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BLC1
10-05-2010, 06:25 PM
Question is a little bit vague but we'll try it out.

How many accounts do you think an average person can handle. Lets say the lawns average 10k and under and averaging 5 apps per account.

Those guys out there who operate solo, how many accounts do you currently have? How many do you think would keep you busy full time.

ted putnam
10-05-2010, 07:29 PM
IMHO, given these things.Typical in town routes, decent truck and equipment. About 500 more or less depending on route density.

lawn king
10-05-2010, 07:30 PM
It depends on what you will run for equipment. If you run a ride on SS you will be able to do more.

BLC1
10-05-2010, 07:34 PM
It will most likely be the combination of a 200 gallon skid mounted spray and a ride on (not sure which one yet).

ted putnam
10-05-2010, 07:42 PM
Using a ride-on, add more. Using a push spreader and a skid and ability to carry 15-20 bags along with a a tech with quality work habits, 500-550. JMO.

BLC1
10-05-2010, 09:04 PM
What would be the average price for a 10k lawn? How many accounts would be realistic to add each year to get to that 500+ mark?

BLC1
10-05-2010, 09:53 PM
Also, with those 500...I'm assuming you guys are doing all the office work, marketing and everything else along with that.

BLC1
10-06-2010, 10:23 AM
How about some more hypotheticals...Say the average lawn is around $50 for easy numbers. If on average you put down 5 apps that would be revenue of 250 per cust. At that rate 400 cust would give you 100k in revenue. While digging through some posts I saw numbers saying 40% would be good net. Is this realistic?

Ric
10-06-2010, 12:14 PM
BLC1

I think the question should be HOW MANY GOOD SERVICE ACCOUNTS can you handle. In my case I perfer few accounts but at a higher price and better margin. Of course you could be the second coming of TG/CL and have 3,000 crapy pasture grass account and a Horrible reputation.

BLC1
10-06-2010, 12:43 PM
No, not trying to be TG. Thats why I posed the question as what can a solo op handle. I would much rather be high quality and keep customers long term. Nothing like the head ache of rotating customers every season.

Ric
10-06-2010, 01:25 PM
No, not trying to be TG. Thats why I posed the question as what can a solo op handle. I would much rather be high quality and keep customers long term. Nothing like the head ache of rotating customers every season.

BLC1

I get 25 to 35 % higher prices than the Big boys with no where near the over head. Of course the trade off is I pay a little more for product because of the Volume I DON't buy. I also apply more Product per Thousand Sq Ft than the Big boys because the quality of my work is my word of mouth Marketing. But all in all I am still way a head in margin per account than the big boys. The fact is Bigger is not better and the Fool with 3,000 account might not be making the bottom line I make with only a 100 part time accounts. In fact the fool with 3,000 can go broke a lot quicker. It is the Law of Dismissing Returns

BLC1
10-06-2010, 02:07 PM
What do you do full time?

How long did it take to get to 100 accounts? Obviously this could vary quite a bit from person to person depending on how they go about marketing it but just trying to soak up a lot of info right now.

Anybody have thoughts on posts 6,7 and 8?

Ric
10-06-2010, 02:28 PM
What do you do full time?

How long did it take to get to 100 accounts? Obviously this could vary quite a bit from person to person depending on how they go about marketing it but just trying to soak up a lot of info right now.

Anybody have thoughts on posts 6,7 and 8?

BLC1

I turn 70 years old in two weeks. I don't need to do anything full time, I am semi Retired and only keep working because it is more productive than lying down to die.

Here in Florida we do 6 to 8 treatment a year on lawns and 6 treatments a year on Shrubs and Trees. Most independent or smaller quality Companies charge $ 15.00 a Thousand Sq Ft with a 5 Thousand sq ft minimum or $ 75.00 per treatment. Our margin is about 60% when it is all done and said.

But you must remember the CPO is very hard to get in Florida. What the average Yard Boy doesn't realize is, It pays to do the Time and get the education to pass the test here in Florida. You joint a select group of people who can legally provide that service. State where CPO are given out in Crack Jack boxes don't have that advantage. Those states are luck to charge 1/3 what we get in Florida.

lawn king
10-06-2010, 04:13 PM
BLC1

I think the question should be HOW MANY GOOD SERVICE ACCOUNTS can you handle. In my case I perfer few accounts but at a higher price and better margin. Of course you could be the second coming of TG/CL and have 3,000 crapy pasture grass account and a Horrible reputation.

This is the school i'm from. I have far fewer clients than my compeditors, i however, make more by selling a high end inclusive program and some very profitable hourly tractor services!

BLC1
10-06-2010, 04:19 PM
I would much rather have a smaller customer base that I could do more "full service". I think the people would be willing to pay a little more and stick around forever since you know there lawn so well.

I'm trying to put together some projections for the next year. Just trying to figure out numbers as far as how many customers would be realistic to pick up, how many apps, average cost and all that. I know everybody doesn't want to just open up their business but I just want to make sure I will be doing things correctly next year and stay profitable.

I already have a client base of a couple hundred clients through maintenance and landscaping. I hope that helps jump start me.

Ric
10-06-2010, 05:14 PM
Well My theory is Don't drive all over the place covering 5 or 6 towns trying to squeeze a Penny from a Stone. Next thing you know your employee are making more money than you. Then they are in your house and on your Internet. Of course you got to know your onions if you are cooking the high price spread. I see fool with many year of experience and no real knowledge working their butts off day and night just to keep their employees paid. But then they get some kind of perverted pleasure out of bragging about how many accounts they are losing money on.

BLC1
10-06-2010, 07:07 PM
Evening bump to keep moving

lawnrx
10-07-2010, 09:24 AM
I have 230 customers and only do this part-time. I have a z-spray and 200gal space saver tank in truck. I can handle more if i want, but like i said its only part time. and most if my customers are 12k. so if you are going to do this full time, I say 500 is a good number.

