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NCLCRB #1370
06-06-2007, 07:42 PM
I know there is a forum for intro's, however, since this is the place where I will be posting the most often...
Hello! I'm new to this board, so I wanted to introduce myself. I am a high school landscape horticulture teacher and have been so for 11 years. I hold a B.S. and M.S. in Agricultural Education and Horticultural Science and I am National Board Certified to teach in my subject area. I am a NC registered landscape contractor, NC certified plant professional and I am a licensed pesticide applicator. I have been in business for 10 years and I have a total of 20 years experience. I am also insured. Several years ago, I decided to downsize to where I could manage things alone ( my son was younger then). At that time, I was running two crews of three. However, I only had 15 lawn maintenance accounts. We mostly did landscaping. I still work on my own. I use sub-contractors often and SOMETIMES have one or two of my students help me put out mulch or do something small ( my accountant calls it "day labor").
Over the years, I have come to a simple conclusion. It's not how much you do, it's how well you do it. I still do my own maintenance accounts (only 5). These 5 generate more than another teacher's salary per month. My students always want to know how to make good money without a lot of accounts. The answers is: Make your customer feel like they are the first on your list- BECAUSE THEY ARE! Take time to answer questions and communicate with your clients. The money will follow. As far as lanscaping, I design using Dynascape and Photoscape software and print them out on a HP Designjet 500. I use insured subs for jobs out of my equipment range.
In closing, I would like to say to all new landscapers- Becoming a great landscaper takes time, practice and education (whether schooling or on the job training). Don't be overwhelmed with the pics of fancy machinery. You have to start somewhere. Remember, landscaping and maintenance is sometimes like golf- expensive and fashionable clubs do not make the golfer any better- only practice. Thanks and happy landscaping!

Lawnamus
06-06-2007, 09:19 PM
NCLC,
I too share your passion and feeling towards landscaping. And for your students, allow them to use me as an example. I started 11 yrs. ago. I graduated from small fish to big fish. I wasn't formally educated however, I read alot and asked alot of questions from people in the know or better put, people who knew better than me.
For the first 3 and 1/2 years, I did everything myself. After having worked for a big company, I always knew I could do it better and treat people better and I did. The next 6 1/2 years up to now I have steadily but cautiously grown in the commercial end. I do mainly apartment complexes predominately maintenance. There is a lot to be said for that because of the curb appeal aspect and the paycheck being there 12 months a year. You find the right ones which I have been fourtunate too and you can do well, find the non-paying ones and you have trouble. I have grown to 11 complexes with 2 crews ( 7 employees). I have done this through very detailed work and a passion and caring that shows through the work. I will admit that I always give a little more to keep everyone happy.
Although maintenance is the norm, they always have extra projects particulary 2x a year they change color (flowers). While that is particular to my area, it is my passion ( the design of landscape, especailly flowers) I love and its the time where I really can show what I can do. You are limited by their budget and unlike me where I go overboard and don't make alot on the flowers, it tends to keep the apartment people happy.
In this day and age, NCLC is absolutely correct, you do a good job and the rest will follow especially with all of the other of crappy contractors. I always preached that you can make the same amount of money being small vs. being bigger like I am and that is totally true. More employees = more headaches, more breakeage, more ignorance and fixing what you would of don't right the first time, and much less worry. Also, you get pinched by the bigger companies for the most part, not always. Its the trade off. The 12 month paycheck vs. the 1x install or the smaller accounts that don't call in the winter depending where you are. But pure and simple in landscaping: Do a quality job and you will never be out of work and you can command the price you want if you are that good. And my education came from reading and asking and good old OJT (on the job training). I am not arrongant, well maybe I am. I pride myeself on being the best around. I endlessly think about each every job to make it absolutely the most perfect possible and trust me, people notice. When you talk passionately about plants and tell them what will happen, they see it to the point that they look at me funny sometimes, like is this guy for real. But they sure as hell don't complain and usually people are asking for my nubmer or stopping me before I am finished. I love landscaping. It is my job, but it is also my life. Not everybody thinks like that and I am blessed to love what I do, but regardless, if you are doing it, you must like it alot.

I hope I have offered some insight or backup. I also hope I haven't come off arogant either. I was taught to be the best at whatever I did and thats what I strive for and couple that with passion and you get where I am coming from. Just don't let people take advantage of your abilities which is so common in the industry. You should be paid for your knowlede and ability! They shouldn't expect you to do anything for the that they wouldn't want to be paid for doing it themselves. Good Luck All!