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Ryall Landscaping
09-10-2009, 01:05 PM
Well, first off. My name is Tim. I'm 17. I ran a landscaping company with a friend this summer for some spare cash. We, in my opinion, did very nice jobs, and made quite a bit of money for our ages. We did almost all landscaping (mulching, clean-ups, etc.) and only had 2 weekly lawns to cut. We both had part time jobs we worked on the side as well.

Next year, I plan on going at it full-force solo, getting insurance, probably dropping my part time job, and making some good money..But I have a LOT of things that I just don't know, even as much as I have read on here and etc. So, I'm turning to lawnsite for advice/answers.

1) I plan on doing direct mailing by myself (not through a company - too much money) to a lot of houses. Is a brief flyer, and a business card enough? Should I pre-estimate prices while I am collecting the addresses? Do I put them on the flyers? What is a normal return rate on this sort of thing? If I wanted 30 accounts or so, how many houses (guesstimation) should I mail to?

2) Do I go for the wealthy houses, or the medium-income houses? The wealthy are prob more picky, but prob are better about paying. Medium-income I could probably snag more of, since I can afford to be $5/week cheaper than a large company.

3) How much profit do I am for? 50%? 70%? 80%? What am I shooting for?

4) When do I do mailings? When is too early, and when is too late?

5) When does my season run? I know this is very regional, so maybe some PA/WV/OH folks can help me on this one.. I was thinking of starting in mid April and ending in mid October?

6) Should I do contracts? Pay monthly ahead of time? Pay monthly on CC? What is ideal for me, being small and new?

I could probably come up with a lot more questions, but I'll stop now..Sorry for making it so long.. I appreciate any responses.

Tim

Daniel's Lawn Care
09-10-2009, 03:23 PM
Well, first off. My name is Tim. I'm 17. I ran a landscaping company with a friend this summer for some spare cash. We, in my opinion, did very nice jobs, and made quite a bit of money for our ages. We did almost all landscaping (mulching, clean-ups, etc.) and only had 2 weekly lawns to cut. We both had part time jobs we worked on the side as well.

Next year, I plan on going at it full-force solo, getting insurance, probably dropping my part time job, and making some good money..But I have a LOT of things that I just don't know, even as much as I have read on here and etc. So, I'm turning to lawnsite for advice/answers.

1) I plan on doing direct mailing by myself (not through a company - too much money) to a lot of houses. Is a brief flier, and a business card enough? Should I pre-estimate prices while I am collecting the addresses? Do I put them on the fliers? What is a normal return rate on this sort of thing? If I wanted 30 accounts or so, how many houses (guesstimation) should I mail to?

2) Do I go for the wealthy houses, or the medium-income houses? The wealthy are prob more picky, but prob are better about paying. Medium-income I could probably snag more of, since I can afford to be $5/week cheaper than a large company.

3) How much profit do I am for? 50%? 70%? 80%? What am I shooting for?

4) When do I do mailings? When is too early, and when is too late?

5) When does my season run? I know this is very regional, so maybe some PA/WV/OH folks can help me on this one.. I was thinking of starting in mid April and ending in mid October?

6) Should I do contracts? Pay monthly ahead of time? Pay monthly on CC? What is ideal for me, being small and new?

I could probably come up with a lot more questions, but I'll stop now..Sorry for making it so long.. I appreciate any responses.

Tim


You think your questions where long? The answers are longer!:laugh:

1. I would not recommend dropping your part-time job right away. It would be next to impossible to go full time solo in one leap.

2. I did direct mailing to a large medium-high income neighborhood of about 200-300 homes and got only one customer. You would be best to go door-to-door with a pack of business cards or (what I use) a postcard size flier with information on both sides. If they are home, then tell them in as few words as possible who you are and what you offer. If they are not home, leave your flier or card in the door.

3. Pre-estimating only works if it is a neighborhood of identical size lots.

4. The theory is that you get one account for every 20-25 households you contact. You do the math.

5. I would go for both the medium and high income homes, but don't under price yourself. I have a long story about that!

6. You would need to ask someone else about your profit percentage.

7. The best time I have found for doing mailings or door-to-door for residential lawn accounts is December-March. Sorry that I can't be more specific but different lawn companies renew their residential contracts at different times.

8. Start when the grass does and stop when the leaves stop falling.

9. Offer the customer the option of: (1) pay a set amount for 12 months; (2) pay when you come to cut it; or what I do (3) a combination of the two where I bill the customer at the end of the month for however many times I cut it.

One caution: get payed when you cut it the first time. You don't want to keep it cut for an entire month and then the customer refuse to pay.

