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View Full Version : For those who've started over 7 years ago....


JimLewis
01-16-2004, 04:25 AM
For those who've started your LCO business over 7 years ago... Do you find that your clientele has changed a lot since then?

I read in a landscaping trade magazine that in this industry, we should expect to change our entire clientele every 7-10 years. That is, in 7-10 years, most LCOs don't have any of the same clients from year #1.

I started about 8 years ago and I can testify that's fairly accurate. I only have 1 client from my first year. And for good reason too! Back then I was a crazy low-baller and most customers were seasonal. Nowadays we charge about twice as much as I did back then and don't take anything but year-round.

I just thought it was an interesting study.

If this is true, what does that say about the need to always be getting new clientele?

weve
01-16-2004, 07:02 AM
I started my business in 1989 and have about 30 accounts. I still have one account from 1990 and seven others from up through 1995. 59% of my accounts have started since the year 2000.

mtdman
01-16-2004, 07:28 AM
I have maybe 2 or 3 from the first few years I started. As long as it's out with the old and cheap, in with the new and more profitable, I'm good.

:D

muxx
01-16-2004, 08:14 AM
I started in 89 and I still have 2-3 accounts from then.

David Haggerty
01-16-2004, 08:14 AM
Nope. Most of my accounts I've had for 20-25 years. I've seen kids go to college I once saw go to kindergarten. Trees I've seen planted have gotten too big and were removed. Businesses I mowed were sold and the new owners kept me on.

There are relatively few huge lawns. So I nurture existing customers. And try to get them to upgrade their lawns. Kind of improve the customers I have instead of looking for new customers.

But starting this year I'm turning over a new leaf. I'm going to advertise more. Already have a cell phone and a business line with an ad in the yellow pages. Maybe a radio ad, or newspaper ad in the spring.

I'm just going to try to target jobs I qualify for. Big lawns. Lawns measured by the acre. I can't make money on small accounts. I already have too much overhead. I really needed to sort thru my existing accounts and upgrade to fewer and larger accounts.

I've really let my business stagnate.

Dave

BOTURF
01-16-2004, 08:27 AM
My client list has changed almost 100 % since 1993, i have one i have had since say 1 but rest have passed on or moved . Thats why i never turn much work down , you never know whos going to move or die

ProMo
01-16-2004, 08:43 AM
I have never advertised so most of my clients have been with me over 7yrs they are starting to thin out

CamLand
01-16-2004, 08:54 AM
I'm just being my 14th year and i have 10-12 of my original customers...

Barkleymut
01-16-2004, 10:01 AM
Good topic Jim. I was really upset in April 2003 when I lost one of my first accounts. It was a good bit of money but not the most profitable accounts. Not long after I picked up a new account to replace it. Always seems to work that way.

Turfdude
01-16-2004, 10:10 AM
Jim,

We put our business on the books in 1988. I still have a few lients prior to that date. Over the years, I have weeded out the lkess desirable accounts as most do. The clients which have been with me for this period, were the ones which trusted me enough to do all of their maintenance from the start (pruning, mulching and some fertilizing). As our business grew, we try to sign more full package accounts or lawn care (fertilizing) accounts only. Our retention rate is high, and as we have evolved as a company, we have seen several of our accounts evolve as well. We have a great working relationship w/ our clientele, and as a result have been able to upsell the mowing & clean-up only accounts to add pruning, mulching and fertilizing.
These services along w/ core aerations and lawn renovations have helped us out in drought seasons as well as have helped us stand out from the mow & go LCOs.

Turfdude
01-16-2004, 10:13 AM
Originally posted by David Haggerty
Nope. Most of my accounts I've had for 20-25 years. I've seen kids go to college I once saw go to kindergarten. Trees I've seen planted have gotten too big and were removed. Businesses I mowed were sold and the new owners kept me on.

There are relatively few huge lawns. So I nurture existing customers. And try to get them to upgrade their lawns. Kind of improve the customers I have instead of looking for new customers.

But starting this year I'm turning over a new leaf. I'm going to advertise more. Already have a cell phone and a business line with an ad in the yellow pages. Maybe a radio ad, or newspaper ad in the spring.

