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View Full Version : Unorthodox sales and marketing plan IS working!!!!


Unk
03-20-2009, 08:35 PM
Its sad that i have to conceal my identity on a professional industry forum, but I must in order to share this information. We have worked out an unorthodox strategic marketing plan that has been in place for 5 days now. The closure rate is HUGE when we look at the big picture. Sadly, sharing these things on this website turns out the negative people in this industry that turn away others with great ideas. I have posted ideas here before, including a brief version of this idea, and was bashed. Several people in messaged me for thoughts on my ideas and I shared. I want to share this with those that want to read it. If this does not interest, hold your negative thoughts and allow others to use their own mind to prosper. Our demographics are not what everyones else is, but the plan works.

LOCATION:
We service a community of approximately 25,000 middle class homes in a master planned community 30 miles from a major US city. The new home construction rate continues to grow with approximately 2,000 home in the construction and planning phases.

COMPETITION:
The majority of our competition is LCOs that are owned and operated by Illegals, or Legal LCO's that operate with illegal aliens or H2B employees. (Note- We will not consider H2B workers because there are TOO MANY US citizens trying to feed their own family legally.)

PLAN:
Our marketing plan for new customer acquisition is simple. FREE mow. Not after 6 weeks, or the end of the season. Your first mow, agree to use us or not, is FREE. This is where many of you scoff. This is how we do it.

Do you remember being 12, 13, 14 years old and in need of cash? How did you do it? You grabbed your dads mower and you knocked, door to door. It worked. Though at the time it was $10 or $15 dollars, it worked. You made some money. We do the same thing. Not for $10 or $15 but for our rate. $25. Many of you jump at that. "Thats a Lowballer"!!! No it isn't. Its doing business within our overhead and still operate a substantial income at $25.

Many of you scoff at the sight of unloading for $25. Are plan isn't to unload for $25. We unload for $150! 6 accounts, all neat to or very near to each other. We run 3 guys and complete our lots at an average greater than 3 per our.

Back to the plan. We saturate the area with professional business brochures. Not, "Hi, I printed these on my computer this morning" flyers. They are very affordable. $450 for 4000 delivered. Never left the house. Through a free lancer website we found our graphic designer that charged us a VERY low rate to design out brochures. After branding our name into the mind of the residence, we began to work. We received several calls and did what it took to close the deals. Next was, "Thank you. We will begin full service of your residence next week on XXXday. We would like to come out tomorrow to provide toy with a free service this week. We are also going to provide free service to your neighbors. If you know them or talk to them, let them know we will be coming by" Now remember, the neighbors have already got us in their mind because the received a brochure a few days earlier.

The next day we sen a crew of three out to the residence to provide them a free cut. What it has also done is put us working there where we haven't previously worked, and gives us the chance to work for their neighbors also. Most are excited to see us. This gives us a chance to show our work, but also creates leads that we can try to close later for those that don't choose us today. We now know who lives in that house, if they do it on their own or have an LCO currently, and allows us to contact them later. When they decide at 105 degrees that they don't want to do it, they know to call us.

This technique also gets us very close to our goal of a six resident stop. using this technique we are closing GREATER than 50% of our free services. We were hoping for 20% and work the rest through the sales team later. This is working. The negative people are going to scoff at this. thats fine. 35 accounts received, from 3 guys working their tales off for 5 days last week. The negative people are going to say these new customers are going to leave. I say i'll betcha they don't. Customer service, quality professional performance, professional image, professional fleet (not your pickup with a sticker).

We are taking business from other LCOs. We are offering a lower rate. We are also making great business. I know that the bashing will begin. Those of you without the vision will find some tiny negative thing that "wont work". Im not posting this to hear your rants. Its sad that such a professional site for our industry is stuck with people like that simply bashing the plans of other LCOs. Remember Justmowit? I do! Take what you want from what I have said, but we are growing quick. We are acquiring new customers at a crazy astonishing rate. We are not looking for 20 or 200 new customers this season. We are looking for 1000. Again, my demographics allow this pace. My business plan is ready for 1000 more customers. You can use this same plan to get 20 new customers though. You can gain 100 new customers this way. Put your mind to it, see the end result before you start working towards it, and bust your ass!!

kaferhaus
03-20-2009, 08:47 PM
Okay, I'll be the first. You're FOS

topsites
03-20-2009, 08:50 PM
Okay, I'll be the first. You're FOS

Yeah, this didn't take no stroke of genius on my part either.

Put your mind to it, and bust your ass!!

Although I have to admit, this part could well be true.

Carolina Cuts
03-20-2009, 08:57 PM
like Deja'vu all over again....

You're not the first to do this....

lone wolf
03-20-2009, 09:03 PM
I am 34, been in business for 4 years in season. Like many of you, I began cutting grass with my dad's push mower. Weekends I would be pushing that mower up and down th eblock cutting grass. 20-25 years ago, I made $10 - $15 or so a yard. You you are talking doing them for FREE? I do understand your business idea, it is advertising, getting people to see your work. I can even understand the $25 a yard. What I can't understand is why any LCO is not charging at least $35. We have guys in St. Paul charging $10 - $60 per cut, that is a huge difference. What I am saying is this, while I don't agree with your adertising, why on earth would you help to drive our price?

lifetree
03-20-2009, 09:04 PM
... We are taking business from other LCOs. We are offering a lower rate. We are also making great business. I know that the bashing will begin. ...

I'm not going to bash, however, what I will ask is that in 6-8 weeks please come back to this thread and let us know whether your hunch that your plan will work ... actually does work ... and that the new customers you gained at the low price are actually staying with you !!

Trader Rick
03-20-2009, 09:04 PM
Congratulations!
You have proven that the Entrepreneurial spirit, brain storming mentality & wont do what everyone else does attitude is still alive and well.
Who cares what every one on this or any other place has to say about how you run your business. Are you a low baller, Id say NO, Do you have control of your overhead, Id say you sound like you do, and the six accounts per stop, OUT STANDING. In an industry that accepts 14% profit as good (per an overpaid business consultant whom was laughed out of the office) I would say you are looking good for your demographic. :weightlifter:

weasel
03-20-2009, 09:05 PM
Ok I 'll go with this business plan and say it will gain you accts. However, what was your operating cost this week and in the weeks to come? At what percentage will you break even or profit according to your plan? You mention your an LCO so you could pick up additional work besides mowing which will be profit, but maybe those clients will be looking for low rates. How will you manage 1000 accts according to the plan and continue to provide Landscape service? Do you have that much equip and employees or would this be bought and new hires.If so that's alot of new training. Not bashing I would just like to know more. Good luck

2brothersyardcare
03-20-2009, 09:19 PM
i might take ur plan is that ok?

delphied
03-20-2009, 09:22 PM
Thanks for the great information. Could you private message me with your address so I can send a check for that great advice?

lilweeds
03-20-2009, 09:33 PM
If you do 3 lawns in one hour using three guys at $25 each, you would have to be losing money after gas, insurance, let alone payroll. No problem with the advertising gimmick, but the pricing, you won't survive!

MikeKle
03-20-2009, 09:37 PM
Anytime you start offering something for FREE, you attract a certin type of client, the client that ONLY cares about price and nothing else. Yes they may use you for awhile, but the first time some kid comes along and offers a lower price, you will be history! I dont worry about losing any of my clients to something like this, they are all loyal to me, and do get flyers on their doors and even people coming around door to door from time to time, but everyone stays with me. Because they know me and they know we do quality work that they come to expect, when they see someone like you coming around offering free first time service, they think, Gee, he must be desperate for work, meaning he must not provide a good service otherwise he would already have enough clients. By the way,not many clients really care about the price for lawn care (the non-PITA ones at least). They want to be confident they will get great quality and dependability long term and are happy to pay for it, and they know if someone offers a service for much lower than average, they will probably not get good service or dependability. And your goal of 1000 accounts with your method WILL NOT work! If it were possible, it would have been done already, the people that operate like you are usually out of this business within or after their first season, meaning the customers you leave in a lurch will then need to find a new LCO, So yeah go ahead and go for it, it will just mean more clients for the REAL LCOs. Somebody tried your idea here in KY exactly like you described a few years ago and he was out of business by June.

MikeKle
03-20-2009, 09:48 PM
I almost forgot to ask why you felt the need to post under an unknown name??? There are some very simple ways to find out your true identity, so I cant figure why you did that?? This just reinforces my belief that you are not very business-savvy and probably came up with this "done before" idea by either reading some old post about someone who tried this before or thought it up during a long drinking binge?

kaferhaus
03-20-2009, 09:49 PM
If you do 3 lawns in one hour using three guys at $25 each, you would have to be losing money after gas, insurance, let alone payroll. No problem with the advertising gimmick, but the pricing, you won't survive!


Nah it's all about voume... he'll give away more free cuts to get more 25 dollar jobs... He's not bright enough to realize he's losing his shirt or going too lose it.

3 guys, a truck, equipmnet, fuel, maintenance, taxes, insurance... at $75 an hour? can't hire a legal worker here for under $8 and hour, add FICA, WC, liability, truck depreciation, equipment depreciation, fuel, blad wear, line.... etc. etc. He's already lost money, just not bright enough to figure it out.

If you don't factor in the "set asides" for replacing your equipment, maintenance of it, admin costs, fixed overhead, advertising and then "owners profit"...

It ain't happening.

A kid living at home with nearly zero overhead could make a buck. Soon as you factor employee's into the equation it stinks real bad.

joshco84
03-20-2009, 09:59 PM
Yeah, i can make 80 an hour with two guys, why make less money with a third employee.

doesnt sound worth it to me.

jlawnman
03-20-2009, 10:01 PM
Come one guys! This fella is kicked back laughing his tail off at yaw. Can we really believe LCO customers are this stupid. :hammerhead:If they are, I'm quitting and taking up nursing. (My wife does that and makes great $$$) :laugh::laugh:

kipper
03-20-2009, 10:15 PM
Beieve it or not, this is how I got started. When I was twelve I could not get customers to let me cut their lawn so I struck the deal with them that I would do it for free the first time and we would negotiate from there. This did two things for me, It gave me a good idea of what it took to do the job and it showed the customer that I could do the job. I ended the summer with 14 bi weekly accounts that I kept all through High School.

I have not thought of using this tactic since I have gotten older however I might consider it..

HOOLIE
03-20-2009, 10:27 PM
And your goal of 1000 accounts with your method WILL NOT work! If it were possible, it would have been done already, the people that operate like you are usually out of this business within or after their first season, meaning the customers you leave in a lurch will then need to find a new LCO, So yeah go ahead and go for it, it will just mean more clients for the REAL LCOs. Somebody tried your idea here in KY exactly like you described a few years ago and he was out of business by June.

It has been done http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=78838&highlight=is+it+lowballing+OR+is+it+smart

Everybody (including me) thought that guy was full of s*** too.

You also assume that someone charging less than you, can't possibly be doing good work. If someone can figure out a way to do quality work, and make a profit, for $10 less than the next guy, how long do you think your customers will stay loyal?

MikeKle
03-20-2009, 10:32 PM
Someone mentioned the cost of insurance,workers comp,etc. This guy isnt going to have any of that!! and probably wont report any income he does have,which will be near nothing! I wonder if this is the same guy who wanted to use his old minivan to haul equipment in? If he came to my area, he would be laughed out of the area by the homeowners he tried to scam!

lifetree
03-20-2009, 10:33 PM
Anytime you start offering something for FREE, you attract a certin type of client, the client that ONLY cares about price and nothing else. Yes they may use you for awhile, but the first time some kid comes along and offers a lower price, you will be history ! ...

