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gwynnsh
11-18-2009, 05:02 PM
Hello,

I'm looking to start my own lawn care business (probably start out part-time cutting a few yards at first) but I'd like to eventually do it full time (maybe by myself at first) or with my brother a little later once I get things established. I've looked over this site quite a few times (really great questions & answers) & finally decided to join since there is so much valuable information. I guess my main question is this: How do I go about getting my first few residential clients to get started & how often should I cut/trim, etc? Also, what about payment from clients: Should I collect strictly cash or check after every job? I already have a truck, 5' x 8' trailer, riding mower, 2 push mowers (one personal pace) a trimmer & an edger (I also have a hedger but it's battery operated so I'd need to get a gas unit) to get me started. Thanks for listening & any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Hunter

PestPro
11-18-2009, 06:05 PM
Hello,

I'm looking to start my own lawn care business (probably start out part-time cutting a few yards at first) but I'd like to eventually do it full time (maybe by myself at first) or with my brother a little later once I get things established. I've looked over this site quite a few times (really great questions & answers) & finally decided to join since there is so much valuable information. I guess my main question is this: How do I go about getting my first few residential clients to get started & how often should I cut/trim, etc? Also, what about payment from clients: Should I collect strictly cash or check after every job? I already have a truck, 5' x 8' trailer, riding mower, 2 push mowers (one personal pace) a trimmer & an edger (I also have a hedger but it's battery operated so I'd need to get a gas unit) to get me started. Thanks for listening & any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Hunter

Knock on lots of doors

vanncann
11-18-2009, 10:25 PM
When I was in that area it was hard to get clients. Word of mouth is the best way. News papers and flyer's did nothing for me for picking up work.

Allens LawnCare
11-18-2009, 11:04 PM
Marketing isn't free, your best bet is to use heavy footwork. Go out, introduce yourself...start with one.....don't grab the bull by the horns, grab him by the balls.....For the best result, don't wait for work to come to you, go out and find the work.

unkownfl
11-18-2009, 11:19 PM
At least get business cards made! Then knock on doors or use door hangers. Business cards is a minimum. If you want to try a lead service like service magic then go for it. I use them its been working out. You just have to stay on it and be a low baller at first since you don't really have a name.

lukemelo216
11-19-2009, 12:05 AM
Ya hit the marketing hard. Id try and use a small mailing list and postcards.those always work good for me. As far as mowing goes its all dependent on the area. Here its the middle of April to October some time every 7 days. Down south Id imagine its probably every 7 days april through oct then bi weekly the other months. but Idk I am not from there. I cut and trim every visit and then edge every other visit. Full service customers get that every week and then once a month bed edging and 3 times a year hedge trimming. Also i do fall clean ups and spring clean ups.

As far as billing and paying goes I do net-30. weekly paying gets difficult. the customer has to be home or leave the money somewhere. plus its kind of inconvenient for them sometimes. if they insist i will accept it and let them know i will be there this day and if they wont be home leave the check under the door rug. usually this is older people who want this. All my others its do the work 1-30(31) mail bills the 1 due 15 business days later so usually around the 20/21. never had any problems.

gwynnsh
11-19-2009, 08:36 AM
Thanks for all the responses. I'm trying to figure this all out during the winter months so I can be ready for the spring. What about a nice looking ad on craigslist? If not, how about a small ad in the phone book or newspaper? I'll only be working part-time to start out so I'm assuming that I won't have to get a business license unless I decide to start a full time business, or will I? (I'll be working out of my home). I guess the advantage to getting a business license is that you could actually have a professional name & then you could promote easier with a website, magnets, business cards, etc. Also, what exactly is service magic: unknownfl?

Thanks again!

gwynnsh
11-19-2009, 08:44 AM
I know this is kind of subjective but i'd like to be able to get some jobs & also make some money without working hard and barely making ends meet. I'd hate to low-ball on estimates but then again how else would you get customers to start out? If I'm mowing, trimming, edging & blowing a lawn (let's say 1/2 acre on flat land here in South Alabama) how do you go about estimating/charging for that job? I've heard that if you estimate the time it would take & then add $1.00 per minute you can't go wrong but I also want to be able to get some new clients without charging too much & not going broke in the process. I would think that a free estimate would also help get some possible clients. Thanks again.

