View Full Version : My relocated skid steer buisness...I want your opinion!
01-19-2006, 07:40 PM
Its a done deal, I finally got someone to move my machine fom the cold Northeast to the great state of Texas. Infact it should be here the middle of next week. Heres a little background information about myself. My father is a now retired building contractor who built homes for over 40 years. I grew up always involved in some faucet of the building buisness. When I got into my teens, I started getting interested in landscaping which included running bobcats. Soon enough I was able to talk my father into buying a bobcat to use on his last development. The machine soon paid for itself and I was able to get very profeicent on the machine( all those years of video games greatly helped).
Fast forward, I am now in Houston and although its a bit of a different ballgame down here with regards to how they landscape( not really any topsoil to put down. I am looking for a way to launch a campaign to gain as much work as possible for myself and my machine.
I have always believed that everyone needs input from other people, and as a whole I have learned to greatly respect the vast majority of people here on lawnsite. I do have a basic buisness sense and I do know how to run a buisness. But I would like your input.
So what I would like is ask all of you who have skid steer buisnesses to tell me what you would do if you were in my situation. How would you advertise, who would you talk to ....Basically what you would do if you were the southernyankee!!!
I want to thank all of you that have helped me in the past with all of the questions I have asked.
Uniscaper would probably have the best insight since he was in a similiar situation. Aside from the basic business things to consider (like what was discussed in the "Full legit" thread). I would try and learn how things are done in the area you are now working in. Everyone I talk to from different parts of the country have certain issues that they deal with. This ranges from different ground conditions (decomposed Granite to Caliche or in my case Lava rock) to different regulatory issues. I would try befriend someone in the industry in the area and learn as much as you can. You may have to relearn what you think you already know. Texas is one of the leaders in stolen equipment. I would take precautions to keep your equipment safe. On the business development side of things I would try and find areas in landscaping or light excavation that are not filled and "dig" yourself a niche market. When I started, I contacted everyone that was in the landscape business, I purposefully did not get into irrigation systems. I only wanted the dirt work. This worked well because by not offering a key service (from their point of view) I was not direct competition and therefore they were willing to use me. If your full line you may have a harder time getting utilized by other companies as no one wants to feed his competition. Since you have a small machine you may want to try and use that to your advantage somehow.
IMHO I don't see the 751 as very productive machines for this sort of a business generally (a specific niche that fits the 751 perfectly not withstanding). They work well in rental yards due to their low cost. However the low hydrualic flow (IE. poor attachment performance), breakout and lift capacity may make it tough to compete in CERTAIN markets. I am not trying to drive down your machine only to point out that when guys utilize a skid steer service or backhoe for that matter, productivity is a big issue. If you have one guy with a 751 and another with a 205 and they are close to the same cost per hour and physical size the 205 will get the repeat business (operator skill being the same). I find this especially true with contractors. This maybe something to watch for or you may find it does not apply down there. Homeowners typically don't know the difference. Good luck.
01-20-2006, 02:21 PM
So you just do the "dirt" work part of the business? Not so much the planting of grass and other yard type ornaments?
Thats where my interest is. I've sewed grass before....but if I get into this business more heavily....I think I would rather stick to the dirt work. General landscaping seems to have too much variety for my taste.
We stick to the hardscape side of things, retaining walls, rock work, and of course grading and lawn prep. I have a company that I use to provide hydroseeding for me. We personally don't seed. It is kind of a fine line. If your too specialized homeowners are turned off by having to hire several companies to complete the work. What I do is let them know that although I personally don't do the irrigation or seeding/soding that I can provide it and all work can be done through us to simplify corrordinating the work. I have several companies that I work with and have for years. I can trust them to show up and do an excellant job.
01-21-2006, 04:44 PM
little off topic, but what made you move to texas? I am planning on moving out of NJ at the end of the year and looking for a place to go. Why did you move where you did?
01-21-2006, 06:51 PM
I attended college in the South and after realizing that house prices and the cost of living in the Northeast were out of control, I decided that I would not be returning home. I met my wife while at school and she has family in houston. Her father invited me to Houston when the super bowl was here and I was able to see the city of Houston and go to the Super Bowl( 7 rows up from the 10 yd line on Carolinas side).
