it out so it would be completed correctly the first time. And that there might be a lower cost in the end. As I mentioned its just an estimate.

If you have 2 other outfits bid the job I'm curious to see if you would agree with there numbers.

Gallivan and Breedlove and brad rose all are excellent at what they do.

Also I'm not sure which nursery you went too. But there not in the installation business and do not have insurance and workers comp for it. Say someone got hurt or even killed on your property and it was a nursery with no insurance for installations. You would lose your home.

I humbly provide this advice to educate you in making the best decision for your home and land.

Best regards

Ps. My phone is always on and we can always discuss anything on the quote if you really want to see how I Job costed the material labor and machines

Thank you.

Michael J Richter
Sent via IPhone

Steve
04-17-2013, 11:22 AM
What is your view on what happened?

djm2013
04-17-2013, 07:52 PM
What is your view on what happened?

He had a dream of improving his property and ask for a lot of work and detail and i put it all on paper and he freaked out, the price for the trees are even cheaper then the internet. the labor is for 3 guys and a machine operator, he is asking for instant success with this install and its 30 man hours x 3, muclh topsoil you see it all, and when it totalled up he just didnt accept it. He went to a nursery and said yeah we can install those trees, and maybe thats all they priced...

I made my email honest and told him I am not upset and want to help him if he has other questions, best I can do, cant get em all

GreenBlue
04-17-2013, 08:33 PM
He had a dream of improving his property and ask for a lot of work and detail and i put it all on paper and he freaked out, the price for the trees are even cheaper then the internet. the labor is for 3 guys and a machine operator, he is asking for instant success with this install and its 30 man hours x 3, muclh topsoil you see it all, and when it totalled up he just didnt accept it. He went to a nursery and said yeah we can install those trees, and maybe thats all they priced...

I made my email honest and told him I am not upset and want to help him if he has other questions, best I can do, cant get em all

I'm sorry that it didn't work out for you.

LawnBoy0311
04-18-2013, 05:58 AM
He had a dream of improving his property and ask for a lot of work and detail and i put it all on paper and he freaked out, the price for the trees are even cheaper then the internet. the labor is for 3 guys and a machine operator, he is asking for instant success with this install and its 30 man hours x 3, muclh topsoil you see it all, and when it totalled up he just didnt accept it. He went to a nursery and said yeah we can install those trees, and maybe thats all they priced...

I made my email honest and told him I am not upset and want to help him if he has other questions, best I can do, cant get em all

I loved reading your posts and learned a lot! Did the customer say what he went with? Did he say a cost or you never heard back from him?

djm2013
04-18-2013, 06:35 PM
I loved reading your posts and learned a lot! Did the customer say what he went with? Did he say a cost or you never heard back from him?

I thought I would here from him after leaving him a nice, and open and educated email, but he never called me or emailed me back. sometimes that happens, and you just move on. I look at it as 3 days I can do a different project with a higher profit margin, so I still come out ok, and if he does call back, I schedule it when I can and I will think of it as a bonus install.

But its been raining and windy here. no one wants anything yet. the phone is ringing, the bids are out, some are in, just waiting for the weather to kick in spring gear and away we go.

Glad you liked reading my posts. I see im over 2200 views pretty cool I guess.

djm2013
04-27-2013, 10:24 PM
Grabbed a stihl bed redefiner attachement, its for the combi unit but if you just buy the attachement and remove the shaft the gear head fits on my fs130 and 130r stihl trimmers, saved like 380 bucks not buying the combi head. and the 130 has gobs of power for this thing, will send pics shortly..

yard signs are paying off

spring clean ups in full swing.

people like the pens and magnet cards.

increasing sales offering bed edging and ferts and dethatching.

all good so far..

Steve
04-29-2013, 11:13 AM
yard signs are paying off

How are you using them? On current customer's properties? Or at street corners? Or something else?

Also, how are you tracking to see if your signs are working or not?

djm2013
04-29-2013, 09:11 PM
How are you using them? On current customer's properties? Or at street corners? Or something else?

Also, how are you tracking to see if your signs are working or not?

both, st corners to housing developments and on customers yards.

some newer pics, lawn ornaments were not my idea lol.

djm2013
04-29-2013, 10:27 PM
How are you using them? On current customer's properties? Or at street corners? Or something else?

