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LAWNS AND MOWER
12-18-2001, 10:58 AM
I've been tossing around the idea of starting up a local lawn care association in my area. I can think of at least 30 lco's that might be interested. What worries me is that some ego's might be so large they won't fit through the door. Instead of informative, networking meetings, I can see it coming down to 'why don't you charge more?' kind of thing? Has anyone ever attempted to form a association and if so with what success??? Any input would be nice!!!!


LAWNS AND MOWER

Kent Lawns
12-18-2001, 11:31 AM
If there isn't any in your area, I think it would be beneficial.

Start now with buddies to form a core and build from there with invitations to build your group.

MATTHEW
12-18-2001, 02:39 PM
Its great for us to share things here, but watch out trying to unite local Lco's. I can name several in my area who buddied up and ended up losing business. You should know that some will join merely to get access to accounts and numbers. I've seen it.

chicks-dig-lawn-guys
12-18-2001, 02:50 PM
What would the point be in attending a LCO meeting? Just sounds like a way to find out how people price so you can price just under them to take business....I wouldnt join one.

JimLewis
12-18-2001, 03:33 PM
I am with the Chick,

I don't see anything necessarily beneficial coming out of something like this - namely because it's local competition.

It's all well and good that we volunteer stuff to one another here in this forum but if this were a local thing I wouldn't say a word. I don't want my competition knowing the first thing about how I run things. There are a lot of things relating to this business that I have refined and perfected. Half of my competition is still out there with their head in the sand. I like to keep it that way :cool: The last thing I want to do is give them some clues or tips on how to run things.

Furthermore, there's not a lot you would learn from them that you aren't learning here. The only exception being what they charge. And you can find that out easy enough. If you don't know how to figure that out, email me.

Suppose you did start such an association. What would be the end result? If they didn't all fight, the end result might be that everyone invloved ended up getting a lot of good ideas from one another and learned how to operate their business' more effeciently, etc. Is that what you want? A more educated and knowledgeable competition?

Runner
12-18-2001, 05:58 PM
A more educated and knowledgeable competition? Actually, yes. That's eXACTly what we're shooting for. We have a local organization that is county wide right now, but this is more suited to the landscapers and nurseries. I am currently working on one at this time that is going to be more suited for the grounds maintenance. As far as fighting and what not, it just doesn't happen. There is a charter that will be followed as well as a code of ethics, that entails some subject such as employee coercion (of one another's employees to leave and go work for someone else). Some of the ideas that are discussed in the current organizations meetings are newer contractor projects that are coming up for bids, landscape contractors looking to sub out fot certain projects, certain management companies that may be slow on pay or other related problems, charity and other benefit functions of differnt types, and other various things. This is the same type of things that I want to discuss. Not what we charge, or tips and techniques. These things aren't really discussed. I just want to be able to raise the standards, and have a higher esteemed organization of integrity and reputation. I feel that much great comradery can and will come from this. I know I have nothing to hide, as I am a well known, well respected contractor in this area.

JimLewis
12-18-2001, 06:40 PM
Well to each their own I guess. But a lot of my competition are dorks with rakes. No professionalism at all. And although it maybe lowers the standard for the industry as a whole maybe, I prefer it that way because when we show up with our act together and looking sharp, people are blown away. It sets us appart from the rest. And that's my company's biggest asset.

I prefer to keep my competition as ignorant and uneducated as can be. Maybe that's just me.

And I can't believe that conversations, at least in the parking lot, wouldn't turn to talk about suppliers, fertilizers, employees, marketing techniques, etc. It's just natural to want to ask other guys about this stuff. So again, this sort of organization would be helping my competitors learn tricks of the trade from me or others. And that's not something I want.

I want them to keep buying fertilizer and sprinkler heads at home depot for 3 times what I pay. I want them to hire the deadbeats I fired, I want them to keep the lettering off their trucks, I want them to think flyers really don't produce results, and I don't want them knowing about jobs coming up that I know about.

Sorry, I guess that's just me. But again, I can't believe stuff like this NEVER gets talked about.

chicks-dig-lawn-guys
12-18-2001, 10:41 PM
I think Jimmy here is a smart guy!

If you want to make money you have to have an edge on the competition. You get your edge by making mistakes and learning from them. The last thing you want to do is give away your hard earned knowledge of the field. You want others to pay more for equipment and mistakes so you can charge less to do a job and still get a higher overhead because you know the cheaper way out. If you tell others what you know, all them hard times for you, just made another person one step ahead of you.

