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PTP
02-10-2005, 08:12 PM
Unless I have to give out my first paycheck in order to qualify, I am now an employer.

I narrowed 50 applicants down to these two. I decided that I don't really like the whole process and so I hope that these guys are keepers.

The only thing that I need now is customers. In about 2 weeks my ad campaign goes into high gear and I proceed to do everything that I can to get these guys some work. Maybe it was stupid of me to build everything up like this without any customers but I think that I can do it. Over the winter, I set up a new billing system, formed an LLC, changed my business plan, purchased new equipment, and pretty much built an entire business except for the customers. If all continues to follow the plan, I hope to add 300 accounts this year. If it goes particularly well, the number will be about 450.

Ready or not, here I come.


P.S. I am not totally an amature here - been doing this for 4 years now but it is all or nothing this time.

tonygreek
02-10-2005, 08:33 PM
wow... for once, someone's plan has me almost speechless. almost...

300-450 accounts this year, based upon advertising that has not yet begun in high-gear? we're past the point of telling you that you might have gone about this backwards, but if you can afford it so far, what the heck.

what i'm most interested in is that i'd love to know your marketing approach to pull in those, shall we say, "lofty" numbers, as well as if your pricing will be market-rate.

thanks,
tony

tonygreek
02-10-2005, 08:48 PM
ptp, i'm doing a read of some of your related threads and now i have a better understanding of your strategy. i'd still like to know your marketing plan to get there this year, if you'd care to share.

thanks.

tony

PTP
02-10-2005, 09:16 PM
No magic here.

Last year, I was able to get 35 lawns or so with less than 1000 flyers. I didn't keep track of the # of flyers. I figure that if I put out 10,000 this year, then I should be able to get my 300. But what if I put out 30,000? I can't think of any good reason that I cannot hit my goal but for some reason my knees are still shaking. If 30,000 won't cut it then I go to 50,000. Failing is simply not an option. Worst case senario is that I let my 2 guys go :cry: and start sweating. I did that last year and I can do it again.

Based on last years experience, I figure that if I build it, they will come.

If someone else tried to build a business the same way that I am doing it, I would probably advise against it. It is kind of like betting the farm at a table in Vegas. The difference in my case is that I have a good idea what cards the dealer is holding - I saw them last year.

Wouldn't you agree that it would be a much greater disaster to have 300 accounts ready to sign up but you can't service them? The guy who plays it safe and grows slowly has absolutly no chance of gaining 300 accounts. At least, I have a chance.

gene gls
02-10-2005, 10:36 PM
How big of an area are you going to cover?? If you have a dense population you might make it. Do you really think your company can service 300 customers in the second year of opperation? I wouldn't want to be your banker or the person answering the office phone after about 150 customers have been signed up. Good Luck!!

Gene

LLCO
02-10-2005, 10:39 PM
In a service industry, I am overly concerned with word of mouth.. If you have customers that you can not service that word of mouth can quickly steamroll especially in startup. If you were well established, then you can admit to a mistake show that you have a proven track record and move on. In the startup stage, I view this as dangerous.

May I ask how you have structured your back office and business processes to facilitate this kind of growth. Would you be able to make 270+ estimates in a 2-3 week period of time? Are you sure that they will be able to contact you (i.e. voicemail, etc.)? I am not trying to po-po your ambition but trying to understand it to better emulate it in my own business plan..

BTW.. from what I am able to research, a 3.5% close ratio on flyers is very aggressive in a service environment.

PMLAWN
02-10-2005, 10:43 PM
I would be concerned about that good of a close ratio. Are you pricing right

ALarsh
02-10-2005, 10:45 PM
According to what most people say on here, you are going to have to put out 45,000 flyers to get 450 calls. In order to service 450 people, you are going to need multiple crews. I think you may be growing this too fast. I would say a good goal for you this year is to have your two guys working a full schedule. If your market is not saturated with lco's, add another crew on in the middle of the season and get them working on a full schedule. Getting 450 calls would be a nightmare, setting everybody up, having the ability to service all of these people weekly is impossible with your current setup. I wouldn't want to get all of these calls and have my quality terrible because we have soo many clients to service, leaving a sour taste in some of these potential clients mouths. You can still burn yourself out working at the desk.

Thats just me though.

tonygreek
02-10-2005, 10:47 PM
"Wouldn't you agree that it would be a much greater disaster to have 300 accounts ready to sign up but you can't service them?"

interesting take on that. you have a different motivation than most i see, so who am i to tell you that you shouldn't take on the overhead in advance of any customers. from your original post in this thread, i had an idea that you had put some thought into your strategy. that's the reason i looked at some of your other posts to better guage it before offering up any more.

now... if it were me, i'd get the customers and then scale to suit. equipments always an easy ramp-up, but obviously the labor is key to have at hand. for me, i am heading into this as our first full year on the lco side (i own other businesses), with an initial mailing/flyer/insert distribution of 10,000 4/4color 6x9 postcards. i have 13 customers going into the season, the product of fall clean-up and snow removal customers that signed on. all other customers will be generated from the distribution, as well as 2x2 display ads in the local suburban papers.

tony

tonygreek
02-10-2005, 10:53 PM
in some of his other posts his pricing strategy seem to be a bit on the lower end, with very tight overhead.

as for doing the estimates, i skimmed one of his posts that said it would be primarily over the phone estimates, with little regard for the property. if that's no longer the case, i'm sure he'll correct me.

these were culled from primarily the justmowit-intensive lowballers thread, so it seems to be similar to their strat.

PTP
02-10-2005, 11:15 PM
If you have a dense population you might make it. Do you really think your company can service 300 customers in the second year of opperation? Gene
Yes.

If I sometimes seem a bit vague, there is a reason for that. No use in showing the competiton my hand - at least not all of it.

PTP
02-10-2005, 11:20 PM
May I ask how you have structured your back office and business processes to facilitate this kind of growth. Would you be able to make 270+ estimates in a 2-3 week period of time? Are you sure that they will be able to contact you (i.e. voicemail, etc.)? I am not trying to po-po your ambition but trying to understand it to better emulate it in my own business plan..

BTW.. from what I am able to research, a 3.5% close ratio on flyers is very aggressive in a service environment.
I will be working the office - the employees will be mowing.

Yes, I can handle 270+ estimates.

I will personally answer the phone during business hours.

3.5% is very high but that is what I did last year. I may not do that this year. That is why I am putting out many thousands of flyers.

I think that my limit will be about 500 properties this year. I simply do not have enough storage space to handle any more. Next year, that will change.

PTP
02-10-2005, 11:21 PM
I would be concerned about that good of a close ratio. Are you pricing right
Yes, I am.

gene gls
02-10-2005, 11:31 PM
I see smoke, lots of black smoke..

Gene

PTP
02-10-2005, 11:37 PM
According to what most people say on here, you are going to have to put out 45,000 flyers to get 450 calls. In order to service 450 people, you are going to need multiple crews.

Yes, you are right. To be more exact, it will take 3 crews for 450.

Getting 450 calls would be a nightmare, setting everybody up, having the ability to service all of these people weekly is impossible with your current setup. I wouldn't want to get all of these calls and have my quality terrible because we have soo many clients to service, leaving a sour taste in some of these potential clients mouths. You can still burn yourself out working at the desk.

No, I don't think that it would be a nightmare. It sounds to me more like winning the lottery.

How do you know that this is impossible with my current setup? It is not like all of the customers are going to sign up at once. It will take a few months. There is no reason at all that I cannot add another crew within 2 weeks of deciding to do that.

As far as working at the desk goes, yes, it is a lot of work. But, just as I can hire people to help with the mowing, I can also hire people to help with the office things if they get too great.

If I sounded harsh in my reply, I do not mean to be.

Please take the time to review your signature line again. It is a good one.

I suppose that it is possible that I will fall flat on my face with this venture. I have done that before. But, what if it works?

PTP
02-10-2005, 11:42 PM
I see smoke, lots of black smoke..

Gene
I am not sure exactly what you mean here but I guess that it is indicating that you think that I am either lying or am disillusioned.

I am not lying. That is for sure. These are my plans and I am following through with them. I have invested over $10,000 cash and many hundreds of hours of work in this over the last few months.

I may be disillusioned. It is always possible that I may not reach my goals but there is one way for sure that I will not succeed and that is if I do not try.

HOOLIE
02-10-2005, 11:45 PM
I am the most amazed at how you got 50 job applicants...I could put an ad in the paper, it would take 10 years to get that many prospects (unless I went to the 7-11/day labor site :p )

I admire your optimism, hey, even if you get only half your goal, it'll be a nice amount of business.

Grass Gator
02-10-2005, 11:49 PM
[QUOTE=HOOLIE]I am the most amazed at how you got 50 job applicants...I could put an ad in the paper, it would take 10 years to get that many prospects (unless I went to the 7-11/day labor site :p )


That was my first thought.....How did you get 50 applicants? What was your most successful method to get applicant responses?

BTW....greetings from OKC.

PTP
02-10-2005, 11:52 PM
[QUOTE=HOOLIE]I am the most amazed at how you got 50 job applicants...I could put an ad in the paper, it would take 10 years to get that many prospects (unless I went to the 7-11/day labor site :p )


That was my first thought.....How did you get 50 applicants? What was your most successful method to get applicant responses?

BTW....greetings from OKC.
Thank you for not competing with me. :p

I simply ran an ad in the Sunday paper 1 time and said what I wanted and what I was paying. I got at least 42 (I counted them) responses plus a bunch that didn't make it onto "the list."

mastercare
02-11-2005, 12:03 PM
Wow! What ambitions. I don't want to put down your ambitions, but some things to consider:

Do these brand new employees have experience? Do you trust them on properties you've never been to....using your equipment? Either you have some GREAT employees, or you may be placing too much trust in them.

I'm assuming you're not married! That is a huge gamble (which I hope pays off for you). I think my wife would fall over dead if I put together a business plan and expense plan like that without having any customers!

Many people on here have given their advice "don't grow too quickly" because its ruined many companies. Many on here have even downsized their companies becuase with growth comes smaller profit margins, and found that 1 or 2 guys can make just as much money servicing 100 accounts as 5 guys can make serving 400! Just something to think about.

I'd love to know how you get such a good response from advertising, and close so many. ....is it price? If so, you're dealing with price shoppers and will have difficulty raising prices as your expenses climb.

Anyway, as entepreneurs I think we are all optimistic. I'm not knocking your ideas, I just don't want to see you posting on here in July that you have lots of equipment for sale! I wish you the best of luck....let us know how it goes.

PTP
02-11-2005, 01:18 PM
Do these brand new employees have experience? Do you trust them on properties you've never been to....using your equipment? Either you have some GREAT employees, or you may be placing too much trust in them.
Yes, they do have experience. The true test will be in a couple of weeks.

I am not sure what the big deal about employees is. If they can't handle a simple thing like mowing a lawn, I will fire them and find someone who can. Simple as that. I pay good enough to be able to do this.

I'm assuming you're not married! That is a huge gamble (which I hope pays off for you). I think my wife would fall over dead if I put together a business plan and expense plan like that without having any customers!
My wife of 7 years is the chief financial officer (she makes sure that the accounts balance.) :sleeping:

Many people on here have given their advice "don't grow too quickly" because its ruined many companies. Many on here have even downsized their companies becuase with growth comes smaller profit margins, and found that 1 or 2 guys can make just as much money servicing 100 accounts as 5 guys can make serving 400! Just something to think about.
I know what a small company can do. Last year, there were many days when I did $500 by myself. However, 1 man can only do so much. It is time for others to do the work.

Perhaps you should explain your theory about smaller companies to Bill Gates or to the Waltons.

For some people, it is better to run a smaller company. But if you want the big rewards, 2 guys are not going to accomplish that.

I am not knocking those who run small companies and are content with that. It is just that I want something bigger.

I'd love to know how you get such a good response from advertising, and close so many. ....is it price? If so, you're dealing with price shoppers and will have difficulty raising prices as your expenses climb.
My prices are average or perhaps slightly below. If my expenses are figured correctly, then my profit margin will be around 30% (conservative).

