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DynaMow
04-04-2006, 11:04 AM
Heres the deal. Read this and give feedback on your thoughts please.

OK I am 45 yrs old, been trying to establish this service business since age 42. Now all my time before that from 15 to 41 (26 years) I always was somebodies employee. I've had many jobs, some good, most not so hot. Well I knew if I wanted a job somewhere I could go apply, interview, and I knew the job was mine. At times during job searches I would have 3-5 jobs being offered to me, my choice. Anyways its not like that when selling my own business. I get nervous, I trust my product and know I offer quality service, and yes I still sell me fine, but with selling my business I have to deal with the money part! In all my jobs I was always an "OPERATIONS" guy, I can make any system run smooth and efficient. Never wanted to deal with the $$$$$ end of things.
Well this causes me problems, though my prices for service are closer to where they should be today then when I started out, at times I feel I still leave money on the table. especially on the jobs I want more then others.

Thanks folks, any advice?

sheshovel
04-04-2006, 11:17 AM
3 years and your saying that you don't feel like your business is established?Why not?
You feel like your working to cheap or what?You should have had your estimating and charges down by now.I suggest
#1-you get an accountant
#2-raise your prices across the board
#3-Change your estimating methods by doing the following things
Meet with potential clients then GO HOME and think about the actuall work involved .
Never give an estimate or price just off the top of your head while you standing there with the cust for the 1st time.
Always walk the property.Never give a price the 1st time you meet with a client always get back to them later in the day or the next day.
Know your operating costs..all of them.
always err to your favor
if you think your a little low
on your price..that means you are..give the higher price.

lawnservice
04-04-2006, 01:42 PM
In all my jobs I was always an "OPERATIONS" guy, I can make any system run smooth and efficient. Never wanted to deal with the $$$$$ end of things.

Thanks folks, any advice?
you just need to do what you have always done. Be the 'operations guy' and hire a money person(part time i would guess shoud be sufficient)

GreenUtah
04-04-2006, 04:46 PM
first, you need to stop focusing on getting a picture of your client with your camera phone in her bikini as you walk the property! This makes most guys go blank..lol..ok so seriously...If you're not so hot with your verbal presentation skills in a spur of the moment situation, consider making up some preprinted materials with your pitch. This allows you to make sure you get across all the points that you'd like to. As SheShovel said, know your costs and where you create value, estimate your time to service the property, match it to your costs and give them a price along with your pitch materials. Maybe even just a fill in the blank kind of thing. This makes it seem a lot less random than standing there, rolling your eyes up into your forehead and scratching your chin while you decide what to charge. A worksheet does not need to be shared with a client, by the way, just the final results in the form of a proposal or estimate is fine. Thsi will get you past a lot of the feeling like you are "selling" and more into the feel of giving them the facts. In the meantime, see if you can grab some public speaking classes or even practice elsewhere with strangers, like speaking at church or with service clubs. Verbal pitching is a skill that can be learned with practice. In the meantime, communicate with the written word to help you through.

EliteImpressions
04-04-2006, 05:58 PM
Craig,

I think you need to take a step back an analyze how you do business. I suggest reading No BS Guide for attracting wealth by Dan Kennedy. Most things are common sense but we dont think of them right away. There is a section on prices that I found very simple but informative. The book is also not boring at all, I finished it in 2 or 3 days. Another book to read is No BS Direct Mail Marketing for Non Direct Businesses by Dan Kennedy. You need to make them want your service before they even speak to you, that way you are not worried about prices since they will pay almost anything within reason. I found this book to be as much as an eye opener as rich dad poor dad. For anyone that has read that book will understand what I mean as well. If you need some ideas feel free to pm me, two heads are better than one as they say.

Joe

DynaMow
04-05-2006, 02:17 PM
.....but the advice that you four have given here is solid sound advice. Let me speak to it for a second.

SheShovel

I do not feel established because:
In my business plan it states "earn $1500.00 per week in season scheduled maint." This is my salary,solo - this has not happened yet. I can not grow, hire, or survive until this happens.

#1 cannot get an accountant until the above happens (my brother is an accountant and he helps out when I get stuck)

#2 I did raise my prices across the board this season $5 per. Did not lose one account. That tells me they like my service and I was priced to low.

#3 Always walk property - today I also no more of what to look for when doing that walk. 80% of the time I do go back home, produce the most professional, high quality job proposal any can give. Other times I feel I can give them price right there (mowing only) still go home and produce quality confirmation and thanks.

