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View Full Version : help re:walk behind,services,ads, contracts


LAWN-BOYZ
12-29-2004, 07:43 PM
Hello everyone, this site is amazing!

I would like to introduce myself, my name is Mark, I am an 18 year old student and I have been in this business for three years now. I have some very ambitious plans for next year :blob2: . I have been doing my research, but was wondering if you guys could help me with your words of wisdom?

I presently have 10 lawns and would like to bring that number up to 50 next year. I do a quality job and I know I could look after 50 clients. Presently, i own all commercial grade equipt: 2 trimmers, a Lawn-Boy, a Stihl backpack blower, an old John Deer edger, ohh and almost forgot, a smoothly running 1990 Ford F-150. What additional equipment should I have to handle 50 customers?

1)I want to get a bigger mower for about $2 000 -$3 000. I have relatively no understanding of the pro's and cons of each mower, but I have been on this forum for about 5 hours learning. LAWN-BOYZ specializes in cutting small to medium size properties so I am concerned about the width of the deck with respect to gate clearance- I am thinking of getting a walk behind. So the question is, what machines would be ideal for me? I am doing a lot of research so I will probably buy a used machine to get a better bang for my buck.

2)Because I am such a small guy I am thinking of staying away from fertilizing, I have never done it and am kind of scared of doing it because i donít have any insurance. I want LAWN-BOYZ to stick to its core competency and that is strictly maintenance. I was wondering if you guys think that customers will accept this, why should they hire me and a separate company when they can get one company to take care of all of their needs?
Should I partner with another company? should I start to sub out fertilizing, spraying and landscaping- is it worth it?

Would it be a good idea to stick to maintenance and that way I can get as many customers as possible in the spring time. This way I think I will be able generate enough cash flow from regular customers to carry me through the dry summer months. Any thoughts?

3)Promotion- in order to pick up 40 clients i am going to need a highly effective campaign. I was wondering how I could get a newspaper to do a story on LAWN-BOYZ, anyone have a good idea for a slant?
I was thinking of phomecord pole signs, does anyone know if they are an effective medium if placed at major intersections? Flyers seem to be very labour intensive so I was thinking of not delivering any. I will pull out a sign at every job I am at and I will also have a magnetic sign on my truck. Any advice on cost effective promotional tips would be greatly appreciated. I want to keep all advertising costs as LOW as possible.

4)Contracts- In the past I have just allowed all customers the choice as to how I bill them. I have never asked them to sign a contract or commitment form for I fear that if I ask them they will just look for another company that has fewer obligations. Also, is it better to just charge a flat fee for the whole summer of maintenance (i am fairly familiar with bidding for lawn maintenance jobs) or should I just continue to charge per cut?

5)I want a trimmer rack, and something to hold my gas cans in place, does any one know where I can get either of these items used? I could pay for shipping.

I recognize that I have a great deal to learn in this business, so any and I mean ANY suggestions that you may have would be appreciated more than you would know - as you can see I am very serious about growing my company.

PS- I will be sure to let you guys know in April how i am doing with handling all of the customers
This forum is so :cool2: - thanks for putting work into it everyone :)

LAWN-BOYZ
12-29-2004, 10:20 PM
I forgot to ask in the previous post if anyone knows of a good walk-behind that has a bag capability, if not then that alright. It's just that I always like to do a quality job and the grass grows thick up in Canada :)

Also I was hoping that I would still be able to go without a trailer and just attach a ramp to the back of the truck. Do you think that now would be the time to invest in a trailer?

newbomb
12-29-2004, 10:39 PM
First I assume the Lawn boy is a push mower. I would say buy a back up 21" mower Maybe a $300-$400 one. If you want a walk behind comercial mower you can get an exmark metro new for around $2,500 ( maybe less in winter). I would recommend you target townhouse neighbor hoods and 1/4 acre lots.

As for fertilizer just do this for your regular customers. Buy a broadcast spreader (A good one like agri-fab $150 or so). Use readily available fertilizer you can get at Lowe's or Home Depot. It's consumer grade and fairly safe. I would do it for my customers that want it but don't advertise for the work.

