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  #41  
Old 01-23-2012, 11:12 PM
ChrisLeon ChrisLeon is offline
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Default Thanks for all the great feed back and replies everyone

Hey everyone, Sorry I have not been so involved in this particular thread, been rather busy. First off, I appreciate everyone's insight. This made for a pretty good conversation. In regards to USA Lawn Care, thanks a bunch for those awesome tips. I know this business model may not be "ideal" for some, but the way I look at it is; I don't want to end up operating a waterfall (where if I am not there, it all falls apart) By concentrating on being a business owner and operator it will allow me to grow the business and let me be good at what I am good at (organizing, selling, customer service, etc) Like you had mentioned USA, I most definitely will be apart and realistically, the force behind the growing of the business. That will be my JOB, while the IC's JOB is to cut the lawn, mulch, fert, so on and so forth. It would be silly of me to think I can pawn off running a business to someone who thinks like an employee. That is actually the point, I want to be an employer, and not an employee. I know so many people out where I live that just want to show up to work and get their steady paycheck and know they got a secure gig. That's great, but that lifestyle isn't for me.
With all the money I made from this past season learning in the trenches by myself, I anticipate using this money for marketing (postcards and door hangers) and try that route. I appreciate your suggestion (USA) on maybe giving myself a couple more seasons before I run off and sub out the work. I definitely need to learn how to price out the jobs better. I am going to specifically try the door hanger and postcard route and see how it goes. Is it wise to have a marketing campaign that spans along the whole season? I noticed in my area all the lawn service companies market HARDCORE in the beginning for mulching jobs, dethatching and what not, and then the marketing seems to disappear? I am assuming this is due to locking in customers with the aforementioned; What do you all think?
In regards to your #4 tip, If I am to sub out IC's to do my servicing of the accounts, should I be requiring these gentlemen to be insured with their own policies? Do I need to insure them under my policy? I have actually yet to get a policy, so I have no idea what that entails. Before I get scolded at through the written word, I don't have insurance yet cause my first season operation was less than 12 clients and I was just learning. It seems by all this talk that INS is crucial in this business and I am going to look into it, especially when I restructure the business to an LLC and I begin implementing this business model.
#7 tip was genius. I did not think of that at all. I wouldn't mind having a bunch of IC's. In my mind, that is just helping out the economy and job growth Here is a two-part question for you; you said you know what makes the "sub's tick", what exactly makes them tick? Second, how do you pay an IC so they feel they are earning a decent wage, but, as an owner, i'm not losing my ***. I know its all about the volume so if I am cutting a lawn for $25-$35 a wk (avg out in my area) what would your suggestion be?
Oh, and also, when hiring out IC's I am thinking its better to hire guys with their own equipment right? Last thing I am thinking in my mind is to have all this overhead in equipment for them to just treat it like ****. I figure if they use their own they will take care of their equipment which will ensure the proper cuts of the accounts.
I have never hired before and this business model may seem to be a bigger bite for me to chew, but as you advised I will take this slowly and grow with the business, i am 25, I got time to grow One last question, when I hire my IC's should I be looking for the guys that do lawn servicing already or should I be hiring someone who I think is capable of offering a quality honest service (i know I wil have to weed through alot of IC's before I get this one right) My gut tells me I should be hiring some guys that have the tools, meaning a truck or trailer and a mower and a trimmer or whatever but do not have the heart or ambition to go out and start their own lawn care gig. I feel I would be looking for the guys that are just interested in making a few extra frogskins. Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions? Thanks all! You guys make this forum being a pleasure to be apart of.
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  #42  
Old 01-24-2012, 07:29 AM
dpld dpld is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisLeon View Post
Hey everyone, Sorry I have not been so involved in this particular thread, been rather busy. First off, I appreciate everyone's insight. This made for a pretty good conversation. In regards to USA Lawn Care, thanks a bunch for those awesome tips. I know this business model may not be "ideal" for some, but the way I look at it is; I don't want to end up operating a waterfall (where if I am not there, it all falls apart) By concentrating on being a business owner and operator it will allow me to grow the business and let me be good at what I am good at (organizing, selling, customer service, etc) Like you had mentioned USA, I most definitely will be apart and realistically, the force behind the growing of the business. That will be my JOB, while the IC's JOB is to cut the lawn, mulch, fert, so on and so forth. It would be silly of me to think I can pawn off running a business to someone who thinks like an employee. That is actually the point, I want to be an employer, and not an employee. I know so many people out where I live that just want to show up to work and get their steady paycheck and know they got a secure gig. That's great, but that lifestyle isn't for me.
With all the money I made from this past season learning in the trenches by myself, I anticipate using this money for marketing (postcards and door hangers) and try that route. I appreciate your suggestion (USA) on maybe giving myself a couple more seasons before I run off and sub out the work. I definitely need to learn how to price out the jobs better. I am going to specifically try the door hanger and postcard route and see how it goes. Is it wise to have a marketing campaign that spans along the whole season? I noticed in my area all the lawn service companies market HARDCORE in the beginning for mulching jobs, dethatching and what not, and then the marketing seems to disappear? I am assuming this is due to locking in customers with the aforementioned; What do you all think?
In regards to your #4 tip, If I am to sub out IC's to do my servicing of the accounts, should I be requiring these gentlemen to be insured with their own policies? Do I need to insure them under my policy? I have actually yet to get a policy, so I have no idea what that entails. Before I get scolded at through the written word, I don't have insurance yet cause my first season operation was less than 12 clients and I was just learning. It seems by all this talk that INS is crucial in this business and I am going to look into it, especially when I restructure the business to an LLC and I begin implementing this business model.
#7 tip was genius. I did not think of that at all. I wouldn't mind having a bunch of IC's. In my mind, that is just helping out the economy and job growth Here is a two-part question for you; you said you know what makes the "sub's tick", what exactly makes them tick? Second, how do you pay an IC so they feel they are earning a decent wage, but, as an owner, i'm not losing my ***. I know its all about the volume so if I am cutting a lawn for $25-$35 a wk (avg out in my area) what would your suggestion be?
Oh, and also, when hiring out IC's I am thinking its better to hire guys with their own equipment right? Last thing I am thinking in my mind is to have all this overhead in equipment for them to just treat it like ****. I figure if they use their own they will take care of their equipment which will ensure the proper cuts of the accounts.
I have never hired before and this business model may seem to be a bigger bite for me to chew, but as you advised I will take this slowly and grow with the business, i am 25, I got time to grow One last question, when I hire my IC's should I be looking for the guys that do lawn servicing already or should I be hiring someone who I think is capable of offering a quality honest service (i know I wil have to weed through alot of IC's before I get this one right) My gut tells me I should be hiring some guys that have the tools, meaning a truck or trailer and a mower and a trimmer or whatever but do not have the heart or ambition to go out and start their own lawn care gig. I feel I would be looking for the guys that are just interested in making a few extra frogskins. Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions? Thanks all! You guys make this forum being a pleasure to be apart of.

