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DFed913
05-05-2006, 11:12 PM
Hello everyone..my husband and I just started a lawn business. We're starting out with just basic lawn mowing, trimming, etc. and plan to expand services once we get our feet wet, so to speak. I'm happy to say that the very first day we actually said "we're in business" we had 6 jobs! payup (4 of those being from one builder)...IMO, I think that's good.

So, I've been browsing these boards and learning ALOT..thank you all. Are there any specific pointers you'd like to throw out to us...things that might be overlooked in all the excitement??

Any and all comments are appreciated.:)

thill
05-05-2006, 11:22 PM
Concrats and best of luck.

The one thing we started with was always doing a little more than was expected. That coupled with constant push for absolute quality has launched our company into a terrific growth from the very 1st year.

This is our fifth season and we are running five crews and just over 20 folks.

Tom

topsites
05-05-2006, 11:35 PM
This is how I operate, you do as you wish but I have learned the way you behave somewhat dictates the type of customers you will attract (cheat and you will attract cheaters, et. al.):

Above all, be honest and never use your knowledge against the customer. What I mean is, even if you know you can get a 500+ dollar deal out of someone just because they don't know any better, of course you would do the work but the point is if they don't really need it, don't sell it just for the money. Do what is best both for the lawn and financially, do not be afraid to let them know it will take 3-4 years of consistent maintenance if that is what it takes, if it is financially wiser then you are the expert and you are hired because you're not just smart with lawns but good with their money.

Do not allow greed to get the best of you, always quote the same prices to both rich and poor, either they can afford it or they can not.

Do not be afraid, have no fear, do not let them intimidate you. With experience comes confidence and this helps the most, but until you have said experience, always do the best you can and know you will do so, this helps.

In time you get better. One day you will say to yourself: you know I am getting good at this - Now you understand that hard physical labor, your experience and your knowledge, honesty and willingness to show up on time and get the job done does not come cheap. Charge a fair price and make a good profit, and always give them the best you can in exchange for this.

Best of luck to you!

DFed913
05-06-2006, 01:30 AM
This is how I operate, you do as you wish but I have learned the way you behave somewhat dictates the type of customers you will attract (cheat and you will attract cheaters, et. al.):

Above all, be honest and never use your knowledge against the customer. What I mean is, even if you know you can get a 500+ dollar deal out of someone just because they don't know any better, of course you would do the work but the point is if they don't really need it, don't sell it just for the money. Do what is best both for the lawn and financially, do not be afraid to let them know it will take 3-4 years of consistent maintenance if that is what it takes, if it is financially wiser then you are the expert and you are hired because you're not just smart with lawns but good with their money.

Do not allow greed to get the best of you, always quote the same prices to both rich and poor, either they can afford it or they can not.

Do not be afraid, have no fear, do not let them intimidate you. With experience comes confidence and this helps the most, but until you have said experience, always do the best you can and know you will do so, this helps.

In time you get better. One day you will say to yourself: you know I am getting good at this - Now you understand that hard physical labor, your experience and your knowledge, honesty and willingness to show up on time and get the job done does not come cheap. Charge a fair price and make a good profit, and always give them the best you can in exchange for this.

Best of luck to you!

THILL and Topsites...

Thank you both so much for the warm welcome and good sound advice!
I'm sure there's more where that came from, I'll be hanging around here for awhile...thanks again!

Prestige-Lawncare
05-06-2006, 07:15 AM
This is how I operate, you do as you wish but I have learned the way you behave somewhat dictates the type of customers you will attract (cheat and you will attract cheaters, et. al.):

Above all, be honest and never use your knowledge against the customer. What I mean is, even if you know you can get a 500+ dollar deal out of someone just because they don't know any better, of course you would do the work but the point is if they don't really need it, don't sell it just for the money. Do what is best both for the lawn and financially, do not be afraid to let them know it will take 3-4 years of consistent maintenance if that is what it takes, if it is financially wiser then you are the expert and you are hired because you're not just smart with lawns but good with their money.

Do not allow greed to get the best of you, always quote the same prices to both rich and poor, either they can afford it or they can not.

Do not be afraid, have no fear, do not let them intimidate you. With experience comes confidence and this helps the most, but until you have said experience, always do the best you can and know you will do so, this helps.

In time you get better. One day you will say to yourself: you know I am getting good at this - Now you understand that hard physical labor, your experience and your knowledge, honesty and willingness to show up on time and get the job done does not come cheap. Charge a fair price and make a good profit, and always give them the best you can in exchange for this.


