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  • #16
    Has anyone else run into anything similar to this situation? What's the best way to avoid falling into such a pitfall? I would guess there must be a few companies out there that are able to pull in work.
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    • #17
      Just another update. Total of 7 accounts all but one want twice a month which is ok right now due to lack of rain / growth. Getting much better with the zero turn, really got the hang of it around the 5 hour mark. And just yesterday had someone stop while I was cutting asking about service. so the "just being out there" seems to have some effect. I have about 400 door hangers ready to go but not sure if I want to tackle it right now. Sure, about 5-7 more accounts would be very nice but due to the decline in growth and cooler temps I'm not sure how many people would bite. Anyone else down in the Central FL area see much growth in accounts during this time? Thanks for any input.

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      • #18
        yesterday had someone stop while I was cutting asking about service. so the "just being out there" seems to have some effect.
        Do you have signs on your truck and trailer? Is that how they knew you were a business or did they just come up to you without that?
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        • #19
          Steve,

          Yep I have door magnets on the SUV. I also wear a logo t-shirt and hat. I just figure it shows that I am open to new business. I have not hear anything from the prospects as of yet but the persons lawn I was cutting at the time did not call me for almost two months from the time I did a door hang, so I wait.

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          • #20
            When I first got into deck staining I charged according to what I found to be the market not how long it took me to do something. Why?

            1. My equipment was inferior. I knew I would get faster after I could get the right equipment purchased.

            2. My skills were inferior. My first deck took me 5 hours to clean and prep. WAAAY too long. But now that deck would take me less than an hour.

            I tell you this because you said in an earlier post that you were 10-15 higher than the competition. If it were me I would look at a yard and say it should take me this long to cut based on having the proper equipment. You will get more customers and then upgrade your equipment and the cuts will go faster.

            Charging more because you have inferior equipment will not help you grow and obtain customers. There is no physical cost because it is only your time. Yes your time is valuable but can you survive on 2 customers? I figured it as my time was cheap to me.

            So with my thinking for example.....

            2 clients @ $40 = $80 ..... A year before you can upgrade.

            10 Clients @ $30 = $300 ..... A few months at this level and you can now buy a good used machine and a trailer. Now you are moving faster and can add more clients and do it all over again. Only faster this time.

            You are only out your time and you are charging what the current market is.

            I guess what I am trying to say is that charging more because you have residential instead of commercial equipment just because it takes you longer is not the way to go. Charge what your current market is.

            You see after 1 week you can get a used rider.... Cutting gets faster then a few months down the road you can get a commercial machine etc.... It just keeps building.

            Make a plan and then work the plan.
            Pat

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            • #21
              Sorry I posted the above before I realized there was a 2nd page.... LOL

              Congrats on the new equipment.....

              As far as the return on door hangers..... It usually runs around 1% can go as low as .5% and as high as 3%.....

              I don't knock doors.... Do you have a web site yet? If not you need to get one. Get visible on the web.

              How happy is the wife with you using HER vehicle?
              Pat

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              • #22
                I guess what I am trying to say is that charging more because you have residential instead of commercial equipment just because it takes you longer is not the way to go. Charge what your current market is.
                Pat,

                This is a very interesting topic. For those thinking about this and saying, well why should I bother scaling up and spending more for newer higher priced equipment if I am still only going to be able to charge the same amount to do the job, what is your view on why they should be looking into scaling up their equipment all the time or should they?

                Is there a point you reach where you simply won't profit any further no matter what upgrades you make?
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                • #23
                  There is a point where you really go beyond your needs. For instance in my case I used a 4 gallon per minute pressure washer. I could buy a 20 GPM machine but then I would have to haul a water tank. See an average home is only able to put out about 5 gallons per minute so going over that is a waste of money unless you also do commercial flat work.

                  Just like your mowers, it does not make sense to buy a 52" mower if you are only doing 5000 square foot lawns. but you don't want to be mowing an acre with a 21" push mower either. Not to mention being able to get through fences.

                  I would say that if the equipment will cut your time by 25% or more then plan to upgrade. But don't just count the mowing time. You need to know how long it takes you to load and unload and cleanup afterward. Say it cuts 25% off your time to mow but adds time to the cleanup then it is not worth it.

                  The reason I say 25% is that if you are doing $4,000 per month, 25% of that is $1,000 per month or $12,000 per year. Brand new top of the line 0 turn (just Guessing at the price) $6,000. That is a 100% ROI. You get the added $1,000 per month by adding clients because you can mow 25% faster now.

                  Now lets look at a 10% improvement. That is $400 per month for a yearly total of $4,800. You have not even paid for the new $6,000 mower with this change after 1 year.

                  You can look at this 2 ways.

                  1. What happens if for some stupid reason the mower gets stolen, breaks, wears out etc. on the first scenario you will have replacement money in 6 months. Leave out the insurance argument, you are on your own.

                  2. The chances of the mower lasting 6 months are excellent. They drop fast after a year in a commercial setting. Remember in scenario 1 you have replacement money and can buy gas for the tank. Scenario 2 you will have to go back to a used mower.

                  If you are so busy that you need to upgrade at the lower % then you might be better off adding a crew. Then you would more than double your cutting capacity thus it would pay for the equipment faster.