I haven't bashed ... however, I must say that I agree with this comment !!

lifetree
03-20-2009, 10:36 PM
... 3 guys, a truck, equipmnet, fuel, maintenance, taxes, insurance... at $75 an hour? can't hire a legal worker here for under $8 and hour, add FICA, WC, liability, truck depreciation, equipment depreciation, fuel, blad wear, line.... etc. etc. He's already lost money, just not bright enough to figure it out. ...

You're assuming that he's a legitimate LCO ... in other words, paying taxes, etc. ... I'm betting he's not, that's why he can do it that way and still make some money !!

lifetree
03-20-2009, 10:44 PM
It has been done http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=78838&highlight=is+it+lowballing+OR+is+it+smart

Everybody (including me) thought that guy was full of s*** too ...

Well, apparently he was FOS ... the link in the thread to one of those websites doesn't work anymore, therefore, I'd say they've gone out of business !!

Carolina Cuts
03-20-2009, 10:47 PM
different site now.... he's got over 2000 customers.... and 12 trucks.

lifetree
03-20-2009, 10:50 PM
different site now.... he's got over 2000 customers.... and 12 trucks.

So you know him ?? He's still in business ??

Carolina Cuts
03-20-2009, 10:54 PM
read alot.... he use to belong to this site.... got laughed outta here. Now he has no time to be on here. He's def. real. And his biz model worked. But it has it's advantages and disadvantages. A lot of local guys near him in Texas were having troubles.... not sure if they joined the club or not..... as in.... started charging less.

Keep in mind.... majority of his homes were under 6000 sqft....

he never gave an free cuts either... or anything free.... just said... "This is your price, it's low.... take it or leave it.." and he was EXTREMELY efficient about it....

MikeKle
03-20-2009, 10:54 PM
No, I just assume they wont provide a good service because of their rate, because we all have to pay for certin things in this industry like fuel, some sort of commercial mower, and a way to haul it all around. and if he is willing to do the same quality of work cheaper than anyone else, he may get alot of intial work, but in the long term, he will understand why we charge the rates we do and will have to either raise his rates or go under, and the clients he will have WILL NOT keep him if he raises rates, they will just pick another "lowest rate" guy. This is basically the same thing as a US company choosing to contract an overseas company to make their product instead of a US company because it cost less, but usually the quality is much worse and it takes jobs away from americans. This economy is bringing out all the people who have heard of someone in the lawn care industry that makes 6 figures and figure " I can cut grass", so I will try to start a LCO, and I will make a fortune. These people do not realize the actual cost of operating a LCO and usually get out quickly.Some of my clients have been offered a $10. mow, and they laughed and politely told the guy to leave. One of my clients in a high end area called the police on one of these low-ballers for doing door to door sales in an area that is illegal to do so in, the police told the guy to leave the area and not to return. I laughed when he told me this.

delphied
03-20-2009, 11:09 PM
I still dont understand why someone would do this kind of work for peanuts. Can someone explain?

ALC-GregH
03-20-2009, 11:24 PM
Thanks for the great information. Could you private message me with your address so I can send a check for that great advice?

I still dont understand why someone would do this kind of work for peanuts. Can someone explain?

Can you explain? Sarcasm? :D

topsites
03-20-2009, 11:37 PM
different site now.... he's got over 2000 customers.... and 12 trucks.

Granted, but DWF was around here a whole lot longer than the 5 days that guy
has had to try out his supposedly brilliant idea...

And I hate to say it but it so comes across as someone trying to sell me something,
like hey aren't I the Johnny-come-lately and you were born yesterday look here!

What, sell something?
The price has yet to be disclosed, that is, as he waits for everyone who is going to fall
for the bait to finish biting the hook, once that sets in...

And I could be wrong, maybe I am just misunderstanding the direction because the guy's all excited...
But I get really tired of giving folks the benefit of the doubt just to find out I was right all along
because by then I done ended up with the short end of the stick!

Now it's all good, no offense taken.

CGlisson
03-21-2009, 12:43 AM
How can someone be proud of taking work from other LCO's....and then have the guts to post it in a forum for LCO's....you guys were too nice to him I think. :gunsfirin

Unk
03-21-2009, 12:44 AM
OK. Got a few good laughs. This was more of an experiment to show another LCO the business side of the competition. Simple planed, simple minded, and unable to see past the dollar you make today.

Quick company bio for those of you that enjoyed the "not a legit LCO". First off, I really am not sure there is a large LCO that posts here. Not to bash the group as a whole, but very few of you look past the dollar you make today.

First season: 2004

Graduated USC in 2003 with a B.S. from the Marshall School of business in Business Management . My plan was conceived over 3 years of working numbers through college. Daddy did not pay my way through school, my hard work did. Never needed to make a million bucks and I love working this way.

I did not start grabbing my fathers mower and mowing a few lawns on the side. This company was raised from the beginning, not as a job for one man, but a business enterprise. There was not a lot of money to be made at the beginning. Actually there was none. And our business plan told us that. We weren't looking to make a SIX figure living at inception. That wasn't the goal at year 1, 2 or even 3. My highest year as a CEO, not an owner, but a CEO of an organization was 24,800. That was in 2006, and twice what I earned in 2004. Every penny belonged to the enterprise I was creating.

We have 6 teams, yes we are a team not a crew, each completing an average of 150 residential services per week during the season. Off season is 3 teams completing 150 residential services per week. That is 900 accounts (914 as of last friday actually) weekly 7 months per year, and Bi-weekly for 5 months.

We ended the 2008 season with 884 accounts, all at the same 2004 price of $25. Our 2008 advertising budget, a whooping ZERO dollars. 2008 was the first yea I began to receive a six figure income. We had reached a place in our niche that allowed me to now sit back at the operation ran itself. I knew NTHING about mowing lawns except pushing my fathers lawn mower during the summer when I was 12. I came to this with business in mind. Not a job. It was an investment for the first 4 years. And I knew that already because my business plan told me that.

Back to the company bio, and I will break the costs down for you also.

We run out of an office that we, not I, we, have a mortgage on for tax purposes only.

STAFFING:

1 Receptionist

21 Residential Lawn Team Members
6 Full schedule Trucks (1) 2004 Chevy, (3) 2005 Chevy, (2) 2006 Chevy
1 Staffed and working "The Plan" 2009 1500

1 Residential Yard Team Member (ONLY handles hedging and trimming) Highest profit range
1 2007 Chevy

1 Fleet and Facilities Team Member (basic vehicle and equipment maintenance after normal hours)



In all 24 Team members working together. 8 company vehicles (remember this is a business so we aren't driving our nice personal truck with a sticker or magnet. Every vehicle is for business therefore it is marked for business with a vehicle wrap)


Ok, here are the costs. To the penny as of the final mow of 3-13. Last week was our FIRST full week of the season. When crunching the numbers, the first truck is assigned all of the administrative and facility fees. Those of you that operate multiple vehicles should break you numbers down the same as it is easier to review this way.

3 man team at average of $32 per team = $11.49 per residential service on a 150 service average per week. THIS INCLUDES 14% added for WC and payroll tax!!

Equipment replacement every 2 years at 5,000 per team vehicle =$.40 per residential service, again based on 150 service per week average.

FUEL....Each crew averages between 125 and 150 gallons per week. This includes vehicle and equipment. When completing the box in order to NOT make a mistake by underestimating, we take the highest fuel used by a team. Usually right at 150 gallons for the week= $.83

Team vehicle replacement. We have not replaced a vehicle yet, and our first two are operating brand new still. But, on that note, we plan to replace the vehicles at 5yrs, with an out of pocket cost of $15, 000 after the old vehicle is sold. This price includes the maintenance and also pays the maintenance team member. After year 2007 insurance began to be paid out of this because the amount set aside was growing faster than it needed to=$.63

Business Tax!!!!!! I loved those comments by the way!! After deductions, the business pays 20% tax. I do not dip into the business. The government taxes me as any employee gets taxed. Business tax only!!! $5

Facilities and office staff. this covers the mortgage ($1,200) and the Office member and is a cost only assigned to the first team vehicle.= 5.83

So heres your breakdown for the first team truck on a per lot basis

Team 1
Team=11.49
Equip replacement= $.40
Fuel= $.83
Truck= $.63
Facilities and staff= $5.83
Business tax= 5

Total-----$24.18.....a net of $.82 which equals about $492 per month

Team 2-6
Team=11.49
Equip replacement= $.40
Fuel= $.83
Truck= $.63
Facilities and staff= ZERO
Business tax= 5

Total-----$18.35.....a net of $6.65 which equals about $3,990 per month per team.....19,950 total for Teams 2-6 plus $492 Team 1= $20,440 NET per month, not GROSS is what the company keeps during the season from MOWING only. From mowing only for the season last year the company netted $189,525. This did not include an additional $25,000 net from hedging up-sale only last year.

There is no BS here. Call it as you may. I think what would be good is to see people stop the "lowballing" and "your hurting our business" stuff. We operate effectively and only require the customers to pay for what the are getting. We have made a very comfortable living working to our goal in 4 years. This year I decided that I would like to get to 2,000 customers. I haven't pushed a mower or stressed a hair since 2004. I could have got away with not pushing a mower at all, but I wanted to know what our teams would be working against and know what to expect from a team member.

We, and I say WE because my teams know what we have done together, have built a very nice company. We DO NOT pay any employees $14, $10, and $8. No negotiating. These are the steps we pay at PERIOD!! You are where you earned your spot. But, EVERY employee has medical benefits. EVERYONE of them. Do you offer that?

Anyhow, have the fun that you might. Thanks for the chatter guys. Those of you that see the vision, put your heads down, suck it up and build your empire and leave the rest to come on lawnsite to complain.

Unk
03-21-2009, 12:50 AM
How can someone be proud of taking work from other LCO's....and then have the guts to post it in a forum for LCO's....you guys were too nice to him I think. :gunsfirin

Ok sorry. Had to reply to this comment than Im back to leaving it be. If you really worried about the other guys business your not into business at all. Sorry, we take business from people. Thats the game of every business my friend. Why advertise at all? Why except new work? Do you ask when a customer comes knocking, "Um, are you hiring me instead of the other guy you were using?" Come on man. There is a lot of crazy posts here, but you won that one. Im sorry

BCarlson
03-21-2009, 12:56 AM
I see where you're coming from. As for 25 per cut I can see it, Don't know where you're at but where I am at as long as its within the city limits I could easily turn a profit at 25 per cut and my break even point would be 17 accounts. But where I lived previously that 25 would have been 35 per cut for the same break even point. But with the free first cut yeah my break even point would be up to 25 account

Unk
03-21-2009, 01:00 AM
The niche in our market is that we dont have "the certain type of client" that free attracts. We are a community that is less effected by the current economy than most ares. Our foreclosure rate is close to nothing. We are working a "marketable" demographic market

ProTouch Groundscapes
03-21-2009, 01:01 AM
Hey UnK, I might have missed it, but what are the avg. property sizes you service in your area, sq. footage wise. you can pm me with the numbers if you'd prefer.

I appreciate the marketing viewpoint you brought, i am currently getting a degree in accounting and supply chain management, and have thought about alot of interesting plans b/c of my strategy classes.

fazzy815-66
03-21-2009, 01:03 AM
are you just mow it? your a brilliant business man that certainly shows

Unk
03-21-2009, 01:07 AM
We DO NOT pay any employees $14, $10, and $8.........Sorry but it should read "We DO NOT pay any employees MORE THAN $14, $10, and $8

BCarlson
03-21-2009, 01:09 AM
Well its good that the forclosure and economy hasn't hit you like most of the country. I bid a thatch job that didn't need it for an old lady on a fixed income, that the lawn didn't need thatching. I wouldn't mind you pm'ing me and telling me where you're at unless you're somewhere near me. And Kudos for putting yourself through college.

