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General Business Discussions

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  #1  
Old 05-28-2005, 08:31 PM
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This is a post thread to help Braxton get a Head Start.

Review previous businesses we have helped here.
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  #2  
Old 05-28-2005, 08:31 PM
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Lawn care business tipsLawn Care Business Book
Here is his business plan.

You can create your own by answering the questions from here.


- What services does your business offer?
Design / Installation
Mowing
Spring / fall cleanup
Debris Removal
Flower bed/landscape renovation

- What value does it add to the marketplace?
We offer competitive services and pricing for our community. We plan to be in this for the long-term, giving a stable source for landscaping and lawn maintenance needs.

Management Abilities
- What are your qualifications?
I have a degree in interdisciplinary studies, and five years experience as a grade school teacher. In that role, I have experience working for and with large numbers of people, as well as managing large numbers. In addition, I have experience getting a job done with very limited resources.

- How will your experience contribute to the success of your business?
As a teacher, my strength lies in communication. Not only can I listen and ascertain an individual’s specific needs, but I can inform and educate to potentially help a client better understand their own needs.

Business Strategy
- What are the key strategic opportunities you have identified in your marketplace?
The area that I live in is located centrally to three larger communities/cities, one of which is growing at an enormous rate.

- How will your business take advantage of these strategic opportunities more effectively than your competition?
In order to be successful, I intend to expand my business into one or more of these larger communities as I grow and have the ability to do so.

- How do you intend to maintain your competitive edge?
Competitive pricing and top quality service.

- Describe the key challenges you face and how will you overcome them?
Low start-up capital. I plan to grow my business slowly in the beginning, taking on little or no debt. It will grow as I can grow it, and no faster.

Legal Structure
- Will your business operate as a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation or an LLC?
Sole Proprietor in the beginning, LLC or S-corp as I grow into the need.

- How will your legal structure decrease your business's exposure to risk?
I purchased a one million dollar liability policy.

Financial
- How much will you personally invest in your business?
I have been paying insurance out of pocket, and have invested in the initial equipment. I have a truck, mower, and trimmer as well as assorted hand tools. I do not yet have a trailer, and I load my mower in the truck bed. I will invest in a trailer when I can pay cash.

- How much money are you seeking from banks?
None

- How much money are you seeking from private investors?
None

- How long until you plan to break even?
This year.

- How long until you plan on making a profit?
This year or next.

- What will your start-up costs be? Be specific, describe each and the cost.
Insurances (Auto, Gen liability) approximately $1000.00
Advertising $500.00 already paid
Equipment $3000.00 Already paid


- What is your sales forecast for each month of the entire year? List each month's goal.
Can’t forecast at this time. Currently I have less thatn $400/month cotracted, but I have done around $1,000/month in miscellaneous landscaping jobe the first two months.

- What will be your operating expenses? Be specific, describe each and the cost.
Fuel = 200.00/month
Maintenance = 50.00/month
Saving for expansion = variable, as able


- What will your fixed costs be? Be specific, describe each and the cost.
Phone – 45.00
GL ins - 500.00
Commercial Auto – 400.00
Advertising – 700.00



Mission Statement
- What is your business?
We offer top quality lawn and landscape care.

- How will your business succeed?
Personal attention to each customer; every phone call returned, every concern addressed.

- What values are important to your business?
Quality Service
Meeting the customer’s needs


- How does your business improve the lives of your customers' and employees'?
We free time that they can better use.

Marketing Slogan
- What is your marketing slogan?
“What could you be doing if you weren’t mowing?”

Market Analysis
Rural community in close proximity to rapidly growing college town and two other small cities.

Customer Analysis
- Who are your target customers? (age range, education level, occupations, average home value)
Middle age, upper middle income families with more to do than time to do it.

- What zip codes do they live in?
??

- What do your customers want?
A property that “keps up with the Joneses”

Competition Analysis
- Who are your competitors?
Three large companies in my own community as well as the normal assortment of “here today, gone tomorrow” (I hope) companies.
One small company that is to be reckoned with.

- How many employees do they have?
I do not know
.
- What is their estimated sales volume?
I do not know

- What services do they offer?
Full Service
At least one of these has an applicator’s lisence, or at least I assume they have it as they do applications.

- What is the quality of their product?
One is excellent, one is below average, one I cannot say. The small company mentioned is absolute highest quality, and while I believe that I can match it, I do not believe anyone can beat it. It’s what I would want for my own property.


- What is the price range of their product?
40.00 acre

- Who are their customers?
Anyone that calls

- What are their strengths?
full service

- What are their weaknesses?
Price for all, quality for one

- Are they a direct or indirect competitor?
direct

Labor
- How many employees will you start with? Full or p/t?
myself and wife

- What will the hourly labor wage paid to employees be?
I work for what profit I can turn, as does my wife.

- What will your total annual labor hours be?
Depends on how fast I grow. Currently less than ten per week.