Ric
10-07-2010, 12:19 PM
I have 230 customers and only do this part-time. I have a z-spray and 200gal space saver tank in truck. I can handle more if i want, but like i said its only part time. and most if my customers are 12k. so if you are going to do this full time, I say 500 is a good number.

lawnrx

I am going to disagree on the 500 accounts based on the fact I service my customers once a month. Given 22 working day in a Month and allowing 2 days as Rain or catch up days that means. For every 100 accounts you must do 5 customers a day. 500 customer is 25 accounts a day. Given a normal size yard and not a Trailer park or Garden home neighborhood, That is a lot of yards and very little time to really evaluate those yards let alone do a good treatment IMHO. Sure TG/CL and Companies copy them can do 25 Pastures a day and give that kind of results for like $ 5.Peanuts a thousand. I charge $ 5.00 a Thousand with a 10 K minimum for just straight Insecticide and Surfactant that costs me $ 10.00 an acre. That is approx $ 4.75 mark up per thousand Sq Ft. But then once again I will bring up the fact CPO licenses are not given away in Florida, You must work for it.

Now maybe Cool Season Turf is so easy that it only takes a Fool and a spreader to get a Response. Maybe that is why so many states give away Licenses in Crack Jack boxes. But here in my area that is about twice the number of accounts a good Tech can Handle IMHO.

lawnrx
10-07-2010, 01:21 PM
Ric you are right. 500 might be pushing it to the limit. I forgot to include travel time. see most of my accounts are in one neighborhood. (over 110 of them). not much travel time at all. i just stop and do 20 accounts at a time. all of my other accounts are all over.

Ric
10-07-2010, 01:54 PM
Ric you are right. 500 might be pushing it to the limit. I forgot to include travel time. see most of my accounts are in one neighborhood. (over 110 of them). not much travel time at all. i just stop and do 20 accounts at a time. all of my other accounts are all over.

Lawnrx

20 a day is still too many for my money. My 5k and under lawns I take average of 20 minutes and can only get 2 an hour at most when you add in Tank Mixing Time as well as Travel, even when they are in a row. I am saying a Young man can do 15 in a 8 hour day and no more if they are done right.

I am told TG/CL pays a 5% bonus per day for billing $ 1,000 or more each day. The average TG/CL price in my area (and do mean average since their prices jump all over the Place) is $ 42.00 mimium. That means 24 yards a day in my area.

lawnrx
10-07-2010, 02:04 PM
I have made it easy on my self by going granular on must of my apps. no more hose pulling for me. all my pre-emergants are granular to. and the z will spray the rest for me. i have had must of these accounts for years. so they are weed free. easy to handle.

humble1
10-07-2010, 09:12 PM
I dont do a lot of accounts but do a lot of visits to the same accounts, I do fertilization, mosquito, tick and ant control. I can go to one house do the fert and ant control, or go and do fert and tick, so I can get more revenue per stop. I try to minimize my windshield time. I have one neighborhood 20 houses 10-12k avg, I blow off all the walks patios and drives after apps. There are 2 properties that I have to push spread and backpack due to hills. It is one long day to do them all in a day.

DA Quality Lawn & YS
10-07-2010, 09:20 PM
I currently do around 35 accounts solo (only 2nd season in don't laugh) but also mow, landscape, you name it-outdoors-work. It is pretty easy to hit all those accounts within a work week. So at 5 apps per, you are talking 5 wks of work with those 35. Multiply by 5-6 (25-30 wks) and you get a seasons worth of work or 175-210 accts solo if that is all you did is throw fert all day. The guys stating 550 accts solo, thats ballswalls stuff, just nuts.

BLC1
10-07-2010, 09:49 PM
DA

What kind of marketing did you do since you were already in the landscaping business. That will be the same start as me. I was thinking 50-75 would be pretty attainable first year? Does that sound like pie in the sky or no?



Is it pretty standard across the board to price per sq/ft?

ted putnam
10-07-2010, 09:53 PM
I currently do around 35 accounts solo (only 2nd season in don't laugh) but also mow, landscape, you name it-outdoors-work. It is pretty easy to hit all those accounts within a work week. So at 5 apps per, you are talking 5 wks of work with those 35. Multiply by 5-6 (25-30 wks) and you get a seasons worth of work or 175-210 accts solo if that is all you did is throw fert all day. The guys stating 550 accts solo, thats ballswalls stuff, just nuts.

Not really DA. If you think about it. Take RiCs figure of 15 per day doing a quality job(which is what I do). Mine average 12k. I have them on a 7-8 wk rotation(about 35 working days because I don't work weekends...ever. That works out to 525 accts. All I do is weed control and fert. No odd landscaping jobs or mowing, just Lawn and Tree/Shrub. It is very doable and doesn't require a daylight to dark workday if routed properly. I'm ususally home by 4pm except in the spring(sales season)

BLC1
10-07-2010, 10:19 PM
Does 7-8 weeks between apps make it hard to get everybody rolling in the spring? I'm not sure when you start but say you started april 1st. The end of the list wouldn't get anything until mid may.

ted putnam
10-07-2010, 11:24 PM
Does 7-8 weeks between apps make it hard to get everybody rolling in the spring? I'm not sure when you start but say you started april 1st. The end of the list wouldn't get anything until mid may.

BLC, growing seasons differ depending on the area you are in. My growing season is longer than some. I offer 6 apps as my full program. I start in earnest towartd the end of January. Crabgrass germinates here around the first week of April. If I waited until then to start I would be behind the 8-ball. I think Creech is in the Dayton, OH area and offers 4 apps for his program.Some in that area offer 5 I think. I wrap things up for the year around mid December. I use slow release ferts that hang in there for me through the growth period so 7 weeks works great for me. I apply Fall pre-emergent starting late Sept and finish up the year doing Lime apps. Nice, steady cash flow all year(for the most part).

Ric
10-08-2010, 10:46 AM
I think an other Big point is the STRESS FACTOR that is directly proportional to the number and TYPE of accounts. I feel with a smaller customer base I can quickly Cull the PITA customers without feeling any Financial pain. From past experience I have found dealing with the PITA customer is a losing battle. Cheap Customer bring Cheap Referrals, PITA gets you PITA Referrals.

