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MLuciano
07-05-2008, 10:08 PM
I am new to this website and looking to start my landscaping company and having it all ready to go by next spring. I need as much advice as the experts can offer. I have 3 years of landscaping experience under my belt. I was the foreman of a friends residential landscaping company. This company will be a partnership and our primary means of income. Thank you

musician/lawnman
07-06-2008, 01:18 AM
What advice do you need man? Ya gotta be a little more specific...
There are about a billion things to consider, you could be asking about any of them?

Be careful with partnerships, I'll say that right up front. You get the "to many chiefs, not enough indians" syndrome & one always poors his heart, soul, & time into it while the other halfasses it & wants his cut just the same on friday.

Have a clear, conciece, defined agreement IN WRITING on expectations & responsibilities of each partner. What happens if you want to separate if it doesn't work out? Who gets the name? The equipment? The accounts?
Write it down, sign it & have it notarized before you put dollar # 1 into it.

How's that advice for starters...?

Steve
07-06-2008, 01:54 AM
Hi MLuciano,

Welcome to our forum!

I was wondering why you decided to not start until next spring? Why not start it up today?

What made you decide to start your own lawn care business?

MLuciano
07-06-2008, 02:11 PM
I was in the landscaping business with a friend of mine a couple years ago. He brought me on as his foreman for his personal company and I really enjoyed the work and helping run the company. Ive always wanted to own my own business and since I love working outdoors and doing landscaping this is a perfect fit for me. As for the specific questions I have about getting started, what I need to know is since my business will be out of NJ I need to know the licensing requirements, best way of advertisement, I plan on going door to door leaving flyers in paperboxes, and also leaving business cards and flyers at local businesses, and how to handle the billing and the easiest way to figure out what to charge to stay competitive. My old boss had a hard time with billing his customers and getting them to pay on time. I already have the equipment picked out to work with so that not a problem at all.

Steve
07-06-2008, 04:55 PM
Great questions!

As far as the billing and scheduling, download the 30 day free trial of Gopher Lawn Care Software (http://www.gophersoftware.com).

Licenses? Well you will probably need to register your business name with the county. Then you might need a township contractor license.

I like the marketing ideas you are planning on doing. I think those will help you land plenty of accounts.

StartALawnCareBusiness
07-06-2008, 05:03 PM
What billing method did your boss' company use? If you feel billing will be a problem with certain customers, adopt 'pay per mow' to assure you get your money or drop those customers and find ones that pay on time. From what I see, there is no lack of quick paying customers...only a lack of proper accounts receivable procedures.

Lots of people get started in lawn care to make quick money, set their own schedule, and have fun working outside. Realize early on that to truly be successful you have to treat this like any other business.

Doing the actual work of cutting grass is only one part of a larger organism. The rest of your business entails: advertising, cost estimation, equipment acquisition & maintenance, regulatory compliance, accounts payable and receivable, other accounting duties, personnel management, and customer relations.

Become a master at all the above duties or hire good people to do them for you.

Since you already have experience in lawn care/landscaping, what skill set have you acquired to be strong in the areas your previous company was weak?

Keith

MLuciano
07-06-2008, 05:30 PM
My old boss used to go around and leave the bills in the customers mailboxes and then they would just send in there payments. He was always complaining about chasing down late payments. My old company was weay in the areas of strong organization, weak advertisement anda lack of a strong accounting dept. Im going to advertise, advertise,advertise then advertise some more so my name is out there and perform outstanding work so word of mouth also helps me acquire more clients. I want to have all my customers sign binding contracts for a certain amount of time so there is less of a chance for lack or late payments. My partners wife has a degree in business and will be helping with all our books and accounting so that area shouldnt be a problem. How should I have my customers pay? Weekly, bi-weekly? What works best so I dont have to go chasing around customers for payment? Is there a way to charge a late payment fee or make them legally bound to the service?

andyjoneslawncare
07-30-2008, 10:19 PM
I'm really in no position to give advice, as I'm just getting started, but I'll tell you what I did. Instead of waiting until I had money to buy all the nice stuff and knowledge of the business (which you already have), I just jumped in with what I had. I got a residential ZTR mower at home depot, a friend gave me her push mower because I am now mowing her yard and she doesn't need it, and I bought all those expandit attachments for my weed wackers, like the blower, edger, trimmer, etc and pretty much walked up and down the isle at home depot supplying myself. I bought quickbooks for my invoices and came up with a list of friends that I called so I had 10 accounts before I even started. So far, because I show up on the same day every week, I get paid when I'm at the house or they leave money somewhere for me. I charge per cut which I'm not sure is the best way. The point is, I don't really know what I'm doing, I'm sure I'm making all kinds of mistakes, but next year I'll be 1 year wiser and I'll start with more clients than if I waited. I just wanted to get started. I'm not saying that I'm right and you're wrong, and you may think I'm foolish for doing it the way I'm doing it, but I just wanted to get going. I had friends want to be partners with me, which was tempting because I could've used the extra money, but I didn't want to have to vote on everything. I want everything to be on my schedule and on my terms. If I want corny business cards and my partner wants more professional ones, or if I want to knock door to door and he wants to send flyers, I just didn't want the headaches of it all. With my business, I want to be selling myself, not just the service. (No, I'm not talking about prostitution). What I mean is that my personality is part of what I'm selling, not just short grass. I'm reliable, on time, outgoing, etc. Thats why I used my name for the business name. My business cards say - My mom thinks I'm "special" and so will you! I actually just ordered hats with my logo that I'm giving to all my clients that say Andy Jones Lawn Care- His mom thinks he's "special" and so do I! Corny, yes, but thats my point. How would I ever talk a partner into that one?! I hope this helps in some way!

