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  • Starting New in FL

    Greetings All,

    I'm starting off very new here in Central Florida. I mean new, currently cutting with a push mower and using my own lawn equipment. I am concerned about buying all the equipment and not being able to maintain a customer base to at a minimum pay for said equipment. I am reading alot on this forum so it is helping. I'm really only interested in residential lawns and only need about 12 lawns a week to make a bit of money. This is a side job for me but would like to see it blossom. Just a few questions.

    1- I see alot of people driving around with their equipment but no adverts on the truck at all. No name, number, nothing. I suppose they have a customer base built up but, I would think it would make sense to at least have a name and number listed?

    2- Marketing - I have put door hangers out. They are black and whit generics. out of about 300 I have garnered about 5 leads with three being landed. I have lost one of those. So I'm not sure how better to market. I have magnets on my vehicle with name, number, and email, very specific that it is a lawn service via the graphics. Posted some flyers in the local stores that would allow with pull off tabs of name and number. I would like to create a influx of calls just not sure how to make that happen.

    3- Pricing - I would like to stay competative but obviously being the only person working within my business I cannot buzz through a lawn in 15-20 minutes. So it seems I am 10-15 dollars higher than most services in my neighborhood. I can adjust this price a bit if I were to get enough lawns to support buying better equipment which would allow me to work faster.

    I have read and listened to the post / podcast here and they are helping. I'm also realistic about the economy so that could be a hinderance for new customers. I 'm not looking to scoop up a huge market share but am understanding when new you have to market hard. Any ideas were I could improve? Would it be smart to take the plunge and buyt the equipment and have it "on show" when I'm working? Thanks for any input.

  • #2
    Guy, im not going to lie to ya, the better equipment is nice, but you dont want to ruin your credit, or have been payed 1k dollars on a machine to lose it all when you cant afford to pay anymore..

    My best suggestions would be to SAVE every penny you can, work extra hours here and there, work extra yards anytime you can, and get you a few extra yards, save save save, and hope you can run across a deal on a decent mower, for around 500-1000, i have seen some nice riders (not zero turns) go for about 200-300 in my area (but you ahve to be out there asking around for mowers), if you would just get you something like that, your mowing would speed up. Faster lawn cuts you say will help you price better, then you might be able to build up a good clientel.

    I would recomend you save some cash and buy with cash! that way your not paying payments incase you lose a little work in the winter.

    Or save up through this winter, raking yards, offering some other services mentioned on the forum, then next spring, spring into action with a mower you bought during winter ( sometimes during winter the mowers are cheaper )

    or you could go out and get payments, and have a brand new rider! But make sure you have some money saved back for any loss of work.
    (352)682-3094 Suwannee River, Florida 32680

    Visit my site, http://www.lawnmoore.com, Thanks!

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    • #3
      The advice is well taken LM, as the wife slowed me down a bit at first. I figured it would look crazy pulling up with a push mower and equipment in the back of an SUV vs. small truck, trailer, and typical equipment. She said don't put us in debit doing it. So as much as I must swallow the pride, (...ahem...she was right), about a month and a half into it and only two paying customers. It is really hard in our heat to take on too many yards with a push only, plus keeping up my yard. I would be happy at the break even point of 8 yards a week to allow me to buy the equipment. Then suffer through the winter, which as you may know will still allow me some work, and then hopefully build some accounts during that time into the early part of next year. I was thinking along the lines of some discounts for landscaping labor during the cooler months at the begining of next year, that is if they sign on for lawn mowing month to month. I've thought about the small lawn tractor idea which will shave about $1000.00 off the deal of buying new equipment. I can still use the weeder / edger/ blower I have for now and replace with better lighter equipment when they are dead.

      Comment


      • #4
        Welcome to the BIZZZZ, and nice to know of another company in FL.

        Well, using your own equipment is awesome. But, sooner or later you might want to be quicker at it, get more done in less time. As you go along you will find things easier (FL heat sucks). I charge a BASE price of 25$ per lawn, and it goes up from there. I had lawns that i started at doing them in 2hours, now i can crank them out in 45min due to higher stamina and used to the heat.

        CRAIGSLIST.COM is the bomb, i went from 4 to 32 due to the Craigslist, and those 28 reffered me to 16more . Best way to sell yourself.

        Matt
        M.A.K. Landscaping

        http://www.ma-klandscaping.com

        407-949-1073

        Volusia County FL
        Seminole County FL

        "Treating your property as if it were OUR own!"

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        • #5
          Welcome to the BIZZZZ, and nice to know of another company in FL.

