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  • affordablelawnmgmt
    started a topic Help from EXPERIENCED PROS...

    Help from EXPERIENCED PROS...

    This site has been very helpful in giving me information on some things I did not fully understand about landscaping. So thanks to all the guys who take the time to post relevant and knowledgeable info, it is greatly appreciated.

    I need a few tips from some of the more experienced guys on here. I have been in landscaping for 10+ years and I am currently 23 and finishing my last year of college. I was taught at a young age that hard work gets you where you need to go, so I started young and worked through middle school and high school with my uncles company. I have cut thousands of yards over the years and have mastered that aspect of landscaping. My real question is for the guys who have knowledge of expanding. I work with my uncles company which gives me access to zero turn mowers,weed eaters, edgers, etc... I started my own company last summer while also working with him. I made around $10,000 from March to November on my own. I am planning on going to my local bank this week to ask for a 1-4K loan to fix a truck I have obtained and also to finish the customized trailer I have been working on. Will I have any problem obtaining this small loan? I already have my business account and have good records showing revenues, expenses, etc. My business makes MONEY I dont waste money on things trying to be the COOL company. I bust my *** and I am there %100 percent of all jobs. My customers have never complained and I put an emphasis on customer satisfaction. I have around 20-25 accounts so far and thats without hardly any marketing. I am working on a big marketing plan that I have been developing over the winter using some methods and strategies I have been learning in my business administration school. I really expect to gain many customers and I need to be able to meet demand. I have been doing all the work myself in order to increase profit. It has been exhausting so I am hiring one person to help me this summer to ease the load. I have developed strategies to cut down the time it takes to do mulching, mowing, and other things which involves taking care of lawns so I am able to perform high quality work for lower prices. My degree is in human resource management so I am constantly looking for ways to speed up processes and cut down businesses costs. I am very innovative and look for things that others do not when they see a landscaping job, I am always expanding my knowledge so any tips or info from people who have went through this stage in their company would help me out. Thanks in advance!

  • Steve
    replied
    Any tips/advice moving forward would be huge?
    Instead of one lawn care postcard, you could consider having multiple cards designed that promote different services. One for lawn care, one for hedge trimming, one for stump grinding, etc.

    Then when you are out driving around, you will see different properties that have different issues. Hand them a targeted card that focuses on their specific issue and you may find you get more customers, quicker.

    Lawn care postcards and why they are a good form of marketing.

    Leave a comment:


  • SNethercutt
    replied
    The bank won't give you a loan based on your business income. They will ask for 3 years of tax returns to verify your income.

    You would have better luck trying to get a personal loan based off your employment with your uncle.

    You could possibly get a business startup loan. But the interest is astronomical and typically not worth it. And being in the landscape business, I doubt you get one. Everybody and their uncle can start a landscape business, no pun intended.

    Leave a comment:


  • affordablelawnmgmt
    replied
    One of the most successful smaller ad campaigns we did was to go to a golf course community (where they build a subdivision around a golf course). The properties are small (5,000 SF). You could do it on any subdivision where the properties are relatively the same size throughout.

    What we did was we made a 8.5 x 5.5"post card with an annual package price for the season and sold it as a monthly payment. We took an average price for mowing X 28 wks, added in spring & fall cleanups, and a fertilizer program, and priced it at $99.00/mo for 10 months. We ended up with 15% of the community the first season.

    Price it as if you are going to get 10 or more. Pass on SOME of the savings for less travel time. We averaged 7 properties per hour with 3 men (1-48", 1-36", and 1 -trim/blow).

    I think with the pricing right on the postcard, there was no mystery for them. Either they wanted it or not. My mistake is that I didn't repeat it. I should have re-did it 2 more times 2-3 weeks apart.

    Another tip: Know your overhead. Price out everything you will spend and divide it over your season. We have 35 or so weeks here. I cut only 4 days/ week. I break my overhead down to the hour so I know what it costs us.
    (ie: $35,000 per year/ 35 weeks = $1,000 per week/ 4 days = $250 per day/8.5 hrs per day = $29.64/ hr for overhead) Now add your labor & taxes and you know your cost per hour and what you need to charge. Too many guys don't know their real costs. Make sure you bank $$ for winter bills. Sorry for long post.

