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View Full Version : When did your business take off?


stevenf
10-21-2008, 11:57 PM
Right now I am 20 years old. Been doing lawn care for two years now, one of which was legal. My parents have the mind set that a man has to work at a plant to make any money. I decided not to take that route and have a completely different outlook on things.I attend a community college. I wasnt going to go at all, but I figured if my plans failed, I will have a two year degree or atleast a year of college under my belt.
My first year I pulled in about $6k for the year. By the end of this month, I will have pulled in $13k this year. This winter I am working on my applicators license, switching to $2mil liability, and plan to really hit the advertising for 2009.My goal is to get to $40k solo on maintenance before getting into landscape installs. Just trying to get a few thoughts on things.

Did you guys put a deadline on your success or did you just try year after year? Did you steadily increase the first few years or were there times you second guessed your decision?

DA Quality Lawn & YS
10-22-2008, 12:35 AM
I seem to be in a similar boat as you. Looking to gross $15K or so this season compared to like $3K last season (which was my first). I do maint + landscaping + odds/ends outdoor work.

I don't have an ultimate deadline or goal to reach. What I try to do each year is set my annual sales and customer goal a % higher than last season. If I did have an ultimate goal, it would be to increase my biz as a solo op until I couldn't handle anymore. Then I can look at taking the next step.....

I think there were times I have 2nd guessed myself. Like last season, with just a couple customers, and NO ONE responding to my ads - not enough work. This season, a fair bit better, and people around town starting to recognize me. Patience and a no-quit attitude are essential for success here.

Best of luck to you next season in your 3rd year!

Whitey4
10-22-2008, 01:19 AM
I'm 53.... and something of a seasoned sales and businessman. I went legal this year (last year did some mowing on the side for extra $) and got certed for pesticides this year, and bought commercial equipment. I also have 2 years of formal trade school learning in Ornamental Horticulture... so my starting point is different.

I will likely gross about 35k this year, my first. I'm targeting 70k for next year. I can see me topping out at 100k as a solo in year 3. ( I also had some on the side part time gigs this year, like being an advisor for Scotts/Ortho/Miracle grow)

The profit margin in mowing is eye level to a toilet bowl. Get into the apps (legally) and soft scaping as soon as you can. If you see a foundation bed at a regular cusoromer, and it's over grown and over crowded... where the shrubs and plantings are suffering from this issues... learn how to upsell.

Show the homeowner how the dark side of the plant that gets no sunlight has no healthy growth. Take a couple courses on horticulture... it will boost both your knowledge and confidence. Jobs like these are gravy... using existing plants, moving them into newly created beds, adding some other smallish stuff... dwarf ornamental grasses, flowering perennials.... you will make more money, have more fun, and the material costs are low.

Too many LCO's get caught up in getting more and more mow accounts. Look for the mulch jobs, the annual plantings, the transplanting jobs. When you are ready, you can design new beds.

This was my approach, and so far it's worked well. Use more brain, less brawn. Get the high profit stuff. Apps, installs, in short... landscaping.

Florida Gardener
10-22-2008, 02:26 AM
I totally agree with Whitey. I learned this already that the mowing gets you in the door. Once the customer is pleased with your work, then you can hook them for everything else. It also sets you apart from other guys when you have knowledge in plants,turf,pesticides,ferts,etc. Mowing can still be profitable down here in S. Florida, but the real dough is in all the other stuff.

jrc lawncare
10-22-2008, 06:47 AM
Started slow, grossing about 30k a year. This year, will gross well over 100k, depends on how bad you want it........

yard_smart
10-22-2008, 07:04 AM
WOW I thought i posted that lol . . . Although my numbers are substantially different from you, I too am 20 and go to a comm college. Could have went to a four year and played football but decided that there was money to be made and man o' man do i love my bread! This is my first year as an LLC and I'm Projected to do 35k Gross.

Keep at it and most importantly get a sales forecast (http://www.va-interactive.com/inbusiness/editorial/sales/ibt/sales_fo.html) together, decide what you want to make in Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. March April May . . . .and so on . . . I'm looking to Gross 75k next year . . .

A marketing plan is also a great idea also . . . be organized and plan you different adds your going to run!

Also set personal short term and long term goals.

Just an example of mine
Age 22 - Add First Crew
Age 23 - Gross 100k
Age 24 - Get out of the field in Lawn Care
Age 25 - Add another crew
Age 26 - 100k Salary
Age 27 - Continued Growth
Age 28 - Buy A Porsche
Age 30 - Be out of the field completely
Age 31 - Buy First Apartment Complex

larryinalabama
10-22-2008, 07:07 AM
Whitey your 53?

Im just hoping to get a real good start next spring and dont know really what to expect.

This year Ive been part time and just butting back all tha part time money for equiptment

yard_smart
10-22-2008, 07:20 AM
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT OR WHERE YOU WANT TO BE IN XX NUMBER OF YEARS!

