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View Full Version : Hello from St.Pete Florida


jeffm1
10-01-2008, 08:58 PM
This is just a thread to say hello to everyone. My name is Jeff Miller, and I run a discount Lawn service in Pinellas county , Fl. I currantly have about
55 residential properties, and just finished a record cash season this Summer.

I have been checking out "getgopher.com" for a few months now and like the site and the sharing. I ordered the book on how to get Customers year round and am about half way through it- its been insightful.
Well, again this is just a note to say hello to everyone, until next time remember to "dream it, build it, gopher it!" :)

justin_time
10-01-2008, 09:07 PM
This is just a thread to say hello to everyone. My name is Jeff Miller, and I run a discount Lawn service in Pinellas county , Fl. I currantly have about
55 residential properties, and just finished a record cash season this Summer.

I have been checking out "getgopher.com" for a few months now and like the site and the sharing. I ordered the book on how to get Customers year round and am about half way through it- its been insightful.
Well, again this is just a note to say hello to everyone, until next time remember to "dream it, build it, gopher it!" :)

Hi Jeff,

Welcome to the forum

How long have you been in business to have 55 customers ? This is my 3rd summer and i'm only been at 35 customers or so.

Keep us posted

musician/lawnman
10-01-2008, 09:23 PM
Justin,

I thought you had gained more customers than that man?
What's going on up there dude? We need to talk bro!

I (We) ran 30 stops today. 1 of which was 3 empty lots (took some time), 1 house included weeding all the flower beds & trimming all bushes & trees, & 2 were new ones & were overgrown (over knee high & thick). I grossed over a grand in production today.

justin_time
10-01-2008, 10:00 PM
Well my computer says I have 37 active customers and 9 inactive... some of those inactive customers are because, they called me.. i've cut the grass sent the bill.. but they haven't payed yet..... some were just 1 shot deals... and some it's because they called me up.. they really need me then they call me back oh my husband is back at home.. there's a lockdown at work and we don't need you anymore kind of story... so yeah

I have a crappy trailer that's why my equipment seems to be breakin' all the time since it's bouncing around like crazy (Tip for beginner's... DON'T BUY CHEAP TRAILERS..)

So I got financed at my dealer for 5000$ so that will pay for the trailer.. and possibly a snowblower.

That's my story and I stick to that

Steve
10-01-2008, 10:18 PM
This is just a thread to say hello to everyone. My name is Jeff Miller, and I run a discount Lawn service in Pinellas county , Fl. I currantly have about
55 residential properties, and just finished a record cash season this Summer.

Hi Jeff,

Welcome to our forum! What kinds of things have you been doing to attract customers?

Also when you say a discount lawn service, what kinds of things do you do to stand out?

jeffm1
10-12-2008, 11:56 PM
Hello, thanks for your replies. I got 55 customers within 6 months of opening my lawn service full time last year. sometimes it swells to 65, and last winter it dropped to 35, but it currantly is about 55+.
In advertising, I use flyers door to door, getting out as many as 800+ in one day. In this area, you get about 2 calls every 300 flyers. I pass out thousands of flyers. Then I also get referrals, thats probibly 1 out of 5 customers. I also advertise in a local paper called "the flyer"- a recent 4 week ad in this paper produced maybe 14 calls, and resulted in a few new customers, one of which was a much needed monthly contract. So these three methods, flyers, referrals, and an ad in a popular local paper are how I get the customers. But an insider tip I learned from the TV show "the apprentice" I would have to credit also. I watch any TV show that I could learn something about business from, so I watch the apprentice and I noticed it was usually the team that pushed it, that won. So I adopted this in my efforts when passing out flyers, and time and time again I have seen it work. That I will be out passing out flyers and feel like ending the effort(afterall I'm the boss,I can quit when I want-right?) but I would pretend I was on the apprentice and push onward disributing far more flyers so I could stay out of the boardroom, so to speak, and sure enough, I would get calls usually from the additional flyers I distributed. So this insight is key to building up a big list soon- push it!!!! Just pretend you'll have to stand in front of Donald trump if your team loses, and that you maybe fired, then really push it.
This insight has gotten me probibly 30% of all my customers.
I hope this helps you all.

XtreemGreen
10-13-2008, 09:56 AM
Im just a few miles north of you. When you say "discount" are you offering a discount or offering real cheap lawn service?

Steve
10-13-2008, 03:48 PM
Then I also get referrals, thats probibly 1 out of 5 customers.

Do you do anything to promote referrals? Do you have any suggestions on how to get them?

jeffm1
10-14-2008, 11:54 PM
To answer the referral question, I do stuff like give a customer a thank you card, thanking them for their continual business, and I'll include a business card asking them to refer anyone they know to me, to give them the extra business card. But I find most referrals come naturally from the customers voluntairly, because they like the good work you do for them and want to share your service.
To answer the discount question-When I asked around what the average price for yards nowdays in this part of Florida, I was told $30 is still cheap, so I set my prices at $25 to $30 per cut unless they want a contract. Little yard I'll do for $20. I find that $25 is really the lowest you can charge if your going to have any tax money to pay taxes with. That if you go below $25, you may make some money, but not enough to bank tax money and winter cash reserves. So I dont look upon my service as a "really cheap lawn service", but rather as a "best deal" service giving the people the best deal.
I work alone, unless I'm backed up, I use a small truck, I group customers in the same sector of the county on the same day, ect. ect. - anything to save money, so that even with my cheap prices I make a substancial profit. This summer of 2008 I averaged probibly $1,100 per week gross.
I hope this answers the questions.