Randy Scott
12-19-2001, 01:22 AM
I'm with Jim. If I am going to do this, it is going to be on my own. There is an endless amount of resources already available for one to learn the proper practices of running this business, in all the aspects required. If you want to really put forth the effort and make a go of it, it can be done all by your lonesome self. Nothing in life is easy and hopefully ones hard work will payoff in the long run.

lbmd1
12-19-2001, 07:40 AM
Lawns & Mower,
I was tossing around the idea last year sometime about forming an association as well but something that happened here on this site made me re-think my decision in helping out other LCO's. We started a specialized seperate organic fertilizer company last year that did extremely well it's first year out and through one of the organic discussionson this site, one of the posters looking for information (a lurker with a location field not filled in) asked me for help, acting like a newbie who was genuinely interested in getting into the field. Knowing I was from the NH coastline (only 18 miles long) he asked for info on it's acceptance, product type and rates and how I marketed it. I shared my info with him to "educate him" and a day later, this lurker emailed me back with some negativeness, sarcassm and MORE questions. He was a local LCO who also owns a large chemical fert biz in my area. He had told me how he had tried to introduce organic apps to his program without success, who then criticized me for my marketing concepts, etc.. Needless to say I was quite pissed off that by trying to help someone out, it would come back to bite my face off. I was recently talking to another owner of a large LC operation, a very nice older man, who also shared a story of this guy as well. He subbed out some very lucrative accounts to this lurker for chemical apps who right to his face told the older guy that he would give the older guy a 2 year non compete on these accounts he was getting from the older LCO. Imagine, giving this guy income and the guy tells you to his face that he will steal these accounts from him!!! Needless to say, this lurker lco now has a red flag attached to him. These are the type of so called " professionals" that some of the guys above are talking about. I'm sorry for the long post or to be a little off the subject but I would like to forewarn those who might try to help out others that this sort of thing can happen to you. So I'm with Jim and the others. It's too bad that by trying to help make this industry more professional, you still have large LCO's with narrow minds trying to line their own pockets instead of educating others to further enhance business down the line for everyone.


Mike

LAWNS AND MOWER
12-19-2001, 01:27 PM
Thanks for all the suggestions. First of all, I'm not Santa Claus. I wouldn't be starting up an association just to help out the other guys. Hopefully I would get something out of it also. There's so much work to go around up here that many of the quality lco's are turning down jobs so I don't think lco's swiping business from other lco's would be an issue. Second, wouldn't the scrubs be intimidated from joining a lco association? I just feel a association would bring together the professionals in my area and have some unity. I realize this sounds great in theory and that it's not a perfect world. What led me to this is that our area has associations for Christmas tree growers, real estate agents, home builders and thought maybe it was time for lco's.


LAWNS AND MOWER

JimLewis
12-19-2001, 02:58 PM
Well, do what you want. You asked for our advice and you got it. In a year, let us know how it turned out.

But once again, what specifically do you expect to get from this group that you wouldn't get here?

LAWNS AND MOWER
12-20-2001, 12:23 PM
jimlewis--

I guess what I would like to get out of a association is more localized info on such matters like where to get good, reasonably priced mulch, what landlord deadbeats to avoid, where and when trade shows are, pesticide license classes, who are good sub-contracters, etc.... Don't get me wrong. This is a fantastic site and enjoy being here. It would just be nice to have more access to localized info.

Only 10 weeks til spring cleanups------LAWNS AND MOWER

Atlantic Lawn
12-21-2001, 08:50 AM
That's one of the problems with small business,localized exchanges of info usually help the newbies,not the old timmer. Forums such as Lawnsite are not localized and that's why they work.The smart old timmer is still lookin' to learn, just like the newbie. I saw a guy in a 60's Dodge Dart,lawnmower in the trunk,pulling into a home I nourished and more or less created over the years.New owners went on price alone.Helpin' guys like that is a bit hard to do.I think I've already helped them enough.

turfman99
12-21-2001, 10:52 AM
I was very involved in starting the state landscape association in the same area Jim Lewis is in,back in the mid 80's. I don't think I have attended a meeting in 12 years, mainly because they have them at night and that is family time for me.

