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Totally Green
06-23-2008, 03:47 PM
Hi,
My name is Gary. I opened my lawn care business on the 1st of May this year. It is owned and operated by me, my wife, my daughter and her husband. Now, only 8 weeks in and starting with "zip, zero, nadda" accounts, we now have 19 full time accounts with 27 full time properties. They range from weekly service to once every 3 weeks. I wasn't too wild about the three week cycle, but this client has 6 properties so I wasn't going to pass it up. I guess you could call me a "habitual business owner". I have had 9 businesses including this one. The first was in 1981 while I was still in the Air Force. Since retiring in 94' I have sold antiques, dabbled in EBay, bought and operated a second-hand store (still operating) and now I'm in the lawn care business. I must say, by far, this business shows the most promise. Even with gas prices and a full time employee, our profit margin is in the 20-30% range. My success so far has been helped in no small part by the information I've found on this website. I've listened to all of the videos (most more than once) and have dug through the forum threads as I have had time. For now, I work full time in my so called "real" job while my son-in-law handles the bidding and service work. We have set our sights very high for the future. We have one company that is the leader in our area. When I tell friends about my goals for our company, they always say "Oh, so you want to be the next <Company Name>?". My response is "No. In a few years <Company Name> will want to be the next Totally Green". Hopefully by next season, I will be running our second crew and looking for someone to start a third. So thank you and all of the forum members for the wealth of information you provide. Hopefully, I will be able to return the favor in the future.

Steve
06-23-2008, 07:03 PM
Hi Gary,

That is great! Welcome to our forum. I think many new business owners find themselves stuck in a rut, not able to get those new customers.

Could you share with us some insight as to how you got so many new customers so quickly?

What advice would you have for other new lawn care business startups?

Congratulations!

VPS Lawn Care
06-24-2008, 12:49 AM
Welcome always good to hear the sucsess stories. As Stev asked, we would love to know what approch you took in your marketing to grow your acct base so quick.

P.S. Steve has Bugs......LOL:D

Steve
06-24-2008, 07:29 PM
Sherman,

Did your post above, immediately show? I think it went to being moderated first and I am not sure why.

Totally Green
06-25-2008, 02:19 PM
I wish I could give myself full credit for all of my clients, but 9 of them came from a friend who is in the business. He is cutting back on his work and asked us to take them over (which we gladly did). As for the rest, including 3 new ones yesterday, we've use flyers in the paper (some with special offers and some without), door hangers, newspaper adds and business cards. Believe it or not, about 80% of our customers came from business cards. My daughter runs a paper route. While she is filling racks at service stations, she asks if she can leave cards. None have refused. She checks and restocks the about once a week. Also, we don't just lay the cards on the counter. I am a CAD drafter, so I designed a holder with our company name to place the cards in. It seems more professional and they stand out. I've attached my business card and the holder if anyone cares to look. Also, if anyone has a better holder design, I would love to see it. This one works well, but even with card stock, it could use just a little more rigidity. As for the flyers, wee still do them but we have cut way. I just do them occasionally along with the business cards to maintain name recognition. It must be working because I've had more than one person say "Man, everywhere I look I see Totally Green". Also, we still run a permanent newspaper add in the areas we service. We're about to try running adds on a local information channel on SuddenLink cable. You've probably seen them. A text page just rolls over from one ad to the next 24 hours a day. We're running two adds so we can double our exposure and appeal to two different groups. One ad will target customers who do not use a lawn service now and the other will target people who are unhappy with their current lawn service. It's mostly the older folks who what this channel and so far this group has been my most profitable. At $40 per ad per month, I think it's well worth a try. Thanks for everyone's interest. As you can see, I love to talk.

Totally Green
06-25-2008, 02:23 PM
Hi Steve,
My message did go through a moderator. Also, the reply I sent just now also said it would go through a moderator prior to posting.

Gary

Totally Green
06-25-2008, 02:31 PM
I forgot to add my attachments to my previous reply. This reply should include my business card and holder. I hope I did this right.

Gary

Steve
06-25-2008, 08:54 PM
Gary you got a lot going on!

Have you been able to apply your drafting skills to landscape design?

Also, what section of the newspaper do you advertise in? What do you suggest? Also what should a new lawn care business owner have in their newspaper ad?

Do you track your advertising?

Little's
06-26-2008, 01:08 AM
I forgot to add my attachments to my previous reply. This reply should include my business card and holder. I hope I did this right.

Gary

I would like to use this card holder template if you dont mind. I tried editing it in MS Word, but with no luck, I couldn't put my logo image over the holder image (not real handy with Word). How would you edit it, which program to use?
Thanks, Brandon

Totally Green
06-26-2008, 09:44 AM
I drew this in autocad but may be able to take out the logo and send it in a PDF file. I'm just not sure if the scale will be right. Maybe a better way is for me to add dimensions so that you can redraw it yourself. Let me know.