Also, how are you tracking to see if your signs are working or not?

When they call and I speak to them, at a good moment in the conversation I will simply ask them, oh by the way, how did you hear of me.

and they will either say, ad in paper, sign, truck magnets, craigslist or facebook link from my business partners or website from a google search.

right now its craigslist in the lead followed by signs, then ad in paper..

Steve
04-30-2013, 01:18 PM
Very interesting! Are you writing this down too, to keep track over a longer period of time? It would be interesting to see over a year's time which pulled the most new callers.

djm2013
05-14-2013, 09:43 PM
Well as of now, the signs seem to be paying off nicely, a few placed into the entrances of nicer developments has fielded many calls, the news paper ad came in second, I wanted to increase my sales by 20 to 30 percent and wound up getting double the business, I cannot believe the calls from the yard signs placed around town.

The guy with the 100 tree bid, he went and bought 2 footers instead of the 8 that he wanted and planted them himself with his brothers. I will take pics to show the job he did. amazing what people ask for and what they really can afford.

got new t shirts as well. got a few compliments on them already.






Very interesting! Are you writing this down too, to keep track over a longer period of time? It would be interesting to see over a year's time which pulled the most new callers.

Steve
05-15-2013, 11:49 AM
That is fantastic! Have you had any problems with the town over the yard signs or no?

djm2013
05-18-2013, 06:27 PM
That is fantastic! Have you had any problems with the town over the yard signs or no?

No issues with the town on yard signs, I just place them before entrances into fancy developments, they really have paid off, I have hoped for a 20-30 percent increase in customers and wound up more then doubling my customer base, some mulch installs, and one time clean ups for folks that do there own lawn and about 10 -12 new mowing only accounts.

2 people are non pay and I am dealing with that with calls, and small claims court.

the print ad did very little. the signs I had made up from dirt cheap signs were the best investment.

The huge tree install I bid that was declined wound up being the owner doing it him self and not having topsoil added, no mulch, and instead of 8 foot trees he got 2 foot trees.

pics to follow....

Had to get a new stihl fs130 the 5 year old one just kept crapping out when it got hot, carb replacement was 1 to many and the hours I lost getting off the mower to help labor start it, started to cost me money and piss me off.

400 for a new one and the other one seems to run fine, they handle the new bed refiner rather well.

Steve
05-20-2013, 12:58 PM
Have you considered having different lawn signs for different services throughout the year?

djm2013
05-21-2013, 09:54 PM
Have you considered having different lawn signs for different services throughout the year?

Not really, not sure if thats cost effective or not. If the website is on there, they will know all we do. If they call and ask, I got them on the phone and can close the deal. with signs being 200 a pop, I am not sure..

I can see if I needed to target a market if say I am only going to do mulch or fall cleanups, but I think the clients around here are clever to assume most companies offer more then just mowing, seeing how everyone is realizing everyone needs to offer more services and better customer satisfaction.

funny thing thou. Today I said no to someone about a service. I was asked if I hydro seed, around here its used for new construction, and or serious repairs, something I do not want to target or chase around with the competition out there. the machines are expensive, your follow ups will either be doing the work again for free, or upset customers not getting a lawn in 4 weeks. with all the massive storms we get, the wind, and people doing stupid things, its one service I do not want to deal with.

I also got a check that was a month late and being avoided and ignored I decided to go to the house at night when I knew everyone was home, got the husband and after explaining to him his wife blew me off, emails and calls, I needed a check right then and there or I would have to take back the stone, and mulch, and put a lien on the house for the labor and applications we did to the lawn, the check came out in 30 seconds.. the wife was upstairs bitchen about something. then I smelled the odor of pot, made a sniff sniff expression and mumbled, hope the kids dont catch that second hand smoke.

losers. pay me and F off....smoking pot with kids in the house is a felonie and you can loose your kids. people are just stupid...

we will see if the check is good.

what else, sold the old f130 on CL for 150, that helped the blow of dumping 430 bucks on a new one. but man is it nice, nothing like a new fs130 firing right up.

went to look at a new comm biz for mowing. they want service every 7 days no matter what, its 4 man hours of trimming and 45 minutes of mowing. ugh...

Steve
05-22-2013, 12:26 PM
went to look at a new comm biz for mowing. they want service every 7 days no matter what, its 4 man hours of trimming and 45 minutes of mowing. ugh...

