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gatewayuser
09-10-2007, 09:05 PM
Here are some pictures of various thing in my business.

gatewayuser
09-10-2007, 09:06 PM
another

gatewayuser
09-10-2007, 09:07 PM
another

gatewayuser
09-10-2007, 09:11 PM
another

gatewayuser
09-10-2007, 09:12 PM
another

gatewayuser
09-10-2007, 09:13 PM
another

gatewayuser
09-10-2007, 09:15 PM
another

gatewayuser
09-10-2007, 09:18 PM
last one try again

Steve
09-11-2007, 02:30 AM
Nick,

Thank you so much for sharing with us your photos! For all of us reading, can you tell us a little about how you got started and when you got started? How long should an lco be in business before they reach the size you are now?

Which is your latest piece of equipment? Can you walk us through some of your equipment too and when you got it and why?

gatewayuser
09-11-2007, 10:21 AM
I started my business in 2003 with just myself a SUV, 12ft trailer and a 52" walk behind. In 2004 I added a 92 chevy 1500 and a 16ft trailer and I started to offer lawn treatments after I got certified. Also in 04 I took many horticulture and business courses and got my OCNT certification. In 2005 I hired 2 employees and bought a 2001 Ford f-350 and a 48" bobcat walk behind and began offering snow removal and landscape installation and design. In 2006 I bought a GMC dump truck and I hired a third employee. This year I hired a 4th employee and bought a 2007 John Deere 54" ZTR.
I have approx. 100 customers with about 40% being commercial.
I would recommend being solo longer you will make more money if you stay small longer. Don't be in a hurry to grow large fast it is true slow growth is good growth. When I first started I was growing at 300% per year and now its still at about 150%. I have never advertised because I do good work and have great customer service. Also have a business plan it really does help keep you on track. Don't start off with low prices, thats what I did when I started and it is hard to get them to where they should be. Not to mention it harms our industry. I would say don't hire anyone until you are on your 3rd year of being in business and don't buy more equipment until you (a.) have the accounts already and (b.) can pay for it in one year of use.

I wish everyone lots of luck and rain! Remember also it gets hard at times but just keep focusing on your goals and dreams.

Steve
09-11-2007, 04:13 PM
That's a fantastic story! Thank you!

Where do you feel you will take your business next? Where do you see your business going?

gatewayuser
09-11-2007, 08:24 PM
Well this year I plan to begin offering irrigation service and installations. Next year I will mostly cater to commercial clients and I will be opening another lawn care branch in south east ohio. And I will no longer offer landscaping instead I will sub those type of jobs out.

Steve
09-11-2007, 08:28 PM
Oh! Sounds like a lot of work!

Do you have any suggestions on how a lco should open another branch of their lawn care business? What is the best way to go about expanding like that?

gatewayuser
09-11-2007, 09:10 PM
Well 1st if you stay in the same state it helps a lot. Well 1st you of course want to be sure you will have the market and also you need to realize it will be completely different like pricing and weather. Start small again and make sure before you move that you have EVERYTHING at your 1st branch in check because you don't want to abandon your original customers since they helped get you to where you are. I have trained my employee to be able to run my branch for 2 yrs and I fully trust him. Also I won't be buying new equipment for the new area until I am fully settled in.

Steve
09-11-2007, 09:24 PM
Will this become a franchise? Are you planning on franchising in the future? Do you give the employee who is running the expansion a % of sales to give them an incentive to build it?

gatewayuser
09-11-2007, 09:51 PM
No I will not franchise the company. Yes he will get a bonus for selling jobs but it will be laid out in a way that he won't have to do very much selling nor paper work.

Steve
09-11-2007, 09:56 PM
This is very interesting. I was talking with Lee of Tiger Time Lawn Care and he is in the process of franchising his business and I was saying it is very important that the person running the new operation have an interest in growing it, otherwise there will be no reason too.

What suggestions would you have for him as far as incentives to offer employees to sell and help the business grow, especially when you are expanding it in the way you are?

gatewayuser
09-11-2007, 10:15 PM
Well see the problem with his business is that its not time tested I believe people will lose interest because its too gimmicky. I will like to see how it lasts. Also my guys are well trained to solve problems and when things start to go wrong people will realize that they will need someone with more knowledge and thats when the customers will start dropping off. A landscape is a large investment and you need someone with the knowhow to manage that.

Well he could give them profit sharing, if he does a percentage then he needs to do it after profit not before due to taxes, equipment and payroll etc. Also he could do a set rate like $50 per signed contract. Make sure to have a contract because he could get burned quickly. The same way before I give any customers incentives after sending me a customer I (1) wait till I am paid (2) make sure I have taken care of the property at least for a month that way I will recover any losses caused by the incentive.

Steve
09-11-2007, 10:55 PM
Great insight!

What % would you suggest for profit sharing?

I bet a lot of readers would like to expand their businesses and are wondering if they take a current crew chief and send him off to another area to expand the business where he has more autonomy, what kind of % of the profits made from that expansion should he get? Maybe could you suggest a range? Also should any of the employees get this as well?

gatewayuser
09-14-2007, 02:14 PM
Well I won't be sending mine to go start one from scratch because what would stop them from just deciding hey why am I building this for him. I am leaving them with a established company so nothing major changes. Well like I said I like bonuses more and you could give the employees a smaller bonus also, maybe $15 per new customer.
Another thing I have been know to do is give the employees a $50 bonus if they get the job done by a certain time and it works very well. The % range would differ by the size/type of job say if its lawn mowing it would be less compared to landscaping. Also it would depend on what profit margin your company runs on.

Steve
09-14-2007, 05:16 PM
Quote[/b] ]Also it would depend on what profit margin your company runs on.


What range do you think the average lco's profit margin is in your area? Between X% and X%?

If an lco did plan to expand in a similar fashion that you are, should they give their manager of the area 5% profit sharing? Or 10%? or even more? How much is it worth to have someone run a geographic area?