Gary

Totally Green
06-26-2008, 09:53 AM
Steve, I have not used autocad for landscaping purposes for a couple of reasons. First, I would probably need an add-on since AutoCad does not lend itself very well to freehand work. The second reason is that I just don't know enough about landscaping. My wife and daughter will be technical consultants when we are able to take that next step. As for advertising in the paper, we post in the services section in local papers and in the general section for regional papers such as the American Classifieds. We keep the ad short and sweet with just an attention getter line such as "Get Your Money's Worth". We then use bold and block so that we stand out on the page. This type of advertising has not been a big winner for us but if we can pull one or two clients a month, it more than pays for itself.

Totally Green
06-26-2008, 10:03 AM
I do track my advertising. I'm kind of a stickler for tracking everything. I believe this has already paid off though. Initially we hit flyers and door hangers hard. Door hangers got me nothing but some irritated home owners. Flyers were having a return of only about 1 per 1000. Granted, one good customer will pay for the flyers and we have never lost money on them, but we do all of our own design and printing. So the hours of work just didn't seem worth it. In contrast, 1500 bus cards cost me only $30-$35 and we get several calls from them. I don't expect this to last forever so we are always considering new ways and areas to concentrate on.

Totally Green
06-26-2008, 11:01 AM
Here are 2 PDF Files. Hopefully,you can use them. If you need anything else, drop me a line.

Little's
06-26-2008, 11:59 AM
Hey thanks Gary. I can adjust the size easily enough. Thanks again :)

Totally Green
06-26-2008, 04:38 PM
This is just a test to check my profile settings.

Steve
06-26-2008, 11:43 PM
Brandon, show us what you create!

Little's
06-27-2008, 12:30 AM
I can edit it for some reason. I can open it in adobe, but I dont think it can do any editing. Any ideas what I can use to add my own logo to it? Something free preferably. :confused:
Also I really like the way you can filter all the threads to show todays posts, and not just recent posts.

Steve
06-27-2008, 02:04 AM
Maybe Gary can put it into another format you can edit?

Also I really like the way you can filter all the threads to show todays posts, and not just recent posts.

I think you can click on the New Posts link in the brown bar above?

Little's
06-27-2008, 02:51 AM
Maybe Gary can put it into another format you can edit?



I think you can click on the New Posts link in the brown bar above?
Yes I like that I can either click to read the new posts, or under quick links, I can click to read todays posts. makes it easy to go back and read a post that I read earlier in the day without having to search for it by key word. :)

Totally Green
06-27-2008, 09:11 AM
Hi Brandon,
Here is the file in .JPG format. You should be able to open it with paint or some other editing program and add the text. If this doesn't work, send me the text you want and I'll add it to the holder.

Little's
06-27-2008, 11:27 AM
Hey Gary. Thanks a lot. I guess the trouble I was having was that I wanted to add my logo to the front of it. My logo is in jpg, and I couldnt figure out how to put a jpg on top of a jpg. I guess I can just put some text on there. I really appreciate your help. thanks a lot.

Steve
06-29-2008, 05:57 AM
I guess you could call me a "habitual business owner". I have had 9 businesses including this one. The first was in 1981 while I was still in the Air Force. Since retiring in 94' I have sold antiques, dabbled in EBay, bought and operated a second-hand store (still operating) and now I'm in the lawn care business.

Gary,

What concepts about running a business do you feel you are able to apply to your lawn care business that you learned from your other businesses?

VPS Lawn Care
06-29-2008, 11:15 AM
Steve not sure, but my post did not appear right a way, so i think it did go through one:confused:

Totally Green
06-30-2008, 10:24 AM
Hi Steve,
That's a good question. I think there are two areas which contribute significantly to the success or failure of any type of business. The first is name recognition. If a potential customer goes to the Yellow Pages for a service provider, your chance of being selected is basically the same as all the other providers in the list. We tried to choose a name that would be easy to remember. We then attempt to put our name out in the public to the extent that when people think of the word "lawn", they automatically think of "Totally Green". If we are successful, then we have given ourselves a distinct advantage over my competitors. The second area is customer service. It amazes me that some companies will mow over a piece of paper and shred it in a clients yard rather than taking 10 seconds to pick it up. The Air Force had a saying-"Ten at-a-boys are only worth one Oh S__t". People may not remember that you picked up a piece of paper but you can be sure they will remember when you shred one. A lot of the forum members have talked about this and I agree. Taking a little extra time and a little extra effort to give your client a service they may not pay for will, over time, pay off ten-fold.

jymie
02-27-2010, 06:24 AM
I designed a thinner card holder in excell. You can change the logo to your own. The long flap folds backward and down the front then tucks into the card hold area. It will hold about 30 cards.

jymie
02-27-2010, 06:47 AM
I designed a thinner card holder in excell. You can change the logo to your own. The long flap folds backward and down the front then tucks into the card hold area. It will hold about 30 cards.

Here is the template in jpg, I guess the excel one would not load....:mad:

Steve
02-27-2010, 02:01 PM
That is a great design! Where do you put them?

jymie
02-28-2010, 12:25 AM
My plan is to put them in stores, hopefully we can tape it to the front side of the cash register. Also they can go on bulliten boards. Of course we will need to get approval for this at each location.