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  #1  
Old 04-09-2012, 11:18 PM
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Default Long Time No See!!

Hey guys,
Been gone for WAAAAY too long! Just wanted to check back in and say hi to everybody. Business has been booming since I visited with you all last time. I have expanded into snow removal the tree service business and just recently purchased a bucket truck. Also have been doing trenching and excavation work on the side. Just got my foot in the door at a lake community here in town and may be taking over their lake maintenance. We were there last week installing aerator pump and lines and will be hopefully applying bio-organisms on a bi-weekly basis starting this summer. Business has been great and have had to hire part and full time help just to stay afloat. Just went LLC with the business last month. I'm hoping to steer more towards all commercial accounts and away from the residential ones as I am able to make more in less time. I will try to post some of these pics but it's been so long that I can't remember how to get them on here. Take care everybody and I will make it a point to be back on here every day.

Kendrick
Cedar Lawn Care Services, LLC
Kirksville, MO
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  #2  
Old 04-10-2012, 12:20 AM
willshome willshome is offline
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Lawn care business tipsLawn Care Business Book
NICE truck
I hope steering more towards all commercial accounts and away from the residential works
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Old 04-10-2012, 01:16 PM
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That is fantastic to see you growing!

Now that you are getting bigger, do you see more where a lot of start ups go wrong?

Do you have any tips now of what to do and not to do if they want to grow as big as you in the future?
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  #4  
Old 04-10-2012, 11:13 PM
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Hey Steve good to see you again man!
Now that I have become more established, and with the economy in a rut, I am beginning to see more and more 1st timers trying a go at it. In my opinion, I think one of the worst mistakes for a new business to make is to go out and purchase all new equipment. Each spring I see a handful of "newbies" with brand new tandem axle trailers towing brand new $14,000 zero turns. I think to myself they have set themselves up for failure from the beginning...they don't even have a stable customer base yet. This is a very competitive business. You have a large customer base, but a customer base that knows what they want and are hesitant to just hire someone with a mower. Just because you have a shiny mower, doesn't mean you're gonna get the job. If you want to succeed at this business, you have prove yourself and be competitive. You have to pay attention to what the other lawn care businesses are doing and adjust your routine and methods around that. You have to be more professional and do a better job. As a rule, consumers rely on two main things..How much is this gonna cost me and what am I gonna get in return for my hard earned money? In my five years of going professional, I have never advertised. All of my customer base has been from word-of-mouth.

I live by these simple rules:
1. You can never be too picky with your work.
2. When your servicing any account, always keep in the back of your mind that somebody is always watching you - whether it be your current customer, competition, a possible customer, or a past customer that may have let you go for some reason.
3. Your work is never good enough. Trust me, your mow lines and/or stripes can always look straighter, and your trimming can always get better. If you can take a 8' by 8' square of turf that hasn't been mowed and trim it with a weedeater, and when you're finished, you can't tell if you mowed it or used a trimmer to cut it, your getting good enough to be considered intermediate.
4. You never know everything there is to know. Everyday is a learning experience and everyday you will pick up a new method or trick.
5. Always treat your customers like they are family. If they ask for a small favor, do it and don't charge them for it. Don't be a greedy prick. Be friendly, smile a lot, and always thank them and tell them to have a great day when you leave.
6. Be honest. If a customer asks you something and you don't know the answer, tell them you don't know. Then tell them you'll spend the time to find out for them.

I have industry standards that are absolute rules with my business.

You NEVER discharge clippings against any structure or onto any neighboring properties. Neighbors hate this and you may lose a potential customer over this, not to mention cause tension between your current customer and their neighbor. You also don't blow clippings against trees or shrubs, and especially not against air conditioner units.

When trimming, you NEVER leave a blade of grass uncut. This looks very sloppy. Your competition may do this, but you don't. A good rule of thumb is to trim the areas around obstacles and trees/shrubs at the height of the mower's cut, and turn the weedeater sideways and "edge" sidewalks and driveways.

Your mowing lines or stripes are always straight and neat. Don't embarrass your customers by making it look like you were on an all night drinking binge the night before.

ALWAYS keep your blades sharp. If half your deck is cutting the grass and the other half is beating the grass, you need to quit right there and go sharpen your blades and then come back. You will greatly impress your customer when you return and they ask you why you left and you explain to them the reason.

ALWAYS blow the clippings off the sidewalks, driveways and street. This is another major factor in being a professional.

Remember Three major things:

YOU ARE REPLACEABLE

ONE HAPPY CUSTOMER MAY GET YOU TWO NEW CUSTOMERS. ONE UNHAPPY CUSTOMER MAY LOSE YOU TEN POSSIBLE CUSTOMERS.

IF YOU ARE DOING YOUR JOB CORRECTLY, YOUR COMPETITION IS NO THREAT TO YOU.

