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Starting a lawn care business. How to start a lawn mowing business, lawn care business, or landscaping business. If you are starting a lawn care business, ask your questions here.

2nd offical year and trying to go full time! I need advice.


Starting a lawn care business.

How to start a lawn mowing business, lawn care business, or landscaping business. If you are starting a lawn care business, ask your questions here.
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  #1  
Old 03-03-2009, 10:19 PM
neukam
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Question 2nd offical year and trying to go full time! I need advice.

Hey group!

I am starting my 2nd year doing full service lawn care for residental customers. And have a few questions and would love some comments.

Last year I had 3 contracts and tons of people asked if I would take on there yard also and turned them all down. Last year I was doing these yards as a favor or you could say a "good turn". The reason I kept turning down everyone was that I really didn't have the time and I was really into doing just installs maybe twice a month where I profited 250 to 500 just small jobs.

But this year I have decided to go full time and try to quit my other job.

I have read most of the posts in the last 2 weeks. And this fourm is very informable.

I have set my full service lawn care price at a average of a dollar a minute. Most of my yards take 35 minutes to do from time I pull up to the time I leave. So I have been charging $35. Do you think this is a good price to charge? my service area is just south of Austin, Tx
To add a note to the above question I have seen 2 companys in my area charging $50 dollars to do the exact same thing for the same yards. I personally think this is highway robbery. But I also don't like low bidding. I have never seen these 2 companys work or there trucks in the area.

My second question is

I have been flyering my top choice neighborhoods myself. I have received a response of 1% which is expected.
I have also taken the advice from my 3 customers from last year to put magnet signs on my truck. Because they kept getting other neighbors coming to there door to ask who I was.
I did put adds up in craigslist but since then I have pulled them do to all the spam mail.
What else do you think I could do to get more advertising out?

Right now I have 10 contracts. I would like to increse this number to 15 contracts for the rest of the month to help pad my cash in the bank. But I would like to have 40 customers by june. Do you think this is resonable? I have been flyering 400 flyers everyweek. For the last 2 weeks. I plan on hitting the same houses again in the 1st part of April.

Any advice would be great! and I thank everyone in advance.
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  #2  
Old 03-03-2009, 11:13 PM
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Hi neukam,

Welcome to our forum.

Quote:
I have set my full service lawn care price at a average of a dollar a minute. Most of my yards take 35 minutes to do from time I pull up to the time I leave. So I have been charging $35. Do you think this is a good price to charge? my service area is just south of Austin, Tx
To add a note to the above question I have seen 2 companys in my area charging $50 dollars to do the exact same thing for the same yards. I personally think this is highway robbery. But I also don't like low bidding. I have never seen these 2 companys work or there trucks in the area.
Your price is actually higher than the national average so good for you! Yea go with that price and as you start to fill your client roster, experiment with charging more and see what kind of reaction you get from the customer when you give the price.

If they agree on the spot, you are all set. If they hesitate and you are charging higher than your normal rate, you can always say, if I knock off 10% on the price can we get started right now on the lawn?

That way you still have wiggle room.

Quote:
I have also taken the advice from my 3 customers from last year to put magnet signs on my truck. Because they kept getting other neighbors coming to there door to ask who I was.
I did put adds up in craigslist but since then I have pulled them do to all the spam mail.
What else do you think I could do to get more advertising out?
I'd keep the ad on craigslist and promote your phone number instead of showing an email address. A lot of people on here are getting a lot of positive results from craigslist.

Quote:
Right now I have 10 contracts. I would like to increse this number to 15 contracts for the rest of the month to help pad my cash in the bank. But I would like to have 40 customers by june. Do you think this is resonable? I have been flyering 400 flyers everyweek. For the last 2 weeks. I plan on hitting the same houses again in the 1st part of April.
Yes I think it is reasonable. Others have done it and you can do it too.

Have you considered playing up your history of working in corrections? We have seen others on the forum who are in lawn enforcement or who were, use this as a way to build trust with the customer. Take them on a tour of their property and give them an outdoor home inspection. Point out what they can do to make their yard safer.

Check out this article http://lawnchat.com/?p=206 It could give you more ideas.

Use what makes you unique to your advantage.