          Well, using your own equipment is awesome. But, sooner or later you might want to be quicker at it, get more done in less time. As you go along you will find things easier (FL heat sucks). I charge a BASE price of 25$ per lawn, and it goes up from there. I had lawns that i started at doing them in 2hours, now i can crank them out in 45min due to higher stamina and used to the heat.

          CRAIGSLIST.COM is the bomb, i went from 4 to 32 due to the Craigslist, and those 28 reffered me to 16more . Best way to sell yourself.

          Matt
          Wow, I didn't even think of Craigslist. I've been a huge ebay'er and craigslist never crossed my mind. That may be huge. My base for up to 5000sq is $20 which is the standard mulch cut, edge, trim, and blow back on lawn. I was going on a few neighbors that I trust to tell me what they are paying. one was $70 a month the other was $65. I just cannot make that happen right now. maybe if I can churn out more lawns (if I can get them). But hey thanks so much for the great idea. Still open to other forms of marketing within reason of course.

          Comment


          • #6
            Still open to other forms of marketing within reason of course.
            The biggest and best thing you can do is talk to people. Let them know you are in the business now. Give them cards. Ask them for referrals.

            Talk to all your family and all your friends and have them hand out cards too.

            1- I see alot of people driving around with their equipment but no adverts on the truck at all. No name, number, nothing. I suppose they have a customer base built up but, I would think it would make sense to at least have a name and number listed?
            Many newer businesses don't do this because they dont want signs on their personal vehicles or they are not 100% sure they want to go through with this. I think it's very important to create that awareness though and get the signs on your vehicle.

            Would it be smart to take the plunge and buyt the equipment and have it "on show" when I'm working?
            What is your view on this? As a consumer, how important would it be for you to see that?
            - 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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            • #7
              Steve,

              The thought of having the equipment "on show" seems to strikes me well. Even though I have the advert on the vehicle while working I don't think it catches the eye as much as having the trailer attached with equipment on it. Let's say you are driving down a road in a subdivision and you see someone mowing with a push mower. You do not see anything else to identify that person as labor for hire except (maybe) being able to see their shirt with info on it or (maybe) you notice the vehicle parked across the street that has door magnets on it. I can say that I have not had any calls or refferals due to the door magnets. All work has come from door hanging. So I'm not sure if the visual market would help. As I said before obviously I notice more trailers going down the road since I am looking. Before I started in the biz I did notice the equipment being towed around or parked on the roadways. Did anyone else start out my way (push mower, using personal lawn equipment) then purchase other equipment. If so was there a difference in volume due to that? @MAK I'm on craigslist now. Logged into my email today and found a bunch of spam and one request for moving help. In that same token I did check out Service Magic (after reading the post on here I just wanted to see what leads it could possibly generate). It looks like in a 15 mile radius there are between 12 - 75 request for mowing including single time service over a 9 month period. However, the cost is certainly not condusive to partner with them.

              Comment


              • #8
                I can say that I have not had any calls or refferals due to the door magnets.
                When you are out there working on lawns, do you use the clover leaf marketing technique?

                This could help you land more accounts right nearby.

                Did anyone else start out my way (push mower, using personal lawn equipment) then purchase other equipment. If so was there a difference in volume due to that?
                I would venture to guess 90% of the forum members on here started this way.

                I think the difference in volume comes is due to a small network. The more people you know and the more people that know you are running a lawn care business, the better your chances are of gaining more business.

                Take our one friend on here Andy. He drives around with premade postcards for different services he offers. If he sees a home that needs such a service, he takes a postcard and goes over to talk to the homeowner.

                That is just one step you can do. There are many many proactive steps you can do to attract more customers.

                I think it's important to not focus on having all this equipment to show off to those driving by. It would be better to see yourself as running for mayor now. You want everyone you can meet to know you are in business and things will pick up.

                What other things are you considering doing to get the word out more now?
                - 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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                • #9
                  When you are out there working on lawns, do you use the clover leaf marketing technique?


                  What other things are you considering doing to get the word out more now?
                  Steve,

                  Usually what happens is that I have blanket covered the subdivision with door hangers. All being the same offering the lawn service, a starting price point, and the phone number for a free estimate. I like the idea of maybe swithing it up a bit and hitting the houses closest with a postcard hanger being more specific to their neighbors lawn (cloverleafing). I think maybe adding to that I could incorporate the homeowner who's lawn I service by asking them to recommend me to their neighbor. If the neighbor signs up for a month to month the original customer gets a free cut the month that the new customer signs up or a smaller discount say $5 off if the neighbor atleast gives me a try.

