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View Full Version : Trying To Do Things Right!!


sdalexander
02-26-2006, 01:22 PM
I am brand new to Lawnsite.com, really not sure if any one will read this?

Long story short:
I am getting ready to start my 2nd full season in the lawn care business. I want to be successful/competitive in the business, who wouldn't right! I have lic/insu. and good equip (you can't do good work with poor equip), and 8 solid residential customers. I placed my first commercial proposal at a local bank the other day. Things look good so far.

My problem:
I am a full-time firefighter, my schedule allows me to do the business thing. I love both jobs, wife in college, and kids- things are busy. Even though mowing is a part-time thing right now I don't want to give my customers the impression that I don't value their business. I want to expand when the time is right, now with bidding commercial the demands are higher- it's about reputation, something I don't have, YET! I am a one-man show at this point.

Am I getting in over my head trying to compete in the commercial market?
Any advise for the Newbee? :rolleyes:

B&D Lawn Care
02-26-2006, 01:43 PM
I don't think you are. Being a firefighter helps out b/c you don't work a full schedule like others.

J&R Landscaping
02-26-2006, 01:46 PM
IMO, I would focus more on residential customers before I break in on the commercial market! This will give you the time to grow your reputation, experince, and equipment. Many commercial accounts want a do it all company..from mowing to mulch to pesticide and so on...

Do you currently have the time, knowledge and desire to perform all of the above tasks? I'm not trying to bash you for your attemps but these are questions I have asked my self and at least for now, I will stay residential until those answers are a little more to my liking and the customers needs! JMO

LawnScapers of Dayton
02-26-2006, 01:58 PM
I also am a full time Firefighter. I stick with residential because of the flexibility it offers. My customers know my situation and have alway been fine with the schedule I keep for them.....good communications is the key...

Derek

HOOLIE
02-26-2006, 02:13 PM
A local bank is probably a great commercial prop to get your feet wet with. Most likely not a big prop so you can easily handle it solo. And it provides you with a reference if you decide you want to pursue more commercial work.

If it's really a local bank, not one of the big banks, might not be a bad idea to move your biz accounts there, might help you out in the future if you need a loan or line of credit for the biz.

Ocean Side
02-26-2006, 02:15 PM
Your business will only grow if you challenge yourself and work hard to put forth a good reputation. I am new to owning my own landscaping company, I have worked for another for a fe years, striking out on my own. I am in the same boat as you being a full time firefighter and doing the business on my days off from my full time job. The work is rewarding and if you are proud of what you are doing and others are proud to show off what you are doing. Then you are doing it right. It is up to you if you think that you have the time for a more demanding clientel that might not uderstand your firefighter schedule, rotating, call back and overtime. Good luck!

SamTheLawnMan
02-26-2006, 03:18 PM
I too am a full time Firefighter. I have 20 residential and 5 commercial accounts. I find it fairly easy to keep up with these accounts. Actually I'm trying to get about 5 more for this year. One thing is I am married but have no kids(yet,wife been bugging me) so I keep up pretty good. My wife works long hours so it's no big deal if I have to work alot to stay caught up. I think, just do what you can. Make enough money with this that will make you happy or satisfied. LIKE I DO.....

sdalexander
02-26-2006, 03:26 PM
Thanks for responding so quickly. That's why I like this site, and those who post on it. No nonsense, just straight talk.

I do want to offer excepional service to my customers, so far the residential market is very understanding to my job as a firefighter which is a good thing. I like the personal relationships that I have with my customers, but on a busy day it can be a hassel when they want to talk for 20 min.
The appealing part of commercial is the fact that you do the work and move on, send a bill, and get paid. My concern is will commercial clients be as understanding. It was said earlier in the thread, they want someone to do it all, I understand that.
This is a small bank in a relatively small community that I bid on. My understanding is they just want to make tall grass short. I haven't heard anything as of yet, the're sitll taking bids.

