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eXlawns
07-10-2009, 12:04 AM
Hello everyone! This is my first post but I have been reading posts on here for months.

I have decided to start my lawn business part/full time next spring and looking for specific tips on bidding for jobs, tips and techniques on best practices. Marketing tips and finally the hardest decision I have been working on at what point do I decide to go full time or part time.

A little bit about me. I have my MBA and have been running a large car rental store for over a year. I have been working for this company for 2 1/2 years. I am married and my wife has a very stable job as a CPA. My job requires me to be excellent at sales and service but it is more important to understand the numbers (break even, operating profit, gross profit, profit margins, and depreciation).
My undergrad was in HR so I have an inside track on understanding employee relationships (workers comp, medical, training and development, and employee retention.

I understand business and have always loved and appreciated lawn care. With the barriers to entry being so low with lawn care standing out amongst your competition is even more important i.e. MARKETING

I have put together flyers, business cards, website, email and my start date is April 1st. Currently I have 3 residential accounts and 1 commercial account and got them even before I purchased my first ZTR, trailer, blower and trimmer.

I purchased a 48" quik-trak 21" toro commercial mower stihl 600 blower and 90 trimmer. Got a truck and trailer and have loved my days off of my full time job just to jump on the ZTR and make money.
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Time for the questions:

RESIDENTIAL
When do I send out the mailers and go out with the flyers? I have put together a list of residential accounts in specific areas around my community but have no idea on when they will be the most effective.
COMMERCIAL
How do you know when jobs come up for bid? I have several "in's" my father in-law is a political figure in the area and knows just about every business owner in town.

Tips and techniques on best practices
Anything anyone can add for a novice would be helpful.

Part-time or Full-time

Currently I work full-time 5-6 days a week 50-55 hours a week. I make over 50K a year and need 40K profit just to get by.

For my job to be part time I would like to work 8-14 hours a week, but at which point do I decided to make it fulltime. If I had contracts for 35+ hours of mowing per week would that be enough? This is where I have had difficulty deciding.

I know this is a long post and if you made it through everything I appreciate your time. I hope I asked the right questions but if you had any questions for me feel free email or simply responding to this post.

Thanks again,

ohiogreenworks
07-10-2009, 12:11 AM
I do not know the answer to a few of your questions because a lot of them are personal, how much money you need etc?

As far as flyers and knowing if they will be effective, all you can do is offer your best guess. Look at the area, how many companies are already in the neighborhood? How many people can afford lawn service? Do they already take care of their lawn themselves? All you can do is try and hope for the best and learn from it.

What I do know is that debt is your enemy, stay as far away from it as you can. When starting out, it eats into your profits and makes you have to charge a certain amount. To get your foot in the industry, get what you need to work. Buy the best you can but do not over buy and get things just because of name brand etc. Don't buy crap, because these tools are obviously your backbone for making money, but again I would try to not buy things you do not need.

With the right accounts, 35 hours can be plenty. Decent paying, good accounts matter more than a ton of cheap, slow paying ones. Do quality work and get your name out. Pass out your flyers and hand out your cards to anyone and everyone. Have your customers talk, refer, etc. This industry is extremely competitive do whatever you can to gain business. Good luck, hope this helped :)

THC
07-10-2009, 02:08 AM
Flyers are best just before the season starts. Everyone that wants a lawn service pretty much has one now.

As a tip I would say to buy a power rake and go for spring clean ups. It's easy to hire labour for helping.. man in the spring I put out 10k flyers and my phone is off the hook. Have prices on the flyers. Don't deliver the flyers yourself.. actually I'm not sure how that works in the States. Here in canada I pay $480 for delivery of 10k flyers in ad bags or as inserts. Spring is my best season.

I would also recommend you read a members posts, a guy called bigw. He went balls out in season one and pretty much documented everything he did. He was like you in that he was good at sales, apparently he's did very well right from the start.