Are you going to bid on it?

djm2013
05-23-2013, 09:10 PM
Are you going to bid on it?

Yeah gonna email her now an estimate and see what they say, being locked into a place every 7 days can be rough, it takes out a block of time to do another site. but I guess if its what they want they should be able to get that.

I have a feeling thou the owner of the biz wants service on a monday so it looks good most of the week, I am only in that area on thursdays. I know thats gonne be an issue, cause when I showed up on tuesday for the walk through, it was mowed monday...

Steve
05-24-2013, 12:28 PM
Well keep us posted on how all this goes. I look forwards to your updates.

djm2013
05-31-2013, 06:45 AM
Well keep us posted on how all this goes. I look forwards to your updates.

Well I sent the estimate to her and have not had a response at all. Nothing. I priced it where I felt it was worth it to me to take up two slots for a week and that there was a lot of trimming, more then mowing..oh well.

I have the bank display up and made a nice collage of pics of places we serviced.

LawnBoy0311
05-31-2013, 07:34 AM
That display came out nice! Has it drawn up any business for you?

Steve
05-31-2013, 11:59 AM
That bank display is fantastic! You gotta keep us posted on how that goes.

Do you have any advice for others looking to put on a display like that in a bank in their town? How should they go about pulling that together and making the initial contacts to do it?

djm2013
05-31-2013, 12:41 PM
That display came out nice! Has it drawn up any business for you?

It has, I got a new mowing account on an acre, and then he wanted a mulch install for the pines on his front yard, made over 1k in 1 day of advertising that cost me nothing, but the cards, signs and 9 bucks to samsclub photo to make the collage..

heres the mulch install..

far as the bank goes, I just went in one day and noticed they had a biz of the month thing going on with a scrap metal place, I asked the manager if I could do a display and she said sure. thats all it took, I would ask your banks if they have a bizness of the month, its free advertising, its a incentive for the bank and yourself, and the customers going in see it right away and when they call, offer the bank discount, and when they pay, there check goes in as cash cause its the same bank,,, yeeeaaaaahhh

LawnBoy0311
05-31-2013, 01:13 PM
I appreciate the tip! I have to go to my bank in a few days. I'll have to ask them.

Steve
06-03-2013, 10:23 AM
Nice job on the mulch! Did you have to take away the old mulch or did you add a fresh layer? How long did it take you?

djm2013
02-23-2016, 08:24 AM
Nice job on the mulch! Did you have to take away the old mulch or did you add a fresh layer? How long did it take you?

Hi Steve, been 3 years almost. so much to say!!!! This customer was such a failure to us...but we made some money in the end and walked away...long story

Steve
02-24-2016, 01:09 AM
we made some money in the end and walked away...long story

When you have some time, I'd really like to hear your reflection on it. I am sure
there were a lot of great learning experiences you went through.

djm2013
02-24-2016, 06:46 PM
How to start, well Its been 2 summers since I last wrote. I looked into US Lawns and they me flew me down to Orlando. Long story short I was not franchise material to them. However I learned that to grow your company you have to get off the mower and in the office and in the field to network. I was able to double my customer base and triple commercial work. Labor is the worst I have ever seen it. No one wants to work for less then 15an hour no matter how much they know, and 00 percent owe child support so I have to deal with all that paper work, thats like another job.

The customer I was talking about had 2 acres to mow and he promised me 5 other houses, 3 signed up for plowing, not mowing and He got his lawn done for 60 bucks. that got old after a season and no one else signed up on the street, they had there own mowers. these were 2-3 acre lots. So last winter I told him no more service unless he paid double. He said no so I thanked him and said call me if you need a weekend off or take a vacation, and he has, so were cool.

The business now has to two crews and set ups. We added pressure washing and did some houses. It was ok..

We added graphics on the trucks and trailers and that has generated lots of calls.

We use measure my lot.com and can generally quote over the phone mow prices.

We also just purchased a F550 with a landscaper dump box..getting that lettered up next week..

Regards

djm2013
02-25-2016, 09:24 PM
6936

6937

6938

Steve
02-26-2016, 01:38 AM
That is fascinating! Who would have thought so much inspiration would have come from a visit to the corporate HQ of US lawns!

