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  • crossroads

    Good Morning everyone

    My name is Mike and I have owned a lcs for over 5 years, it was part time, then went full time and now is part time again. I also work a reg job but it is not enough to be comfortable, i wanted to sell the biz and work full time at this new job but the thought of letting it go is painfull.

    I decided to revamp things, market and get new customers and higher someone to work the accounts and I can work my reg job. its a tough decision because I have had offers to buy my route and gear, but I want something to fall back on just in case. its stressfull, family is upset because I lean both ways.

    guess thats it for now.

    thanks

  • #2
    Well, it is a hard choice but you have other things to look at. I see a problem already.

    Why did it go from full time to part time to where you had to get a job? Something had to be wrong for that to happen.

    Also who is running your business. If your working, you don't have the time to make sure things are being done correctly. That leads to unhappy customers, and lost accounts.

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi Mike,

      Welcome to our forum!

      I have owned a lcs for over 5 years, it was part time, then went full time and now is part time again.
      Can you tell us a little more about this?
      - 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


      • #4
        Cross Roads Part II

        Well where can I began, the whole thing about the lawncare biz started as a joke. several years ago I was a private investigator for the nys workers comp. I video taped people who were lying about there injuries. one afternoon I was talking to my dad while sitting on a surveillance job and I said "Dad I would know every door to knock on to ask to cut there lawn, because they cant and are afraid of being video taped" A few months later my dad came from Nevada with a trailer of repoed lawn gear and said here ya go, do lawn care. so thats how it started as part time. a website, a small ad, and work from someone who used to be my best friend netted me over 70-80k a year, not to shabby for something that started as a joke. The lcs took all my time so I stopped doing the PI work and it became full time.

        The sad part begins when I learn the issues of working with and for your best friend on huge commercial accounts that make or break a company. I wont name names due to legal issues but it got so bad I became like tony soprano having to make decisions and seeking help "shrink" to deal with labor issues, state tax issues, insurance, people failing at doing there jobs and services that I dealt with on a daily routine. being on call 24/7, no vacations, and doing paper work for free at home for hours after I worked in the field for hours. it got to me. it ended relationships, interfered with time I had little of with my daughter, and trying to get health insurance in NY owning a small company was not happening. after some disagreements on situation between me and the best friend, my employment as a manager and a sub contractor came to an end when I gave my notice based on how miserable the relationship was and that the damage could not be repaired. I was respected for the gracious departure and followed through on all loose ends

        Going from a 1 truck 1 crew to 2 seemed like a smart thing at the time, and it did double my gross, but the expenses caught up after the economy here took a poop. I sold a truck but still technically have two set ups.

        this winter and last winter we had less then 20 inches of snow, we should have 60-80 per push accounts hurt, seasonal s were nice but it wasn't huge profit margins.

        So this summer I decided to get a real gig driving fora world wide known company, insurance and 401k dental all the perks I drive in the evening and I can do the lawns and other services we provide in the morning and mid day.

        I actually make more like this. and have insurance and a future for retirement, im 43, my daughter gets coverage "ex cant get it" and all is well for the moment.

        A month ago the person who bought my truck had an interest to buy my whole company, we had a number and it would have been fair and smart, but they backed out at the last second.

        I went into overdrive with a website update, pens, magnets, ads and display at bank and local stores. the biz will boom this spring, I can do most of the work with help and if it gets to a point where I can do full time driving, I can have someone do the routes and I just do the paper work, I still make a profit, my customers are still happy, and my 401k grows, Daughter gets braces. Girlfriend can plan a vacation with me.

        I think I hit the mid life lawn care crisis this march and made decisions to deal with it. I came to this site to get back to basics, see what new fresh ideas are out there, sales marketing gimmicks stories of success, what works what dons', because I am the first to say I don't know everything about running a successful lcs.

        I worked for a big player in the snow biz and learned a lot from them, went to symposiums, learned about chemicals and finance and transportation and labor rates and job costing. I met great people and had great times. But right now I feel like I am starting over.

        Guess thats all I have for now.

        Comment


        • #5
          This is an amazing story. It does make you wonder as you look back on this, what would you have done differently if you could have started again from scratch? What main lessons do you feel you learned from all this that you can now apply?
          - 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.

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          • #6
            Here is a short story of what a guy I know did/still does.

