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Starting a lawn care business. How to start a lawn mowing business, lawn care business, or landscaping business. If you are starting a lawn care business, ask your questions here.

It may be time for a hard choice


Starting a lawn care business.

How to start a lawn mowing business, lawn care business, or landscaping business. If you are starting a lawn care business, ask your questions here.
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  #11  
Old 09-04-2010, 12:27 PM
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You hit on a lot of great points that I think effect many who read the forum.

When you said



we talk about this from time to time, but can you tell us how building a business too fast can effect it? Everyone tends to think that you should build your business as fast as you can, but how do you feel it effected the implosion?

What do you feel is a business implosion?

Also what do you feel would be the best way to turn it all around, now that you have gotten all this thought out?
Its a hard one to explain Steve but for example lets say you are expanding which is what we were working on when all hell broke loose. You are dumping a lot of time and money into an expansion and before you know it its getting bigger and bigger but your management skills have not evolved as fast as the business itself has, it ends up being mismanaged and the workload grows faster than the bank accounts do to the aforementioned mismanagement and before you know it you dont have the money to put gas in the lawn mower. It all comes down to poor management, you pay so much attention to new business you lose sight on what got you here in the first place, you stop mixing up adds and catering to the small fish in order to go after the big fish and before you know it the small fish are gone and the big fish stop biting. Now your $200 per month in expenses are $20K per month and your done. Thankfully for me I CAN afford to carry the failing business but to what end? I worry it may be to late. We are working day and night now to try to pick up the peaces and get things back to a manageable level. How are we doing that? I have no idea, we are shooting blanks, pissing in the wind and grabbing for every idea we can. I honestly think we will live through this but unfortunately its going to take some outside funding in the way of my checkbook to do so. I just have no idea how much this will cost us nor do I know how long it will take. As for now we are putting expansion on indefinite hold and rebaiting our hooks to go after those small reliable fish and not so much the big ones. We are reorganizing and will revert back to the business that cares about the people and has tea with the clients and not meetings with the corporate leaders. Dont get me wrong I will still go after the big jobs I will just be a lot more careful on how I do it in the future. And never ever ever forget who got me here and that is the fixed income retirees with small lawns and Cadillac in the garage.

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Dont ever get in a hurry to chase the mighty buck. We grew and grew and grew and now the high school kids doing $5 lawns are making more than me. Keep it steady and never forget your roots. Never underestimate what losing a $30 lawn can cost you. Always treat every client like they are your only and no matter how busy you get always listen to there war stories. Thats the best advice I can think of to stay out of the problems we are going through now.
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  #12  
Old 09-04-2010, 04:12 PM
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This is really nailing the problem down further.

Quote:
before you know it its getting bigger and bigger but your management skills have not evolved as fast as the business itself has
As you reflect, what in the management end of things do you feel was lacking? Was it so much the management skills were lacking or was it there was less time available to spend on managing? Or maybe was it both?

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And never ever ever forget who got me here and that is the fixed income retirees with small lawns and Cadillac in the garage.
I think this is a huge insight. It seems like it is quite possible to say, such customers are the lifeblood of a lawn care business. If not all of them, I would think most of them.

Why do you think such customers are so easily overlooked? Why is it that customers who are so important tend to be pushed aside for others?

Quote:
you stop mixing up adds and catering to the small fish in order to go after the big fish
Can you tell me what you meant by 'you stop mixing up adds'?
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  #13  
Old 09-04-2010, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve View Post
I think this is a huge insight. It seems like it is quite possible to say, such customers are the lifeblood of a lawn care business. If not all of them, I would think most of them.

Why do you think such customers are so easily overlooked? Why is it that customers who are so important tend to be pushed aside for others?
ATM I couldnt see over looking them. Maybe I am bidding the properties wrong but I find the smaller yards I make the most money on. They really are the life blood of my business at least.
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  #14  
Old 09-05-2010, 01:33 AM
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This is really nailing the problem down further.