What do you think of all this?
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  #3  
Old 03-05-2009, 10:47 PM
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Thanks for the encouraging post. I never thought of doing a home inspection for customers to see what might be a security risk to there home. That is a great idea. Also something else I have been doing is a lot of bartering for diffrent things. I have bartered my landscaping services for business cards, 5x12 trailer, truck magnets, fliers, personal training, accountant. These are to just mention a few things.
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Old 03-06-2009, 07:53 PM
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Quote:
Also something else I have been doing is a lot of bartering for diffrent things. I have bartered my landscaping services for business cards, 5x12 trailer, truck magnets, fliers, personal training, accountant. These are to just mention a few things.
Oh this is fantastic! I bet a lot of other lawn care business owners would like to know how to go about doing this. It's a great way to keep your expenditures to a minimum.

Can you give us some advice on how you pulled this together?
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  #5  
Old 03-06-2009, 11:32 PM
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The best thing I use to barter is Craigslist. My family almost thinks craigslist is my full time job. I have found more contacts through craigslist. I also just spread the word of mouth what I am in need of.
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  #6  
Old 03-10-2009, 05:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neukam View Post
I have set my full service lawn care price at a average of a dollar a minute. Most of my yards take 35 minutes to do from time I pull up to the time I leave. So I have been charging $35. Do you think this is a good price to charge? my service area is just south of Austin, Tx
To add a note to the above question I have seen 2 companys in my area charging $50 dollars to do the exact same thing for the same yards. I personally think this is highway robbery. But I also don't like low bidding. I have never seen these 2 companys work or there trucks in the area.
So you're basically charging $60 per hour? That seems a little high, yes. We would never be able to get away with that. And we service the most wealthy areas of our state. But I can't speak to your area. My advice is do a ton of research. Get a friend or relative to call 10 or 15 of your competition. Make a list of the questions you want them to ask each LCO who comes. For every "report" they create for you, give them a free week of service or something, for their time. That's the best way to see if your prices are too high for your area or not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by neukam View Post
My second question is .......(SNIP)
I have also taken the advice from my 3 customers from last year to put magnet signs on my truck. Because they kept getting other neighbors coming to there door to ask who I was.
That's okay. But if you really want to look professional and make a go of this full time, you should really get your truck professionally lettered with your logo, company name, website, and phone number on your truck. Make it look like a "fleet" truck. That is, so professional that people just assume it's one of 10 trucks you own. That's what I did back when I had just 2 pickups. And even back then everyone always told me, "I see your trucks all over town! How many guys you got now??? You guys must be growing like crazy!" Little did they know, I just had 2 trucks. But because they were professionally done, it LOOKED like I had lots of trucks. Lettering doesn't have to be expensive either. Once the design is done (costs $100-$300 maybe) then lettering shouldn't be too much. We pay around $150-$200 per truck, total.

Quote:
Originally Posted by neukam View Post
What else do you think I could do to get more advertising out?
Flyers are good. I basically built my business in the early days with just flyers. Target the neighborhood where you ALREADY have clients. Also, don't be afraid to do the same neighborhoods over and over. I used to pick certain key areas I wanted to be in and I'd go out and layer those areas with flyers every 3 months. At first, I thought people would get annoyed by that. But you know what? People get so many flyers they often don't remember, 3 months later. I never once got a call from someone upset because I had already left a flyer a few months back. But I DID get a lot of business from it. Sometimes I'd flyer the same houses 5 times before I'd get a call. It's just a matter timing. Flyers work, if you work it.

Website? Do you have a website? If not, I'd make that your next priority. And don't bother, unless you're going to make a really nice one. Your website should almost make you look bigger and more impressive and more experienced than you really are. There good website designers who are fairly affordable, if you just look. But make sure you get a good one. Don't just trust your judgement. Ask them for samples of sites they've done and ask others, "Do you think this website this guy made looks nice?"

Then get into marketing the website. Plenty of threads about that here on the Gopher forums.

Make little yard signs. Simple 10" x 10" signs you leave in your customers' yards (with their permission of course) that say, "maintained by XYZ Lawn Care. 555-555-1212." Simple. But this works. I used to do this a LOT back in the beginning.

