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xandrew245x
04-16-2013, 10:55 AM
Hey guys, I have been thinking about this since last year and really am considering this.

I want my business to grow to around 25-30 weekly mowing jobs, landscape jobs in the spring and cleanups in the fall, but I feel myself alone I can not accomplish this. I lack some serious skills in the communication department, not so much talking to customers I have, but talking to potential customers, and seeking out new business, handing out flyers etc, I am not really into that.

I work with my brother in law at my daytime job and we work very well together. We have been talking about my business and last year and this year he talked about starting his own business, but focusing more on landscaping. He had a small tractor with front bucket and backhoe, so hes pretty well set up for large mulch jobs, or planting trees, making beds etc. He also worked for a landscaper in the past for a few years.

I have been thinking however, maybe teaming up with him, since I already own a mower, trailer and other equipment for maintaining lawns I would offer him around a 12% of profits for now, and give a test run for this year. He is a very hard worker and is pretty knowledgeable about landscaping.

I would never even consider this if it were not for the fact that he wants to start his own business, and why compete with each other if we could work together.

He has very good people skills, hes the type of person that will talk to anyone, and knows a lot of people. I need a good communicator like that on my team. I think with him I could expand my business up to 40% by the end of this year.

Before I jump on talking to him about it, I want to think what your guy's professional opinion is of it.

SECTLANDSCAPING
04-16-2013, 11:12 AM
I wouldnt partner with him. What I would do is give him 15% of jobs he created. Almost make him a salesman. Then any job you need the backhoe on give him 15%. This way your core business doesnt change.

Personally speaking my own brother blows me off on a dozen jobs a year. Since hes family and he needs money I always give him another shot. He shows up 4-5 times then I dont see him for 2 months. Family and business dont mix.

Another friend on mine owned a restaurant. She was behind on taxes and signed the business over to her sister. When she had her taxes paid off. Her sister refused to sign the business back. Instead of going to court she changed the name of the business since technically all the equipment was hers.

xandrew245x
04-16-2013, 11:18 AM
I am not going to just give my profits, he is going to help me do all the work, if he starts slacking I have no problem telling him to step up or get lost.

I don't really consider him family, I see him more as a co-worker even though hes my brother in law.

The only reason I considered this is because of what skillsets he has. The more I go into this business the less I think I can be successful on my own.

Steve
04-16-2013, 11:28 AM
I want my business to grow to around 25-30 weekly mowing jobs, landscape jobs in the spring and cleanups in the fall, but I feel myself alone I can not accomplish this. I lack some serious skills in the communication department, not so much talking to customers I have, but talking to potential customers, and seeking out new business, handing out flyers etc, I am not really into that.

I think you communicate fine on here.

Take a moment and tell us why you feel you really aren't into promoting yourself? What have been your experiences with it that have you creating this negative view of it?

xandrew245x
04-16-2013, 11:39 AM
I really don't have a problem communicating through email, or any other form of internet communication, but when it comes to taking face to face to people I don't know I really have a hard time doing it.

I wouldn't ever just walk up to a stranger and had them a flyer, I don't even like handing out door hangers.
Example. If I were handing out door hangers and someone was mad that I gave them one and confronted me, I would really not like that, and would probably discourage me from ever doing it again.


I just talked to my new customer, and it is time to start mowing grass, but she doesn't want me to start yet, I mean should i be pushy and tell her it shouldn't wait or should I listen to the customer.

When it comes to customers that come talk to me first though about doing work for them, I have no problem talking to them about anything.

I am just not sure how to promote my business without being able to do a lot of face to face communication.

xandrew245x
04-16-2013, 02:05 PM
I was looking to have at least 5 accounts this year and I would have liked to have a couple mulch jobs, but I missed that opportunity already this year because I really don't know that to do. I don't have a lot of money to invest into advertisement, and the money I have to spend on it, I really am not sure what direction to go with it.

I already have a website, but its not up to the standards that I want it to be.

Basically I have a few advertising options.

Flyers- I am not big on handing out flyers to random people, plus I really don't have much time to do this

Door hangers- Same thing as flyers

Postcards- They are expensive, and I don't know if they have a very good return.

Phone book ad- I know phone book ads can be expensive, but should I at least have my name and number in the book?

Newspaper ad- Pretty decent price, but targets a very broad area (at least the ones I looked at)

Craiglist- I have an add on craigslist and received one call from it.

Website- I have a website but don't get very much traffic to it.

Word of mouth- This has actually gotten me the most contact so far, i have been contacted by 2 people about lawn care that they heard about me from someone else, one is the new customer I just picked up.

Truck and trailer decal- This is something I am really thinking of doing, the only concern I have is the fact that I am not a legitament business right now.

Thats all I can think of off the top of my head right now, I have been doing a little research into the phone book, and its looking like it would run me about $25 a month just to have the number in the yellow pages, but I don't know if its worth it.


I would like to get to the point where I can be confident enough to buy a commercial mower and get enough clients that I could hire a part time helper. Eventually I would like to have enough to employ a two man crew to take care of the majority of the lawn care work. I would then take care of all paperwork, estimates, advertisement, maintenance and would help with landscaping jobs and cleanups.