Looking back at the time, why do you feel you were looking into getting a franchise? What did you think they were going to be able to do for you that you weren't able to at the time?

Was there an ah ha moment once you were down that that changed your thinking of how you operated your business? Was there a moment where you felt inspired?

By the way, your new truck looks fantastic! I am sure it is going to be very helpful.

djm2013
02-26-2016, 06:53 PM
Well I knew they had software for billing and scheduling, they had national accts and more cash flow for advertising. so I figured if I was able to schedule better, increase sales call volume and add more crews, why not check it out. the frnachise fee was less because I already was established and had gear.

During the open house I met and sat with the president of US Lawns. He was an older gentlemen that was educated and could see through BS in two seconds. He asked his questions, gave advice and mentioned, no one grows if your mowing, and fixing gear. You have to be in Sales and service and let the labor force do the labor.

He asked do you trust other people to mow your accounts and I said no. He said you will never grow. get off the mower and grow.

Steve
03-01-2016, 12:20 AM
He asked do you trust other people to mow your accounts and I said no. He said you will never grow. get off the mower and grow.

That is a very good point.

What do you think the difference is between him and the average small lawn care business owner? Do you feel this man knows more on how to hire and manage employees? Does it really come down to letting go control issues and trusting staff to do their job? Or is there more to it that just trust?

djm2013
03-02-2016, 12:21 AM
He I feel has mastered the ability to delegate work. Have some knowledge of every position that is in the company. when he sees the profit margin he will know if its working or not.

the difference between him and a basic lco I feel is how the two look at customers. or corporate customers.

I have seen small guys walk away from acts that have 60 or 90 day net terms.

This president might say well there is a parking lot or a road that 20,000 cars drive on or park and will see the trucks and men working. more then likely a job can be awarded to a resi and the net is 15 or 30.

The president will never get the call, I am out of washer fluid, or I lost the fuel tank or there is no more mix....

but as I said before, if my guys call me and tell me that I send them home..
they will never ever make that call, they will get was her fluid, they will make mix, they won't loose the gas can..

the president keeps A employees and just lessen the responsibilities of B employees.

LCO have to deal with B and C employees because there a dime a dozen. rarely can you find an A employee and when you do, you need to pay to keep them around and teach them everything you know, and listen them as well.

What I also found interesting was the other person that was there for the open house. knew nothing about landscaping...they were in it as a business platform

get employees, trucks gear, get accounts and service and make a profit. add services when you can. it was just crazy I was sitting next to someone who turned wrenches and then was going to invest into a franchise. I guess from a business outlook it might work for some people. for others I feel they need to have some basic knowledge of the business to franchise or even grow.

The president came into the meeting to talk about a few things doing the presentation. He asked whats is your labor cost. do you job cost, do you have proper insurance, can you measure, how much is your truck to run, trailer, mower. saying yes I know the answers to all of this, and then answering them, I think it appeared to them I was not franchise material. when I showed interested in there software for billing and job costing and discovering how they made there money while I did most of the work it really appeared I was not a good match.

but I learned a lot, and I think they learned a lot from someone being a LCO and visiting them. they had some territory issues in my area and I think the timing was just not right.

I went back to the hotel and relaxed at the pool. it was a nice hot day in orlando.

took a plane back to NY and slowly grew and bid more projects. Moved to a new house and made the new business cards and got the trucks and trailers done.

Steve
03-02-2016, 01:00 AM
Very fascinating!

With all that insight, how do you feel they will do when it comes to expanding? How do you feel it would be to compete with them if they opened a franchise in your area?

acrajchel
03-02-2016, 08:07 AM
Not to steal the thread, but speaking of competition, I just heard that BrightView (Brickmans and ValleyCrest) are coming to Lexington KY. I am not too worried about it, as I am much to small to matter to them, but I have friends who own or are employed at larger landscaping companies, such as Hillenmeyer's Landscaping Services that will be BrightView's target. Anyone else have any experience dealing with a big place like BrightView or US Lawns coming into town? Did you lose customers, gain customers, or it didn't affect you at all?

djm2013
03-02-2016, 12:39 PM
Very fascinating!

With all that insight, how do you feel they will do when it comes to expanding? How do you feel it would be to compete with them if they opened a franchise in your area?

