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  • It may be time for a hard choice

    Business has fallen off 100% but the cost to do business has gone up. I found myself yesterday taking money from my personal checking account to keep the business afloat for a little longer. I have been on the phone non stop trying to entertain different advertising, the local phone book wants 1200 per year for a 1/4 page add, that's 1,200 that the business dose not have. My regular advertising has produced 0 calls as of late. It may just be time to count losses and move on with life. Any suggestions for a last ditch effort to survive? Spending a ton of money is out because I worry the more of my personal money I sink into it the more I will lose so I am kinda screwed.
    White Company

  • #2
    Being that you had customers in the past, I would figure that would be a benefit. Could you contact them and let them know you are back in business?

    What was the best marketing method that worked in the past in your area? Could you repeat that process?
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    • #3
      Being that you had customers in the past, I would figure that would be a benefit. Could you contact them and let them know you are back in business?

      What was the best marketing method that worked in the past in your area? Could you repeat that process?
      Steve I have done all I can with past clients. Got some back didn't get others but what I did get back has not been covering the bills. I do have the big county contract but am under the understanding it could take up to 6 months to finally get a government check issued so I can not count on that to pay the bills although I am pushing them to pay me. As far as advertising I never stopped or changed what has worked in the past really. I went from barely being able to keep up with calls for new service one day to none the next day and its been flat lined ever sence. In 3 months I got 3 calls, did 2 estimates and never heard back, missed the 3rd call and returned it, left a message and never got a call back.
      White Company

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      • #4
        try this:

        If you don't have work then you should have time. On a low budget, going door to door with your business cards is the best idea I can think of. Start advertising fall clean ups, aerating, power raking, etc.

        good luck

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        • #5
          I am working out going door to door with fliers the problem is the money is gone. Until I get some checks "Who knows how long that will take" the business has $25 to its name meaning the fliers will come out of my pocket. My wife and I set a rule a while back that we will keep the business going so long as it pays for itself. We dont care if it pays us but just want it to pay for itself. Last month I got hit with licensing renewals, Postal renewals and everything all at once that depleted the business accounts. I was not worried because I was counting on my county check to come in but to my surprise they sent the invoice back to me and I-9ed me. Now they have there paperwork and the invoice back but that was 3 days ago and I h ave yet to hear if we are good to go. As far as airating and power raking I dont have the equipment for that. I have a hand held airator which is good for small lawns like mine but most of the lawns in my area are 1/4- 1/2 acer and the cost to do that by hand would be such that noone would want to pay that much. As far as the power raking Thats simple. I dont have a power rake. Now I am worried that if I start funding the business myself the market will not improve and I will just be flushing my money down the drain and not only have a broke business but be broke myself. The last time I funded it myself I did it in the way of a personal loan or investment payable back to me in monthly installments with interest. That way I was sure I would get my personal money back but I lost thousands of dollars when tax time came around and the IRS said it was illegal for me to loan my business money. So this time if it costs me 40K to keep the business going another 4 months and things dont improve I can kiss my 40K good bye.
          White Company