I hope this helps. I am also 17 and have been in this business for 5 years, so I know where you are coming from. Work hard, do a good job and the customers will find you! Good luck Tim and God Bless!:usflag:

Ryall Landscaping
09-10-2009, 06:24 PM
You think your questions where long? The answers are longer!:laugh:

1. I would not recommend dropping your part-time job right away. It would be next to impossible to go full time solo in one leap.
When I say part time job, I'm talking like ~$200/week tops..So it would probably not be too hard to replace. Though I could do both.

2. I did direct mailing to a large medium-high income neighborhood of about 200-300 homes and got only one customer. You would be best to go door-to-door with a pack of business cards or (what I use) a postcard size flier with information on both sides. If they are home, then tell them in as few words as possible who you are and what you offer. If they are not home, leave your flier or card in the door.
I thought about doing doorhangers too. I could print like 1000 and hand them all out. Would that be enough (probably) to get around 25-40 accounts? I would aim for at LEAST 25, however if I got 30, 40, 50 accounts thats fine too. I'd simply hire a helper and get them all done and make more money.

3. Pre-estimating only works if it is a neighborhood of identical size lots.
When I said pre-estimating, I meant literally pre-picking which houses I wanted individually and how much I would charge, and putting it into my doorhanger or mailing..Would that be more convenient for them? Or is better to do it without them?

4. The theory is that you get one account for every 20-25 households you contact. You do the math.
So 1000/25= 40 accounts.

5. I would go for both the medium and high income homes, but don't under price yourself. I have a long story about that!
K.

6. You would need to ask someone else about your profit percentage.
K.
7. The best time I have found for doing mailings or door-to-door for residential lawn accounts is December-March. Sorry that I can't be more specific but different lawn companies renew their residential contracts at different times.
Ok. What about doing more than one advertisement period? Like one in early January, and another in mid February..Or something. Good idea? Bad idea?
8. Start when the grass does and stop when the leaves stop falling.
Ok. However if I did contracts I would need to have a set beginning/ending I think. I'll pay attention this year to when leaves begin to fall/grass stops growing..But I honestly haven't paid too much attention to when it starts to grow.
9. Offer the customer the option of: (1) pay a set amount for 12 months; (2) pay when you come to cut it; or what I do (3) a combination of the two where I bill the customer at the end of the month for however many times I cut it.
If you do the per-cut price, is it higher? It seems like it would be a hassle for you but cheaper/convenient for them.

One caution: get payed when you cut it the first time. You don't want to keep it cut for an entire month and then the customer refuse to pay.

I hope this helps. I am also 17 and have been in this business for 5 years, so I know where you are coming from. Work hard, do a good job and the customers will find you! Good luck Tim and God Bless!:usflag:

Daniel's Lawn Care
09-10-2009, 10:23 PM
When I said pre-estimating, I meant literally pre-picking which houses I wanted individually and how much I would charge, and putting it into my doorhanger or mailing..Would that be more convenient for them? Or is better to do it without them?

Ok. What about doing more than one advertisement period? Like one in early January, and another in mid February..Or something. Good idea? Bad idea?

Ok. However if I did contracts I would need to have a set beginning/ending I think. I'll pay attention this year to when leaves begin to fall/grass stops growing..But I honestly haven't paid too much attention to when it starts to grow.

If you do the per-cut price, is it higher? It seems like it would be a hassle for you but cheaper/convenient for them.

You have a lot of good ideas and good questions. I do not feel fully qualified to be able to give you the best answers but I will try.

1. If you have the time and the effort then go ahead and put the price on the door-hanger, just do not pencil the price in on the door-hanger, it does not look professional.

2. There are only two periods that I know of. The contracts that go from January 1 - December 31, in which case you need to contact those people in December. And the contracts that start in March or April, in which case you need to contact those people in February or March. About the only between time is January.

3. The set ending date should be 365 days after your starting date. Your starting date should be a little on the early side in case you have an earlier spring.

4. It is not a hassle at all for me because I keep a monthly mileage chart that shows all the jobs I did that month. It is more physiological than anything else for the customer. It is really hard for some of them to send you a $150 check in January when all they are paying for is to keep the grass cut. Now if that contract included snow removal that would be different.

I hope this helps and if you have any more questions let me know. By the way, you might want to create a website for your self. You can visit mine at www.danielslawncare.com If you want some more info on creating a website, email me at danielslawncare@embarqmail.com Look forward to hearing from you Tim!

Swampy
09-11-2009, 02:31 AM
When I say part time job, I'm talking like ~$200/week tops..So it would probably not be too hard to replace. Though I could do both.