    Man its no problem at all thanks for the advice, I have been working for my uncle for a while now doing landscaping and learned a lot from it. So any help with expansion is greatly appreciated from people who have been there starting out. I am running a 1 man crew right now and have about 30 accounts. I have retained all of my accounts from my first year, my customers like me because I show them respect and provide a high quality service to them.I am looking at one more marketing campaign aimed for this year to attempt to get 15-20 new accounts. I have a postcard created that I think will do really well. With many upper class neighborhoods in my area will it be more cost effective to create my own mailing list or to target specific yards that look like they need maintenance, or simply purchase a mailing list, which seems expensive. Everything I have done has been done by myself through flyers/business cards, and word of mouth as I do a really good job in order to receive referrals. Any tips/advice moving forward would be huge?

    Leave a comment:


  • Bob E
    replied
    One of the most successful smaller ad campaigns we did was to go to a golf course community (where they build a subdivision around a golf course). The properties are small (5,000 SF). You could do it on any subdivision where the properties are relatively the same size throughout.

    What we did was we made a 8.5 x 5.5"post card with an annual package price for the season and sold it as a monthly payment. We took an average price for mowing X 28 wks, added in spring & fall cleanups, and a fertilizer program, and priced it at $99.00/mo for 10 months. We ended up with 15% of the community the first season.

    Price it as if you are going to get 10 or more. Pass on SOME of the savings for less travel time. We averaged 7 properties per hour with 3 men (1-48", 1-36", and 1 -trim/blow).

    I think with the pricing right on the postcard, there was no mystery for them. Either they wanted it or not. My mistake is that I didn't repeat it. I should have re-did it 2 more times 2-3 weeks apart.

    Another tip: Know your overhead. Price out everything you will spend and divide it over your season. We have 35 or so weeks here. I cut only 4 days/ week. I break my overhead down to the hour so I know what it costs us.
    (ie: $35,000 per year/ 35 weeks = $1,000 per week/ 4 days = $250 per day/8.5 hrs per day = $29.64/ hr for overhead) Now add your labor & taxes and you know your cost per hour and what you need to charge. Too many guys don't know their real costs. Make sure you bank $$ for winter bills. Sorry for long post.

    Leave a comment:


  • bruces
    replied
    in an earlier post you mention your costs are only your gas because your boss is supplying the equipment ,I just wanted to say that because your getting equipment free now,doesnt mean it will always be that way ,so for pricing work,be sure to include the costs associated with the purchase and upkeep of equipment .And if I was your boss ,even if it wasent mentioned in our deal ,I would really appreciate a few bucks now and then for the use of my equipment .

    Leave a comment:


  • affordablelawnmgmt
    replied
    Good to hear you are growing. Don't lose track of marketing your business. We all get tied up in the equipment & stuff, and forget that marketing is JOB #1.

    If you can pick up 10-15 new customers, those deposits will help you with your repairs (I always get a 1 month deposit at contract). Then, figure out how many more customers it takes to hire someone to take your spot on the crew. I'm at a place now that if I continue working on the crew, I lose focus of my business and I lose sales & control.

    You mentioned you like to increase efficiency, but don't do it just so you can lower your pricing. That is well earned profit. It's like the guy who buys a $12,000 mower and cuts his mowing time by half, and then drops his mowing price because it takes less time. That defeats the reason to spend capital to increase your efficiency.

    Good luck!

    Thanks for the insight. I had to step back and take in to account what you said, because it is 100% true. Strategic marketing was how I developed this business in the first place. I have began to devote more of my time to working on my marketing plan for 2013, and put the equipment on the back burner for a couple of weeks. I am preparing my 2013 flyer for new customers and newsletter for my current customer describing the new features that I will be offering this season. Any ideas you have for marketing strategy would be appreciated. I will be mainly using flyers as it has worked very well for me in the past. I am mapping out major subdivisions, rental properties, real estate agents, and other places that I believe will me good targets. I have always kept my customers once I get them I just have to get my foot in the door with their being so many people in the business today. I treat all my customers with the utmost respect and they really appreciate someone doing good business.

    Leave a comment:


  • kslawn
    replied
    you may also inquire about a line of credit with your bank for a few thousand,that way you can use the money as you need it and only pay on what you use,same as a credit card, but cheaper interest rates for sure...