XtreemGreen
10-15-2008, 10:17 AM
To answer the referral question, I do stuff like give a customer a thank you card, thanking them for their continual business, and I'll include a business card asking them to refer anyone they know to me, to give them the extra business card. But I find most referrals come naturally from the customers voluntairly, because they like the good work you do for them and want to share your service.
To answer the discount question-When I asked around what the average price for yards nowdays in this part of Florida, I was told $30 is still cheap, so I set my prices at $25 to $30 per cut unless they want a contract. Little yard I'll do for $20. I find that $25 is really the lowest you can charge if your going to have any tax money to pay taxes with. That if you go below $25, you may make some money, but not enough to bank tax money and winter cash reserves. So I dont look upon my service as a "really cheap lawn service", but rather as a "best deal" service giving the people the best deal.
I work alone, unless I'm backed up, I use a small truck, I group customers in the same sector of the county on the same day, ect. ect. - anything to save money, so that even with my cheap prices I make a substancial profit. This summer of 2008 I averaged probibly $1,100 per week gross.
I hope this answers the questions.

You are doing alot better than I am. This area is really low on prices. Im talking your average $25 yard is going for $15 maybe $20 around here. The average monthly is $65 per month. Since I moved out to Pasco county, I havent been able to get more than 20 accounts because I always over bid. but my bids are the same as I was using in Hillsborough county 5 years ago. Im really thinking on trying to service a different part of Hillsborough county(closer to home) and see what I can do out there.

jeffm1
10-15-2008, 11:47 AM
Sorry to hear of the cheap asses up in Pasco county. I took the entreprenurial academy course offered by the St.Pete chamber of commerce before I started this business and one of the things we were taught was that you always charge what you need- not what customers are willing to pay.
That 10 customers who pay $25 for example, are better then 17 who are only willing to kick you $15. I get less customers with the rates I insist on
but the ones I do get, are paying what I need. To hell with working all day to make $100 from a bunch of cheap asses, I can go do 4 properties and make that in a few hours. So my advice is stand strong, charge what you need and just take a part time job till you can get a big enough list to go full time. The people up in Pasco are hoping you'll break and except the tiny fee
because you need the money, but all you lawn services up there have got to stand united and get your rates up. I keep a CDL drivers License, and a diploma in Construction, as back up in case I have to go back to work for others- that I would take a job and just keep my best customers who pay the most if I had to because the people here become cheap and try to get the rates down. Good Luck to you.

XtreemGreen
10-15-2008, 03:09 PM
I think my best bet is to just get out of this area. Maybe head towards land O' lakes or something.

Steve
10-15-2008, 04:58 PM
I took the entreprenurial academy course offered by the St.Pete chamber of commerce before I started this business

That is fascinating! How long was the course? What other interesting things stand out from taking that class? Were there a lot of others taking it too?

legendlawn
10-15-2008, 05:43 PM
When I was in high school I was involved in a two year program called Youth Entrepreneurs of Kansas. It was started by Charles Koch who owns Koch Industries. They are the largest privately owned company in the nation. Anyways, I found this program to be very influential and motivational to me becoming a entrepreneur. One of our projects was to create a business plan, simulate a business and then present that plan to a panel of judges. Very cool. They are looking to take Y.E.K. nationwide and just started a program in Atlanta Public Schools.
Jeff- you are very correct about charging what you need not what the customer will pay. Xtreme Green- I suggest that you set a minimum charge. Mine is $35. Also it is best to take all of your records and find out what your cost per yard is including payroll, payroll taxes etc. Use this to set your minimum charge.

Also I am curious to know....Those of you who are getting $15, $20, $25 a yard, Is that mow, trim, edge, and blow? If so that seems ridicuously low.

XtreemGreen
10-15-2008, 06:21 PM
I invite any of you to come to my area and try to get anything more than $25 a cut or $100 per month. Oh and that $100 per month includes trimming hedges, bed maintenance.

legendlawn
10-15-2008, 08:28 PM
Wow.

What are gas prices down there? Do you have any employees, or is it just yourself?

XtreemGreen
10-15-2008, 09:13 PM
Around here they just hit $2.99 today.
I work alone 99% of the time.

jeffm1
10-16-2008, 07:15 PM
Hey steve, the entrepreneurial academy was 10 weeks long and cost $195 to take, but if you joined the Chamber of Commerce afterwards, they deducted $195 from your first years membership.($300+ per year).
They covered alot- the course was excellent, worth double what they charged. The goal of the course was to reduce the high statisic of business failures, by having successful business people from the community come in and teach a class and take questions from the wanna-be business people.
They have graduated about 1,100 people so far, with maybe 25 to each class. A new class starts each quarter. The course has spread to many counties in Florida now. Probibly the subject that interested me most was on the internet. For 3 hours a man taught us of the Internet and said he could not explain everything in 3 days, he made the internet seem full of possibilities. Getgopher.com is what he showed us- that you could do neat stuff with the internet like your doing with this website.

Steve
10-16-2008, 08:20 PM
Getgopher.com is what he showed us- that you could do neat stuff with the internet like your doing with this website.

That is fascinating! He talked about our site? To talk about the software, the forum or in what context?

jeffm1
10-16-2008, 11:18 PM
No he did not talk of your site specifically, I meant your great use of the Internet, that getgopher.com is what he was showing us was possible. That you have a great site and set-up like he said was possible.

legendlawn
10-17-2008, 08:26 AM
Sounds like a very good program Jeff. How did you hear about it when you were thinking of starting your business? Is the program well publicized in your community?

jeffm1
10-17-2008, 11:03 PM
I just stopped in the Chamber of Commerce one day, looking at brochures they offer and I noticed the brochure on the course and the reasonable price
and thought I would go ahead and take it to try to get the business knowledge I already had more professional.
So what was this youth program you took about? It sounded pretty neat. I wish I had learned more of money making at a young age.