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View Full Version : need help trying to find some work!!


Junior M
07-24-2008, 07:10 PM
ok well as most of you know me and my dad just recently started our little business and we (especially me) want to expand out of backfilling pools.. but we are having a really hard time finding work.. i know the economy sucks right now but lots of people here are still getting work and we just cant seem to get any.. but you cant say we arent trying becuz we have and are advertising in a local magazine and have put business card every where!! so i was wondering what helps you guys get work? or what do you do to get work? or better yet how do you get your work?

bobcat_ron
07-24-2008, 07:27 PM
Grab a shovel and start hanging out at the local building stores?

Marvelous Gardens
07-24-2008, 09:39 PM
Today I dropped by a few businesses introduced myself and asked if they had someone taking care of the lawn maintenance, they all did, although three of them were unhappy with the service and they liked by monthly billing plan, so I landed all three of them and locked them in for a year. Last month on rainy days I had the guys walk door to door putting out custom made door hangers, not one call. I would just take the time to pay a visit to every business, hell maybe even residents and throw your services at them.

YellowDogSVC
07-24-2008, 10:43 PM
what's going to happen when you go back to school? If you and your dad get overbooked, who will help him?

Junior M
07-24-2008, 10:56 PM
what's going to happen when you go back to school? If you and your dad get overbooked, who will help him?
he works at south carolina electric and gas 4 days a week and we mostly work on the weekends... but since i am goin in to high school i wont be able to skip like i did in middle school.. so we will figure it out.. and we usually have a friend of ours that just moved here from germany help us so maybe he could help my dad when i cant..

ksss
07-24-2008, 11:12 PM
Here is just a couple thoughts I will throw out there.

Identify what your strongest services are, meaning what you do the best. Identify who is in need of the service and go after them. Contractors are my strongest clients but that can vary.

It helps to be diversified in both landscape and light excavation. If you don't have the skills for both then develop them.

Identify holes in your local market and fill them. Meaning what services are not being hit hard and develop that. It might be concrete/paver prep or whatever but know what your competetors have for equipment and capability, very important. Much easier for me in a smaller market than those in larger areas. However it is important to know so that you can grow your business through the cracks in your local market.

Be sure that you are good at whatever you do. Carving out marketshare in what is likely a contractor saturated market in a downturn economy is no easy task, most don't make it, even in good economic times. The old saying "if your good at what you do, you'll always have work " Although perhaps over simplified, has merit. You may find your not equipped correctly to compete in your market or you lack the knowledge, don't be afraid to change directions.

The most important point I will make is you only get one chance to make a good impression. Get your companies poop in a group, before you show up and ruin an opportunity. Word of mouth is and will always be the best buy in advertising. Do a good job on the jobs you are getting, Keep your word, I have lost more money than I care to talk about over the last almost 15 years, keeping my promises. The money will come back. Be good, be fair, be smart and you will have work come to you.

J. Peterson Grading
07-24-2008, 11:13 PM
Stick with what you are doing now. The work will come. Trust me.

J.

Dirt Digger2
07-24-2008, 11:13 PM
word of mouth gets a lot of business...mailers and flyers don't...this type of work is the type where not everyone needs it and when they do it is a big investment for them so they will usually go on who they have heard is good, not who has the best picture (most...not all)

we get a lot of our work by shear seniority, my boss has been in it for 30 years so he knows a lot of people, we are hooked up with a number of builders and word of mouth has been doing very good lately from homeowners (we usually like to stick with contractor work and avoid homeowners but troubled times call for desperate measures i guess)...call around to builders, concrete companies, etc... and give them some info, just tell them if their regular guys ever can't make it to a job, or don't want to take it, to give you a call to bid...do a good job and that is how you build your business

Bleed Green
07-24-2008, 11:21 PM
ksss what would be small excavation, and what do you think would be managable for a guy that was wanting to start a small company after graduating college? You think start off digging backyard fish ponds and stuff and brick paths and then expand from there maybe some backfill work. I was thinking putting in downspout drains and maybe foundation drains for a builder that I know if he was interested. What do you think?