Thanks again for the comments, I respect them all. Like I said in the begining, " I want to do this the RIGHT

sdalexander
02-26-2006, 03:27 PM
Thanks for responding so quickly. That's why I like this site, and those who post on it. No nonsense, just straight talk.

I do want to offer excepional service to my customers, so far the residential market is very understanding to my job as a firefighter which is a good thing. I like the personal relationships that I have with my customers, but on a busy day it can be a hassel when they want to talk for 20 min.
The appealing part of commercial is the fact that you do the work and move on, send a bill, and get paid. My concern is will commercial clients be as understanding. It was said earlier in the thread, they want someone to do it all, I understand that.
This is a small bank in a relatively small community that I bid on. My understanding is they just want to make tall grass short. I haven't heard anything as of yet, the're still taking bids.

Thanks again for the comments, I respect them all. Like I said in the begining, " I want to do this the RIGHT way!"

SamTheLawnMan
02-26-2006, 03:38 PM
I also wanted to add that over the years I have talked to some small business owners in my city and a few of them wanted to have there lawns cut the same day every week.. So that kinda left me out with my F.D. schedule. Maybe if I would have just talked to them and explained my deal they would have understood...(or maybe not).... I didn't want to bid anyway, but if I did that would have been an issue.

Ocean Side
02-26-2006, 07:48 PM
How do you guys go about explaining the FD rotation to your cutomers and what is their normal response. I work 2 days 2 nights, 4 off. How about you guys. I am looking at doing enough work for 2 days and leaving a 3rd for other projects that may come around.

lawnspecialties
02-26-2006, 09:13 PM
Full-time firefighter here, also. I have close to 25 customers during the summer months. No problem. I just became an LLC last week. I was a sole proprietor since '99.

Bwade hit the nail on the head. Challenge yourself and work hard. All my customers know what I do and they don't care about my schedule. I've never missed them, just had to adjust them from time to time, but they know I'm coming. :)

How does your fire schedule work?

Ocean Side
02-26-2006, 09:24 PM
Guys, Since we have turned this into the FF Forum, I am going to ask, do you give a discount on your hourly rate for mowing and landscaping because of the constant schedule movement??? What does your market handle for a rate for both, mowing and landscape labor??? if you dont mind sharing. Just trying to get all my research in before I run into the fire! I will be a one man operation for mowing working with another FF and his tractor for landscape projects.

sdalexander
02-27-2006, 10:52 AM
I have always explained upfront to my customers that my schedule changes week to week. Not one of them has had a problem with when I come. If they show concerns, I just tell them that I can schedule any day, any time and still be rained out! You get the picture. I think it all boils down to your people skills and being honest. I know there will come a day when the Fire Dept. schedule may cost a job or two, but that hasn't happened yet.

I never thought about giving a discount, the question has never came up. In east Tennessee people are a little more laid back and life isn't as crazy as the big city!:) As someone said earlier, " COMMUNICATION is key".

There are several FF's that have 1-man op's where I work. None of them give discounts either. We mainly stay with lawn care and mulch, landscaping is equip intense in our area. Try paying for it on a FF's income and a small mowing biz! We get between 40 -60 per hour, then pay gas, maint, equip, ect. It keeps us afloat.

Ocean Side
02-27-2006, 11:10 AM
Thanks for the reply. I think that the explination of rain is a very good point. I had been thinking of how I was going to explain my job to my possible customers. THANKS! Communication is key!

LawnScapers of Dayton
02-27-2006, 01:42 PM
I work 24 on 48 off.....it has never been an issue when explained to new customers. They learn quickly that I am reliable and I will be there.......I usually tell them I mow on Tuesday, Wednesday, and THursdays, which ever I do not work. That has always worked for me... No discounts here....it cost me the same to be there weekly whether it is on the same day or not. Usually if I don't see the customer while at their property I call as I leave to let them know the projected day for the following week.

D