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GopherHaul Landscaping & Lawn Care Business Marketing Forum (http://www.gopherforum.com/forum-index.php)
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-   -   New member - Hello (http://www.gopherforum.com/showthread.php?t=10741)

biodale 01-26-2010 10:12 PM

New member - Hello
 
Hello. Glad I found this forum. It has been interesting and informative to read the postings. While I have blown out sprinkler systems (winterizing) for 8 years, I am just starting to mowing this year.
Equipment: John Deere GS-30 (36") to get through gates, John Deere JX 75, Yardman walk behind edger, Stihl fs90R, Stihl fs110, and Echo hand held blower, 14 ft. single axle trailer, and diesel dodge pickup. I make my own biodiesel to save on fuel cost.

I expected to do mostly residential, but am finding a lot of commercial. Lets see how the year goes. I'll let you guys know.
Sincerely,

Steve 01-26-2010 10:45 PM

Hi and welcome to our forum!

You got a lot going on over there!

What made you decide to get into lawn care from offering irrigation services?

And I would love to hear more on how you make your own bio diesel! Do you have any pictures of how you do it?

biodale 01-28-2010 12:48 AM

Response to Steve's questions
 
My original intentions with the sprinkler blowouts was to do about 150 - 200 a year (working just weekends) and make an easy $5000. I got into it because I thought they charged too much and the work was easy!!

Now I have over 600 clients. By the way the first 4 or 5 are fun. But working from daylight to after dark 7 days a week for a month gets to be work. My clients kept asking for additional services. Especially sprinkler repair.
With a full time job, I didn't have time and energy for all I was asked to do. I tried to find others I felt I could recommend to my clients but was unsuccessful. I got a job landscaping two houses for a contractor to help him out of a bind (the new owner was moving in and his landscaper went to Mexico) and made $1500 profit in a week.

Then I lost my job and was unemployed. I said I wanted something I wouldn't get fired again. So I started my own lawn care business. I have about $4000 invested in equipment (other than truck). I made that from blowing sprinklers out. So no money out of my pocket to start up.

I am in the process of contacting my clients from sprinkler blowouts to see if I can mow their lawns. I have also subcontracted with a local herbicide and pesticide applicator to mow lawns for his clients. This has worked out very well for the both of us. Today I got a $90/week mowing job from his lead.

My biodiesel shed is closed for the winter, but I will soon be starting it up. When I do, I will post some pictures.

Sorry for the long post.

Steve 01-28-2010 01:59 AM

Quote:

My original intentions with the sprinkler blowouts was to do about 150 - 200 a year (working just weekends) and make an easy $5000. I got into it because I thought they charged too much and the work was easy!!

Now I have over 600 clients. By the way the first 4 or 5 are fun. But working from daylight to after dark 7 days a week for a month gets to be work. My clients kept asking for additional services. Especially sprinkler repair.
Do you also handle sprinkler repairs?

I would figure with those two things alone you could be super busy!

Quote:

Now I have over 600 clients.
That's an amazing amount of clients! What kinds of things did you do to promote yourself?

biodale 01-28-2010 11:50 PM

Here's how I got 600 customers
 
I use signs.
Strategically placed signs. Most competitors signs are placed in the bar ditch and weeds at busy street corners. That is a mistake for two major reasons. 1) People from all over see the sign. That means you will be traveling all over the city. Using lots of gas and not getting much work done. Twenty minutes spent driving makes no money and it is time that could have been used to service one more customer. 2) Drivers are watching the road and other cars at busy intersections. They are not reading the sign and taking down a number.

I place my signs on the side road leading into a development I want to target. I find a homeowner who will let me place my sign in a conspicuous place in his yard. I winterize his system at no charge. Everyone driving into the development sees my sign surrounded by a manicured sea of lawn. Many people who call think I live there and they want to do business with a neighbor. I get many customers all living close together. Sometimes I spend 2 or 3 days in one development. It might take me a week to drive 20 miles. All that time many waste driving to the next appointment I use to service more customers and make more money.

I also work hard to keep the customers I have. In my view, the best customer is the one I have. So I keep the customers I have and grow a bit every year. I do lose customers to relocation, etc. But I call them every year and they grow to expect me. One customer said three competitors had knocked on his door but he waited for me. I have even had competitors say they were me to get a client's business away from me.

I have been doing this for eight years. It takes time to develop a loyal clientele.

Steve 01-29-2010 07:34 PM

That is brilliant!

Was there a certain year in your business's development that you really started to see more customers sign up?

A lot of first year lawn care businesses that read this forum tend to want a ton of customers in their first year and it just doesn't seem to happen that way. As you said, it takes time, but I am sure others are wonder how much time? How long until they get a sizable amount?

Also, I love the yard sign idea, but what about when you are on site? Do you get many new customers that walk up as you are working? Do you have truck signs or trailer signs? Do you wear a uniform? What is your view on that?

Quote:

I also work hard to keep the customers I have.
What kinds of things should a lawn care business owner be doing to work at keeping the customers they have?

gibson 01-31-2010 10:41 AM

I have been in and out of the business for 16 years. What I mean is that I built a pertty strong company and sold out to one of my employees. I am a full time firefighter so I am lucky to have some spare time on my hands to mow a few yards. I have a daughter that will be starting college soon and I am just looking for some good marketing tips and this site seems to have a lot of what I'm looking for. So thank you to everyone who has posted and will post in the future and I hope I may be able to help some of you good people out with some good info.

MikeO 01-31-2010 11:55 AM

dumb question
 
how do you winterize the sprinkler system?

Steve 01-31-2010 10:28 PM

Quote:

I have been in and out of the business for 16 years. What I mean is that I built a pertty strong company and sold out to one of my employees. I am a full time firefighter so I am lucky to have some spare time on my hands to mow a few yards. I have a daughter that will be starting college soon and I am just looking for some good marketing tips and this site seems to have a lot of what I'm looking for. So thank you to everyone who has posted and will post in the future and I hope I may be able to help some of you good people out with some good info.
Could you make another post about this in a new thread and tell us about some of the marketing ideas you used in the past that you liked or didnt like? I bet that would help kick the discussion off.

biodale 01-31-2010 11:03 PM

winterizing sprinkler system
 
Where I am from it freezes down a foot or so in the winter. When I winterize a system I isolate the system from city or irrigation water and using an air compressor empty the lines of water. Its big business in the fall as each system has to have it done or risk broken water pipes in the spring. I also do sprinkler repair so I can make money either way.


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