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gosbourne
02-11-2009, 09:10 AM
Hello

We are a locally owned landscaping company located in northern Cincinnati, Ohio. We have been in business for over 4 years now, and I noticed this forum a while ago and decided to join. We all grow in similar ways and we should get together and help each other when we can. After all there is plenty of grass growing and yards that need help for everyone. The passion for the outdoors and for helping people brought me to landscaping as well as I consider myself somewhat unemployable in the sense that I have a very strong entreprenuerial spirit, and the corporate life wasn't working for me personally. So here I am, living the dream so to speak.

Steve
02-11-2009, 10:16 AM
Hi gosbourne,

Welcome to our forum!

What advice do you have for the newer lawn care business owner just starting? How did you find yourself able to not become a statistic of business failures where 90% tend to fail within the first year or so?

gosbourne
02-12-2009, 12:03 AM
Steve,

Great question, and thanks for asking it, this is a very good topic to talk about.

Economies of scale- in laymanís terms, build as you grow. Don't get ahead of yourself or growth, and maximize the utility of what you have (equipment, labor, and marketing capacity).

Business Plan- the most important exercise for any business owner, and it isn't just for financing. I have a very simple saying, "perfect results requires perfect execution of a well thought out plan." A lot of people expect perfect results without a plan, and without perfect execution of anything. Don't get me wrong there is always a little bit on "winging it" in anything, because of Murphy's Law, and the Law of Unintended Results. Using S.M.A.R.T. goals is a must, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Allowing "margin" is also necessary. The more the better, but have some. They call it "profit margin" for a reason. This concept of margin applies to all aspects of business development and practice.

Business Development and Marketing- A very very big subject and is the one that gets all the attention. The art of getting and keeping customers is not as easy as mowing grass, but you have to do it like mowing the grass. I mean all the time! There isn't a down time for this activity. I couldn't give any better advice than that that is in all the books. What I would say is find what works for your area, and build on it. Doorhangers and a website are the two biggest bangs for the buck that I know of, other than building your referral team (friends, family, people you know, customers, neighbors, church community, people you meet while walking the dog or going to the store, and so on).

Well, this is a lot to think about, so I will stop for know

Let me know your thoughts?

Steve
02-12-2009, 10:23 AM
Great insight!

Economies of scale- in laymanís terms, build as you grow. Don't get ahead of yourself or growth, and maximize the utility of what you have (equipment, labor, and marketing capacity).

What do you feel a new lawn care business should get started with and when should they be scaling up to larger mowers or trailers? What is your view on how to finance the growth?

gosbourne
02-12-2009, 01:58 PM
We operate a completely debt free business. We paid as we went, and we always budgeted for growth. Steven Covey in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People he talks about beginning with the end in mind and first things first. Our vision is bigger than our first years profits and it is bigger than our fifth years profits. So we reinvested and continue to do so. This doesn't mean that we don't take some profits, but we utilize our margin to grow our business.

We got started with one Exmark Viking 48" walk-behing mower, a dingo trailer (short trailer), a Stihl combi system (weed eater, hedge trimmer), and Echo backpack blower. We utilized a 6 cylinder mini van with a hitch to pull the trailer. We hung our own doorhangers, flyers, and self promoted everywhere we were.

We financed by utilizing a small amount of our on hand capital, and we focused on getting enough of our first customers to pre pay for the season. This enabled us to by what we needed, and keep us in the black. Cash is still king, and it always buys more than credit.

I would like to hear other business owners start up stories, or hear how someone got their first commercial account.

Steve
02-12-2009, 02:13 PM
We financed by utilizing a small amount of our on hand capital, and we focused on getting enough of our first customers to pre pay for the season. This enabled us to by what we needed, and keep us in the black.

This is something we have talked about in the past and it seems to be a great way to really get cash flowing in the beginning of the season. Did you offer any inducements to get the customers to sign up and pay a year in advance?

gosbourne
02-12-2009, 09:15 PM
Yes, we gave a 10% discount, and this equates to about 2 free mows for the season. The way I look at it it saves us on overhead (billing, collections, and interest on credit). Another way to look at is they are receiving a bulk discount, just like any consumer would expect. So it is a Win-Win or no deal scenario.

Does anyone have any new and innovative offers to gain new business?

Steve
02-13-2009, 10:44 AM
Does anyone have any new and innovative offers to gain new business?

From all I have read on here, it seems like the two big ways of attracting customers is being a real people person and knowing lots of people and the other is having a website that places high on search engines for lawn care within your area.

Have you put together a website yet?

gosbourne
02-14-2009, 10:08 AM
Here is our website: www.grassTLC.com

Please review and give feedback. Also check out the survey, and try doing a google search for Elyon Landscape Management.

Let me know your thoughts

Steve
02-14-2009, 10:45 AM
I love the site.

I checked out your survey and I think you are asking some great questions. Would you like to make the text area bigger where people would be typing in text?

I included a screen shot of how the survey looks to me.

Here is the code from the site for one of the areas.

<input type="hidden" name="name_35" value="Questions or comments about our website, company, or services?">
<tr><td>
<font face='Arial' size='2' color='#333333'>

Questions or comments about our website, company, or services?

</font>
</td><td>
<textarea name="field_35" rows="" cols=""></textarea>
</td></tr>


Now what you can experiment with is putting the text area below the question and make the area wider.


<input type="hidden" name="name_35" value="Questions or comments about our website, company, or services?">
<tr><td colspan="2">
<font face='Arial' size='2' color='#333333'>

Questions or comments about our website, company, or services?

</font>
</td></tr>
<tr><td colspan="2">
<textarea name="field_35" rows="5" cols="50"></textarea>
</td></tr>


Notice I put the text area in a new <tr> and gave it values for the "rows "and the "cols". If you want to experiment with that, let me know how it works out.

gosbourne
02-18-2009, 03:51 PM
Steve,

Thanks for the advise and comments, and we are currently revamping our website. So all the comments and advise is welcome.

Does anyone else have any comments or suggestions?

Check our website: www.grassTLC.com

and please do a google search for us, Elyon Landscape Management and let me know what comes up.

Thanks,

Gerald