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Smitty58
09-22-2005, 05:57 AM
What is more important, image or money? As I look back on this years mowing season I have to ask myself that question. I worked hard to get all the things I thought I had to have to be a LCO, commercial w/b, commercial ztr, enclosed lettered trailer, matching everything ( shirts, hats etc) ,insurance, advertising. So when I look back the image looks great but it has not been a good year financially. Then I see others in my area mowing with a resi. riding tractor, no signage, no matching shirts and hats ,etc. It really appears that maybe I'm missing something. The bottom line is (I think), to make money at this. So do we get caught up in the image and lose focus on the bottom line? What if all you had was the basic stuff, riding mower, trim mower, trimmer, blower, small trailer. Could you do just as well financially? I am beginning to think you could provided you are just a residential mower. If you are doing large commercial props than that theory goes out the window. So what do you think? Am I nuts or what?

QualityLawnCare4u
09-22-2005, 06:27 AM
My first year in biz I had a old rusty van, a murray rider, all cheap weed whacker and blowers and made 3 times what I made last year. It was all paid for and gas was cheap. If I could do it over I would have one small commercial ztr, a PAID for dang truck, no insurance (dropping this year) Not one person has ever commented about my setup then or now, all they want is cheap decent looking lawn care and they dont care what you do it with. We have an LCO with a huge enclosed lettered trailor, a brand new ford F350 and I dont know how the heck he is paying for it around here as cheap as lawn care is.

LwnmwrMan22
09-22-2005, 08:47 AM
It's only going to depend on your market.

Here, where people are more uppity, and all your competition drives nice new equipment, you'd probably have better looking stuff.

If more of your competition is running around in mid 80's - mid 90's stuff, then you can join them.

I've always been in the mindset that you want to look better than your competition, because until you have the customer, it's the one thing that sets you apart from them.

If you look like everyone else, then you're just everyone else, no reason for people to call you.


Now, I've gotten out of residential mowing for these reasons, and only do commercial mowing.

lawnwizards
09-22-2005, 09:51 AM
no insurance (dropping this year) what kind of insurance are you dropping? with my general liability i only need it on the commercial props but i guess if i put an eye out on a residential then i'm glad i have it.

Sean Adams
09-22-2005, 10:13 AM
This is a very good question and I am sure there will be differing opinions on this subject. My short answer is that what you went through this year should have been more of a process. Starting out you should manage with what you can afford and justify. I think a lot of people get wrapped up starting out wanting to have shiny new trucks, top of the line equipment, etc... and they are often placing ads on ebay trying to sell everything before the season is even over.

Image is important to a degree. There is nothing wrong with a 1990 used truck, used walk behinds, 5 green shirts from wal-mart, and some decent hand held equipment. If you take care of what you have and do your best to make yourself presentable, your do good work, you handle your clients well and your pricing is fair - you should have all the business you need. "Upgrading" to the F-350's and the $10,000 mowers is something you should do only when you can justify the need for these things.

Bottom line - you are in business to make money. Keep your expenses as low as you can and more money goes in your pocket.

AL Inc
09-22-2005, 10:30 AM
I guess I fall somewhere in the middle. Before I do anything, I try to weigh the costs vs benefits. My trucks are lettered and usually pretty clean, and my men all wear company shirts. I own almost all of my equipment now, and just try to keep things running as long as possible. My skid steer trailer is 20 years old, but with a new coat of paint and some welding, it looks new. I would say 95% of clients wouldn't know the difference between a freshly painted, nicely running 1985 truck and a 2005.
You are investing heavily in your business right now, which is to be expected in a growing business. Just don't let your ego get the best of you. Sure it is nice to see a fleet of trucks going down the road with your name on them, but as you know, that doesn't equal success.
Let this season be a learning experience for you, and start planning for next year. I think image is important, but be reasonable about it. Knowing your numbers and thinking like a businessman is far more important.

meathead1134
09-22-2005, 12:35 PM
It's called overhead I'm going to give some examples

Let's see

company 1 Small company has a brand new F350 turbo diesel truck that cost at least 35K has a new 20 foot enclosed trailer 2x whatever ZTR's and your for giggles 9K a piece puls basic hand helds
Truck payment 583 a month
Mower payments 300 a month
insurance 125.00 a month
plus trailer payment
ect
ect
ect
His overhead is extremely high so his prices have to be higher to cover expenses and plus make profit

company 2 small company
truck payment 220.00
mower payment 0
insurance 125
trailer payment 0

