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Promote your products or services Do you want to promote your products or services to our lawn care business forum? Tell us what you have to offer. Post some specials or promotional offers. There is no better way to sell to a forum community than to get a few happy customers and then word will spread.

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Promote your products or services

Do you want to promote your products or services to our lawn care business forum? Tell us what you have to offer. Post some specials or promotional offers. There is no better way to sell to a forum community than to get a few happy customers and then word will spread.
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  #11  
Old 05-02-2008, 05:17 AM
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Eric,

That is such a great story. It's fantastic to see how you were able to see opportunities and jump on them.

From what I have seen, a very difficult time for a new business owner, especially one that is working at a fulltime job and then running their lawn care business on the side, is making that transition from running their business part time to fulltime and quitting their day job.

Do you have any advice as to how to make this happen?

When you were working fulltime, did you have employees for your lawn care business? Did they work during the day without you?

Or were you a one man operation until you quit your fulltime job?

Any insights you have would be greatly appreciated.
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  #12  
Old 05-02-2008, 08:49 AM
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When I was first starting I was a single man operation. *When I needed help I had friends from my night job work PT. *Later on I hired students seasonally. *As the operation grew I hired full time off the street using newpaper ads. *When the government contracting hit hard there was a scramble to get people because it was off season. *

Once the mowing season came I was fortunate to find college students who had friends. *These guys were responsible enough to be foremen so that operation went on autopilot. *The only time I had to step in was the weekly mall mowing on Thursdays or Fridays. *Mainly because I was charging $1,700 per mow and it had to be right. *I was able to sell my mowing business to one of these foremen in 1992.

I had a really good guy running the topsoil operation. *In early '94 that business was ripe. *I made it look too easy to make money. *Competitors started coming out of the woodwork. *I was able to sell it to a larger land developers sons. *They moved it north 50 miles. After the 30 day transition period I retired for about a year and did my home projects.

Speaking of selling your business, I have some great ideas for anyone considering that exit strategy. You should be planning for a sale from the moment you consider starting a business. Given i was able to sell my phone number for $10,000 and a 4 year non-compete agreement for $30,000, along with making 9% on the financing, why work?



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Old 05-02-2008, 10:02 AM
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Do you ever miss the business? Or was it just something that was there and easy to get started?

Do you find what you are currently doing more interesting?
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  #14  
Old 05-02-2008, 10:42 AM
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I miss some aspects of the business, and glad to be rid of others. I spent the majority of my day on the road. When you've got people on the full time payroll, they're like your family. They count on you to feed them every Friday. You've got to go out there and find steady work to make payroll.

As President of the corporation, my work hours started at 6AM and ran to midnight with no time off. When i held my full time night job I arrived to work at 7:30AM with no sleep, worked until 5 or 6PM, got three hours of sleep and did it all over again. I caught up on sleep over the weekend if I could.

Make no mistake, when you run your own business, you better be prepared to work long hard hours. It's the same now except my road trips and scrambling between job locations is over. I also get to work under a roof in the machine shop rather than all weather conditions. Rain, snow & heat isn't a factor that slows me down. My hours are still long, but the payroll has shrunk and I don't have to deal with seasonal hiring.

Lawn & landscaping business is service related, and restricted to your local area. My business now is product related, and international in scope. So the sky is the limit, I'm only bound by my production capacity. That's why I only advertise on the internet, so my unit sales don't go nuclear. The general public doesn't yet know about this product. Imagine if it was on TV every half hour, or in your mailbox every month.

I'm trying to keep the size of this business manageable and slow growth. I don't want to be opening up 100,000+ sq.ft. plants in every country next month. Sure, with my background I can do it, but that means alot of things have to dovetail perfectly in advance, like venture capital funding and/or going public. Is it worth giving up ownership and control to advance the corporation? Yes, but I'll do it at my pace so the price is higher when it converts.

There are several reasons to start your own business. Most people do it for money and income with no thought of the future. Some do it to hand down to their children, who probably have ideas and goals of their own. Once you get to the five year milestone you should re-examine the future of the company and your own goals. Is it time to sell or go longer? Are you stuck for the rest of your life, or should you exit on high. In any event, you will be exiting the business sooner or later as you age.
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Old 05-02-2008, 12:11 PM
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Did you ever have any desire, at the time, to expand the lawn & landscaping business? Potentially create a franchise? Or no?
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  #16  
Old 05-02-2008, 01:28 PM
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Yes, and I could've done that along the same lines as Chemlawn, lawn doctor, and trugreen. The problem would've been undercapitalization and competition. I still have ideas for that sort of business, but the barriers to entry into the industry remain. You've got to start from a very small local footprint, perfect your methods and systems, then expand.

As that expansion starts to become self limiting due to distances, the importance of committed employees is key. They've got to step up, take responsibility and develop an ownership mentality. Locating and motivating people to grow into this kind of position is critical for survival and profits, let alone expansion. I just have a hard time finding those kind of individuals in this world. To most the theme is "it's just a job, and as soon as I find something better, I'm gone".
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Old 05-02-2008, 01:31 PM
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Do you think the franchise model at all resolves that issue? If they have to buy into it and have skin in the game, would they then want to put more energy into making it happen?
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  #18  
Old 05-02-2008, 03:09 PM
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I'm sure that will help motivate, but where are the guys going to get funded? You could offer a financing plan if it's allowed by the FTC. The main hurtle would be generating a UFOC that proves the case to buy a franchise. Your financials would have to be audited at least three years back. That means your cash jobs and income can't go into hip pocket national bank.
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Old 05-03-2008, 04:23 PM
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That is a very good point. Some of my favorite franchise stories were Kinkos, which was a great book. When they got started, they created a business model that worked and then started having their friends take over surrounding areas and then it picked up steam from there. It was just such a fascinating read.

Also Fast Signs. WOW The way that happened, the guys that started it, just seemed like they had the midas touch. It didn't appear at all that they were even worried about their success.

Ray Kroc's story with McDonalds was amazing too. You wouldn't think that such a huge company had such a shaky start.

Do you have a favorite franchise? If so which one?

I think right now, my favorite is a Harley Davidson dealership although I am not sure if a dealership falls under the franchise umbrella.

Would you ever want to have your dump truck business franchised out? Could that work where you would have authorized installers around the country?
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  #20  
Old 05-03-2008, 06:28 PM
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Hooters and Outback are my favorite franchises.

I don't think my business will ever be franchised out to truck equipment installers. I had a list of qualified dealers off my website, but since I can't control their marketing or customer service, I removed it.
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