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08-23-2007, 07:31 PM
Greetings to all. I was a little more than half way through my business plan when I found this site. I wish I had found it sooner, there is an amazing amount of helpful info here.
I am starting to get a little discouraged though. I have practically no equipment or money at all and while reading a bunch of old posts here I got the impression that no one recommends borrowing money to start up. This sets me back a little because I'm the kind of person that wants to present the most professional image possible from day one and for me this will require a fair amount of money.
So I'm curious about everyones start up costs and equipment and the length of time it took to build from there.
As for me... I spent 6 very long years as an operations manager for the biggest national lawn care company and I gotta tell ya it will put a real bad taste in your mouth. But it did give me the motivation to get out there and do the job the right way.
The name of my business is going to be "Dandie Lawn". I love it even with the slight mixed message it sends. I really haven't done much more than that except for the business plan because of the money thing so I am really looking forward to all of your advice and opinions.
08-23-2007, 11:14 PM
I started with a $50 mower from the flea market. A $25 blower from the local engine shop. I bought a new Echo weed eater for $190. And then I bought a $300 trailer from Harbor freight. I went door to door talking to people and within 1 month I had 8 customers. By month 3 I had over 20 weekly customers. I was able to build from there. Good luck. You can do it without a lot of start up costs. What I found was that people dont care how pretty your equipment is. They only care if you get the job done right. I still have most of the customers I started with because I do it right.
08-24-2007, 12:21 PM
Welcome to our forum! Would you like to share with us what you have so far with your business plan?
What lessons would you say you have learned from the lawn care business you used to work at?
What do you plan on doing differently from what they did?
08-24-2007, 05:01 PM
My experience with the "big guys" was...well the only good thing I can say is that they paid fairly well. Their two biggest mistakes are the "cookie cutter" approach to lawncare (every lawn gets the same identical treatment) and the push to get the job done. They will force employees to look for a way to do the job regardless of the repercussions to the lawn or customer perception...only the revenue matters.
That will not happen in my business...end of story.
1.0 Executive Summary
Dandie Lawn will be a residential and commercial lawn and tree care service. Our target will be rural middle and upper class homes which owners cannot care for as well on their own. Most families in our target income bracket have moved here from another state and are unprepared for the challenges our semiarid climate creates for lawn and tree care. We will also provide our services to large commercial properties without full time property managers as well as to government entities with public or BLM lands. Our business profits will be largely seasonal so we will provide snow removal to help supplement the lean winter period. Our target community has been identified by Money Magazine as one of the nations top ten fastest growing economies as well as a leader in lender available housing with a median income around $60k.
The business will be structured as a sole proprietorship. The principal being (Me). For the past six years I have worked as a State licensed Operations Manager for the local (big guy). During that time I developed the expertise, management experience and business relationships to begin my own business.
The first year I will be the primary employee with commitments from two long time friends for some part time help. (My friend)will work as Lawn Specialist. He has five years experience in the industry and has been licensed for the past year. (He) also has family ties with the Military Contractor for the local Army installation, giving us a foot in the door for local government contracts. (My other friend)will work as the Office Manager. Her graphic design experience will be useful when creating our marketing materials, business cards and brochures. As demand warrants, I will hire additional part time labor.
The mission of Dandie Lawn is to provide personalized residential and commercial lawn/tree care service. We will maintain and build our client base by treating each property as if it were our own. Our commitment to excellence will always exceed our customer’s expectations.
My objectives for the first three years of operation are to:
★ Create a service-based business providing a pleasant alternative to “cookie cutter” lawn care.
★ Obtain 30 residential lawn care contracts, 10 commercial property contracts and 2 government contracts.
★ Increase number of client contracts served by 1%, 3% and 5% respectively.
★ Develop the business enough to outgrow its “home based” status sustainable by its own cash flow.
1.3 Keys to Success
The keys to achieving my goals for the first three years are:
★ Experienced licensed specialists with excellent customer service skills.
★ Timely, personal and professional service for all customers regardless of size.
★ Small size allowing personal communication with customers as well as direct supervision and training of employees.
2.0 Company Summary
Dandie Lawn will be offering a wide range of lawn/tree services on a weekly monthly or as needed basis with some customers receiving multiple services within the course of one visit.
2.1 Company Ownership
Dandie Lawn will be formed and operated as a sole proprietorship. As risk and revenue increase I will look more into Limited Liability options.
2.2 Start Up Summary
Dandie Lawns start up assets and expenses include:
Long Term Assets: Est. Value $18,500
● Vehicle: Owner is contributing a Jeep Wrangler.
● An enclosed utility trailer
● All Terrain Vehicle (utility) with attachments (snow blade, chem. sprayer, fert. spreader)
● Commercial Lawn Mower
● Residential Lawn Mower
● Snow thrower
● Pressure washer
● Business Phone
● GPS and digital camera (owner contributed)
Short Term Assets Est. Value $5,977
● Home Office Equipment: Owner contributing computer, printer, scanner, desk and file cabinet. Business, legal and accounting software.
● Weed trimmer
● Hedge trimmer
● Backpack leaf blower
● Backpack chemical sprayer
● Fertilizer spreader/thrower
● 6months chemical and fertilizer
● Standard tool kit small and major repairs (owner contributed)
● Misc. safety equipment (owner contributed)
Expenses Est. Value $10,923
● Legal and accounting
● $400k liability insurance policy (6-8mths.)
● Initial Operating cash
Dandie Lawn will initially provide residential and commercial lawn care service. Included will be mowing, edging, trimming, weed and insect control as well as bare ground vegetation control. Start up tree care will be limited to hedge trimming and some branch removal. During the winter months we will offer snow removal and salt service. As demand and revenue grow I will purchase the equipment necessary to expand our services provided. This will include tree insect control, lawn aeration, garden prep., rangeland and right of way services.
3.1 Service schedule
IN THIS AREA I HAVE A BAR GRAPH CALENDAR AND SERVICE SCHEDULE THAT I COULDN"T PASTE IN
4.0 Market Analysis Summary
Dandie Lawn will target middle to upper class households (>$50k) with above average size properties. Additionally we will focus on large and multi-site commercial properties. Standard canvassing, flyer and newspaper advertising techniques will be employed. I will also be using my business relationships to promote word of mouth exposure.
4.1 Market Segmentation
Dandie Lawn will focus on large residential properties in an effort to keep margins as high as possible. Commercially a unique opportunity has presented itself in that the largest local land care company has suddenly closed it’s doors. It is there that we will find our niche as property managers search for new service providers.
That's what I have so far except for the rough draft including strategies, personel plan, and financial plan. If I continue the road I'm on I will need to borrow around $20k...but if general opinion here recommends against that I might revise the business plan for a lower amount or pitch the entire thing all together and start the business "bare bones".
Thanks for any advice, Mitch
08-25-2007, 07:45 AM
Mitch that is great information. I sure do hope it helps others reading this.
My opinion is to start bare bones and grow from there. That should allow you to make many mistakes and still make it past them.
What would you say would be your biggest issue(s) with not taking out a loan?
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