Both companies bid on a 10,000 square foot strickly mow and blow job
company a has to bid higher than company b. So company a starts complaining on Lawnsite that they just got low balled. Which can happen but if company b's over head is alot lower than company a is it really low balling????? I suggest reading up on six sigma and lean concepts and maybe you will learn something. Some people are going to disagree with me but less money paying out is more money in our pocket think about it

Smitty58
09-22-2005, 02:22 PM
Wow, I really expected a different response. Seems there is the tendency here to get caught up in the whole "image" thing. I'm not suggesting driving around in a pc of junk truck and going back to 21" murrays. Most people here (I think) are part time like myself so I drive a new F-350 ,but not because I mow. I have a good paying "1st" job and I need a big truck to pull our camper. I really think the equipment is what gets us, I am a tool junkie so I am always looking at bigger, faster, better. As far as mowing residential lawns do we really need a super fast Z? In fact I have lost several yards this year because of the "large fast" equipment. You can criticize the little old ladies for not liking the big z's zipping around their yard ,but the older people who can't mow anymore are a big market we can't ignore. My neighbors around me have Deere, Troybilt riders and basic push mowers. Except for my yard being striped and theirs not there is no difference in quality actually at times because of the Z tearing turf (I know you never tear turf) theirs looks better than mine. So I am considering down sizing to a decent rider and ither a small comm w/b or 21". Anyone else thinking like this or is it just me?

Lawn Masters
09-22-2005, 03:18 PM
IMO, image makes some difference, I like to look respectable, but not over the top. if my equipment is paid for, and my truck is as well, I'm happy. I dont have to look like the very best company out there, just respectable, and decent so people will see a professional outfit with great results.

twindiddy
09-22-2005, 03:34 PM
I suggest reading up on six sigma and lean concepts and maybe you will learn something.

Wow! Six Sigma on Lawnsite. If I hear that or SOX again, I'm gonna puke. That's exactly what I'm trying to get away from.

I guess where I'm really concerned about looks is in our advertisements. I think most of the people in our area don't care what you look like as long as you mow their lawn and they don't get a ticket from the HOA. Or it looks better than their neighbor's. I'd say 50% of the "LCO's" around here drive mini-vans.

kc2006
09-22-2005, 04:54 PM
I was going to post something about this.

The other day I was driving around and it cracks me up that theres so many crappy looking companies that have alot of work. One company has 5 or 6 trucks, all beat up with a small magnet sign on the door that has a phone number, beat up trailers with 15 year old equipment that does a horrible job, and slacky looking employee's that I wouldn't let near my house for fear that they'd break in. yet the guy is doing great!

I can see why people would go with him because if he's cheaper. But he does a nasty job and that just doesn't fly, so it baffles me that he still has business.

I try to do everything right, advertise like a mad man and I'm still having a very rough first year. I'm gunna get my beat s10 that I have and start pulling the trailer with that and dress up like bubba. maybe that will get me business.

Smitty58
09-22-2005, 05:13 PM
kc - I'm with ya, I think sometimes that professional "image" can actually keep you from getting work. Some my be intimidated by the pro image thinking you must be more expensive and there by never even giving you a chance to show them otherwise.
I see so many guys around here with no shirts on, beat up trucks or no truck at all pulling a cheap trailer. Have even seen 1 guy in my neighborhood with a w/b in the back of his truck using ramps. These guys seem like they are everywhere and I can't get work. We have done everything right and advertised a bunch and still can't get work ,it is driving me nuts.

olderthandirt
09-22-2005, 05:55 PM
Professional people and Companies hang with the same type of people as a general rule.
How many times have you seen the suit and tie attorneys or business men at lunch sitting with the construction laborer? A professional image will bring in MORE professional clients and there the ones that have more income set a side for the professional looking ground maintenance. Its all just part of the whole package.

jtrice11
09-22-2005, 06:27 PM
If you are doing large commercial props than that theory goes out the window. So what do you think? Am I nuts or what?

I'd have to agree with ya, I think you got her figured out. If your just doing resi's, its price, price, price, PRICE. But if you want to do the big stuff, you gotta look professional.

olderthandirt
09-22-2005, 06:35 PM
see so many guys around here with no shirts on, beat up trucks or no truck at all pulling a cheap trailer. Have even seen 1 guy in my neighborhood with a w/b in the back of his truck using ramps. These guys seem like they are everywhere and I can't get work. We have done everything right and advertised a bunch and still can't get work ,it is driving me nuts.