            6 years ago I got my honorable discharge from the Marine Corps and ran as fast as I could. Never looked back. I had no job, no bills and moved in with my inlaws to get back on my feet. I went to a school to be a security guard (they claimed to have loved vets, the interviewer was a retired Sgt. Major). He gave me the whole speach about how great the company was, so I took it. In a nutshell, it was a HUGE mistake, but I met another Marine at the school. We talked for a while, I said I was thinking of going back to cutting grass and his face perked up. Then he told me he had one and how he ran his.

            He had a rig all set up and a 2 man crew. He worked full time, and his guys went out and cut. He paid them incentive to make sure they would build more lawns and stay productive. He wouldn't give me numbers, but said the more they cut the more they make. They don't want to lose customers because they won't make as much. He did the billing and paperwork. He was VERY organized with the crew, and knew what they were doing all the time and trusted them. He really did run a tight ship, and it worked out well.

            If you could come up with a great plan, maybe that would be something to think about?

            Comment


            • #7
              I went to a school to be a security guard (they claimed to have loved vets, the interviewer was a retired Sgt. Major). He gave me the whole speach about how great the company was, so I took it. In a nutshell, it was a HUGE mistake
              What's your view on what made it such a huge mistake? Do you think they misrepresented themselves or do you feel that you just wanted or needed more or something else than this group could offer?
              - 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


              • #8
                This is an amazing story. It does make you wonder as you look back on this, what would you have done differently if you could have started again from scratch? What main lessons do you feel you learned from all this that you can now apply?
                If I had to start over from scratch, I would not use the phonebook, I would not use post cards or mailers.

                I would have social groups or meetings with commerce, I would friend board members of communities that have a homeowner association.

                I would not work with best friends anymore.

                I would not use the local labor ready offices

                I would hire college students that are healthy and not into drinking girls and drugs.

                I would not use work visa students.

                I would start taking credit and debit on the spot with the technology that is out there today.

                I would have a safety training meeting every other week

                I would make employees sign off that they have been instructed on a job and the time requirements and if they fail my loss is there loss " in the profit sharing mode of pay" NY sucks when you try to dock people for failing.

                no license - no job
                no car - no job
                no bank account - no job
                behind in child support - no job, I dont get paid to do the paper work because you suck at taking care of a kid....

                I would train people to do the work and use the trucks and hook up trailers in case one day I wanted to take off from work. there has to be someone you can trust.

                I would explain that if someone runs out of fuel because they don't top off when they put something away, and walk a major retailers parking lot twice to get more fuel, there fired on the stop for stealing my labor production profits.

                If someone tells me were "out" of fuel, there fired on the spot.

                now that NYS wants to raise the minimum wage, were at a threshold where if someone says, thats not my job, i don't get paid to think, boom your fired on the spot.

                my employees are at will workers, anyone can be fired for anything or nothing at anytime.

                all trimmers spools are respun in the trucks while we drive to another location,

                Oh yeah, if your texting, your fired.

                speeding ticket, fired

                never hire someone from a closed business, they were taught wrong, and lost money for the company, breaking them in costs you more and there going to want to be paid more for there "experience" .

                I know some people here will argue about my views, but thats ok, its my views, and its what works for me now. you learn from your mistakes, and education and success stories.

                what am I doing right now about all this.

                in the past 48 hours I have

                1. ordered new biz cards with facebook and website info
                2. updated website with photos to be educational on the extra add on services
                3. ordered lawn signs
                4. new tires egr valve fuel air filters on the truck.
                5. placed ad in the local paper that everyone reads
                6. locked in month at bank for business promotion for bank members
                7. bid properties
                8. signed up with more nationals
                9. did 2012 taxes
                10. updated quickbooks with better member info and details
                11. getting prices on trailer decals or wrap.
                12. got pens I ordered.
                13. looking at fuel storage as to save on purchases
                14. looking at job apps for labor, everyone that has worked for me has been terminated.
                15. typing on here is cheaper then shrink. its a good stress relief.

