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View Full Version : From residential to commercial..has it happened 2 u?


EX-DOORMAT
06-11-2007, 03:11 PM
This year, we switched our focus to commercial properties. We have 9 residential properties until November at which point our contract expires. The commercial properties have high demands and although they pay very well, we are unable to keep up. I have lost 2 customers this year, one residential, one commercial and now I find myself torn between going back to residential or going forward and accepting the fact that I will probably never have good employees, reliable ones or the other headaches that go with it.
Has anyone made the transition and found themselves too deep? I don't know what to do at this point.

MILSINC
06-11-2007, 03:17 PM
I may be in a similar boat.. my business has added a number of commercial accounts, when before it was all residential. Now, my residentials seem like huge pains in my tail compared to working commercial, and I am going to shift in that direction. It is easier to do the work, get paid, and never have to talk to a single person about any of it. The easy part is worth a lot to me.

Liquidfast
06-11-2007, 03:39 PM
IMHO, commercial is the only way to go. I used to hate dropping the gate 15-20 times a day, having 80 bosses. Now, I kiss the right as$, put in my PR time with the right people, I have set up my website (starting Friday) to accept work orders online ONLY...its a beautiful thing.

I work half as hard, make twice the pay and have weekends off now to do installs.

coonman
06-11-2007, 04:46 PM
This year, we switched our focus to commercial properties. We have 9 residential properties until November at which point our contract expires. The commercial properties have high demands and although they pay very well, we are unable to keep up. I have lost 2 customers this year, one residential, one commercial and now I find myself torn between going back to residential or going forward and accepting the fact that I will probably never have good employees, reliable ones or the other headaches that go with it.
Has anyone made the transition and found themselves too deep? I don't know what to do at this point.

Your statement is a little confusing. You have only 9 residential properties and a few commercial and you are having trouble keeping up. Are these massive all day accounts? There are pro's and con's to both types of accounts. I know everyone usually gets caught up in the bigger is better philosophy. But as you are finding out, there are far more headaches and costs associated with this. You may want to refocus on your residentials, and keep growing them until you have routes full of the gravy ones. Once you have a good residential, most likely you will have it until they die or move. You could have a very simple and profitable operation when you get your routes full of the good ones. Plus you get some perks such as Christmas bonuses, home grown vegatables given to you, etc. Just my two cents here.

good luck

JJG84
06-11-2007, 05:15 PM
yeah , 9 residential properties and a few commercial?

that should be done in 2 days, unless you have a lot of windshield time.

bohiaa
06-11-2007, 05:29 PM
Come down here......

I have 24 customers "residential" ths smallest one it 1/4 acer. no biggie...
but that's the only one.... one guy has 4 houses.... the largest is 10 acers....
By myself. I can get 2 to 3 a day done..... there killing me and I cant get any help.... JAckass kids out for summer all want jobs,,,, there all rich, there parents babyed them all there life...... I had a young man tell me it's too hot to work. so he took the day off....... I nearly fell outta my chair when his mommie called the next day asking if he had a job....

JACKASS kids.

C.T. Lawn Care
06-11-2007, 05:30 PM
Well i just recently started going for commercial props. and other than getting them 3 months late and wanting everything done three months ago they are great. I just got all caught up today and now it will be smooth sailing. There is a lot more capital that is needed though with commercial accounts than res. I had to go get a line of credit through my bank just to be able to do everything they wanted done. That is paid for and now it is great. I love getting calls saying " can we get some more flowers put down here", or " we have flower pots that we would like to get planted", or " we have a customer that says the bushes infront of their door smell like cat pee, can you pull them out and put something else there?" They are good money and i have not had a problem getting paid. Where as i have a big res. customer that i have not recieved a check from this year.

Good luck.

I like it and will continue to find more commercial accounts!

Craig

meets1
06-11-2007, 05:41 PM
Commercial is great for my company but everyone see's us mowing there and every year or two they re-bid everything cuz every other LCO is out there for a buck. Large area mowing - 10 plus acres - were as low as $12.50 an acre. Condo's are being bid at $6 - $8 a condo - I was in the $15 range. Sure you might have 20 townhouses in a row but still.