good luck with everything and to answer one of your questions, yes your IC's need their own insurance and if you insure them they would be your employee which would also result in you needing workers comp.
insureing IC's would defeat the purpose of haveing them to begin with and the whole purpose of useing IC's is to distibute the liabillity as well as the work load.

also, whether you are starting out or a seasoned veteran and whether you have one account or a hundred YOU NEED INSURANCE there is no means to justify not haveing it.
anyone working without it is asking for trouble and in the end if something were to happen it will destroy you financially.

my question to you would be do you actually have any prior experience in the industry before you started your business?
did you work for a established company prior to starting your own business?

i am not trying to belittle you or anyone for that matter, it is just a observation i have noticed on this site with a lot of new and younger guys that seem to bypass one of the most critical parts of being successfull in the business as well as paying your dues.

i am not saying this is the case with you because i don't know you but it seems today younger folks in general want to go from nothing and go straight to being the owner of a business and learn on the fly.

it seems that a lot of questions that get asked on this site could and would be eliminated if prior experience with a established company was accomplished first.
i only say this in a way to better prepare new business owners for a successfull future.
what better way to learn the in's and out's of the business then on someone elses dime?
when i started in the business at 22 i worked for a large company for 5 years and by the time i left i was a foreman and in that time i had seen everything as well as learned from what i seen.
i got to see what happens firsthand with unsatisfied customers to disgruntled employee's as well as how to better take care of equipment as well as what equipment would be best for me.
i also got to see what issues arise from a poorly planned job to a under priced job as well as what happens when you do things without putting it in writing first.

knowing what i know now i would have never considered going about it any way other then what i did and i would have never went into it blind.
it saved me years of trouble as well as in the end got my business up and running and more successfull from day one.

most guys look at working for someone as a waste of time and a delay on their future and i personally veiw it as a way to fast track you future and save you from a lot of wasted time at your expense.

like i said, this is not a attack or me trying to insult you as well as most of what i am saying is just a observation from what i read on this site and your thread seemed like a good place to mention it.

once again, best of luck to you.
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  #43  
Old 01-24-2012, 11:12 AM
Hedgemaster Hedgemaster is offline
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Check your local and/or state laws regarding the use of subcontractors.