What kind of landscape work do you think would be manageable for a one or two man crew? mulch work, paver work etc...

ksss
07-24-2008, 11:49 PM
ksss what would be small excavation, and what do you think would be managable for a guy that was wanting to start a small company after graduating college? You think start off digging backyard fish ponds and stuff and brick paths and then expand from there maybe some backfill work. I was thinking putting in downspout drains and maybe foundation drains for a builder that I know if he was interested. What do you think?

What kind of landscape work do you think would be manageable for a one or two man crew? mulch work, paver work etc...

I started into dirt business landscaping. I have not expanded much in that area from what I started with. I do grading, yard prep, rock and block work and that is about it. I am a three man outfit at the most. I don't bid anything that is hand labor intensive such as sod installs. I make my money running equipment it is what I have always liked to do and what I do best. We do work for many of the major landscapers in town. They use me because I am good at it (should be for as long as I have been doing it) and I don't directly compete against them. I am not a full service landscaper. They have a much easier time using someone knowing that they are not supplimenting the competition.


It did not take long to recognize that I needed to diversify into light excavation. You can work longer in the year, ride out the ups and downs of the economy and I had most of the equipment already. I started out digging garage footing, house additions, a lot of concrete removal, lighter demo.

If pools are big in your area then you could offer that as well. Paver installs seem to be good money although I don't provide that, we do prep for a lot of pavers. I would say pursue what interests you in the field and find an application for it where you live. If you haven't already, getting some summer work working for an established landscape or excavation contractor will provide a wealth of information. Especially if you are going to school where you are planning on living. You will make valuable contacts and get to know the local market well if you keep you eyes and ears open.

As I said above, I think it is real important to do a market survey of your area and learn what guys are doing and not doing or not doing well. If your area is saturated with quality paver install guys there is no sense in banging your head against the wall, be ready to go in a different direction.

Junior M
07-25-2008, 10:25 AM
I started into dirt business landscaping. I have not expanded much in that area from what I started with. I do grading, yard prep, rock and block work and that is about it. I am a three man outfit at the most. I don't bid anything that is hand labor intensive such as sod installs. I make my money running equipment it is what I have always liked to do and what I do best. We do work for many of the major landscapers in town. They use me because I am good at it (should be for as long as I have been doing it) and I don't directly compete against them. I am not a full service landscaper. They have a much easier time using someone knowing that they are not supplimenting the competition.


It did not take long to recognize that I needed to diversify into light excavation. You can work longer in the year, ride out the ups and downs of the economy and I had most of the equipment already. I started out digging garage footing, house additions, a lot of concrete removal, lighter demo.

If pools are big in your area then you could offer that as well. Paver installs seem to be good money although I don't provide that, we do prep for a lot of pavers. I would say pursue what interests you in the field and find an application for it where you live. If you haven't already, getting some summer work working for an established landscape or excavation contractor will provide a wealth of information. Especially if you are going to school where you are planning on living. You will make valuable contacts and get to know the local market well if you keep you eyes and ears open.

As I said above, I think it is real important to do a market survey of your area and learn what guys are doing and not doing or not doing well. If your area is saturated with quality paver install guys there is no sense in banging your head against the wall, be ready to go in a different direction.
ksss what you are doing is what i really would like to do but we just dont have the experience and that and we cant run iso controls so well i am sure i could learn but my dad has been running backhoe controls since the mid seventies and he just cant seem to get the knack of switching but i would really like to start digging pools becuz there are only a couple good i mean like really good pool diggers and the our guy is in his mid sixties and the other guy just isnt that nice or i dont know he digs a good pool but he just isnt that nice and people friendly.. but digging a pool is backhoe work and i really wouldnt mind doing that but my dad just doesnt like a backhoe but you could do it with like a 337 but you would need another person on a skidsteer to keep dirt out of the trackhoes way.. but you would beat the crap out of the pins and bushings by making your sides angled... that is really the only way to make that angle on your deep end... so that is where were at...... well i am really open minded and would like to do strictly machine work like ksss and i really dont care what i am doing.. i just want to do something..

