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-   -   The recap of my first year: (http://www.gopherforum.com/showthread.php?t=17936)

yourscape 01-11-2013 07:05 AM

The recap of my first year:
 
The recap of my first year:

First off, I just moved here from out of state not knowing anyone, never really doing this type of service beside my own yard and helping neighbors out. I was able to go out and purchase new equipment which was a piece of mind for me since I did not want to tackle the repairs and maintenance at first.

Starting out I was very anxious and felt overwhelmed with everything going on from learning the business concepts then gaining customers. This was one of my biggest challenges to overcome. I started out with my advertisements of door hangers, Craigslist, local mailing paper and tear off signs. The calls started to come in and felt I need to provide a rate that would still allow me to make a profit but be able to gain customers. I did not want to be a lowballer since I knew it would only hurt me in the long run if I wanted to retain any of my new customers.

To start the season I had 8 customers ranging from $30 to $50 per cut. During this I started to realize I did alright with the bidding minus 1-2 of them. Retention was good, there was only one customer that I did not go back after the first cut. This customer and I mutually agreed to go our different way because after the first cut she was expect a lot more than the original estimate and I told her we need to adjust prices if she want me to continue the service that way.

During the season there became different challenges from dealing with weather (no rain) other little issues that come up. I was able to land about 10-15 different side job doing mulch, hedges, gutters and boarder work which helped a lot. Theses side job are what get you ahead and where the better profits are. Your maintenance jobs are the ones that pay for your expenses (truck, insurance, advertising, maintenance and building capital for equipment) that is how I am looking at it. I was able to pick up a couple more customers from word of mouth and people seeing my work at other properties. Cheep advice, when you are out working everyone is watching you from neighbors to potential customers driving, look professional and treat other properties as it was your own. When school started back it was interesting because I pick up another 3-4 customers due to their old company was becoming unreliable. I ended up with 16 clients and 4-5 occasional customers.

Advise and things I have learned:

- Find a good software program for invoicing right away. I do use Gopher software.
- Understand some customers and you will have a personality conflict, try to work it out.
- Some customers are almost impossible to please unless you spend hours at their house
- Some customers donít understand that you are not there only customer
- Billing, remember there invoice is your pay check and customers donít understand that
- Customers donít understand that there price has to cover maintenance, drive time, and company expenses to.
- Keep you grounds or you will start to be walked all over buy a picky customer.
- Have your company information and phone number on you truck/trailer.
- Positive: There are customers out there that treat you like gold and appreciate every effort you make.
- Keep reading this blog and many others there is a lot of useful information on here.

I have enjoyed my first year in service and looking forward to many more. I know there will be many more challenges to come and will take one at a time.

Feel from to add your experiences and suggestion to challenges you have encountered.

phouse65 01-11-2013 08:42 AM

Sounds like your on the right track
 
I have recently moved here to Ohio from Connecticut. I was wondering what part of Ohio? It is always good to know another company in case you need some help. Sounds like you had a great year and learned a lot. Keep it up.

yourscape 01-11-2013 09:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by phouse65 (Post 120527)
I have recently moved here to Ohio from Connecticut. I was wondering what part of Ohio? It is always good to know another company in case you need some help. Sounds like you had a great year and learned a lot. Keep it up.

I am west of Cleveland, in Elyria.

Is there a soil difference from where you moved? That has been a challenge for me.

Steve 01-11-2013 02:36 PM

That is some great insight!

Looking back on the year, would you have changed anything or liked to have done anything differently if you could do it over?

What will you do differently this new year compared to last year?

Cheeze Wiz 01-11-2013 08:50 PM

Awesome post Congratulation on a successful first year.

phouse65 01-13-2013 10:10 AM

clay
 
The soil seems to be a bit clayish

yourscape 01-13-2013 08:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steve (Post 120550)
That is some great insight!

Looking back on the year, would you have changed anything or liked to have done anything differently if you could do it over?

What will you do differently this new year compared to last year?

Over all i was pretty happy but at the end of the year it seemed like customers didn't want to pay. I did end up getting paid from everyone but I felt like crap hounding them down.

Next year I am going to push for prepay or credit card payment to try to eliminate some of troubles I had.

The other thing I want to change is to focus more on commercial customers then residential.

thom 01-14-2013 01:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by yourscape (Post 120627)
Over all i was pretty happy but at the end of the year it seemed like customers didn't want to pay. I did end up getting paid from everyone but I felt like crap hounding them down.

Next year I am going to push for prepay or credit card payment to try to eliminate some of troubles I had.

The other thing I want to change is to focus more on commercial customers then residential.

What excuses did your customers use to avoid paying you?

Steve 01-14-2013 02:01 PM

Quote:

The other thing I want to change is to focus more on commercial customers then residential
Also, what is your view on why you want to go in this direction?

yourscape 01-14-2013 02:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thom (Post 120638)
What excuses did your customers use to avoid paying you?

The only excuse I have received is that I total forgot along with an apology, but that is after 2 invoices and a couple of phone calls.


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