ExtExc
03-21-2009, 01:44 AM
i like this post. i like creativity and i like entrepreneurial spirit. what i am wondering is how you supported yourself the first few years during college, after college, and while your business was making little income for you to take home. how were you able to afford the debt associated with starting a business like this? or even get approved on a business loan with such little income. i am genuinely interested.

punt66
03-21-2009, 01:54 AM
So let me get this straight. 3 guys and 3 $25 houses per hour. hhmm $75 hr for 3men, fuel, insurance, workers comp, repairs and equipment??? Yea great business plan. And your operation is so smooth you have no stress? Such nonsense.

ExtExc
03-21-2009, 02:07 AM
yeah but what your failing to see is if they are unloading for 2 hours (6 lawns) and then drive down 3 miles, do it again, and again. then back to the shop, they are only putting on 9 miles in between stops, and only haveing to start/stop 4 times a day, plus say 15 mile drive to from the start of the route to the shop, your only looking at roughly 40 miles a day. even at 50 miles a day, and 10mpg thats 5 gallons a day, round up to 15 gallons a day for equip use and misc. and at todays prices thats $30 bucks a day? 24 lawns a day thats 1.25 a lawn. @ 25 a lawn. thats not much.

Unk
03-21-2009, 02:11 AM
I have to respond to this honest post.

How I got through school, scholarships and student loans. but I did it in three years not four for the costs. there were no loans associated with the start-up. I lived like any other person lives on $1,000 a wk. I was frugal because of my experiences surviving college. I knew how to rent a room from a buddy that had a house. I knew what ham sandwiches tasted like. Imagine getting a $500 a month raise meant though. I had the credit for a truck loan and bought a utility truck for the company. I was driving my 1996 Taurus. I didnt need a nice truck to drive and throw a sticker on it. I was building a business. The only loans associated with any of this from the beginning has only been my first truck and equipment, $19,00 total, $5,000 credit card loan for payroll, and $150,000 loan on our property thats on a 15yr loan. We can pay cash for everything and still have a nest of $100,000. you can live like a king on $12,400 if you can see the big picture of where your going. I worked 100 hours a week crunching and just doing business stuff. I made a whooping $2.38 per hour. But in 2006 I made $4.77 an hour. Now I dont work 100 hours. i actually can day last year I "worked" (and used loosely) 20 hours per week. Thats because we got to my goals. we got to a six figure income with little work on my behalf for the rest of my life. I made $96.15 an hour last year. This year I will probably got back to 100 hours because I see getting where i want to by the end of the year. It will cost us money sure, but I dont get a customer for a year. We look at customers for 5 years. Thats how far you need to look ahead. Getting customers is hard work. Keeping them is easier once you got them. Honestly, we dont lose customers. We have, but we dont let them go. If a family is laid off, we mow. They will get back on their feet, and be back to being worth $5,000 over the next 5 years. BTW, 5 years is the average a family stays in a home. People dont just decide one day they want to save some money and bust their ass mowing in 100 degree weather. they will hire someone else. And when they do, now that guy is working your territory and can brand that neighborhood also. Bad idea. Keep your competition at arms distance. They cant take your walk ups that way. they cant take the new people in the neighborhood. Also, FYI, when you see a house for sale in a neighborhood your servicing, call the realtor. Go to the office and give them the information to give the new buyer FREE, (did I say that bad word again?) FREE service the first month they move in. They are unpacking and life is crazy. Once your in, your in. We have, knock on wood, EVER lost a customer gained through this FREE service.

punt66
03-21-2009, 02:12 AM
yeah but what your failing to see is if they are unloading for 2 hours (6 lawns) and then drive down 3 miles, do it again, and again. then back to the shop, they are only putting on 9 miles in between stops, and only haveing to start/stop 4 times a day, plus say 15 mile drive to from the start of the route to the shop, your only looking at roughly 40 miles a day. even at 50 miles a day, and 10mpg thats 5 gallons a day, round up to 15 gallons a day for equip use and misc. and at todays prices thats $30 bucks a day? 24 lawns a day thats 1.25 a lawn. @ 25 a lawn. thats not much.
fuel, labor, equipment, insurance, maintenace, repairs, rent. Not sure what he pays employees but at $10hr thats a minimum of $40 an hour of labor costs including workers comp. So now he is down to $35. Fuel, equipment, repairs, taxes. Do the math. Its nonsense. He should be getting $60 per man hour.

punt66
03-21-2009, 02:16 AM
I have to respond to this honest post.

How I got through school, scholarships and student loans. but I did it in three years not four for the costs. there were no loans associated with the start-up. I lived like any other person lives on $1,000 a wk. I was frugal because of my experiences surviving college. I knew how to rent a room from a buddy that had a house. I knew what ham sandwiches tasted like. Imagine getting a $500 a month raise meant though. I had the credit for a truck loan and bought a utility truck for the company. I was driving my 1996 Taurus. I didnt need a nice truck to drive and throw a sticker on it. I was building a business. The only loans associated with any of this from the beginning has only been my first truck and equipment, $19,00 total, $5,000 credit card loan for payroll, and $150,000 loan on our property thats on a 15yr loan. We can pay cash for everything and still have a nest of $100,000. you can live like a king on $12,400 if you can see the big picture of where your going. I worked 100 hours a week crunching and just doing business stuff. I made a whooping $2.38 per hour. But in 2006 I made $4.77 an hour. Now I dont work 100 hours. i actually can day last year I "worked" (and used loosely) 20 hours per week. Thats because we got to my goals. we got to a six figure income with little work on my behalf for the rest of my life. I made $96.15 an hour last year. This year I will probably got back to 100 hours because I see getting where i want to by the end of the year. It will cost us money sure, but I dont get a customer for a year. We look at customers for 5 years. Thats how far you need to look ahead. Getting customers is hard work. Keeping them is easier once you got them. Honestly, we dont lose customers. We have, but we dont let them go. If a family is laid off, we mow. They will get back on their feet, and be back to being worth $5,000 over the next 5 years. BTW, 5 years is the average a family stays in a home. People dont just decide one day they want to save some money and bust their ass mowing in 100 degree weather. they will hire someone else. And when they do, now that guy is working your territory and can brand that neighborhood also. Bad idea. Keep your competition at arms distance. They cant take your walk ups that way. they cant take the new people in the neighborhood. Also, FYI, when you see a house for sale in a neighborhood your servicing, call the realtor. Go to the office and give them the information to give the new buyer FREE, (did I say that bad word again?) FREE service the first month they move in. They are unpacking and life is crazy. Once your in, your in. We have, knock on wood, EVER lost a customer gained through this FREE service.

Wow, never lost a customer through your free service too. hahah This is fun. What else are you so perfect at?

Unk
03-21-2009, 02:21 AM
I haven't bashed ... however, I must say that I agree with this comment !!

fuel, labor, equipment, insurance, maintenace, repairs, rent. Not sure what he pays employees but at $10hr thats a minimum of $40 an hour of labor costs including workers comp. So now he is down to $35. Fuel, equipment, repairs, taxes. Do the math. Its nonsense. He should be getting $60 per man hour.

you obviously haven't read the post and your talking nonsense. You'd know what our team members make if you had read the post. I put or costs, to the penny, in the post. Again, another obvious flaw in todays "businessman". jumping the gun, jumping to "nonsense assumptions and you havent even read the post. Keep your owner/operator business and allow these other people to take a "nonsense" approach and take your customers. The only thing Americans are "loyal" to is #1 the dollar and #2 the dollar sitting under the first one that they busted their ass to earn.

I only know of one other company that works on customer service. If you have a crew, you need to have a customer service person. Not you answering the phone on you ZTR. That direction will keep you employed. I like golf, vacations, building business empires. I dont like to work. Thats a tough way to live. I want a retirement. I want Medical. I want a life.

if your really interested in knowing some of my stuff, PM me. Im not afraid to share it. And here it is again, FREE. I will send another LCO that is interested and not a na sayer my stuff that has worked. That was it though. My fun is done with this post. read it and if you understand it great. If you dont, ask. If your not willing to, enjoy your ride.

punt66
03-21-2009, 02:27 AM
You said something about $8 $10 $14 ?????? I am no stranger to business. Been doing it all my life. Your numbers dont work. Period.

punt66
03-21-2009, 02:29 AM
I have been around the world 5 times. Own a place in Florida and Maine. Have more toys than i need from my apparent bad business decisions. Your all nonsense.

Unk
03-21-2009, 02:40 AM
Punt, Sorry but I got to man. Im really sorry that your lost somewhere in translation. The numbers are there. They are 100%. I can tell you where every penny from this company has gone since day 1. I can tell you that I am not a solo operation. Never road a ZTR. Only once bought a 36" to make sure it didnt make sense with my plan. I have never bagged a yard, never applied fertilizer. Mildly interesting that you have traveled the world. I can tell you that neither me nor my company operates on debt. Im sorry if your not able to see the way that business works in the business world and not the "I own a lawn mower so Im an owner" world. i am sure you have accomplished great things in your life. Continue to prosper, but your a solo operation for reason. Allow those that arent interested in forever being a solo operation see that theres opportunity.

And I see your Harley logo. Nice. I paid cash for mine as Im sure you did.

Unk
03-21-2009, 03:37 AM
Sorry. Had to wake up and come back to the computer. I want to apologize to PUNT because I didn't mean to poke at anything you may have accomplished. I re-read my post also and I think that it may sound like I have something against solo operators. To the contrary. I came on here simply to show another LCO that though He and I know what has worked for me, that the "Industry" as a whole does not see it like that. Non-believers if you may. Anyhow, I believe he saw what we were getting to buy the majority of the posts.

a problem within our industry is that people refuse to look at the "business" that makes sense. The LCO industry is a huge untapped market in master planned communities. I will not expand outside of where we are. Not my interest. I think inside the industry, if LCOs can take a step back and become a CEO and NOT an "owner", business can prosper. You see things different as a CEo. You will have to build a plan. You will have to accept less money in order to allow the company more funds, but in the long run you will build a branded company and not just a truck, a trailer, and a mower.

Good luck to all

CircleC
03-21-2009, 04:04 AM
You know....doesn't sound to bad. I think I will have to sleep on it and think about it. I do like the unload once and do 6+ properties. I think if people forget the "FREE" part of it and see the "reel" them in aspect. I did go to the grocery store this week to get coffee and milk for the kid, picked up small flier paper that had "FREE" on the front....had coupons for free eggs and bacon. It got me off track of what I was suppose to be doing. Instead of spending $10 on milk and coffee, I spent $50 on other stuff because I was walking around the store.

Think of other marketing ploys.....Happy Meal (has the little "FREE" kids toy) kids love it, they got you, now you are going back for that damn toy......ChemLawn $29.95 1st app then they bang you the rest of the year (hoping you see results so they can keep you in the future)....flier miles on your credit card.....the list is endless. Give a little to get a little. I think if you used another word besides "FREE"....could say "complementary service"

I do like the idea....I might have to tweek it...but its better than expensive yellow pages (that doesn't pay) and fliers that every other lawn jockey wannabe makes. You are setting your self appart...making a marketing niche. Nice Thanks!

CGlisson
03-21-2009, 04:16 AM
Ok sorry. Had to reply to this comment than Im back to leaving it be. If you really worried about the other guys business your not into business at all. Sorry, we take business from people. Thats the game of every business my friend. Why advertise at all? Why except new work? Do you ask when a customer comes knocking, "Um, are you hiring me instead of the other guy you were using?" Come on man. There is a lot of crazy posts here, but you won that one. Im sorry

I apologize that I did not elaborate on my feelings more thoroughly. I understand that you will take business from people. I, too, take business from people. However, it is also commendable to watch out for your fellow competitors back. I believe in being a nice person. That doesn't mean I haven't taken other companies business; it does mean I will talk to the owner of the company before I take their client. This allows them to remedy the situation or let the customer go.