If you want to portray that image you will get more work BUT you will be getting it at a far less rate than what a professional company would charge. Like its been said
10 lawns at $10 or
1 lawn at $100

Woody82986
09-22-2005, 07:07 PM
I tend to try to find a good mix of image and money. I try to spend a decent amount of money for good equipment and good looking stuff but not to the point that it is economically stupid to do so. I try to keep as low an overhead as I can so I don't start having to hike up prices to cover checks my ego is cashing.

RedWingsDet
09-22-2005, 07:20 PM
I have a new enclosed lettered trailer, and a new (to me) 01 2500hd, lastyear i had a 5x10 open trailer to start with and a dakota. Now, only thing that isnt paid off is my truck, but Im making 5x more money this year than lastyear.

waht I dont understand is these guys who have like 6 crews, with all 2002+ f350's, all enclosed trailers and dump trailers, I dont understand how they make money, but hey, whatever.

Even the companys who have 15 crews have older trucks with enclosed trailers...

but then again, those companys who have 5+ crews are into landscaping more, and thats where the big money is, and the cutting grass only pay's their bills, most likely.

Hopefully someday I can just do landscape work and plow, I HATE cutting grass, but then again, thats what employees are for.

Jpocket
09-22-2005, 08:03 PM
You just have to find the middle ground...I prefer to run older trucks and a mix of older and new Z's. Personally I think the older trucks look better pulling a nice new tandum open trailer. That way the only "real payments" you have are a mower and insurance.

gorknoids
09-22-2005, 10:12 PM
"You have to spend money to make money".

The words "as little as possible" were dropped some time ago and replaced by the 1st "money". If you're just starting out, you've probably got a couple years before you start earning what you'd like to. I'm sure that most of us ex-startups went through it.
Two big reasons for this are that you're laying out a lot more money now than you will in two years, and in those intervening 24 months you'll become infinitely more proficient, efficient and economical in your operations. Add to this that things will come to you. You'll find a great deal on a piece of equipment that saves you major hours, or you'll hit a "honey-hole" in a great neighborhood and wind up parking a rig for the whole day in one spot while you work 5-10 high paying properties just because one of your original customers recommended you to the right people.
Image is important, but it doesn't have to be expensive. A crew decked out in matching tee-shirts with the company name and logo covering both sides looks uniform, but that isn't really what many residential customers want to see. They want results provided inconspicuously. If the neighbors like what they see, they'll either approach you in person or take the number from the side of the truck. On commercial properties, and particularly new construction, the walking billboard is the way to go. Make sure that some of the guys have business cards, also!

meets1
09-22-2005, 10:56 PM
I think your image is Key! From shirts off -to wearing polo shirts. Clean looking equipment compared to the rusty old craftsman. A decent trailer with "equipment" in place and not bouncing around thinking that trailer is going to come off that hitch.

I spend to much money. First to tell ya that besides my wife. I just got a new 06 2500HD 4 Door LT chevy. Trading in an older truck for a 50K 03 regular cab 2500HD Chevy and purchased $30K worth of equipment in the last 2 weeks.

I see it as an image to be upheld. Our crews look good. As far as I am concerned do the "best" job around. Good equipment translate to fewer break downs, less headache, less downtime. Mowing, landscaping etc are one thing but when it comes to snow removal - I can't afford to be sitting idle while something is being fixed. Therefore I spend the money on newer equipment.

My overhead is far more exceeding than anyone is my area. 1 example. 60 year guy, 1 1500 chevy truck with rust all over, a 2 wheel trailer with a deere rider & toro wb and the blower and trimmer ride shotgun. Dumps all the grass in back of truck. Spills all over the road, clients driveway, etc. and drives off. When I am asked about "is this what you do" I say NO. Often we have been asked to clean his mess up. I have yet to obtain any of these clients cuz he is CHEAP! Cut my prices is half. But his 1 truck sits out all day, all nite, all year long with the trailer and mower on it. Winter, place the snow blower on the trailer. Where as I have a building for all equipment which cost to build, taxes, insurance, utilities, property to purchase, more taxes. He has a big tree!

Is image everything??