Leave business cards on the poster boards at local restaurants, grocery stores, ice cream shops, etc. Where I live, about 1 in 5 establishments have some sort of poster board for local businesses to leave their business cards. Take advantage of that! It's free!!!

Give Service Magic a shot! I've been using them for 8 years. Read up about them. I've made several posts about Service Magic over the years on various lawn care forums. Do a search for "jimlewis Service Magic forum" or something like that on Google. It's not for everyone. But if you use them right, you can get a LOT of leads and new customers from that company. We probably get half of our new lawn maintenance accounts from Service Magic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by neukam View Post
Right now I have 10 contracts. I would like to increse this number to 15 contracts for the rest of the month to help pad my cash in the bank. But I would like to have 40 customers by june. Do you think this is resonable? I have been flyering 400 flyers everyweek. For the last 2 weeks. I plan on hitting the same houses again in the 1st part of April.

Any advice would be great! and I thank everyone in advance.
Yes, I think that's very reasonable, if you keep all this up and take some of the suggestions you've been given here in this thread.

Keep in mind marketing should be a multi-faceted thing. Don't just count on one thing (e.g. flyers) to bring in all your new leads. If you want to grow fast, you should be doing SEVERAL different things to bring in new business.

And as for Craigslist, I agree it's almost a total waste of time. But it's free. And spam isn't that big of a nuisance. I know people who get decent work from Craigslist every once in a while. It could be worth wading through a little spam if it means you'll eventually get one or two accounts this season. It's not that hard to hit the DELETE button.
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  #7  
Old 03-10-2009, 11:14 AM
neukam
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Thanks guys for all the info and advice.

Here is where I stand as of right now since I wrote this post a few days ago.

I now have 13 contracts!
I have but my add back up on craigslist.
I have new T-shirts printed.
New business cards.
I have gone out and posted on several community boards.
I am working with a web designer on a Website.
Starting the 1st part of April I am going to re hit all the neighborhoods I have aready hit with flyers.
Also I have worked a barter out with the local pizza joint they will put my flyer on there pizza box in exchange I will mow there yard as full contract.

I have also made professional yard signs and worked out that every customer that lets me put a sign in there yard they get $5 off that weeks service and for every new customer that informs me that they saw my sign in the customers yard they get $10 off there 1st service and the customer that has the sign in there yard they get $5 more dollars off there service for each new yard I receive.

Starting tonight I am going to a HOA meeting and I am the guess speaker about irrigation maintence. "I am a licensed irrigator and water auditor in TX"
I have 3 more after tonight. So I am going to be pushing my yard care service at the end of the meetings.

What do you guys think?
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Old 03-10-2009, 11:14 AM
neukam
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On more thing I am looking into right now is the BBB is anyone have experiance with them?
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Old 03-10-2009, 11:58 AM
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I think you are on fire! Great Work!


Quote:
On more thing I am looking into right now is the BBB is anyone have experiance with them?
Some lawn care business owners like to get involved with the BBB. I personally have never called the BBB to check a business out before I used them. Have you? Is it popular in your area? If you ask around to your friends and family see if they have. I just don't know too many people that use that service.

Quote:
Starting tonight I am going to a HOA meeting and I am the guess speaker about irrigation maintence. "I am a licensed irrigator and water auditor in TX"
I have 3 more after tonight. So I am going to be pushing my yard care service at the end of the meetings.
This is fantastic! How did you line all these up?
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Old 03-10-2009, 01:10 PM
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Well I have never used BBB but all I see around town are BBB stickers that business use. I will check with friends and family to see if they use BBB.

As far as the HOA meetings I was asked on accident. My neighborhood has a HOA and my back fence is owned by the HOA. I noticed that when they went to work on my fence about 4 months ago they didn't finish it. Now to part I am amshamed of is that I didn't notice that they didn't finish it until last month. So When I called the management company they sent there manager to my house to check it out. Well it turned out he was a former customer from when I worked for a large company and he now manages several HOA's in the area. So after we got to talking and after a few beers he asked me to come out as a guess speaker and he is working on getting me several more jobs that would be where I would go and mow yards that are not in compliance.

Just a update since the last post I got another contract for $140 a month.
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