I get most of my work by word of mouth, and that costs me very little money or over head. The last thing I want is to Run a TV Advertisement. I am not into dealing with 20 tire kickers a day. I never worked for TG/CL and I don't believe in the Lose 4 customers and Sell 4 New Customers a day Business model. As Ted said he is home by 4 PM and only getting personal phone calls at home. I believe we can call this the KISS Keep It Simple Stupid Business model.

BLC1
10-08-2010, 06:24 PM
I have seen companies in this area doing anywhere from 4 to 8 apps.

Not sure but I am assuming apps start around March/April and go until late November.

Maybe we can get another Northern guy on here with some input.



Do all you guys tend to price by square footage?

americanlawn
10-08-2010, 07:41 PM
When I started in the late 70's with ChemLawn, my route was Highland Park & the southern edge of University Park (including Mickey Mantel's lawn). Most of the guys (including me) took care of about 500 customers each round. Most lawns were St Augustine (4 apps per year), and a lessor number were Bermuda grass (5 apps -- this was mainly "regular" Bermuda as well as a few "tif" Bermuda lawns). Other Dallas ChemLawn branches had even tighter route densities....35% of Richmond homeowners had ChemLawn cuz we were the "big gun in town". Since then, competition has set in.

We currently treat as few as 2 properties per day (45 acres). In round 5, some of my guys have provided as many as 35 quality applications per day. So it all depends on so many variables.

My advice is to NEVER have "quotas". Make sure one does a quality job - just as if it was their own lawn or their parents' lawn. In my first year running my own biz, 240 customers kept me busy all year. Since then we've expanded to other towns yet greatly increasing our route densities, so that adds to the equation too. I'm talkin' drive time vs variables. Difficulty factors including hills, customer forgot to unlock the gate, yard sales, construction, different products needed, etc, etc, etc.

In the old days, we had to make our own call aheads at night (as well as calling back estimates at night once a week). We're successful enough now to where our office makes those call aheads. Like I say ........ so many variables. Currently, we NEVER call back estimates, cuz we stay busy enough just trying to get the jobs done in a timely fashion without hassleling potential customers. We mostly rely on word of mouth. We let other companies call folks at night when they're watching TV. :laugh:

A friend buys about 20 bags of fert from us PER YEAR, and he still makes a living. Does mowing, etc too, so there are way too many variables to offer a good answer. my 2 cents

humble1
10-08-2010, 08:41 PM
I have seen companies in this area doing anywhere from 4 to 8 apps.

Not sure but I am assuming apps start around March/April and go until late November.

Maybe we can get another Northern guy on here with some input.



Do all you guys tend to price by square footage?

Production also depends on your setup. I finish my day by refilling my spray tank, the next morning when i roll into my shop I load my truck with fert. I get my fert dropped at my shop so I dont have to drive to wait in a line. I try to route as best I can and work estimates in. Some days I do well others I dont. It avg out pretty good. I have a z spray and a 200 gallon spray tank. As far as price I am pretty high vs the comp. I have a min price and a price per thousand. I also will bump people into a higher sq ft price point if they have a PIA lawn, if i have to push spread or hand spray, if there are hills, if there are a lot of paved surfaces that I will need to blow off. I make money based on time, I dont give it away. Starting year 1 I had 35, year 2 ADDED 80 year three addred over 200. Getting your first 100 is hard, growth after that is easy.

lawnguy26
10-08-2010, 09:29 PM
Figure your chemical cost to be 20%. From there you know how much to charge. If your program is going to cost you $2 per 1000 then charge $10 per thousand to treat. Some summer months I may be at 30% but some winter months im at 5%. I average a 20% chemical cost on a yearly average and pocket 60% of what I make. I am a one man operation.

As far as how many customers it all depends on how hard and how many hours you want to work, what type of equipment your using and how much drive time you will have. Just remember the more cust. you have to deal with the more stressful things get. I've found ten a day is my limit, treating every month thats 200 customers for me average size 8000 sq ft. That 10 a day can either be an 8 hour day or 3 hour day depending on time of year or problems I run into and I service in a very small area.

If your willing to put some money up, up front for advertising and can sell your service I think 50-75 cust. in year is very feasible. But only if demand for the service is high in your area. I think I picked up about 80 customers my first year but the st. augustine I deal with and the enviromental conditions I deal with make for a high demand for fert/pest service here. After I had 70 or so cust. I was getting more business from word of mouth then advertising so I no longer need to spend money on marketing.

Be honest and provide a good service and you will succeed.

Ric
10-09-2010, 10:17 AM
Figure your chemical cost to be 20%. From there you know how much to charge. If your program is going to cost you $2 per 1000 then charge $10 per thousand to treat. Some summer months I may be at 30% but some winter months im at 5%. I average a 20% chemical cost on a yearly average and pocket 60% of what I make. I am a one man operation.

As far as how many customers it all depends on how hard and how many hours you want to work, what type of equipment your using and how much drive time you will have. Just remember the more cust. you have to deal with the more stressful things get. I've found ten a day is my limit, treating every month thats 200 customers for me average size 8000 sq ft. That 10 a day can either be an 8 hour day or 3 hour day depending on time of year or problems I run into and I service in a very small area.

If your willing to put some money up, up front for advertising and can sell your service I think 50-75 cust. in year is very feasible. But only if demand for the service is high in your area. I think I picked up about 80 customers my first year but the st. augustine I deal with and the enviromental conditions I deal with make for a high demand for fert/pest service here. After I had 70 or so cust. I was getting more business from word of mouth then advertising so I no longer need to spend money on marketing.

Be honest and provide a good service and you will succeed.

26

Yep you have good thing going and not to much different than me, except I carry half your number customers in my old age. BUT I Get $ 15.00 a thousand but with a 28% chemical cost factor. In Edit:: I also have smaller properties with a 5 K minimum.