                  I DON'T do credit so I upgrade all with cash. It is more stable that way.
                  Pat

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                  • #24
                    But don't just count the mowing time. You need to know how long it takes you to load and unload and cleanup afterward.
                    Have you found the larger equipment tends to take more time to load and unload and also clean up after?

                    If you are so busy that you need to upgrade at the lower % then you might be better off adding a crew. Then you would more than double your cutting capacity thus it would pay for the equipment faster.
                    What is your view on how this is more or less cost effective than upgrading a piece of equipment?
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                    • #25
                      Yes I found out early on what you said to be true. I quickly changed tactics and set up some basic parameters to get prices more in line with the one man operations in my neighborhood. Which covers most of the area I am cutting. Even now I seem to be a few dollars higher on a per cut basis but if they are on month to month I am a few dollars cheaper so it is sometimes a wash at the end of the month for me. Seems to be working well. Word of mouth has helped a little too. As far as the plan goes. I am making a profit at the end of the month and this business is a means to an end. Payoff our vehicles early and start putting money back from what we would have been paying for them. I would like to have a dedicated vehicle and a place to store it and the trailer. That way I could get my vehicle back in the garage at night. Doing so right now would leave me no profit at the end of the month so I will wait but it is in the cards if I grow the business. Also my fulltime job is stressful enough so getting on the mower and cutting is kinda like my quiet time - excuss the pun. I know running your own business can be stressful so I am try to make it not as much. Website wise I am not out there yet. Obviously I'm open to some cheap options. My door hangers have been right at the 2% mark. Cloverleafing has neted nothing so far. And the wife is ok with me using her vehicle once maybe twice a week, but then I spend alot of time cleaning it afterwards hence I would really like my own to use. To answer Steve's question. I think the scaling part is a natural progression if you are actually growing your business. As long as I have been in Fire / EMS you find quitea few of us cut grass as a second job. Most started like I did cutting friends and family as needed or was on a crew then started their own business. Over the years they bought new equipment as needed or dictated by the business. Mine was need. I have a limited time frame that I can cut due to other responsibilites. Using a push mower I would only be able to cut 2 lawns a day. Now I can cut 3-4 depending on when I can get started each day. I will submit to other to answer the last part of your question as I am not that versed in the larger business.

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                      • #26
                        I quickly changed tactics and set up some basic parameters to get prices more in line with the one man operations in my neighborhood.
                        Can you tell us a little about the tactics you changed?
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                        • #27
                          Yes, when I first started I believe I may have over thought how to market. I thought it would be good to have different levels of service 1- Standard (basic: Mulch cut, trim, edge, and blow clippings back onto the yard). 2- Super (basic but blow clippings from the edges and bag up, leaving a nice clean edge without grass clippings in it). 3- "My Lawn Service". Which is basicly how I cut my lawn, which is #2 above but bag lawn clippings while cutting. I noticed most people utilizing my service just wanted the grass cut, the lawn to look decent, but did not want to do themselves. So the super and my lawn just didn't sell. I also had looked at sq footage and said 0-5000 sq was a certain price and 5-10,000k was a certain price, etc. All this was / still is on my cards but I do not utilize the business card as much..and It was only a $6 investment that i will be changing before spring. Now, I say that I start @ $20 per cut, and tell them I will need to look at the property to give them a exact price. If they need me to be more specific before i come I can look up info about size on the property appaisers website to get a little closer but still let them know I have to see the property. When I meet with them I ask what they are looking for in the service and tell them what I offer. Most still only care to have standard service which is fine for me and my one person operation. Basicly, it has worked well and I have gained the extra customers. Maybe I am not making what I could, but currently I feel that it is fair to the both parties. I am obviously open to better ideas if anyone cares to share.

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                          • #28
                            That makes perfect sense to me. You first get into the business with a plan that involved a certain pricing method and certain service packages. But when you start you realize your customer base simply wants a standard service at a standard price. You altered your plan to fit with the reality you found and you have continued onward.

                            I do wonder now that you are up and running if you are learning more about your current customer base. If this is a group you want to continue to service in the future or if you will want to move up and service another group of customers that may be more discriminating in their lawn care tastes and willing to pay for it. Or maybe the place you are in now is ideal.

                            What is your view on that?
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                            • #29
                              Florida boy

                              Where you at in FL? Im in Lakeland. its a different beast here in the good ol sunshine state aint it! hit them yankee trailer parks the yards are good for 12.00-15.00 per cut and you can do a good mess in a day. Our northern friends are only here for 4-6 months but wil need your service to thier lawn year round. push mowers do well in these areas.
                              If you can't be good..Be good at it!

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                              • #30
                                I'm in the Orlando area. Your idea sounds great. I know a lot of the mobile parks up here use a service for the whole park, but could be something to think about. Just a little
                                update on the service. Two years this June. I have found that 6 lawns is about my max, seeing as this is a second job for me. I have a few larger lawns and a few medium. It has allowed me to pay off both vehicles early and now it will be extra income for whatever. Plus all equipment will be paid off in Oct. It is nice to have year around grass cutting down here, but i know some people in the mid south that cut summer only and have winter to do other odd jobs. I've been happy with the investment so far.

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