"Know your operating costs..all of them.
always err to your favor
if you think your a little low
on your price..that means you are..give the higher price."

these skills I need to sharpen.

Lawnservice

that is a great suggestion, and it is going to be a revision in my bus plan. I need to get a little further first as explained above with the $1500 goal. Thanks

Greenutah

again great advice, and I am now going to do that. One of the things that excites me the most about this business is the building of it. I enjoy the creative and artistic part of flyers, letters, proposals, and such. So your idea of printed material should be right up my alley. Thanks.

EliteImpressions

"You need to make them want your service before they even speak to you, that way you are not worried about prices since they will pay almost anything within reason."

I like what you say here and it is going into my mental bank (still lots of room left). Got anymore?
I have read Rich Dad Poor Dad, maybe I need to grab the one you suggest and reread Rich Dad Poor Dad. Thanks Joe

I used to work for a guy that would never include anybody in his decision making process. He thought we were all idiots and he was a genius. I told him one day one could get more sense out of 25 idiots then you can one genius. Then asked who the idiot was, I do not work for him anymore.

SheShovel you are QUICKLY becoming my favorite person on here and remember you chose me as your Ohio thing!

sheshovel
04-05-2006, 02:33 PM
I remember Craig...gee thanks your a sweet thang!:o :o :p :waving:

I hope that shirt is not a prison uniform!!

Az Gardener
04-05-2006, 02:36 PM
Systems will set you free. If you are a great operations guy you know the benefits of using systems. Use that same knowledge and design bidding systems and stick to them. The E-Myth by Michael Gerber is a great book about systems. I was in your exact same position 10 years ago with your exact same anxieties. Once I set up the systems it became very simple. I just use systems as my "boss" that wont let me off the hook and sell myself short. I also set up a system to let my clients know what the systems are so I control the selling process and don't jump through their hoops. It just makes things so much easier.

EliteImpressions
04-05-2006, 04:41 PM
Craig,

First step to successful advertising is finding out who your customer is. Im not talking about the age and sex. Im talking about their income, what they like to do on the weekend, what motivates them to buy, do they want to feel superior to everyone else, do they want to keep up with the Jones, do they have family, etc. Once you find that out, instead of advertising to 5000 people for a 3% return, you can narrow it down to 1000 and get the same amount of return (not 3% but 15%). Another quote to keep in the back of your mind as far as advertising or other business issues are concerned. "The definition of insanity is doing the SAME thing over and over and expecting to get a DIFFERENT result"

olderthandirt
04-05-2006, 05:13 PM
What your missing is a mind set.
Its called I'm the best and if they want me its gonna cost them A LOT to get me. they can hire anyone to do the job but the best cost more.
I like to think of it this way and ofter tell potential customers this
" if you want a chevy theres plenty around to choose from, BUT if you want a Rolls your choices are limited and your getting so much more with a Rolls than just a chevy"
And then you have to believe your the best to sell yourself that way. Its not always easy to walk away from a good paying job, but when you convince yourself that your worth way more than the avarage lco thats the type of customers you draw. The ones that want the best and are willing to spend the money to get him.
And its all a mindset. As long as you do respectable work your customers will think they are getting great work, because thats what they paid for, the BEST.

mtdman
04-06-2006, 12:12 AM
What you need is a book called The E-Myth. The biggest point of that book is that people who know how to do a job often are the ones who go into business for themselves. They have a skill set, but don't have the entreprenuerial skills to run a business. Translation, just because you know how to do a job doesn't mean you know how to run that business. People start businesses before they learn how to run a business.

There's a lot more to running an lco than just mowing. Marketing, sales, advertising, are skills you either have to figure out and acquire or go under. Before I started doing this, I was very shy and wasn't a big people person, wasn't a big public speaker. I could never imagine myself trying to close a sale person to person or trying to sell myself. But when I started doing this, I promised I was going to be successful, even if that meant conquerring fears and breaking old habits. I forced myself to become a salesman, learn about marketing, and advertising. Had I not, and waited for the business to come to me, I would have failed. If you want to succeed, you have to overcome those difficiencies.

wski4fun
04-06-2006, 12:36 AM
If you have problems presenting maybe try Toastmasters. I believe they a countrywide or worldwide org. Just helps getting up in front of people and speak in a profesional way. I swear a lot of people lose work because they look like a landscaper and not a business owner. If you look like the owner they will treat you like one. I'm not talking a suit but I always have a couple of clean shirts and a bottle of water. This way in the middle of the day when I have an appt. I wash my face and hands and throw on a clean shirt.

oslo
04-06-2006, 11:16 AM
The biggest point of that book is that people who know how to do a job often are the ones who go into business for themselves. They have a skill set, but don't have the entreprenuerial skills to run a business. Translation, just because you know how to do a job doesn't mean you know how to run that business. People start businesses before they learn how to run a business.