26's Numbers

Average 8 K account @ $ 10.00 K or $ 80 an account minus 20% chemical Cost ==== $ 64.00 Average Gross Profit per account Times 10 Accounts a day ===== $ 640.00 a day. 5 day Week ===== $ 3200.00 Times 50 Weeks ==== $ 160,000.00 a year gross profit by a one man band. So the question is WHY BE ANY BIGGER unless you are a fool??????


I am not going to argue with these numbers because I know it is being done everyday here in Florida. With 200 accounts I can Guarantee he is breaking the 6 figure income mark.

azjojo99
10-09-2010, 11:08 AM
26's Numbers

Average 8 K account @ $ 10.00 K or $ 80 an account minus 20% chemical Cost ==== $ 64.00 Average Gross Profit per account Times 10 Accounts a day ===== $ 640.00 a day. 5 day Week ===== $ 3200.00 Times 50 Weeks ==== $ 160,000.00 a year gross profit by a one man band. So the question is WHY BE ANY BIGGER unless you are a fool??????


I am not going to argue with these numbers because I know it is being done everyday here in Florida. With 200 accounts I can Guarantee he is breaking the 6 figure income mark.

I may have to move a few states to the south! Test can't be that hard.:drinkup:

Ric
10-09-2010, 12:06 PM
I may have to move a few states to the south! Test can't be that hard.:drinkup:

Azjojo

The test has actually gotten a lot easier. We are now getting a 50% pass rate. But the 3 years working under a CPO in order to qualify to sit for the test, seems to be the deal breaker for most.

MY ADVICE:

Go to work for a larger reputable Pest Control Company as a Tech. Work not only L&O but also get the termite and structural Certification. The idea is pay your dues and get the education along with the Certification at about a $ 35 to $ 40 K salary a year. Then when the Time and Economy is right go in business for yourself.

Ric
10-09-2010, 02:05 PM
Azjojo

The test has actually gotten a lot easier. We are now getting a 50% pass rate. But the 3 years working under a CPO in order to qualify to sit for the test, seems to be the deal breaker for most.

MY ADVICE:

Go to work for a larger reputable Pest Control Company as a Tech. Work not only L&O but also get the termite and structural Certification. The idea is pay your dues and get the education along with the Certification at about a $ 35 to $ 40 K salary a year. Then when the Time and Economy is right go in business for yourself.

Azjojo

After re-reading my above post I want to STRESS the point REPUTABLE COMPANY. I think we have all seen or read things by TG/CL want-a-be type companies run even by members of LS. There is NO WAY you are going to get good training from Fools.

azjojo99
10-09-2010, 04:12 PM
In South Carolina, you just need to pass a 70 question test for general, 30 question test for turf, then your license ready if you have insurance.

For structual, you need to work for a few years (not sure how many), but if you have a science degree, they waive the work experience, before you can take the test.

Too old to work for somebody now.

lawnrx
10-09-2010, 05:00 PM
I Wish I could get my price per-k that high here. I'm looking at mostly around $5 to $6 per-k. with this economy that we have its hard to even raise prices. But it must be done.

Ric
10-09-2010, 06:59 PM
In South Carolina, you just need to pass a 70 question test for general, 30 question test for turf, then your license ready if you have insurance.

For structual, you need to work for a few years (not sure how many), but if you have a science degree, they waive the work experience, before you can take the test.

Too old to work for somebody now.

Azjojo

While a 200 Multiply guess, Florida CPO test was once know for having 3 to 4 correct answers for every Question. The trick was to choose the MOST CORRECT answer. Today the test isn't a Ball Buster like in the past. I know this because I passed CPO tests back when, and then let my Certifications expire. I retested to get those Certs back




Lawnrx

While Lawnguy 26 charges $ 10.00 a thousand per treatment. Most Florida independent CPO I network with, are charging $ 15.00 a thousand and getting that price all day long. I don't mean to knock Lawnguy 26 because as he said he has a smaller market and must capture a greater share of the market. Running his numbers, he sure isn't a welfare case.

I understand the $ 5.00 and $ 6.00 price per thousand in states where everyone and their brother can get a license. It is open season on Yard Care and every fool is out to low ball in Fly over Country. I can only think with 15 times more accounts than Lawnguy 26 and a big equipment investment. A Yard Care Operator couldn't make the same bottom line a year that my 100 part time accounts make. Just the stress of dealing with few thousand Customers is enough to put you in an early Grave. Of course real business men with a few thousand accounts, Work ON their business and not IN their business. They are the last person the customer sees and not the first person. Spray techs are worth about $ 35 K a year. A owner of a big business who works as a Spray tech or salesman is like Donald Trump working as janitor in one of his building. Of course this industry is not known for it's aeronautical Engineers. If you are going to stupid you had better be tough.

sedge
10-09-2010, 07:30 PM
Azjojo

The test has actually gotten a lot easier. We are now getting a 50% pass rate. But the 3 years working under a CPO in order to qualify to sit for the test, seems to be the deal breaker for most.

MY ADVICE:

Go to work for a larger reputable Pest Control Company as a Tech. Work not only L&O but also get the termite and structural Certification. The idea is pay your dues and get the education along with the Certification at about a $ 35 to $ 40 K salary a year. Then when the Time and Economy is right go in business for yourself.

If your licensed out of state for 3 years that doesn't help at all?

humble1
10-09-2010, 07:32 PM
If i could get $15 per k on some of my 80-120,ooo sq ft accounts I could by that vacation home in FL and still be able to afford Ric doing the applications down there for me....lol

Ric
10-09-2010, 07:55 PM
If your licensed out of state for 3 years that doesn't help at all?

Sedge

Credit for out state experience can used. However the last year before sitting for the test must be under a Florida CPO. All experience must be documented as a Card holding spray tech and supported by State records.

While our testing has gotten easier we still only have a 50% passing rate. Unlike corn country you have to really know what you are doing.


Humble

Two reasons we get the prices we do is. First we can because not every Fool has a license. Second because our year round growing season requires a lot more chemicals. My Chemical cost of almost $ 5.00 average per treatment per thousand Sq ft is more than a lot of states charge per thousand.