                Mike
                Last edited by djm2013; 03-22-2013, 11:26 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  What's your view on what made it such a huge mistake? Do you think they misrepresented themselves or do you feel that you just wanted or needed more or something else than this group could offer?
                  Well, it started when I got discharged. I left the Marines looking for a private security company. Going overseas again for $100K as a gun for hire was perfect...heck I just finished 4 years doing it! But little did I know those types of companies really want SpecOps guys, and very rarely hire infrantry guys like myself. So I found this security company near where I live. I called and spoke to the recruiter, the retired Sgt Major, and he sold the company really well. The main thing was, Marines watch out for their own, and this guy was a Marine. I got hired by them and went to "school" for 3 weeks. Upon completion of school, we were to get $3K and go full time. They explained anyone who qualified with very high scores at the firing range would be assigned to a private security detail. I ended up shooting a perfect score, then was givin a rent-a-cop uniform and told I was (like everyone else) going to check badges at a government building. There was no private security detail. There were also so many rules and regulations...one stood out the most to me. "You may only carry (1) 12oz bottle of water to your assigned guard post in a clear plactic container. No drink mixes, gatorade, or any of that stuff. You can only refill it twice a day". They also had things like mandatory overtime if your relief shows up late, be on alert 24 hours incase they call you to work, etc.

                  I went to human resources, handed in my still brand new uniform, and walked out. Since I made it to the end of "school" I got my $3K. I found out later a lot of others in the class did the same. The company was a revolving door, with a lot of pending lawsuits from previous employees. I was just expecting the job they told me, nothing more.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If I had to start over from scratch, I would not use the phonebook, I would not use post cards or mailers.

                    I would have social groups or meetings with commerce, I would friend board members of communities that have a homeowner association.

                    I would not work with best friends anymore.

                    I would not use the local labor ready offices

                    I would hire college students that are healthy and not into drinking girls and drugs.

                    I would not use work visa students.

                    I would start taking credit and debit on the spot with the technology that is out there today.

                    I would have a safety training meeting every other week

                    I would make employees sign off that they have been instructed on a job and the time requirements and if they fail my loss is there loss " in the profit sharing mode of pay" NY sucks when you try to dock people for failing.

                    no license - no job
                    no car - no job
                    no bank account - no job
                    behind in child support - no job, I dont get paid to do the paper work because you suck at taking care of a kid....

                    I would train people to do the work and use the trucks and hook up trailers in case one day I wanted to take off from work. there has to be someone you can trust.

                    I would explain that if someone runs out of fuel because they don't top off when they put something away, and walk a major retailers parking lot twice to get more fuel, there fired on the stop for stealing my labor production profits.

                    If someone tells me were "out" of fuel, there fired on the spot.

                    now that NYS wants to raise the minimum wage, were at a threshold where if someone says, thats not my job, i don't get paid to think, boom your fired on the spot.

                    my employees are at will workers, anyone can be fired for anything or nothing at anytime.

                    all trimmers spools are respun in the trucks while we drive to another location,

                    Oh yeah, if your texting, your fired.

                    speeding ticket, fired

                    never hire someone from a closed business, they were taught wrong, and lost money for the company, breaking them in costs you more and there going to want to be paid more for there "experience" .

                    I know some people here will argue about my views, but thats ok, its my views, and its what works for me now. you learn from your mistakes, and education and success stories.

                    what am I doing right now about all this.

                    in the past 48 hours I have

                    1. ordered new biz cards with facebook and website info
                    2. updated website with photos to be educational on the extra add on services
                    3. ordered lawn signs
                    4. new tires egr valve fuel air filters on the truck.
                    5. placed ad in the local paper that everyone reads
                    6. locked in month at bank for business promotion for bank members
                    7. bid properties
                    8. signed up with more nationals
                    9. did 2012 taxes
                    10. updated quickbooks with better member info and details
                    11. getting prices on trailer decals or wrap.
                    12. got pens I ordered.
                    13. looking at fuel storage as to save on purchases
                    14. looking at job apps for labor, everyone that has worked for me has been terminated.
                    15. typing on here is cheaper then shrink. its a good stress relief.

                    Mike




                    This is some really good stuff! Thanks for sharing it with us!

