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echeandia
05-30-2007, 09:54 PM
This question is for those of you who have been in business a few years. When you first started out did it take a couple of seasons to finally get a full schedule? Right now I have two full days a week. I could have had more had I lowered my prices but I didn't want to do that. I am thinking I am doing okay but I want to hear from you veterans. Thanks.

Lohse's Lawn Service
05-30-2007, 10:46 PM
I am a veteran by no means, but I have about 65 customers after being in the business for 5 years and I stay fairly busy, especially with the extremely wet Spring we're having in Texas. I am during the school year, a one-man operation for the most part, but then when summer gets here, my brother is out and we get after it.

Just know that you don't have to be a veteran to have a "full schedule." That phrase may mean something different to everybody. It all depends on your own willingness to go out and gain more customers. I've picked up about 25 this year alone! If I can do it, you can do it. Sounds cliche, but it's true.

bohiaa
05-31-2007, 09:29 AM
I am a veteran by no means, but I have about 65 customers after being in the business for 5 years and I stay fairly busy, especially with the extremely wet Spring we're having in Texas. I am during the school year, a one-man operation for the most part, but then when summer gets here, my brother is out and we get after it.

Just know that you don't have to be a veteran to have a "full schedule." That phrase may mean something different to everybody. It all depends on your own willingness to go out and gain more customers. I've picked up about 25 this year alone! If I can do it, you can do it. Sounds cliche, but it's true.

Hay Lohse:

Where in Texas are you......? I'm down hear west of Houston in a town called Bellville, serving Beenham also..... give me a holler....

If you have seen the TV ad's.... ITs true, Blue Bell is so good because the cows think Brenham is heaven......

GreenT
05-31-2007, 08:47 PM
echeandia,

High volume/low net or low volume/high net. This, I have found, is one of the hardest decisions to make when starting in this business.

I am exactly in the same situation you are, by choice. I could definitely pick up more customers if I tried to match or beat the competition around here however, I've decided to concentrate on quality vs. quantity.

My prices are much higher than anyone else in my area, for example: I lay down a yard of mulch ($18.00)for $120.00 when everybody else does it for $30.00 to $60.00. I target customers that need/want full service maintenance (mowing, weed control, hedges, etc.) on a yearly agreement and try to stay away from just mowing. This gives me leverage to charge higher prices.

To your question, I don't think it matters how many days you work, or how many accounts you have. Only how much profit you make.

bohiaa
05-31-2007, 09:10 PM
when you in Business for your self..........You work everyday

WJW Lawn
06-01-2007, 08:00 AM
when you in Business for your self..........You work everyday

Aint that the truth! Amen!

bullethead
06-01-2007, 08:50 AM
This question is for those of you who have been in business a few years. When you first started out did it take a couple of seasons to finally get a full schedule? Right now I have two full days a week. I could have had more had I lowered my prices but I didn't want to do that. I am thinking I am doing okay but I want to hear from you veterans. Thanks.

Until you are 100% utilized, I think you are nuts to pass on lower margin work. It's a bad business decision in my opinion. Anytime you can take on work that will cover your variable costs and throw even a dollar above and beyond that to covering your fixed cost, you are better off doing it. Only when you are 100% utilized, should you then start on culling/replacing your less profitable customers.

There is also an intangible benefit to doing this = it's called exposure. More people will see you and your company name, the more you are on the road.

topsites
06-01-2007, 09:09 AM
echeandia,

High volume/low net or low volume/high net. This, I have found, is one of the hardest decisions to make when starting in this business.

To your question, I don't think it matters how many days you work, or how many accounts you have. Only how much profit you make.

I am exactly in the same situation you are, by choice. I could definitely pick up more customers if I tried to match or beat the competition around here however, I've decided to concentrate on quality vs. quantity.

It's true thou, I don't think it matters either so long the price is right. I find I either have a TON of work for dirt cheap (or somewhere close to it), or I have a lot less work but when I do work I get PAID.

It really doesn't seem to matter, bank account wise, whether it's a little work for a lot of money or a lot of work for less, but it took me years to pry myself away from the 'I need more work' mentality, even now I'm having a tough time in my 6th year, I have 39 customers, I think, maybe 40.

And it is about the profit, say the cost of one grass cut runs me $28
Now I can do it for $30 and have a ton of work, and I get $2 profit.
Or I can do it for $35 and I get $7 profit and I have a LOT less work.

That is why it is the hardest thing to see, at least for me it was, that $7 profit really is at least twice as good as $2 profit (and in 3 lawns), and to stop thinking of $90 vs $35, because the one thing I got tired of is running myself and the equipment ragged.

How was it that I figured it, 40 customers spending at LEAST $600 a year is better than 60 customers spending at MOST $600 / year, I can't remember exactly because it doesn't work out in a way I could make sense of it, but work out it does.

I mean, I don't know about $120 cu/yd of mulch but I have been known to get upwards of 100 for one, then 85 each for two or more, but it's not free money exactly because I usually hand spread my mulch vs. rake spreading it (and it is a pita but I try not to think about it, the money helps). But the thing is, I get paid more because I spend more time in a person's yard, and it looks better afterwards, and less time spent in the truck not getting paid.