Junior M
07-25-2008, 10:27 AM
ksss what you are doing is what i really would like to do but we just dont have the experience and that and we cant run iso controls so well i am sure i could learn but my dad has been running backhoe controls since the mid seventies and he just cant seem to get the knack of switching but i would really like to start digging pools becuz there are only a couple good i mean like really good pool diggers and the our guy is in his mid sixties and the other guy just isnt that nice or i dont know he digs a good pool but he just isnt that nice and people friendly.. but digging a pool is backhoe work and i really wouldnt mind doing that but my dad just doesnt like a backhoe but you could do it with like a 337 but you would need another person on a skidsteer to keep dirt out of the trackhoes way.. but you would beat the crap out of the pins and bushings by making your sides angled... that is really the only way to make that angle on your deep end... so that is where were at...... well i am really open minded and would like to do strictly machine work like ksss and i really dont care what i am doing.. i just want to do something..
ok i shouldnt have said experience i was thinking more like the money, the truck and we just dont know the right people to be able to get into work with that big of equipment..

BPL3279
07-25-2008, 10:48 AM
We have been in business for 8 years offering landscape services, not much excavation. We use a subcontractor for that. We tried to use our own bobcat this year and guess what, someone took it without our permission and blew up the engine. Sh!t happens when you least expect it.
We lost thousands on it.
Every year by July 4th, business drys up like someone shuts off the faucet. Jobs still come in but it does seem to be slower this year. Sept usually picks up a bit, I am hoping that is still the case this year with the slow economy. We started with all residentail grass, went to all landscaping, and now going back to two full days of grass to subsidize the slow times. Everything is trial and error. Just like advertising in the yellow pages, 2 of them actually. We figured out the business coming in from it was not worth the extra aggravation. It seems like most of those calls we would bid out and not get, or they were just tire kickers, looking for ideas...Our best advertising is in the local free paper.

Construct'O
07-25-2008, 12:19 PM
he works at south carolina electric and gas 4 days a week and we mostly work on the weekends... but since i am goin in to high school i wont be able to skip like i did in middle school.. so we will figure it out.. and we usually have a friend of ours that just moved here from germany help us so maybe he could help my dad when i cant..

I think just being able to work on weekends and your spare time is a big problem for moving on into bigger and better things.

People are not patient and they want it done now, meaning now !!!!!! not this weekend.

So for now i beleive this will be something that you will have to over come.Good luck:usflag:

NateV
07-25-2008, 05:36 PM
If i were you i would just sick to what you are doing right now since school is comming up soon. Plus being able to only work weekends isnt the best. Around here some local communitys dont allow work like excavating to be done on sundays. Just stick small like you are for now till you get out off high school or college and can go at it full time.

JohnnyRoyale
07-25-2008, 06:47 PM
What equipment do you have, or willing to buy. Most pool digs around here will get you 1800-2000 for the dig, and another 1500-2000 for the haulage. My fuel delivery driver runs a bobcat all summer for his dad digging pools in the summer, and says they're swamped, 6 days a week, from March to November. Sometimes 2 a day. They dont do any labour, and charge extra $600 a day for a layout guy and a laser.

gardenergreg
07-25-2008, 07:27 PM
When ever I see a sold sign on a property in my area I always stop and drop a flyer or card in the mail box 5 out of 10 I get the job..works for me

Junior M
07-25-2008, 08:05 PM
I think just being able to work on weekends and your spare time is a big problem for moving on into bigger and better things.

People are not patient and they want it done now, meaning now !!!!!! not this weekend.