Anyway, as entepreneurs I think we are all optimistic. I'm not knocking your ideas, I just don't want to see you posting on here in July that you have lots of equipment for sale! I wish you the best of luck....let us know how it goes.
This is not such a gamble as you might think. Consider most franchises, McDonalds for instance. If I were to open up one of those, I am guessing that I would have to put up about 1 million or so before I sold my first hamburger. But people do that all the time. The potential reward is worth the risk.

I am not just crossing my fingers and taking a shot in the dark here. Where I am now is the result of past experience, careful research, and extensive planning. This sort of thing has been done, can be done, and I have the means to do it.

I really appreciate all of the criticism that I am getting. I sincerly mean that. It helps to keep me sharp and it stretches my thinking and it gives me one more reason that I want to succeed.

Grass Gator
02-11-2005, 01:20 PM
[QUOTE=Grass Gator]
Thank you for not competing with me. :p

I simply ran an ad in the Sunday paper 1 time and said what I wanted and what I was paying. I got at least 42 (I counted them) responses plus a bunch that didn't make it onto "the list."

I'll give you Tulsa :).

What pay rate did you put in the ad?

PTP
02-11-2005, 01:22 PM
[QUOTE=PTP]

I'll give you Tulsa :).

What pay rate did you put in the ad?
700/wk - crew leader

Grass Gator
02-11-2005, 01:27 PM
[QUOTE=Grass Gator]
700/wk - crew leader


Guarenteed? What if it rains for a week?

What about regular crews?

Lastly, I do not want to open a can of worms as there is always great debate on this however are these hispanic employees? I admit they are GREAT workers there are plenty around the TX/OK area. Just curious.

PTP
02-11-2005, 01:33 PM
[QUOTE=PTP]


Guarenteed? What if it rains for a week?

What about regular crews?

Lastly, I do not want to open a can of worms as there is always great debate on this however are these hispanic employees? I admit they are GREAT workers there are plenty around the TX/OK area. Just curious.
No work = no pay. Rain shouldn't be too big a problem.

Still fine tuning the helpers pay.

Nope, couldn't find any. A couple applied but they didn't work out. 1 guy is 1-2 hispanic but is not from Mexico - at least he has no accent.

Greenside Landscaping
02-12-2005, 02:10 AM
i really want to know how you plan to cut 300+ properties with 3 people in a week?

promower
02-12-2005, 03:22 AM
I second that Greenside. Last year I topped out at 53 a few were pretty big but I still had to go 6 full days a week to do it all. Employees arent as ambitious as the owner either, 300 properties with guys will be asking a lot. A few days of rain or employee no shows and and I would be up sh!t creek without a paddle with that many accounts. I wouldnt attempt that many jobs without 6 guys ready to go. My advice is be overprepared and ready to hire more guys if your goals are reached.

Soupy
02-12-2005, 04:41 AM
What equipment have you purchased? How are you fine tuning the pay after already hiring the employee? Do they know you are fine tuning their salary?

I'm curious of the equipment each crew will have (I'm guessing they are 1man crews). Also what size properties you are going after.

lowmiler
02-12-2005, 06:43 AM
This thread reminds me of a cowfield.

lawncare4u
02-12-2005, 06:56 AM
Come on,quit your dreaming...don't sound to me like you know much about business!It is ok to dream...but stay within reality.....IT WILL NOT WORK! :waving:

PTP
02-12-2005, 10:08 AM
i really want to know how you plan to cut 300+ properties with 3 people in a week?
I am not planning on that. That will require 2 3-man crews. I have hired only part of the first 3-man crew so far.

PTP
02-12-2005, 10:11 AM
What equipment have you purchased? How are you fine tuning the pay after already hiring the employee? Do they know you are fine tuning their salary?

I'm curious of the equipment each crew will have (I'm guessing they are 1man crews). Also what size properties you are going after.
Small properties and equipment appropriate for them. The helper gets 1/2 of what the crew leader gets. I was crunching the #s and was thinking of increasing that a little.

No, they don't know. My job is to know things, their job is to mow lawns.

PTP
02-12-2005, 10:43 AM
Come on,quit your dreaming...don't sound to me like you know much about business!It is ok to dream...but stay within reality.....IT WILL NOT WORK! :waving:
When an opinion like this comes from someone who is solo and intends to stay that way, I don't really put much stock in it.

I am guessing that in the back of your mind, you are thinking, what if it works? What if he is able to pull this sort of thing off? How is that going to make me look? And so you try to drag me down to your level.

I am not knocking solo operators but why would I listen to someone who hasn't done it and doesn't want to do it?

You and I are in the same industry. If we were to take a poll and ask members here, based on our previous posts, which one of us is more likely to have great financial success in this industry, I am thinking that I would beat you by a wide margin. The reason for that is because I have a dream.

Based on your post that said that you wanted to stay solo and not deal with the hassles of employees, you have absolutly no chance of making more than your labor is worth in an hour. On the other hand, I have a lofty goal and I am actully planning and working hard to get there. I at least have a chance.

I might not ever net 500K per year but you for sure will not.

gogetter
02-12-2005, 10:54 AM
All I can say is, make sure you check back in with us this time next year and let us know how it went.

Over the years I've seen a handful of guys join LS and post similar goals, then we never hear from them again. That's not to say they failed, maybe they're so busy and successful that they don't have time for us, but I would think they'd be eager to come back and brag a little to all the nay sayers about how well things are going for them, maybe post some pics of their operation, etc.
But they never do.

I wish you all the luck in the world, but I do feel that some of the numbers and expectations are a bit out there.

Turf Medic
02-12-2005, 11:24 AM
.

Perhaps you should explain your theory about smaller companies to Bill Gates or to the Waltons.


This is not such a gamble as you might think. Consider most franchises, McDonalds for instance. If I were to open up one of those, I am guessing that I would have to put up about 1 million or so before I sold my first hamburger. But people do that all the time. The potential reward is worth the risk.

I am not just crossing my fingers and taking a shot in the dark here. Where I am now is the result of past experience, careful research, and extensive planning. This sort of thing has been done, can be done, and I have the means to do it.

I really appreciate all of the criticism that I am getting. I sincerly mean that. It helps to keep me sharp and it stretches my thinking and it gives me one more reason that I want to succeed.


Something like you are proposing is IMO totally attainable. I have found here there are a lot of naysayers to someone that want to grow and grow fast. When Justmowit was first mentioned here, a lot of the comments were along the line of, he's lying, won't work, will soon die out.

If you believe you can or if you believe you can't you will be right.

Interesting that you bring up the McDonalds, millions of dollars to put together and build the business, hire the employees, and without a single customer.

Have any of you read the Microsoft story, Bill Gates took a huge risk with Microsoft and it made him the wealthiest person on earth. He actually agreed under contract to provide IBM an operating system that he didn't own or have access to. And his risk made rich people of not only himself but everyone that was around him at the time.

Good Luck although I don't think you will need it because you BELIEVE.

timturf
02-12-2005, 11:36 AM
PTP,

Your business plan isn't for me, as I'm a solo co, mostly a fert/squirt with a few mowing clients! I wish you well and hope your business plan is successful. Please keep us in touch as to how well your customer base grows.

I 'm assuming you are starting out with last years 35 clients.

Are you saying that you tried this last year, but on a smaller scale, didn't get enough clients, and let two employees go? So, if this is true, the difference is a refusal to fail, and you're going to keep mass distribution of fliers?

Interest concept. I assume alot depends on your pockets, determination, and staying an top of everything.

GOOD LUCK, keep us posted!

wbw
02-12-2005, 11:47 AM
Come on,quit your dreaming...don't sound to me like you know much about business!It is ok to dream...but stay within reality.....IT WILL NOT WORK! :waving:

With such outstanding constructive criticism as this how could you go wrong. lol. Some people just don't get it. Follow your gut and MAKE IT WORK!!!

wbw
02-12-2005, 11:47 AM
Maybe he will share his business plan with you.

gogetter
02-12-2005, 11:58 AM
Something like you are proposing is IMO totally attainable. When Justmowit was first mentioned here, a lot of the comments were along the line of, he's lying, won't work, will soon die out.

Interesting that you bring up the McDonalds, millions of dollars to put together and build the business, hire the employees, and without a single customer.


Not trying to be a naysayer, but a couple things I have to point out.
In regards to JustMowIt, you have to keep in mind that he didn't do this over night, or in one year as PTP is proposing.

In regards to the McDonalds comparison, there is no comparison. Again, McDonalds uses systems that they've refined over the many years they've been in business. When someone buys a franchise, true they put out a lot of money to get started, and true they don't have any customers to start with, but they get a complete step by step manual to go by. Anything and everything is already laid out for them. They're not trying anything new or untried.
Not the case with PTP's plan.
I'm not saying that he won't succeed, but I can't see how he'll hit the numbers he's talking about in the time frame he's talking about.


I do wish him luck, and it would be great to have him post here in a year with a success story. We'll see.

wrestlingcoach
02-12-2005, 02:48 PM
Good Luck In Tulsa, I know the North side (Owasso) and the South side (BA/Jenks/Union) areas are growing leaps and bounds. Just watch TruGreen Landcare they will under bid you on big accts.

PM me, I can get you a catalog of equipment from a place in OKC that will save you money on blades and parts for most name brand equipment. like blades for $5-8

If you get over booked and need to get rid of a few lawns from West Tulsa or downtown give me a call.

Earl

promower
02-12-2005, 04:55 PM
It's unfair to compare this business plan with Mcdonalds. People who invest in opening a Mcdonalds have, like said before a proven business plan that works for the company, they get name recognition everyone has heard of, and huge amounts of money is spent on advertising the franchise of Mcdonalds. It would be different if you had said people invest 1 million in opening Bob's Burger Joint before ever making a hamburger, because it's an unknown company with no proven track record. I do wish you the best of luck I will admit you have the drive to make.

Steeley
02-12-2005, 07:31 PM
Good LUCK :blob3: payup

PTP
02-12-2005, 08:13 PM
In regards to JustMowIt, you have to keep in mind that he didn't do this over night, or in one year as PTP is proposing.
I am not proposing to get to 2000 lawns in 1 year. Only 300. It will probably take a minimum of 4 years to get to 2000. It might even take a little longer than that.

PTP
02-12-2005, 08:27 PM
Thank you to all those who responded to this thread. I appreciate all of the comments but especially the encouraging ones since they are fewer.

To those who think that I cannot gain 300 accounts in 1 year, will you please explain to me why.

Last year, I had about a 3% return rate on my ads. I admit that that is exceptionally good and I do not expect that to happen again although it may. Let us suppose that my ads bring me less than the average 1% and I get 1/2%. In order to get my 300 customers, I would have to distribute 45000 fliers. I have the means to do this.

In regards to equipment, I have all that I need for 1 crew and can completly outfit another crew when needed.

In regards to office issues, that is what I have spent the majority of my time on during the last few months. I believe that I have it pretty well under control and can handle the customers.

In regards to employees, I had 50 respond to one ad. Surely there are a couple of good ones in there.

If I am blind and am totally missing something here, let me know. When you do this, I would appreciate it if you would post some credentials so that I have a reason to believe that you know what you are talking about. I am not trying to be rude but I am not sure that I have much to learn from people who have never done it.

jajwrigh
02-12-2005, 10:35 PM
One of the biggest reason that people fail in this industry is trying to grow too fast!

PTP
02-12-2005, 11:03 PM
One of the biggest reason that people fail in this industry is trying to grow too fast!
Really? So if I did the opposite would that guarantee my success? If I gained 1 client per year then would that be better?

I would say that a person might fail if they take on more business than they can handle. But I think that I proved that I can handle it in my last post.

ALarsh
02-12-2005, 11:06 PM
I wish you luck and I would like to hear from you throughout the year on how your progress is going. If I don't hear anything, rest assured, I will be e-mailing you! :) :waving:

ALarsh
02-12-2005, 11:11 PM
One of the biggest reason that people fail in this industry is trying to grow too fast!