Residential is a pain - 20 - 30 times a day, all have something to say, drop the gate, unload, -reload but yet they are gravey - maybe pick up a little landscape, prune a bushe,tree and for that little work - hourly rate kicks in.

coonman
06-11-2007, 07:32 PM
Commercial is great for my company but everyone see's us mowing there and every year or two they re-bid everything cuz every other LCO is out there for a buck. Large area mowing - 10 plus acres - were as low as $12.50 an acre. Condo's are being bid at $6 - $8 a condo - I was in the $15 range. Sure you might have 20 townhouses in a row but still.

Residential is a pain - 20 - 30 times a day, all have something to say, drop the gate, unload, -reload but yet they are gravey - maybe pick up a little landscape, prune a bushe,tree and for that little work - hourly rate kicks in.

I must be one of the lucky ones. 90 percent of my res customers are not home when I mow or they are home but just leave a check taped to the door. If they are not there I just leave a statement on the door inside of a self addressed envelope. Some will come out and hand me cash when I am loading up. Its not a big deal to pull up in front of the house and unload, I can be mowing in about 1 min from the time a park. Once you have a good route you should have several stops a day where you are unloading once to do 3 or 4 lawns. From the numbers you are quoting above how can you be trashing residentials. 12.50 an acre 6-8 for a condo? I have three patio homes that are probably the size of the condo's you are talking about. I get $30 apiece for those and they take 10 min each. That is what I am referring to as gravy.Residentials are not a pain to me.

slclawn
06-11-2007, 08:59 PM
Almost all of my customers are commercial lawns the smallest lawns i have are half acer still 30 dollars a cut. Nine of those and ten one to two acer lawns, eight six plus acer lawns, and four fifteen plus acre lawns. The only sucky thing is commercial lawns take awhile to pay. You have to keep some money around to work with but i think a good balance of both is what needed to keep a good cash flow coming in and thats what we all want right is mo money :clapping: :weightlifter: :weightlifter:

EX-DOORMAT
06-12-2007, 12:08 AM
yeah , 9 residential properties and a few commercial?

that should be done in 2 days, unless you have a lot of windshield time.

I have 42 commercial and 9 residential. We picked up 9 NEW commercial accounts that are massive. We bought 2 newer Z's for them. I just cannot keep up no matter what I do.

coonman
06-12-2007, 09:26 AM
I have 42 commercial and 9 residential. We picked up 9 NEW commercial accounts that are massive. We bought 2 newer Z's for them. I just cannot keep up no matter what I do.

One big positive for you is that you definitely know how to get new accounts. If you just turned your focus to commercial this year and have 42 commercial accounts now with 9 new large ones, that is outstanding. If you are getting further and further behind it might be best to unload some commercial accounts to another LCO. Once you are able to breathe again, reassess and go from there.

STRINGALATION
06-12-2007, 09:40 AM
I have 42 commercial and 9 residential. We picked up 9 NEW commercial accounts that are massive. We bought 2 newer Z's for them. I just cannot keep up no matter what I do.

my thought as well sub to trust worthy lco I have been shooting for commercial this year no luck for me

Chilehead
06-12-2007, 09:44 AM
Personally, I have never had a commercial client. My experience has taught me that submitting your bid amongst dozens per lead ads up to alot of lost money. On the flipside, I have a stellar group of residential clientelle. It's nice to be able to go to work and have people tell you,"There's soda in the fridge in my garage. Help yourself." when you do a good job. Every year, I send my customers a small Christmas gift and a card thanking them for their business, and sure enough every one of them can't say enough good things to the people they know. This leads to plenty of referrals, and lots of extra available work.

coonman
06-12-2007, 10:36 AM
Personally, I have never had a commercial client. My experience has taught me that submitting your bid amongst dozens per lead ads up to alot of lost money. On the flipside, I have a stellar group of residential clientelle. It's nice to be able to go to work and have people tell you,"There's soda in the fridge in my garage. Help yourself." when you do a good job. Every year, I send my customers a small Christmas gift and a card thanking them for their business, and sure enough every one of them can't say enough good things to the people they know. This leads to plenty of referrals, and lots of extra available work.

Exactly the reason I have always gone with residentials. Do a good job for them and they treat you like family. No resubmitting new bids every year.

EX-DOORMAT
06-12-2007, 10:53 PM
Exactly the reason I have always gone with residentials. Do a good job for them and they treat you like family. No resubmitting new bids every year.


I too agree with Chilehead. I started (obviously) with residential accounts which in turn lead to commercial ones. I haven't submitted a bid in 3 years. I gained my first 5 commercial accounts from a residential referral. The rest have also come from referrals and other companies passing by and requesting a quote.

