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Steve
05-20-2005, 11:06 AM
Here is a quote from "aclassic" who had contacted us about helping him with his business.

Quote[/b] ]i actaully started my lawn business this year and the longer i've been here the more i've noticed how swamped the market is w/ guys like me and better. one thing that i do see missing in this market is aerating. i dont think there are any aeration only companies, and the ones that do aerate generally just do it for thier accounts. my business is strictly part-time, so i can afford to run an aeration only business, but i need help getting it going and knowing how to manage the multitude of accounts neccessary to run a good aeration business.
any help would be great.
thanks,
-aclassic

Steve
05-20-2005, 01:32 PM
Hi aclassic,

Have you considered putting together a business plan yet? Here are questions that if you answer them can help you with a road map. I am sure they will be able to help our business consultant and author Joel LaRusic (http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=1;t=1379) as well in assisting you.

Business Description
- Give a one paragraph description of your business.
- Where is your business located?
- What services does your business offer?
- What value does it add to the marketplace?

Management Abilities
- What are your qualifications?
- How will your experience contribute to the success of your business?

Business Strategy
- What is your business strategy?
- What are the strengths of your business strategy?
- What are the weaknesses of your business strategy?
- What are the key strategic opportunities you have identified in your marketplace?
- How will your business take advantage of these strategic opportunities more effectively than your competition?
- How do you intend to maintain your competitive edge?
- Describe the key challenges you face and how will you overcome them?

Legal Structure
- Will your business operate as a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation or an LLC?
- How will your legal structure decrease your business's exposure to risk?

Financial
- How much will you personally invest in your business?
- How much money are you seeking from banks?
- How much money are you seeking from private investors?
- How long until you plan to break even?
- How long until you plan on making a profit?
- What will your start-up costs be? Be specific, describe each and the cost.
- What is your sales forcast for each month of the entire year? List each month's goal.
- What will be your monthly operating expenses? Be specific, describe each and the cost.
- What will your monthly fixed costs be? Be specific, describe each and the cost.


Mission Statement
- What is your business?
- How will your business succeed?
- What values are important to your business?
- How does your business improve the lives of your customers' and employees'?

Marketing Slogan
- What is your marketing slogan?

Market Analysis
- What are the positive NATIONAL trends that will affect your business?
- What are the negative NATIONAL trends that will affect your business?
- How will you take advantage of the positive trends and deal with the negative trends?

- What are the positive REGIONAL trends that will affect your business?
- What are the negative REGIONAL trends that will affect your business?
- How will you take advantage of the positive trends and deal with the negative trends?

- What are the positive LANDSCAPE INDUSTRY trends that will affect your business?
- What are the negative LANDSCAPE INDUSTRY trends that will affect your business?
- How will you take advantage of the positive trends and deal with the negative trends?

Customer Analysis
- What is your current customer base?
- Who are your target customers? (age range, education level, occupations, average home value)
- What zip codes do they live in?
- What do your customers want?

Competition Analysis
- Who are your competitors?
- How many employees do they have?
- What is their estimated sales volume?
- What services do they offer?
- What is the quality of their product?
- What is the price range of their product?
- Who are there customers?
- What are their strengths?
- What are their weaknesses?
- Are they a direct or indirect competitor?

Labor
- How many employees will you start with? Full or p/t?
- What will the hourly labor wage paid to employees be?
- What will your total annual labor hours be, see below?
* Jan total billable hours =
* Feb =
* Mar =
* Apr =
* May =
* Jun =
* Jul =
* Aug =
* Sept =
* Oct =
* Nov =
* Dec =

* Yearly total billable hours =

Equipment
- What equipment will be needed?
- How much will it cost to obtain this equipment?
- Where will you store the equipment?
- How much will it cost to store the equipment?

Advertising / Promotion
- How will you advertise or promote your business?
- How much will you spend doing each per year?

mowboy
05-21-2005, 11:56 AM
Hi aclassic,

My name is Joel LaRusic and I recently authored Gopher's book of the month - Start & Run a Landscape Business - which deals specifically with landscape maintenance companies and even delves into the specialty of lawn aeration. In fact, for many years I specialized in it myself here in Vancouver. I'm happy to provide any help I can.

