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View Full Version : Start a 2nd Lawn Care Company?


whoopassonthebluegrass
08-04-2009, 06:52 PM
Having crazy thoughts as I'm out working in the heat. :dizzy:

Rather than give you a novel to read, here's the short version:

I've built my brand as a high end service. A service that, while not shrinking, is not growing in this recession where frugality is suddenly "in".

Rather than alienate my existing clients or risking them cutting out services, I'm considering building a completely separate brand that will cater to the needs of the recession.

I'd establish a separate company with a separate #, separate advertising, etc...

Any thoughts on the matter?

turf hokie
08-04-2009, 07:11 PM
This thought crosses my mind with the Christmas lighting. Offering a lesser design with lesser products for lesser money:hammerhead:

Then I come to my senses and realize that even if it were run completely seperately ultimately it is my face on the company and I dont want to risk losing what I have built for what might only be a short term gain.

I dont think you would be able to keep the two entities seperate for any extended period of time nor would you be able to not end up with a big merged business plan that wouild not benefit either company.

I have given into the fact that I am not a company for the customer that only cares about the bottom line. We will try to work with you but at the end of the day everyone needs to realize we offer a higher quality service with a higher quality product and that comes with a higher value. I do feel we lose work sometimes because of this but in most cases when I go look at the job that was done by the lesser money guy:dizzy: I would not be comfortable with putting my name on that service, no matter what I felt the business plan was...

Az Gardener
08-04-2009, 09:17 PM
I think we have all thought about the same things. Grass is always greener, you know. I had a colleague here in town with more money than he knows what to do with. He did just what you are suggesting. And he went big time with it yellow page adds, panel trucks, good signage and he sold a lot of work.

Problem was the clients would talk to the guys if they spoke any English and always wanted this or that fixed sprinkler wise or something trimmed. He said it would take longer to remind them of the contract and tell them no than to do the work. As you can imagine it slowed the work way down. So he decided he would bill for the extras... that just made matters worse because then they would hold up payment because of a silly 5.00 sprinkler head. So that required a call at least or a visit, more wasted time. Long story short he ended up loosing some good accounts on his high end service side because he was neglecting them while dealing with the other numskulls. He canned the whole operation on less than a year.

GravelyGuy
08-04-2009, 09:22 PM
I like the idea a lot, but you will have to be VERY organized and get help just dealing with the day to day customer BS.

RigglePLC
08-04-2009, 10:11 PM
Do everything twice? Separate trucks and signs and invoices and paperwork. Separate license and insurance.

May I suggest you have a periodic sale or special deal. Offer an economy lawn plan from your same company--bare bones. Cash in advance. Three applications. No guarantee. All options are optional at extra cost. No special trips available, or trip cost is a dollar a minute. No call aheads. No hand sprayer, spot spray or tiny area detail work. If you want, you can imply that weed control would not be as effective--if you need to convince customer to stay with the full program. And if they want special tratments or grub control--they need the full program. And every year send them a letter that tries to convince them to go with the greater benefits of the full program.

whoopassonthebluegrass
08-04-2009, 10:54 PM
Thanks for the response, guys. Here were the thoughts I was having.

My existing plan consists of EVERYTHING:
* 6 ferts - all liquid except winterizer
* 5 weeds
* Grubs prevention
* Shrub/Bush/Ornamental Spray
* topical insecticide for the continual sod webworm outbreaks
* 2 pre-ems
* Round-Up all the concrete cracks and roadside

What I was thinking for this secondary business is this:

* Buy another name through the state.
* Use all my existing equipment, b/c my truck never got badged this year.
* Use the Google-Voice phone # I got - so that I still only use my one phone.
* Sell a simple, budget-conscious plan of 5 granular ferts and 2 weed sprays.

I recognize that I'd have to have a clear contract that allowed me to charge for callbacks of any nature, etc. And I'd have to educate them that 2 weed sprays a year will only keep things in check.

But, (and I know I'll take heat for this because some choose not to believe me) I can spread granular fert on a typical 5-6k lawn in 3-5 minutes per lawn.

Thus, if I price it right, my input of time and materials might be just as lucrative as my high-end business. PLUS I get to charge for extras. The only catch would be reeling in a significant # of clients...

Any additional thoughts? Is it just unrealistic?

GravelyGuy
08-04-2009, 11:11 PM
If your business is 100% quality based right now then I think you would regret sticking your flag in any lawn that chooses the econo package. Depending on the area I would think it could hurt your business.

On a side note, 6 apps of fert is pretty crazy unless your doing it TGCL style and using all fast release. Grass would be out of control around here with that much fert.

whoopassonthebluegrass
08-04-2009, 11:19 PM
If your business is 100% quality based right now then I think you would regret sticking your flag in any lawn that chooses the econo package. Depending on the area I would think it could hurt your business.