So for now i beleive this will be something that you will have to over come.Good luck:usflag:
that is why i am trying to find some work now becuz i am about eight months out from getting my permit..

and johnnyroyale.... the pools we put in couldnt be dug with a bobcat and all the guys that i know of (you would be surprised who would try to dig a pool) use john deere 410 backhoes... and i wouldnt mind getting in to that.. but i would really like to become a underground utilities contractor like my dad was before he went bankrupt.. it may have a few headaches but there was always steady work and there was no bidding there was a set price.. so you knew you were goin to get the job.. but the reason i would like to get into underground is becuz it is skidsteer and mini excavator work with a little bit of hand work here and there. which i really dont mind...

but the real reason i am trying to find some work now is cuz i want and am goin to take a chance at making this thing work.. i dont want to work at the grocery store or some crappy place like that... but i have worked with palmetto enviromental group which has four different divisions, tucker electric, hansen well and pump, a landscaping division and the enviromental side of it... and i have worked all summer on the landscaping and enviromental side of the business and have learnd alot from learning to run a backhoe to how to monitor the amount of gas, diesel, and oil products in the ground...

ooooooo and about the weekend thing when we go bid a job we tell people we only do this on the weekend becuz we cant get enough work to go full time,, and they are usually fine about it becuz we are very professional about the job compared to lots of other contractors... in fact we have had a few people tell us they went with us becuz we were so professional about it...

JohnnyRoyale
07-26-2008, 12:58 PM
[QUOTE=jlm335;2435591] i would really like to become a underground utilities contractor like my dad was before he went bankruptQUOTE]

If the type of work he did had anything to do with the bankruptcy, you may want to rethink what type of work you chase. Good luck with whatever you decide.

jmf
07-26-2008, 01:25 PM
Looking for work is work. For now, you will have to take the jobs experience people have learned to reject.

jmf

Junior M
07-26-2008, 01:29 PM
[QUOTE=jlm335;2435591] i would really like to become a underground utilities contractor like my dad was before he went bankruptQUOTE]

If the type of work he did had anything to do with the bankruptcy, you may want to rethink what type of work you chase. Good luck with whatever you decide.
no actually he didnt go bankrupt doing that.. the co-op went bankrupt so he decided to get into directional drilling for fiber and people didnt pay so he couldnt stay afloat...

Junior M
07-26-2008, 01:30 PM
Looking for work is work. For now, you will have to take the jobs experience people have learned to reject.

jmf
yeah that is what we are doing now... most the pools we backfill are ones that other people cant or just dont have the time or equipment to do....

Junior M
07-27-2008, 08:56 PM
alright well i think i have settled what i am goin to do.....

I am goin to add some more services to our business cards like vinyl pool installation, enviromental clearing.... stuff like that.. and just put them at the local breakfast place in town and leave it at that until i get my license... which is about six months out and will be the beginning of a new pool season and hopefully by march of 2009 we will be renting equipment on a monthly basis and be on our way to buying the 2007 335 out of the rental fleet... and right now we plan on trying to buy it or owning that excavator by then....

jefftb
07-27-2008, 09:53 PM
Adding additional services that can be done with the machines you have is the best way to go and I for one applaud your decision making progress. Its a longer road to more money but that probably fits with your situation in relation to weekend or "off hours" type work. Until you can deliver on bigger jobs that require bigger or different machine work in the typical M-F 7am-5pm work category you might just do more harm to your business than good. More businesses fail due to trying to grow more quickly than anything else-it might be due to a variety of factors but the core decision drove the failure.

Moving up in work/project description will most likely mean delivering the finished job on someone else's accelerated schedule. You also cannot afford to miss what window you have now to finish a project, i.e. you cannot afford weather delays on a weekend or not working due to illness if the project was big or the owner had expectations beyond yours.

There is more flexibility to deal with these issues (weather, illness, machine downtime, etc) when you perform this type of work on a weekly 50-60 hour work schedule.

Grow at a pace you can manage. Say "no" to things you might want to do but think you cannot deliver on. People and other contractors respect the word "no" more than someone that says "yes" and then do not or clearly cannot deliver on. It shows you either know your limits or cannot meet their expectations and respect the relationship-that can have a powerful effect because they begin to trust you and your word. Keep going back to these people as you grow. You obviously cannot say no forever though.