Good advice ... and very similar to where I have my life goals set too. This type of attitude and direction works well in just about all aspects of life.

topsites
05-06-2006, 09:05 AM
Good advice ... and very similar to where I have my life goals set too. This type of attitude and direction works well in just about all aspects of life.

Perhaps other folks haven't had it like this, but back when I worked for someone else I found none of those things I said worked like that. In the real world, it seemed the only thing that works is backstabbing and brown-nosing and lieing and cheating and doing everything that is wrong.
For so many years did I experience and live with this frustrating environment, I failed to realize how deeply it had rotted my own self and when I first started in business, lets just say it took years of working out in the elements before the garbage cleared from my mind. But the reason I preach those values is because if they don't work in the real world, I have found at least when you own your own business, they really do work! Now if you have employees things may not be like that, but if you're by yourself then you can run your business however you like and I have found the easy path is the honest one, the truth.

It takes time to where you have refined your words so that when you speak the truth it comes out nice and smooth (trust me I know lol), but it gets better with time.

6'7 330
05-06-2006, 09:57 AM
Honesty and integrity are a given, but that alone ain't necessarily gonna make a business run successful.You can have job a cutting grass, or you can have a career and successful business in this great industry.


Know what your cost of doing business is, Materials,cost of labor which includes payroll, workers comp, when and if you hire employees.Cost of operating your machines , and trucks which is more then just gas oil and maintenance ,but also insurance depreciation etc.If you are serious Start educating yourself in the industry, if possible get some education in the green industry and landscaping, take landscape courses, Horticulture courses.You want potential clients and lenders for capital,you, or people you have working for you, know what they are doing in this industry, be it maintenance, installing landscapes etc . Learn what all state and local licenses you need.

Do research on the industry in your area, where you stand against the competition. Learn your Demographics in your area. Learn specifics about your potential customers, things like are they aging baby boomer's two income family –rich middle class etc. Now days it’s easier then when I started to find some of this info, with the advent of the Internet.There are a 1001 things more I could tell you, but at this particular minute, my brain is not on full function mode.
Good luck with your business.

wski4fun
05-06-2006, 10:04 AM
It always costs more than you think. Lots of little things you never thought of. Good luck.

Budget
05-06-2006, 10:33 AM
Back up equipment, Nothing worse then not finishing a job. This is followed by maintaining your equipment, all trucks, trimers and mowers, ect. Provide qaulity work at the going rate for your area. Keep very good records of everything you do, insurance, mileage, gas, parts, and new equipment and what not. Talk to a tax advisor about what you plan on doing.

Good luck
Pat.

DFed913
05-06-2006, 02:35 PM
Wow, so much good advice and kind words. It seems like you all "take care of each other" on this board - not withholding good information because of competition per se. I like that. Think I'll stick around :)

One question though: I'm trying to find out how you all charge your customers - do you do a flat figure and figure out taxes later or invoice and add tax or what? I've read that some customers balk at the idea of "seeing" a tax figure on an invoice for a lawn care job. Trying to figure out the best way with least hassle.

Thanks again!

DLS1
05-06-2006, 02:52 PM
Wow, so much good advice and kind words. It seems like you all "take care of each other" on this board - not withholding good information because of competition per se. I like that. Think I'll stick around :)

One question though: I'm trying to find out how you all charge your customers - do you do a flat figure and figure out taxes later or invoice and add tax or what? I've read that some customers balk at the idea of "seeing" a tax figure on an invoice for a lawn care job. Trying to figure out the best way with least hassle.

Thanks again!

There is no taxes to collect in Missouri for mowing so no need to charge taxes. What suburb are you mowing in KC or you actually in KC. Watch for builders and HOA's they want to pay dirt cheap. Generally if your charging less than $30 - $40 a yard then your to cheap depending on suburb yard size.

DFed913
05-06-2006, 03:02 PM
There is no taxes to collect in Missouri for mowing so no need to charge taxes. What suburb are you mowing in KC or you actually in KC. Watch for builders and HOA's they want to pay dirt cheap. Generally if your charging less than $30 - $40 a yard then your to cheap depending on suburb yard size.


DLS1,

I didn't think there were taxes to pay on lawn mowing jobs..just wasn't 100% because of some "not clear" reading I was doing but was getting ready to do the deep research, thanks for saving me some time! At this time our prices are starting at $30 - that seemed to be a "safe" number. (Thanks for confirming the decision was a good one.) -Belton areas. Where are you?

Thanks for reply!

