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View Full Version : My area is FULL of residential!


Travor
08-07-2009, 05:05 AM
I live in NW Houston and my immediate area is FULL of residentials. Seriously, My subdivision is almost 1000 homes and there are a ton of neighborhoods all around me!

My question is, how far should travel? I can go 1 mile to the north, east, west, or south and be inside residential nearly the entire time! Seems like since my area is so dense that I can really keep it tight.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Steve
08-07-2009, 05:33 AM
Hi Travor,

Welcome to our forum!

My question is, how far should travel? I can go 1 mile to the north, east, west, or south and be inside residential nearly the entire time! Seems like since my area is so dense that I can really keep it tight.

That is fantastic! It seems like you are going to be all set. With that many homes in your area and not having to travel more than a few miles in any direction, you got a great place to get started.

What are you doing to promote your lawn care business?

Travor
08-07-2009, 05:40 AM
Hi Travor,

Welcome to our forum!



That is fantastic! It seems like you are going to be all set. With that many homes in your area and not having to travel more than a few miles in any direction, you got a great place to get started.

What are you doing to promote your lawn care business?
Thanks for the warm welcome, Steve.

I'm just about done with my 4x8 trailer, just needs the sides put on and license plates. Then I'll go to Hobby Lobby and buy a couple of those 1/4" thick poster boards and get some vinyl lettering made up at my local printer. Those boards will be attached to the trailer sides.

About 3 years ago I was doing some lawn care residential work with a Ford Focus towing a tiny trailer! :D I had about 7 (or so) clients, all through advertising on Craigslist.

Steve
08-07-2009, 06:07 AM
About 3 years ago I was doing some lawn care residential work with a Ford Focus towing a tiny trailer! I had about 7 (or so) clients, all through advertising on Craigslist.

Did you take any pictures of that? I'd love to see it!

Also, take some pictures of your new setup.

Why did you previously shut down your operation? Are you glad you got it going again? Did you learn any lessons from previously doing it that will help you get started faster this time around?

Travor
08-07-2009, 07:08 AM
Did you take any pictures of that? I'd love to see it!

Also, take some pictures of your new setup.

Why did you previously shut down your operation? Are you glad you got it going again? Did you learn any lessons from previously doing it that will help you get started faster this time around?
I'm kicking myself now for not taking any pictures. :) It was a pretty funny sight to see: my 33" Sutech would just barely fit on the trailer! :D

I stopped service at the end of summer, mostly because it was my 1st time doing it and I did it all wrong. Even though I only had a handful of clients, they were spread out all over. 2 of them ended up not paying for a couple of services and it really got me down. Frustrated, I started doing the math and found I could earn more working at a fast food restaurant rather than bust my tail in the heat (and not get paid by a couple of deadbeats). :(

I got rid of my 33" w/b and all I have is a 21" push. I kept my Echo trimmer and Echo edger; plus I have a Husqvarna blower. All that to say that my equipment is paid for. It may take longer to get clients in a close group but I totally think it's worth it. I also learned that I can't say "yes" to someone out of the way just so I can make an extra buck. Sure, if I flyer the area that 1 client can turn into 2, then 3, and so on.

Steve
08-07-2009, 07:41 AM
If you could offer some advice to others just getting started, what would you tell them to watch out for and what advice would you suggest to overcome those issues?

jasonw
08-07-2009, 01:45 PM
The farthest I have traveled from home is a little over an hour. Sometimes you have to go far for work.

Steve
08-07-2009, 04:14 PM
The farthest I have traveled from home is a little over an hour. Sometimes you have to go far for work.

What do you feel is the average distance of a customer for you?

Travor
08-08-2009, 12:02 AM
If you could offer some advice to others just getting started, what would you tell them to watch out for and what advice would you suggest to overcome those issues?
What to "watch out for" ... hmmm... :)

If a customer "skips" a payment, trust your gut feeling. If they don't pay you for a $30 lawn service job and you keep servicing the lawn weekly, the chances of collecting $90 or $120 will be tough.

When you're starting out, you'll take just about any lawn to get some money rolling in. Think hard about how far you're willing to travel for that 1 lawn. You might get 2 more lawns in the neighborhood but there is no guarantee on that. After a month of driving xx miles to that 1 lawn (and burning a lot of gas) you will eventually start to find a way to drop them. The customer doesn't care if you're driving 1 mile or 20; they know the market price for their lawn so adding a fuel surcharge is almost out of the question.

If you have 2 (or more) lawns in the same neighborhood, try to service them on the same day. I had 2 houses, 1 across the street from the other, and they were both bi-weekly. As you can guess, 1 lawn was on the 1st week and the other lawn was on the 2nd week. I was wasting a lot of time and gas going to their neighborhood every week to do 1 lawn instead of every 2 weeks and doing 2 lawns.

Equipment/supplies: you might think that you have enough gas and don't need to fill up the cans. Or, you have your 50:1 mix but don't have any more oil. Trust me, you better fill up your gas cans and get another bottle of oil mix! Also, if you think you just loaded your string trimmer with line and you're "good to go" for another week, think again! Take more line! Take a small toolkit, gloves, ear plugs, etc.