Gopher Team has suggested a good first step. Have you put together a business plan yet? Remember that lack of planning or poor planning is a leading cause of business failure so you do well to take the crucial step of writing a business plan.

As you answer the questions, don't just hastily jot down a quick answer. Think about it, investigate, brainstorm with your friends and family. One of the biggest benefit of creating *and writing out your business plan is that it will provide stimulus for further creativity. So let your mind wander and visualize your dream. The end result will be a sharper focus, a clear sense of direction and increased determination.

One note: Lawn aeration is a great specialty (and can go well with overseeding, lawn renovations and/or rejuvenations) however don't be so quick to write yourself off for maintenance. A swamped market means there is lots of work available and you can stake you claim if you play your cards right... just something to think about. As you develop your plan you will need to decide which way to go.

Let us know if you have any specific questions. Good luck... happy brainstorming and I look forward to seeing your response.

mowboy
05-25-2005, 02:32 PM
Hi aclassic,

How are you making out with your business plan? Do you need any specific help with it?

Please let us know if so. Look forward to hearing from you.

Joel

Steve
05-25-2005, 02:39 PM
Hi mowboy,

I just sent him an email at rcp2@calvin.edu to remind him you had responded.

Thanks again for all your help.

aclassic
05-26-2005, 08:18 AM
hey guys thanks for the suggestions,
i have put together a business plan, i spent last fall putting it together w/ a group of people and then presented it to my business prof. and a couple lawn care professionals. one thing i wished i had done was put it together based on aeration only. i am pursueing a career in firefighting and having this as a part time thing would be good. yes maintenance is still a possibility, but i think i might just develop my lawn business just enough to hire some college kid to take care of it so i can have the summers off (wont be for a while though).
what i am curious about is what is the best way to market this niche service. i have a feeling that my city just doesnt have enough awareness of the benefits of aerating, so it could be a tough start. but is there any material out there that would be a good model for the type of advertising i should do and how to word stuff on my advertisements? also, i have put together a few spreadsheets on how to make this work and what i have found is you need a lot of jobs per season to make it work. how can i manage these accounts effectively, as right now i only have to deal w/ a small number of lawn contracts. also, what is a good way to get return service each year. there could be alot of people that just kinda forget about the aeration the next year and dont think to do it again.
thanks, any help would be good.
-aclassic

mowboy
05-27-2005, 09:05 AM
Hi aclassic,

Glad to hear that you spent some time putting together a business plan and even got some different eyes on it.

In your last post, you definitely nailed a couple of the major challenges with lawn aeration specialty business. First the customers: with maintenance 50 customers will keep you busy all year but with aeration that will last only a couple of weeks. So, yes, you will need to work hard to attract customers. You need to reach a lot of people in your advertising so consider direct mail and/or Yellow Pages, if your budget can afford it. Perhaps more importantly that getting customers is keeping them. That is, impress them (ie exceed expectations) sufficiently so that they keep calling you back. Even if you do impress you will have to remind people to aerate again. Perhaps sending reminder postcards or even a personal phone call to say you will be in the area? Keep in mind that many aerate twice a year or more. So if you market the benefits of twice a year aeration (spring and fall for example) then you may get some folks that go for it, but for the others aerating just once will seem like 'the bare minimum'.

The other challenge that you also identified is education. Most (80%) of my marketing material content focused on educating people about the benefits of aeration. I always used a little diagram showing how the grass and it's roots get thicker. For material check the Ryan aerators website (http://www.ransomesjacobsen.com/Default.htm) they used to have some free or cheap marketing material (I was unable to check as their website was down, but try a little later). I used to provide people an 'InfoPack' which listed the many benefits of all my services ,including aeration. This, and a sample of one of the really successful aeration flyers I used, is included in my book.

I hope this helped to answer your specific questions. If you have others or need further explanation please let me know.

Good luck!