I'm just going to try to target jobs I qualify for. Big lawns. Lawns measured by the acre. I can't make money on small accounts. I already have too much overhead. I really needed to sort thru my existing accounts and upgrade to fewer and larger accounts.

I've really let my business stagnate.

Dave

Dave, if you have upgraded your clients, then you haven't stagnated. Also, A lot of times, I find that my 2 man crew can gross more in a day doing 25-30 3500+- sq.ft. lawns than the larger acre estates. I guess its all in your approach and equipment line-up.

J&R
01-16-2004, 10:34 AM
I started in 1982 full time. I have 1 UPS and 2 Ingles Supermarkets still with me.

olderthandirt
01-16-2004, 10:38 AM
I don't have any left from when I started. Most of them are probably dead. Back when I started only rich people would need lawn service and could afford it, now you have both couples working and they make enough $$$$ that they don't want to spend there weekends mowing , rather be out on the boat. Thats probably the biggest change I see is the age of my customers.


Mac

LawnPerfect
01-16-2004, 11:51 AM
Olderthandirt's customer list is pretty impressive from what I hear. His first full meal account was a place called Eden.

lawnagent
01-16-2004, 12:05 PM
I started in 1993 I have no one left from my first yeaar, although I dont know about most of you but I had very few customers in year 1 so I didnt have a large number to be able to retain.:D I do however have 2 that I picked up in 94 that are still with me. Everyone else has either moved, dropped due to being a pain.

pjslawncare/landscap
01-16-2004, 12:22 PM
I still have 40% of the customers I started out with in 1993 when I charge less than now, however they gripe a little when I keep raising my rates on them :mad:

GrassBustersLawn
01-16-2004, 02:05 PM
Started in 1998. Can't think of any that I've had for whole time.

Mike

HOMER
01-16-2004, 02:17 PM
I've culled quite a few and some have been with me since '96.

Sometimes it seems like you get burned out doing the same yards.

lawnman_scott
01-16-2004, 02:19 PM
I would say thats accurate, at least for the first 7-10 years. I have only 1 left from the beginning.

Green Finger
01-16-2004, 04:44 PM
I have about 5 of the dirty doozen left. Everyone else is new.:nono:

Avery
01-16-2004, 04:47 PM
Sounds like that study is right on. We do not have any of the accounts we started with. Biggest reason is we started doing residential. Several years ago we moved to commercial and dropped all residentials.

John Gamba
01-16-2004, 04:49 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by mtdmaster
[B]I have maybe 2 or 3 from the first few years I started. As long as it's out with the old and cheap, in with the new and more profitable, I'm good.

:Now thats how i look at it! Same Here.
John

bobbygedd
01-16-2004, 05:27 PM
7 years? my client list changes every 7 months

rshofcols
01-16-2004, 06:40 PM
started 7-8 yers ago and still have 60 percent of the yards,moves little old ladies dying were the other 30 % .Since the business expanded 200 % in the last 3 years ,I have a 90% retention rate.A 5k yard 8 years ago was 15-16 bucks now 24-25. I used to drive 25 minutes away to do 2-3 yards that were the farthest away from home base but downsized so the fartest I drive now is 12 minutes.

JimLewis
01-16-2004, 07:10 PM
7 years? my client list changes every 7 months (Iago from Alladin): Why am I not surprised? I am SOOO not surprised. I think I am going to have a heart attack and DIE from not surprise.

Just funnin' ya, Bobby. :p

bobbygedd
01-16-2004, 07:18 PM
yup, but this year will be different. i'm turnin over a new leaf. that's right, in 2004 i will be known as likeable, lovable bobby. and if not, i got a shovel and a bag of lime with thier name on it

Richard Martin
01-16-2004, 08:26 PM
Interesting you should ask this question. I had lost all of my written invoices from my first year in business which was 1994. I do have the tax records, don't freak. Today I was going through an old box of papers and low and behold, I found invoice number 1 and all of the rest of my invoices from my first year. Of those customers I still have 2.

turfmower
01-16-2004, 08:37 PM
I still have some of my first customers from 82. Most of the ones I lose move or die