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Old 01-24-2012, 02:29 PM
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IVPropertyMaintenance IVPropertyMaintenance is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Cave Junction, OR
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Arrow I'm New, Thanks For Having Me..

I guess a good introduction would start with my name. I'm Chris and I am the owner/operator of IV Property Maintenance. I'm 26 and am originally from Oceanside, CA. I service the Illinois Valley in Southern Oregon. The Illinois Valley (IV) is rather rural and consists of four towns; O'Brien, OR; Cave Junction, OR; Kirby, OR; and Selma, OR. Total population for the entire valley is a little over 7000.

I just started my business in the spring of 2011 and have seen good growth. In a small community like this it is critical to maintain a good name for yourself. Good words travel fast and bad ones travel faster. The main thing this area was missing was a reliable source of landscape maintenance. There are only a couple others that are what I would consider to be "competition" and the only reason they are still around is because they have made a good name for themselves over the years.

I am finding very quickly how much people truly appreciate customer service. This is a term that used to be valued more than it is lately. I find that if my customer truly believes that I am trying to help them, they open up and trust me more. I can honestly say that I have a unique relationship with all of my customers. I know that as I grow, it will be harder for me to find the time to catch up with them but I will never lose the time it takes to make sure my customers know they will be taken care of.

As far as what brought me to start this business I would have to say that the leading cause was that longing for freedom. When I first moved to Oregon I spent a few years as a wildland firefighter. I spent the winters in the middle of a forest thinning for fire reduction and the summers away on a fire or by my phone waiting for a call. There was NO time to do anything enjoyable. About the only thing I enjoyed was being outdoors. I looked for an opportunity to become my own boss and found that in lawn care. I also found that I now have more than one boss (my customers) but I have the freedom to enjoy life again. I can't say that I've ever been happier.

I must say, I do have some concerns though. If you have time and could reply back addressing any of my questions below I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you all and I look forward to being a part of this forum. By the way Steve, your YouTube videos gave me the know-how to get this far, Thanks! Please ask any questions and I'll try to get answers up when I can. Thanks again everyone!

CONCERNS:

Our valley has a lot of elderly people as well as people on tight budgets. (I know that is similar all over with these times). It truly does seem like cost is a huge thing for them and honestly, I am contending with people who will work for $10/hr. I tried making it on charging $15/hr which people were okay with because I have my own equipment and typically the $10/hr guys aren't the most reliable or trustworthy. Now I'm finding that it leaves little room for saving to purchase new equipment and repairing existing stuff. I understand that I need to adjust my prices, I just worry about if they will pay. I mentioned there were two "competitors" in the area. These guys don't even have crews (neither do I, but I plan to if i'm around as long as they have been). They do it all themselves. One guy charges $20/hr and the other $25/hr. But that's it, I mean is that my limit? Who would pay any more for someone who hasn't even been around as long?

Also, should I take that as a red flag that these guys have been around for years and still only charge $20-$25/hr? Like I said, they work by themselves. Could it be that they would rather not deal with have a couple crews or is it that the demand just isn't there? I know that's hard to judge without being in my shoes and knowing the area but I'm hoping someone out there could offer some advice.

I guess my last concern is that things have greatly slowed down into this winter. When should I be making my big push again? It just seems like customers stopped calling and are putting everything on hold until it warms up. I need a way to get myself working in their yards again so I can show them what still needs to be done even if it's cold outside.
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