As you reflect, what in the management end of things do you feel was lacking? Was it so much the management skills were lacking or was it there was less time available to spend on managing? Or maybe was it both?



I think this is a huge insight. It seems like it is quite possible to say, such customers are the lifeblood of a lawn care business. If not all of them, I would think most of them.

Why do you think such customers are so easily overlooked? Why is it that customers who are so important tend to be pushed aside for others?



Can you tell me what you meant by 'you stop mixing up adds'?
As far as management Steve I was getting the ideology that I was to big to fail. As I said the bank was overflowing with money and no matter how much I spent it just kept coming in. That was more than likely my biggest mistake.

As far as over looking small lawn jobs and customers, what can I say? A $30 lawn job is very easy to overlook when you are negotiating a $30K job. I am sure every one of us can relate to this.

By mixing up adds I meant I would always be rotating adds, changing and messaging them for what ever worked best for that time of year or area. I pretty much stopped doing that and just ran a small generalized add.
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Old 09-05-2010, 11:20 AM
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I was getting the ideology that I was to big to fail. As I said the bank was overflowing with money and no matter how much I spent it just kept coming in. That was more than likely my biggest mistake.
It seems like this could be a big issue for many lawn care business owners. Especially when you are looking at cash flow.

You can think you are doing really well but if you don't take into account your expenses, what appears to be positive cash flow can ultimately really be negative cash flow.

This really can come to light when you have a slow down in work, where the income decreases but the expenses stay the same.

Expenses can be a stealth killer of businesses, particularly in slow economic times.
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Old 09-05-2010, 11:53 AM
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It seems like this could be a big issue for many lawn care business owners. Especially when you are looking at cash flow.

You can think you are doing really well but if you don't take into account your expenses, what appears to be positive cash flow can ultimately really be negative cash flow.

This really can come to light when you have a slow down in work, where the income decreases but the expenses stay the same.

Expenses can be a stealth killer of businesses, particularly in slow economic times.
Thats exactly how it works Steve, then you have those expenses like licenses that come out of the blue. I had no idea mine were expiring, they are annual expenses so you dont think about them until they hit you. When you deal with the slow down, operating expenses and then hit with these annual expenses you would be amazed at how fast the money can get sucked away from you.
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Old 09-06-2010, 01:40 AM
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What is your view on how those reading this discussion should handle such a situation? How do they know if they are just one step away from a disaster, even if the financial picture seems quite rosy at the moment?
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Old 09-06-2010, 12:56 PM
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What is your view on how those reading this discussion should handle such a situation? How do they know if they are just one step away from a disaster, even if the financial picture seems quite rosy at the moment?
Steve. I would love to answer that question but I wont. I worry if I answer it people may use my idea to get out just the same situation and because I am shooting in the dark and have no idea how to get out of it I would hate for my idea to be the demise of someone ellses business. If and when we find a cure that works I will post what we had to doi
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Old 09-09-2010, 12:38 AM
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Default All of my lawns came from big companies worried about the big fish

I had a lady the other day call and tell me her lawn service charges her 50 dollars to mow it bi-weekly and she was looking for someone new. They had started at 25 and just kept going up and up. There lawn takes me 30 min to do so i charge 25. 50 dollars an hour is good enough for me. please don't tell me this is lowballing. customers are not ATM's! Listen to there stories when you can and be that friendly helpful lawn guy and you will go far! I currently don't want anything but small lawns the smaller the better. All about that price point. A big lawn that takes you 2 hours to do no one could see paying you 100 bucks. But four small lawns next to each other done in the same amount of time and these people will adore you 25 dollars is a bargain!
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Old 09-10-2010, 11:00 AM
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I agree with you. I have one I charge $50 for but its a half acre lawn and takes me about 1.5 hours to mow and edge. I could get it done a lot faster but they just seeded a hillside and its riddled with rocks so I must go in 1st gear only and watch for rocks. I would normally charge about $52.50 for this as I shoot for $35 per hour but I have never raised my prices with her. I hate people that come in low just to get a job then the quality of work goes down while there price goes up.
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