I really liked it here and there is a ton of new growth, so after I graduted I moved to Texas to restart up.
I grew up on Cape Cod and the average house price right now is around $400,000. So moving back was not really a possibility.
Also my father is a homebuilder and he couldnt build me a house at cost, because the cost of land is out of control. We were looking at an acre for well over $400,000.00.
I like the people here, The weather and increased oppertunties that I have here.
01-22-2006, 01:51 PM
Yea it must be nice not having to deal with winter and being able to work outside 365 days a year!
01-22-2006, 03:16 PM
There are a million avenues you could go, litterally. What area appears to be the hottest right now? Are you seeing yourself enter construction clean up? Are you going to work with builders? Homeowners? And this part is key. Are you into a do it yourself, or a hire it out community? You need to get into a money town, one that hires out if you are in a do it yourself.
So, who has the money and is most willing to spend it where you live? That's first. You first need the cash to flow. So I'm seeing builders are out unless they cut checks in Texas at the day's end. So, shorten your list. Of those willing to pay fast (days end or job end) who needs what and what can you do? You are there, I'm not, so, for anyone to tell you how to start, no one can do that better than you. Since you have all the time in the world to prospect right now, get some cheap and insightful flyers printed with bullet points on all you do. Then get them into those markets you need to hit. And don't stop with just a flyer drop, get a list of names, addresses, and phone/email numbers so you can bomb people with what you need them to read. Make calls and follow ups until your phone rings on it's own.
Is Texas a state where you won't get hired unless you have a voice like you should be driving a stock car? Don't laugh, there are many areas around the country where if you don't blend in it can be rough for a while. If so, and your wife has that, she would be the one to work the phones.
That's about all I can offer you right now. I marketed hard BEFORE I moved and landed our first job 2 days after we got here. The rest is history.
01-22-2006, 06:59 PM
Uniscaper- What kind of marketing did you do before you moved?
01-23-2006, 09:03 AM
We used flyers, distributed throughout new tract sites, my now wife did that while she was here and I was there, I also had a telephone in San Diego that forwarded to my cell phone. We then upon a visit back to take my licensing exam, went to a huge shopping mall, and placed fliers under windshield wipers. That's considered a no no under most mall managements, but what can they do to you, tell you to stop? So appologize and don't do it at that mall for a while. Find a different one and do the same thing over again until that management company calls and says not to do it. Then, we used a source very unexpected. In down town Rancho Santa Fe, which is considered the 2nd most expensive housing market in the US, and highest paid per captia in the US, they have this little grocery store. And, at that store, walking out from the inside, is a bulletin board that you are allowed to place advertisements on free of charge. I was amazed at how many calls I got. So, my then girlfriend now wife made appointments and got enough stacked up for me to get a flight out. My license came through in January of 2002, and I then prepared to load the equipment, a few goodies and off to see the wizzard I went. 2 days after I arrived, Feb 9, 2002 to be exact, I signed our first west coast job. 4 days after that, we signed our second job. $106,000.00 in sales for two jobs after a week, with 3 months of very soft, untargeted marketing at a cost of $467.00 plus time spent.
What I would not do, is get sucked into yellow page ads, they are grossly overpriced, and extremely ineffective. Invest in a good website and hire a targeting guru. One of those guys who will work your Google ranking to the top with 2 or 3 simple area related key words. It will cost you about 5K, but very effective and well worth the efforts.
01-23-2006, 12:32 PM
Bill- Thanks for the tips. I'm planning a move at the end of the year and want to make the transistion as easy and quck as possible. For you i guess it was a litle easier having your girl friend out there. Before you moved, was your business as big and successful as it is now?
01-23-2006, 10:02 PM
At one point we had 160 employees. Then after my daughter now 13 was born, life kicked me in the rear end. Her mom died 2 days after she was born. So, I got a very bad case of HUHAS, scaled down to something more managable, took another kick in the rear from an employee who I should not mention what he did, and things never were the same. So, when my wife who was my old H/S sweetheart and I hooked up, it was a no brainer when we discussed where we would live. San Diego is a very tough place to adjust to, especially if you are in one of those warm people friendly places from the midwest. So, it's been a 4 year struggle of knowing most of what to and what not to do, where to cut, and where to add.
Where are you planning on moving to?
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