DLS1
05-06-2006, 04:34 PM
DLS1,

I didn't think there were taxes to pay on lawn mowing jobs..just wasn't 100% because of some "not clear" reading I was doing but was getting ready to do the deep research, thanks for saving me some time! At this time our prices are starting at $30 - that seemed to be a "safe" number. (Thanks for confirming the decision was a good one.) -Belton areas. Where are you?

Thanks for reply!


Blue Springs, Lee's Summit. Don't assume answers you see here are correct. Lots of teenagers on this site talk like they know what they are talking about. Also things in one part of the country mentioned on this site may not apply to the Midwest. Just be careful when reading this site and see where people are located.

Newbie07
05-06-2006, 06:40 PM
Belton, world's smallest town, cant believe your from there. my grandma lives there, I live 600 miles south small world. I should say its not really a small town any more. It has exploded!!! doesn't seem like stayin in Belton would be a great idea. i mean not that irts a bad idea but it seems as if the surrounding areas would be much more productive. some nice newer neighborhoods goin up not far from you. the grass up north is gorgeous too!!! How are you liking those stupid round-abouts?? YUCK!!! anways, best of luck to you!!!

Travis

LawnTamer
05-06-2006, 07:42 PM
All good advice so far.
One of the first things I would do is locate and consult a very good accountant.
In my state sales taxes are not collected on services, but that varies from state to state.
Our first couple of years we wasted a lot of $$$ paying way too much in taxes because we weren't taking advantage of legal tax shelters & write offs. Talk with people you know who own businesses find out who they use and what they like/don't like about them.

As far as bidding- like 6'7" 330 said KNOW YOUR COSTS. Try to anticipate all the costs you can- then bid from there. I can usually guess to within 2 or 3 minutes how long it will take 2 of my guys to mow a lawn once they are used to it. I try to shoot for $2/minute on job site and I factor in travel time if it is excessive or non existant. My end goal is that at the end of the day a two man crew should average about $600 gross. We have days that are better, and 1 that is currently worse, (time to re-evaluate some prices).
Takes time to get it right, but it will come with time-also depends on what your market will bear.

Last piece of advice.
Buy commercial equipment!
Don't mess with Home Depot crap.
I like Toro Proline, but the truth is any commercial grade equipment will get the job done.
good luck!

Evergreenpros
05-07-2006, 01:08 PM
DLS1,

I didn't think there were taxes to pay on lawn mowing jobs..just wasn't 100% because of some "not clear" reading I was doing but was getting ready to do the deep research, thanks for saving me some time! At this time our prices are starting at $30 - that seemed to be a "safe" number. (Thanks for confirming the decision was a good one.) -Belton areas. Where are you?

Thanks for reply!

When you got your business license they should have giving you tax information which states whether you have to collect sales tax or not.

The biggest mistake most start up businesses make is they undervalue their service. I'd rather charge 25% more and do 25% less mowing because I'll make more money due to less expense on about the same revenue.

40 mows * $30 = $1200 revenue
30 mows * $37.5 = $1125 revenue

Not sure how price sensitive your market is but you'll make more profit on $1125 due to 25% less wear on your equipment, less gas and you'll have more time to do estimates and get the higher profit jobs. Don't get bogged down with number of mows then not have the time/energy to do more advertising/estimates to get the good customers.

DFed913
05-07-2006, 07:50 PM
Belton, world's smallest town, cant believe your from there. my grandma lives there, I live 600 miles south small world. I should say its not really a small town any more. It has exploded!!! doesn't seem like stayin in Belton would be a great idea. i mean not that irts a bad idea but it seems as if the surrounding areas would be much more productive. some nice newer neighborhoods goin up not far from you. the grass up north is gorgeous too!!! How are you liking those stupid round-abouts?? YUCK!!! anways, best of luck to you!!!

Travis


Travis,
Thank you for your reply..however, I live in Belton - never said I was "from" Belton :) And you're right, it has exploded...it is BY FAR the smallest town around...also, we are also working elsewhere...if you read my post again, I said "Belton areas"...Oh, and round-abouts...ridiculous!

Thanks again.

DFed913
05-07-2006, 07:54 PM
Blue Springs, Lee's Summit. Don't assume answers you see here are correct. Lots of teenagers on this site talk like they know what they are talking about. Also things in one part of the country mentioned on this site may not apply to the Midwest. Just be careful when reading this site and see where people are located.


DLS1,

The one thing I (usually) pride myself on is that I have common sense. I don't take all I read for gospel. I know there are "inexperienced know it alls" on this board. Anything I read, I double and triple check. I am usually pretty good - I feel - in weeding out the good guys from the not so good guys...no pun intended...LOL

Have a good one!