There's a lot more to running an lco than just mowing.


AMEN.

Here is your post from last week, Craig...
today this guy is waiting for me to deliver flyer (getting mail and sees me coming) and goes off on me about idiots like me trash his neighborhood with this sh*t. Gives me crap for five minutes. Then I got out of my car I think he pooped his pants. I got out, sees I am bigger then him and not very happy. Ripped my flyer out of his hands, show him that I am just trying to support my family. He sees I am bigger then him, not very happy with him, and sees that I am willing to put him down.
I love seeing a grown man, try to bully somebody, then put their tail between their legs and run back inside. Flips me off when he gets 2 steps from garage.
This is the best, at one point he says if he finds my flyer on ground in morning he was going to call me. Then asks if this is a good number on flyer? I laugh and reply, "No you dumbass I pass out flyers to get business but do not put my real number on it". Call me in the morning.
I was cracking up right in this guys face, in his own driveway of his $350,000 house and he still didn't figure out that he was the idiot.

Last week you had a post about how proud you were that you got out of your truck and almost beat up some guy who wouldnt give you your flyer back.

I responded to you then that if you want to be a "business owner" then ACT LIKE A BUSINESS OWNER... not by getting into a fight in a neighborhood of potential customers while passing out flyers. Putting aside the business aspects though, being a 45 year old man who seems to relish getting into confrontations probably has some other issues.

Predictably you responded to what I posted by showing what a "hard a$$" you are. I don't expect to get a much better response this time, but hey, keep acting like that and I'll see you on here in 5 years still wondering why your business isn't successful.

DynaMow
04-06-2006, 11:30 AM
Last week you had a post about how proud you were that you got out of your truck and almost beat up some guy who wouldnt give you your flyer back.

I responded to you then that if you want to be a "business owner" then ACT LIKE A BUSINESS OWNER... not by getting into a fight in a neighborhood of potential customers while passing out flyers. Putting aside the business aspects though, being a 45 year old man who seems to relish getting into confrontations probably has some other issues.

Predictably you responded to what I posted by showing what a "hard a$$" you are. I don't expect to get a much better response this time, but hey, keep acting like that and I'll see you on here in 5 years still wondering why your business isn't successful.

Hi Oslo, First off evidently you were proud of me because no where on that thread did I say I was proud of my actions.

No where was I portraying being a hard ass in my response to you. Simply stated that if someone is leaning in my car threatening me, I will stop it from happening. Thats not being a hard ass its just doing what men are supposed to do and that is protect you and yours. Makes me wonder what you would do in that situation.

I never said my business wasn't successful, I said "not established" to me those are two different things.

Lastly my flyer incident had nothing to do with not being comfortable closing the deal, which is what this thread is about.

Have a nice day my friend.

mtdman
04-06-2006, 01:53 PM
AMEN.

Here is your post from last week, Craig...
today this guy is waiting for me to deliver flyer (getting mail and sees me coming) and goes off on me about idiots like me trash his neighborhood with this sh*t. Gives me crap for five minutes. Then I got out of my car I think he pooped his pants. I got out, sees I am bigger then him and not very happy. Ripped my flyer out of his hands, show him that I am just trying to support my family. He sees I am bigger then him, not very happy with him, and sees that I am willing to put him down.
I love seeing a grown man, try to bully somebody, then put their tail between their legs and run back inside. Flips me off when he gets 2 steps from garage.
This is the best, at one point he says if he finds my flyer on ground in morning he was going to call me. Then asks if this is a good number on flyer? I laugh and reply, "No you dumbass I pass out flyers to get business but do not put my real number on it". Call me in the morning.
I was cracking up right in this guys face, in his own driveway of his $350,000 house and he still didn't figure out that he was the idiot.

Last week you had a post about how proud you were that you got out of your truck and almost beat up some guy who wouldnt give you your flyer back.

I responded to you then that if you want to be a "business owner" then ACT LIKE A BUSINESS OWNER... not by getting into a fight in a neighborhood of potential customers while passing out flyers. Putting aside the business aspects though, being a 45 year old man who seems to relish getting into confrontations probably has some other issues.

Predictably you responded to what I posted by showing what a "hard a$$" you are. I don't expect to get a much better response this time, but hey, keep acting like that and I'll see you on here in 5 years still wondering why your business isn't successful.

