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  • Going fully licensed

    Hello All,

    I don't post that often, but I am about to make an important business decision and I would appreciate your feedback.

    I have been running now for two years part-time. We have a good group of clients, good equipment and things are going well. I am looking at taking it to the next level and I was wondering if any of you have made this jump before. In my state you have two groups of legitiment businesses.

    1. In this area Landscape maintenance is not regulated. Anyone with a mower can go out and start work. We fall in this catagory now. We pay our taxes, carry business licenses in the citys we work and have liability insurance.

    2. All of the above. In addition they have a license from the landscape contractors board. This is needed to do installs or modifications and to work on irrigation systems. In addition, you need an applicators license to apply herbicides (post and pre emergent) on any non-residental property.

    Most major contracts for commerical and municiple require the above licenses. The cost for the study material, testing, bonding, insurance and ongoing education is not cheap.

    Has anyone made this jump? I have been disqualified from federal and large commercial contracts because I don't have the needed credentials.

    Any thoughts and opinions are welcome.

  • #2
    We have seen many members make such a jump. Whether you should do it should be based on your future plans and goals. How do you see this move helping you? Where would you like to take your business once you took such a step?
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    • #3
      We have seen many members make such a jump. Whether you should do it should be based on your future plans and goals. How do you see this move helping you? Where would you like to take your business once you took such a step?
      Ah Steve, we can always count on you to respond to each post with a clarifing question. I like that.

      At the rate I'm moving, it is going to take years for me to build up a solid book of business that would be full time. We have added a good amount of clients, but all residental and minor commerical. With the additional credentials, we should be able to be competative with the "big boys" in town. The draw back is the major investment to get the licenses and then having the higher overhead immediately. The up side is we would be in the running for the $30k plus annual contracts.

      I imagine other guys out there have had this come up. Every state is different, but I imagine that you always have a level of seperation for the "guy with a mower" operation and the "big boy" large commercial operations.

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      • #4
        Coming from the chemical application side of the business I can only recommend you go for it. Your going to open up a lot more business opportunities, both commercial and residential.

        Speaking only for the two companies I have worked for in the past 6 years, chemical app and fert was where the money was at. From the people i've talked to, starting out can be expensive, but once you get established you should be good.

        If my plans work out where I casn get my business off the ground this year, then I plan on starting a program in the 2nd or 3rd year.

        Comment


        • #5
          This is really a great question you brought up.

          At the rate I'm moving, it is going to take years for me to build up a solid book of business that would be full time. We have added a good amount of clients, but all residental and minor commerical.
          Why do you feel this is the case though? And is this step you are considering merely going to cover up this issue but also add more overhead?
          - Subscribe to my Lawn Care Marketing Blog Feed and get daily tips sent to you. Free!
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          • #6
            This is really a great question you brought up.



            Why do you feel this is the case though? And is this step you are considering merely going to cover up this issue but also add more overhead?
            I don't know why. Maybe it's only being part-time that has a lot to do with it. I think an underlying issue is that there is just too many guys out there offering service at that level. It seems that everyone knows someone who is doing lawns, so it's hard to get in anywhere. Why would they hire me when they have their best friends brother-in-law who is out of work (just an example). The best clients I have are ones who came from my network, not any advertising. I have tried a little of everything. Internet, electronic billboard, door hangers, direct mail, news paper, etc. Nothing really brings in a good result for the investment. I know you all advocate going door to door, but that is really frowned upon in this area.

            So instead of being a little fish in a pond swaring with little fish, I thought I would try being a big fish with just a few other fish I am bumping up against.

            Don't get me wrong, the dozen clients or so I have gained in the last two years are excellent, but it's going to take me a dozen years at this rate. Also, I have capacity issues right now. I really can't take on much more work and work full time. So if I go the lawn route, I gotta land some big fish to make my mortgage

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            • #7
              The best clients I have are ones who came from my network, not any advertising. I have tried a little of everything. Internet, electronic billboard, door hangers, direct mail, news paper, etc. Nothing really brings in a good result for the investment. I know you all advocate going door to door, but that is really frowned upon in this area.
              The way you are doing it is the best way. Marketing through your social network should always bring you the best results. Then when you are looking to expand outwards, that is when the door to door can come in handy.

              Also, I have capacity issues right now. I really can't take on much more work and work full time.
              When you find yourself maxed out as far as time goes, while you are working another fulltime job, what is the plan to fit in more clients that may come in because of your new license?
              - Subscribe to my Lawn Care Marketing Blog Feed and get daily tips sent to you. Free!
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              • #8
                Take it from me Get the Licenses and all the insurances I'll be going on my 8th year in business and when I first started I had full time job started out mowing didn't want to get the licenses or insurance till I seen if the biz was going to be sucessful. First year in business I was turned into the city for not having a business Licenses and one of my million dollar homes i service, I was mowing one day and a rock shot out from mower and shattered a full glass screendoor well that cost me $500 bucks out of my pocket. That was it I became Licensed and Insured next day and 2nd year I made the decision that if I was ever going to grow my biz I had to give up the full timme job. I'm a firm believer that if you have the security of a full time job you will never put the effort to succeed and grow your business. Decision is yours rather or not you want to be part-time or grow into something you and your family can live the good life. Since I started business, my wife has quit work to take care of my book work, I owe no one anything, I pay cash for everything and yes quiting my full time job was scarey but I wouldnt be were i'm at today if I hadnt taken ahold of my destiny and went for it God Bless you in whatever path you choose
                2009 Jeep X
                2010 Jeep Ruby unlimited
                2005 Durango
                36" Toro Grandstand
                48" Toro Grandstand
                60" Toro Grandstand
                Billy Goat debris loader
                Toro Mini Track Loader
                2-82" by 12' Atlas Trailers
                Echo Backpack Blowers
                Echo Trimmers