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          • #6
            Reflecting back on all this, what do you think happened? What do you think made you want to get out of the business and then get back in? Is their an underlying issue that still hasnt been resolved and is that making it difficult now or do you feel none of this has anything to do with it?
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            • #7
              Reflecting back on all this, what do you think happened? What do you think made you want to get out of the business and then get back in? Is their an underlying issue that still hasnt been resolved and is that making it difficult now or do you feel none of this has anything to do with it?
              Steve. I have though a lot about that very question. I have come up with the answer that a ****ty week just pushed me over the edge. First a client was a few months past do and I was to get all my money that day. On the property before that I ran over and cut in half a very expensive hose. NOTE I did this hundreds of times and the hose was never a problem as I cut the grass so high and the hose is a hefty one. That took a months wages from that job to replace. Then I move onto the next job and didn't get paid so I said that's it. I have fixed that problem in that now weather it will be a problem or not I roll up there hose every time. As far as non paying clients if your bill is not paid you dont get the work done. I dont care if you are one day past do, pay your bill and I will show up. Past do for 2 weeks and you come off the schedule and the collection letters start getting sent out. I use to play Mr nice guy and let people get away with being a month late but not anymore unless we set up an agreement to pay per month rather than per week. Basicaly I have 2 kinds of job the ones that grow the business and the ones that support the business. The ones that grow the business are the $20K+ jobs that pay for a new tractor or truck or whatever, and the ones that support the business are the regular scheduled maintenance jobs. The ones that grow the business and get me all the neat new toys help because those neat new toys go towards the smaller jobs that support the business in the way of providing new services. The big jobs have not slowed down but are to few and far between to support the business. The regular scheduled jobs have just about stopped coming in. Basically I think I made a big mistake in that I grew the business far faster than it could support itself and in one fail swoop it imploded in on itself. This became painfully clear when all these renewals and fees came up they just sucked everything out of the bank. I about blew my gasket when I was informed I was operating 2 months after some licenses had expired. I through a **** fit on why I was not informed and lucky for me they waived late fees and application fees and told me just to pay for the renewal and all is good, other wise I would have been unlicensed and out of business last week. Now I am depressed because I have just enough gas in the truck and in cans to get to my next regular job and thank god they called and said they had a check waiting for me. If you remember even when I took my extended break the bank accounts were always overflowing, cash flow has never been a problem and I have never had to pinch pennies and try to figure out finances like I have in the past few days, very stressful indeed. That being said getting a check next week is NOT a saving grace as in one hour it will be gone do to operating expenses. The bottom line is we grew very fast then new calls for service in one day just stopped all together. In three months I have had only 3 calls and didn't get any of the contracts so the only way out in my mind is to greatly reduce the business back to a self sustaining level but I have no idea how to do that. We were just in the middle of a very exciting expansion and were getting rave reviews and had a lot of good prospects and now I am worried by not only putting said expansion on indefinite hold but also by reducing everything ells to the aforementioned self sustaining size I fear it will make us look very bad. Its like a catch 22.
              White Company

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              • #8
                You know what. Maybe my problem is an overanylitical one. Everything is paid for and after all I DO have enough resources to get to the next job which is more than we can all say in this economy so may I just need to sit down and shut up and deal with it as it comes. My wife and I had a meeting yesterday and agreed we will go on a month to month situation with funding the companies needs. The only thing I should need is advertising costs as they will need to be paid by Monday and I dont get my check until Wednesday so we will need to fund the next months of advertising and then hopefully before its do for October business picks up.

                One problem I have faced for 2 years are our winter services, its getting to that time of year when calls normally slow down for summer services the problem is I really dont have any winter services. I have no equipment really to offer such services and with cash flow what it is I doubt the accounts will be at a level to buy the equipment before winter sets in so it looks like it will be another dismal 0ff season for us.
                White Company

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                • #9
                  You hit on a lot of great points that I think effect many who read the forum.

                  When you said

                  Basically I think I made a big mistake in that I grew the business far faster than it could support itself and in one fail swoop it imploded in on itself.
                  we talk about this from time to time, but can you tell us how building a business too fast can effect it? Everyone tends to think that you should build your business as fast as you can, but how do you feel it effected the implosion?

                  What do you feel is a business implosion?

                  Also what do you feel would be the best way to turn it all around, now that you have gotten all this thought out?
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                  • #10
                    we talk about this from time to time, but can you tell us how building a business too fast can effect it? Everyone tends to think that you should build your business as fast as you can, but how do you feel it effected the implosion?
                    I do have a question on this cause I have this idea as well but I am catious about it. Is there a right way to expand or is it just steady growth?
                    Colton
                    Mountain View Greenskeeper proudly offering yard care in the East Valley of Arizona.

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                    • #11
                      You hit on a lot of great points that I think effect many who read the forum.

                      When you said



                      we talk about this from time to time, but can you tell us how building a business too fast can effect it? Everyone tends to think that you should build your business as fast as you can, but how do you feel it effected the implosion?

                      What do you feel is a business implosion?