The grass is always greener on the other side, and customers often think their own problems will be fixed by the next guy. For example: If someone has a drainage problem in their yard, the moist area may get tracks in it from the mower. This in turn looks bad for me, because the lawn looks awful there. This however, is out of my control until they hire me to fix their drainage problem. Those we work for are not always well informed, and need to hear it from the next guy. I have straightened several people out with similar situations without taking someone else's client. It would have been easy for me to take the lawn and later convince them about the drainage, but is that really ethical?

Not to mention, your company will plateau eventually. I understand there are companies out there like Brickman, but very few survive. You know better than any that you will always have competition, so why not be friendly?

I apologize for my immature gun firing. I responded too quickly. *trucewhiteflag*

Stillwater
03-21-2009, 04:36 AM
[QUOTE=Unk;2867463]Its sad that i have to conceal my identity on a professional industry forum, but I must in order to share this information./QUOTE]


Why is it sad to conceal your identity?

a level of anonymity is just plain common sense if you don't agree, well then you have no common sense.

dewos
03-21-2009, 06:00 AM
When I first started reading this I almost immediately thought of Wal-mart and how they slowly and surely took over everything.. I mean his business plan can most def work I don't see how anyone can dis-prove it, but I am sure some people want to be more personal with their customers. So many people have tried the 20 dollar cuts and survived but they all normally start jacking up the price and cutting customers... So what he is doing is saying no... I am going to keep the Customers and my price and work on volume just like Wal-mart. In a business aspect it is brilliant because it shows no ends... But this is on paper. Everyone that is thinking about doing this remember there is still alot of work involved filing all jobs, making sure your staff is out and working every day. The problem I had when I was paying 8 to 10 an hour was the people would not show up and would not have a Drives license.
I think it is a smart plan if your looking for volume... But you will have to suffer threw the first years making little.

Stillwater
03-21-2009, 06:34 AM
I call BS on this thread
Everybody whip out your clac's and figure for yourselves how many crews you need to be capable of JUST mowing 166 lawns per day if you had the accounts. monday through saturday to reach the goal of 1000 lawns

dewos
03-21-2009, 08:33 AM
I call BS on this thread
Everybody whip out your clac's and figure for yourselves how many crews you need to be capable of JUST mowing 166 lawns per day if you had the accounts. monday through saturday to reach the goal of 1000 lawns

11 or 12 for me but my lawns are not all right ext to each other.. you think if you have 1000 accts... wont be hard to find atleast 20 or 30 right next to each other.. and i know with commercial accts guys cut over 30 lawns in communities in one day.. so think about that? so you only need 5 or 6 crews then... the only think I would like to know how do you keep your team members happy, and showing up everyday.. or do people in my area just not want to work hahahaha.

2brothersyardcare
03-21-2009, 09:02 AM
wow that's a lot of posts i think if you can make money do it i like that idea im going to look into it and doses any1 have pics of those truck just mow it runs or somthing like that thanks

2brotheres yard care

Tommy Boy
03-21-2009, 09:11 AM
I can see part of this Wal-Mart Model, but his numbers don’t add up! I own and run a 500K per year LCO outside Atlanta Georgia. We work mostly commercial properties with about 40% residential billing. I understand the volume idea, but what is you employee pay schedule? I pay a crew leader between $14.00 and $16.00 per hour, a senior crew member makes about $12-$14 per hour, and an entry level crew member about $9.50 with a raise to $10.00 in 90 days. With Workers Comp, insurance, expenses, and we don’t have a fancy office, just a 40 x 60 metal building behind my father-in-laws house. We run 6 crews, I just can’t see where the “big Money” is being made with your plan. I would go broke giving free mows. Our minimum is $40.00 but again our yards start at about 10,000 sqft.

Something hinky going on, if you can better explain your payroll and overhead issues, I might be missing something. Also I disagree with your first statement about H2B visa employees, I have some great guys from Honduras and they run circles around the guys “just trying to feed their families” and yes they make the same wages everyone else does.

I have a degree from UGA and Masters from Georgia Tech, and yes I have run a mower unlike the poster, and will jump on a crew once a month, ride with them and buy the crew lunch. Easy for guys in the office to schedule a crew to death, 150 houses in a week would be insane in my market. We go to 10 hour days in the summer, 5 days a week, and if we have no rain days the guys make 20 hours of OT at 1.5 regular rate. They make some more coin and we can maximize crew productivity.

Please tell us more……

LwnmwrMan22
03-21-2009, 09:14 AM
I'm sure I know who this is as well, and I've discussed in these threads before too.

This plan will work where you have LARGE amounts of homes on SMALL lots VERY close together. You don't have windshield time.

Where I'm at, where 90% of houses are on 2+ acres, it would never work because you have too much travel time, too much windshield time.

We've found a niche in the market as well, but it's not just mow and go.

That's the key to this industry, find a niche and exploit it to its full potential without letting too many other people know where it's at.

punt66
03-21-2009, 09:20 AM
I can see part of this Wal-Mart Model, but his numbers don’t add up! I own and run a 500K per year LCO outside Atlanta Georgia. We work mostly commercial properties with about 40% residential billing. I understand the volume idea, but what is you employee pay schedule? I pay a crew leader between $14.00 and $16.00 per hour, a senior crew member makes about $12-$14 per hour, and an entry level crew member about $9.50 with a raise to $10.00 in 90 days. With Workers Comp, insurance, expenses, and we don’t have a fancy office, just a 40 x 60 metal building behind my father-in-laws house. We run 6 crews, I just can’t see where the “big Money” is being made with your plan. I would go broke giving free mows. Our minimum is $40.00 but again our yards start at about 10,000 sqft.

Something hinky going on, if you can better explain your payroll and overhead issues, I might be missing something. Also I disagree with your first statement about H2B visa employees, I have some great guys from Honduras and they run circles around the guys “just trying to feed their families” and yes they make the same wages everyone else does.

I have a degree from UGA and Masters from Georgia Tech, and yes I have run a mower unlike the poster, and will jump on a crew once a month, ride with them and buy the crew lunch. Easy for guys in the office to schedule a crew to death, 150 houses in a week would be insane in my market. We go to 10 hour days in the summer, 5 days a week, and if we have no rain days the guys make 20 hours of OT at 1.5 regular rate. They make some more coin and we can maximize crew productivity.

Please tell us more……

Yea it doesnt make any sense. There is no way you can keep a crew of 3 with equipment cutting at $75hr and be profitable.

LwnmwrMan22
03-21-2009, 09:29 AM
You guys are also looking at it from using your "standard" mowing equipment. Big truck, big trailer, big ZTR which costs money.

If it's who I think it is, and who I think Carolina thinks it is, they don't have all that big equipment.

Imagine if you were only insuring $10,000 in equipment instead of $100,000. Or if you were only running 1/2 ton 2 wheel drive trucks or even Rangers, instead of 3/4 ton 4x4 diesel crew cabs, without 16-24' trailers.

Again, there's a market for a couple of people that are running this type of program, and it will work.

There's many many guys in my area that can't believe I make any money charging what I do, but now that I"ve been doing it for 10 years and I sit down with my buddies, over the 10 years, my averages are higher than theirs.

My program is nothing like "Unks", but I get the same response as most here.

Tommy Boy
03-21-2009, 09:50 AM
You guys are also looking at it from using your "standard" mowing equipment. Big truck, big trailer, big ZTR which costs money.

If it's who I think it is, and who I think Carolina thinks it is, they don't have all that big equipment.

Imagine if you were only insuring $10,000 in equipment instead of $100,000. Or if you were only running 1/2 ton 2 wheel drive trucks or even Rangers, instead of 3/4 ton 4x4 diesel crew cabs, without 16-24' trailers.

Again, there's a market for a couple of people that are running this type of program, and it will work.

There's many many guys in my area that can't believe I make any money charging what I do, but now that I"ve been doing it for 10 years and I sit down with my buddies, over the 10 years, my averages are higher than theirs.

My program is nothing like "Unks", but I get the same response as most here.


Not using big equipment, a crew has a 36" W/B and a 52 / 54 " ZTR on a trailer we use Ford f-250's XL no frills, crew cab. We just bought 4 new 08's at $22,500 each A/C, Auto, full size bed's we keep overhead as low as possible. I agree on the nich market, but no way is he paying what I am in payroll at $75.00 and paying all taxes, insurance, Workers Comp,

Even one guy in a ranger, no trailer, with a push mower working 15 houses a day isn't making $75.00 an hour with real overhead and keep in mind this is seasonal money, so he needs to bank cahs for the lean months unless he fires his crews after the season's,

Carolina Cuts
03-21-2009, 10:10 AM
LwnmwrMan22- I don't think it's Jt... but rather, someone who is following his footsteps and adding a free cut to get the ball rolling.... Jt also did a MASSIVE advertising campaign, 100's of thousands of flyers.... theres potential around my area for something similiar, problem is.... EVERYONE this season is advertising $25- any lawn/any size.

I got a B##tch call this past week from another LCO regarding my prices... I was $2-$5- lower then him WITHOUT knowing his prices....
Not two days later I'm seeing fliers $5-$10- lower then my prices..... So all fly-by-nights are advertising LOW...

of course, Myrtle Beach is now @ a 14.4% unemployment rate... and new lawn services are popping up by the dozen....

delphied
03-21-2009, 11:58 AM
[QUOTE=Unk;2868254]

FUEL....Each crew averages between 125 and 150 gallons per week. This includes vehicle and equipment. When completing the box in order to NOT make a mistake by underestimating, we take the highest fuel used by a team. Usually right at 150 gallons for the week= $.83



If you use 150 gals of fuel for 150 lots that means 1 gallon per lot. That means more than $.83 per lot doesnt it?


The numbers dont add up for me but I dont believe in Peter Pann either. Oops, another bit of sarcasm. Sorry.

vinny69
03-21-2009, 12:23 PM
sorry but for those prices i would feel RAPED,I don't do any for less than $40 per cut weekly and that it for small to average size yards that my two guys cut in 15 min.and at those prices i get more than we can handle.to bad you don't live here cause i would sub out a few hundred lawns to you at those prices and go sit in on my deck and drink beer:canadaflag::canadaflag::canadaflag::canadaflag::canadaflag::canadaflag::canadaflag:

CircleC
03-21-2009, 01:17 PM
Yo Tommy Boy.....if your keeping overhead low why in all heck did you go out and spend 90k on 4 trucks? Why not go to the goverment auction and get 03-06 forest trucks with beefed up suspensions at around 3 - 5k, get them painted and logo'd for another grand. You could be into 4 trucks for 20k. You don't need new diesel trucks and 5 mowers on a trailer to make money. Especially in today's market...be innovative! This Unk cat is propbaly out taking my damn mow clients right now.....can't sit at this computer any longer, gunna make calls and tag a few neighborhoods!

Good luck......quite telling someone they cant, if you do that, they probably will! PEACE

vinny69
03-21-2009, 01:22 PM
every one always panics when they don't have enough customers in the beginning of the season.I wait it out because the lowballers fill up fast and then they call me.you can tell when you got them where you want them when the first thing they say is ARE YOU SILL TAKING NEW COSTOMERS.With that being said you know that they have called all the LOWBALLERS and they are full.it just takes patience

addictedtolandscaping
03-21-2009, 02:07 PM
I can see where this approach makes sense. I myself maintain my over head extremely low. I just closed on 7 commercial accounts, mow and blow idea, the clean ups, mulch, pruning, fert is all separate. Believe it or not guys, the 7 accounts alone will and does cover my over head, this was my goal this year. I finally got some of the bigger machines paid off, hydro seeder, excavator, 33k gvw dump and all the trailers. I bought an old utility pick up, 01 2500 series Ram for 5600 with 94k, installed a Brimar dump insert into her for 3k, bought a cheap open landscape trailer 18' for 2500, got about another 1k to put into hand equipment, will be all stihls.