There's more to the moral of this story but I think you may know where its headed.

Junior M
07-27-2008, 10:09 PM
Adding additional services that can be done with the machines you have is the best way to go and I for one applaud your decision making progress. Its a longer road to more money but that probably fits with your situation in relation to weekend or "off hours" type work. Until you can deliver on bigger jobs that require bigger or different machine work in the typical M-F 7am-5pm work category you might just do more harm to your business than good. More businesses fail due to trying to grow more quickly than anything else-it might be due to a variety of factors but the core decision drove the failure.

Moving up in work/project description will most likely mean delivering the finished job on someone else's accelerated schedule. You also cannot afford to miss what window you have now to finish a project, i.e. you cannot afford weather delays on a weekend or not working due to illness if the project was big or the owner had expectations beyond yours.

There is more flexibility to deal with these issues (weather, illness, machine downtime, etc) when you perform this type of work on a weekly 50-60 hour work schedule.

Grow at a pace you can manage. Say "no" to things you might want to do but think you cannot deliver on. People and other contractors respect the word "no" more than someone that says "yes" and then do not or clearly cannot deliver on. It shows you either know your limits or cannot meet their expectations and respect the relationship-that can have a powerful effect because they begin to trust you and your word. Keep going back to these people as you grow. You obviously cannot say no forever though.

There's more to the moral of this story but I think you may know where its headed.
thank you......

YellowDogSVC
07-27-2008, 10:55 PM
Where can I adopt a youngster that is gung-ho? :) I have 3 girls. My 4 year old loves bobcats but she's only 4!

I agree, add services to compliment the machines you already have. Get creative but don't get yourself so overbooked you can't take care of the people you make promises to especially if school is sneaking up real fast. Learn as much as you can in school, especially reading and writing skills and it will help you present yourself and your business in the future. I have always handled all my own advertising, websites, and such other than a few ads for the local paper that I asked someone to design. Those skills will help you "esplain" what you do. That's my $.02. I believe in learning as much as you can. You never know when you will need it!

Junior M
07-27-2008, 11:31 PM
Where can I adopt a youngster that is gung-ho? :) I have 3 girls. My 4 year old loves bobcats but she's only 4!

I agree, add services to compliment the machines you already have. Get creative but don't get yourself so overbooked you can't take care of the people you make promises to especially if school is sneaking up real fast. Learn as much as you can in school, especially reading and writing skills and it will help you present yourself and your business in the future. I have always handled all my own advertising, websites, and such other than a few ads for the local paper that I asked someone to design. Those skills will help you "esplain" what you do. That's my $.02. I believe in learning as much as you can. You never know when you will need it!
haha that is what the all the nieghbors want to know.... especially when they see me on a friday night on a bobcat cleaning up all the broken trees and stumps and stuff from the tornado months ago.....

stuvecorp
07-28-2008, 12:56 AM
Alot of it will just be staying in business. Some guys that you would like to work for will want to see a few years under your belt, you have to earn their business. Try to pick equipment that is flexible but cost effective so you can do many different types of projects. Look at what other contractor do, can you be a sub in one thing that they don't want to do? Look at maybe hydroseeding or something that compliments the pool work. Just stay positive and realize it is a long haul.

Junior M
07-28-2008, 08:44 AM
Alot of it will just be staying in business. Some guys that you would like to work for will want to see a few years under your belt, you have to earn their business. Try to pick equipment that is flexible but cost effective so you can do many different types of projects. Look at what other contractor do, can you be a sub in one thing that they don't want to do? Look at maybe hydroseeding or something that compliments the pool work. Just stay positive and realize it is a long haul.
hydroseeding? hmmmmm i have seen it done and it doesnt look that hard but one question how would i get into that? with having to buy the trailer and all the other stuff?

i dont know i am just brainstorming.. trying to find other services to put on my card...