                      Also what do you feel would be the best way to turn it all around, now that you have gotten all this thought out?
                      Its a hard one to explain Steve but for example lets say you are expanding which is what we were working on when all hell broke loose. You are dumping a lot of time and money into an expansion and before you know it its getting bigger and bigger but your management skills have not evolved as fast as the business itself has, it ends up being mismanaged and the workload grows faster than the bank accounts do to the aforementioned mismanagement and before you know it you dont have the money to put gas in the lawn mower. It all comes down to poor management, you pay so much attention to new business you lose sight on what got you here in the first place, you stop mixing up adds and catering to the small fish in order to go after the big fish and before you know it the small fish are gone and the big fish stop biting. Now your $200 per month in expenses are $20K per month and your done. Thankfully for me I CAN afford to carry the failing business but to what end? I worry it may be to late. We are working day and night now to try to pick up the peaces and get things back to a manageable level. How are we doing that? I have no idea, we are shooting blanks, pissing in the wind and grabbing for every idea we can. I honestly think we will live through this but unfortunately its going to take some outside funding in the way of my checkbook to do so. I just have no idea how much this will cost us nor do I know how long it will take. As for now we are putting expansion on indefinite hold and rebaiting our hooks to go after those small reliable fish and not so much the big ones. We are reorganizing and will revert back to the business that cares about the people and has tea with the clients and not meetings with the corporate leaders. Dont get me wrong I will still go after the big jobs I will just be a lot more careful on how I do it in the future. And never ever ever forget who got me here and that is the fixed income retirees with small lawns and Cadillac in the garage.

                      @MountainViewGreenskeeper

                      Dont ever get in a hurry to chase the mighty buck. We grew and grew and grew and now the high school kids doing $5 lawns are making more than me. Keep it steady and never forget your roots. Never underestimate what losing a $30 lawn can cost you. Always treat every client like they are your only and no matter how busy you get always listen to there war stories. Thats the best advice I can think of to stay out of the problems we are going through now.
                      White Company

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                      • #12
                        This is really nailing the problem down further.

                        before you know it its getting bigger and bigger but your management skills have not evolved as fast as the business itself has
                        As you reflect, what in the management end of things do you feel was lacking? Was it so much the management skills were lacking or was it there was less time available to spend on managing? Or maybe was it both?

                        And never ever ever forget who got me here and that is the fixed income retirees with small lawns and Cadillac in the garage.
                        I think this is a huge insight. It seems like it is quite possible to say, such customers are the lifeblood of a lawn care business. If not all of them, I would think most of them.

                        Why do you think such customers are so easily overlooked? Why is it that customers who are so important tend to be pushed aside for others?

                        you stop mixing up adds and catering to the small fish in order to go after the big fish
                        Can you tell me what you meant by 'you stop mixing up adds'?
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                        • #13
                          I think this is a huge insight. It seems like it is quite possible to say, such customers are the lifeblood of a lawn care business. If not all of them, I would think most of them.

                          Why do you think such customers are so easily overlooked? Why is it that customers who are so important tend to be pushed aside for others?
                          ATM I couldnt see over looking them. Maybe I am bidding the properties wrong but I find the smaller yards I make the most money on. They really are the life blood of my business at least.
                          Colton
                          Mountain View Greenskeeper proudly offering yard care in the East Valley of Arizona.

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                          • #14
                            This is really nailing the problem down further.



                            As you reflect, what in the management end of things do you feel was lacking? Was it so much the management skills were lacking or was it there was less time available to spend on managing? Or maybe was it both?



                            I think this is a huge insight. It seems like it is quite possible to say, such customers are the lifeblood of a lawn care business. If not all of them, I would think most of them.

                            Why do you think such customers are so easily overlooked? Why is it that customers who are so important tend to be pushed aside for others?



                            Can you tell me what you meant by 'you stop mixing up adds'?
                            As far as management Steve I was getting the ideology that I was to big to fail. As I said the bank was overflowing with money and no matter how much I spent it just kept coming in. That was more than likely my biggest mistake.

                            As far as over looking small lawn jobs and customers, what can I say? A $30 lawn job is very easy to overlook when you are negotiating a $30K job. I am sure every one of us can relate to this.

                            By mixing up adds I meant I would always be rotating adds, changing and messaging them for what ever worked best for that time of year or area. I pretty much stopped doing that and just ran a small generalized add.
                            White Company

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                            • #15
                              I was getting the ideology that I was to big to fail. As I said the bank was overflowing with money and no matter how much I spent it just kept coming in. That was more than likely my biggest mistake.
                              It seems like this could be a big issue for many lawn care business owners. Especially when you are looking at cash flow.

                              You can think you are doing really well but if you don't take into account your expenses, what appears to be positive cash flow can ultimately really be negative cash flow.

                              This really can come to light when you have a slow down in work, where the income decreases but the expenses stay the same.

                              Expenses can be a stealth killer of businesses, particularly in slow economic times.
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