DA Quality Lawn & YS
10-10-2010, 10:12 PM
DA

What kind of marketing did you do since you were already in the landscaping business. That will be the same start as me. I was thinking 50-75 would be pretty attainable first year? Does that sound like pie in the sky or no?



Is it pretty standard across the board to price per sq/ft?

Good question. I simply marketed to my existing mowing customers my first season in ferts. Got me 10-12 customers that way. Did a good job, got some word of mouth. Advertised in a few nice local publications before this season. Grew to 35. Would like to grow to 70 or so next season.

So, I think 50-75 might be a bit high just starting out, no word of mouth, etc.
Shoot for a couple dozen perhaps, and bend over backward doing a good job.

ted putnam
10-10-2010, 11:18 PM
Sedge

Credit for out state experience can used. However the last year before sitting for the test must be under a Florida CPO. All experience must be documented as a Card holding spray tech and supported by State records.

While our testing has gotten easier we still only have a 50% passing rate. Unlike corn country you have to really know what you are doing.


Humble

Two reasons we get the prices we do is. First we can because not every Fool has a license. Second because our year round growing season requires a lot more chemicals. My Chemical cost of almost $ 5.00 average per treatment per thousand Sq ft is more than a lot of states charge per thousand.

I haven't been all over Florida by any stretch but I have been to Destin a few times. While there, I've seen US Lawns, Trugreen and a couple of Independents around town. All the lawns I saw looked like sh!t. Maybe there's restrictions or something...I don't know. The lawns are all Centipede and St. Aug and I do deal with these here on a limited basis, but I can say without a doubt that even with my limited experience with these, I could run circles around the jokers I saw there as far as quality work. And, the only reason I couldn't is because I wouldn't be allowed to without working for one of those "fools" first. I'm sorry, but that's just "good ol boy" politics designed to keep "threats" out of the loop. I think the threats are mostly outsiders(out-of-staters) and hispanics. Of course, I could never prove that... It's simple, you are able to command that price because bureaucracy allows you to have the market cornered. High demand+ few choices= "sky's the limit" pricing...plain and simple.

Ric
10-11-2010, 03:17 AM
I haven't been all over Florida by any stretch but I have been to Destin a few times. While there, I've seen US Lawns, Trugreen and a couple of Independents around town. All the lawns I saw looked like sh!t. Maybe there's restrictions or something...I don't know. The lawns are all Centipede and St. Aug and I do deal with these here on a limited basis, but I can say without a doubt that even with my limited experience with these, I could run circles around the jokers I saw there as far as quality work. And, the only reason I couldn't is because I wouldn't be allowed to without working for one of those "fools" first. I'm sorry, but that's just "good ol boy" politics designed to keep "threats" out of the loop. I think the threats are mostly outsiders(out-of-staters) and hispanics. Of course, I could never prove that... It's simple, you are able to command that price because bureaucracy allows you to have the market cornered. High demand+ few choices= "sky's the limit" pricing...plain and simple.


Ted

That Beautiful Blue Water and Bright White Sandy Beaches you love so much in Destin are a result of NO SOIL in Coastal Florida to muddy up the water. We are trying to grow grass on pure sand which has no water or Chemical holding power. Now maybe you understand why our costs per thousand are higher than what you charge. Don't knock us unless you have walked a mile in our shoes. True not all of Florida has pure sand and that might be why Lawnguy 26 only charges $ 10.00 a thousand in his area. But what Sand we have is from Sea Shells and is Calcareous with a pH of about 9.5.

As for our bureaucracy system, You might be surprised at how many CPO are looking for work. actually I am surprised by how many are willing to Rent-A-License. A local Pest control company has a CPO who lives 231 miles from the office. the kid that owns the company can't pass the test and changes company names every time he rents a different License. This allows him to work a whole year without a CPO every time he loses a Rented CPO. I would love to see this jerk shut down because he low balls with a promise of organic pest control and a bait and switch.


I know of and won't tell, a website that these CPO will advertise there rent-a-license. If I didn't have a Florida certification and couldn't get one without working under a CPO for the next 3 years. I know where to rent-a-license and be in business tomorrow morning. You might be surprised at the number of spray companies that go under here in Florida.

BLC1
10-11-2010, 07:35 AM
Is there a benefit to focusing on lawns under 10k? Just curious if this helps as far as your set up goes. If all the accounts are pretty similar in size I would think that would keep things simple.

Thanks so far for all the responses. I hope we can keep this going. I have some time ahead of me but I'm sure spring will be here before I know it so I need to soak up as much as possible now.

Ric
10-11-2010, 09:02 AM
Is there a benefit to focusing on lawns under 10k? Just curious if this helps as far as your set up goes. If all the accounts are pretty similar in size I would think that would keep things simple.

Thanks so far for all the responses. I hope we can keep this going. I have some time ahead of me but I'm sure spring will be here before I know it so I need to soak up as much as possible now.

BLC

Common Sense should tell you to look at the type of lawns in your area and decide which ones might be best for you. Some people call this Researching the Market.

ted putnam
10-11-2010, 10:44 AM
Ted

That Beautiful Blue Water and Bright White Sandy Beaches you love so much in Destin are a result of NO SOIL in Coastal Florida to muddy up the water. We are trying to grow grass on pure sand which has no water or Chemical holding power. Now maybe you understand why our costs per thousand are higher than what you charge. Don't knock us unless you have walked a mile in our shoes. True not all of Florida has pure sand and that might be why Lawnguy 26 only charges $ 10.00 a thousand in his area. But what Sand we have is from Sea Shells and is Calcareous with a pH of about 9.5.

As for our bureaucracy system, You might be surprised at how many CPO are looking for work. actually I am surprised by how many are willing to Rent-A-License. A local Pest control company has a CPO who lives 231 miles from the office. the kid that owns the company can't pass the test and changes company names every time he rents a different License. This allows him to work a whole year without a CPO every time he loses a Rented CPO. I would love to see this jerk shut down because he low balls with a promise of organic pest control and a bait and switch.