200 bucks is 200 bucks. That's gas and hot dogs for the week.

Ryall Landscaping
09-11-2009, 12:42 PM
200 bucks is 200 bucks. That's gas and hot dogs for the week.

Right. My only reason for saying anything about it is just that if it were an option, I'd rather mow grass to make $200 than do what I do there. But I agree..gas and hot dogs is fine with me lol.

White Gardens
09-12-2009, 10:24 AM
Around here we figure 30 mows a year, without any skips if the lawn is dry.

In Landscaping, I shoot For first frost clear to the last week in Nov, if it hadn't snowed by then. If I've got any hard-scaping, dirt work, then I'll try to hold off until late in the season to do these projects after it's too late to do any plantings.

Some guys on here say they shoot for 1/3rd profit, or roughly 30%. That is after all expenses including your salary. But I think that number goes with the full service guys, and not just lawn mowing, etc..

Do keep in mind, it takes most biz owners 5 years before they can pay themselves a salary. I think that is why others on here are telling you to keep your part-time job.

Do not limit yourself to specific neighborhoods. All your competition has probably saturated the high-end markets, so don't be afraid to spread your fliers around. I find some of the most rewarding, and bigger jobs in middle-income neighborhoods.

Do fliers at any time of the year. Even if you don't get as good of response in the slower months, you are still marketing you name, so you will increase your name recognition.

Yes, do contracts, that will cover your butt in court if the need ever arises.

If your still living at home, take advantage of it. It will help to cover your daily expenses until you save some money up from your biz.

Don't forget, go to school after high-school. Education is very important, even if you only get an associates degree.

Ryall Landscaping
09-12-2009, 11:30 AM
Around here we figure 30 mows a year, without any skips if the lawn is dry.

In Landscaping, I shoot For first frost clear to the last week in Nov, if it hadn't snowed by then. If I've got any hard-scaping, dirt work, then I'll try to hold off until late in the season to do these projects after it's too late to do any plantings.

Some guys on here say they shoot for 1/3rd profit, or roughly 30%. That is after all expenses including your salary. But I think that number goes with the full service guys, and not just lawn mowing, etc..

Do keep in mind, it takes most biz owners 5 years before they can pay themselves a salary. I think that is why others on here are telling you to keep your part-time job.

Do not limit yourself to specific neighborhoods. All your competition has probably saturated the high-end markets, so don't be afraid to spread your fliers around. I find some of the most rewarding, and bigger jobs in middle-income neighborhoods.

Do fliers at any time of the year. Even if you don't get as good of response in the slower months, you are still marketing you name, so you will increase your name recognition.

Yes, do contracts, that will cover your butt in court if the need ever arises.

If your still living at home, take advantage of it. It will help to cover your daily expenses until you save some money up from your biz.

Don't forget, go to school after high-school. Education is very important, even if you only get an associates degree.

Ok. Thanks a lot. I don't know that I plan on doing this as a career. I've considered it, but have seen a lot of bad remarks regarding it..so I don't know. I do however want to go into the business field, and probably own my own business. I plan on getting a business degree, probably in management.

30 cuts a year? So if I get a contract written up, I put 30 cuts in there? or I charge for 30 cuts, and cut whenever it needs it?

So if you were me, you would target the middle-income neighborhoods? There are plenty around. Do you think I have a better chance of reaching them than the ones who are loaded but already have one of the bigger guys doing it?

White Gardens
09-12-2009, 03:11 PM
30 cuts a year? So if I get a contract written up, I put 30 cuts in there? or I charge for 30 cuts, and cut whenever it needs it?

So if you were me, you would target the middle-income neighborhoods? There are plenty around. Do you think I have a better chance of reaching them than the ones who are loaded but already have one of the bigger guys doing it?

You should put in there approximately 30 cuts a year, plus or minus 2. Like I stated before, that's our area, not sure about yours. Some summers we get little rain and we can skip up to 5 times in a season. That equates to about 25 mows.

Target everyone.

The big guys want bigger accounts pay wise. Start off smaller residentials and work on volume. Still go flier even some of the higher end neighborhoods, but don't be surprised if you don't get any calls. I figure one call per 100 fliers. Some guys say they only get 1 per 200. Just spread it around as much as possible.

Stillwater
09-12-2009, 11:25 PM
Ryall, you got some Solid intell from White Gardens in post #7

hate2work
09-12-2009, 11:38 PM
Many people have learned this trade by working for someone else for a while, all the time keeping their eyes open, learning as much as possible. You might consider that as an option. Experience is the best teacher :)

Ryall Landscaping
09-13-2009, 12:10 AM
You should put in there approximately 30 cuts a year, plus or minus 2. Like I stated before, that's our area, not sure about yours. Some summers we get little rain and we can skip up to 5 times in a season. That equates to about 25 mows.