Allens LawnCare
11-19-2009, 08:59 AM
Your not considered a lowballer unless your cutting someone elses throat on purpose. You WILL burn yourself several times through out your new business startup. They are mistakes, errors in estimating. Stick with your price but you'll have to consider it a lesson learned

MarkintheGarden
11-19-2009, 09:49 AM
I would suggest that you use fliers or doorhangers and cover the areas that you want to work in. There is nothing better than getting customers in groups on the same block or area. Create a flier that has a certain image or personality, set yourself apart from the other guys, and do not use a generic flier that looks like what the contractor scam artists would use.

Do not offer low prices, as it is better to mow ten lawns for good money than to mow twenty lawns for cheap.

As you start to get customers, let them decide how to pay, either each service, monthly, etc. Later down the road you can work out the system that works best for you and your customers.

A business license is often not that expensive. Liability insurance will probably cost more. Find out these costs and whether or not you get them right away, charge enough so that you can get them soon. The problem with lowballing is once you start it is hard to turn it around.

Image is everything if you want to avoid being at the bottom of the food chain. If you want to mow for the lowest dollar, then image is of little signifigance.

If you want to make good money, you need to project a good image, provide customer service relations, and deliver reliable and quality services.

Good luck!!!

gwynnsh
11-19-2009, 11:01 AM
Thanks for all the advice. Is a business license really necessary/required if I'm only working maybe Friday & Saturday part-time as I work 4 ten hour days during the week & this would be the only time I could work? I know it's probably best practice to go ahead and get a license so I can actually name my business but I'm thinking about maybe just getting a license later down the road if business picks up and I decide to do it full time. Also, what's the best way to go about estimating a job? and what about the do it your self lawn kits sold online with all the flyers, web pages, directory listings, business card designs, etc are these worth it?

Thanks for all the valuable information.

MarkintheGarden
11-20-2009, 10:29 AM
Yes, if you want to be in business you need a business license. You will need it to open a business bank account. And you want that so that you can pay for stuff and separate the income and expenses from other income and expenses.
As the old saying goes: "If you want to make money, you have to spend money".
Business costs like the license are deductible and you want that.

So if you do not want to be in business, then you do not need a license. So do you want to be in business?

gwynnsh
11-20-2009, 11:43 AM
Thanks Mark. Any advice on estimating residential jobs?

MarkintheGarden
11-22-2009, 12:45 PM
Hey Gwynnsh,
The way to calculate your bids is to start by calculating an hourly rate. Then you simply calculate how long it will take you to complete the work and estimate it accordingly.

There are lots of threads on these topics and probably countless variations on the formula. Check out the thread "In need of some help". Here someone posted a video that explains a method to calculate your hourly rate.

When it comes to estimates, it helps to remember that we are providing the client with an estimate and that the final price may be a little higher or lower.
Because clients often want a solid figure, and because I have a solid client base, I try to stay at the high side of my estimates.

So it really does depend on many factors. It has taken me a long time to learn how to calculate my hourly rate and estimate jobs. So the best advice is to keep track of all the work that you do and time everything, keep time records for all your travel time and work time. Eventually you will be able to look at a job and know how long it will take.

PestPro
11-22-2009, 02:39 PM
I would suggest that you use fliers or doorhangers and cover the areas that you want to work in. There is nothing better than getting customers in groups on the same block or area. Create a flier that has a certain image or personality, set yourself apart from the other guys, and do not use a generic flier that looks like what the contractor scam artists would use.

Do not offer low prices, as it is better to mow ten lawns for good money than to mow twenty lawns for cheap.

As you start to get customers, let them decide how to pay, either each service, monthly, etc. Later down the road you can work out the system that works best for you and your customers.

A business license is often not that expensive. Liability insurance will probably cost more. Find out these costs and whether or not you get them right away, charge enough so that you can get them soon. The problem with lowballing is once you start it is hard to turn it around.

Image is everything if you want to avoid being at the bottom of the food chain. If you want to mow for the lowest dollar, then image is of little signifigance.

If you want to make good money, you need to project a good image, provide customer service relations, and deliver reliable and quality services.

Good luck!!!

As far as payment goes, I would not demand cash, makes you sound kind of shady. Take all means of payment. Check, Cash, Credit Cards. I use First Data for my credit cards, they are the cheapest around. You can still request Cash or Check, but if people know you accept credit cards, it makes you sound like your a honest business person, and not doing something just on the side, so you will be around next summer when they need you.

I use Service Magic for my business, and it has worked out real good for me, just remember ONE thing, that if you get a new lead from Service Magic, be the first one to call the customer. Or you will lose the bid.

