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-   -   A few questions about starting my business (http://www.gopherforum.com/showthread.php?t=15216)

kymd82 11-30-2011 12:51 PM

A few questions about starting my business
 
Hello,

I have been a landscape laborer for years, and have decided to start my own company. I have been doing "side jobs" for years by word of mouth. I do have a couple of questions, and any help would be greatly appreciated.

1. I'm looking to pass out flyers for the spring season - mowing, trimming, edging, mulching, etc. I live in Indiana. Will I be likely to get any customers at this time of year, or is it a waste of time?

2. In my first year, I will only be servicing residential clients. No commercial jobs. Should I use contracts? I have a contract written out, but am worried that it might "scare" some potential clients off. What is the norm for residential clients?

Thanks for your help!

Ducke 11-30-2011 06:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kymd82 (Post 97835)

1. I'm looking to pass out flyers for the spring season - mowing, trimming, edging, mulching, etc. I live in Indiana. Will I be likely to get any customers at this time of year, or is it a waste of time?

Spring time is a great time to get customers, But start your ground work now. Get out and meet potential customer in your area. Get your flyers layed out and printed make up a Crag's list ad etc.now is the time to do it come spring hopefully you won't have the time.

Quote:

Originally Posted by kymd82 (Post 97835)
2. In my first year, I will only be servicing residential clients. No commercial jobs. Should I use contracts? I have a contract written out, but am worried that it might "scare" some potential clients off. What is the norm for residential clients?

No a big person on forcing the 85 year old widow down the road to sign a contract. I would say this is a personal call on your part if you can trust the people you work for. 99% of my customers pay when I mow. the rest the monthly payers I keep on a short string till we got a relationship built up.
I am saving the contracts for the commercial jobs.

I hope this helps.
Graham

FaccLndscpng 11-30-2011 08:20 PM

I agree with Ducke, the 90 year old widow isnít the problem but watch out for tenants. I used contracts for a lot of my residential just so everyone was on the same page with service frequency, payment terms (make sure to have a late fee and a returned check fee because that will come up and why should you have to pay your bank for a returned check) and in the event of damages. You canít go wrong with contracts, I havenít scared anyone off with them and if someone was a little questionable with it I just said it was for liability purposes (which for the most part it is). For PA its early, generally people donít care about landscaping until after the holidays, actually the first day it hits 50 degrees everyone goes crazy they all wash their car and call to start mulching so in my experience if you were to send out flyers it might go in a pile of paper work or sit on their desk until Feb. Good luck with everything, and try to hook up with a residential property manager, they usually have multiple properties and in my experiences pay the bill then get reimbursed by the tenant so you donít have to track down someone that moved out of town.

Steve 12-01-2011 09:33 AM

Quote:

I used contracts for a lot of my residential just so everyone was on the same page with service frequency, payment terms (make sure to have a late fee and a returned check fee because that will come up and why should you have to pay your bank for a returned check) and in the event of damages.
Did you start doing this the first year you got started or did you enact this policy later after a year or two? How did you phase it in with current customers?

Quote:

I have been a landscape laborer for years, and have decided to start my own company. I have been doing "side jobs" for years by word of mouth.
Welcome to our forum! From your experience, I bet you have learned a lot of what you want to do and what you don't want to do with your company as compared with the company you work for.

Do any lessons stand out that you feel will help you in the operation of your business?

Did you ever find yourself doing side jobs for the customers of your employer? Or did you see any other problems the other employees caused for the company that you will look to avoid later with yours?

kymd82 12-01-2011 10:30 AM

Steve,

I would say there was a re-acurring theme in the companies that I worked for - trying to grow too much too fast, and putting way too much equipment on credit. This was the downfall of the last company that I worked for. I saw the writing on the wall when I realized they had $150,000 on credit in trucks, $50,000 in mowers, and the list goes on. This for a company of 15-20 people. The biggest client is signing with someone else next year, which leaves them on the brink of bankruptcy. It was a big lesson for me as a start my own business. Everything that I've bought so far for the business is fully paid for.

I never did "side jobs" for customers. At times, I was tempted. The company I was with didn't pay well. Find good employees, and pay them well. They'll respect you more, and be more loyal to the company.

Thanks to everyone for your help regarding contracts and flyers. Great forum!

Steve 12-01-2011 03:55 PM

That is very interesting! You are really going to benefit from all your knowledge.

What is your view on why these companies push for so much growth and leverage themselves so far out?

How can that temptation to do that be kept in check so you or others reading this don't fall into the same trap?

It must be something that once it gets a hold of you, really wraps itself around you and blinds you.

FaccLndscpng 12-01-2011 09:30 PM

Steve,
No this was gradually put into effect, I was too young when I first started to get customers to sign contracts so it took me like 2-3 years before I was able to get everyone to sign minus the family members and the select few that I didnít worry about. First I would just require new customers to sign then the next season I just sent out a letter to my existing customers (the ones that I wanted to sign a contract) basically saying welcome to a new season, this is whatís new, when we will be starting and enclosed please find a contract for services. I said that we have been doing business for a few years now and this way we can all be on the same page. I also raised a lot of their prices so it was like a fresh start, like I said before no one was scared off and the few that had questions were no big deal.

Steve 12-02-2011 07:13 PM

Quote:

I also raised a lot of their prices so it was like a fresh start
This is a great point to consider as well.

What was your view on how you chose which customers to raise their prices and then how did you determine what % you should raise it?

FaccLndscpng 12-06-2011 03:35 PM

Steve,
A lot of my customers have been with me from the beginning so I didnít have the overhead that I do now so I raised them like 20% it wasnít a big deal. For the most part I knew what the norm was for that area so I tried to stay within.

Steve 12-07-2011 08:00 PM

As you look at your growth, do you see certain overhead expenses grow a lot faster than others?

Do the newer lawn care business owners need to keep a heads up about those expenses?


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