Smitty58
09-22-2005, 10:59 PM
All good posts. This post stems from what has been a bad year. At the start of the year we (my son and I) bought a new Ferris 1500 Z ,a 36" w/b ,and an enclosed trailer. I already had all the other hand tools from working by myself the past couple of years. At first we picked up several new accounts and I thought it was going to be great. Then shortly into the season we started losing those new accounts. We lost 7 yards which was approx 33%. So that sucked. The common reason for those dropping us seemed to stem around the size and speed of my new mower. We do other hardscaping stuff so it didn't kill us both it still sucks. Meanwhile all over town I see guys with homeowner equipment picking up yard after yard which also sucks. Now we spent a fortune to outfit our company into a professional image and we are losing ground fast. That is what has me sort of re-evaluating our setup.

Brianslawn
09-22-2005, 11:02 PM
I tend to try to find a good mix of image and money. I try to spend a decent amount of money for good equipment and good looking stuff but not to the point that it is economically stupid to do so. I try to keep as low an overhead as I can so I don't start having to hike up prices to cover checks my ego is cashing.


same here, but the image has been getting me more money. more than what i spend on the immage.

jblawns123
09-22-2005, 11:19 PM
Depends on your target client...

Lettering, shirts are a 1 time expense. Very small at that.

New trucks and equipment all the time is more the issue...

Some buy new to have new all the time. Some buy new to last a long time.

Varsity L&G
09-23-2005, 03:24 AM
I am a new start-up and I feel I can have a good image without spending a ton of money. Just just picked up 2 embroidered shirts and hat for doing estimates today for 60$. Everything I bought total for the company so far has cost me roughly 2500$ and a lot of it is brand new. I will be painting the Mazda here very soon to freshin it up a little but other then that it is a nice truck with low gas cost.

I will be able to net more off a 45$ yard then the guys with the big trucks and high dollar mowers and we might even complete them in the same amount of time, I will also how ever be able to make more per day then the guys running home owner tractors just based on the speed of the WB.

I wanted a good image with no payments and low cost.

Soupy
09-23-2005, 04:17 AM
I didn't read all the threads so some of this might have been said.

I think image is important, but it doesn't have to be expensive. You don't need a new truck, a clean nicely lettered truck can be used and not add much expense (just the cost of lettering). Uniforms can be T shirts with name and logo and doesn't cost much at all (under $200). If you carry your company with a professional image you will land more high paying jobs which will give you a quicker return on investment. Also with a good image (some people have asked if I own a franchise) it isn't nothing to get a residential customer to sign the bottom line. They think it is standard practice for a professional company to ask for a work order to be signed, but a company operating like everyone else with no lettering and just cutting grass will have a harder time justifying a signature of any kind from a customer.A professional image also gives you the confidence needed to land jobs at a higher profit. You just gain more respect from the customer overall with a good image. I added a fuel surcharge when gas went up and no one said anything, But they might have if they viewed me as the average Jo cutting grass. Which brings up another thing that will give you a better image and has nothing to do with visual effects. If you offer full service lawn care you will get more respect as a business and not viewed as just a grass cutter that anyone can do (which isn't true, but some people think that).

As for as equipment, it hard to say what is the best for any particular area. But I would suspect that your commercial equipment brings in more profit dollar for dollar then the lawn tractors bought at the local hardware store. You can cut faster and better with them. It sure does look more professional to have equipment the customer doesn't see every they walk into the local store.

As for insurance, it's just common sense to have it. Accidents happen and the day you need it you will wish you had it. Which if you do ever really need it it will cost you more for not having it.

Here's an examples of something you might not need, but it doesn't really cost extra to have. I paid $500 (really cheap for what I got) to have a website designed www.lawn-tek.com. It doesn't generate many direct sales from the site, but it has received a few contacts. Just one good lead paid for it and it doesn't cost but $85 a year to host. The part were it can really pay off is from the potential caller that seen your website on your truck or any other means of advertising. They might go to the website and after viewing it walk away viewing your company as having a professional image. My point is that it could be viewed as blowing $500, but even if only one lead comes through a month it is worth it in the long run, but you could certainly do without it. But the overall scheme tells me my $500 was well spent.

I know I am just babbling, but I am typing as it comes to mind. The nicely lettered truck if done right will also generate sales because people like to have expensive looking service's parked in front of their house. I have received the majority of new business because of my truck. Customers have come right out and told me they called me and no one else because they want a professional business providing service to them and not just a guy with a truck and mowers. After all many people hire a lawn care service to produce a better image for them-self, and as much as they want a nice looking lawn, they want neighbors to see a nice looking service at their house. It's a perception thing. They wouldn't care about a crappy looking lawn if it wasn't.