It'd be a flag for the new shell corp. :laugh:

On a side note, 6 apps of fert is pretty crazy unless your doing it TGCL style and using all fast release. Grass would be out of control around here with that much fert.

We treat every 6 weeks. Right on par for the environment here. As for out-of-control, I custom blend my ferts. I don't do the Nitrogen-Surplus-Program.

THC
08-04-2009, 11:44 PM
Having crazy thoughts as I'm out working in the heat. :dizzy:

Rather than give you a novel to read, here's the short version:

I've built my brand as a high end service. A service that, while not shrinking, is not growing in this recession where frugality is suddenly "in".

Rather than alienate my existing clients or risking them cutting out services, I'm considering building a completely separate brand that will cater to the needs of the recession.

I'd establish a separate company with a separate #, separate advertising, etc...

Any thoughts on the matter?

My brother in law has done that in a different service business. In fact he has 3 or 4 different company names. He's VERY successful (so who am I to criticize...) but there are some things about it I don't like.
He has Large yellow page ads for every one of them (this year they put two of his half page ads right next to each other:laugh:, he's pissed because they look very similar in design. They were instructed never to place them together.
Anyway, because he has different names he has to have different phones. Sometimes the same people will phone all his companys because they are price shopping. They have to disguise there voice or pass the phone over etc. The same people do all the work so they have velcro patches on their t shirts and no lettering on any of the vans.

Interestingly, some of their "cheap" advertising ie. ugly coupons, are the most successful but they really do have one major company and 3 smaller ones. His thinking is that he is saturating the market and the yellow pages.


I don't know. He makes a 100x the money I do but I like lettering and sticking to one name. I actually do 4 different services but all under one name.

Edit: I have another thing to say to you, you could just ad a "just mow it" service to what you already have. Check out Jaimie's Lawn Care (http://www.jamieslawnservice.com/pricing.html)... some good Ideas there I was thinking of implementing.

Whopps, I see you were talking about fert not mowing (ingore me:laugh:)

big acres
08-05-2009, 12:01 AM
The thought has come up with us too, but it sounds like a logistics nightmare. Our neighbor (different service) in the office condo has four numbers for his North, south, east, and west metro locations... of course they all ring to his cell. Not exactly the same concept, but makes him sound bigger than he is.

I think you are better off promoting "window pricing", that is your high-end and low end service being sold as two options in your proposal. One has checkerboard lawn, the other is mow and go. This shows that unlike many, you KNOW what good service is and can provide it, but can also dumb it down to meet their pricepoint. Just be sure to spell out the difference in what they should expect.

ted putnam
08-05-2009, 12:37 AM
The thought has come up with us too, but it sounds like a logistics nightmare. Our neighbor (different service) in the office condo has four numbers for his North, south, east, and west metro locations... of course they all ring to his cell. Not exactly the same concept, but makes him sound bigger than he is.

I think you are better off promoting "window pricing", that is your high-end and low end service being sold as two options in your proposal. One has checkerboard lawn, the other is mow and go. This shows that unlike many, you KNOW what good service is and can provide it, but can also dumb it down to meet their pricepoint. Just be sure to spell out the difference in what they should expect.

Years ago when I worked for Chemlawn, they did this. They had what they called "Showplace"(standard program). Then they had what they called the "Estate" program(all the bells and whistles).I'm not sure how well it worked for them or what % were "Estate", but they stuck with it so I'm sure it helped the bottom line...Routing was the only headache and all the other logistical nightmares were avoided.

IMAGE
08-05-2009, 12:54 AM
its a headache... Especially when all the calls go to one phone... how do you know which company they are calling for?

When they leave a message saying "hi i live at 24568 XXX street, could you call me back with an estimate", when you call them back, do you say, Hi this is Jimmy from(which company do you say, oh no you dont know) because you dont know which company they called for.

Stillwater
08-05-2009, 12:55 AM
Having crazy thoughts as I'm out working in the heat. :dizzy:

Rather than give you a novel to read, here's the short version:

I've built my brand as a high end service. A service that, while not shrinking, is not growing in this recession where frugality is suddenly "in".

Rather than alienate my existing clients or risking them cutting out services, I'm considering building a completely separate brand that will cater to the needs of the recession.

I'd establish a separate company with a separate #, separate advertising, etc...

Any thoughts on the matter?


My thoughts are... you should be already be doing this, a separate entity is not necessary and actually counter productive, offering services to a lower class of customer by soliciting their business and adjusting your services to their needs does not/should not require any retooling of the layout of your current business outside of a possible purchase and hiring of additional equipment or personale to cover the increase of work load. I don't understand why you think your current high end clients would cut out service or feel alienated buy your growth unless your growth is resulting in reduction of attention and quality? It is called diversifying customers, and is hugely important to business security and should have been done yesterday

mikesturf
08-05-2009, 08:16 AM
Great idea offering a cheaper, reduced option program. However, do not start an entire business for that. You can purchase different lawn flags for the cheaper program.

whoopassonthebluegrass
08-05-2009, 10:00 AM
Do everything twice? Separate trucks and signs and invoices and paperwork. Separate license and insurance.