I know of and won't tell, a website that these CPO will advertise there rent-a-license. If I didn't have a Florida certification and couldn't get one without working under a CPO for the next 3 years. I know where to rent-a-license and be in business tomorrow morning. You might be surprised at the number of spray companies that go under here in Florida.


You're correct, I haven't walked a mile in your shoes down there, nor do I plan on it. All I know is what I see from the outside looking in and that's not always a complete picture. Between major hurricanes every 5 or so years, bureaucratic BS, sandy soils and not to mention rising sea levels, I think I'll stay here and make my six figure gross you pointed out earlier where its safe.Of course, "safe" is a relative term. We had a 3.9 magnitude earthquake about 45 minutes ago. The New Madrid Fault is close and Crowley's Ridge is a testament to the power of Mother Nature.

Ric
10-11-2010, 12:58 PM
You're correct, I haven't walked a mile in your shoes down there, nor do I plan on it. All I know is what I see from the outside looking in and that's not always a complete picture. Between major hurricanes every 5 or so years, bureaucratic BS, sandy soils and not to mention rising sea levels, I think I'll stay here and make my six figure gross you pointed out earlier where its safe.Of course, "safe" is a relative term. We had a 3.9 magnitude earthquake about 45 minutes ago. The New Madrid Fault is close and Crowley's Ridge is a testament to the power of Mother Nature.

Ted

In a way I wanted to move to the Miami Area to be near my kids who both live in the big city now. But just going across the State is a major move. Every area has it's advantages and Dis-advantages. The Miami Deal breaker for me is the Traffic on the east coast of Florida.

I might of painted a bright picture of the Pesticide business here in Florida. Maybe it is time to also tell the bad side. Starting with that same Bureaucratic system, we get no real enforcement on illegal applicators. The burden of proof needed, is so high that non licensed people just skate. The Inspector's word of what he sees is not good enough to cause a fine. He must Video no only the Spray or Spread but the actual mixing of the chemicals. However on Licensed people the Burden of proof is much lower and the inspectors word is good. Ag Inspectors are typical Government Wage Slaves and the have quotas to meet. So why chase after Illegals when they have every CPO's Address and phone number. AND they can fine us easier.

Next is our Tree Hugger laws of not applying Nitrogen from June 1st to Sept 30th and trying to keep lawns green. Many of my yard I can not legally apply any chemical in their back yard because of Aquatic set backs on canal property. New Tree Hugger laws have forced many companies out of business along with a slow Economy.

It never fails to amaze me at how crooked the public can be. Of course this is true in every state. But I have people all the time stop me and offer cash money to do a treatment without the boss knowing. I never let them know I am my own boss and just charge them more money which they glad pay thinking they are cheating some company.

BLC1
10-11-2010, 08:12 PM
I understand what lawns are around me. I'm just curious if the profit margins change from small to big lawns and if there are different equipment set ups for each. Thats why I asked if it was beneficial to focus on similar lawns to have the best equipment set up for that specific size.

Ric
10-12-2010, 12:22 PM
I understand what lawns are around me. I'm just curious if the profit margins change from small to big lawns and if there are different equipment set ups for each. Thats why I asked if it was beneficial to focus on similar lawns to have the best equipment set up for that specific size.

BLC

You know the type of Yards and their size in your area. Hopefully you have also researched the Percentage that are big to the percentage of smaller yards. In other words you now know your market along with the disposable income of the homeowners.

Smaller yards have to have a higher profit margin of a lower total sales price. Larger Yards have a lower profit Margin of a Higher total selling price to be competitive.

The trick is, and no one can help you with out being where you are with your local knowledge. The trick is to research which type (Large or Small) yard gives you the highest income with the less over head IN YOUR AREA. Other consideration is what I call the "Low Hanging Fruit". That being the market section that no one or very few people are marketing to. No use of going after the same thing as everyone else. The Fat Girl is normally the sure thing.


Other considerations might be YOUR CAPITAL. It is sometimes better to pass on a job than to take it when you are not ready for it. To get started sometimes you have to do what you have to do. The advantages of big companies is there ability to spend money to get set up and advertise heavy. Big Chain store will predict their potential success by the Total sales at the Grand Opening. But the point here is you might have to start with a Trigger sprayer and a Coffee Can to spread Fertilizer, COMPARED to the big boys.

Sorry But IMHO the decision is all yours and we can not help you.

BLC1
10-12-2010, 09:48 PM
I understand where you're coming from and it helps. Every angle helps me to think a little bit different.

I'm still hoping we can get some Northern guys in here to help out too. Obviously your market it quite a bit different than mine. I may have to start some new threads to grab some attention but we'll see.

What other things should I be looking into now going into next spring?

Thanks Ric for all the quick responses.

BLC1
10-13-2010, 09:54 PM
There has to be some more solo guys out there to weigh in here.

BLC1
10-15-2010, 07:30 AM
Lets keep this churning, a little cool morning bump.

azjojo99
10-15-2010, 07:59 AM
I think it comes down to what you want to do with your business: Stay solo and command a premium price for premium service, or grow it using an average price for your area and hire help to handle the work load. Also, how fast do you need to grow to meet your bills?

Probably the worse case in my mind would be wanting to stay solo, but not charging a premium price.

BLC1
10-15-2010, 03:19 PM
I keep a pretty low over head now. I guess what I'm really after is being able to net around 50-60k looking a head a few years. It sounds like that might take around 400 customers. Does that sound reasonable looking out 4 years?

americanlawn
10-15-2010, 08:02 PM
When I first started my own lawn/tree care business, it was just "me and a used truck". I think I averaged 12 - 15 properties per day the first year -- maybe less. We've grown since, yet we have ALWAYS treated every customer the same --- Doesn't matter where they live or how much money they make ("disposable income"). Some lawns may only be 3000 square feet, but just around the corner might be an acreage. Some lawns are crappy, and others are fine.......doesn't matter, just "do the customer right". I've spent 40 minutes treating small lawns that needed extra attention, yet I've treated an acre in 30 minutes.

Small lawns are often more labor intensive/difficult and frequently require more expensive products compared to large properties --- plus small properties often have delicate ornamentals & gardens to be aware of .