There is going to be 2 reasons for somebody growing too fast to fail: 1)They are pricing too low or 2) they get burnt out.

1) PTP will not be doing the work, so providing he does not get burnt out at the desk and he has workers to do the labor, he should be ok and 2) PTP says he is in the median pricing range, so he should be ok there also.

I am not saying that PTP has no chance of failing, but that comment isn't exactly relevant.

PTP
02-12-2005, 11:14 PM
One of the biggest reason that people fail in this industry is trying to grow too fast!
You know, there is another aspect to this that I just thought of. I am not sure that I can try to grow this slowly. It might do that on its own but I can't shoot for that. The reason is that I would loose my ambition. I am sure that many people have failed in this business because they have lost their dream. They did not give it all that they had. I think that in my case that if I tried to grow this slower I would be more likely to fail. That may not be true for everyone though.

PTP
02-12-2005, 11:15 PM
I wish you luck and I would like to hear from you throughout the year on how your progress is going. If I don't hear anything, rest assured, I will be e-mailing you! :) :waving:
Thank you. I can hardly wait to hear what I have to say. :D

Soupy
02-12-2005, 11:56 PM
There is more to it then just buying some equipment, passing out 50,000 flyers and hiring a few workers. Just a warning, everything looks good on paper. None the less, I wish you luck!

gogetter
02-13-2005, 08:29 AM
To those who think that I cannot gain 300 accounts in 1 year, will you please explain to me why.

Last year, I had about a 3% return rate on my ads.



Well, there are over 25,000 members here (granted not all are active or even still here). Don't you think others have tried to get 300 customers in one year before, or even 200? Yet, I don't recall hearing it happen too often. Actually, I don't recall hearing it happen to anyone (except maybe Justmowit?).

Also, the fact that you got 30 customers off of just 1,000 flyers, has me (and I'm sure others) wondering about your pricing. If just 3% CALL, that's a high response. But to get 3% of all the flyers to become new customers, that's almost unimaginable.
Anyone can get tons of customers if they are cheap enough, but are you gonna make your payroll?

I hope you'll keep us posted on your progress. Good luck,

brinlee lawn
02-13-2005, 09:27 AM
I wish you all the luck!!!! I am with wrestling coach if you get overbooked give me a holler.

scraper69
02-13-2005, 01:09 PM
Damn --u got some ambition - think a bit too much. I think you should think about what you;re gettin in to. I thought i was ambitious to try and grow (double) what i am and i am quite small. but been in this game for over 13yrs
I hate to say it but if you expect to get that return on ads .. you're underpricing your services(virtually impossible) and your quality is obviously not an issue? i hope you make it . but seriously doubt it in my opinion.(note" not being rude here) Good luck!--- and PLEASE everyone who is a LOWBALLER
STOP underpricing and running this "trade into the ground" , you're ruining this biz for everyone!

Critical Care
02-13-2005, 01:30 PM
Okay guys, just remember that a turtle won't go anywhere until he sticks his neck out!

Greenside Landscaping
02-13-2005, 02:37 PM
there is a huge multi million dollar company up here in my area that does about 300 lawns and he has 11 3 man crews it has take tom 20 years to get to where he is and if you think you can pull it out of your ass in a few months your going to fold every thing you have worked for and not get any where. aim lower and build over time

PMLAWN
02-13-2005, 03:56 PM
Thank you to all those who responded to this thread. I appreciate all of the comments but especially the encouraging ones since they are fewer.
In regards to employees, I had 50 respond to one ad. Surely there are a couple of good ones in there. .

Your drive is great. I think that the replies have been very truthful. Very, very few have been downright nasty. Take what you read to heart as most are just giving their honest opinion.
In regards to employees- that will be your biggest hardship. To make enough money to pay them well you will have to charge a price at or higher than the average. This will cut down on turning bids into customers. If you have a full route and a guy walks off you need another guy NOW and he has to work full speed from the start. This is hard to do. I have a handyman division that allows me to have guys that work for me all the time but only work mowing if I need them. And I do have to fill in a few times a year. Be prepared for this as it will happen. Have a contingency plan for the contingency plan.
Keep us informed and good luck.

PTP
02-13-2005, 04:41 PM
I hate to say it but if you expect to get that return on ads .. you're underpricing your services(virtually impossible) and your quality is obviously not an issue? i hope you make it . but seriously doubt it in my opinion.(note" not being rude here) Good luck!--- and PLEASE everyone who is a LOWBALLER
STOP underpricing and running this "trade into the ground" , you're ruining this biz for everyone!
If you charge $80 to service a property and I charge $70 and we both make 35% profit does that make me a lowballer?

Last year, I would often (like 2 x per week) gross over $500 working solo. You don't get there by charging $15 per property. If I have come up with a way to make the same or better profit and still charge lower prices, I don't think that the term lowballer applies.

BTW, as I mentioned earlier, my prices are average or perhaps slightly below. Last year, I raised all of my prices by $5.

PTP
02-13-2005, 04:47 PM
there is a huge multi million dollar company up here in my area that does about 300 lawns and he has 11 3 man crews it has take tom 20 years to get to where he is and if you think you can pull it out of your ass in a few months your going to fold every thing you have worked for and not get any where. aim lower and build over time
It takes 11 crews to service 300 lawns? Are these 20 acre properties or something? If so then we are comparing completly different parts of the industry.

mrusk
02-13-2005, 04:47 PM
Unless you have more than 1 crew going your not going to be making any money if your sitting in the office all day long and not 'Acctually' making money. You are planning on gorwing to fast IMO. You say that you invested 10k cash like were suppost to be impressed. That aint nothing!

Your giving your employees to much credit. If you grow as fast as you say you want to, your employees will be your down fall.

Prove us all wrong.
Matt

PTP
02-13-2005, 04:50 PM
In regards to employees- that will be your biggest hardship.
Yup, I expect that it will. It will be one more obstacle to get over.

PTP
02-13-2005, 05:02 PM
Unless you have more than 1 crew going your not going to be making any money if your sitting in the office all day long and not 'Acctually' making money. You are planning on gorwing to fast IMO. You say that you invested 10k cash like were suppost to be impressed. That aint nothing!

Your giving your employees to much credit. If you grow as fast as you say you want to, your employees will be your down fall.

Prove us all wrong.
Matt
You are right. $10,000 is very little for start up costs. I didn't mention that to impress you but to let you know that I was backing up my ideas with some action.

You are also right that I will not be making much with one crew. The main purpose of the first crew is to do enough work so that I can have some free time. I can use that time to get more customers. It is hard to gain a lot of customers when you are behind a mower all day. I can afford to be without a paycheck for a couple of months - even all year if necessary.

I know that I will have some problems with employees. But I will not have insurmountable problems with them. I will simply deal with the problems and go on from there. I don't expect this to be easy - in fact this will probably be one of the most difficult years that I will have - but I also don't want to look back on my life and say "what if I could have done it?"

Turf Medic
02-13-2005, 05:03 PM
Yup, I expect that it will. It will be one more obstacle to get over.


Your biggest obstacle may very well be the fact that you found this site before you started your growth. If my memory serves me correctly, TJ of justmowit was here before, got a lot of the same responses that you are getting, went home and built his business, and then came back.

ALarsh
02-13-2005, 05:05 PM
Your biggest obstacle may very well be the fact that you found this site before you started your growth. If my memory serves me correctly, TJ of justmowit was here before, got a lot of the same responses that you are getting, went home and built his business, and then came back.

Yeah... I agree with that statement.

PTP
02-13-2005, 05:09 PM
Your biggest obstacle may very well be the fact that you found this site before you started your growth. If my memory serves me correctly, TJ of justmowit was here before, got a lot of the same responses that you are getting, went home and built his business, and then came back.
Yeah, I thought about doing that but I think that responding to all the people who think that this is unreasonable or that I can't do it has made me sharper. This has been true especially about the employees. I know that there will be problems with them eventually but I can hardly cross that bridge until I get to it.

Finding this site may have been a big obstacle but it has also been a great source of information. I sincerly doubt that I would be doing this if it were not for some of the members here. I guess that knife cuts both ways.

Turf Medic
02-13-2005, 05:30 PM
You are correct, it is a great source of information. But if you are looking for encouragement to do something like you are planning, not going to find it here. It's not the norm and I think that frightens people.

scraper69
02-13-2005, 05:59 PM
For the time. it sounds great, but i hate to see you in June???? woa (stress city) but hey Go for it.. no pain-no gain!

Leone LawnCare
02-13-2005, 06:15 PM
i want to see this happen... Im just as aggressive on the flyers and to have 300 customers in one year would be amazing. one of the biggest growth factor is word of mouth. You arent going to have this. Chances are the customers are going to be all over the place and not a condensed route that takes years to aquire. i can do 40 lawns a day with a 2 man crew but my lawns are very dense. you could probably do half that if the lawns are even 7 to 10 minutes apart. i think i reasonably estimate for growth is doubling every year in the first couple years and then ten percent after that. so if you had 35 last year i would guess you can get 70 or 80. maybe 100 by the end of this year. good luck though. also $10000 two ztrs equals about 10 grand if you get the cheap ones. u have to have a truck and trailer for every crew. I figure 50 thousand per crew. also 50000 flyers is a lot of money to create. your prolly talkin 5 grand just for those. big dreams but reality sucks.

Todd's lawncare
02-13-2005, 11:59 PM
When an opinion like this comes from someone who is solo and intends to stay that way, I don't really put much stock in it.

I am guessing that in the back of your mind, you are thinking, what if it works? What if he is able to pull this sort of thing off? How is that going to make me look? And so you try to drag me down to your level.

I am not knocking solo operators but why would I listen to someone who hasn't done it and doesn't want to do it?

You and I are in the same industry. If we were to take a poll and ask members here, based on our previous posts, which one of us is more likely to have great financial success in this industry, I am thinking that I would beat you by a wide margin. The reason for that is because I have a dream.

Based on your post that said that you wanted to stay solo and not deal with the hassles of employees, you have absolutly no chance of making more than your labor is worth in an hour. On the other hand, I have a lofty goal and I am actully planning and working hard to get there. I at least have a chance.

I might not ever net 500K per year but you for sure will not.

how do you figure a solo guy wont make any thing you both will be in the same ball park in price with one man or 3 men on the job or can you charge x amount for each man for each hour ?

scottt
02-14-2005, 12:35 AM
This should be a fun year in Tulsa, I'm looking forward to it!

oldturf
02-14-2005, 01:27 AM
Well,I sure hope there will be some left for me. I too am hoping to continue to grow in the tulsa area. I concentrate mostly in the B.A. and south east area , commerical mostly and have been experancing about a 30% grouth rate with a lot of work and good crews. It has taken a lot of work and supervision of crews to get this far. You simply can't turn crews loose and expect them to opperate well. Its is going to be tough and there will probably be times when you wish that you had not tried to set the world on fire,BUT, if you don't try then you absolutly will not suceede. Just be flexable and roll with the flow and maybe you can show us old guys how to operate.
It is going to cost a lot more money and all your time to achieve such lofty goals and I would like to see a young man succede. GOOD LUCK
What dealer do you use, just curious. I'll be lookin for you.

oldturf
02-14-2005, 02:05 AM
You might check out www.mowitnow.com for some average prices in the area. Just click on the prices and details on the home page. Might be of some help, maybe not.

Mowman29
02-14-2005, 02:33 AM
To Get 450 lawns done with 3 (2man crews) 7 days a week 22 lawns per crew per day. will never work. Your math is bad go back to school and take some business classes.

PTP
02-14-2005, 11:27 AM
how do you figure a solo guy wont make any thing you both will be in the same ball park in price with one man or 3 men on the job or can you charge x amount for each man for each hour ?
If a solo guy nets $500 in one day then that is usually considered to be good. If I net $500 in one day with a crew, then that is not too bad as well. The difference is that the solo guy has reached his full potential. He cannot do more work himself because there are only so many hours in a day. I can add more crews though and thereby increase my net income.

Like I said before, there is nothing wrong with solo work if that is what you want. It is just not for me though.

