I'm not sure why it took me this long to discover Gopher had a discussion board, but I'm glad I did. The other sites tend to lack the out of the box thinking and winning attitude that I have lived by for years, so I ended up here. It's nice to see an intelligent forum with success for all in mind, and I truly enjoy all the posts by the Gopher staff in reference to other's ideas and their success. There's something to learn from everyone. Hopefully I can bring more people over for some great discussions.
As for what's going on with me this year, I started back part time this year as I had landed over the winter what appeared to be a golden opportunity job and tried to make both that and my business work. Long story short, I just can't seem to work for anyone else! *
So back full time as of late April, however most of my customers were landed in May and June of last year so it's good timing.
My business is only mow and go and has been for two years now. I only use postcard advertising hand delivered door to door to gain my customers. We run 21" toro prolines, no trailers, two trimmers and 1 blower. Basically everything is paid for, and with 22 lawns or more per day it's going well. My next step is getting out of the truck and starting another crew. I have learned a great deal from my first year doing this, mostly:
Keep it simple! I decided to narrow my business down and focus on the 5 main things that I needed to focus on and the rest would take care of itself. ( I got this from reading someone's post somewhere regarding if you focus on the most important 20% of your business, you will succeed. If you know which book this is please let me know as I don't have all the details, I just decided to use the theory. I really would like to read this book!! Thanks!)
Anyway, the 5 for me were extremely simple:
1) Find a cost effective way to distribute postcards. I always without fail generate 1.2 - 1.8 % landed job rate from my cards. So basically it's a sure bet if 5000 go out, I'll always get 60 customers or more.
2) Do quality work! Sounds like a no brainer, but in fact my * *major competition now here in the Austin market in fact has a huge turn-over of customers from year to year. Although my business method involves somewhat of a revolving door scenerio, retention is a key priority now for me. This DOES NOT mean I stray from my guidelines of service however. It's about a win-win situation with your customer.
3) Strive for automation. I've had almost 80% of new customers sign up online without ever talking to them. *There's nothing better than coming home to 15 e-mails of people signing up for service with their credit card ready to go.
4) Answer phones and return emails promptly! While missing calls can possibly cost you a job, make sure your voice mail directs them to #3, your website to sign up. Always leave them with YOU in mind. I currently do not have a phone person, although it's coming up on that very soon. However, with the proper voice mail greeting you can have people signing up anyway. (Provided you convince them with your website)
5) Maintain the equipment. Again, a no brainer, but honestly I was running low on things to make my biz successful while putting it together over the winter so this came to mind for the #5 slot. There's nothing worse than trying to start a trimmer on lawn #15 and it not starting with 8 more to go.
I should also say that I pay my help extremely well also, and I only work with people I respect and admire. I am not doing this soley for income, but for personal satisfaction and achievement as well. Therefore, although I do watch P & L and numbers carefully, I would much rather create a successful work environment for everyone in which we all can grow. This has always paid off for me in the long run, as it's universal law and cannot fail.
If anyone has any other questions feel free to ask away. It's great to see you guys and I look forward to spending more time on this forum.
Best wishes! *