Target everyone.

The big guys want bigger accounts pay wise. Start off smaller residentials and work on volume. Still go flier even some of the higher end neighborhoods, but don't be surprised if you don't get any calls. I figure one call per 100 fliers. Some guys say they only get 1 per 200. Just spread it around as much as possible.
Ok. Thanks..Appreciate it :)
Ryall, you got some Solid intell from White Gardens in post #7
I know. Solid info.. That's why I post on LS.

Many people have learned this trade by working for someone else for a while, all the time keeping their eyes open, learning as much as possible. You might consider that as an option. Experience is the best teacher :)

I know. I tried last year, initially, to work for another landscaper, but couldn't find a job, then kind of went on my own.

Daniel's Lawn Care
09-13-2009, 04:14 PM
Ok. Thanks a lot. I don't know that I plan on doing this as a career. I've considered it, but have seen a lot of bad remarks regarding it..so I don't know. I do however want to go into the business field, and probably own my own business. I plan on getting a business degree, probably in management.

If your in the Lawn & Landscaping industry, then you might want to consider getting an under-grad in Horticulture or Landscape design. I am currently taking Landscape Design and am planing on taking Horticulture when I'm done, because I plan on owning my own Green House and Nursery 10-20 years down the road.

Ryall Landscaping
09-13-2009, 10:17 PM
If your in the Lawn & Landscaping industry, then you might want to consider getting an under-grad in Horticulture or Landscape design. I am currently taking Landscape Design and am planing on taking Horticulture when I'm done, because I plan on owning my own Green House and Nursery 10-20 years down the road.

Yeah. I plan on getting a major in BM, and a minor, or maybe major, in either something else business related, or a field that I plan on going into (I.E. Horticulture, construction, etc.). But I am gonna have to see how it goes next year I suppose and play it by ear. Could be a good way to pay my way through college if it works out.

However, the more I thought about/read about it as a career, it does seem like it would be tough to make a good amount of money in it..So I don't know. Got a lot of life to live yet, I'm not in a rush.

jeffslawnservice
12-31-2009, 12:02 PM
Someone stated earlier about working for someone. I am 17 too and I did my own stuff and worked for someone part time last year. best move I ever made was working for someone. Not only did I learn a lot more information about the industry I also learned how to do jobs faster and little tricks and tips that made the jobs look better. I had enough time to work for someone and also do my own work. Made lots of money. payup

scagrider22
12-31-2009, 04:21 PM
The best advice I could give is to go work for larger landscaper in your area who also does hardscapes, for atleat another year if not 2-3 it will teach you so much you may have learned a little lawn care but you didnt learn hardscapes and you didnt learn the the business side of it and being a good business man will get you much farther, remember the turtle wins the race, that means learn everything you can and grow your business slow with quality acounts, what would you rather have 40 accounts paying $20 or 20 accounts paying $40? You make the same amount with half the work which allows you grow more in time.

drpepperinacan
01-10-2010, 11:45 AM
Well, first off. My name is Tim. I'm 17. I ran a landscaping company with a friend this summer for some spare cash. We, in my opinion, did very nice jobs, and made quite a bit of money for our ages. We did almost all landscaping (mulching, clean-ups, etc.) and only had 2 weekly lawns to cut. We both had part time jobs we worked on the side as well.

Next year, I plan on going at it full-force solo, getting insurance, probably dropping my part time job, and making some good money..But I have a LOT of things that I just don't know, even as much as I have read on here and etc. So, I'm turning to lawnsite for advice/answers.

1) I plan on doing direct mailing by myself (not through a company - too much money) to a lot of houses. Is a brief flyer, and a business card enough? Should I pre-estimate prices while I am collecting the addresses? Do I put them on the flyers? What is a normal return rate on this sort of thing? If I wanted 30 accounts or so, how many houses (guesstimation) should I mail to?

2) Do I go for the wealthy houses, or the medium-income houses? The wealthy are prob more picky, but prob are better about paying. Medium-income I could probably snag more of, since I can afford to be $5/week cheaper than a large company.

3) How much profit do I am for? 50%? 70%? 80%? What am I shooting for?

4) When do I do mailings? When is too early, and when is too late?

5) When does my season run? I know this is very regional, so maybe some PA/WV/OH folks can help me on this one.. I was thinking of starting in mid April and ending in mid October?

6) Should I do contracts? Pay monthly ahead of time? Pay monthly on CC? What is ideal for me, being small and new?