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                • #9
                  Once you decided to go fulltime with the business, what kinds of things did you do to market the business. What did you find worked the best to help you grow it? Do you do more than just mowing etc?
                  http://www.lunchesruslawncare.com

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                  • #10
                    Once you decided to go fulltime with the business, what kinds of things did you do to market the business. What did you find worked the best to help you grow it? Do you do more than just mowing etc?
                    I do residential and commercial lawn service and snow removal, I don't do chemical apps, companys like chem lawn, tru green got prices so low not even worth my time or headache of all the epa paper work to mess with it. I also do window washing, power washing, holiday lighting, tree service, gutter clean out, and I do home repair. Just bought a F-550 service body truck to haul all my tools and equipment. I was spending to much time and miles having to go back to house to get things I needed so truck will eliminate all that and I'm going to also carry a little parts inventory also. As far as marketing my biz word of mouth and truck signing is all i do, I dont do phone books or flyers. I have a good network of customers that like my work and they tell others. I always ask when a customer calls how did you here about us. I like to keep it simple, I believe that if you do a good job your customers will tell a few of there friends and if you do a $hitty job they will tell all of them so my customers are my best advertisement. You want to grow ADD SERVICES , DO A GOOD JOB & DON'T LOWBALL
                    Last edited by Creagers Lawns; 12-26-2010, 09:30 PM.
                    2009 Jeep X
                    2010 Jeep Ruby unlimited
                    2005 Durango
                    36" Toro Grandstand
                    48" Toro Grandstand
                    60" Toro Grandstand
                    Billy Goat debris loader
                    Toro Mini Track Loader
                    2-82" by 12' Atlas Trailers
                    Echo Backpack Blowers
                    Echo Trimmers

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'm a firm believer that if you have the security of a full time job you will never put the effort to succeed and grow your business.
                      What is your view on why having a fulltime is actually a detriment? I think this is a situation a lot of lawn care business owners find themselves in.

                      Before you quit your fulltime job, was there something that made you finally snap and say ok I am going to do this or what happened?
                      - Subscribe to my Lawn Care Marketing Blog Feed and get daily tips sent to you. Free!
                      Download your Free trial of Gopher Lawn Care Software.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I was just looking into whether I needed a license as a landscaper in TX and this is what the .gov site says:

                        ****************************************-

                        Lawn Care and Landscaping by the Self-Employed
                        Lawn care and landscaping (other than pest control services requiring a license) are nontaxable when done by a self-employed individual who:

                        •does the actual lawn care or landscaping services;
                        •has no employees, partners or other persons providing the services;
                        •has gross receipts from the services of less than $5,000 during the most recent four calendar quarters.
                        If your income from landscaping and lawn care exceeds $5,000 during the most recent four calendar quarters, you must begin collecting tax on these services on the first day of the quarter after the threshold is exceeded. When your gross income from these services falls below $5,000 for the most recent four calendar quarters, the exemption resumes on the first day of the next quarter.

                        ****************************************-

                        So looks like I don't have to worry about getting a license until I make over $5000 in what I pay myself in one quarter. That will be a while. Any other reason you all think I should get one?

                        Matt

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Great Discussion!!

                          Ok, to address a couple of questions. I did have a full time job, I got layed off a week ago. I am deciding now whether to take my part time gig to the next level or pound the pavement and get another job.

                          I agree that having a full time job has held me back, I can only take on so much work and was content the last six monthes to working my m-f job, having a full Saturday of route work and booking clean ups and other misc on Sundays. It did make for a very long summer though. I also used a lot of vacation days to work other stuff during the week when I already had Sunday work booked.

                          I guess my real question is this.

                          Have any of you made the jump from "landscape maintenance" to being a "Landscaper". The difference being the landscaper being fully licensed to do installs and work on irrigation and backflows. This seems to be a key to major contracts. In Oregon you also have to have a license to apply fertilizer, herbicides etc to any non-residental property. Also a big key to commercial.

                          I know each state is different, but I imagine most states have that "line".

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            What is your view on why having a fulltime is actually a detriment? I think this is a situation a lot of lawn care business owners find themselves in.

                            Before you quit your fulltime job, was there something that made you finally snap and say ok I am going to do this or what happened?
                            When I was working fulltime I had the security of a steady income so I wasn't out trying to grow my biz and I wasn.t seeing any growth. It took my employer talking to me like I was some modern day slave to tell him you know what I don't need this $hit I got equipment and can make own money and make myself happy. It was scarey at first when you have a wife and 3 kids to just give up that security and go for it. I had know idea how things was going to turn out,but i knew if I didn't give it a shot I might still be working for the man making them rich. Now going into my 8th season I'm glad i did.
                            2009 Jeep X
                            2010 Jeep Ruby unlimited
                            2005 Durango
                            36" Toro Grandstand
                            48" Toro Grandstand
                            60" Toro Grandstand
                            Billy Goat debris loader
                            Toro Mini Track Loader
                            2-82" by 12' Atlas Trailers
                            Echo Backpack Blowers
                            Echo Trimmers

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              When I was working fulltime I had the security of a steady income so I wasn't out trying to grow my biz and I wasn.t seeing any growth. It took my employer talking to me like I was some modern day slave to tell him you know what I don't need this $hit I got equipment and can make own money and make myself happy. It was scarey at first when you have a wife and 3 kids to just give up that security and go for it. I had know idea how things was going to turn out,but i knew if I didn't give it a shot I might still be working for the man making them rich. Now going into my 8th season I'm glad i did.
                              That is an encouraging story! I never will go back and work for someone else!!!!

                              Matt

                              Comment

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