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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!

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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!
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  #1  
Old 10-10-2011, 11:48 AM
rmccutchan rmccutchan is offline
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Default Hey.......

...from Indiana.

I have thought of doing a lawn care business for a LOT of years, and in an effort to put my son through college, we decided to start a basic lawn care business next spring. If all goes well, we can ramp up the services to chemical applications, etc.... , and continue until retirement or ?????

Hopefully I can glean some information from this site, and at the same time, contribute something back. I have a lot of years in maintaining equipment, so I may have a little insight into that aspect.

Right now, all I have is an old White lawn tractor that may, or may not, run (needs carb rebuilt, etc....) and a Yard Machines push mower. Plans are to acquire a used commercial mower over the winter, probably a walk behind.

I always appreciate advice and and happy to give it back.

Bob
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  #2  
Old 10-10-2011, 05:18 PM
Ryan's Lawn Care Ryan's Lawn Care is offline
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Lawn care business tipsLawn Care Business Book
hunt around on craigslist for equipment and as your things brake try to upgrade to commercial equipment that what i have been doing for a while. Be firm on your prices and don't let people screw with you. I don't feel like you will have this problem though I believe I did mainly because I started my lawn service when i was so young I guess people thought a kid shouldn't have been making as much as I was.


And a walk behind is a great idea i got one about a month ago and have cut my time down so much!!
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Old 10-10-2011, 07:19 PM
rmccutchan rmccutchan is offline
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Thanks!

Here is my first contribution to the forum:

You are absolutely correct on pricing. I tried to start another kind of business several years ago tried to "give people breaks" on prices to try to get my name out. That is ABSOLUTELY the wrong approach. When I tried to bring prices up, people did a back flip. They heard I was cheap and that is why they called me. So, then I was stuck in a price range and could not gain income

My plan is to set a minimum, something like $xx / 1,000 sq. ft. or per 1/4 acre, or whatever, and add to that price if the property is difficult, ie: lots of trees or hills, etc......, and then stick to the price and walk away if the potential customer wants to pay less. Maybe offer a coupon or 1 free cutting for signing a contract.
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Old 10-11-2011, 06:06 PM
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Welcome to our forum!

What kind of business were you previously involved with?

If you could do it over, would you do anything else different with it?
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Old 10-12-2011, 07:46 AM
rmccutchan rmccutchan is offline
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Hi Steve

I had a photography business, but business principals apply to EVERY business.

What I would do different:

1. Set prices, and STICK TO THEM! I was doing work for small prices to try to get my name out. Big mistake. You can't raise your prices later. Maybe give a small discount after a certain amount of time, but generally keep to your price structure.

2. Don't throw good money after bad. I tried to do ALL of my own printing. I should have let a printing company do the printing while I was out drumming up more business.

3. Manage my time better and don't spend time on needless work. If the camera shutter (or mower blades) are not moving, no money is being made. Maybe let a professional do your books or whatever so you can be out working.

4. Business is: %80 business and %20 product

5. Listen to others who have been there before you!! Don't try to re-invent the wheel. Don't think "I will do it this way and show those people they don't know what they are talking about". It NEVER works that way. People generally love to give advice.......listen to them.

I am no expert, but these are some of the bruises I got my first time around.

Hope it helps!
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Old 10-12-2011, 05:23 PM
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Quote:
4. Business is: %80 business and %20 product
Very interesting. Can you tell me more what you mean by this and how it could apply to lawn care?
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Old 10-13-2011, 02:12 PM
rmccutchan rmccutchan is offline
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Hi Steve

From what I can gather, it is all about management. Management of time, money, and resources.

So, a person can do an excellent job at yard care, or anything for that matter:

Marketing/Sales: So........how do you get the phone to ring? Each year, a plan needs to be made on how to get the word out to potential customers, etc. Then, how are you going to pay for the advertising and marketing? A plan needs to be made on how much to spend on marketing. Meanwhile, some research needs to be done to find out what the market is like in your area and what are customers looking for. Some companies hire people to do nothing but sell their products or services.

Time management: The phone is starting to ring and you are signing contracts. Now, you need to figure out how to manage time in such a way that you can efficiently do the work without backtracking and wasting time driving to jobs. Maybe you have a few employees. You need to manage their time, hire and fire as necessary.