I could probably come up with a lot more questions, but I'll stop now..Sorry for making it so long.. I appreciate any responses.

Tim

here in roanoke,va our season runs from the end of march to november and ocassionally into december if we have warmer temperatures like we have for the past two years. your season is probably alittle shorter than mine though, most likely from mid april to october maybe. Ideally for you , you want your customers to trust you so I would just get paid by the job at the end of the job, this way when some customers say : I'll pay you next week or when my check comes in . you will know that when you work for those customers you will have maybe sign contracts with them or make them prepay, or just work for them until there check comes in then make sure they pay, if they fail to pay when they get their paycheck then stop working for them until they pay. trust me I lost $175 with one customer this way. he kept telling me he was going to pay me and never did. Now I only mow his grass once and won't mow it again until he pays me. just find out which customers are trustworthy and which are not. some people like to pay monthly because that's how they get paid but just make sure they pay you at the end of the month. you are probably looking at a 20-30% profit while you are building up your arsenal of mowing eqiupment. you should go for both medium and higher income houses, you will definitely get the most middle class houses and just a few richer ones. you middle class customers will be your most grateful but they are also trying to get the most bang for their buck so you have to make them feel like they're getting a good deal. the wealthier ones are the pickiest customers you will have but you can almost always get away with charging them way more for there yards than the middle class customers. like, i have on wealthy couple that I work for here in roanoke and they have a little tiny yard and they pay me $40.00 to cut it every two weeks no matter what and the have me cut the grass as high as the mower will go which is about 4-5 inches , so I don't really even that much cutting to the grass, more like evening it out! but they think they are getting a great deal! so I profit quite well off of them. however they are extremely insistant about the grass being long and looking even, they also dont want the clipping to pile up any where, basically it has to look perfect every time. you shouldn't neccessarily pre-estimate your prices, tell them an estimate but tell them that it is subject to change after you mow it the first time, that way you know what your getting into without committing to a specific price, if it's harder than you though it would be you can raise the price. keep up the good work!

Daniel's Lawn Care
01-11-2010, 07:08 PM
here in roanoke,va our season runs from the end of march to november and ocassionally into december if we have warmer temperatures like we have for the past two years. your season is probably a little shorter than mine though, most likely from mid april to october maybe. Ideally for you , you want your customers to trust you so I would just get paid by the job at the end of the job, this way when some customers say : I'll pay you next week or when my check comes in . you will know that when you work for those customers you will have maybe sign contracts with them or make them prepay, or just work for them until there check comes in then make sure they pay, if they fail to pay when they get their paycheck then stop working for them until they pay. trust me I lost $175 with one customer this way. he kept telling me he was going to pay me and never did. Now I only mow his grass once and won't mow it again until he pays me. just find out which customers are trustworthy and which are not. some people like to pay monthly because that's how they get paid but just make sure they pay you at the end of the month. you are probably looking at a 20-30% profit while you are building up your arsenal of mowing eqiupment. you should go for both medium and higher income houses, you will definitely get the most middle class houses and just a few richer ones. you middle class customers will be your most grateful but they are also trying to get the most bang for their buck so you have to make them feel like they're getting a good deal. the wealthier ones are the pickiest customers you will have but you can almost always get away with charging them way more for there yards than the middle class customers. like, i have on wealthy couple that I work for here in roanoke and they have a little tiny yard and they pay me $40.00 to cut it every two weeks no matter what and the have me cut the grass as high as the mower will go which is about 4-5 inches , so I don't really even that much cutting to the grass, more like evening it out! but they think they are getting a great deal! so I profit quite well off of them. however they are extremely insistant about the grass being long and looking even, they also don't want the clipping to pile up any where, basically it has to look perfect every time. you shouldn't neccessarily pre-estimate your prices, tell them an estimate but tell them that it is subject to change after you mow it the first time, that way you know what your getting into without committing to a specific price, if it's harder than you though it would be you can raise the price. keep up the good work!

Your post would be easier to read if you would break it up into paragraphs. Good info though.

drpepperinacan
01-11-2010, 10:31 PM
Your post would be easier to read if you would break it up into paragraphs. Good info though.

Your right about breaking it up into paragraphs>

drpepperinacan
01-11-2010, 10:32 PM
Someone stated earlier about working for someone. I am 17 too and I did my own stuff and worked for someone part time last year. best move I ever made was working for someone. Not only did I learn a lot more information about the industry I also learned how to do jobs faster and little tricks and tips that made the jobs look better. I had enough time to work for someone and also do my own work. Made lots of money. payup

I worked for someone else too , got similar benefits from it.