I can go on and on and I am sure I left many keys reasons out why image helps (not required, but helps). But I truly believe every dollar I have spent on image has paid off and will continue to pay off. Many of these expenses are one time expenses. By the way there are many things I spent money on to boost my image that are not listed. My goal was to build a image similar to the national franchises and I think I achieved that. I copied many things from these companies all the way done to the color carbon-less proposals, and full color glossy advertisements.


It all depends on your goal. If you just want to cut turf and your market consist of price shoppers only wanting their grass cut down, then image probably won't help.

Soupy
09-23-2005, 04:25 AM
One more thing.... Image building has to be viewed as an investment and not an expense for you to really understand the possible advantages. There will be many things in business that some will view as an expense, but are truly investments.

Sir mowsalot
09-23-2005, 04:53 AM
I think image is very important. Look at other businesses out there for an example. Look at any hvac company, whether big or small, they all have letterd vans, standard uniform, and very important CLIP BOARD with estimate sheet. How many hvac company's do you see drivin around with rusty van, wearin a wife beater t-shirt with their beer gut hangin out, and looks to not have shaved in over 2 weeks? I think image is important , but at the same time is not to strive to hard at first and get in over your head in debt. You want to work at making a good lookin image, at what ever pace you can afford. Start small, and work you way up. No matter how you look, you still must, treat people honestly, do the very best job you can do, price reasonably, and stand behind your work.
I think the reason for seeing these unproffessional guys everywhere is because the economy is heading south. I beleive it is an indicator of things to come. There is a lot of things going on right now, and many many people are feeling nervous, and honestly i dont beleive this is a time to be going into debt very much. Im not going to start a political debate, but usually when things start going bad, there are other things that could prevent it from going worse, but when things start heading bad, and your govt has gotten its self into a huge debt ratio like bush has done, the outcome is usuallly very severe. At some point you must pay the piper. When you spend like a drunken sailor, then there is no money left to pay the bills, or god forbid if an emergency happens(Katrina) and now Rita. just my two cents

PMLAWN
09-23-2005, 05:20 AM
Image is everything. BUT don't miss guide your efforts.

The homeowner does not give a rats butt about yours.
What he cares about is his. Does his property look manicured? Does it look good all week? Is his lawn green and weed free when others are not.
That is what he cares about.
Most of the homeowners don't even see us when we are there and have no clue what we drive. They want us to be invisible.
The work you leave behind should be your image and you calling card.
Your advertising comes Sat. night on the homeowners deck when the neighbor asks for your #.

( we are clean and never smoke at a site and wear matching shirts--and always keep them on-but still the bottom line is quality work)

Smitty58
09-23-2005, 05:29 AM
PMLAWN - thats it exactly. So what is your equipment makeup, I'm curious. Actually all those who have replied what is your equipment list? My whole point to this is just what pmlawn said, the customer for the most part does not see nor does he want to see us. He/she justs want a nice job ,dependable service ,for a fair price. If that means using only a 21" and you can make money with that than so be it. I just think we (me) get caught in this whole "professional" equipment thing.

PMLAWN
09-23-2005, 09:02 AM
PMLAWN - thats it exactly. So what is your equipment makeup, I'm curious. Actually all those who have replied what is your equipment list? My whole point to this is just what pmlawn said, the customer for the most part does not see nor does he want to see us. He/she justs want a nice job ,dependable service ,for a fair price. If that means using only a 21" and you can make money with that than so be it. I just think we (me) get caught in this whole "professional" equipment thing.
Toro and Exmark. Z's are 60", 44"and 48" W/Bs are all float the 36"s are fixed
everything is hydro except for one 48 metro. (first mower owned and not smart enough to buy hydro yet). Handful of 21" (2 proline rest POS's) We match the unit to the property.
I like working out of enclosed and I think that it is cleaner looking but we still use one open. (that route has been pretty much shut down as the year comes to a close.)
If you like to advertise the enclosed works nice but I have taken all letting off the trailers as I was getting to many calls. All my stuff is now by referral and I am very picky about what I take on.