The first year, I have to admit, was a bit rough lol.
The second year is usually much better, and it was, my 3rd blew, my 4th and 5th went swell, this my 6th is so looking real slow for me, oh well, you know you kinda get used to it, there always will be better years than others.

txgrassguy
06-01-2007, 11:34 AM
I have been fortunate in that despite a modest beginning, equipment wise, I have always had a full schedule.
As it stands right now, I have nine full time formen/laborers and three part time people - a driver, a mechanic and my admin person.
Currently I am not accepting new maintenance clients and my install division is backed up for at least 2&1/2 months.
Life is good:drinkup:

KTO Enterprises
06-01-2007, 06:12 PM
Until you are 100% utilized, I think you are nuts to pass on lower margin work. It's a bad business decision in my opinion. Anytime you can take on work that will cover your variable costs and throw even a dollar above and beyond that to covering your fixed cost, you are better off doing it. Only when you are 100% utilized, should you then start on culling/replacing your less profitable customers.

There is also an intangible benefit to doing this = it's called exposure. More people will see you and your company name, the more you are on the road.

I disagree. Why wear your machines out and your body out for work that doesn't make good money. Exposure guarantees you nothing. I have some neighborhoods where cars pass me all say, and no one stops. And I have neighborhoods that seem like no one is ever around and word of mouth gets me work.

echeandia
06-01-2007, 06:47 PM
...As it stands right now, I have nine full time formen/laborers and three part time people - a driver, a mechanic and my admin person. Currently I am not accepting new maintenance clients and my install division is backed up for at least 2&1/2 months.
Life is good:drinkup:

TX, How long have you been in business and what were the first couple of years like?

tjsquickcuts
06-01-2007, 11:18 PM
I say you need to make a plan....Its so important to plan. First figure out how many lawns a day you can do on your own. I say fill up each single day at a time. Once you have filled each day, start adding on to each day, and add a part time helper. The helper will double your productivity, and add to your bottom line. I have been in busy for about 5 years, and have 176 accounts, all hand picked and placed to maximize efficiency. Every one of my accounts are on the same plan whether they are Commercial or Residential.

I know what you mean txgrassguy about being being backed up with installs. I am working Sunday so that I can at least get some more flowers in the ground. Looking to drop down about 100 to 150 flats on Sunday. I have a deadline of July 3rd for flower planting, so trying to get in all that I can$$$$$ before its too late. I had 3 people to cancel because of the watering bans, but didnt make us miss a beat

txgrassguy
06-01-2007, 11:37 PM
TX, How long have you been in business and what were the first couple of years like?

I have been in business for slightly less than six years full time.
The first five years absolutely sucked, and not as a result of this industry - rather more of an intensely personal nature.
Now that this personal interference has been removed, meaning divorce, I am netting about $9K per month - thank you very much!
Now- if the dipwad judge awards my S-Type Jaguar sedan back to me I can take my girl friend out in style:clapping:

HOOLIE
06-02-2007, 06:10 PM
Until you are 100% utilized, I think you are nuts to pass on lower margin work. It's a bad business decision in my opinion. Anytime you can take on work that will cover your variable costs and throw even a dollar above and beyond that to covering your fixed cost, you are better off doing it. Only when you are 100% utilized, should you then start on culling/replacing your less profitable customers.

There is also an intangible benefit to doing this = it's called exposure. More people will see you and your company name, the more you are on the road.


Very sound advice...something I've been thinking about for awhile. There's a lot of great advice on LS but for a start-up LCO a lot of it doesn't really apply the first year at least. Too many guys trying to get from point A to point Z without taking all the steps in between. Too many guys getting caught up with having dog crap clauses and toys in the yard clauses. Too many guys with minimum prices on the very high end of the scale for their area. Echandia, I think it was you that posted your minimum is $40 for a single family house...if not you I apologize, but if that was you, you know that's on the high end of the scale for NOVA...I guarantee other guys are bidding $30 against you.

Not saying don't make any profit...but to fill your schedule you have to be flexible and make a lesser profit for awhile. Then when you get to that point where you're full, you get to call the shots. It's supply and demand...right now you have little demand and much supply...

echeandia
06-02-2007, 06:31 PM
I think it was you that posted your minimum is $40 for a single family house

Yes, I have a $40 minimum on SFH. I know I am on the high end and have lost many jobs to the $30 guy. But I can't justify going to $30 when I have customers at $40.

HOOLIE
06-02-2007, 07:13 PM
Yes, I have a $40 minimum on SFH. I know I am on the high end and have lost many jobs to the $30 guy. But I can't justify going to $30 when I have customers at $40.

I agree $30 is too low nowadays. $35 is a decent price for a normal lot. Mentally, $40 is a bit much for some potential customers to deal with. You come in at $38 and it looks so much different to them.

echeandia
06-02-2007, 08:18 PM
You come in at $38 and it looks so much different to them.

I think I'll try this on the next few and see how it goes. Thanks.

Vikings
06-02-2007, 08:30 PM
What is a normal lot is the states? sq footage wise?

My normal lots are 7000 sq ft and I do them for minimum of $25:(