Steve
07-30-2008, 10:37 PM
LOL I love it. I wanna see pictures of all that! You need to get a picture of you in the center of a magnetic sign on your truck with that slogan written on it. FANTASTIC!

What's the biggest sticking point you feel right now?

andyjoneslawncare
07-30-2008, 11:06 PM
Great idea! A picture of me on the mower with with a big cheesy smile with 2 thumbs up and a sparkle on my teeth! As far as sticking points, I'm being told by some people to charge by the month, for less money but I'd be getting paid in the off season to balance everything out. I really had no idea of what to charge in general either. Some of my friends just told me what they used to be charged by other people so I kind of got an idea from that. I'm pretty much charging 30-35 per cut. Its just that 2 are on my block, and 2 are 20 minutes away (in opposite directions!) I just didn't want to say no to anyone when I was just starting out. Hopefully, I can get more accounts near those farther away homes to make it worth my while. I also mow a vacant lot 4 lots down the street from me for $15. Theres no edging, blowing, etc involved and I just drive the mower down the sidewalk after I'm done my own yard. In general, I'm just very inefficient. Finally, and obviously, I just need more accounts, but I know it just takes a little time. Its nice right now though because I'm kind of learning on my friend's yards, so they don't get too mad when I run over hidden pvc pipes from their well (last week). I'd rather make those mistakes with friends than strangers! Its definately a learning year, but tons of fun. Next year I'm planning to rule the world!

Steve
07-31-2008, 12:03 PM
Great idea! A picture of me on the mower with with a big cheesy smile with 2 thumbs up and a sparkle on my teeth! As far as sticking points,

All I can say is DO IT! I wanna see what you come up with.

I'm being told by some people to charge by the month, for less money but I'd be getting paid in the off season to balance everything out. I really had no idea of what to charge in general either.

You can do that. There are plenty of contracts in the free contract section above. I don't think most new business owners do that though. They tend to just get their feet wet and get their bearings straight for the first year. Then they start using contracts where you get paid an even amount across the entire year. It can be very helpful when you are trying to get those customers to resign with you for the next year because they are just used to paying you monthly. Let me know if you have more questions on it.

Some of my friends just told me what they used to be charged by other people so I kind of got an idea from that. I'm pretty much charging 30-35 per cut. Its just that 2 are on my block, and 2 are 20 minutes away (in opposite directions!) I just didn't want to say no to anyone when I was just starting out. Hopefully, I can get more accounts near those farther away homes to make it worth my while.

There is no doubt you want to go for tight routes. With minimal drive time between jobs. Become the golden child of your area and you will be able to do this. Get your name out and let everyone know who you are.

Also use the clover leaf marketing method. Read more here
http://lawnchat.com/?p=156

mario543k20
08-01-2008, 01:07 AM
wow, lots of great info in here. My parents work for the post office. I was driving around the other day with my younger sister, putting flyer's in peoples mailboxes. My mom said that the mailman has the right to take the flyer's out because there is no postage on them!! Isn't that crazy? I guess not, because if everyone did that mailmen wouldn't have a job, but hopefully the mailman was nice enough to leave my flyer's in. Just some advice for landscapers leaving flyer's in mailboxes... it might not be worth it.

Steve
08-01-2008, 11:38 AM
Oh absolutely. Thank you for reminding everyone of that.

I think it's illegal and you can get fined for it too. We have seen cases where the post office would call the lawn care business owner and warn them.

With both parents working for the post office, I bet they could help you put together some bulk mailings to your targeted market.

What will you be doing next now to promote yourself?

mario543k20
08-02-2008, 04:26 PM
Oh absolutely. Thank you for reminding everyone of that.

I think it's illegal and you can get fined for it too. We have seen cases where the post office would call the lawn care business owner and warn them.

With both parents working for the post office, I bet they could help you put together some bulk mailings to your targeted market.

What will you be doing next now to promote yourself?

I just made business cards last night. I ordered 500 and they should be here next week. I made a list of everyone I know and I'm going to reach out to them first. I was stupid to start with flyer's. I've created business cards and on the back I put, "referred by" who ever refers me will get a one time 10% kickback, cash of the property maintenanced. I also created a facebook group, (similar to myspace but more professional) and invited all my friends to join and spread the word!! I'm also going to look for local fund raiser's and donate a free cut, to get my name out there as well. I think I'm going to go to my town hall and register my company name this week. I'm so excited!!

Steve
08-02-2008, 04:54 PM
Great job!

Keep us posted on how all that turns out!