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Introduce Yourself Welcome all new forum members. Please introduce yourself and tell us about you. Tell us about your company. How did you get started? How long have you been in business? What do you do for fun? Don't be shy, say hello! It's fun and educational to interact on the forum!

Hello from Southwest Florida


Introduce Yourself

Welcome all new forum members. Please introduce yourself and tell us about you. Tell us about your company. How did you get started? How long have you been in business? What do you do for fun? Don't be shy, say hello! It's fun and educational to interact on the forum!
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  #11  
Old 11-21-2009, 07:05 PM
dhawk dhawk is offline
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Sometimes knowing what NOT to do can be more important than knowing what to do.

Can you share with us a few of your thoughts that new business owners should not do?

Dont's - that could be a whole thread in itself, it it isn't already..
Some of this is Lawn Related, some of it goes for any type business

1. Don't ever give up. There will be times that you will want to.

2. Don't spread yourself too thin. One person can only do so much. This was a hard one for me to learn. I tried to run a business and mantain a full time job - that was a disaster in the second year when the biz really started cranking and I did not have the infrastructure in place to support it. I ended up in the hospital from the stress and lack of sleep.

3. Don't scalp a lawn - EVER

4. Don't be afraid to price it where it is worth doing the job. I have a tendancy to underestimat the time to do a job.

5. If you are new, find a commrade to help you with areas that you are not strong in.

My wife is an accountant, so I am lucky in that regard. I am ok at sales, web design, and search engine optomization, so I do that. I have a biz relationship with a pest control person who helps me diagnose whats wrong with a lawn. My whole mission is to have healthy, happy lawns. It is not as easy as I originally thought.

6. Don't be afraid to venture out into areas that are outside your comfort realm.

7. Don't ever forget how important your customers are - golden rule in my book

8. Don't start without proper licensing.

9. Don't work for free. Profit is not a bad word.

10. Don't forget to check if the lawn is wet.

11. Don't wait too long if you suspect something is wrong with a lawn.

12. Don't let overhead get out of control. The more it cost to run the biz, the less profit. You have to find the balance - you still have to have good equipment and proper maintenance

13. Don't expect someone elses methods to work for you. You need to develop your own style, communication, scheduling, customer interaction, estimating, everything.
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  #12  
Old 11-22-2009, 01:57 AM
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You hit on a lot of great points here. I especially thought this one stood out.

Quote:
2. Don't spread yourself too thin. One person can only do so much. This was a hard one for me to learn. I tried to run a business and mantain a full time job - that was a disaster in the second year when the biz really started cranking and I did not have the infrastructure in place to support it. I ended up in the hospital from the stress and lack of sleep.
I think a lot of forum readers find themselves in this situation.

What advice would you suggest to remedy this if another finds themselves in the same spot?
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  #13  
Old 11-22-2009, 05:55 AM
dhawk dhawk is offline
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You hit on a lot of great points here. I especially thought this one stood out.



I think a lot of forum readers find themselves in this situation.

What advice would you suggest to remedy this if another finds themselves in the same spot?
Well - my remedy was getting laid off. It is amazing how you will step out and go for it when there is no other option and your family depends on you.

Not my suggestion for anyone else.

When I got the pink slip from my comfy six digit white collar job, I knew what I was going to do. It was the first time I was ever able to devote myself 100% to one of my businesses. Gads, what a difference it makes.

The economy here in Southwest Florida is really bad, and I did not even waste one day looking for a job. I had already been looking at existing businesses (less then 15 customers) for sale, so I made the jump, bought it, and ran with it.

Being able to devote all of my time to it is key. In three months time (and going into dry season) I have managed to doubled the revenue.

I'm really not worried any more about IF the biz is viable - I just have to survive this first dry season. By next rainy season, I will be fine - I just have to come up with an expansion plan to handle the business I am going to have by then.

I had to spread out and do a lot of different things to keep it growing during the slow time - I started doing home watch and foreclosure clean ups. I am looking into offering pool services. The more of a one stop shop I am, the more my customers seem to like it.

I guess if I had to make one suggestion, it would be to save as much money as you can before you jump ship on your day job. But you MUST jump ship eventually, or you will kill yourself trying to keep up with both.

At a minimum, 6 months or a years worth of salary set back to get you by as you grow the biz (of course, the amount of money you will need depends on a lot of variables).

But - it can be done the hard way (no cushion set back), but it is really, really scary. I still worry about making the bills each month. ( I am also so much happier now, it is amazing)

If you are personable and half way decent at sales, you will be amazed at how quickly it will grow when you don't have a "real job" getting in the way.

My other suggestion - make sure that you are cut out to run your own biz, or have support in your weak areas.

If you are not comfortable pitching your service to anyone and everyone you bump into, you are going to have problems. I pitch everywhere I go - stores, restaraunts, you name it.

Network - there are many opportunities to network and get referrals in the process.

Be smart about your networking. I pick tree trimmers, pest control companies, and pool services. They have customers that might not be happy with their current lawn service. If someone is scalping lawns and not letting the customer know about a grub infestation, I will eventually get that account.

I wonder if everyone turns into advisors to their customers like I do.......

Last edited by dhawk; 11-22-2009 at 05:58 AM.
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  #14  
Old 11-22-2009, 12:36 PM
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Very fascinating!

Quote:
The economy here in Southwest Florida is really bad, and I did not even waste one day looking for a job. I had already been looking at existing businesses (less then 15 customers) for sale, so I made the jump, bought it, and ran with it.
How important do you feel it was to purchase an existing business versus start one from scratch? Do you feel this should be done to at least get the momentum going quickly? Or do you wish you had just started from scratch?

Also, do you have any advice or things to look out for when purchasing an existing lawn care business?
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  #15  
Old 11-22-2009, 06:26 PM
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Very fascinating!

How important do you feel it was to purchase an existing business versus start one from scratch? Do you feel this should be done to at least get the momentum going quickly? Or do you wish you had just started from scratch?

Also, do you have any advice or things to look out for when purchasing an existing lawn care business?
I'm glad I bought with a few accounts.
It quickened the learning curve and gave me exposure.

When buying an existing:
1) Make sure most of the accounts will transfer.
2)Expect some clients to not transfer to you.
3)Try to meet some of the clients, and check the yards out that you will be doing. It will also clue you in if there was something wrong with the service prior to you purchasing it.
4)There might be some unhappy customers that you will have to win over
5)Of course, make sure the equipment is good. Under warranty is even better.
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Old 11-22-2009, 06:56 PM
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1) Make sure most of the accounts will transfer.
How does one go about doing this?

Also, did you ever ask the previous owner why they were selling? Was that important for you to know?

Did you have some kind of non-compete contract so the owner couldn't restart a new business and take back the customers?

Did you take over any employees?

How did the customers who were sold, take to you?
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  #17  
Old 11-23-2009, 04:59 AM
dhawk dhawk is offline
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How does one go about doing this?

Also, did you ever ask the previous owner why they were selling? Was that important for you to know?

Did you have some kind of non-compete contract so the owner couldn't restart a new business and take back the customers?

Did you take over any employees?

How did the customers who were sold, take to you?
I met with as many customers as I could before the sale.
I also ran the business for a month before we sent out letters announcing the sale.

The previous owner had some medical problems that forced the sale.
I did not do a no compete - actually he still refers customers to me. If it had been any other scenario, I probably would have done a no compete.

Did I take any employees - no. He only used a couple people part time. I wanted to run it by myself, along with my wife, starting out, just to make sure that my customers were happy.

How did the customers take to me? I only lost one customer, who was about to cancel their service anyways. The rest of them have been fine with the change.
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