Oh, I didn't realize it was the same dude. That explains a lot. Nevermind. He doesn't get it.

GreenUtah
04-06-2006, 03:15 PM
I do not feel established because:
In my business plan it states "earn $1500.00 per week in season scheduled maint." This is my salary,solo - this has not happened yet. I can not grow, hire, or survive until this happens.

#1 cannot get an accountant until the above happens (my brother is an accountant and he helps out when I get stuck)

Ok,just to add a little more here without getting caught up in the rest of what is happening here..lol..If your business plan calls for you to "earn $1500 per week in scheduled maint.", what did your plan call for as the method to get there? What types of clients? How willyou reach them? what types of service? What was your market study? Will your market accomodate those goals? What additional equipment do you need to get there? There are many, many ways to add dollars to your maintenance programs, even with your existing clients. Maybe it's aeration, maybe it's bed/shrub maintenance, snow removal, annual flowers, on and on. You've got clients that have already bought from you, are you maximizing them first? Are you asking them for refferrals? This is all rhetorical, of course, but make sure that you address those things in your plan.
the second part about not being able to afford an accountant when you may be struggling with finding your true numbers. Truthfully, you can't afford not have that help. Not every deal involves cash, find an accountant with experience in small business and trade work out with him/her. It will help them understand what your company is about while helping you preserve some cash.

DynaMow
04-06-2006, 08:46 PM
Alot to address here

1st thanks SheShovel, thats real nice. She can rule me at least she tries to help.

Mac, great advice, I do feel I do great work, I will have to remember what you say. This is an example why you are still one of my favorite members on here.

"Oh, I didn't realize it was the same dude. That explains a lot. Nevermind. He doesn't get it."

Oh I get it just fine. Lets see so I make a mistake now I should just pack it all in, call it quits. See everyday I try to better myself, I am certainly not built to function perfect and never fall down. Must be nice though.
At least I am someone who speaks the truth on here and looks for legit help and try to give out legit advice. Hell if I didn't know better everybody here is a millionaire, the best service, never any problems with running a business, well I have some issues to solve and I will.
In the thread you refer to, I never said I was proud of it and that I'm not trying to change some things
Now I agree with SheShovel - if you ain't no help

GreenUtah

Thanks for trying to offer help thats why I put it out there. Sometimes I feel I am still in the employee mode and need to be more risking.

Thanks all.

LawnTamer
04-07-2006, 12:07 AM
I can tell you one thing that helps me when bidding, I tend to underbid sometimes too, in that sense I guess I leave some cash on the table. I will tell you it is rare for me to give a bid for someone who is not getting at least two other bids, Lawn Care Co's are like flies here. I used to make my bid thinking, "now what is that highest $# that will still get me the account?" and "What will/did the other LCOs bid this property at?" I would go into kind of a desperate mode, which I don't need to do, I have over 300 accounts. Now I go on a bid and I have one thought- Profit/hr. What will my drive time here and to the next job be? How long will it take? What Materials?
I know what I want to make /hr and that's where I put my price. Trust me you don't want routes filled with clients who will always go with the bottom bid. They have no loyalty and they tend to be problem clients.

Victor
10-24-2006, 10:57 AM
Craig... Your quote read...
"today this guy is waiting for me to deliver flyer (getting mail and sees me coming) and goes off on me about idiots like me trash his neighborhood with this sh*t. Gives me crap for five minutes. Then I got out of my car I think he pooped his pants. I got out, sees I am bigger then him and not very happy. Ripped my flyer out of his hands, show him that I am just trying to support my family. He sees I am bigger then him, not very happy with him, and sees that I am willing to put him down.
I love seeing a grown man, try to bully somebody, then put their tail between their legs and run back inside. Flips me off when he gets 2 steps from garage.
This is the best, at one point he says if he finds my flyer on ground in morning he was going to call me. Then asks if this is a good number on flyer? I laugh and reply, "No you dumbass I pass out flyers to get business but do not put my real number on it". Call me in the morning.
I was cracking up right in this guys face, in his own driveway of his $350,000 house and he still didn't figure out that he was the idiot."

