Well, I was in retail management for more than 10 years. I know business (although a few tips and pointers is ALWAYS welcome).
In 2005, I was working as an assistant store manager at a large local construction supply chain. In April, my third child was born. A little girl (after two boys). She's a special needs child with a rare genetic syndrome called Trisomy 9 Mosaic Syndrome (you can read more about my baby girl and her medical struggles at http://www.MaggiBlair.com/).
She was in Neonatal ICU for the first three weeks of her life. After that, she was scheduled for TONS of doctor and specialist appointments to determine what her diagnosis and prognosis would be.
My work was very lenient with me for a month, then when I went back, they tried to transfer me 30+ miles away (I was previously working 6 miles from my home). I told them that with everything going on with my daughter, I just couldn't do it. They told me it was either transfer, or I wouldn't have a job. I figured at that point that God had a different plan for me, so I left their company.
I took up doing web design to make a little money, and that branched into a business. After 2+ years of doing that, I finally realized that my knowledge of web design was so limited that I couldn't keep up with the newer technology that was growing at exponential rates.
At the same time, my new partner was going through struggles with his old partner (they did pressure washing). They decided to fold the business. I talked him into keeping his half the business and coming to talk with me. We decided that we could go into business for ourselves, that was I wouldn't have to worry about getting a job just to be released weeks or months later due to the excessive call-outs and such from the ER visits we still go through with our daughter (on top of that, my wife has a brain tumor and recurring ovarian cysts).
We bonded in the business world and "Green & Clean" was born. With my knowledge of the internet and all it's many resources, I set out to figure out the best ways to get this particular business going... how to properly market it, tips and tricks about the lawn care and pressure washing industries, and good ways to make money in the off season. I found this forum and have been putting many of it's ideas and resources (flyers, door hangers, etc) to good use (as you can see from my site).
We have found that constant communication is the key to a good partnership. My wife does the office management, and Jason and I go do the estimating and the labor. My wife also comes from an extensive landscaping background, having worked for one of the premier landscaping companies in the Los Angeles County area of California (they did contracts for BIG names (Rob Zombie, for one
)). So we're ready to blow up. We already have bids (for both lawn maintenance and pressure washing) on the table with many corporate clients (McDonalds, BP Oil, Burger King, and others) in our area, as well as calls coming in from residential clients.
More about the partnership communication- we have found that weekly business dinners have helped us stay on the same page and focused. Jason and his wife come to our house once a week for dinner. We discuss what we've done, what we're doing currently, and what needs to be done next. We discuss what we have and what we need. Oh yeah... and Jason and I go out after dinner and throw about 4-5,000 flyers, too. (THANK YOU
) We take the flyers (that I manipulate), fold them, and staple them to a small ziploc style bag with a couple of small rocks in it (for weight) and throw them in 7-8 neighborhoods to every house (and drop one in the Home Owners Association box, too).
Suggestions? I think the only real suggestions I could have would be constant communication with your partner (and your employees). That comes from so many years in retail management. ...and persistent marketing. I plan to take flyers out when I take the kids out trick-or-treating (thanks for the idea!)... I also plan to have a haunted garage this year... next year, hopefully, we'll have warehouse space (already working on that). If we do, then we're going to do the costume contest idea!
You guys are great! I'm VERY jealous of everyone's equipment, but I am also very inspired by the ex-military guy who carries (carried?) his weed whacker and push mower in the trunk of his car. Currently, we have a Snapper Hydrostatic lawn tractor with a 42" deck, 2 push mowers, a weed-whacker, electric hedge trimmers, electric blower, a few rakes and a 5'x10' trailer to pull behind my partner's truck. We also have a pressure washer (4000psi), 150' of high pressure hose, a 275 gallon tank (getting 2 more for $75 (total, not each) soon) and two wands. We're drooling over some of the set-ups that we have seen on here. One day... one day...
Thanks for the warm welcome. I plan on putting Gopher banners on my site soon (it's still a work in progress). Maybe that'll boost my chances for the signs from AMW, eh?
Oh and thanks for the compliment on the site and the logo. I did it all myself (former web designer, you know...lol). If anybody needs some help with their site, or wants to have their own site, shoot me an email. I wouldn't mind doing some basic web design work on the side as well. (I love money)
Thanks again for the welcome! I fully intend to GOPHER IT!
Green & Clean