                    On #12, you said you ordered pens. There is a bail bonds place in Baltimore that hands out TONS of pens to local business's, delivery drivers, anywhere they can. These pens are everywhere!! For anyone who lives in or near Baltimore, you know what I'm talking about-its those darn yellow and pink pens. But if you ever needs a bail bondsman, you'll know exactly who to call.
                    Last edited by LawnBoy0311; 03-22-2013, 12:09 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I want something to fall back on just in case. its stressfull, family is upset because I lean both ways.
                      Have you figured how how many customers you would need to feel better about your business and be able to run it full time? How long do you feel it would take to get there?
                      - 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
                        Have you figured how how many customers you would need to feel better about your business and be able to run it full time? How long do you feel it would take to get there?
                        I am starting at a 20% Increase in properties for mowing, and at least 30 % in spring clean ups. The spring cleans ups are people who want the hard work done, and then they want to mow there lawns. thats fine. They have monster yards, bordered by forest. they do not have the gear to do the spring clean ups, just a mower, and we charge a premium for this because its a one off. We might up sell to a de thatch or aeration but we wont be pushy in weekly mowing. its a balancing act with those type of customers...

                        The weekly mows are for working couples who just don't have the time to care for there lawn. we do a full package for them and thats all they want.

                        we also cater to people who cant mow there parents lawns anymore. there out there. If the older folks are on a fixed budget, we can work with them on rates

                        I have learned you cant charge a flat rate across the board, that work around here. people earn 20k to 2 million a year in this market. we have to be flexible, we have to let them know we are flexible and understand there budget they have in mind.

                        we also have to know when to say no.


                        I am setting up a display of a lawn , pens, calendar magnets and flower watering pot and some different color mulch on a 6 foot table at my local banks branch, there highlighting local business bank customers in there lobby, free advertising works for me..

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I am setting up a display of a lawn , pens, calendar magnets and flower watering pot and some different color mulch on a 6 foot table at my local banks branch, there highlighting local business bank customers in there lobby, free advertising works for me.
                          This is great! You should take a picture of your set up. I'd love to see it and maybe also send it to the local paper and tell them a little about what was going on at the bank. Who knows, they might print it.

                          I have learned you cant charge a flat rate across the board, that work around here. people earn 20k to 2 million a year in this market. we have to be flexible, we have to let them know we are flexible and understand there budget they have in mind.
                          What are some of the ways you feel you can be flexible? What does this entail? I bet a lot of newer business owners are wondering about this too.
                          - 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


                          • #14
                            This is great! You should take a picture of your set up. I'd love to see it and maybe also send it to the local paper and tell them a little about what was going on at the bank. Who knows, they might print it.



                            What are some of the ways you feel you can be flexible? What does this entail? I bet a lot of newer business owners are wondering about this too.

                            When I roll up on a property or use google earth and street view to "size" it up, I can tell the value, income, and amount of money they have spent, or not at all.

                            I speak to them, and ask what have they spent on the lawn as in Time, other people, themselves or kids or neighbors. I ask if there mower is down, if I am replacing someone who cannot provide service anymore"that covers someone quitting or being fired from the job. Then I ask, what needs to be done ? and what do you not want to happen, what are your goals, and then I ask what is your budget, I stop and listen. if theres an answer I go from there.

                            If they say I don't know I tell them I will email,fax,mail or hand it to them, what ever they want, a proposal to cover there needs. they can look it all over at there pace and ask any questions they want about the several services we provide.

                            THATS HOW IT WORKS IT A PERFECT WORLD.

                            I can look at the house and lawn and shoot them a number, if they bark I say get me a neighbor to sign up as well and you both get 20 percent off.

                            I can meet a lil old lady on a fixed income, find out what she was paying before and what she getting, tell her I can match the price, and tell her what services that price will get her, and go from there.

                            I could roll up on a 2-3 million dollar home, charge em by acre ala cart for everything , show up with a contract and service tag to show them all we do on a visit and shoot them a price, give em a card, let them see the truck, uniforms, give a firm handshake and get "bank" on that account.

                            you simply have to adapt to them, you have to read there body language and talk there talk. never insult there intelligence. its not there first rodeo of wheeling and dealing, there in a million dollar home, they know more then me about something lol.

                            Never say this is how much it costs, they have no idea what that means

                            I say, this service will provide you with............and our rate for you is $$$$$

                            you can add services when your lawn needs it. and that is $$$$$$

                            we can bill monthly, or per visit and collect when your home, or we can do a seasonal rate, which will save you more in the long run and you can make 3 easy payments for the season and its one last thing you have to worry about.

                            Giving them options and listening to them is one thing to master, asking for the account is another. But being flexible and giving them a price they can afford and feel like there buying a service and not getting sold a service is nice as well to master. once all these are in place, you can do a lot.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              This is what I show a new customer who wants to know all that we do. It speaks for itself
                              Attached Files

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