The 2 best ways I have found to advertise are 1 Advertise in your LOCAL NEIGHBORHOOD newspaper. I generally put an ad in for 6 weeks about St. Patrick's Day. Also flyers is target neighborhoods usually work pretty well. I make up a flier on my computer half the size of a sheet of paper and put it on the page twice. I go to Office depot and get copies made then cut it in half and hand it out in target neighborhoods.

I have debated contracts too. I have decided (with the help of others here), that for residential mowing they are not worth it.

Trimmer racks are hard to find used. I would either make my own or buy new ones. www.trimmertrap.com.

Good Luck

Paul

newbomb
12-29-2004, 10:50 PM
I would use ramps and your truck for the next year. Rampparts makes an excellent pair of ramp ends you can attach to 2X8's 8 feet long. They are sold at most commercial lawn equipment dealers and Im sure if you search rampparts you will find a website. Buy a trailer when you need it. If you work out of your truck this summer, you will have a better idea of what type and size trailer you NEED and if you have CASH you can deal on what every you decide you need. If you can keep in mind the difference between need and want you will do fine.

LAWN-BOYZ
12-29-2004, 11:02 PM
My only concern was that after buying the walk behind i might have no room to put my grass, I have noticed some companies put there grass in the back of there truck so that they can fit all of their equipment in their trailer.

newbomb
12-29-2004, 11:20 PM
My only concern was that after buying the walk behind i might have no room to put my grass, I have noticed some companies put there grass in the back of there truck so that they can fit all of their equipment in their trailer.

I would recommend you avoid bagging grass. It's time consuming and here its hard to get rid of. Use a mulching mower. If you buy decent ones they work well and no clippings.

LAWN-BOYZ
12-30-2004, 07:51 AM
Why is it that contracts are not worth it?
It seems like if I can get a customer to sign a contract I will be more secure in the cashflow for that customer. Why is it that all the big companies have contracts and the small ones don't?
I also feel that maybe if I get the customer to sign something written down, they will be less likely to bail on me mid-season. I was also thinking it would familiarize the customer more with the terms under which i operate(ie. cut every 5 days in spring and every 7 in summer, trim blow and cut but edgeing is extra etc.) what are your thoughts on that?

Tn Lawn Man
12-30-2004, 09:58 AM
In your original post you mentioned how apprehensive you are about fertilizing and that you wanted to stay with just "maintenance".

IMO Fertilizing IS maintenance. Crack the books, get the license or whatever it takes to be able to fill this need. I think it will make a difference to how customers view your skills and your company.

And always be careful subbing anything else out. When you let somebody else on your client's property it becomes very risky.

On another note, and I mean no insult at all, but LAWN-BOYZ sounds a little too hip-hop, MTV or whatever. With you being as young as you are it might work against you, especially with the older generation. You might want to consider a name that makes the customer think of confidence and dependability.

Good Luck you are definitely headed in the right direction

Tn Lawn Man
12-30-2004, 10:03 AM
Why is it that contracts are not worth it?
It seems like if I can get a customer to sign a contract I will be more secure in the cashflow for that customer. Why is it that all the big companies have contracts and the small ones don't?
I also feel that maybe if I get the customer to sign something written down, they will be less likely to bail on me mid-season. I was also thinking it would familiarize the customer more with the terms under which i operate(ie. cut every 5 days in spring and every 7 in summer, trim blow and cut but edgeing is extra etc.) what are your thoughts on that?

Contracts are a very debatable item on the forum.

I don't use contracts for residentials, just my commercials and larger properties.

What I do for my residentials is provide them with an information sheet that describes what services my company offers and what they (the customer) has signed up for. I do have them sign a sheet that they understand all of the payment procedures and authorization for me to do the work. It is a contract of sorts but does not bind them to a time period of service.

LAWN-BOYZ
12-30-2004, 05:48 PM
THanks for the tips Tn Lawn Man - I really to appreciate any feedback I can get. I am determined to get 50 customers next year, so any advice I can get is welcomed.