Also, someone needs to field the phone calls when they come in. This can be a full time job for if you are busy.

A lot of small business owners tell me that they spend a LOT of time trying to get money from customers. I just spoke to someone who had to travel 4 hours to pick up a big check from a university ($38,000) ..........and it was 3 months over due!! In 3 months, he probably spent 50-75 hours trying to get his money. That's 50-75 hours he could have spent drumming up new business.


Record Keeping: So you have the work and you are getting busy. Are you keeping records daily? Do you know what things you are doing that are costing too much money, and what things are making you money? Are you keeping mileage logs and logging your expenses for tax time? By the way......did you spend much time researching you contract to make sure it is solid? Do you have employees? You need to make sure all their taxes and insurance stuff is taken care of.


Money management This one could go on for a while. Once the money starts coming in, what do you do with it? How much do you save, how much do you re-invest in the business, how much do you pay yourself, etc.... It has to be budgeted so that you have money for repairs and new equipment when the need arises. Do you do your own repairs or hire a shop to do them for you? (this falls under time management also) Do you sharpen your own blades, or do you have Herb's Sharpening Shop (a real business where I live) do the work for you. Do you invest in the new mower or keep fixing the one you have. (a budget study needs to be done on that one)

Do you put down chemicals? There are a lot of regulations and paperwork for that type of work.

Notice I haven't said ANYTHING yet about cutting grass or removing snow.

The point is, this stuff all takes a lot of time and effort and a sharp pencil. If you go out and mow grass for a day, how much time and effort does it take to manage that day? Is the day over when you park the truck in the barn at night?

These are just a few of the high points that I did not listen to when I started my first business. The list could go on for a while.

Thanks for listening.

Bob
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Old 10-14-2011, 06:33 PM
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Quote:
A lot of small business owners tell me that they spend a LOT of time trying to get money from customers. I just spoke to someone who had to travel 4 hours to pick up a big check from a university ($38,000) ..........and it was 3 months over due!! In 3 months, he probably spent 50-75 hours trying to get his money. That's 50-75 hours he could have spent drumming up new business.
This is an issue that seems to effect a lot of small business owners. Do you feel there is anything that can be done to improve upon this? Or is it always going to be a crap shoot to find whether or not the customer is going to pay on time, after the fact?
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Old 10-15-2011, 03:59 PM
rmccutchan rmccutchan is offline
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Well, it seems to be a crap shoot. Crap is the appropriate term I hope somebody has some insight to this one because I hate chasing money.

When I photographed weddings, the bill had to be paid before the wedding, which is pretty standard for that business. Not all businesses can operate that way, though.

In construction, often times companies required 10% down, and so much as the job progressed. I suppose one could require payment or at least a partial payment, before the work started. Then, you just don't show up until some type of payment is made first. I don't know how this industry works yet, but that could be an option.
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Old 10-15-2011, 07:38 PM
Charles P Charles P is offline
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Default New lawn business

The best way is to buy used equipment to start, this lowers your over head. Post your business on bulletin boards in locations such as the post office, hardware stores, senior services etc. If you need graphic services for your bulletin board AD I will help you at no charge. When I was in the landscaping business, I would fertilize the lawns at no charge. The reason I did this was it insured a healthy lawn and also helped it grow. Your customers will want you to take charge of their lawn care, they will want your advice on how often it needs cut, how often to water etc. So study your customers lawns, know their needs and they will never leave you.
My email is: www.charlesp@therazorblade.com
Charles P.



Quote:
Originally Posted by rmccutchan View Post
...from Indiana.

I have thought of doing a lawn care business for a LOT of years, and in an effort to put my son through college, we decided to start a basic lawn care business next spring. If all goes well, we can ramp up the services to chemical applications, etc.... , and continue until retirement or ?????

Hopefully I can glean some information from this site, and at the same time, contribute something back. I have a lot of years in maintaining equipment, so I may have a little insight into that aspect.

Right now, all I have is an old White lawn tractor that may, or may not, run (needs carb rebuilt, etc....) and a Yard Machines push mower. Plans are to acquire a used commercial mower over the winter, probably a walk behind.

I always appreciate advice and and happy to give it back.

Bob
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