Equipment
- What equipment will be needed?
Mowers
Trimmers
Blowers
Hand tools
Truck
Trailer
Skid steer

- How much will it cost to obtain this equipment?
$10,000.00-$20,000.00


- Where will you store the equipment?
Barn at my home

- How much will it cost to store the equipment?
0.00

Advertising / Promotion
- How will you advertise or promote your business?
Newspaper
Door Hangers
Business cards
Web site possibly
Truck / Trailer lettering
Word of mouth
Video advertising at local restaurant

- How much will you spend doing each per year?
Approximately

Newspaper $300.00-$500.00
Door Hangers $100-$500
Bus cards $100.00
Web site $20.00
Truck / Trailer lettering
Word of mouth
Video $250


Everything here is a best guess, and some things represent ideas rather than die hard plans. The future equipment will depend entirely on how fast I can grow. I have one company that has spoken to me about subbing jobs if I can get/rent a skid steer with a harrely rake.

Braxton
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  #3  
Old 05-28-2005, 08:37 PM
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Great job, Braxton!

I have contacted our business consultant to respond to your information in this post.
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  #4  
Old 05-31-2005, 10:15 AM
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Hi Braxton,

My name is Joel LaRusic and I am the author of the Gopher Team Book of the Month - "Start& Run a Landscaping Business". The Gopher Team asked me to take a look at your plan and offer any help I can.

Well done with your business plan so far! I was particularly impressed with your emphasis on good communication which is definitely a key to success. As well, you seem to have taken a look at your competition and are confident about going head-to-head with them. I did have a couple points that I would like to see expanded.

1) You mentioned 3 larger communities in your area. *Do you plan on serving all three and if so, will your plan of attack be to market yourself in all three at once?

Without knowing the details of these communities, I would be inclined to take a closer look and perhaps narrow your market, at least in the beginning. In my experience targeting specific neighborhoods in the beginning is a great way to get your foot in the door, build some confidence and then spread your business. *So, take another look at your proposed area and try to come up with the top 3 zip codes. That is, if you were to narrow your market what three zip codes would you choose. With the zip codes you provide we can do some more market research and provide you with demographic information that will help as you target your market.

2) Your competitive advantage. It is really important that you are able to somehow stand out from your competition. You mentioned that you feel your work would be better than most and this of course is a great start. You also mentioned competitive pricing which, if you are starting out, should be a given. Can you think of any other ways to stand out. Something you do particularly well... perhaps a speciality? Anything you come up with will help you greatly as you market yourself. Here are a few examples:

- Extraordinary attention to detail
- Specializing in lawn repair and rejuvination
- Specializing in environmental friendly solutions for lawn and garden
- Consistantly exceed the expectations of your customers

Get the idea? Any of these work for you? What can you come up with?

OK. That's it for now. You've done great so far but we need to dig down a little deeper on a few items. Please respond with these 2 items and we'll move ahead from there.

Thanks
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  #5  
Old 06-29-2005, 12:52 PM
Braxton Braxton is offline
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Sorry it's taken so long for me to get back. I didn't know I'd have to register for another forum when I entered the contest.

In my immediate area there are more than three competitors, if you consider the other large communities around. Two of the zip codes are 37190 ansd 37026. In these areas, the big three I mentioned are the main competition, though there are many small companies in a small community, myself being one of them.

In the surrounding counties, there is Manchester, TN and Murfreesboro, TN. I do not know the zip codes offhand; I suspect both cities have several.

At the moment, it is beginning to look to me like my only advantage is the fact that I do have to time to call back customers and give great detail to customer service. I have considered TJ Justice's "Justmowit" model for my business, though I do not know if this would work here.

The majority of properties are large, an acre or so in many cases, though there are smaller ones in the townships.

I hope this is enough info.

Let me know.

Braxton
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  #6  
Old 07-01-2005, 01:27 PM
mowboy mowboy is offline
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Hi Braxton,

No problem, I'm glad you posted back. I hope things are going well.

Checkout the following two sites - they will reveal a little bit more about your market based on it's demographics. In both sites, just type in the zip code. This information will help you target an area that matches your desired market - say home owners who make more than 50K/year.

The areas you mentioned are quite far apart - from what I can tell. If you must go this distance to get work then I suppose you will have to, but as I mentioned in my previous post it is best if you can target certain areas. Remember, with the price of gas that 'windshield time' can cost you, so I would start with areas that are close together. Once you have selected some areas, your best bet is to hit them again and again with your advertising - not just once. *

As you are starting out take even the small jobs as they can lead to much better jobs in the future. Take advantage of your competitive advantage and do a fantastic job and you will soon find your business growing.

I understand that the justmowit business model is lawn cutting only? I'm not clear if the model involves trying to do subcontracting for other companies... or do you just cut lawns for your own customers. If the latter, from my experience I would say that your restricted service may hurt you as you try to get new customers because some like full service (ie fertilizer, clean-ups, aeration). That is not to say it can’t be done though.

Whatever you decide make sure you document your plan. If you decide on this business model it will change your strategies considerably so taking the time to think it through completely will be of great value! You made a good start here on this post but it would be worthwhile to create an actual business plan such as the one described in my book 'Start and Run a Landscape Business' - there is a sample plan included too.

OK – consider this information and let me know what you think. For your homework… How many customers do you have now? Have you set any goals for the number of customers you want or for your monthly revenue. Please post back and tell us the following:

1. A total number of new customers you feel you can easily attract this season. *

2. A total number of new customers you feel will be moderately difficult to attract this season.

3. A total number of new customers you feel will be extremely tough to attract this season. *

4. What date do you want these total customers by?

As well, have you decided on any marketing methods to use to get new customers?

Look forward to hearing back from you.
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