                  I also tend to wear a clean work shirt when I need to run some errands around town. I read the post or maybe it was a podcast, where one person wanted to increase their customer base for the up comming year. I believe this was the post / cast http://www.gopherforum.com/showthread.php?t=12026

                  I may have a potential to get some adverts out by partnering with local businesses. We do have local advertising magazines that go out each month or bi-monthly and that is another avenue I could look towards. Thanks for the heads up on cloverleafing I'll give it a shot.

                  Miles

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                  • #10
                    Keep us updated on how things go!
                    - 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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                    • #11
                      Keep us updated on how things go!
                      Will do! MAKLAWN has been helping out behind the scenes and I am going to put your idea into play about the cloverleafing. I will probably pick up some of your books for downtime reading too. I have one oppertunity that has presented itself but not sure how it will work out. I'll report on it when I know more.

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                      • #12
                        I have one oppertunity that has presented itself but not sure how it will work out. I'll report on it when I know more.
                        I look forwards to hearing the updates.
                        - 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


                        • #13
                          I look forwards to hearing the updates.
                          Greetings again all,

                          I just thought I would update everyone with what has been going on. I now have a total of 5 accounts. 2 that have corner lots. Yep I push cut those a couple of times this year and it took about two hours each to complete all work, plus I was spent afterwards. The others are about 5,000-6,000 sq.ft and I can finish those in about an hour and fifteen pushing. Well I got a word of mouth account that has about 10,500 sq.ft so that would be the equivelant of three corner lots. So this week I bit the bullet and bought a zero turn and trailer. I cut out some personal expense to help pay for the equipment in lean times. I will trade out cars with the wife on cutting days and tow it with her SUV. I cut my two true corner lots with it the other day. 23 minutes per yard to cut. I was done in less than an hour with with each yard and I felt much better than pushing them so I know I could have done a few more yards. OK I know you are say "What did he get?" I know there are some that will want to flame me but I got a 34 zt Gravely. There is a reason. The new 10k sq.ft lot has a 41" gate. I am quite aware of the pro's and con's to this type of mower. Plus the cost in an acceptable price range. One of the lawns I cut the other day has some challenges and I had cut it once with a borrowed troy-bilt lawn tractor, which scapled some areas around a few ruts in the yard. The zt did not, which made me happy. So I am pleased so far. Now to inform you on oppertunity I spoke about on my last post. I posted on Craigslist as suggested by another user. I was new to the whole craigslist thing and thought I was pretty smart to scams. I was contacted by a "company"..."looking for handymen", offering to give me bank owned property work. I had to of course pay for a background check $99.00. You guessed it, no work so far after saying they were backed-up by 7 months. So I am currently disputing that with the card company. There you have it. Still working to get some more accounts.

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                          • #14
                            I was contacted by a "company"..."looking for handymen", offering to give me bank owned property work. I had to of course pay for a background check $99.00. You guessed it, no work so far after saying they were backed-up by 7 months. So I am currently disputing that with the card company. There you have it. Still working to get some more accounts.
                            I am sorry about that happening.

                            Have you done any investigation on this company? Have others had the same problem? Are they profiting on the $99 or is it going to another company? Did you have to show proof of insurance? Do you feel it definitely is a scam or is it possible they simply don't have jobs local there?

                            Could you show us the initial email they sent to you and take out any specific contact information so others know not to fall for 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


                            • #15
                              I am sorry about that happening.

                              Have you done any investigation on this company? Have others had the same problem? Are they profiting on the $99 or is it going to another company? Did you have to show proof of insurance? Do you feel it definitely is a scam or is it possible they simply don't have jobs local there?

                              Could you show us the initial email they sent to you and take out any specific contact information so others know not to fall for this?
                              Steve and All,

                              I did some quick research before calling, but could not find anything good or bad about the company so I called. Afterwards, I found the same company using a slightly different name via complaintsboard.com and there were similar issues like mine and of course there are a few that reply that they are great. The company claims the $99.00 is to pay for a background check that is "required" to work on the properties. They did not request License or Insurance proof. I say they are not legit because when I called they claimed a "7 month" backlog "in my area". After a month not even one email or phone call for work. Phone calls to the support number go directly to a voicemail and emails get a auto response to check the website faq's as to the reason the contractor may not be getting work orders, of which none apply to me. Here is the original email I received with limited retraction:

                              Hi,

                              Responding to your ad on Craigslist.

                              looking for skilled handymen and tradesmen

                              that would be able to work on bank owned and residential properties.

                              Please have transportation and tools to where you can do minor repairs on homes.

                              $200-$600 per work order

                              "work order" = 2-5 hours worth of work.

                              Regards,
                              Jac
                              1-888-8**-8917

                              immediate consideration
                              Last edited by mmcuttrim; 09-28-2010, 12:37 PM.

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