I appreciate all the help you guys give, you gave me a lot of helpful advice last year. I really wasn't going to do lawn care anymore, but with getting that one client it makes me want to keep trying, its just a lot more difficult with a full time job.

Mayor of Mow Town
04-16-2013, 02:14 PM
I just talked to my new customer, and it is time to start mowing grass, but she doesn't want me to start yet, I mean should i be pushy and tell her it shouldn't wait or should I listen to the customer.

When it comes to customers that come talk to me first though about doing work for them, I have no problem talking to them about anything.

I am just not sure how to promote my business without being able to do a lot of face to face communication.

Remember, selling your services isn't a bad thing; you're potentially helping people if you're doing it in a respectful way. Most people don't like in-your-face type selling, and it sounds like you don't like doing it.

Perhaps you could approach it with the mindset of helping people, rather than selling. For example, rather than do a "free quote" (selling), do a "free lawn evaluation" (helping) that results in a quote at the end.

You don't have to do things the same way everyone else does. Work with your strengths, rather than run from your weaknesses.

xandrew245x
04-16-2013, 02:19 PM
That defiantly sounds more appealing, but more what I am concerned about is how to get the customer contacting me in the first place.

The new customer I just got, now she is an older lady and she just moved a whole bunch of mulch herself, this would be a really easy spring mulching job if I could get it.

I was thinking of just mentioning to her that I also do mulching, flower/shrub planting and trimming. I don't want to offend her though by making her think she can't do it.


Also I forgot to mention I really don't have a problem selling services to a potential customer if I am already talking to them. At my day job I often talk to customers when i am out doing the work for them, and i have no problem talking to them, usually if they look like they have a nice landscape or lawn I will say to them about the work I do and if they ever need something done just give me a call, and I give them a business card, but doing this has gotten me no leads.

What I really can't do is just walk up to a person on a street, or knock on someone door and talk to them about lawn care, I feel like I am intruding.

Mayor of Mow Town
04-16-2013, 02:30 PM
Word of mouth- This has actually gotten me the most contact so far, i have been contacted by 2 people about lawn care that they heard about me from someone else, one is the new customer I just picked up.


Do more of what's working.

Maybe you could put in place some type of system for getting more referrals. Not discounts for referring customers, but an actual process for attracting more customers that are connected to your existing customers.

For example, you could write a letter to the neighbours around your existing customers. Add something very specific about their lawns (such as a tip to help solve a trouble spot you can see), so it is customised just for them. Tell them that you do Mr Jones' lawn at #32 or whatever. Maybe you could even suggest some services and provide a price.


The new customer I just got, now she is an older lady and she just moved a whole bunch of mulch herself, this would be a really easy spring mulching job if I could get it.

I was thinking of just mentioning to her that I also do mulching, flower/shrub planting and trimming. I don't want to offend her though by making her think she can't do it.

"Wow Mrs Smith. That's a whole lot of mulch you've just moved. You know, I can help you out with things like that. I'd be happy to give you a price....blah blah"

What I really can't do is just walk up to a person on a street, or knock on someone door and talk to them about lawn care, I feel like I am intruding.


That is intrusive. It would be all about you. Make it all about your customers. Give to get.

xandrew245x
04-16-2013, 02:39 PM
[QUOTE=Mayor of Mow Town;125796]Do more of what's working.

Maybe you could put in place some type of system for getting more referrals. Not discounts for referring customers, but an actual process for attracting more customers that are connected to your existing customers.

For example, you could write a letter to the neighbours around your existing customers. Add something very specific about their lawns (such as a tip to help solve a trouble spot you can see), so it is customised just for them. Tell them that you do Mr Jones' lawn at #32 or whatever. Maybe you could even suggest some services and provide a price.


That sounds like a good idea, but the neighbors that live around her are not exactly very wealthy, and I am sure the letters would be a waste of time.

What I was thinking of targeting some higher class developments that are near me, but I'm not sure what material to send them, I have probably 10-15 wealthy developments within a 10 minute drive of me that would be great to get into.

Mayor of Mow Town
04-16-2013, 03:02 PM
Could be worth spending 10 mins writing down who your ideal client is, as that will give you some ideas.

- who are they?
- are they families, couples, individuals?
- two working parents or one?
- how much do they earn?
- employees or employers?
- who makes the buying decision in the family?
- where do they hang out?
- what are their interests?
- where do they shop?
- what do they do for fun?
- are they well-connected in the community?
- do they have capacity to pay?
- do they have a willingness to pay?

For example, you might decide that your target ideal clients are busy local family business owners that live in the target wealthy developments. They may be members of the local golf club, or all use a particular accountant. They value their time over money, so have the willingness and capacity to pay. Their kids go to X school and do ballet at Y and soccer at Z.

Now, you can start thinking about the marketing.

For example, just thinking about the golf angle....A highly targeted ad in the golf club newsletter; a discount for members; an article in the newsletter about getting your lawn as pristine as the golf course; giveaway a free mow to a random member each month, etc.