It'd be a new business name, that's all. I'd have a separate invoice in quickbooks, a second website, and a second set of flags. NONE of these things would increase my costs (beyond my own time) one red cent beyond paying the initial $35 to register a new biz with the state and then $5 for another domain name. Advertising would consist of fliers targeting specific areas to start out with.

its a headache... Especially when all the calls go to one phone... how do you know which company they are calling for?

Google Voice would keep their voicemail separate from my cell's.

My thoughts are... you should be already be doing this, a separate entity is not necessary and actually counter productive.

I have in the past, and didn't care for the headache, so I went high-end. This worked well for me... up until this year.

I don't understand why you think your current high end clients would cut out service or feel alienated buy your growth unless your growth is resulting in reduction of attention and quality?

I have been of the "you want ME, then you pay for my FULL service" mantra for a few years now. I don't want these clients that I've sold my high end package to downgrade on me. And in my area, even the affluent are really frugal.

n-green
08-05-2009, 11:05 AM
My take is keep it simple, the recession will end. Keep marketing your brand.

larryinalabama
08-05-2009, 12:11 PM
Having crazy thoughts as I'm out working in the heat. :dizzy:

Rather than give you a novel to read, here's the short version:

I've built my brand as a high end service. A service that, while not shrinking, is not growing in this recession where frugality is suddenly "in".

Rather than alienate my existing clients or risking them cutting out services, I'm considering building a completely separate brand that will cater to the needs of the recession.

I'd establish a separate company with a separate #, separate advertising, etc...

Any thoughts on the matter?


If I remember looking at your website eariler in the year it said you offer the best VALUE in your aera.

So to have the best value and switch to a budget operation will never work.


Also if people are dropping right now I seariously doubt that they are picking up someone else, there just doing it them selves or letting everything go this year.

Stillwater
08-05-2009, 12:26 PM
You know from the sound of your posts you appear to be attempting to hide. Hide the fact you service high end customers and you want to avoid looking like you are slumming. Man up and get out their and let the world know that woopass has a service for everyone. You can do it all and you want to..... whats with the flags? and why cant woopass service every type of customer

whoopassonthebluegrass
08-05-2009, 01:38 PM
If I remember looking at your website eariler in the year it said you offer the best VALUE in your aera.

So to have the best value and switch to a budget operation will never work.

This is one of the reasons for wanting to market a "different" brand.

Also if people are dropping right now I seariously doubt that they are picking up someone else, there just doing it them selves or letting everything go this year.

I'm not losing existing clients. I'm just not landing the new ones.

You know from the sound of your posts you appear to be attempting to hide. Hide the fact you service high end customers and you want to avoid looking like you are slumming. Man up and get out their and let the world know that woopass has a service for everyone. You can do it all and you want to..... whats with the flags? and why cant woopass service every type of customer

Your point is a valid one. But I've managed to establish my company as a "Lexus" operation. And it seems like a bad move for Lexus to come out with a chinzy Geo-Metro-equivalent.

Josh.S
08-05-2009, 02:08 PM
I have thought about this and I think it is a great idea though if it is done right. For me, I will just offer a couple programs.

If you had two lawn care company's though, are you going to market to different neighborhoods?

For example, maybe with Econo Lawn Care you will market to a different neighborhood than with Prestige Lawn Care. Also, if somebody from a Prestige Lawn Care neighborhood calls Econo Lawn Care you could tell them that you do not service that area and they will have to call Prestige.

I think you could run into big problems if you market to the same neighborhoods with both businesses (my opinion). What happens if you get neighbors and one with Econo and one with Prestige? Are you going to spray both yards with the same product and then stick flags from different company's? And charge different prices? Make two trips for different products? Ect.

I also understand that there is both types of people in one neighborhood. One that wants cheap and one that wants quality. I just feel you could run into problems.

I think it could be a pain unless you kept the marketing areas separate. That is only my $.02.

MnLefty
08-05-2009, 04:26 PM
I would stick with your full service program, and develop an "economy" program that is only a backup or last resort for those who think the full program is too much, too much $$, or current customers who are about to drop you because of $$. Don't offer both plans at once... sell your full service, and only after they turn it down offer them the economy plan.

If you really need to market the economy plan to certain areas/neighborhoods where your full service is too much go ahead and do it. I think you run a bigger risk of damage to your reputation by customers finding out you are running two separate businesses... more than any damage done by offering two levels of service.

LawnoftheMonth
08-05-2009, 07:17 PM
I would stick with your full service program, and develop an "economy" program that is only a backup or last resort for those who think the full program is too much, too much $$, or current customers who are about to drop you because of $$. Don't offer both plans at once... sell your full service, and only after they turn it down offer them the economy plan.


What he said x 100%