I don't think you should be offended by the comments some of the guys made about your actions Craig. If anything, I think they were trying to help you. You're the owner of Craig's Mowing. In essence, you are Craig's Mowing. Keep in mind, the actions of a company's employees reflect directly upon how that company is perceived by the public. Not to mention how much of an effect the actions of that company's owner, has on the perception of that company. In business Craig, image is everything. Since your company is so new, and not yet very distinguished, the public doesn't know much about Craig's Mowing. You're at a very vulnerable stage in your company's developement. You have to keep that in mind Buddy. If the word gets out, that people need to watch out for that guy Craig, because he was seen beating up a potential customer, or because he'll call you a dumbass, or snatch a flyer out of your hand if you make him mad.... See where I'm going with this? Just like in high school, you know how stories are embellished as they are told and retold over time. Before you'd know it, it would get out that you were shooting people for turning down bids.

There have been times when I wanted to beat down some jerk for something they did that really ticked me off, but I didn't. I avoid that kind of stuff when I'm in street clothes and my personal vehicle, not to mention when I'm in my company truck and have my uniform on. You've got to do the same thing in these situations. This industry has a bad enough reputation as it is. The last thing we need to be doing as LCO's, is to reinforce that bad rep. I think that guy was a jerk for what he did, but I'm just saying that you need to be very careful with your actions if you want to make it to the top of the mountain Craig.

I think a lot of business owners get so caught up in the obvious methods of growing a business, that they totally ignore some of the ancillary factors like image, that can still play a huge role. It's obvious that passing out flyers, or door hangers will bring you more customers, but having a great company image can too. I'm talking about having clean trucks, uniformed employees who are professional in the quality of their work as well as their actions. I'm sure you're well on your way to being where you want to be. I just think you'll make it there a lot quicker if you modify your behavior.

In closing... I really hope I haven't offended you in any way with the advice I posted here. If I did offend you, that wasn't my intent. However.... If I did offend you Craig, you'd better not pi$$ me off, because I'LL BEAT YOU DOWN YOU DUMB@$$! Now give me my post back!!!! :laugh:

Vic

topsites
10-25-2006, 10:31 AM
I think in all honesty that you're on the right track.

Thing is, it takes time... Remember how they say it takes 2-5 years to get an established business out of the ground? :)

That's what I found in my case, too... It wasn't until my 4th year that I grossed $1,000 a week on a somewhat regular basis, not until my 5th year that I managed to break the $2000 / week barrier (mind you, only TWICE the whole year), and like yourself I am solo.

In my first year, $500-$700 a week, my 2nd year was better and slightly more consistent, and eventually, you know, I think we get fed up with it, that's what kinda happened to me, sorta... But still, it takes time.

Also like yourself, I felt the same way during my 2nd-3rd year... I'd get nervous (or as I call it today, downright stupid lol), nevermind leaving money on the table, more often than not I found myself bending over backwards and GIVING them money (in the way of sudden discounts to close the stupid sale), thou this didn't dawn on me until a year or two later.

One thing that helped some is I would repeat this to myself several times / day during those times: Don't be afraid / do not be scared / don't let them scare you / etc, etc...

One extra pointer, something that dawned on me at one time or another:
- I am under NO obligation to finish what got started, especially when I feel a customer bamboosled me into giving TOO much off the price... This is that situation I'd get into, they already got too good a quote out of my mouth (granted, my fault for letting them do it to me), and then they talked me down even further!
That is not to say you should simply stop showing up, but there were an occasion or two where had I shown, I would've really lost out... So, even thou I had stupidly agreed at the time, I just couldn't do it later.
No, it didn't fix the problem right away, but knowing I could walk away anytime during the transaction (even after I agreed, even as I was just about to turn my truck down their road, even 15-20 minutes INTO the actual job, I have the right to LEAVE), knowing that (whether you practice it or not) helped pave the way towards increased confidence.
Later, it also taught me how to agree to something as an effective way of getting OUT of a bad estimate, just so I could leave.
Once again, it's not something I practice on a regular basis, but it helped.

Best of luck, I think you'll be fine, soon enough.

firefightergw
10-25-2006, 11:38 AM
Craig, sounds like a lot of good advice has been given. I have run into the same thinking that you have had too. However, I think your business is established. I think that what you are facing more than anything is a mindset.

I am reminded about my earlier days while I was still a virgin and before I became a Christian. A friend of mine told me that part of my problem was that when I spoke to women I wasn't confident. He mentioned that what I should do was not worry about being a virgin so much and instead concentrate on just being me. He mentioned that after the first time the rest were easy and there would be opportunities abound.

Craig, your not a virgin anymore in your business but you maybe acting like one. Your business is established. It might not be bringing in the dollars you would like it to but just be yourself. Selling that is just telling people the quality you give and how you can solve their problem. You are Craig, owner of Craig's mowing and you know your stuff. People need you and should listen to you.