Now, I don;t nor will I do any lawns for $25.00 there is just way to much windshield time. But my point is this. To set this unit up was previous earned cash, all with the exception of the new mowers all of which are Ferris' 09 vintage. I got a set of extreme racks to hold the trimmers and edgers securely. So barring the 10k I planned to put into this originally, the snow got turned off like a switch so I floated the mowers, not to mention that i need the write offs this year more than I need to paperize the mowers. But my point is this. In just one day, my over head for the month on the machines is covered. On the second day, assuming that I only mow and do it for only 6 hours, the remainder of my liability is covered plus. That in itself, leaves the remaining days of the week to reap massive profit.My situation is different than a lot of other guys here, and I recognize that. I have the excavation end of things, I have the design degree and I do a lot of sub work. When late summer early fall hits, I have the firewood end of the business that kicks in, and once it gets cold we are back to pushing natures pennies from the sky. So I guess as has been stated in numerous posts, you have got to know your numbers. Once you know your numbers, it is easy. My situation for example, my expenditures are budgeted on strictly the mowing, all the extras are bonus money. The theory he is using works, and it works well. Over head low, exposure high, cost to customer reasonable, volume high. So at the end of the each day, you know your overhead is covered on xxxday, you know your replacements funds are covered on xxxday, then the rest of the days, what ever you run weither it is mowing, landscaping etc, at least half of that day is in your pocket, to keep or reinvest. It really just comes down to simple math, and a huge amount of discipline. Years ago I got crazy, had all my crews out running non stop, branched into construction, and got stupid. Instead of renting a machine or better yet demo a machine, I bought it. Killed my slush funds, locked me into huge payments, and took my net to nothing. I went from living the life I had only imagined back to living the life of my parents, check to check, robbing Peter for Paul. Once I finally got my number under control, and knew what they were, I was able to restructure and put it together to make the big money again. I don;t have the over head, so I don;t have to charge the going rate of 60.00 for the average lawn. MY advertising is minimal, I am spending 1k in adds that start next week, have my trucks lettered, alot of my cards out and 1k more to continue distributing, my website is under construction. Once the season kicks off by mid may I will drop some of the ads, cut my advertising budget to nothing, and run on my current exposure. I will easily turn 100k out of this unit this year now that of course is gross, but when all is said and done, and I also replenish the initial out lay of cash, this year alone this unit will profit estimated between 30 and 35k. I estimate the profit low as the SOB Murphy takes up residency in my left pocket and has family living in the right, so looking outside the box at the big picture of break downs.

sfddelta1
03-21-2009, 03:31 PM
knock this guy if you want. But there is a company based in the memphis area that is doing something close to this and doing very well.

E

MLI
03-21-2009, 05:57 PM
His #'s jive with what we were doing in 07. The Just Mow It business plan works! You just have to be in the right place geographically for it to work!

THC
03-21-2009, 06:30 PM
That doesn't mean I haven't taken other companies business; it does mean I will talk to the owner of the company before I take their client. This allows them to remedy the situation or let the customer go.

Are you kidding?

Man if someone ever asked me if it was ok to take my client I would think they were the biggest sucker around.


BTW.. I LOVE to take work from other people. I mean almost EVERY single job I have was cut by someone else.

Daily Lawn/Landscape
03-21-2009, 06:32 PM
Unk, great post. you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. I would have to say you have a great business plan going for you. I assume you are only servicing residential based on your example, and I can see where, if the routes were tight and your stops were servicing 3-6 accounts, i believe this can be accomplished. i think everyone is basing your numbers off of just 3 customers between stops and grossing $75. I would like to take you to lunch sometime and learn more about your operation. Most will say it can't be done, I would say to those, enjoy your JOB!


James

THC
03-21-2009, 06:32 PM
knock this guy if you want. But there is a company based in the memphis area that is doing something close to this and doing very well.

E

So who is he?

Is he that guy that got his business plan by copying Just Mow It? dfw landscaping or whatever?

THC
03-21-2009, 06:34 PM
Unk, great post. you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. I would have to say you have a great business plan going for you. I assume you are only servicing residential based on your example, and I can see where, if the routes were tight and your stops were servicing 3-6 accounts, i believe this can be accomplished. i think everyone is basing your numbers off of just 3 customers between stops and grossing $75. I would like to take you to lunch sometime and learn more about your operation. Most will say it can't be done, I would say to those, enjoy your JOB!


James

I agree and I would pay $25 for a new customer with pleasure.

HOOLIE
03-21-2009, 07:09 PM
I think a lot of guys just get bothered seeing someone treat this like a business. It's completely fine to be a grass and equipment geek and be in the field all the time. But that doesn't mean someone sitting in an office all day can't run a lawn business better than them. In fact....the majority of the successful LCOs I know personally, treat it more like a business. Only one guy I know runs a decent sized operation while still being out on a mower daily. There's so many ways to make money in this industry, it all comes down to how you want to do it.

GracesLandscaping
03-21-2009, 07:41 PM
I think that plan would be a great way to get business. some people say they dont want that type of client but where i live its 35-40k ppl living here and there are quite a few "nice" neighborhoods that really take pride in their lawns and appearance of the house. about 40% of my accounts are in these "nice" neighborhoods where the doctors and lawyers live. however i have NEVER heard of any of these people not going for a lower price. there are lots of businesses here htat offer a free first mowing, even one offers one month of flea and tick treatments for a month long contract of mowing lol. you can all say lowballers or whatever you want but in certain areas of the US this would work great. My prices are lower than most people around here and i do better work than them more than likely because I work myself and they have some 16 year old just trying to get some beer money for the weekend that doesn't give 2 $hits about what the lawn looks like or what the homeowner thinks. I dont believe there is such a thing as a lowballer, i call it being competitive. if they are really not making money, they wont last long so who cares the client you lost to the guy that mows it for half the price will call back in a month or two because they will no longer be mowing or will double their prices.... and ill go ahead and say this before you comment about it, yes i am a legal business, i pay taxes, and i am insured... and yes i make money and im cheaper than most other businesses!

addictedtolandscaping
03-21-2009, 08:23 PM
This falls true to what has been said numerous times; you have got to know YOUR numbers. IF I were in an area where my crews could bang out 3-6 houses minimum in one stop, I would be all over this idea. One on a trimmer one one a mower, one on a blower, you just can not lose. Think about the developments in the suburbs of the larger cities in the country, maybe a fifth of an acre, bam done, onto the next, no time loading, unloading, between each house, on and off once, keep moving, and load again only after making the minimum gross of $75 upto $150 for one stop. How many guys would consider passing on a $150 stop especially if you are gone in such a short time.

delphied
03-21-2009, 08:43 PM
I just dont believe the guys numbers. According to his numbers his guys are working about 54 hours per week and doing each lawn in around 20 minutes and that is including any travel or downtime in that average. He even says in his explanation that he uses 150 gallons of fuel for 150 lawns. Then he says it costs 83 cents for fuel for each lawn. My fuel costs around 2 dollars for a gallon right now. Wise up guys.

jeffex
03-21-2009, 08:54 PM
you can make money at 25$ a lawn if you have crews and marginal equipment . If your interests are in just raw mumbers then there is a markt for a cheap cut at low quality prices. there is still a profit margin

Unk
03-21-2009, 09:21 PM
Just came in for the day and I can tell you another successful day. Saturdays appears to be the best day to work this. Thought it would be, mostly because people are home. But around here most homes have a stay at home wife so the weekdays have been great too.

Real quick, to answer somebody's ".83 cents doesn't match up for gas. There was a flaw in the gallons, your correct. Thanks. The gallons isn't 150. It is 50 gallons. I made a mistake there. Made many before, but my benefit is, I make far less mistakes now. All fuel is based at $2.50 a gallon. The truck that uses most of the fuel travels across the town for their route. Thats the truck we use to place "fuel budget" funds into. Anyhow, because thats the number we use, the company does create a substantial savings in the "fuel budget account" Yes, this, like all other expenses, are separated and paid into an account of its own. This is a VERY good idea. Here is why. You dont look at your account and see for example, your company has $25,000 cash on hand. You are able to see that you have this much in your fleet budget, this much in your fuel and so forth. Separating funds like you will NEVER be surprised that you cant make payroll, buy equipment, afford dinner for your crew. If you operate like this you'll never cross your money.

So, thanks for the catch on the fuel number. I didn't mean to lie to any of you. Wouldn't want to find out your spending that much money on fuel. That wouldn't be good.

For the day, a crew of two guys and myself, We picked up 8 accounts today. (in a 5 yr plan thats $42,000 income created today) Provided 20 free mows (worth $42,000? I think so), and confident my team will close at least 3 more of those and hoping to stop by in 2 weeks to the residents that didn't agree to an account. BTW, these FREE clients ARE the type of clients that jump for the FREE stuff that I want. We DO NOT service any areas with home values lower that $215,000 with the average probably near $300,000 and we do not mow any neighborhoods over 16K sq ft. We also decide where we mow. If we are not in that area in the strategic planning, we do not take that customer. WE must be able and willing to get 6 houses next to that customer. I will tell you in a neighborhood of 180 homes, there is one neighborhood where we service 100 of those home. You have to find the plan that works for you, but each area has a plan that will work. I am not Just Mow it. I didnt think of this from them. I learned of them through this site only and have never spoken tho them. I do believe that we are close, but not the same plan. I have printed less than 20K brochures since day 1. We talk to residents. We get calls from our trucks, our appearance, our friendly nature.

yard_smart
03-21-2009, 09:35 PM
I have said it many times there are two basic business models

1- High Price Low Volume

2- Low Price High Volume

It is apparent what Mr. Unk has ran with. Doing the FREE mow is just like doing a demo, doing a demo is just like sending out a post card, sending out a post card is a type of marketing so doing a free mow from what i have read is this guys marketing . . . a $25 dollar customer acquisition fee isn't bad on a 1.200 to 1,500 dolllar customer. . . It's the same as having to hit a customer with a post card 3 times put an add in the paper and then driving to give an estimate. . . I run a #1 business model as that is what i am set up for and that is what the market around here is more likely to handle. My min is $40 but that is not to say that the yard is not a $25 dollar yard . . . .the price of the yard depends on who you ask . . . I do like this marketing idea and I have a plan of my own i am going to work up.. .


****A WORD OF CAUTION AS I AM SURE MR. UNK WILL AGREE . . . RUNNING A LOW PRICE HIGH VOLUME BUSINESS IS NOT WRONG (FOR EXAMPLE WALMART RUNS ON AROUND A 3% NET PROFIT MARGIN) BUT KNOWING YOUR NUMBERS AND EXPENSES ARE VITAL TO THE COMPANIES LIFE****

THC
03-21-2009, 09:56 PM
I have said it many times there are two basic business models

1- High Price Low Volume

2- Low Price High Volume

I like number 1 if you do the work yourself.

ed2hess
03-21-2009, 10:03 PM
For all those who remember Justmowit......what was his price point? And wasn't he the biggest residential low mowing company on lawnsite? And didn't he use 21" units only? And didn't a lot of guys think it was not possible and he would be out of business. Well bad news guys I got one of his mailer yesterday and his starting price in our area is $23. He now has expanded into other cities. And those mailers will keep coming every month. Will they have an impact on our prices....yu bet! Do they do a bad job...no! He does several close to my home. Do they pay taxes and have insurance probably. And guess what they are all WHITE guys, two per crew with the little trucks and 21" mowers.

