Originally Posted by Steve
I know this has already been asked, but do you have any advice for newer lawn care business owners that are looking into their future and hoping they can get to the point where they aren't in the field and instead, spend more time managing?
What kind of traps of pitfalls do they have to avoid to get there?
well steve and xandrew, there are some things about my plans that i legally can not talk about yet but when i can i will certainly share them with all when that time comes.
some of the things i can share i have been contemplating for a few years now and at this point and being 47 as the old saying goes " **** or get of the pot "
and by that i mean you have to be willing to change your entire philosophy on everything that gets done.
first off, we are landscapers. we all work hard and we all have high hopes but we all fall into the same trap of needing to have control over everything.
there is nothing wrong with that but the problem is and the trap we fall into is we have a tendency to seize control of the wrong things.
i always thought that if i was present on the job that the work would always get done properly and by being on the job i would also have better control over how the trucks get driven and how the machines get cared for and how the customer views my company.
the problem with that although it has had it's success is you can not dedicate the time needed as well as focus on the important things you need to focus on as a business owner.
as a business owner, you need to have rock solid proven systems in place where that it gets to the point where it runs itself.
by that i mean once you get past the start up stages you need to have every element of the business from a to z figured out and people in place to deal with it.
not so much what jobs get done and on what day but every aspect of the business from finances, accounting, hiring, marketing ( which there are 7 major elements to that alone) to short term and long term plans on where you need to be.
some of us spend a good deal of our lives learning the trade and working it and when we start a business we just carry on with what we know and none of us really learn or know truly how to operate a business and some of us do a great job pretending.
a lot of us start from nothing and we have some success and see growth or at least think we see growth and then we think we know what we are doing and just keep plugging away and repeat that bobbing stroke, repeat that bobbing stroke.
then we find ourselves making more money every year and once again we think we got it all figured out.
to give you a idea as to what i am getting at i will use myself as a example.
i am on pace this year to hitting 600,000 in sales.
sounds good right, and i bet you think wow this guy is doing great and i want to get there.
well first let me say, that 600,000 k ain't squat and i am still in the small business category and barely a blip on the radar.
second, do you really know how much freaking grass you need to cut and how many shrubs you need to trim and how many flowers you have to plant and how much mulch you need to spread to make that money?
well i will tell you, it is a sheetload and until you do it it is what ever you think it is x's 10.
you will never know until you have to do it.
my point is i can not even begin to tell you what it cost to make that money and long story short what is left is not what you would think it is.
i could probably make the same money as a successful sales rep for a big company.
i am cool with the costs because in the end it takes money to make money but i need to make more if i want to put myself past the point of a excellent high end job in this industry and if your goal is not to surpass what the highest paying job in the industry is then you have no business running a business.
in order to bust into the next level i need to manage my business and i probably should have done it years ago but it is what it is.
you have to lose the cutter mentality, you are a businessman (or woman)
your business will not grow if you are driving crews around and sitting on a mower all day and you need to be out there drumming up business and managing a business, that is why you hire help to cut the grass.
i am sure a lot of people read this and say, " hey i spend time drumming up business and i don't know who you are talking about " and i say unless you are doing it for 6 to 8 hrs a day and covering every aspect of sales and exhausting them it will level off.
not all leads result in a job and it on average it takes 6 to 12 months for a lead to come to light.
and the few you get come from hundreds that you pursue.
you pick your market ratio of what you want to do, do you want to do commercial or do you want to do residential?
do you want a mix like a 60/40 mix of residential or commercial?
then there is marketing, there is social media, target marketing, networking, mailings, standard advertising, cold calling and good old market recondition.
are you focusing on a couple or are you doing it all and a lot of it?
you should be doing it all and lots and lots of it because it all works and some better then others but it all adds up to a job hear and a job there and it is easy to focus on the things that work best and discard the rest.
are you a member of any homeowner associations or property management associations or any associations that pertain to institutions ?
if so do you go to the meetings regularly? that is a small glimpse into what real networking is all about and that is how you land the big jobs.
big jobs result in big money and do you want to cut 200 lawns every week at 40 bucks a pop or do you want to service 10, 20, 30 or more big properties that will fetch 10 times the money as 200 homeowners which results in fewer locations to deal with and at least 150 less bosses telling you what to do.
do you want to waste your time waiting on 200 bucks from mrs jones or do you want to be waiting on a check for 50 grand? although i hate waiting like anyone else i would rather wait on the latter.
i could go on for hours and it will probably take several posts to really even touch base and explain what i am really even talking about but what i am saying in a nut shell is that for every 100 grand you make it may cost you 50 to 70 grand to make that and you can cut costs by doing as much yourself but then you will level off and get maxed out and that is where you stay and as a business you need to constantly grow in revenue.
there is no magic number to success, if you make 50 k this year then next year you need to make 100k and so on and so on and that is what i did but now i have maxed out and leveled off and in order to keep growing i need to change my business model and work under a increased and better system.
my advice to anyone starting out is to never lose sight of that and you should not only work on how to increase you revenue but you must work on getting to the point where you hire people to do the work and focus on running the business and you are no longer riding a mower all day.
the money you think you are saving by being there pails into comparison to what you are losing in missed opportunities because you are not building your business because you are riding a mower all day.
there is many other area's to cover and reasons to what i am doing and like i said it will probably come to light in further posts because as you already seen this post is a mile long and i am actually getting sick of typing at this point but if you need further clarification as to what i am working on just ask away and if it is something i can discuss i will gladly discuss it further.
thanks for reading, Dan