I don't know why people assume that you give up money or lose money by taking commercial? I have consistently raised my prices year after year after realizing what to do and how to do it.

There are 3 residential properties that I take care of. They are side by side. Until last year, I made more money on those 3 in the time frame than any other account, when comparing apples to apples. So I see how residential can be appealing. But to say they aren't money makers? Maybe someone is doing something wrong?

Commercial accounts aren't always looking for cheap. Ya just gotta know what to tell em to get em. Then, keep your word and blow them away and they will be there always.

procut
06-13-2007, 12:30 AM
Residential work isn't really my focus anymore. Right now I'm about 60% residential and 40% commercial, and am making way more $$$ off the commercial accounts. I'll take a residential account if I have a chance, but I don't go out of my way to get them. In my expirience, a lot of residentials are more of a pain than there worth.

JJG84
06-14-2007, 05:43 PM
you guys who are "gung ho" about residential properties and how they give you food and treat you like family are pretty soft.

if you are in the business to make $$, you should go commercial. stop and buy a can of pop on the way to the building(s).

and if family loving is what you desire, grab your cell and call your mother on the way there also.

dont forget to tell mom you love her.

ed2hess
06-14-2007, 07:37 PM
you guys who are "gung ho" about residential properties and how they give you food and treat you like family are pretty soft.

if you are in the business to make $$, you should go commercial. stop and buy a can of pop on the way to the building(s).

and if family loving is what you desire, grab your cell and call your mother on the way there also.

dont forget to tell mom you love her.

I kinda agree......500 residential or 50 commericial.....I know which causes less pain....and we get a lot of stuff from the resturants general managers. Lot of donut/cokes from Krispy and burgers/frys from othe resturants for lunch. There is a reason why all the biggest companies in our area don't do residential.

Chilehead
06-15-2007, 09:50 AM
you guys who are "gung ho" about residential properties and how they give you food and treat you like family are pretty soft.

Clearly, you have insecurity issues. Prestige must mean more to you than what is healthy. Also, in terms of family--it's customers who treat you like family that truly make for good morale. I REALLY feel sorry for you. You should seek some professional counselling.

coonman
06-15-2007, 10:24 AM
you guys who are "gung ho" about residential properties and how they give you food and treat you like family are pretty soft.

if you are in the business to make $$, you should go commercial. stop and buy a can of pop on the way to the building(s).

and if family loving is what you desire, grab your cell and call your mother on the way there also.

dont forget to tell mom you love her.

Who said we were not making money on the residentials. I average $60 an hour but have some small ones that are around $180 an hour. What I meant by being treated like family is that you have a steady income from that lawn as long as you want it. In other words they are not going to fire a "family member" over a 5 dollar cheaper bid by some outsider. On the Commercial side of things, you will be let go for a cheaper bid in a minute most of the time.

Grass Kickin
06-15-2007, 01:06 PM
I have mostly residentials. I do dislike having 45 different bosses but the money is pretty good and I don't even see most of these people. I would like to switch to get more commercial accounts for the money. I currently have a few...except for a 64 unit apartment complex where each tenant has his own idea how and when the grass should be cut, I prefer them.

Envy Lawn Service
06-15-2007, 01:38 PM
I've been doing this a lot of years and I have been from one extreme to the other.

Both sides have their ups and downs, and in the end it's really a 'wash'.

Business-wise, I have found it's a good idea to have a decent base in both areas and be able to be equally effective in both markets.

The point is being effectively deversified.
It makes it easier to roll with the punches from year to year.

The difficult part is finding what the actual 'happy-medium' is for your particular operation.

grapeford
06-15-2007, 10:32 PM
I have to agree with coonman. I did condos for years. people were great, prop. managers sucked. I loved the guys in the $90.00 shoes and golf shirts, telling me how to do an account that i've taken care of for 5 years with no complaints.
Be careful about putting all your eggs in 1 basket, cause it might come back to bite you. I know dropping the gate 20-25 times a day is a hassle, but this is what we've chosen to do.

Lawnut101
06-15-2007, 11:23 PM
I can't wait to start doing commercial. Some of my clients are a pain in the butt. They expect me to do things for free, but they always complain about stuff. I have a few clients that I love working for, but some are a pain. I would drop them, but then I wouldn't have enough work in my early stages of business.