Grits
03-21-2009, 10:30 PM
I got to page 5 of this thread and can't read anymore.
I like the way this guy thinks. Strictly business. I would love to get off the mower, but it is hard for me to make the transition because I will have to take a step back to take 2 steps forward and can't afford that right now.

weasel
03-21-2009, 10:40 PM
Ok I 'll go with this business plan and say it will gain you accts. However, what was your operating cost this week and in the weeks to come? At what percentage will you break even or profit according to your plan? You mention your an LCO so you could pick up additional work besides mowing which will be profit, but maybe those clients will be looking for low rates. How will you manage 1000 accts according to the plan and continue to provide Landscape service? Do you have that much equip and employees or would this be bought and new hires.If so that's alot of new training. Not bashing I would just like to know more. Good luck

This is what I suspected a mow n go business. It would depend on region the availabilty of unskilled labor and personal expenses. I can mow for free if I want because I'm debt free both personal and business. So when there were accts I wanted I could do them for whatever. It's business. However as a complete LCO my labor is high because 10 of my employees have their BS Degree and 3 have Master's. So my payroll is high. We have 500 accts at a minimum of $20,000 per acct and we never add accts,but we have a waiting list in case we lose or drop an acct. The northern states on mow 5-6 months out of the year so the proposed plan would be too hard to make a living, however if this was in southern area with small lawns it could work. I live near a Historic town where commercial mowers want fit and theres a ton of ordinances that prohibit commercial equip. A good friend of mine mows 75 lawns with push mowers out of Ford Rangers at $25 each thats $1875 per week with 1 employee at $320 he gets 35 cuts and then leaf removal and he is well off.

IndyChad
03-21-2009, 11:06 PM
So many closed minded individuals.

THC
03-21-2009, 11:09 PM
And guess what they are all WHITE guys, two per crew with the little trucks and 21" mowers.
You sure about that? I read his threads and he said he uses H2B exclusively.

Grits
03-22-2009, 12:15 AM
You sure about that? I read his threads and he said he uses H2B exclusively.

I remember reading that too.

CGlisson
03-22-2009, 02:24 AM
Are you kidding?

Man if someone ever asked me if it was ok to take my client I would think they were the biggest sucker around.


BTW.. I LOVE to take work from other people. I mean almost EVERY single job I have was cut by someone else.

Yes, it's all a joke.

I don't ask permission to take someones client. I let them know they aren't happy with them and asked me to work for them. I understand this isn't a common thing, but I am friends with most of the other owners in the area and we all realize there is more than enough work to go around. If I were in a bigger city or had a larger target area, I'm sure things would be different. I'm fortunate to have a group of guys I can call if I get stuck in a ditch or need a favor from.

There are some LCO's in the area I don't care for and don't do this, particularly the ones that like to see others fail.

Friends are a good thing to have, IMO.

FourTrees
03-22-2009, 04:34 AM
fuel, labor, equipment, insurance, maintenace, repairs, rent.

Doing the math I gotta question this.

- Seriously fuel cost are not much at all -- tight routes the truck uses hardly any, mowers don't exactly guzzle the stuff. Are your trucks to big for what you really need? THAT could be your problem.

- Labor ok I'll give on that, it is our biggest cost. BUT still it is manageable.

- Equipment is expensive but come on when a mower lasts for years as does a trimmer its paid for before you buy it and not expensive to maintain, just take care of them. You either run it to the ground or sell it at a decent resale value.

- Insurance that is a joke one resi will more than cover all your insurance costs for the year. Mine is a whopping $2 a day. Now others may pay more, but this is often based upon payroll/receipts it averages out.

- Rent --- you better not be renting unless you can afford and if you are be smart this does not have to be expensive at all.

On most things like insurance you are looking at a cost of less than a couple of bucks per day.

Oh sure it all adds up but come on most of those things lisc. and insurance and such are not gonna break you. We are talking dollars a day. If they are to much to handle then YOU need to rethink your business plan.

THC
03-22-2009, 08:15 PM
Yes, it's all a joke.

I don't ask permission to take someones client. I let them know they aren't happy with them and asked me to work for them. I understand this isn't a common thing, but I am friends with most of the other owners in the area and we all realize there is more than enough work to go around. If I were in a bigger city or had a larger target area, I'm sure things would be different. I'm fortunate to have a group of guys I can call if I get stuck in a ditch or need a favor from.

There are some LCO's in the area I don't care for and don't do this, particularly the ones that like to see others fail.

Friends are a good thing to have, IMO.
Oh for sure. I wouldn't take work from a friend either. I agree with you 100% on that.

As for the others, I particularly like taking their work if I once worked there.. I get a warm fuzzy feeling and a stupid grin.:laugh:

Carolina Cuts
03-22-2009, 08:34 PM
This is what I don't "Get" about the FREE cut as a promotion to gain a new customer...

All my regular accounts are groomed by me in a way that "I" like... Flower beds for instance... I want them all edged, crisp and clean for trimming and trimmer edging... All my flower beds remain weed free....
So usually my "NEW" customer pricing is AFTER improvements....

"Sure Ma'am, I'll maintain your lawn for $33.00/cut, but that's AFTER I get your lawn and beds in good condition. Therefore' I'm gonna need $XX.XX this much for a first time cut"

Now, you claim to give all potential NEW customers a free cut to show off your work...

How in depth are you getting with these FREE cuts? ANYONE can push mow a lawn and trim. So what if the potential new lawn has NEVER been edged? Do you 'eat' the time spent on edging the lawn the first time? How about them flowerbeds? Edge them too and eat the time?

So are you detailing the first time cuts? Or just mow and going?

THC
03-22-2009, 09:00 PM
There is a guy around here who is advertising FREE fert treatment with either a spring clean up or aeration. You also get a FREE fert. PROGRAM if you sign a full season maintenance contract. I figure he must be snagging a lot of fert. customers.. 2nd year with the same flyers out.

In fact the last 4 digits of his phone number is FREE.

RLC12065
03-22-2009, 11:42 PM
let me understand, you're giving away a free cut and you're lowballing at the same time? i could be cutting 5,000 lawns a week all i have to do is offer a month free and do all lawns for $10. the question is how are you making a PROFIT? most guys have no idea of their true over head. you stated you were doing 3 $25 lawns an hour with a 3 man crew? thats $ 25.00 a manhour. who can make a dime at $25 a manhour. i average $105.00 and hour with a 2 man crew incliding travel time.

CGlisson
03-23-2009, 12:36 AM
Oh for sure. I wouldn't take work from a friend either. I agree with you 100% on that.

As for the others, I particularly like taking their work if I once worked there.. I get a warm fuzzy feeling and a stupid grin.:laugh:

Thanks for the follow up. Glad we can agree. I was getting myself worked up over your post. :hammerhead:

I enjoy taking people's work too a lot of the time. The reality is, many guys out there just don't do a good job and would be better suited to work for a company being overseen by someone else. Not their fault, just the way it should be. A lot of the warm fuzzies come from me knowing I'm going to make that customer way happier than the previous person did.

I work alone for one main reason... I can't find anyone that works to my expectations.

THC
03-23-2009, 01:33 AM
I enjoy taking people's work too a lot of the time. The reality is, many guys out there just don't do a good job and would be better suited to work for a company being overseen by someone else. Not their fault, just the way it should be. A lot of the warm fuzzies come from me knowing I'm going to make that customer way happier than the previous person did.

I work alone for one main reason... I can't find anyone that works to my expectations.

What sucks is when it happens the other way around. I have screwed up with clients and it usually starts with me not liking them. They ask for bi weekly then get offended when I charge extra or they phone me way too many times. I seem to end up skipping cuts and other passive aggressive crap till there's a blow out and I either quit or get fired.

One time an old Indian Doctor phoned me up, sweet neigbourhood, for an estimate. So I thought we had a deal even though he did try and talk me down. I noticed that the previous lawn guy stopped mowing half way through the yard. It was very noticeable. The Doctor told me he just got mad and quite and walked off the yard. This guy actually kept my flyer from about two months previous. So I mow the yard, takes some extra time it was over grown here and there.

When I finish he pays me $35 in cash, I tell him I'll bill him at the end of the month. He tells me that he's had lower estimates and he just wanted me that one time. I basically flipped out on him, later his son phones me, I was calm by then, and offers me an extra $50.. I told him I don't want there damn money. (I did take the $35 though)

I have let go of several customers over the years and I don't miss one of them but I know half the time it was my fault.


And I also like to work alone, I really like it. I don't answer the phone, I just use sound isolating head phones and listen to audio books all day and frankly I don't work very hard. I have about 200 gigs of audio books:laugh:

But every year about this time I get ambitious. I have to hire people to help with power raking and I put out 10-20k in flyers and I start thinking of getting enough work for a crew.. I have two trucks, I have 2-3 of everything in fact. But I get my guys from Labour Ready and I wouldn't trust them to mow just for clean ups, when I have tried that out they bust things up good. One of them split an aluminum deck by running over a gate lock TWICE. First time there was a big bang and the mower cut out, I heard it. Then as I'm walking to the back yard I hear the mower start going again and Bang he split the deck. :hammerhead:$100 to get welded.

CGlisson
03-23-2009, 01:40 AM
What sucks is when it happens the other way around. I have screwed up with clients and it usually starts with me not liking them. They ask for bi weekly then get offended when I charge extra or they phone me way too many times. I seem to end up skipping cuts and other passive aggressive crap till there's a blow out and I either quit or get fired.

One time an old Indian Doctor phoned me up, sweet neigbourhood, for an estimate. So I thought we had a deal even though he did try and talk me down. I noticed that the previous lawn guy stopped mowing half way through the yard. It was very noticeable. The Doctor told me he just got mad and quite and walked off the yard. This guy actually kept my flyer from about two months previous. So I mow the yard, takes some extra time it was over grown here and there.

When I finish he pays me $35 in cash, I tell him I'll bill him at the end of the month. He tells me that he's had lower estimates and he just wanted me that one time. I basically flipped out on him, later his son phones me, I was calm by then, and offers me an extra $50.. I told him I don't want there damn money. (I did take the $35 though)

I have let go of several customers over the years and I don't miss one of them but I know half the time it was my fault.


And I also like to work alone, I really like it. I don't answer the phone, I just use sound isolating head phones and listen to audio books all day and frankly I don't work very hard. I have about 200 gigs of audio books:laugh:

But every year about this time I get ambitious. I have to hire people to help with power raking and I put out 10-20k in flyers and I start thinking of getting enough work for a crew.. I have two trucks, I have 2-3 of everything in fact. But I get my guys from Labour Ready and I wouldn't trust them to mow just for clean ups, when I have tried that out they bust things up good. One of them split an aluminum deck by running over a gate lock TWICE. First time there was a big bang and the mower cut out, I heard it. Then as I'm walking to the back yard I hear the mower start going again and Bang he split the deck. :hammerhead:$100 to get welded.


Sorry for jacking the thread. *trucewhiteflag*

I must say though...we are living parallel lives. Same deal for me with an Indian doctor. They aren't helping their stereotype! Matter of fact, I've got a guy that has owed me $225 for months now. Glad it's not more, but I can't wait to drop him, and I'm ready to take legal action. Only problem is that he's been out of the country...so I might as well wait.

ED'S LAWNCARE
03-23-2009, 08:19 PM
Ung,
That is thinking outside of the box. Good for you and your company. I read where someone said about guys not showing up. This is where (I'm going out on a limb here) the phrase Team-Meamber comes in. If you know how to build a team and manage them you won't be looking for new workers.

I looked over your numbers they look doable but like you said it would have to be demographically feasible. I know I would easily pay 25 bucks for a customer.

I have a question for all the na sayers. For the ones who advertise 5-10k per year and only get 35 customers. This guy can give out 200 free cuts per year for 5k (minus the cost of business on those jobs) and I'll bet he gets more than 35 customers.

I think it is great to see someone do something different and it works. It's amazing how many have a negative output when they cannot use the model themselves. I guess they are just jealous.

Have a great year hope you hit your goals please keep us who understand informed.

THC
03-23-2009, 08:34 PM
What I don't like about his plan is all the knocking on neighbours doors and introducing themselves, being everyone's friend etc.