PTP
02-14-2005, 11:34 AM
Well,I sure hope there will be some left for me. I too am hoping to continue to grow in the tulsa area. I concentrate mostly in the B.A. and south east area , commerical mostly and have been experancing about a 30% grouth rate with a lot of work and good crews. It has taken a lot of work and supervision of crews to get this far. You simply can't turn crews loose and expect them to opperate well. Its is going to be tough and there will probably be times when you wish that you had not tried to set the world on fire,BUT, if you don't try then you absolutly will not suceede. Just be flexable and roll with the flow and maybe you can show us old guys how to operate.
It is going to cost a lot more money and all your time to achieve such lofty goals and I would like to see a young man succede. GOOD LUCK
What dealer do you use, just curious. I'll be lookin for you.
Well, I don't think that we will overlap too much except in Tulsa. I am staying out of BA and Owasso for now.

So far I have done most of my business with Bloss. Smith has a good steup but good luck trying to find a salesman who really knows what he is talking about. The most common response that I get from them is "all of our equipment is commercial quality." That doesn't always help much.

Its is going to be tough and there will probably be times when you wish that you had not tried to set the world on fire
You are probably right. No, wait, I am sure that you are right. But I am convinced that my regrets will be much greater if I don't try.

PTP
02-14-2005, 11:43 AM
To Get 450 lawns done with 3 (2man crews) 7 days a week 22 lawns per crew per day. will never work. Your math is bad go back to school and take some business classes.
Mowman, I looked over your previous posts and you said that you did 8-10 lawns per day with a 2 man crew.

I have done 16 lawns per day solo. So either your lawns are much bigger then mine are or you are very innefficient. I do not know which.

Now, if I can do 16 solo, I am sure that a 2 man crew can do 20 and that is being conservative. If they can do 20, then that adds up to 100 per week. Now, althouth I have only hired 2 men so far, I will be running 3 man crews. Again, if I can do 16 per day, then a 3 man crew can surely do 30. That gives us a total of 150 per week. Let's multiply that by 3 crews and you have the 450.

As I said before, I would consider 450 to be exceptionally good. But 300, now that is attainable.

Leone LawnCare
02-14-2005, 12:28 PM
i love how you say u can just ad crews on the drop of a dime. remember thats a truck a trailer mowers and crew. at least 30000 dollars thats a lot of capital and if you dont have previous income statements or a customers list then i dont know how the bank would keep giving u money. I think your just messing with us because u would have told us your set up by now.

Soupy
02-14-2005, 12:45 PM
3 man crews are a bad idea on the size properties you are talking about. Unless you are running 2 21" mowers on each property.

How are you delivering all these flyers?

PTP
02-14-2005, 01:07 PM
i love how you say u can just ad crews on the drop of a dime. remember thats a truck a trailer mowers and crew. at least 30000 dollars thats a lot of capital and if you dont have previous income statements or a customers list then i dont know how the bank would keep giving u money. I think your just messing with us because u would have told us your set up by now.
Call me a liar if you will but I have enough cash on hand to completly outfit a crew from the truck to the trimmer string.

PTP
02-14-2005, 01:08 PM
3 man crews are a bad idea on the size properties you are talking about. Unless you are running 2 21" mowers on each property.

How are you delivering all these flyers?
I am working with another company who will handle much of the flyers. Some I will deliver myself and some I will have my crews deliver.

Leone LawnCare
02-14-2005, 01:29 PM
well tell us what u stock your trailer with

PTP
02-14-2005, 01:59 PM
well tell us what u stock your trailer with
Sorry, I am not going to go there. As I mentioned earlier, there are some aspects of this business that I don't want to share yet. I am trying to maintain some sort of an advantage over my competition and I don't want to reveal everything.

Last year though, I ran a 36" Wright Stander. IMO it is one of the best pieces of equipment that a solo operator could have. It is the main reason (other than customers) that I was able to often make $500 per day mowing. Perhaps some of you make a lot more solo but I was pretty happy with that.

Critical Care
02-14-2005, 02:03 PM
If all that PTP does is to mow, edge, blow, and go, I think he could knock out a lot of residential city sized accounts during a day - especially if they're concentrated in certain areas. And, he could do this with a two man crew.

However, on the other hand, if he takes the time to pull a few weeds, rake some leaves, prune, fertilize, or any of the other things that go along with "full maintenance", then he may have a bumpy road ahead. In this case the extra man could be kept busy.

KINGjosh
02-14-2005, 03:18 PM
I really like your ambition. You make me really wanna go running down the street passing out flyers. I believe you will succeed. Anything in this world is achievable as long as you have a dream and a fire going. Although Lawn Care is a good bussiness, but with all that capital you say you have, have you thought about other ways of investing it? Or other kinds of bussiness to open?

Any ways I hope you make it, and people like you are the type of people i like to surround myself with.

scraper69
02-14-2005, 03:26 PM
"completly outfit a crew" ..thought you said 3 crews?
to oufit 3 crews properly-- $15-20,000/ea minimum(not including truck)
Est=60k minimum? yea i think i would put 60k into something with a bit higher return than 3 lawn maintenance crews!

KINGjosh
02-14-2005, 04:28 PM
Hes probably using a truck with two 21". no trailer needed. thus 10,000 would probably do 3 crews.

PTP
02-14-2005, 06:36 PM
I really like your ambition. You make me really wanna go running down the street passing out flyers. I believe you will succeed. Anything in this world is achievable as long as you have a dream and a fire going. Although Lawn Care is a good bussiness, but with all that capital you say you have, have you thought about other ways of investing it? Or other kinds of bussiness to open?

Any ways I hope you make it, and people like you are the type of people i like to surround myself with.
Thanks. Yes I have thought of other ways. My wife and I are actively looking for real estate investments also. But we don't have any yet. We own our own house but you can't really count that.

I haven't really considered other businesses. I would seriously look into that later though but for now I can only chase one rabbit.

PTP
02-14-2005, 06:44 PM
"completly outfit a crew" ..thought you said 3 crews?
to oufit 3 crews properly-- $15-20,000/ea minimum(not including truck)
Est=60k minimum? yea i think i would put 60k into something with a bit higher return than 3 lawn maintenance crews!
Let me be more clear here.

I already have all of the equipment for 1 crew and I have the cash to do the exact same thing for another crew. The profit from those 2 crews will pay for the set up for the third crew or, if I grow fast enough, I will have to take out a loan for the third crew but I doubt that the growth will be that explosive although it is possible.

As far as return goes, I think that 30% profit margin is pretty good. But it is not all about the money. This is also about the person that I am becoming. When I first started in this business, I was not "big enough" inside to handle something like this. But I have been growing. I have tried other things in the past such as getting a commercial pilots license, network marketing, my wife started a not-for-profit organization, have taught youth groups, and I can say that all of that has made me stronger. This is another stepping stone in the process. I don't think that I will be doing lawn care forever but until the time comes to move on to bigger and better, I will grow my business and grow myself.

mrusk
02-14-2005, 06:53 PM
By not telling us what is on your trailer makes yourself seem silly. Come on. There is no way 'whats on your trailer' is so much better then any one elses. I really doubt you figured out some sort of different combination of equipment that will work more efficently than any of ours here.

Another thing. If you have the captial you say you have, why waste your time with lawncare? Everyone i personally knows builds a big lawn care company to get out of lawn care. The use lawncare to build capital to get into landscaping, excavating, etc. My own personal goals for my business is to make the most money with the least amount of employees. Unless i can build a self- run lawn business i doubt i will be in the lawn business in 5-10 years. I really don't even know if i'll last that long, and its not because i am not smart enough or dedicated enough to my business, it because i am smart enough to realize i can make more money in other business and i'd be a fool to stick with lawncare as my main gig.

Matt

lawnman_scott
02-14-2005, 08:38 PM
Another thing. If you have the captial you say you have, why waste your time with lawncare? Everyone i personally knows builds a big lawn care company to get out of lawn care.
MattBuild a big lawn care company to get out of lawn care? ok, we will listen to the 17y/o kid for advise.

mrusk
02-14-2005, 10:22 PM
Build a big lawn care company to get out of lawn care? ok, we will listen to the 17y/o kid for advise.

Okay. Just because your 33 you think you have a better clue about business, economics, or how the world goes around? I gurarentee almost every member on this board can name atleast 1 co in their town that started with lawncare, got up to 300-400 lawns, then sold all their lawn stuff. Heck, their are proably several members on this board that did this. But hey, i proably have no idea what i'm talking about because i am young.

Matt

lawnman_scott
02-14-2005, 10:59 PM
Okay. Just because your 33 you think you have a better clue about business, economics, or how the world goes around? I gurarentee almost every member on this board can name atleast 1 co in their town that started with lawncare, got up to 300-400 lawns, then sold all their lawn stuff. Heck, their are proably several members on this board that did this. But hey, i proably have no idea what i'm talking about because i am young.

Matt
Yeah, I bet your right. I also bet every member can name at least 1 that got their lawns and kept them for consistant high revenue. And by the way your right I do think i know better how the world goes around that a teenage kid. Did you ever think he just wants stable consistant non-physical income? Maybe once you are a bit older and on your own you will understand that. And by the way, im not 33 anymore. There is one thing everyone missed. He says he has a commercial pilot license. And he is doing lawn care???

tonygreek
02-14-2005, 11:42 PM
i have no idea his reasons for not using his commercial pilot's license, but have you looked at the airline industry? of the 3 friends of mine that are commercial-rated pilots, under the ages of 42, none are in the field anymore. one is a carpenter, one's in law school, and the other is a consultant for the industry.

i have multiple degrees, made a ridiculously high salary in my former life, and i have my toe in the lawn care side of things. some of us like to stetch our entrepreneurial legs.

Vibe Ray
02-15-2005, 02:53 AM
You only live once man....then ur dead....and u know what that means......might as well TRY while u r in this extremely opportune moment known as life (and freedom)....when it's over its over, but u know that :D

Fact # 2: Ne1 that that opposes progress is a poser! 'Night!

Leone LawnCare
02-15-2005, 03:59 AM
look im 19 and i still have to show my id to prove that im only 19. i would like to put a wager on this. I swear to god and the people on this forum i will pay it. If you honestly get 300 hundred customers i will buy u the most expensive dinner u can imagine and i will give u my truck. u have to prove it though and u can buy someone out or have any special sceams up your sleeve. just good old flyers and dedication. if you havent noticed i dont usually reply to posts i just like reading but for some reason this thread really irritates me because im trying to grow too and your goals in my opinion are unattainable. steady growth makes a business strong anyways. you know a good foundation. quality would also be a huge issue. and if u havent already been passing out flyers good luck. It takes a good guy about all day to pass out about 500. this thread is just frustrating me to no end sorry for the long reply

PTP
02-15-2005, 09:42 AM
i have no idea his reasons for not using his commercial pilot's license, but have you looked at the airline industry? of the 3 friends of mine that are commercial-rated pilots, under the ages of 42, none are in the field anymore. one is a carpenter, one's in law school, and the other is a consultant for the industry.

i have multiple degrees, made a ridiculously high salary in my former life, and i have my toe in the lawn care side of things. some of us like to stetch our entrepreneurial legs.
It's a money thing. I can make just as much money working part time in the summer as I can as a pilot working full time all year. Kind of a no brainer.