As a side note, my first 2 1/2 years went well and we produced some nice work. This was the year to start growing. With 3 crews working full weeks I started to have problems keeping guys and even bigger problems getting them to do the job to our standards. Grew big headaches and increased Miller Brewing stock :dizzy:
Had nice clean trucks and matching shirts that matched the trucks and trailers and the cards and the invoices. Great image! But as the quality of the work decreased so did the IMAGE of the company. So we downsized a little and cut 2 crews and even sold some stuff. Got rid of the morons :D (set one guy up with truck and trailer and equipment)
Life is much better but the biggest change is that people are happy with the work we are doing again and the phone is ringing asking for bids and not to complain!
We are now able to pick our work and the profit is much better. Not sure if we will grow again or stay smaller but if we do it will be at a slower rate and with much care.
While finances were never a big problem during this time (we never low-balled and had profit to cover the problems) we did find that it was getting harder to get jobs at the right price as quality went down.
Bottom line is that your work builds your reputation and your GOOD rep will allow you to charge rates that make this business worth doing.

LwnmwrMan22
09-23-2005, 09:25 AM
Image and ability to get the work done go hand in hand I believe.

The school district I mow, the previous LCO was using 54" standers to maintain about 45 acres and 20 man hours of trimming / week. They could get the account done.

Now I go in and use an 11' Tri-Deck mower, a 60" ZTR and Primo-Maxx for the fencelines and can get it all done in 2 long days.

As for strictly image, I only do commercial properties, so I'm marketed towards a client that doesn't look in the paper or yellow pages for someone to cut grass.

They're usually approached by 4-5-6-7-8-9 different LCO's every year wanting to put a bid in on the property.

I currently have 2 Wal-Marts. The first I got was when the manager saw me mowing a gas station on the corner, she wrote down the phone number off the side of the trailer. The second was referred by this manager.

Last week I was mowing the first Wal-Mart and a guy pulls up wondering if I had a business card. I said no, I don't carry them because I end up going on wild goose chases, either the people want me to do something I'm not interested in, or I'm too high anyways.

He then asked if he could take a picture of the trailer so he could print off a copy when he got back to the office. I said sure, what do I care? We got to talking and he's putting in a large commercial development about 2 miles from my Wal-Mart and saw my truck and trailer a month prior and has kept an eye on the Wal-Mart. He likes what he sees and would like me to put a bid on his new property next spring. He also said that he wanted to talk with me, because with the money I have invested, that I must be in it for the long haul, not just someone looking to fill in between jobs, or someone looking to make a quick buck or two.

Anyways, it cost me $1200 to have this trailer lettered. It sounds like alot, but since it's the only advertising I'll use in the next 8 years, it's only $150 / year.

Off of that $1200, so far I've gained 2 Wal-Marts for $15k of mowing for 6 months. I believe as well that when I pull up to my accounts, just as Soupy had said, that commercial accounts want an LCO that doesn't look like they might not be in business next year.

I know, some are going to think that I would make even more money with a lower overhead. But, going back to the first manager, would have she noticed a regular pickup with a 16' open trailer at the gas station that day?? Or was it because there was a 24' billboard sitting there for her to see??

Just because you have a higher overhead doesn't mean you can't make money, you just need the right accounts. It's all relative.

LwnmwrMan22
09-23-2005, 09:31 AM
PMLAWN - thats it exactly. So what is your equipment makeup, I'm curious. Actually all those who have replied what is your equipment list? My whole point to this is just what pmlawn said, the customer for the most part does not see nor does he want to see us. He/she justs want a nice job ,dependable service ,for a fair price. If that means using only a 21" and you can make money with that than so be it. I just think we (me) get caught in this whole "professional" equipment thing.

2005 Dodge 2500 ..... 2003 Dodge 2500
2003 Featherlite Trailer ..... 2002 16' Dump Trailer
2002 26' Flatbed ..... 2003 Perma Green Ultra
2002 Ferris IS4000 ..... 2004 Kubota ZD28
2002 Kubota 4310 ..... 2002 Bush Hog 11' Tri-Deck

The rest, the usual.

daveintoledo
09-23-2005, 09:40 AM
while i have purchased a new toro z this year for my acre, 2 acre and 3.5 acre properties, i still show up a couple days a week with the trusty old lawn tractor i started with. As someone here mentioned, old ladies dont like you whipping around on a big z on the grounds.... some guys refuse to do what the customer wants..... for these old ladies i dont mind taking 20 min instead of 10 on there little yards, and collect my 30 bucks.... do all those lawns, then i get the z and go to the big properties. Yes i have gotten many account because they dont like the commercial equipment. Is that bad for my image? I dont think so, They know i have bigger commercial equipment and that i treat them special by using the lawn tractor because they want it....the referals just keep coming in....i think customer service is the best way to project a professional image. I do wear a uniform and have letered truck also

Pecker
09-23-2005, 04:52 PM
[QUOTE=twindiddy]Wow! Six Sigma on Lawnsite. If I hear that or SOX again, I'm gonna puke. [QUOTE]

Pardon my ignorance, but what's Six Sigma?