    Leave a comment:


  • Bob E
    replied
    Good to hear you are growing. Don't lose track of marketing your business. We all get tied up in the equipment & stuff, and forget that marketing is JOB #1.

    If you can pick up 10-15 new customers, those deposits will help you with your repairs (I always get a 1 month deposit at contract). Then, figure out how many more customers it takes to hire someone to take your spot on the crew. I'm at a place now that if I continue working on the crew, I lose focus of my business and I lose sales & control.

    You mentioned you like to increase efficiency, but don't do it just so you can lower your pricing. That is well earned profit. It's like the guy who buys a $12,000 mower and cuts his mowing time by half, and then drops his mowing price because it takes less time. That defeats the reason to spend capital to increase your efficiency.

    Good luck!

    Leave a comment:


  • Steve
    replied
    I am glad to hear it! Keep us posted on how everything goes with all this.

    Leave a comment:


  • affordablelawnmgmt
    replied
    With the right amount of pacing in this field, you shouldn't need a loan.

    I understand that a vehicle is a pretty big necessity and it's easy to get ahead of ourselves, but you're better off asking family to help you with the repair bill versus the banks.

    If your family is unwilling, you're better off purchasing a working vehicle by working for someone else longer to make money, before going into business for yourself. You will have a greater advantage than starting near bankrupt.

    As for making 10K per your first season, congrats, this is normal for those on the right track; however, $10K turns into something like $8K after taxes, and then that can turn into $4-6K with operation costs alone.

    From what I'm assuming, your business is safe, but there isn't a lot of money going into your pocket, and you don't have the ability to afford new purchases yet. There's no need to rush for you.

    If you're really hurting to get a vehicle so that you can supply your current clients, any vehicle will do so long as it can last you at least a year.

    Pick up a junker for $1k of kijiji or craigslist maybe?


    Yeah I am leaning towards doing what I can without the loan. I have access to my uncles company truck/trailer so I am going to wait until money starts rolling in before I complete my truck/trailer. I don't wanna go into debt this early the more I think about. My operation costs consist of almost nothing but gas because my boss takes care of maintenance because I work with him also. So everything I make is into my pocket. I am just trying to get my own stuff running because I like being my own boss lol I plan on doubling if not tripling my accounts this summer so I need to be able to meet demand so I am getting anxious to start. Thanks for the feedback

    Leave a comment:


  • affordablelawnmgmt
    replied
    I will post pictures of truck and trailer as we get started on both projects to get input from you guys. My goal is to have them complete by the end of February because March starts the beginning of my season.

    Leave a comment:


  • affordablelawnmgmt
    replied
    I have a yukon that has a new transmission and is in very good shape. It needs a motor which my dad has already found, it costs between 650-1000, it is a 350 vortec which me and my dad will install ourselves. On the trailer, it basically has the frame and floor on it. I have been looking at designs online we have access to a welder and metal shaping/cutting tools so I am going to create a design that will allow for weed eater racks,water cooler, storage for gas tanks, etc..With marketing tools used on the trailer as we customize it. I would like to create something that no one in my area has that will allow me to be unique. Any ideas would be appreciated. This trailer was basically free to me so I can do whatever I want with it.

    Leave a comment:


  • CHEESE2009
    replied
    With the right amount of pacing in this field, you shouldn't need a loan.

    I understand that a vehicle is a pretty big necessity and it's easy to get ahead of ourselves, but you're better off asking family to help you with the repair bill versus the banks.

    If your family is unwilling, you're better off purchasing a working vehicle by working for someone else longer to make money, before going into business for yourself. You will have a greater advantage than starting near bankrupt.

    As for making 10K per your first season, congrats, this is normal for those on the right track; however, $10K turns into something like $8K after taxes, and then that can turn into $4-6K with operation costs alone.

    From what I'm assuming, your business is safe, but there isn't a lot of money going into your pocket, and you don't have the ability to afford new purchases yet. There's no need to rush for you.

    If you're really hurting to get a vehicle so that you can supply your current clients, any vehicle will do so long as it can last you at least a year.

    Pick up a junker for $1k of kijiji or craigslist maybe?

    Leave a comment:


  • Steve
    replied
    What kinds of things do you need to do to finish your truck and trailer?

    Leave a comment:

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