If you want to be taken seriously, you need to be serious. If you want to be professional, you have to look and be professional. Get yourself licensed and insured and do this right. With a license you gain the customer's trust that you aren't just a fly-by-night outfit. With insurance your butt is covered and you don't lose everything when you hurt someone.
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Old 04-11-2012, 12:50 PM
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Quote:
In my five years of going professional, I have never advertised. All of my customer base has been from word-of-mouth.
I am sure a lot of newer business owners would like to understand this better and just can't get the momentum going. So what is your view how to get it to the point where you get word of mouth when you are starting from a stand still?

Quote:
1. You can never be too picky with your work.
How do you mean? do you mean picky in the jobs you choose or picky in that you are always trying to do the best job you can?
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Old 04-11-2012, 04:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve View Post
I am sure a lot of newer business owners would like to understand this better and just can't get the momentum going. So what is your view how to get it to the point where you get word of mouth when you are starting from a stand still?


How do you mean? do you mean picky in the jobs you choose or picky in that you are always trying to do the best job you can?
Actually I should have been more specific about the advertising. I did have magnetic signs made for my truck, and I did have business cards made. I also used the templates from this website for flyers, but only handed them out to my customers so they could give them to friends and family. By advertising, I meant like radio ads and tv spots. Your best advertisement by far is a happy customer.

Being picky in the sense that you are always striving to do a better job every time you service an account. Every account you mow has a specific geometrical formula in which to mow it and maintain a clean cut, straight lined and professional look. I always make two passes around the perimeter and then begin my back and forth lines, whether it be horizontal, vertical or diagonal in appearance. The extra pass around the perimeter allows you more room to turn at the end of each row and then recover with another straight line. The biggest complaint I get from customers who have switched to me from another lawn service is that the other service left "divots" in their yard from the mowers turning too sharply. When I come to the end of a row, I make a half turn, then back up, and then make another half turn to line me up with the next row. I NEVER spin the mower around. As soon as I have made the turn and have lined up with the row I'm about to mow, then I speed back up and mow at a normal pace. Always keep both the back wheels rotating when you turn. I think the biggest misconception of a new lawn service is speed. They always see the other lawn guys going full tilt and getting it done super fast. People, the point of lawn care is not speed, it's making the property look better by caring for the individual needs of each lawn. Tearing up the turf with the machine that is designed to make it look better defeats the purpose.
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Old 04-12-2012, 05:15 PM
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Very interesting!

What is your view on dealing with difficult lawn care customers? Do you ever find that certain customers just turn you off to being a lawn care business owner?

It seems at times members of the forum here, attract a handful of bad customers and it just dulls their desire to do anymore with their lawn care business.

How can one get past this and continue to love their business and grow.
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  #8  
Old 04-14-2012, 10:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve View Post
Very interesting!

What is your view on dealing with difficult lawn care customers? Do you ever find that certain customers just turn you off to being a lawn care business owner?

It seems at times members of the forum here, attract a handful of bad customers and it just dulls their desire to do anymore with their lawn care business.

How can one get past this and continue to love their business and grow.
In the beginning, yes, there would be a few customers who would irritate me to the point of making myself believe I was doing something wrong. However, there are some people (actually a lot of people) who you can't please no matter what. You just have to accept it. I guess I have a different mind-frame when it comes to not wanting to continue with the business. I see things from the opposite spectrum in the sense that any and all of my customers are my customers because of my decision. Sure, they have to accept my business because I do a great job, but I also have a handle on the reigns when it comes to dropping them if I feel they just aren't worth my time.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not an arrogant jerk by any means, but ultimately I have to make the decision at the end of the day whether to keep banging my head against the wall with a customer I'll never please, or go out and find another who will be more receptive to common sense.
I think the best way to get past these kind of customers and enjoy your business is to always be sure you know EXACTLY what the customer expects of you and your business. Don't just assume they want their lawn cut the way you do it to all your other customers, ask lots of questions, make sure you can even live up to the expectations of what they want. Find out what the other guy did that they didn't like. A good rule of thumb is to ask them if they would walk the entire property with you and show you some of the things they like about their lawn and things they don't like. Make conversation about the good and bad and offer remedies. This will give you a better idea of what they are looking for and also gives you a chance to find out if their expectations are even realistic.
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Old 04-14-2012, 12:56 PM
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Default Great advice

This is our second year in business. Your advice is very good. Your attitude is a breath of fresh air. I am going to print your original advice post because I need to remember these points when a day isn't going as planned. Thanks.
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Old 04-14-2012, 03:59 PM
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Hey pfreeman, thank you for your compliment! Be sure to put this at the top of your list: I DO THIS EVERYDAY BECAUSE IT'S WHAT I LOVE.
Remember at the end of the day, you are lucky to be doing what you love...there are other poor souls out there who are stuck in a cubicle taking phone calls and punching computer keys all day in a nowhere job.
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