GreenUtah
09-23-2005, 05:49 PM
Any discussion about image and working with a customer needs to focus on some basic human behaviors. People like to deal with people that they feel are similar to them. That taps some basic security issues in the majority of people of all sorts and age groups. How that relates to image is based on the perceived image the cusomter has of themselves, their property and their life, whether factual or not. Understanding this perceived relationship with the world that your potential customer base has will key you to how you will need to present and behave to create that "sympathetic image" that fits with their's. This also includes personality traits that may lend themselves to certain individuals feeling the need to be superior to those that perform services for them, either in a passive or aggressive mode.

Boiled down, that means learn your market, talk to your clients and actually ASK them what is important to them then present variables. As you do this, you will learn what closes a deal other than price. If price is your game, hope you can emulate the guy on the bike pulling his mower, the ultimate in stripped down overhead and be happy with his life. Otherwise, learn to sell value and expertise, which you may find image makes a little easier to put forward.

topsites
09-23-2005, 06:05 PM
Looks (image) DO make a difference, however, I find a larger percentage of folks could really give a hoot whether their lawn is striped with the newest machine or if they guy with the 7-year old raggedy looking Wb came in so long the grass is cut evenly, most don't care.

That's what I keep trying to say, why I go shirtless and think uniforms are a waste of time, yet another concept someone sitting in front of a computer all day earning 80k+/year came up with only to become a part of the corporate lies they feed us day after day whilst we work for someone else. Sad they can make us believe the crap, and by the way, it's the same thing with letters on the truck but that's another discussion.

otoh, greenutah's explanation is truly in-depth and speaks a world of what it really boils down to. I think the best way to figure it out is try various methods, then throw away the ones that don't work and hang on to the rest - It's another way of saying be yourself, it should match your style AND get you the customer that fits said niche you have by then built.

topsites
09-23-2005, 06:13 PM
while i have purchased a new toro z this year for my acre, 2 acre and 3.5 acre properties, i still show up a couple days a week with the trusty old lawn tractor i started with. As someone here mentioned, old ladies dont like you whipping around on a big z on the grounds.... some guys refuse to do what the customer wants..... for these old ladies i dont mind taking 20 min instead of 10 on there little yards, and collect my 30 bucks.... do all those lawns, then i get the z and go to the big properties. Yes i have gotten many account because they dont like the commercial equipment. Is that bad for my image? I dont think so, They know i have bigger commercial equipment and that i treat them special by using the lawn tractor because they want it....the referals just keep coming in....i think customer service is the best way to project a professional image. I do wear a uniform and have letered truck also

There is something to be said about long-term customers, the extra 10 minutes you spend is also less wear on the new machine AND the fact you already know you will get paid and it's usually no hassle is worth the trade-off once I realized it is NOT all about the money, at least not with regulars.
Far as letters on the truck, I delivered for Domino's back before they had even INVENTED car signs, you may never have seen a crew of delivery drivers in plain, unmarked cars, but I sure have.
The day they came out with these things they soon became a requirement (and of course the novelty factor) but between myself and some of the guys who had BEEN doing it withOUT the extra markings on our cars, I can honestly say we NEVER noticed it increased business, except maybe by 1% or so, hardly worth the trade-off in aggravation those signs generate in return.

topsites
09-23-2005, 06:19 PM
Last week I was mowing the first Wal-Mart and a guy pulls up wondering if I had a business card. I said no, I don't carry them because I end up going on wild goose chases, either the people want me to do something I'm not interested in, or I'm too high anyways.


Hey look, someone ELSE doesn't believe in business cards!
I keep trying to tell these guys, NO single element is 100% crucial for your business, the absence of something everyone else claims will make you fail/succeed with/without is an irrational fear of some, a pipe dream of another.
The signs / letters on the truck is blah for me, but if it works for you then that is what you do.