Keep a good eye on your equipment! When you go in the backyard and you can't see your stuff you better have it locked down. Gas cans and rakes are cheap enough and easy to replace. My Echo trimmer and Echo edger cost me a lot of money (and the thieves know this). There are actually guys out there that drive around all day long acquiring commercial lawn equipment!

The customer is your boss. I always addressed my clients as Ms. [last name] and Mr. [last name] in my conversations and emails. If they say you left a part of the driveway with clippings, apologize and give them $5 off the next service (or whatever you decide is fair). At the worst, they'll drop you if they think you messed up again but at least you made $$$ (minus the small discount). Best case, you're building trust and rapport and you'll be banking more $$$ as a result of that little discount.

Don't say "yes" to everything. I took 1 guy that was WAY out of my normal area and he kept asking me if I would pull weeds, trim bushes, etc. I thought I was going over there for a cut, trim, edge, blow and to make a long story short I ended up being 2 hours late to my regular full-time job because this guy kept me doing "stuff." It's my fault for not taking control but it's hard to say "no" since you're already there and you'll earn $$$. I can't even imagine what would have happened if I had 4 more lawns to do that day! :eek:

If you're a solo operator (like I was), you're not going to finish a lawn in the same amount of time as 3 guys working a lawn. That was 1 thing that really got me down too. Let's say you can get a small lawn for $35/week. It takes you 20 minutes to get there (start the stopwatch when you grab your keys). 30 to 45 minutes to do the lawn and back home inside the house is another 20 minutes (stop the stopwatch when everything is put away and you sit down). That's 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes for $35, or about $23/hour. You'll be surprised how much time you actually spend doing someone's lawn if you use a stopwatch. Even easier, how long does it take you to run down to the hardware store to pick something up? Even though you may think you're only gone 15 mins it's more like 30. Now imagine hooking up a trailer, making sure you have everything, blah blah blah... :rolleyes:

That's all I can remember right now and it's not in any particular order. These are my own experiences and, as they say, the best lesson learned is the one learned the hard way! ;)

jasonw
08-08-2009, 01:59 AM
What do you feel is the average distance of a customer for you?

Steve. For me at least a half hour is the average. I do live in a very rural area though. Our closest Walmart is 2 cities over so its not uncommon for service operators to drive 30-45 minutes to a call.

Travor
08-10-2009, 01:15 AM
Steve. For me at least a half hour is the average. I do live in a very rural area though. Our closest Walmart is 2 cities over so its not uncommon for service operators to drive 30-45 minutes to a call.
Hey Jason,
I lived in a small town, Hutchinson, MN for 1 summer. Even though I lived about 3 miles in the "country" when I got in "town" everything was pretty much condensed into 1 area. There were quite a few neighborhoods in town, enough to keep any LCO busy. Of course there are homes spread out all over the surrounding area but the concentration was pretty tight.

Steve
08-10-2009, 05:44 AM
If you're a solo operator (like I was), you're not going to finish a lawn in the same amount of time as 3 guys working a lawn. That was 1 thing that really got me down too. Let's say you can get a small lawn for $35/week. It takes you 20 minutes to get there (start the stopwatch when you grab your keys). 30 to 45 minutes to do the lawn and back home inside the house is another 20 minutes (stop the stopwatch when everything is put away and you sit down). That's 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes for $35, or about $23/hour. You'll be surprised how much time you actually spend doing someone's lawn if you use a stopwatch.

Did you charge them differently or do anything differently once you found out how much time you really were spending on the property?

jasonw
08-10-2009, 09:22 AM
Hey Jason,
I lived in a small town, Hutchinson, MN for 1 summer. Even though I lived about 3 miles in the "country" when I got in "town" everything was pretty much condensed into 1 area. There were quite a few neighborhoods in town, enough to keep any LCO busy. Of course there are homes spread out all over the surrounding area but the concentration was pretty tight.

I wish it were that way here. I may drive 1 hour to a town then turn around and drive 45 minute south to another town and after that possible drive 1.15 hours north to the next county and yet a different town over. My county is approximately 605 square miles with only 6 incorporated cities and a few unincorporated areas. Makes for a little of miles on the road each day.

Travor
08-10-2009, 10:17 AM
I wish it were that way here. I may drive 1 hour to a town then turn around and drive 45 minute south to another town and after that possible drive 1.15 hours north to the next county and yet a different town over. My county is approximately 605 square miles with only 6 incorporated cities and a few unincorporated areas. Makes for a little of miles on the road each day.
Wow, that IS a lot of driving! :eek: Do you (and other lawn companies) charge a little "extra" because of all the gas you burn?

jasonw
08-10-2009, 01:48 PM
Wow, that IS a lot of driving! :eek: Do you (and other lawn companies) charge a little "extra" because of all the gas you burn?

Some here may remember me talking about a $10 surcharge for anything over a 20 minute drive but I do not charge that anyway. I really have no extra charge for gas. I simply spend a lot of time scheduling to try and get a hole area in one day then another area the next day, I also use my navigation to organize my routs for gas savings, remember the shortest rout is not always the fastest and visaversa.