It was mentioned above that YOU would need to have worker's comp insurance. I do not believe this to be true here in PA. In this state, if you operate without employees, you are not required to carry worker's comp. insurance.

Before I started out on my own, a guy I know (working as a sole proprietor) wanted to hire me, but when he found out how much it would cost him in insurance, he scrapped the idea in favor of hiring me as a subcontractor.
I scrapped THAT idea, because I wouldn't make enough money working for one guy as a sub, so I went out, got my insurance, required licenses, etc., and started my own business.

My insurance agent DID note that if I hire a subcontractor, I need to provide her with a form that proves that said subcontractor is insured.

Just be sure to double check all of the insurance requirements. It's one thing to squeak by without doing everything legit on your own, but bring others into play and it's going to have the potential to REALLY bite you in the *** if something isn't done properly.
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  #44  
Old 01-25-2012, 01:38 PM
USA Lawn Care USA Lawn Care is offline
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Hi Chris,

Insurance: Yes....go to your local agent. They will set you up with liability insurance (mine runs right about $500/yr). Tell your agent exactly what you are planning to do and he will then let you know how to go about working with the subs with regard to insurance. They basically have to get a 'certificate' which costs them about $25 for the year thru their insurer. It's nothing new. Building contractors get them all the time and require them. What happens is at the end, info about who you paid gets matched up against certificates just to make sure everyone is covered properly.

Marketing: Some marketing I do is all year....some is 6 months. You can market all year but if you're not doing snow removal, you might just market spring thru fall. Some places it's simply a year contract for an ad so there's no choice.

Pay to keep subs happy: I am at 80/20 (plus or minus a percentage here and there). Subs know prices and percentages going in. If you're worried about losing your a**, then you should be mowing the accounts. It is a volume business. Only sub as much as you want based on income requirements on your end.

Should you look for experienced guys: Most definitely. Your sub is representing your business. No offense to new guys but there are plenty of operations out there with years and years of experience, crews, equipment, etc that are looking for extra work. Use one of them....talk with them...see their equipment and location....call references....etc.

What makes the subs tick?: Pay them on time every time and they will keep working for you. REPEAT: PAY THEM ON TIME AND EVERY TIME and they will stay with you and continue to do good work. It's that simple.
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  #45  
Old 01-25-2012, 01:43 PM
USA Lawn Care USA Lawn Care is offline
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oh....and no need to apologize to anyone about not having insurance your first year. It's called being a new guy who just started a business and had the business sense to finish up a year, ask a lot of questions and decided he needed to get insurance after talking with experienced people in this business. Most one of us have been in your shoes and started the same way somewhere along the line. At least you decided you need to get it before something really crappy happened.
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  #46  
Old 01-25-2012, 03:16 PM
dpld dpld is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USA Lawn Care View Post
oh....and no need to apologize to anyone about not having insurance your first year. It's called being a new guy who just started a business and had the business sense to finish up a year, ask a lot of questions and decided he needed to get insurance after talking with experienced people in this business. Most one of us have been in your shoes and started the same way somewhere along the line. At least you decided you need to get it before something really crappy happened.

no offense usa lawn care, but this is one of the most ridiculous comments as well as advice i have ever heard.
insurance is not a option its the law.
by telling someone it is ok to not have insurance in a public setting such as this sends the wrong message to new guys starting out and more often then not sets them up for disaster.

liability insurance for a small guy starting out for a year cost less then a commercial grade back pack blower and if you can not afford to do it then maybe you should delay starting a business.
having insurance is more critical then having all the equipment you need.

i agree with you that he at least had enough sense to inquire about it and possibly take action but i would classify it more as intuition then good business sense.

i know things are tough when starting out but it is no excuse to take short cuts and i know this may seem as if i am being a jack a z z but the fact of the matter is i am trying to help and i would hate to see someone get screwed over by themselves for taking such action and like i said if you can't do it right then don't do it at all.

i know i am new to this forum but i am not new to the industry and the simple sad truth of the matter is if you are not ready to do it right then wait until you can.
since i been veiwing this forum i see a lot of young kids coming here seeking advice and everyone has a business plan and everyone wants their truck all lettered and have big bad azz T shirts made and business cards and let the whole world know they are open for business with some fancy flyers and they think that is all they need to get going and when they start making the big bucks everything will take care of itself.

my advice to anyone looking to work without at least general liabillity and commercial auto insurance should hold off on the T shirts and lettering for their trucks and anything else because in this day and age with all the law suit happy people roaming the streets all it takes is a fender bender at a intersection to make someone think they just won the lottery because they just got hit by a truck that belongs to a business.

