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Trials & Tribulations - The drama of running a business and of life. It's not as easy as it looks. Running a business is full of drama. Customers, employees, money, family, time. You name it, it's a problem. Share with us your drama and how you handled it.

Mistakes ive made


Trials & Tribulations - The drama of running a business and of life.

It's not as easy as it looks. Running a business is full of drama. Customers, employees, money, family, time. You name it, it's a problem. Share with us your drama and how you handled it.
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  #1  
Old 09-29-2010, 10:44 PM
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Default Mistakes ive made

Hey everyone, for those of you who remember me im justin im 16 and i started a lawn care company with my friend.
I let him go using the advice you gave me and things got great there after.

Shortly after all my temporary accounts fell out as i was anticipating.
I lost another since they moved, and another recieved a riding mower as a fathers day gift. Shortly after i didnt see the point in continuing. I was tired, my weed wacker had died for the last and final time. And my external hard drive crashed that held ALL of my company information.
Customer records
ivoice records,
check copies,
recipt copies,
expenses and payments,
templates,
general agreements etc.
It was mid summer and i wasnt thinking. Instead of saying hey its the middle of summer theres tons of ppl that are just tired of mowing and will be willing for someone to finish never ran through my head.

So what did i do? i dropped the accounts that i had..a horrible mistake.
I am now broke and hoping to restart for fall and next summer.
I have no money for fall equipment so im stuck with a boxgrade toro leaf vac/blower. and the push mower ive been using all year plus some rakes and tarp.

I want to start advertising for fall any ideas? and any tips to get it going?

The purpose of this post was to say, dont give up. Think things through and dont quit.

Give me some tips on easy ways to start fall cleanups without mower vacs etc. i also dont really have a car so its a bit hard to haul but if need be i can borrow a truck.

thanks
if you want to pm me with questions or leave them in the post would be better. ill be checking regularly i plan on visiting this site more often once again to keep my hopes up.
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  #2  
Old 09-29-2010, 11:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jklawncare View Post
Give me some tips on easy ways to start fall cleanups without mower vacs etc. i also dont really have a car so its a bit hard to haul but if need be i can borrow a truck.
Well I would say blow all the leaves onto the grass and mow them as it will be finer conserve space as you do not have a car/truck.

Second if all your going to do is leaf it wouldnt hurt to pound the pavement to get business that way.

You know all the general stuff so hopefully you still have business cards at the very least. Also try any and all the free stuff online. Always helps when the customer finds you not the other way around.

Thats my 2 cents....
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Old 09-30-2010, 03:04 AM
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Excellent post.

Ok now imagine another new teen business owner came up to you and asked you for advice on what he should do to get started, what advice would you give?

What do's and don'ts would you suggest?

What do you feel you should have done differently up to this point?
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  #4  
Old 09-30-2010, 11:45 PM
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Thanks for the advice MV

and steve the list is endless

id say be as professional as possible i did this and people were supprised when i showed up at their door yet they had absolutely no problem with me being young since i was respectful and to the point.

Advertisement - get cheap tshirts the iron on kind
make black ads on colored paper and cut them in half wit a 1 and 1/2 inch hole punch..its cheap and very effective

tell your family
make cheap business cards with some templates from vistaprint etc.

Set Aside a good portion of your earnings for equipment etc. THIS IS A LIFE SAVER

many teens get into this to make money but when they have a job to uphold and cant cause the equipment is broke down and they spent there money you wont get very far.

Dont lowball
even though you can go lower than competitors because your a teen and have not as much overhead costs like rent bills etc. stay around what others charge and provide better service

youll start small time so say youll have more focus on there yard then the competitors who rush through to the next

being a teenage business owner has its ups and downs for sure but you can work alot to your advantage

invest well in advertisement, be careful buying equipment, do your research, ask on here..this site is the holy grail to your problems if its not on here..ask..and it will be awnsered i guarantee it..

get a general agreement set in place thsi way it makes the customer feel like he needs to pay as if it were a contract and they feel like your more professional

keep HARD COPY DOCUMENTS ORGANIZED
sure having a HDD full of your documents is importand and extremely usefull
but if that crashes..so long business youll lose everything
buy a accordian folder and start organizing.