I can say that being involved in that group did not provide me with much of anything other than the newesletter. The ego factor was unbelivalbe and my business does not define me or my life. In fact some referalls to other contractors that got them jobs of up to 100K did not even call me and thank me, let alone send a gift certificate for a dinner or anything. I have not spoke to those clowns in over 10 years. That really defined to me what some individuals want from those groups.

I do attend the national events and find them to be much more benifical than any local type of groups. The educational process that an association can sponsor or promote will reach a very small portion of the market, and not those who need it the most.

If you want information on products, business trends locally, or anything else in the green business, we have this thing called the Internet, that can provide more than enough information on anything you need to know about your business.

From a guy who's 44 years old, been doing this for 26 years, spend the time you intend on devoting to this association process, and spend that time developing your business and it's systems, process and procedures, and that will yeild you a LOT more results than time spent trying to form an association.

I would join PLCCA, or ALCA way before joining a local organization, and a state organazation before a local group. You will not be able to assign a bottom line affect to your efforts in starting a local group.

LAWNS AND MOWER
12-21-2001, 03:28 PM
Thanks for all the input on this local association thing. I think I'll let someone else do all the leg work to get one started if it ever happens and then maybe join it and go from there.

Dale-- Thanks for the tip on that internet thing. I would've never thought of that. By the way, how do you get on the internet?????

LAWNS AND MOWER

Rodney Johns
12-21-2001, 05:30 PM
I think there is something to organizational learning but on a larger level. For instance in MO we have several turfgrass asc. around the state. GREAT organizations! join one, go to a meeting 2 hrs from home, have a beer, see new equipment, enjoy. As far as locally. I have enough companies trying to catch up with me everyday. This one idiot that used to work for me might as well change his name to copycat lawn care. He copied my mower brand, trailer design, business card, website......I could go on. Anyway I think a small time local organization would give up the family secrets so to speak where a district or state wide would be very beneficial.

GroundKprs
12-21-2001, 08:41 PM
State and national trade conferences are really great, being able to meet and talk to peers in a non-competitive setting. Of course you could not do this with everyone on a local level. But to be working alone in your market area, trying to beat back all the crummy competition, kind of smacks of the "Afghan warlord" mentality. This is my turf, anyone else here is the enemy.

I can go to the biggest company in the area, and buy his specially blended shade mix from him for a small job. His dad started experimenting years ago with mixes; of course, they have it blended by a seed wholesaler, they just place quantity orders when running low. Now if John had the warlord mentality, he'd never share his seed with me, even at 10x his cost. But by letting me into his secret, he makes a buck, and gets the honor of knowing that his mix is the very best for our area. So is all your "competition" really competition?

Yes, a local trade association would draw some rifraff at times, but would these last? Would I take a chance on meeting 1 or 2 new professional peers, knowing that there were 20 sharks in the room? Yes, I would. I just would not communicate in detail with the sharks. And I would get to know the new guys before sharing details with them.

And it can work. In Ft. Wayne, IN (Allen Co.) there are two local green industry associations, and they often cooperate in big events. Your trade will only become professional to the local citizenry when there is a local professional group. I do mean the trade - individually you can present yourself professionally to clients. But the general population usually does not respect us as a trade, yet.

Ric
12-21-2001, 09:38 PM
The LMA Lawn Maintenaince Assc. was very active in my area as well as the rest of the state up until the early 90s then it died out. The LMA is still holding on but has lost many of there chapters including my local one. I feel that they are a good Assoc. and have helped the industry in general. There lobbying at the state level brought about the limited pesticide license and grandfathered in Illegel applicators so we were able to take the test.

The networking and education that they provided was also great for the industry. I feel that the more professional my competior is the more professional the industry is seen by the public. The public is willing to pay for value. Value from a professional industry.

One of the main reasons that the local LMA chapter folded was because the same people did all the work. they just got tired and stopped. The former local treasure has a bank account with money in it. He has offered it to me to try and restart the local chapter. I am afraid I am just an other follower and passed on the offer.

danlawnser
12-22-2001, 07:17 PM
Lawns and Mower

where are you in nc

David Gretzmier
12-22-2001, 11:27 PM
the meetings I went to had speakers from the local college, county ext. agent and state plant board. we met for lunch once a month and talked then listened. if you have a third party speaker each meeting, it helps keep things interesting.

Daveg