PTP
02-15-2005, 09:43 AM
look im 19 and i still have to show my id to prove that im only 19. i would like to put a wager on this. I swear to god and the people on this forum i will pay it. If you honestly get 300 hundred customers i will buy u the most expensive dinner u can imagine and i will give u my truck. u have to prove it though and u can buy someone out or have any special sceams up your sleeve. just good old flyers and dedication. if you havent noticed i dont usually reply to posts i just like reading but for some reason this thread really irritates me because im trying to grow too and your goals in my opinion are unattainable. steady growth makes a business strong anyways. you know a good foundation. quality would also be a huge issue. and if u havent already been passing out flyers good luck. It takes a good guy about all day to pass out about 500. this thread is just frustrating me to no end sorry for the long reply
What kind of truck do you have?

scraper69
02-15-2005, 09:49 AM
a commercial pilots license? woaaa hey maybe he has some high tech jet powered lawn mower (from the jetsons) that will cut a whole city block in an hour, and you need a commercial pilot license to drive it....... Think about it. NOW we know how he's gonna do 400 per week, and this is the mystery peice of equipment that he is waiting to unveil. Maybe an Alien :alien:

Leone LawnCare
02-15-2005, 12:59 PM
2000 silverado ext cab 2500 LT yea thats right leather seats and heated. 4x4 beautiful truck

PTP
02-15-2005, 05:01 PM
2000 silverado ext cab 2500 LT yea thats right leather seats and heated. 4x4 beautiful truck
Heated seats huh? That aint nothin. Everybody has heated seats in OK. Especially around the middle of July. We just leave it in the sun for about an hour or so and presto! :D

Seriously though, I might make it to 300 this year but I won't hold you to your offer. I think that it was kind of foolish on your part. I would be quite content with a "congradulations."

truenorthlandscaping
02-15-2005, 08:59 PM
Hey PTP - Go for it! You sound like a great guy. I've been fortunate enough to be surrounded by 'older' lawn care & landscaping guys that have blessed, mentored, & encouraged me. I've seen a wide mix of good advice, reality checks, & insecurity throughout these posts. Chase your dreams, all the best to you this year. Don't lose your mind. Go Wright!

Leone LawnCare
02-15-2005, 09:00 PM
i just was proving that in three or four years if you have 300 or 450 people would say still high but managable, that many clients in one year is just not practical

Eho
03-02-2005, 12:56 AM
Hey, I wish you the best of luck and hope your plan works. It can work b/c you are paying your crew leaders very well which means you should keep your employees happy. As long as they are happy, and u run the business smoothly. You can excel. There is a guy in my area who everyone knows and everyone knows his business. He has MANY employess and has a very lucrative business to say the least. Simple point: IT CAN be done and with your attitude I think it will be done. Please keep us posted on this. How many new customers have you got so far? Also, just wondering...how successful were you in your four previous years of being solo? Also, did you go to college( I know its random, I m in college now so i was just wondering) Let me hear from you.

walker-talker
03-02-2005, 09:59 AM
Great to hear all this. I think this has to be one of the few thread that I went and actually read 11 pages. I wish you the best of luck!!! I am delivering 30,000 full color, 8.5" X 11" flyers over March, April & May (via neighborhood newsletters). I know I won't have as high of response rate as putting them in door handles, but I would be happy to gain 40 mowing accounts. I have a couple questions for you.

1) Are you offering any other services other than mowing?

2) Do you have a scheduling software? Such a small investment could save you so much work with gaining that many accounts in such a short amount of time.

Again...good luck and hope to see hear back from you about your progress of the next few months!

Matt

PTP
03-02-2005, 10:12 AM
Hey, I wish you the best of luck and hope your plan works. It can work b/c you are paying your crew leaders very well which means you should keep your employees happy. As long as they are happy, and u run the business smoothly. You can excel. There is a guy in my area who everyone knows and everyone knows his business. He has MANY employess and has a very lucrative business to say the least. Simple point: IT CAN be done and with your attitude I think it will be done. Please keep us posted on this. How many new customers have you got so far? Also, just wondering...how successful were you in your four previous years of being solo? Also, did you go to college( I know its random, I m in college now so i was just wondering) Let me hear from you.
Advertising has just begun. I have 3 new accounts. Something interesting happened though. I was planning on doing most of the doorhangers myself and I was also hiring another company to help me but when I started, I bruised my feet real bad (this has happened before) so I got to thinking "why am I doing this?" So I am now putting my monies and effort into the direct mail sort of things. On the 19th I should have about 20,000 go out. That will be the real test.

College. I have been to trade school (auto mechanic), bible school, and am a commercial pilot. None of those have helped me a whole lot in this. I suppose that all of them have made me grow as a person though. Until recently I was not "big enough" inside to take on something like this. If I were to do it over, I would probably major in business and minor in marketing.

PTP
03-02-2005, 10:18 AM
Great to hear all this. I think this has to be one of the few thread that I went and actually read 11 pages. I wish you the best of luck!!! I am delivering 30,000 full color, 8.5" X 11" flyers over March, April & May (via neighborhood newsletters). I know I won't have as high of response rate as putting them in door handles, but I would be happy to gain 40 mowing accounts. I have a couple questions for you.

1) Are you offering any other services other than mowing?

2) Do you have a scheduling software? Such a small investment could save you so much work with gaining that many accounts in such a short amount of time.

Again...good luck and hope to see hear back from you about your progress of the next few months!

Matt

1. Mowing only at this time. More services to be added later.

2. Yes. Gopher.

Good luck with the flyers. You might just get more work than you can handle with them. That has been a major concern of mine. The reason that I am putting out 20,000 instead of 70,000 is because it might be a problem to add 500 accounts in 1 month. Even with 20,000 I am a little nervous. If I get 1/2% then I get 100 properties but if I get 2% then I get 400 properties. Oh well, I just prepare as best I can and then deal with it as it comes.

Soupy
03-02-2005, 11:21 AM
1. Mowing only at this time. More services to be added later.

2. Yes. Gopher.

Good luck with the flyers. You might just get more work than you can handle with them. That has been a major concern of mine. The reason that I am putting out 20,000 instead of 70,000 is because it might be a problem to add 500 accounts in 1 month. Even with 20,000 I am a little nervous. If I get 1/2% then I get 100 properties but if I get 2% then I get 400 properties. Oh well, I just prepare as best I can and then deal with it as it comes.

Are you planning on having a 100% close rate? If you get more then a 50% closing rate as a new company then you are under bidding. 25% would be more normal for a new company that is pricing competitive.

lawnranger44
03-02-2005, 11:27 AM
Your ambition is great, but as everyone else has said, you need to grow a bit slower. Maybe aim for 300 in 2 or 3 years. Now that is feasible. The main issue is getting reliable employees. It may be "just mowing" but you'll need to find people who will show up on time every day, accomplish their scheduled tasks, and work efficiently. Its hard to find people who aren't stupid. And it will take time to train people to NOT be stupid. On the same note, you'll need employees who do quality work. Its not every day that u find someone who can make perfect stripes with a mower or not scalp the grass with a string trimmer with little to no experience. Maybe you have experienced guys lined up, i don't know, but if u haven't thought of this maybe u should start finding experienced guys or training guys.

This is a great thread, probably the first one that i've read every single post on every single page.

Eho
03-02-2005, 11:55 AM
One more thing I forgot to ask you. I saw that you are adding three crews. How much do you plan on spending on each crew and what all will one crew consist of. Did you go out and buy you some old trucks? What kind of trucks and how much? What about trailors and equipment? Just wondering what all you needed per crew and about how much it cost. Please let me know..Thanks
Good Luck
EHO

marko
03-02-2005, 01:53 PM
PTP,

Wish you the best of luck. I see this as the way the industry is headed. There will still be the people that pay top dollar for lawn care, but I think a majority just want it cut. Those that see this now and are taking in this market will be way ahead of the game when the industry realizes it. Cant Imagine trying to break into a market where low ball pricing (according to some/most on this site) is the norm. I am starting something like your plan this year (not as ambitious as you) but something along the just mow it and mow it now plan. I went after the top dollar accounts, (service, service, service) when I did this before and found people just want the yard cut and green. I have noticed that if you can cut the same yard for $20 that someone else charges $30, they call you a scrub. Someone on here says $30,000 to outfit a crew. Let me see: 2 man crew= $4000 for a 2000 Chevy S10, $1500 for a justmowit trailer/bed, $1800 for 2 Toro mowers, $400 for echo trimmer and edger, $200 for a blower. Under $8,000 for a set up. I know there is insurance etc, but far away from $30,000! I would bet you could set up three crews for $30,000. The mentality that some have of the biggest and newest equipment makes everyone else a scrub. Good luck, I hope it works for you and keep us posted!

PTP
03-02-2005, 05:59 PM
Are you planning on having a 100% close rate? If you get more then a 50% closing rate as a new company then you are under bidding. 25% would be more normal for a new company that is pricing competitive.
No I am not. I plan on refusing service to customers who don't meet my qualifications. I did this twice already.

I just sold a 9000 sq ft lot for $43 per mow biweekly. Subtract the house and drive and it should be around 5000 or so. I don't think that I am underbiding.

PTP
03-02-2005, 06:05 PM
Your ambition is great, but as everyone else has said, you need to grow a bit slower. Maybe aim for 300 in 2 or 3 years. Now that is feasible. The main issue is getting reliable employees. It may be "just mowing" but you'll need to find people who will show up on time every day, accomplish their scheduled tasks, and work efficiently. Its hard to find people who aren't stupid. And it will take time to train people to NOT be stupid. On the same note, you'll need employees who do quality work. Its not every day that u find someone who can make perfect stripes with a mower or not scalp the grass with a string trimmer with little to no experience. Maybe you have experienced guys lined up, i don't know, but if u haven't thought of this maybe u should start finding experienced guys or training guys.

This is a great thread, probably the first one that i've read every single post on every single page.
I think that most guys take too much pride in their work. I bet that if we worked at it, we could train monkeys to mow lawns. So I would expect that an employee could do the same. If they can't, I will fire them. I have already told them that they have a maximum of 2% complaints. This will be reduced to 1% a little later in the season. On my last ad, I had 50 responses for people wanting to work. That puts me in a good position for replacements if necessary.

As for growing slower, I don't think so. I really have no good reason not to. In the 3 years that you mentioned I hope to be at 1000 lawns or so. 300 is just the start. Once I run out of new customers in my area, it is then time for diversification.

PTP
03-02-2005, 06:09 PM
One more thing I forgot to ask you. I saw that you are adding three crews. How much do you plan on spending on each crew and what all will one crew consist of. Did you go out and buy you some old trucks? What kind of trucks and how much? What about trailors and equipment? Just wondering what all you needed per crew and about how much it cost. Please let me know..Thanks
Good Luck
EHO
Marko is getting warmer. Use all of your equipment on every property.

ALarsh
03-02-2005, 07:10 PM
No I am not. I plan on refusing service to customers who don't meet my qualifications. I did this twice already.

I just sold a 9000 sq ft lot for $43 per mow biweekly. Subtract the house and drive and it should be around 5000 or so. I don't think that I am underbiding.

I thought you were going to market cheaper cuttings... At $43 bi, I would be expecting some pretty good work, but if you were cheaper you could get by without providing excellent work. FYI, TJ's price for that yard would be $31...

But if that is the middle of your market, all the better for you.

lawnranger44
03-02-2005, 08:56 PM
Good luck PTP. I just hope you can back up your tough talk with some success down the road, I really do. If you succeed, you'll give inspiration to all of us. If you fail though, it'll just be another example why "BIGGER FASTER" is not always the best way to do things.

Soupy
03-02-2005, 08:59 PM
PTP,

Wish you the best of luck. I see this as the way the industry is headed. There will still be the people that pay top dollar for lawn care, but I think a majority just want it cut. Those that see this now and are taking in this market will be way ahead of the game when the industry realizes it. Cant Imagine trying to break into a market where low ball pricing (according to some/most on this site) is the norm. I am starting something like your plan this year (not as ambitious as you) but something along the just mow it and mow it now plan. I went after the top dollar accounts, (service, service, service) when I did this before and found people just want the yard cut and green. I have noticed that if you can cut the same yard for $20 that someone else charges $30, they call you a scrub. Someone on here says $30,000 to outfit a crew. Let me see: 2 man crew= $4000 for a 2000 Chevy S10, $1500 for a justmowit trailer/bed, $1800 for 2 Toro mowers, $400 for echo trimmer and edger, $200 for a blower. Under $8,000 for a set up. I know there is insurance etc, but far away from $30,000! I would bet you could set up three crews for $30,000. The mentality that some have of the biggest and newest equipment makes everyone else a scrub. Good luck, I hope it works for you and keep us posted!