I just keep spitting out information..i could go on longer but im sure ill end up repeating myself or getting to bland..

if anyone has a question about it or needs advice you can set a post or even pm me about it.

p.s use the business ads on here to your needs such as archie with the business card holders
or the vinyls
the signs etc.

have a Simple! logo and a catchy name
a quick catchphrase never hurt anyone either

send out monthly quizzes about how your service is and you will get great feedback harsh or not..it all helps a great deal..

if a customer leaves..send a survey with the confirmation of his cancellation
and ask if there is a problem and if its why he left if you can fix it.

i had one person quit because he didnt like the way i was in a hurry
i explained i had so many accounts in a day and i felt rushed as he was in the middle of my route

i asked if i put him at the end and i slowed my pace if hed consider keeping me and he jumped right on it..

little things make a big difference

start a free website and put it on your ads and cards
leave cards in side ace stores etc.
flyers around town

hope this helps hope its not too long haha
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Old 10-01-2010, 10:55 AM
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Justin you are wise beyond your years and you already have great business smarts.

I am just starting up and will use all the advice you posted.

I know that you will be successful in whatever you do.

Thank you for sharing !

JP
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Old 10-01-2010, 11:50 AM
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Here is an online backup service I use, and the Basic version is free, you can back up, up to 2 gig of data for free here:

https://zonealarm.idrive.com/

Everybody should back up their data, we trust our computers too much. Hard drives can crash, as you have learned !

You can back up as much data as you want, just after 2 gig they charge a fee for it.

People should also make CD ROM backups of all the data they do not want to lose. But online backup services make it so easy now, and automatic even, that we have no excuse now for not doing backups.

It can save your business !

JP
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Old 10-01-2010, 10:10 PM
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Thank you so much john that advice pulled my spirits up so much

believe it or not , ironically 2 days before it crashed..i was looking at backup sites.

i am very good with computers so i did everything i could..i took it out of the casing and tried hooking it up as an internal and no luck and i tried assigning a drive letter and i couldnt and through other trials and errors i just had to reformat it. It works now so i am currently working on re typing some agreements and stuff that i had hardcopied but all the ads i was planning on using and spent all this time on is gone which is what upsets me most ahah
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Old 10-03-2010, 02:29 AM
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Quote:
send out monthly quizzes about how your service is and you will get great feedback harsh or not..it all helps a great deal..

if a customer leaves..send a survey with the confirmation of his cancellation
and ask if there is a problem and if its why he left if you can fix it.
What kinds of questions do you ask in your monthly quizzes? How do you suggest sending it? Possibly in letter format along with an invoice or no?

Also I was wondering, what should a lawn care business owner include in a confirmation of cancellation? Should that be a letter or what do you suggest?
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Old 10-03-2010, 05:10 AM
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Quote:
What kinds of questions do you ask in your monthly quizzes? How do you suggest sending it? Possibly in letter format along with an invoice or no?
Some of the example surveys on this site can help you out. Sometimes your customers can too by just normally criticizing your work.

Some questions i often put are: Has my service improved in the time youve been here, Things about if customer service has been easy and efficient, Rating of my work 1-5 or 1-10, Would you reffer me to a neighbor friend family member or coworker? if not why?

"what could i improve on most to make your lawn better and you happier"
This question has given me the best response and i include it in almost every survey it truly helps and the customers feel like they can bring anything up with you and when you give them the option too they dont hold it back and get upset that your doing something wrong and you dont just know.. if that makes any sense


im not very good at explaining alot im sorry

Quote:
How do you suggest sending it? Possibly in letter format along with an invoice or no?
It depends on how they recieve there invoice. Some like it mailed and some like it E-mailed. I give the option so its easier for them to make a payment.
I offer 5% off one service for every survey they fill out..so it dosnt affect me much and alot more people take the time to fill out a 5 question sheet.

they will either mail it back, tape it to there door when i mow, or email it back with the awnsers

I think surveys have been the most useful thing in getting to know my customers needs and wants.

Quote:
Also I was wondering, what should a lawn care business owner include in a confirmation of cancellation? Should that be a letter or what do you suggest?
The letter is for me to keep on record that he left and as a second chance to bring him back..i think that..if a customer leaves there is a reason. He/She is unsatisfied with the work provided, there is a money issue, or there moving etc.

If its something that can be done like a work issue..offer to fix it and if they will give you another chance.

If its a money issue call up the person and ask what a more suitable price would be..dont let them jerk you around too much you cant be breaking even or even losing money..but sometimes its just a couple of bucks that does the trick.

In the letter itself its nothing special
just a letter head
a few sentances saying how you enjoyed the time spent with the customer
and you were grateful to have the opportunity to service there lawn
your sorry for any inconvenience that might have occured in the time with us
and a few other things you can throw in
and then asking to return back the survey on why they left and how they liked the service we provided
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