The more you can get into their heads, the easier it is to come up with targeted ideas to attract them.

Hope that makes sense.

xandrew245x
04-16-2013, 03:53 PM
Yea that makes a lot of sense. I am sure the golf courses around here do a newsletter. I know our schools, townships and some other business do a newsletter for sure

I think if I made an ad for the township newsletter that goes out monthly I know it would get a ton of exposure, but not sure how the return would be.


Is it to late for this season to advertise for lawn care?

Would it be worth putting my number in the phone book?

Mayor of Mow Town
04-16-2013, 05:39 PM
I think if I made an ad for the township newsletter that goes out monthly I know it would get a ton of exposure, but not sure how the return would be.

Maybe you could write a brief article about tips for caring for your lawn, rather than advertising. It has the benefit of showing you know what you are talking about, and again becomes more about helping rather than selling (but helping often results in sales).

Is it to late for this season to advertise for lawn care?

It's never too late.

Look to successful businesses outside your industry...I learn a lot from them.

For example, department and grocery stores market their business all year round. The message and the offer changes (e.g. Cyber Monday, Christmas sales), but they are always out there.

Would it be worth putting my number in the phone book?

If it's free, do it. (I'm in Australia. You can get an online phone book listing for free, but you pay to be in the paper copy).

However, it comes back to your target/ideal customer. Do they use the phone book to look for lawn care services? That should guide your decision.

xandrew245x
04-16-2013, 06:47 PM
Maybe you could write a brief article about tips for caring for your lawn, rather than advertising. It has the benefit of showing you know what you are talking about, and again becomes more about helping rather than selling (but helping often results in sales).



It's never too late.

Look to successful businesses outside your industry...I learn a lot from them.

For example, department and grocery stores market their business all year round. The message and the offer changes (e.g. Cyber Monday, Christmas sales), but they are always out there.



If it's free, do it. (I'm in Australia. You can get an online phone book listing for free, but you pay to be in the paper copy).

However, it comes back to your target/ideal customer. Do they use the phone book to look for lawn care services? That should guide your decision.

My parents own a business and i know they have an ad in the phonebook, a website and a couple ads on local maps and such. Most of their business comes from word of mouth. They never send postcards out, or hand out business cards, the work just comes to them.

To put my number in the phone book it is $20 a month, I have my number on the internet white pages, but they don't seem to be doing any good.

GreenBlue
04-16-2013, 06:50 PM
Keep trying and eventually things will work out for you.

xandrew245x
04-17-2013, 06:06 AM
So I was thinking last night, and talked some with a friend who used to do lawn care when he was in high school and I realized I am missing some really great, and relatively cheap marketing.

First off my parents own a field right along a major state road that probably sees well over a thousand vehicles in a day, I also live along that road too. The field would be a perfect place to put up a large sign displaying my name and information. Couple hundred dollars to put it up, but tons of exposure, and as long as the banner doesn't rip, its a one and done deal.

Secondly lettering on my vehicle. I know very well about this, my parents have 5 trucks for their business, all are painted purple and have large purple and gold lettering. A lot of people that call us, or just happen to see us always say how they see our trucks everywhere. I am thinking of making at least a vinyl of my company name and number for the doors of my truck. Maybe make a couple magnet signs to put on my wifes car, my parents care etc. if they don't mind.

Third how about a couple T-shirts. I know they can be a little expensive to make, but hey I wear them while doing lawn care and I have a uniform, and i can wear them everywhere else for free advertising.

I think this alone would completely amp up my exposure and get some calls, you have to spend money to make money.

For targeting specific neighborhoods I thought about mailing out a nice magnetic calendar with a brochure or something along the lines, these are really expensive but I thought it would be a decent idea.

I thought about handing out pens, maybe have a bunch made and take them places like resteraunts, markets. etc. and see if i can leave a cup full for people to take.

LawnBoy0311
04-17-2013, 07:41 AM
You can get pens in bulk with your name on them for cheap. I have green and orange pens...I bought 500 for $185. I had them out as much as I can. My local beer store has a cup in there for me, I just fill it up when it gets empty.

SNethercutt
04-17-2013, 09:34 AM
Google Places is a big help.

Have you ever typed the name of something in Google, say "lawn care Houston Tx" and the company's pop up and it says website directions and if on your phone it says call... those are free!!! You have to Google, Google places and set it up, they mail you a verification to the address given and then it takes a few days to propagate.

Anybody with an android that using the search, uses Google, so its well worth it.

xandrew245x
04-17-2013, 12:27 PM
I have it on google places already if you search gardners pa lawn care mine is the first one, but I haven't gotten any hits.

Chilehead
05-02-2013, 09:19 AM
It's your decision, but make sure that if you DO decide to partner up**have a WRITTEN CONTRACT for everything between you and him. Talk it through with him and do not deviate from it to save your life.

LawnBoy0311
05-03-2013, 01:07 PM
Andrew, what was the final outcome????

xandrew245x
05-03-2013, 04:12 PM
I decided to just do it myself, I had some door hangers out and have gotten a good response from them.