I mentioned a $30K setup lately, but it was capable of doing 1 acre lots. You would not be able to profitably do 1 acre lots with your setup. Also I had pruning, aeration, dethatching equipment included which brings a lot more profits. My $30K outfit would out profit your $8K outfit.

Business in all industries are spending money on more expensive productive machinery all the time to keep labor expense as low as possible. It has proven to be more profitable in the long run.

You guys will realize that justmowits plan is not the answer to everyones prayers. It might work for some of you, but it can't be done with a couple of crews (it takes many crews). You will need a lot of investment capital to play that game. I wish you all good luck.

PTP
03-02-2005, 10:10 PM
I thought you were going to market cheaper cuttings... At $43 bi, I would be expecting some pretty good work, but if you were cheaper you could get by without providing excellent work. FYI, TJ's price for that yard would be $31...

But if that is the middle of your market, all the better for you.
It is also a corner lot and it is for a previous customer. There is a high price because of her location - it is out of my service area - but it is not that far out. It will take about 15 min. to service.

I think that most of my cuttings are cheaper. When I started, I was charging $25 per mow and last year I was charging $30. This is a happy medium.

PTP
03-02-2005, 10:15 PM
Good luck PTP. I just hope you can back up your tough talk with some success down the road, I really do. If you succeed, you'll give inspiration to all of us. If you fail though, it'll just be another example why "BIGGER FASTER" is not always the best way to do things.
Thanks, I hope that I can back it up too. Believe me, I'm trying.

I really have a lot of respect for those of you who really know the green industry and can give the best quality service in any situation from mowing to fertilizing to retaining walls. You are always going to be able to satisfy the top end customers that I can't touch. That is not me though. I don't know that much about it and I don't care to learn. What I thrive on though is the business aspect. It dosen't matter to me if I am in the green industry or any other - it just so happens that this sort of fell into my lap a few years ago and I am running with it.

lawnranger44
03-02-2005, 11:39 PM
I really have a lot of respect for those of you who really know the green industry and can give the best quality service in any situation from mowing to fertilizing to retaining walls. You are always going to be able to satisfy the top end customers that I can't touch. That is not me though. I don't know that much about it and I don't care to learn. What I thrive on though is the business aspect. It dosen't matter to me if I am in the green industry or any other - it just so happens that this sort of fell into my lap a few years ago and I am running with it.

You know what, that little paragraph explained your viewpoint alot more to me. I can kind of understand where your coming from. I have to admit, I myself view myself as a businessman more than a lawnman. Except in my situation, I have my brother to be the lawnman :cool: I really think I can understand your business plan a little better now. I only ask you to PLEASE let us know about ur progress because either way it will help us all to learn.

Soupy
03-03-2005, 12:38 AM
No I am not. I plan on refusing service to customers who don't meet my qualifications. I did this twice already.

I just sold a 9000 sq ft lot for $43 per mow biweekly. Subtract the house and drive and it should be around 5000 or so. I don't think that I am underbiding.

What is your closing rate goal? Because with the response rate you keep mentioning it sounds like you plan on getting all of them as customers. Unless you actually think you are going to get a 6% response and a 2% close rate.

You mentioned that you are more into the business side of being a LCO, but it doesn't seem like you are approaching this with much experience. Out of the customers you had last year, how many flyers did you distribute? How much did each customer end up costing you to retain? What was your closing rate? What was your profit margin? and will your new marketing plan decrease profit margins? These are just a few things a business man should know. So far all I hear coming from you are imaginary response numbers you hope to get from your marketing plan. I have not heard of any real business approach.

It really isn't none of our business and I am not asking you to spell out your whole business plan. But experience people are just trying to warn you that it isn't as easy as you think. You think they are slamming you but you have not given them any reason to think you really have put as much thought into this as you say.

You say that you are only a mow and go service. If you are not planning on gaining all these customers on price. What is it that you are planning on gaining them with? You have not been around long enough to gain them on reputation. You said that the price quoted was for a previous customer (those are the easiest to sell) and it had special circumstances.

I could be wrong but it seems to me that you are trying to copy what you think you might know of justmowits operation. Nobody really knows much about his operation except that he has a bunch of customers and brings in a good gross figure. Nobody knows what his profit is. I can only guess (big guess) that it isn't no more (maybe much less) then a full scale maintenance service with several hundred customers with profits coming from up-sells. We don't know what his expenses are etc. I'm afraid to many people are consumed by two numbers that mean absolutely nothing. Those numbers being 2000+ customers and 1.4 million in gross sales. Those two numbers sound impressive, but mean absolutely nothing. Especially when you ad 30+ employees 11 outfitted trucks, an expensive marketing campaign plus many more unknown expenses.

I'm not knocking justmowit. I am saying that I think a lot of people are blindly going into something they have no clue on based on what they think they might know.

I'm not saying you can't do what you are planning. I am just saying that you have not told us what you are planning. To pop in here and say I hired a couple of employees, and I am hoping to jump from 30 to 300 customers this year. What kind of response were you expecting?

I'm not knocking you, I just wish I knew what you are doing. What are we discussing here? Because I can't figure it out. Sure I wish you luck on gaining 300 customers, but what does that mean?

marko
03-03-2005, 08:46 AM
I mentioned a $30K setup lately, but it was capable of doing 1 acre lots.

Soupy, I was not referring to you. Doing acre+ lots is a totally different animal. It was someone earlier in this thread.
The point that I was making was several on here bash someone that has a new idea and tells them it will never work, but I doubt many, if any at all, have even tried this approach. They are either scared to pull the trigger, or have made themselves comfortable by making themselves a job. If thats what they want then good for them. They have no right to bash someone doing something that they have never done or tried. They always say, "someone in my town tried that and was out of business in a year." That might be their perception, but maybe they got divorced, or wife was ill and needed a real job for health insurance, or they had to move to take care of family. A plan like this is more truly what I picture a business to be, regarding small residential. The owner runs it and sells, the employees do the labor. I prefer to mow small residential, and if you are just starting out and want to have the lowest overhead, there is no reason for a new truck, you do not need a trailer, 21" mowers are perfect, and by the time someone unloads a ztr and hits a small yard, goes back and gets their 36" for the back yard, a crew of three is close to being done. We are talking 8 to 12 minutes per yard. If a crew can mow 3 yards per hour @ $20, The $20 here labels you as a scrub, just because someone else needs to drive a new truck and use the $9,000 Walker and has to charge $35 to cover his bills. I agree just mow it is not for everyone, but if you are going to copy it, copy it. He was kind enough to share, hes done the homework and the "R&D", and he too started out with something like 100 customers and seems to have built by 50% a year or so.

Soupy
03-03-2005, 09:37 AM
I mentioned a $30K setup lately, but it was capable of doing 1 acre lots.

Soupy, I was not referring to you. Doing acre+ lots is a totally different animal. It was someone earlier in this thread.
The point that I was making was several on here bash someone that has a new idea and tells them it will never work, but I doubt many, if any at all, have even tried this approach. They are either scared to pull the trigger, or have made themselves comfortable by making themselves a job. If thats what they want then good for them. They have no right to bash someone doing something that they have never done or tried. They always say, "someone in my town tried that and was out of business in a year." That might be their perception, but maybe they got divorced, or wife was ill and needed a real job for health insurance, or they had to move to take care of family. A plan like this is more truly what I picture a business to be, regarding small residential. The owner runs it and sells, the employees do the labor. I prefer to mow small residential, and if you are just starting out and want to have the lowest overhead, there is no reason for a new truck, you do not need a trailer, 21" mowers are perfect, and by the time someone unloads a ztr and hits a small yard, goes back and gets their 36" for the back yard, a crew of three is close to being done. We are talking 8 to 12 minutes per yard. If a crew can mow 3 yards per hour @ $20, The $20 here labels you as a scrub, just because someone else needs to drive a new truck and use the $9,000 Walker and has to charge $35 to cover his bills. I agree just mow it is not for everyone, but if you are going to copy it, copy it. He was kind enough to share, hes done the homework and the "R&D", and he too started out with something like 100 customers and seems to have built by 50% a year or so.

I agree with you. I have always spoken out against the need to buy new trucks etc. I also agree that 21" mowers are all that are needed on very small lots. But in your example you are suggesting a 3 man crew cutting 3 $20 lawns an hour is good. In my area one man can cut a $30 lawn (6-8K) in under 1/2 hour using a ZTR. The ZTR is going to cost less then 3 labors. My point was that both setups have their perks. By the way, it takes me longer to unload the 21", gas it, set the wheels, and pull start it. Rather then just jumping on the ZTR, turning a key and driving off using my foot to adjust the deck. I do agree that changing mowers on a small lawn is a waste too. I will also say that I find myself using my 21" Toro over my 36" Toro on small gated lawns (the 3 that I have).

The biggest problem with this thread is that he will not mention the equipment he is using, so we don't know what to think. I don't know why I am even wasting my time on this thread because he obviously didn't want any real feedback. I don't know why he even started this thread.

PTP
03-03-2005, 09:40 AM
Soupy, I appreciate these questions. They make me think more about the business and exactly what I am doing.

What is your closing rate goal? Because with the response rate you keep mentioning it sounds like you plan on getting all of them as customers. Unless you actually think you are going to get a 6% response and a 2% close rate.

My goal is to sign up 1/2% of all of the flyers that I distribute. Last year, my close rate was quite high - I am guessing 80% or so. I didn't keep track but I remember only one who said no. This year, my qualifications for customers are more strict so I expect that # to be lower. My goal for signups is actually just a guess - a somewhat educated guess but it is still a guess. I don't have a firm history to base my #s on - only what I read here and what my #s were last year.

You mentioned that you are more into the business side of being a LCO, but it doesn't seem like you are approaching this with much experience. Out of the customers you had last year, how many flyers did you distribute? How much did each customer end up costing you to retain? What was your closing rate? What was your profit margin? and will your new marketing plan decrease profit margins? These are just a few things a business man should know. So far all I hear coming from you are imaginary response numbers you hope to get from your marketing plan. I have not heard of any real business approach.

About 800 flyers.

I am not sure what you mean by cost of retention. If you mean my overhead costs, it was about $3 per mow on average.

Profit margin - almost nothing. But that is largely due to expansion for this year. I purchased equipment, software, and that sort of thing. I expect this year's profit margin will be slim as well. The start up costs are always high.

Yes, my numbers are imaginary, but they are the best that I can come up with so far. Next year I will have a better foundation and know what to expect. I will also say that I am trying several different methods of advertising. I am keeping track of what works and how effective each one is. Later on, we will go with what works the best.

It really isn't none of our business and I am not asking you to spell out your whole business plan. But experience people are just trying to warn you that it isn't as easy as you think. You think they are slamming you but you have not given them any reason to think you really have put as much thought into this as you say.

I have not yet heard a good reason why this will not work. From my perspective, it has been done, it is being done, and I can do it.

I could be wrong but it seems to me that you are trying to copy what you think you might know of justmowits operation. Nobody really knows much about his operation except that he has a bunch of customers and brings in a good gross figure. Nobody knows what his profit is. I can only guess (big guess) that it isn't no more (maybe much less) then a full scale maintenance service with several hundred customers with profits coming from up-sells. We don't know what his expenses are etc. I'm afraid to many people are consumed by two numbers that mean absolutely nothing. Those numbers being 2000+ customers and 1.4 million in gross sales. Those two numbers sound impressive, but mean absolutely nothing. Especially when you ad 30+ employees 11 outfitted trucks, an expensive marketing campaign plus many more unknown expenses.
I really appreciate the things that justmowit has said on this forum. Why don't you call him and ask him what his profit and expenses are? Then we could know for sure what kind of a business that he is running.

I'm not saying you can't do what you are planning. I am just saying that you have not told us what you are planning. To pop in here and say I hired a couple of employees, and I am hoping to jump from 30 to 300 customers this year. What kind of response were you expecting?

I'm not knocking you, I just wish I knew what you are doing. What are we discussing here? Because I can't figure it out. Sure I wish you luck on gaining 300 customers, but what does that mean?