I tell my people (when I have them) don't talk to customers.. I've had them ask the customer if they could use the washroom, LOL. God!

I'm also a terrible salesman in person, I talk too much, but what I do like doing is sitting at home tweaking my flyers with Illustrator/photoshop CS3.

Curb Appeal Lawn Care
03-25-2009, 11:22 AM
Just wanted to weigh in on this one,

If you attract customers with free service and low ball prices, YOU WILL GET LOW BALLED BY THE NEXT GUY!!!

Hmm . . .

Maybe I do believe in karma!:laugh:

ED'S LAWNCARE
03-25-2009, 10:19 PM
Just wanted to weigh in on this one,

If you attract customers with free service and low ball prices, YOU WILL GET LOW BALLED BY THE NEXT GUY!!!

Hmm . . .

Maybe I do believe in karma!:laugh:

What lowball he is just more efficient:clapping:

David Gretzmier
03-26-2009, 03:57 AM
I think a better way of looking at this is not doing lawns for 25 each but looking at 150 per stop. the way to make 150 per stop average is to have the best route density. The best way to route density is lower prices.

we all have had our awesome stops where we mow 4 or 5 lawns at our regular price, and then we go and stop 8 more times that day at one or 2 yards each. with 3 guys I can totally see doing 6 smaller yards an HOUR some days. a 36 inch stander, a coupe of 21 pushes, and a couple of trimmers and blowers, 2 gas cans and string, probably all in the back of a 1/2 ton with 9 foot flatbed/ramp truck. heck, I could probably fit it in the back of an 8 foot bed with the tailgate down and one of those flip down/ramp things on the tailgate.

It would kinda feel like I got something accomplished if we knocked out 25-30 lawns per day per crew. with only 4-5 stops, I could see it. 600-750 per day would be profitable with no big equipment or trailer.

THC
03-26-2009, 06:32 AM
Just wanted to weigh in on this one,

If you attract customers with free service and low ball prices, YOU WILL GET LOW BALLED BY THE NEXT GUY!!!

Hmm . . .

Maybe I do believe in karma!:laugh:

That's NO PROBLEM.. I can come back with TWO FREE cuts:hammerhead::laugh:

scottgalat
03-26-2009, 11:09 AM
Hey UNK, stop wasting your time trying to inspire these guys. They can't figure out how to profit at $75/hr ? They are very poor managers, time and money wasters and mostly incapable of learning from others.Nothing can save them from themselves. I've had a good sales week, 66 new ones.....so far....it's only Thurs. morn. Stop wasting your time on these guys.

punt66
03-26-2009, 12:11 PM
Hey UNK, stop wasting your time trying to inspire these guys. They can't figure out how to profit at $75/hr ? They are very poor managers, time and money wasters and mostly incapable of learning from others.Nothing can save them from themselves. I've had a good sales week, 66 new ones.....so far....it's only Thurs. morn. Stop wasting your time on these guys.
I average $84hr mowing solo. Not cutting $20 lawns. His margins are too small and expenses including payroll too high. 1 loss of equipment or major repairs will hurt him too much.

punt66
03-26-2009, 02:07 PM
Hey UNK, stop wasting your time trying to inspire these guys. They can't figure out how to profit at $75/hr ? They are very poor managers, time and money wasters and mostly incapable of learning from others.Nothing can save them from themselves. I've had a good sales week, 66 new ones.....so far....it's only Thurs. morn. Stop wasting your time on these guys.

thats $75hr for a 3 man crew.

KrayzKajun
03-26-2009, 02:08 PM
Okay, I'll be the first. You're FOS

bingo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:laugh:

Groomer
03-26-2009, 02:52 PM
page 1: we service an area of 25,000 middle class homes in a master planned community, with 2,000 more under construction.
page 2: we don't service any homes with a property value under $215,00.00/ or 16k sq.ft.
What country was that again?

scottgalat
03-26-2009, 06:39 PM
If my lawn man charged me $84/hr to cut my lawn, I'll get a lawyer to cut it. They'll only want $80.

Ramairfreak98ss
03-26-2009, 08:32 PM
Yeah, this didn't take no stroke of genius on my part either.



Although I have to admit, this part could well be true.



lol, im sure he's getting 100s of calls though, free is always best! how do you cut "free" even if its one lawn up front, usually the "shiattyest arse ones" and then still cut cheaper than your comp. but make profit? :confused:

$25 stops, i hope these are like lots you can "push mow" size, $28 is our lowest for anything and its gotta be in developments we are already at, otherwise $30+

Ramairfreak98ss
03-26-2009, 08:33 PM
If my lawn man charged me $84/hr to cut my lawn, I'll get a lawyer to cut it. They'll only want $80.

when's the last time you dealt with a lawyer bud? $250-$450 an hour EASY in nj for anything criminal defense, awesome ones from big firms $600-900hr... 10k retainers etc.

$80 an hour, heck i make that doing mulch these days.

scottgalat
03-26-2009, 08:50 PM
Crime dosen't pay...unless you are a lawyer. Next your going to tell me it cost's more than 27 cents to mail a letter.

punt66
03-26-2009, 08:54 PM
Crime dosen't pay...unless you are a lawyer. Next your going to tell me it cost's more than 27 cents to mail a letter.

hahahha its 42 now.

lalorslawncare
03-26-2009, 11:24 PM
Many times in the past I have had a call for a lawn estimate. I travel to the site or house and the grass already needs cutting. I have all my equipment with me so rather than just quote the lawn I take the time to mow and trim. Most houses this only takes 10-15 minutes. I then leave quote and call potential customer and tell them that cut the lawn, if they like the results this is what they can expect from me every time. If not you just had your lawn cut for free. To be honest I have had a couple that did not sign with me but the vast majority are impressed with the service and are tickled that I would go tru the trouble to cut their lawn without knowing if I would get their business. Many have even insisted on paying for the service. I have gotten many new customers this way. Always do a little more than the customer expects it goes a long way

cg1
03-27-2009, 12:26 AM
Whether Unk is telling the whole truth or fibbing a bit, aren't the critics are being too hard on him? You have to understand how different markets are around the country. He's clearly in the deep south - 105 degrees, illegals, etc. I'm guessing gulf coast area, anywhere from Texas to Florida. Most suburbs down here in Houston and Florida are all master planned with hundreds or thousands of homes under construction at any given time - even now. All lots are small and fenced in, and most lawns are cut with 48, 32, and 21" mowers.

In my area there are several mega-residential maintenance companies that offer very low rates and have thousands of customers. It will work, but you have to have the volume! One company in particular, charges $27 per cut when you follow their schedule and PRE-PAY for one month or more in advance. This definitely helps their cash flow and virtually eliminates the collection cycle. Again, the lawns are all small (less than 5-10K square feet). Their marketing is with 8x11 handouts distributed by a company to front doors all over town. Point is that it can be done successfully.

Lastly, Unk said his crews do AT LEAST three lawns/hour. Say they did five - that's a $41 per man hour production rate. Not bad down here in the where the cotton grows...

punt66
03-27-2009, 06:59 AM
Whether Unk is telling the whole truth or fibbing a bit, aren't the critics are being too hard on him? You have to understand how different markets are around the country. He's clearly in the deep south - 105 degrees, illegals, etc. I'm guessing gulf coast area, anywhere from Texas to Florida. Most suburbs down here in Houston and Florida are all master planned with hundreds or thousands of homes under construction at any given time - even now. All lots are small and fenced in, and most lawns are cut with 48, 32, and 21" mowers.

In my area there are several mega-residential maintenance companies that offer very low rates and have thousands of customers. It will work, but you have to have the volume! One company in particular, charges $27 per cut when you follow their schedule and PRE-PAY for one month or more in advance. This definitely helps their cash flow and virtually eliminates the collection cycle. Again, the lawns are all small (less than 5-10K square feet). Their marketing is with 8x11 handouts distributed by a company to front doors all over town. Point is that it can be done successfully.

Lastly, Unk said his crews do AT LEAST three lawns/hour. Say they did five - that's a $41 per man hour production rate. Not bad down here in the where the cotton grows...

They are not doing 5 an hour.

JohnnyCuts
03-27-2009, 09:14 AM
We have a couple stops where we do 5 zero lots with 2 people in under an hour. That's with one mower. 3 guys and the right equipment and 6 lawns per stop would work out pretty good methinks.

Carolina Cuts
03-27-2009, 09:28 AM
They are not doing 5 an hour.

sure it's possible...
I have one street..... cookie cutter homes.... even the same colors...(ugh- you come home drunk one night, you will NOT know which house is yours) all under 3000 sqft of turf per house. Last season, myself on the mower and two trimmers running, we were able to complete the street (11 houses) in under 2.5 hrs... $25-per house. It's profitable....

scottgalat
03-27-2009, 10:47 AM
Best stop on one of our route is 17 lawns, 1.5 hrs, 3 men....$15 per.
Sorry highballers, It is the right price for these homes....$170./hr

delphied
03-27-2009, 11:45 AM
Best stop on one of our route is 17 lawns, 1.5 hrs, 3 men....$15 per.
Sorry highballers, It is the right price for these homes....$170./hr

Thats 5 minutes per lawn. Never saw a 5 minute lawn around these parts, even with 3 men.

delphied
03-27-2009, 10:31 PM
The guy says his team can mow a lawn in 5 minutes for $15 . It takes me 10 or 15 minutes to mow a small lawn and that doesnt include trimming, etc. How can a crew finish a lawn in 5 minutes?

borwicks
03-27-2009, 11:04 PM
I have used his or hers numbers along with my own and here is what I come up with. I have done time studies and maintenance studies the last 2 years on our equipment.

Using a 14,10,8 dollar employee at 6.8% workmans comp. would be $32.92 per hour. Assuming he pays no benefits and 1099s them.

21 " mowers would be used on his 6k lawns john deere or toro. Are cost to run these are $4.56 per hour based off 1000 hours replacement. $800 new mower, 10 new blades, 16 new wheels, 6 new belts, 25 oil changes, we use syn. oils. and time to do the above maint. 12.75 hours. Are mowers use about 3 quarts per hour this would be 750 gallons at 3.50 per gallon. We can mow and bag about 12k per hour.

Trimmers and blowers are redmax, the trimmers use about 1 quart per hour and the back pack blowers use 2.5 quarts per hour on average. The oil is syn. pre mix with prem. fuel .465 per oz for the oil and 3.80 per gallon for gas.
The average replacement is 380 hours. about 4 new heads in that time frame.
we use 2600 series trimmers and 7000 or 8000 blowers.
Average per hour use for blower and trimmer=$4.38
the higher cost of blower=the total cost of trimmer with line, heads maintenance bearings etc.


On my time studies the average feet per minute is 160.
The average trim feet on a 6k property is 1365.

We blow all sidewalks, street, parking.
to blow the average 4-6k home takes about 7 min.

My numbers show, and not including drive time, unload/load time, getting in and out of truck, getting a drink etc. If all 6 properties were next to each other just to do the work would take. 51.2 min to trim. 3 hours to mow. 42 min. to trim.

Cost to run blowers and trimmers for 3 6k yards is=$3.40
Cost to run mower for above yards=$6.84
Labor for above=$33.92
My total shows $44.16 of cost once your at the job site not including anything else.

My 1996 dodge diesel for fuel and maintenance averages about .58 per mile.
My 1993 t100 is about .35 per mile.
My general contractors insurance per hour based off 2000 hours is $1.33.
My pesticide license, etc is $.12 per hour
My truck insurance, commercial grade fully insured. is 68 per month.

At the end of the day my goal is to net $30 per hour for myself and $4 per employee. Thats after all sales tax, income tax, and such.

If he could net $15 per hour per crew.
With 50 hour weeks times 30=1500 hours and 150 lawns per week per crew
6 crews would net him=4500 per week
4500 per week times 30 weeks=$135000 net.