After every job ask the customer, if they liked your work, is there anyone they might now, that they can refer you to. And if they do refer someone, they offer the 1st customer a discount on there next mowing. "IF" they person they referred signed a contract with you.

tcdodge4000
11-22-2009, 09:13 PM
Hey I read your thread and want to know more about service magic. A guy was telling me about them in sept 09. I checked them out on ripoff report and they had a couple of horror stories. But you seem to have good relations with them. do you pay a monthly premium for their service or how do they get referrals for you?

PestPro
11-24-2009, 07:25 AM
Hey I read your thread and want to know more about service magic. A guy was telling me about them in sept 09. I checked them out on ripoff report and they had a couple of horror stories. But you seem to have good relations with them. do you pay a monthly premium for their service or how do they get referrals for you?

There maybe a different cost for Lawn Care, I use SM for my Pest Control Business. 1) Service Magic as a very good web presents, cause Homeowners can use it for anything. 2) Remember ONE thing, not everyone has had good results with SM, I don't know why. Maybe they got a bad rating from a customer, cause once you get a bad rating nothing you can do will take that off your profile.

Way SM works. Customer logs into SM, request service, Once the person hits SUMMIT, the same lead goes out to about 3 other people, the key is BE THE FIRST ONE TO CALL THEM, cause once your phone goes off with the lead, it has cost you "X" about it dollars, for me it is 12.00. If the work is not for something you do, or is not in one of the Zip codes you have listed, then you can request a refund back on that lead, which you will get IF approved in the form of a credit on the next lead you get.

Once you get so many good ratings then you can get what is called a EXACT MATCH (18.00). That is when a person calls up and ask for just you. When you get to that level, SM will created a website for you.

The enrollment fee can vary, I paid I think 49.00 one time fee. to get started, but you can Jew them down.

Like I said before, you have to be the FIRST ONE TO CALL, day or nite. I have called so fast before they were still on the phone with SM, when I called them.

If you have any more questions ask here. or you can e mail me at
Harold@pestproservices.net

Good Luck

ox6603
11-24-2009, 10:55 AM
First thing you should do is create a list of EVERYONE that you know. Write a letter introducing your new business and asking them for referrals, be sure to include a business card or two.

Branding is important. Get a logo, design it yourself (I did) if possible, and put it anywhere you can afford to. Your business cards, your invoices, your uniform, your vehicles, even your mowers. You want people to see your logo and your business name as often as possible.

Your marketing should be an ongoing proccess. You should be constantly be making effort to get your name in front of people, especially your target demographic. Figure out what type of lawns and what type of clients you want and go after them.

Market yourself on craigslist, put some time into your ad, include your logo, a link to your website ( get one, costs like 9.95/mo). Above all, when you post on CL be sure you aren't coming off as a hack looking for beer money, the quality of your responses reflects the quality of your ad.

I'll probably think of more later...
Posted via Mobile Device

sonpro72
11-24-2009, 08:51 PM
I would suggest flyers to start. You can put out 100 per hour and should expect 1 percent response which is a low number. Also, once you have some clients start to cloverleaf that area. You can build a full time route in six months. Remember to save cash for the equipment breakdowns because they are coming! Good Luck.

RMA
11-24-2009, 10:54 PM
Door hangers and news letter ads seemed to be the best for me my first year at it!!

STIHL GUY
11-24-2009, 11:40 PM
word of mouth is best. i have fliers that i pass out to customers or those who ask. I have picked up work from many neighbors of clients that i service. i always talk to the neighbors when they are out. just today i was sucking some leaves when a man walking his dog approached and asked if i could take care of his as well

gwynnsh
11-25-2009, 02:10 PM
Thanks for all the responses guys. I'll just have to get out there the best I can at first & then go from there.

MarkintheGarden
11-25-2009, 05:57 PM
word of mouth is best. i have fliers that i pass out to customers or those who ask. I have picked up work from many neighbors of clients that i service. i always talk to the neighbors when they are out. just today i was sucking some leaves when a man walking his dog approached and asked if i could take care of his as well

I was out working today piling leaves and I remembered reading this post the night before, and I was wishing that someone would stop and ask me to do another job (My crew and I do not have much work set up right now).
So I had one of my guys knock on the neighbors door, and sure enough after a little negotiation we had another job to do.

So that is how you get work, you go out and do whatever work you do have then you start knocking on doors.