We have many small properties we take care of --- some folks are wealthy, and some are relatively poor. We don't give JACK about "disposable income", cuz many are the sons, daughters, friends, or co-workers of "millionaires". Or maybe they just bought the property and are trying to improve their home. Anybody that sports their business based upon customers' "disposable income" = :nono:

IMHO, Treating all customers with the same respect got me more referrals than any sort of "advertising", and you never know who's watching while you treat a customer's property.

Advice: Treat every customer the same and you will do well. After that, you can invest in more efficient equipment, but Never be afraid of hard work.

We actually ran a profit our first year. Worked as many as 90 hours some weeks. Sometimes used truck headlights in order to finish the last job.

We were in your territory 2 months ago to purchase a T3000, so I know a little bit about your market. Best of luck, but GO HAWKS! :laugh:

I understand what lawns are around me. I'm just curious if the profit margins change from small to big lawns and if there are different equipment set ups for each. Thats why I asked if it was beneficial to focus on similar lawns to have the best equipment set up for that specific size.

grassmasterswilson
10-15-2010, 08:56 PM
I'm solo and started as a mowing guy and expanded into apps. I have only gotten about 20-30 app customers. Many are mowing customers. I've tried mailers(twice a year) and even got app stakes for after an app with my name on it(not required by law here). It's very hard to pick up new customers.

I also do what is best for the customer, not just out to do apps. We had record number of days over 90 this year and drought periods twice. So I lost 2 rounds on fescue and 1 on centipede/bermuda. I also treat 3 different species of grass.

Any tips on picking up customers? Mailers are expensive, but effective. The times I have done them I've picked up enough business to pay for them(may take 6-8 months with new customers though).

Would love to have a mowing crew and let me concentrate on the Care side of the business.

ted putnam
10-15-2010, 10:26 PM
I'm solo and started as a mowing guy and expanded into apps. I have only gotten about 20-30 app customers. Many are mowing customers. I've tried mailers(twice a year) and even got app stakes for after an app with my name on it(not required by law here). It's very hard to pick up new customers.

I also do what is best for the customer, not just out to do apps. We had record number of days over 90 this year and drought periods twice. So I lost 2 rounds on fescue and 1 on centipede/bermuda. I also treat 3 different species of grass.

Any tips on picking up customers? Mailers are expensive, but effective. The times I have done them I've picked up enough business to pay for them(may take 6-8 months with new customers though).

Would love to have a mowing crew and let me concentrate on the Care side of the business.

2 words...Referral Discounts. For every customer new and old. It's something that can be printed and highlighted on customer invoices. They were going to get it anyway so there's no extra cost involved there. It's win-win for you and the customer...JMO

grassmasterswilson
10-15-2010, 11:04 PM
2 words...Referral Discounts. For every customer new and old. It's something that can be printed and highlighted on customer invoices. They were going to get it anyway so there's no extra cost involved there. It's win-win for you and the customer...JMO

I am planning on really pushing this in both my app side and mowing side. Referrals is where most of my business comes from and many times it ends up being a neighbor so there is no travel time. What kind of discount do you give... a certain amount or a percent?

sedge
10-15-2010, 11:08 PM
I am planning on really pushing this in both my app side and mowing side. Referrals is where most of my business comes from and many times it ends up being a neighbor so there is no travel time. What kind of discount do you give... a certain amount or a percent?

I would say a free app. The real cost is around 50% of what your charging, but they don't know that. Getting a customer for $15-$20 bucks is very well worth it.

grassmasterswilson
10-15-2010, 11:34 PM
I would say a free app. The real cost is around 50% of what your charging, but they don't know that. Getting a customer for $15-$20 bucks is very well worth it.

I want to do a discount referral for my app side and mowing side. Thought about the free app/mow thing. but what if a 100 app/mow customer refers a 50 app/mow customer?

Figured I would do like a 10% or $20 off next app discount. Really looking for input from everyone.

sedge
10-16-2010, 12:47 AM
I want to do a discount referral for my app side and mowing side. Thought about the free app/mow thing. but what if a 100 app/mow customer refers a 50 app/mow customer?

Figured I would do like a 10% or $20 off next app discount. Really looking for input from everyone.

10% or 20% ain't squat. You want them to go out of their way and recommend you or what? If so, then make it worth their while. I would say though that they get the free app when the person has stayed with you for a certain number of apps.

BLC1
10-16-2010, 09:21 AM
And just a reminder...I do have a couple hundred customers that I do maintenance work and other landscaping jobs for already. This should help to build the customer base out of the gate.

lawnguy26
10-16-2010, 08:30 PM
True not all of Florida has pure sand and that might be why Lawnguy 26 only charges $ 10.00 a thousand in his area.


Actually I charge $8 per 1000 per month. Most of my competitors are at $12-$15 per 1000 every other month so I am one the highest priced service in my area, as I should be. Profit margins are low on the months I fertilize(six times a year) but the other six months I'm usually just spot treating for weeds/insects/fungus and profit margins are huge those months.

I deal with sandy soils here although I do not believe as bad as it is in southwest Florida. As far as lawns looking bad here as one person stated a lot of that has to do with our watering restrictions. St. Augustine requires more water than most any other type of turfgrass and we are growing it in sandy soils which do not hold water very well. Our twice a week watering restrictions kill our lawns during the months of May-Sept when rain is absent.

Ric
10-17-2010, 10:38 AM
Actually I charge $8 per 1000 per month. Most of my competitors are at $12-$15 per 1000 every other month so I am one the highest priced service in my area, as I should be. Profit margins are low on the months I fertilize(six times a year) but the other six months I'm usually just spot treating for weeds/insects/fungus and profit margins are huge those months.

I deal with sandy soils here although I do not believe as bad as it is in southwest Florida. As far as lawns looking bad here as one person stated a lot of that has to do with our watering restrictions. St. Augustine requires more water than most any other type of turfgrass and we are growing it in sandy soils which do not hold water very well. Our twice a week watering restrictions kill our lawns during the months of May-Sept when rain is absent.