They were in my area and failed. we have three counties basically. I asked for all three and was told no. that upset at the open house and I expressed the way I felt about it....

If they do find someone. Thats fine. there is plenty of work around, and I know they won't lowball because there trained not to loose money.

Steve
03-03-2016, 05:01 PM
What is your thought on that they were in your area and failed? Why do you think they failed?

djm2013
03-06-2016, 09:00 AM
What is your thought on that they were in your area and failed? Why do you think they failed?

They would not tell me the issues with the owner of that franchise, but all I can think off was that the the owner was not giving it 100 percent. I didn't hear any type of advertising. I didn't see signs or trucks.

The owner might not have thought about winter months when there is no income from lawns. who knows.

djm2013
03-07-2016, 05:43 PM
That is a very good point.

What do you think the difference is between him and the average small lawn care business owner? Do you feel this man knows more on how to hire and manage employees? Does it really come down to letting go control issues and trusting staff to do their job? Or is there more to it that just trust?

Forgot he was in this magazine last month, credit L and L for the story I am not the author

Ken Hutcheson // President, U.S. Lawns
INTERVIEWED BY BRIAN HORN

PHOTO COURTESY OF U.S. Lawns
From a really young age, Iíve always had a desire to see things grow, whether it be relationships, animals, plants, whatever, and that was from truly a young age. I would say that was probably fueled by my family, my friends, my work.

After school and even during school, and to be frank, before school, I was working in the horticulture services industry. I was involved in nurseries. My core business was the interior plant service business and thatís where I got to really know people, customers, commercial customers, employees and route work Ė what it took to really satisfy the needs of the market. So for many years, out of college on up until U.S. Lawns, my core business was interior plant service businesses.

Location

Orlando, Florida

Top 100 Ranking

7

2014 Revenue

$163 million

In 1995, I sold my businesses and stepped out for a while. Then I ran into a U.S. Lawns person, and I had already had some involvement off and on actually since they were founded. I actually worked as a consultant to help the founders in í86. So I stayed in touch with them. In í95 when I became free again and had nothing to do, I said it might be a fun ride for a couple of weeks or so. That was in 1995.

We strive for 100 percent customer retention. Now understand, thatís a vision. Thatís never going to be reality. But that is our vision. So, if you share that with your manager, just those four words Ė 100 percent customer retention, youíve just given him an idea of what he needs to do.

If Iím out on a visit to one of our branches and Iím speaking to a crew leader, Iíll share with him these words: 100 percent employee retention. Put that burden on him and tell me he doesnít treat his newest gardener with maybe a little more care than he would have if he didnít know he needed to hold himself accountable for keeping that guy another day, another day, another day.

You donít wait until you need a new customer to look for a new customer. You are marketing all the time. Your best tool to find a new employee is to make sure your current employees are happy, they look good, they speak positively about you and your brand, and theyíre at a place where others would want to work. No different than if youíre recruiting customers. The best way to get a customer is to keep your current jobs looking great and to get referrals.

I was at the GIE+EXPO show in October sitting at some round tables and I was sitting with a table with someone who knocked my socks off in a positive way. Heís talking about, with just pride, about what they do. Heís talking about employees and heís using their names, not their titles. He knows their families. This is a big company, by the way. He knows a little about them. And Iím thinking, ďThis is why this guy will take his company into the next generation of success. Itís personal. He is close to his customer. He is close to his employee.Ē

Instead of building your business to satisfy your emotional and financial needs, craft your business model to fulfill the needs of the market and the customer.

Iíve got to tell you the best days I have are when I have no idea how Iím going to get everything done. The best days I have are when it seems like it canít all be done. Then at the end of the day when youíve crushed it and you got it done and youíve moved the company ahead or youíve moved yourself ahead. The greatest days are stressful days.

Steve
03-08-2016, 12:43 AM
They would not tell me the issues with the owner of that franchise, but all I can think off was that the the owner was not giving it 100 percent. I didn't hear any type of advertising. I didn't see signs or trucks.

The owner might not have thought about winter months when there is no income from lawns. who knows.

That is very interesting. I guess with the right people you can do anything, but with the wrong people, things just won't work out.

It's kind of surprising that the main company couldn't step in and find someone else to take over from that previous franchise owner. But then, maybe the way they handle it is the best way to do it.