This is one of the best quotes I've ever seen its from Alice in wonderland

Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to
Alice: I don't much care where.
The Cat: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.

meets1
10-22-2008, 10:03 AM
Tot he ? at hand - business is taking off everyday! Good to have a goal but those in college and don't take this wrong but I have seen more come and go than you can shake a stick at. In my area alone, there has been at least 20 guys that started there own, or worked for someone fulltime - all 2-4 yr college guys - now they move on. One company was paying big time, benefits, cell phone, palm pilot, labtop, truck.

All depends on what you want to do in life. Grossing 10 - 50 - 100K in nothing. BOTTOM LINE is where it is at. I understand maybe you have new equipment, etc but to no the business you need to be in the business - not letting a crew go out cuz your the owner and watch the cash come in. Until you have that 50 - 100 plus account, you should be able to handle most of that yourself, unless there 10 acre account each.

Next valuable lesson - no your cost. Don't low ball. In fact you should be the high guys in the market due to your expense ratio.

PTP
10-22-2008, 10:28 AM
My business took off when I found someone who was successful in this business and imitated them.

stevenf
10-22-2008, 10:52 AM
I am in the process of learning everything I need to know for this business. My girlfriend is also going to school for Landscape Architect which could in turn help out alot. I guess my real goal is to be independant in 2-3 years. I dont want to live here forever and I am dedicated to making this business grow.

RocketLab
10-22-2008, 12:40 PM
My business took off when I found someone who was successful in this business and imitated them.

Well? What's your secret?

PTP
10-22-2008, 12:53 PM
Well? What's your secret?

That is the secret. Find someone who is doing what you want to do and imitate it. If you do the same thing, you should expect the same results.

stevenf
10-22-2008, 02:11 PM
That is the secret. Find someone who is doing what you want to do and imitate it. If you do the same thing, you should expect the same results.

What did they do that you originally werent?

MOHUSTLER
10-22-2008, 02:24 PM
I noticed the adverstising comment. When your just getting into advertising you can throw a bunch of money down the tolett. :hammerhead:

See where your competition is advertising and do the same, just try to make your add more appealing to the customer. (example) Bigger, more profesonal looking. More to offer, ( fert, leaf cleanup, landscapeing, ext. )

Getting into selling mowers the first year we spend over $30,000 in advertising. A lot of it was with no response. Just figure out what works and run with that harder and more frequently.

Also to get more jobs, Be agressive. Dont be afraid to go into a business and say that you can offer them better more profesonal service then thier current guy and submit them a bid. They might be looking for someone new anyways and this puts you right infront of them with no advertising. Dont wait for them to come to you, you go to them.

super1
10-22-2008, 03:59 PM
It is all about networking in your market. My 3rd year proved to be the biggest increase % wise. You need to be on a 1st name basis with everyone that you spend your cash with. ex.(gas station clerk, barber, banker, waitress, cpa, trash man, meter reader ect. you get the idea) Don't discount your personality or the person you are talking to, it is your biggest asset, but be humble and confident! Keep an affordable ad in your local paper and just talk to people. Make sure your that truck/trailer has signage. You will do fine if you don't forget you are the hometown guy "no matter the size of your town"....best of luck in '09

PTP
10-22-2008, 04:10 PM
Read this thread - Take notes.

http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=78838&highlight=justmowit


Then, get a large bowl of popcorn, a couple of Coke's and wade through this one.

http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=95391

Micheal2008
10-22-2008, 04:19 PM
Yeah i agree, that if you can get into buying apartments or building them you are making good money.. People always need a place to live.. And the porsche is a WANT but you got to treat yourself from your hardwork, I mean you earn a good treat every now and then. :laugh:

WOW I thought i posted that lol . . . Although my numbers are substantially different from you, I too am 20 and go to a comm college. Could have went to a four year and played football but decided that there was money to be made and man o' man do i love my bread! This is my first year as an LLC and I'm Projected to do 35k Gross.

Keep at it and most importantly get a sales forecast (http://www.va-interactive.com/inbusiness/editorial/sales/ibt/sales_fo.html) together, decide what you want to make in Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. March April May . . . .and so on . . . I'm looking to Gross 75k next year . . .

A marketing plan is also a great idea also . . . be organized and plan you different adds your going to run!

Also set personal short term and long term goals.

Just an example of mine
Age 22 - Add First Crew
Age 23 - Gross 100k
Age 24 - Get out of the field in Lawn Care
Age 25 - Add another crew
Age 26 - 100k Salary
Age 27 - Continued Growth
Age 28 - Buy A Porsche
Age 30 - Be out of the field completely
Age 31 - Buy First Apartment Complex

STI LAWN
10-22-2008, 04:34 PM
1. I agree with the statement about copy what a successful company does except I would have to add also figure out what you can do better.
I run a large arborculture business (30 full time empoyees)and decided to reach into lawn and property maintenance. I have tracked a wonderful company that cuts more in a month than most do in 2 years. Many of there clients are our clients so I ask what they like and what they don't like about them. Now I just do what they do only better.