26

I had my total Business model typed out and decided to delete it instead of post it. Maybe a little paranoid, But I will tell a little and hopefully it will help someone. I sell Lawn & ORNAMENTAL yard care. 6 or 8 lawn and 6 shrub/trees a year or approx every other month on each. I sell results not treatments. So I spot treat weeds when I do Shrubs and IMP shrubs when I do Lawns. If you want weed control, you have to take Ornamental treatment also. However I throw in Inside Pest Control because shrub treatment can also be barrier treatment at the same time. It works for me because I get very few call backs for inside PC. I charge the standard $ 15 a Thousand, But the truth is my $ 75 minimum seems to cover 95% of my yards that aren't but 2 to 3 thousand sq ft of turf and about the same or slightly smaller in shrubs.

onebreezer
10-25-2010, 11:12 AM
lawnx,

how do u have 110 in one neighborhood?

humble1
10-25-2010, 09:08 PM
Sedge

Credit for out state experience can used. However the last year before sitting for the test must be under a Florida CPO. All experience must be documented as a Card holding spray tech and supported by State records.

While our testing has gotten easier we still only have a 50% passing rate. Unlike corn country you have to really know what you are doing.


Humble

Two reasons we get the prices we do is. First we can because not every Fool has a license. Second because our year round growing season requires a lot more chemicals. My Chemical cost of almost $ 5.00 average per treatment per thousand Sq ft is more than a lot of states charge per thousand.

Ric what are you using that could cost $5 per K

humble1
10-25-2010, 09:13 PM
There has to be some more solo guys out there to weigh in here.

you might try to get in contact with Rodney Creech, he is in Ohio, he is on lawn site screenname RCreech, not sur eif you are in his area, but he might give you some advice.

BLC1
10-25-2010, 09:34 PM
I have seen him on some of my other posts.

I was hoping to find a "mentor" who knows the area here and has been around the block already. I have been picking up quite a bit browsing through old posts.

Ric
10-25-2010, 09:59 PM
Ric what are you using that could cost $5 per K

Humble

Our Sand has no nutient value. St Augustine on sand is a Hard Keeper.

Ric
10-26-2010, 10:03 AM
Humble

Our Sand has no nutient value. St Augustine on sand is a Hard Keeper.

Humble

A better explaination would be the Disneyland attitude of our upscale retirees. They have a Boat in the canal behind the house worth more than their house and rusting away because they never use it. They have Citrus Trees so the fruit can drop on the ground and feed the Rats. They have the cleanest swimming pool because the grand kids come to visit every 5 years. And the greenest lawn on the block because they are the Jones and everyone else is trying to keep up with them.

Tim Smith
10-26-2010, 07:35 PM
Haha how true Ric. Let's not forget the irrigation system which only needs to be on when there here during the winter. As we all know grass does not need water in the summer months.
Posted via Mobile Device

BLC1
10-28-2010, 10:14 PM
Going back a little bit. How long would be a reasonable time to pick up 400 customers. What kind of marketing did you guys do when first starting. How did you get the ball rolling?

Tom Gs
10-29-2010, 06:11 PM
Going back a little bit. How long would be a reasonable time to pick up 400 customers. What kind of marketing did you guys do when first starting. How did you get the ball rolling?

4-5 years. Flyers.

Ric
10-29-2010, 08:01 PM
Going back a little bit. How long would be a reasonable time to pick up 400 customers. What kind of marketing did you guys do when first starting. How did you get the ball rolling?

BLC

I think you are missing a big point. It is not how many account you have but How much money you make on the bottom line. If you lowball you can build a large account list. But if they don't pay squat in margin what good are 400 or 3,000 accounts.

ted putnam
10-29-2010, 08:25 PM
4-5 years. Flyers.

Same here. Door to door. Also referral Discounts.To the OP, your current customers are your biggest allies when they see what you can do. Encourage them to help you. I was also working for a for a Fire Dept of about 100 members. I was allowed to put a memo out to all stations in the city. That helped get the word out too. A church bulletin is another way. Don't be afraid to stay out later in the afternoons or work a Saturday or 2 during the choice time in the spring. Cruise neighborhoods you want customers in...BE SEEN by potential customers. I don't know your season but here for the first couple of years I hustled (and still do really) from the first of Feb until the last of April. Then and only then do things begin to slow down to where I can get into the regular route routine. You're going to have to hustle during your "peak" sales season too. With quality work, determination and occasionally some extra hours, the customer count will grow.

BLC1
10-30-2010, 08:40 AM
I'm not planning on low balling. I have an idea of where I want to be because of my maintenance and lanscaping side of the business. The fert & squirt side of things is just a little different for me and I'm not sure what to expect yet. I have been talking with people and reading as much as possible on here as well. I think I should be able to get a good jump start with my existing customers and leveraging them to get other people in their neighborhoods.

lawnrx
10-30-2010, 09:10 AM
lawnx,

how do u have 110 in one neighborhood?

sorry... I have been away for a little... I live in the neighborood. so I offer a discount to them.(no stop charge.)...That can be $10 to $20 ..

LawnsRUsInc.
10-30-2010, 10:10 AM
BLC the number of clients that a one person can handle on
1. Route density
2. Your fert applications your doing (granular/liquid/both)
3. Equipment (hose/rider)
4. Size of properties
We average 19.5 stops per day some days 8 some days 32 density and property size makes that. Me personally I would rather have all 5-10k sqft lawns more money quicker. I am newer to the fert biz as i have been doing this for only 3 years first year we had like 40 accounts 2nd year 120 3rd year 190. But we are working on 400 accounts in the next year, year and a half. I feel we could handle more with having 2 tank spray rigs and perma green. We have a pretty good setup with the tanks, fert and perma green all inside a box truck.

BLC1
10-30-2010, 01:24 PM
Thanks, those are good points.

Those are also other questions I have. I am trying to determine what kind of set up I need. I have a 200 gallon spray that I aquired with some other equipment. I plan to market to lawns under 15k. Can you guys give me some more things to think about and what set ups may work the best.

Thanks