I dont think he could get the $15 per hour net and pay all the dues, taxes, insurance and be 100 percent legal.

my own thoughts.
Russell Borwick

borwicks
03-27-2009, 11:11 PM
That should have been 42 min. to blow not trim.
I do have data to back all this up, including data on are larger mowers.
If you have not done time studies and cost break down you should start
My stop watch was less than $5.
You will be amazed how much more the bigger mowers cost per hour to operate well over $10. Are 72"scag is almost $14 per hour

Russell

borwicks
03-28-2009, 12:50 AM
MY personal best times by myself are
3 lawns-22k, no bag, 52 min work time,$81 gross.
1 lawn-10k 21" bag, trim, blow-39 min.$40
1 lawn-42k, 52" walk behind no bag, blow,trim 48min, $50

I hate snow and dont charge enough for it. Iam thinking about $100 per man hour for blowers and $300 per hour for the trucks. Maybe people will stop calling.

Lucky Star Lawn Care
03-28-2009, 01:22 AM
Can I have my free cut please..

Royal_Lawn
03-28-2009, 08:03 AM
I think he's on to something good. I am changing the way I do business.

lifetree
03-28-2009, 09:28 AM
I have used his or hers numbers along with my own and here is what I come up with. I have done time studies and maintenance studies the last 2 years on our equipment.

Using a 14,10,8 dollar employee at 6.8% workmans comp. would be $32.92 per hour. Assuming he pays no benefits and 1099s them.

... On my time studies the average feet per minute is 160. The average trim feet on a 6k property is 1365.

... Cost to run blowers and trimmers for 3 6k yards is=$3.40
Cost to run mower for above yards=$6.84
Labor for above=$33.92
My total shows $44.16 of cost once your at the job site not including anything else.

... At the end of the day my goal is to net $30 per hour for myself and $4 per employee. Thats after all sales tax, income tax, and such.

... I dont think he could get the $15 per hour net and pay all the dues, taxes, insurance and be 100 percent legal. ...

I think he's on to something good. I am changing the way I do business.

Borwicks -- Congratulations, this is how everyone should run their business !! Since you have such a good handle on what your cost is I'm sure you're bottom line is much healthier than most everyone else in this business.

delphied
03-28-2009, 10:38 AM
Folks, am I missing something? The guy said his crew mows a lawn in 5 minutes. Is that possible? I cant cover any lawn that I mow in just 5 minutes and my smallest mower is a 48.

scottgalat
03-28-2009, 01:21 PM
Borwicks, Knowing your expenses is important, but more important is lowering them. Some of your numbers can be improved upon. It won't take 20 minutes for us to blow 6 lawns. (small ones) Some developments we mow have very small lots. Line 'em up, mow them down.
We use a Hustler full size Super Z on 2,500 sq ft of grass lawns. Tie 17 backyards all in a row, 6 passes...at 10mph, each side yard is 3 passes. The front lawns are 4 widths of a super Z about 20-25Ft each. Mower guy is done in 50 mins. New developments with minimal landscaping. Edge street, walks, beds around house, small back porch, maybe a 2,3, or 4 trees...on to the next one. In Florida we also have a "hidden" income that's expense-free called winter. We get full pay for 1/2-1/3 the work. We get paid for mowings that don't occur...on those....expenses are very low. It is possible to break even during the mowing season, and if you run routes grossing enough, you will profit because winter can be 26 weeks for some Florida lawn services, with 13-15 of those weeks "labor-expense free" Run a large enough operation...and you can live off of just that.

borwicks
03-28-2009, 01:43 PM
scottgalot, You do have a point but I dont think it would apply in are case. Most areas we take care of have double and triple drives and/or are over 100' deep, landscaping, sidewalks and fences. some can be done faster than others etc. the numbers I quoted were average times overall. The other factor is wind and bagging. 90 percent of are customers are res. are biggest gate drop is for 4 lawns they all have fences. Iam not big on running down fences.....maybe..LOL

Exact Rototilling
03-28-2009, 02:12 PM
....snip... $25. Many of you jump at that. "Thats a Lowballer"!!! No it isn't. Its doing business within our overhead and still operate a substantial income at $25.

Many of you scoff at the sight of unloading for $25. Are plan isn't to unload for $25. We unload for $150! 6 accounts, all neat to or very near to each other. We run 3 guys and complete our lots at an average greater than 3 per our. ....snip....

Unk,

So after your free 1st cut are all the lawns priced at a flat rate of $25? Is there a price difference if the complete mow and blow takes 6 minutes vs. 11 min for one of your crews? Still $25

*trucewhiteflag*

maintenanceman
03-28-2009, 02:47 PM
Maybe someone can explain why a 3 man crew is the most efficient way to service small properties. I have always thought a two man crew was the best approach.

borwicks
03-28-2009, 02:51 PM
I think alot of you are not reading this correct or Iam reading it wrong. They average 3 lawns per hour per crew. That would be 20 min per lawn. It appears hes talking about 6k yards on average.

borwicks
03-28-2009, 03:02 PM
I did some more math on this and it appears he should use about 105-115 gallons of gas per week per crew for the equipment. If this is the case all his lawns are very close because that would leave no more than 45 gallons a week for a crew truck. At 12 miles per gallon that would be 540 miles in a week.

borwicks
03-28-2009, 03:13 PM
this will be my last post on this. I believe this can be done but my calculations show that he can not net the money he says he is. Iam basing this off are maintenance cost, maybe Iam a little an++ about maintenance but anyway I figure he cant net more than $108,000

capnsac
03-28-2009, 04:07 PM
CeNSORSHIP RULES!!!

willretire@40
04-21-2009, 07:57 AM
For all those who remember Justmowit......what was his price point? And wasn't he the biggest residential low mowing company on lawnsite? And didn't he use 21" units only? And didn't a lot of guys think it was not possible and he would be out of business. Well bad news guys I got one of his mailer yesterday and his starting price in our area is $23. He now has expanded into other cities. And those mailers will keep coming every month. Will they have an impact on our prices....yu bet! Do they do a bad job...no! He does several close to my home. Do they pay taxes and have insurance probably. And guess what they are all WHITE guys, two per crew with the little trucks and 21" mowers.

Is just mow it mailing flyers now instead of using a door hanging company?

MyLawnBiz
05-02-2009, 06:54 AM
I still dont understand why someone would do this kind of work for peanuts. Can someone explain?

I'm not sure if his prices will work, but I (and any Economics 101 book) can explain.

As the volume goes up, profit margins and prices typically go down but overall profit increases. By increasing your volume, you improve efficiencies, such as less unloading time, less gas usage per customer, possibly better buying power, more efficient use of office, lot or shop space, etc, so your cost to produce the goods or services decreases per unit. In a market economy, these savings (or part of them) are passed on to the consumer in the form of lower costs and (possibly) improved products or services.

MyLawnBiz
05-02-2009, 07:34 AM
Quote:
Team 1
Team=11.49
Equip replacement= $.40
Fuel= $.83
Truck= $.63
Facilities and staff= $5.83
Business tax= 5
Quote

Some of our operations appear to be similar - though I worked full time in the field my first year in business and did show a profit every year, my plan from the jump was to run crews rather than continue working in the field full time (although I wish that I could get more time, I think my time is better spent on cultivating business and overseeing operations).

This year, for the first time, we did offer free cuttings (2 in fact, first and last) and lowered our prices. This was spurred on in part by other companies plastering OUR TERRITORY with low-end flyers, in part by the poor economy, and in large part by the desire to grow in scale and to realize economies of scale that occur when you do more business. I was and am willing to take on less margin for a time to increase the size of our operation.

So I am on board with a lot of what you are saying in principal. However, there are chunks of it where I am not, or, at the very least, would not recommend to the typical person starting an LCO.

First off, very few people can go 2-3-4 years without realizing a profit, or such a small profit. If you can get by and are taking PROFIT and pumping it back into the business, great, you very well might build a better business over the long haul.

I also think that you may have gone to a price ($25) that is unecessarily low; you might have been able to achieve the same ends if you'd priced it at $30, or nearly so, but you said you spent 3-4 crunching theoretical numbers so maybe you'd worked that out in advance. All I know is that that extra $5 per/lawn sure comes in handy when it comes time to socking away money.

Finall, it doesn't seem to me that you've shown all of the types of expenses that come with an LCO. For example, here are our numbers through the first 4 months of the year (as a percentage of income*):

Payroll 37.4%
Operations - Job Related Expenses 12.3%
Equipment - Purchase 7.1%
Equipment - Repair 3.9%
Auto 7.3%
Advertising / Marketing 2.3%
Write Off - Accounts Receivable 2.3%
Office - Supplies 2.0%
Operations - Storage/Rent 1.4%
Business Insurance 1.2%
Fees - Bank 1.1%
Customer Reimbursement 0.9%
Operations - Uniforms 0.6%
Office - Administrative 0.5%
Computer/Internet/Website 0.3%
Auto - Miscellaneous 0.3%
Equipment - Parts 0.2%
Equipment - Rental 0.0%
Business Meals 0.0%

* I haven't included taxes or depreciation in these figures. We're at about a 21% margin without those. Depreciation will obviously bring those down, and the remaining taxes will account for about 3-6% of gross income.

- From what I can see, you have factored equipment replacemetn at 1.6% of income. We are at 7.1% right now.

- You say that you don't spend anything on advertising, however I thought you'd previously mentioned printing and passing out flyers.

- I don't understand why you factor such a high % for business tax. 20%? Your margins are so tight that I would think your percentage of taxes owed would be far less than that.

- You don't have any line item for equipment repair. So far this year that has represented 4% of our income, 2.5 times more than you say you need to replace equipment.

- Your wages look in line, except for the cost of health insurance. Are you sure that's factored in? I can buy your $11.49 per cutting except for that.

- There's a whole long list of other things that we have to spend money on year after year, not to mention write-offs from non-payers, which we've gotton down to below 2%, which I think is very good (was about 5% in our first year - had to crack the whip!)...

Just my 2 cents...As said, I buy into a lot of what you are saying, however I think 1) You might have low-balled yourself a bit, and 2) Your expense numbers are seem to be an overly optimistic, best-case scenario picture - a bit polyanna-ish.

MyLawnBiz
05-02-2009, 08:20 AM
I think inside the industry, if LCOs can take a step back and become a CEO and NOT an "owner", business can prosper.

When you greet your customers or random people in general to you introduce yourself as the CEO? If so, how big of a tool-box do you feel.

You may possibly have a decent business, business plan, yada-yada-yada, but you are also showing your age with your arrogance...Smart people listen to what others who have experience say, then sift the gold from the rubbish from it. Your attitude will unquestionably bite you in the ass sooner or later.

MyLawnBiz
05-02-2009, 08:51 AM
I just dont believe the guys numbers. According to his numbers his guys are working about 54 hours per week and doing each lawn in around 20 minutes and that is including any travel or downtime in that average. He even says in his explanation that he uses 150 gallons of fuel for 150 lawns. Then he says it costs 83 cents for fuel for each lawn. My fuel costs around 2 dollars for a gallon right now. Wise up guys.

His miscalculation is the most obvious error in his numbers and totally throws them off. Plus, as mentioned, there are many expenses not accounted for here. However, I think that he's set aside too much for taxes - $5 per lawn? With those margins? With depreciation and other 'gray' write-offs I can't imagine he shows more than a 10% profit, which would be $2.50 per/lawn of TAXABLE income, not even ACTUAL TAXES, which would be in the range of .50 per/lawn. So, there IS an extra $4.50 of 'play' in his numbers, but this oversight to me is suspicious at best.

MyLawnBiz
05-02-2009, 09:14 AM
I think he's on to something good. I am changing the way I do business.

I'd suggest you put your toe in the water before you dive in head first.