2. Be careful with advertising. I have a masters in advertising and public relations and I can tell you that it can really help you or kill your pocket book. Best advice is this LETTER YOUR TRUCKS!! It is cheap to do and it is how you will get the most notice to your company. Make it look like you do it for a living not just out for beer money.
The cheapest way to advertise is to drive into a neighbor hood you would like to work in and write done the addresses (example Oak St 102-344) Then do a direct mailer to them with a little coupon.

3. Do great work, never lie, fix ever mistake and let the client know what you did, bend over backwards and most important CHARGE ACCORDINGLY.

JNyz
10-22-2008, 05:12 PM
My business took off when I found someone who was successful in this business and imitated them.

Wow!!! That is exactly what I did.

I advise everyone getting into this business to look for a company
who you would like to own someday. Go to work for them for one year. You will make more working for them then you will your first year in business. Buy some equipment and start after work or when you have time. Pick the owners brain as much as you can. You will be far ahead you first year in biz then you could ever imagine.

ed2hess
10-22-2008, 07:23 PM
Business can only start to grow when you can find good crew chiefs that can do more than drive the truck. Usually good workers will follow a good crew chief. Then you can start getting some significant size landscaping/irrigation jobs to supplement mowing.

DUSTYCEDAR
10-22-2008, 07:31 PM
biz took off when the parking brake on the rig failed.

Whitey4
10-22-2008, 08:31 PM
Whitey your 53?

Im just hoping to get a real good start next spring and dont know really what to expect.

This year Ive been part time and just butting back all tha part time money for equiptment

Yup... and enjoying this biz. I never want to have employees, and I only want to work 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. I'm getting a lot of referrals now, so I won't have to advertise next year. I did work for the Scotts company (fert, Ortho, Miracle Grow) part time this year as an advisor... not a squirt and fert tech. In 16 months I also start collecting a pension from the MTA.

So, if I can gross over 100k in my third year, that will be plenty. Just looking to be comfortable, not rich. Enough to go someplace warm and do some fishing in January.

I expect to get a church account next year, and that account will pay for a new truck and trailer. Then I'll be set. My goal for that 3rd year is 25 full service with apps, 20 more for apps only, along with this church account. I'll sell as many plantings and designs as possible. I may decide to advertise for landscape design and installs at some point.... just plants, light hardscaping.

Dunlaps LawnCare
10-27-2008, 06:10 PM
hopefully next spring

TJLANDS
10-27-2008, 06:24 PM
Did you guys put a deadline on your success or did you just try year after year? Did you steadily increase the first few years or were there times you second guessed your decision?

After growing steady for the first couple of years, probably 5, my business took off when I got off the mower. While you are still on the mower you are very limited to the amount of growth you can obtain. Off it, the growth is unlimited.
The other most important thing that helped my business take off was learning to never say no.

ExecutiveLawns
10-27-2008, 08:23 PM
Mine really took off when I purchased the Third brand new vehicle to the fleet for my self to drive and get out there and talk to those customers(not meaning after your done mowing their lawn) Hire a few good guys, take care of them very well and they will make sales for you not even knowing it. you need to be able to respond to customers in a timely manner and if you are out with a mowing crew your not able to do that.

Just like TJLANDS said...
"While you are still on the mower you are very limited to the amount of growth you can obtain. Off it, the growth is unlimited."

I am glad i figured this all out in the first couple years of my business before i wasted too much time mowing.

With me not on a mower i have seen weekly gains as much as $8,000.00 in one week and as little as $500.00 but my average additional sales per week is usually between $1,500 and $2,000 with the same employees and still not putting them much more than 4 to 5 hours of overtime per week each.

Now who out there can make an additional $1,000 a week riding a mower?

Im not trying to act cocky but it is what it is and yea its a gamble that if you are willing to take it then take it and you will reap the benefits.

I am where i am at not because I can cut grass and make a lawn look good but because I can sell Lawn maintenance and do not LOWBALL.

JNyz
10-27-2008, 08:27 PM
Mine really took off when I purchased the Third brand new vehicle to the fleet for my self to drive and get out there and talk to those customers(not meaning after your done mowing their lawn) Hire a few good guys, take care of them very well and they will make sales for you not even knowing it. you need to be able to respond to customers in a timely manner and if you are out with a mowing crew your not able to do that.

Just like TJLANDS said...
"While you are still on the mower you are very limited to the amount of growth you can obtain. Off it, the growth is unlimited."

I am glad i figured this all out in the first couple years of my business before i wasted too much time mowing.

With me not on a mower i have seen weekly gains as much as $8,000.00 in one week and as little as $500.00 but my average additional sales per week is usually between $1,500 and $2,000 with the same employees and still not putting them much more than 4 to 5 hours of overtime per week each.

Now who out there can make an additional $1,000 a week riding a mower?

Im not trying to act cocky but it is what it is and yea its a gamble that if you are willing to take it then take it and you will reap the benefits.

I am where i am at not because I can cut grass and make a lawn look good but because I can sell Lawn maintenance and do not LOWBALL.

Everyone should pay attention to your plan