How long does it take to build a car by hand from scratch? A couple of months? A couple of years? I don't know the anwer but it is a long time.

Now, how long does it take Ford to build a car? A couple of days? A couple of weeks? Much shorter than the build-it-by-hand guy. A technician at Ford does one thing and he does it well. That is what I am trying to do. There is no magic. I have found something that the consumer wants, I can supply it, and I can repeat the process over and over. You won't find my employees going to a site and looking at it trying to find out what is the best approach. They already know the best approach. They are going to mow the lawn in such a way that the customer is satisfied with the work. I am not diversifying (yet). I am doing one thing over and over until I and my employees get proficient at it.

No, I don't know exactly what my numbers will be at the end of the year but I don't need to right now. What I know for sure is that my profit starts at 40 properties. How many guys have said on this forum "my and my helper service 100 properties a week and we make a good living at it." The biggest difference between me and that other guy is that I don't plan to stop at 100.

Soupy
03-03-2005, 10:06 AM
I am not sure what you mean by cost of retention. If you mean my overhead costs, it was about $3 per mow on average.

I have not yet heard a good reason why this will not work. From my perspective, it has been done, it is being done, and I can do it.


I really appreciate the things that justmowit has said on this forum. Why don't you call him and ask him what his profit and expenses are? Then we could know for sure what kind of a business that he is running.

How many guys have said on this forum "my and my helper service 100 properties a week and we make a good living at it." The biggest difference between me and that other guy is that I don't plan to stop at 100.

1)The cost to retain a customer is figured by adding all your marketing expenses and dividing by the number of new customers retained by those efforts.

2)I don't know exactly what you are doing to comment weather it has or is being done successfully.

3)I don't need to ask justmowit anything. I am not trying to copy his business like many (maybe not you) on this forum. Those questions are personal and none of anyones business anyway. I was just saying that I always hear how people mention justmowit and say look at his company etc. I am saying there isn't nothing to know by looking at his website and reading a few post made by him. You would have to dig deep into his business to know what he has went through to build, or if one would even think the payoff is that great.

4)Don't believe everything you hear on-line. I also hear teenagers claiming they are making more then their teachers etc.


I believe you can and will build a good business. Knowing it won't happen overnight is something I think most have been trying to tell you. At first it seemed that you were thinking it would happen overnight. I wish you the best of luck.

marko
03-03-2005, 10:39 AM
Soupy, I think the mentality here is giving someone just a mow. I really think a majority want their yard cut, and green (some don't even care about that). A business like this is just like factory work (put the screw in the round hole). It must be efficient (low overhead = used truck) easy (training employees on a 21" vs ztr, no trailers) and strictly run (no BS from customers or don't be scared to dump them, routes extremely tight). Even the credit card only is brilliant as far as not duplicating work. Its in quickbooks already, hit the button and charge the day after. If a customer, "always pays by check" tell them sorry and move on. I do not know if I would personally be this strict, especially just starting out, but down the road when you are self supported, and can afford a foreman and your back to an office pogue you can start making these policies. I am not saying this is the most efficient way to run a small business, but as it grows to a 2000+ customer base the overhead (equipment, maintenance, fuel, insurance, everything) is much easier and cheaper. I could not imagine running maintance-training etc using big mowers , or worse yet dealing with accidents/mishaps w/ 14+ crews. I use to use a Walker and yes I would even kick the neighbors service's butts when we started at the same time. 11,000 SF they had 2 man crew w/ 36" walk behind. We finished at the same time. But that was wide open no gates. This service on small 2,500 sf - 8,000SF areas is ideally suited for 21". Even on a larger yard say 10,000 SF 3 guys with 21's can knock out a lot of grass. Might not be efficient if your mowing, but it sure would seem to be if you were the owner selling and trying to take orders all day and not doing the mowing.

The Dude
03-03-2005, 11:06 AM
Now, how long does it take Ford to build a car? A couple of days? A couple of weeks? Much shorter than the build-it-by-hand guy.

39 hours start to finish to build an Explorer. Most of that time is spent waiting for the paint to cure. 10 hours or so. :)

Soupy
03-03-2005, 11:59 AM
Soupy, I think the mentality here is giving someone just a mow. I really think a majority want their yard cut, and green (some don't even care about that). A business like this is just like factory work (put the screw in the round hole). It must be efficient (low overhead = used truck) easy (training employees on a 21" vs ztr, no trailers) and strictly run (no BS from customers or don't be scared to dump them, routes extremely tight). Even the credit card only is brilliant as far as not duplicating work. Its in quickbooks already, hit the button and charge the day after. If a customer, "always pays by check" tell them sorry and move on. I do not know if I would personally be this strict, especially just starting out, but down the road when you are self supported, and can afford a foreman and your back to an office pogue you can start making these policies. I am not saying this is the most efficient way to run a small business, but as it grows to a 2000+ customer base the overhead (equipment, maintenance, fuel, insurance, everything) is much easier and cheaper. I could not imagine running maintance-training etc using big mowers , or worse yet dealing with accidents/mishaps w/ 14+ crews. I use to use a Walker and yes I would even kick the neighbors service's butts when we started at the same time. 11,000 SF they had 2 man crew w/ 36" walk behind. We finished at the same time. But that was wide open no gates. This service on small 2,500 sf - 8,000SF areas is ideally suited for 21". Even on a larger yard say 10,000 SF 3 guys with 21's can knock out a lot of grass. Might not be efficient if your mowing, but it sure would seem to be if you were the owner selling and trying to take orders all day and not doing the mowing.

I understand the concept and it looks good on paper. That's all I want people to understand. 3 men crews on the size properties you are suggesting would not be cost effective in many areas. I own a 21" mowers, I'm not knocking them. They have their place. Just as the 36" 52" 60" 72" mowers have their place. If I had to pick between a 21" mower over a 36" mower I would pick the 21" mower because the 21" is more versatile in my operation (I only have a few gates).

To say 21" mowers are the answer is wrong. The answer is to have a variety of setups doing a variety of different size lawns. Why not have at least one crew with larger mowers doing the 6-8K properties in your scenario. Why limit your self to one size crew?

PTP
03-03-2005, 12:46 PM
2)I don't know exactly what you are doing to comment weather it has or is being done successfully.
Sorry that I was vague there. I plan to mow a large quantity of residential properties using the most efficient means that I can. There it is. That is my business in a nutshell.

Now, this "it is cheaper to have faster/bigger mowers than it is to hire extra help" has got me thinking. I think that in the solo/1 crew operations this would definitly be true. I noticed a big difference last year when I upgraded my equipment.

But what about when you are running crews? Is it still true then? Let's say that I have a property that I charge $30 for. I have $10 allocated for the crew wages. Let's also say that the wages are divided out among 3 crewmembers. It takes them 15 minutes to mow that lawn using 21" mowers. Now, a single operator can mow this same lawn with a 36" Stander (that is what I used last year) in 30 minutes. I could give him the $10.

So if my #s are right (and I think that they are) my costs are less with more employees because the overall equipment cost is less.

Now, the employees are happy as well. The reason is that the crew leader is getting paid on 4 properties per hour instead of two. The helpers are getting a good wage as well. In the previous set up, they didn't have a job at all.

And not least, I am happy. I am collecting revenue off of 4 properties with the least investment.

Of course, this does not work for larger properties - small mowers would be horribly inefficient.

PTP
03-03-2005, 12:51 PM
To say 21" mowers are the answer is wrong. The answer is to have a variety of setups doing a variety of different size lawns. Why not have at least one crew with larger mowers doing the 6-8K properties in your scenario. Why limit your self to one size crew?
I think that is a great idea. In fact, it is part of my plan. Once I have reached my potential among my current prospective customers, I will look for ways to capture other clients who require different services.

Soupy
03-03-2005, 01:35 PM
Why would you compare a 36" to a 21" for efficiency. 36" mowers are not efficient mowers. It also depends on how much you are paying your employees. to me good wages would be $10/hr to start plus $3 to cover taxes and insurance. That would be about $10 for 15 minutes of work. A 52" ZTR might do that lawn in 20 minutes. If so then the one man with the 52" ZTR would be cheaper.

There is so many variables to look at. With small lawns the amount of trimming plays a huge factor. A small lawn with lots of trimming can take a lot more time then the cutting. I have heard of guys on here skipping trimming every other week. That might be something to think of, then you could lose the 3rd man and do half the lawns one week and the other half next week. This only works on the mow only types that don't care if their bushes are trimmed etc. They just want their grass cut and looking decent but not perfect.

Soupy
03-03-2005, 01:52 PM
Sorry that I was vague there. I plan to mow a large quantity of residential properties using the most efficient means that I can. There it is. That is my business in a nutshell.

Now, this "it is cheaper to have faster/bigger mowers than it is to hire extra help" has got me thinking. I think that in the solo/1 crew operations this would definitly be true. I noticed a big difference last year when I upgraded my equipment.

I think that is everyones plan. But what is your plan to achieve that?

Why not treat each crew as a solo operation. Basically you are saying that since you are not doing the work it doesn't matter if it cost you more and you lose a little profit. Your thinking is any profit is better then none. The only problem is you are not receiving the best return on your investment. There is many ways to invest money but getting the ultimate return is the goal, right?

I'm sure 3 man crews have their place, but until you start lining up 5 or more lawns at each location are you sure 3 man crews is what you need? Sure 3 man crews will get the job done faster, but at what cost.

freddyc
03-03-2005, 02:26 PM
it's interesting in the least to see how you believe you can essentially go from nothing to everything in one fell swoop.

I once worked for a guy like that---he built the entire infrastructure with equipment and so on.... figured that if he had all the stuff necessary then when they came he could service them. Fell on his face and went out. More than once.


From the positive side, its nice to say that failure isn't an option...as long as you can handle it when it happens to you.


As a note, I am now wondering how many accounts other people have vs crew size. The 300-450 accounts is an enormous amount of work, equipment maintenance and office duties.

What is the average of employee ratio vs accounts for all you guys??

PTP
03-03-2005, 02:38 PM
Why would you compare a 36" to a 21" for efficiency. 36" mowers are not efficient mowers.
Ideally, I could do all of my properties with a 52" but there is a slight gate problem. The only mower that you could get in the back without wings would be a 21" or a 36". That is why I compared them.

PTP
03-03-2005, 02:42 PM
I'm sure 3 man crews have their place, but until you start lining up 5 or more lawns at each location are you sure 3 man crews is what you need? Sure 3 man crews will get the job done faster, but at what cost.
The cost is the same. A 1-man crew gets $10 and a 3-man crew gets $10. If I think that it will be more profitable, I would change to a 2-man crew. I am sure that as I go I will find more efficient ways of doing business and will simply change to accomodate that.

Dodgemania
03-03-2005, 03:38 PM
The only way he's going to sign that many customers is to under bid the competition. Look out tulsa a new lowballer is in town. Man seriously hope it works but that is one of the most ridiculous buisiness plans I've heard of.

Soupy
03-03-2005, 04:36 PM
The cost is the same. A 1-man crew gets $10 and a 3-man crew gets $10.

Can you please explain this statement? Are you paying your employees $10 per lawn to split 3 ways?

PTP
03-03-2005, 04:55 PM
Can you please explain this statement? Are you paying your employees $10 per lawn to split 3 ways?
More or less. Of course, it varies on different size properties.

marko
03-03-2005, 05:13 PM
PTP. If I were you I would pay them the same reguardless of how big, sure they will hate doing 12,000 SF @ $3.50 each, but they will make up on smaller ones (4,000 SF). It will be a headache down the road trying to figure what to pay who for each yard. I would also impress upon them that this is their route and the more efficiently they run the more money they make. (pass out flyers/door hangers down the street they mow on to tighten up the routes, work as a team (when the guy blowing is done the rest of the team is loading the truck) When you pay this way it is the best for both sides. Im am going to do this this year and instead of hiring someone at $8.00/hr, they could make $10 - $12/hr. If they goof off your out $5.15/hr worst case and start looking for a new crew. Get the right people on there and they will straighten out any goof off that is holding them back.