i seen so many guys start out that way and at first they worry about it and after a while it gets put on the back burner and then each time they have a equipment failure or a unexpected expense and business is not happening as quickly as they anticipated the insurance keeps getting put on the back burner and eventually the laws of averages start to work against you.

no one plans on getting into a accident and if they did it would not be called a accident and that is what insurance is for and it is the only thing that is gonna help when the crap hits the fan and even though it cost a good penny that is the one thing you pay for that you never want to use.

if i was a homeowner and i found out a guy i had hired did not have the proper insurance i would tell him to get off my property asap and i don't know anyone with half a brain that would not do the same.

if anyone here thinks i am being too harsh or even coming off as a pompus azz, i welcome them to come back and flame away and throw all of the stupidest excuses you can think of at me to prove me wrong which i know in my heart of hearts that i am spot on because i would rather come accross as that and giving sound advice then throw a line of crap like that at someone that it is ok to not protect yourself when you are starting out with the proper insurance.
it may be harsh but it is the truth and i rather tell it like it is then sugar coat it.
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  #47  
Old 01-25-2012, 06:50 PM
Hedgemaster Hedgemaster is offline
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Absolutely agree. ^^^

It makes my head spin when I see comments like "wait until you see if you want to keep doing this and THEN get insured". Wait. WHAT?!!!

Maybe the sheer number of illegal operators somehow validates it in some people's minds, but seriously - three hundred thousand wrongs don't make a right.
When I first joined this forum, I was stunned by the number of discussions that not only don't condemn, but actually advocate operating illegally. I moderate a forum (not related to lawn care) that has a rule against posting about illegal activity and it's taken quite seriously - publicly admit that you are ignoring the law, or suggest that others do so, and you will be shown the door.
The difference has taken me some getting used to.

Perhaps it all stems from the number of "kids" who do this work and the acceptance from the public of lowballers - if they can save a few bucks, they don't care if you're illegal.

Either way, research what you need to do to operate legally before you start.
There's more to consider than just insurance.
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  #48  
Old 01-26-2012, 03:09 AM
USA Lawn Care USA Lawn Care is offline
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let the flogging begin

My comment was waaaaaay mis interpreted. (which is ok)

anyways.....my comment was just towards him because he apologized to 'all of us' sort of and there was no need for apology 'to any of us'. My impression was that he jumped in for a year of mowing grass on the side....decided things were going good enough for a real business and was smart enough to know that he needed insurance if he were to continue. I in no way meant 'hey, get it if you want to or don't get it'.

oh well.

dpld and hedgemaster.....sorry a mis understood comment caused you so much typing
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Old 01-26-2012, 07:41 AM
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usa, i was not flogging you directly or personally i was just commenting on the reply in general, as well as i thought i would go into detail about how i personally feel about the matter and from a giving advice standpoint.

i have had quite a few younger men work for me over the years that have gone on to have some success of their own that i actually take a lot of pride in.
i was never the type to get angry and hostile towards former employee's that turned into business owners in fact i would help them and nurture them with my own experiences to better aid them in their own endeavors.

for me when i started out it was the exact opposite, my former employer treated me like public enemy number one and tried to do everything he could to bad mouth me and steal my customers away.
i remember to this day what a crappy feeling that was to have someone you would step into the fire for turn on you like a rabid dog.

i promised myself from day one that i would never do that to anyone and be that type of person.
i take giving advice very seriously and personally and if i personally gave someone bad advice directly or indirectly that caused hardship to anyone i would definitly take it to heart as well as feel like i failed that individual.

unlike my former employer i beleive we live in the land of opportunity and who am i to stop a individual from persueing their dream or a better way of life for themselves.
i also feel that the only eventual course for a motivated individual in this trade is to start their own business after they learned the craft because as a business owner i realize there is a limit to how far you can go just working for someone.
i can not stop anyone from living out their ambitions nor would i want to and at the end of the day if i can at least help guide them in the right direction to being a knowledgable legitimate business to prevent one less hack on the streets and further the integrity of our trade then it was all a success.

no need to worry about causing the excessive typing USA, by nature i tend to have long winded replies.
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Old 01-26-2012, 11:31 AM
USA Lawn Care USA Lawn Care is offline
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sounds like your heart is in the right place......it's a nice quality to have and your employees are very lucky (whether they know it or not).

My guys many years ago also were treated very well.......bought lunches all the time and they made out like little bandits at our Christmas parties. And all that came from having a couple bosses in my life that treated me the same way and I remembered just how nice it was.
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