PTP
03-03-2005, 05:32 PM
PTP. If I were you I would pay them the same reguardless of how big, sure they will hate doing 12,000 SF @ $3.50 each, but they will make up on smaller ones (4,000 SF). It will be a headache down the road trying to figure what to pay who for each yard. I would also impress upon them that this is their route and the more efficiently they run the more money they make. (pass out flyers/door hangers down the street they mow on to tighten up the routes, work as a team (when the guy blowing is done the rest of the team is loading the truck) When you pay this way it is the best for both sides. Im am going to do this this year and instead of hiring someone at $8.00/hr, they could make $10 - $12/hr. If they goof off your out $5.15/hr worst case and start looking for a new crew. Get the right people on there and they will straighten out any goof off that is holding them back.
I think that I am doing what you suggested. I pay by the job and not by the hour. I have 7 different rates that I pay based on size of lot, weekly/biweekly, etc. You just add it up at the end of the day and add up the 5 days on Friday. This way, they get a little extra on the larger lots and I get a little extra as well.

Soupy
03-03-2005, 05:46 PM
I think that I am doing what you suggested. I pay by the job and not by the hour. I have 7 different rates that I pay based on size of lot, weekly/biweekly, etc. You just add it up at the end of the day and add up the 5 days on Friday. This way, they get a little extra on the larger lots and I get a little extra as well.

Well then efficiency doesn't matter as much. Crap, give them all a pair of scissors and tell them to have at it :D

This is the kind of info I keep pumping you for. The last I heard you were paying $700/wk. Are your employees exited about this pay scale?

PTP
03-03-2005, 06:10 PM
Well then efficiency doesn't matter as much. Crap, give them all a pair of scissors and tell them to have at it :D

This is the kind of info I keep pumping you for. The last I heard you were paying $700/wk. Are your employees exited about this pay scale?
They are excited enough to come to work and do it.

Foreman gets $4.50 and the helpers split the rest. 30 lawns X 5 days X $4.50 = about $700.

Now, please don't anyone say something like "It looks good on paper but it won't work out." My employees will have a full schedule. At first, I have 2 of them. When they get more than they can handle - about 110 or so - I add another crewmember. When the 3 of them have more than enough work, I add a second crew and go back to 2-man crews until workload says that I have to use 3. The 2-man crews have their pay scales adjusted so that they get a little more but I still don't pay more than $10 per mow.

Soupy
03-03-2005, 06:35 PM
They are excited enough to come to work and do it. Foreman gets $4.50 and the helpers split the rest. 30 lawns X 5 days X $4.50 = about $700.

Now, please don't anyone say something like "It looks good on paper but it won't work out." My employees will have a full schedule. At first, I have 2 of them. When they get more than they can handle - about 110 or so - I add another crewmember. When the 3 of them have more than enough work, I add a second crew and go back to 2-man crews until workload says that I have to use 3. The 2-man crews have their pay scales adjusted so that they get a little more but I still don't pay more than $10 per mow.

They are working now?

It still only looks good on paper until you actually gain the customers and keep the employees :). I don't believe I ever told you that your plan wouldn't work. I'm still not saying weather it will or not. I have simply been trying to help the wheels turn and get the ideas pumping out.

Why not start the second crew with 1 guy and build from there. Let him work harder gaining the most until you can fill the second route. 2 men might not want to split a partial route. Maybe splitting part of the first route into the second route and going with 2 men on both routes might work too. Then you can build 2 routes at the same time going back to 3 men later.

Will there be overtime pay? Oh by the way, don't forget about WC, FICA etc. It is still going to cost you more then $10 per mow. Do you have an idea what your retention cost is? I know you can't narrow it down to the penny, but if you do gain 300 customers. How much will it have cost you per customer? I figure you have all this figured out if you have your numbers crunched and you say you are going to profit 30%.

PTP
03-03-2005, 07:31 PM
They are working now?
No. Foreman starts on Monday and I do all the properties with him and show him the ropes. The helper (hopefully the foreman of the second crew) will start on the following Monday.

It still only looks good on paper until you actually gain the customers and keep the employees . I don't believe I ever told you that your plan wouldn't work. I'm still not saying weather it will or not. I have simply been trying to help the wheels turn and get the ideas pumping out.
I wasn't talking about you here. It is just that sometimes certain words bring automatic responses. Like the guy who asks how much chemical to use and someone else tells him that he needs to get certified first. That is what I wanted to avoid.

Why not start the second crew with 1 guy and build from there. Let him work harder gaining the most until you can fill the second route. 2 men might not want to split a partial route. Maybe splitting part of the first route into the second route and going with 2 men on both routes might work too. Then you can build 2 routes at the same time going back to 3 men later.
First route gets 100 jobs and I add an employee. When it reaches 150, I split the route, get another employee and run 2 crews with almost full routes. I think that we are talking about the same thing here.

Will there be overtime pay? Oh by the way, don't forget about WC, FICA etc. It is still going to cost you more then $10 per mow.
No overtime - that won't be necessary. Yeah, I have got the other insurance things covered. I have a lawyer and CPA that I talk with regularly.

Do you have an idea what your retention cost is? I know you can't narrow it down to the penny, but if you do gain 300 customers. How much will it have cost you per customer? I figure you have all this figured out if you have your numbers crunched and you say you are going to profit 30%.
I dont' really know the # exactly. I figure that $40 per customer is acceptable. I can go as high as $60 with the way things are presently set up.

In a couple of weeks, I will have 20,000 flyers delivered and later I will have a total of 30,000 delivered. The total cost for all of this is $4500. If I get only 100 customers out of that then it will cost me $45 per customer. I hope to do a little better than that though.

My 30% profit will not come until a little later. At first, my money will be consumed by employee wages and adding equipment. That is okay though because next year I should be able to start with a really good base and work from there. I don't mind throwing my 30% back into the business for now.

Soupy
03-03-2005, 07:47 PM
Sounds good, Is the flyers ($4500) the only thing you are using for marketing? Are you lettering trucks etc. These things should count toward marketing expense if you are doing those things too. $45 per customer is cheap.

Are you going to offer shrub trimming? I find that this service is almost necessary because everyone has shrubs. Some might do it themself, but not everyone. You could possibly lose customers to the guy they hire to trim the shrubs if you don't offer it. If you don't want to offer this you might consider finding a sub you can trust.

PTP
03-03-2005, 08:13 PM
Sounds good, Is the flyers ($4500) the only thing you are using for marketing? Are you lettering trucks etc. These things should count toward marketing expense if you are doing those things too. $45 per customer is cheap.

Are you going to offer shrub trimming? I find that this service is almost necessary because everyone has shrubs. Some might do it themself, but not everyone. You could possibly lose customers to the guy they hire to trim the shrubs if you don't offer it. If you don't want to offer this you might consider finding a sub you can trust.
I am doing 10,000 door hangers, and 10,000 each from 2 different direct mail companys. I will see which are the most effective and will probably drop one of them later on. Also I am meeting with yellow page people tomorrow. I don't know what that will cost but at any rate it should pay for itself.

No, the trucks are not lettered. I am working on that and that will come later on in the year.

I will be doing at least a little shrub trimming on a request basis only for now. I do not advertise this. I am still working out the details on this - maybe I will have someone who wants a little extra Saturday work or something.

Brianj
03-03-2005, 09:13 PM
450 yards a week, even with 3- 2man crews that is 30 yards a day per crew, with my 3 man crew last yr the most we did was 24 in a day and that was 8am-8 pm, and then what happens when it rains, im not saying it cant be done,but any slip and your way behind

SCW
03-04-2005, 12:48 AM
Our 1st drop of 5,000 door hangers will go out next Friday, 3/11. We have 1 crew already established with a full route + coming into the season. For several months, we have also been taking on clean-ups & small landscaping work--trying to increase that work enough to keep a 2-man crew busy FT. Our existing mowing crew caters more to the "full service" crowd, though we do have a few "mow blow go" accounts. With these door hangers, we are targeting the "mow blow go" crowd. We have to get a 2nd mowing crew on the road this season, and I think this is the fastest way to get a 2nd crew going with a full route. We shall see. We've done door hangers in the past ourselves with pretty good response, but this will be the 1st time we've gone with an outside company and dropped 5,000 all at one time.

I don't think there's anything wrong with targeting "mow blow go" and certainly don't think the prices I've seen tossed around would equate to "low-balling." In our experience, we have definitely noticed 2 distinct types of customers---those that just want the lawn mowed, and those looking for full service and willing to pay extra for quality and dependability. 2005 is definitely going to be an interesting year---for many on this forum it seems.

My struggle in our "mow blow go" crew is the set-up. We're definitely going to start w/ 2 employees---actually my husband will work it with one of our helpers until it's built up enough to justify a crew leader. But we're debating hard on the mowers, truck, trailer, etc. I'm leaning towards a 36" WB, 21", with a small truck and small (8x10) trailer. But I'm open to feedback from others here about the set-up.

nriddle77
03-07-2005, 07:22 PM
PTP, keep us updated. I'm interested in hearing how your plan is succeding.

PTP
03-07-2005, 10:20 PM
PTP, keep us updated. I'm interested in hearing how your plan is succeding.
Well, I was going to wait until I had a little more to say but since you asked . . .

Things are going well.

Today was the first day that my 2 employees were on the job. They didn't actually mow though. I don't have any Monday accounts yet so they passed out flyers. The one guy really suprised me. He did a whole square mile. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders and is willing to work hard. I think that I like him. The other guy will need a little work yet but he is OK too.

The ad campaign has just begun and I have closed on about 8 customers so far. I think that is pretty good. I haven't kept really good track but my closing ratio is somewhere around 70%. It is getting better and I am getting a little smoother.

This has been an emotional roller coaster lately. That is the only way to describe it. The first customer that called I couldn't sign up. The little voice in my head is screaming that this will never work. Then I get another call and the person is almost begging me to service their property.

The customers that I have not signed up have been because of me. They did not meet my qualifications. I am fairly sure that I could have signed up 95% of them if I would have given in a little and that is really hard not to do - especially since I don't have enough work yet to pay my guys salary - they get a minimum of $17/hr combined. I have decided that I will accept only certain size lawns and I will accept only credit/debit cards for payment. I am sorry to say that I have waffled twice on the credit card thing but I am gettin better.

On the 19th is when I get slammed. That is when my 20,000 ads go out. If I get the same response rate that I have so far with the door hangers, I should pick up another 60 customers minimum. Actually, I think that it will be higher than that because the season hasn't really started here yet - only the weeds and the fescue is growing.

All in all, it is exciting.

nriddle77
03-07-2005, 11:11 PM
Glad to hear that things are going well. Stick to your guns with your polycies, if you don't I'm sure you'll regret it later.

Are you planning on bagging or mulching the lawns you service? Bagging would probably be too much work, so I'm guessing that you're planning on mulching. Are most of your lawns Bermuda grass?

One of the reasons I'm interested is that I grew up in the Tulsa area, and will be moving home at the end of this year. I'm looking forward to re-starting my buisness there.

Thanks for the update, and for sharing your goals with us here on LS. Regardless of what happens with your buisness, I admire you for having the guts to pursue your dream. Most people here are too afraid of having others trash their ideas so they're not willing to share them. That's not the case with you, and I've enjoyed reading about your plan.
Best of wishes to you, and keep up the hard work! :waving:

Soupy
03-07-2005, 11:51 PM
PTP, Are your prices posted on your flyer? I am concerned with your high closing rate. If the prices are posted that could be part of the reason. My first gut feeling was you were closing so many because you were bidding low just to get the account, but then I read that you are not afraid to dis qualify customers over your policy. That tells me you are not afraid to say no. I'm still curious as to how you are closing so many calls?

Since it is the bidding season, I would like to add a little advise to all the new guys. Remember that 50 good priced lawns can be better then 200 poorly priced lawns. The 200 lawns could actually cost you money to maintain them if priced to low. My point is, don't let the number of accounts dictate your success. It is just a number and doesn't mean nothing. The only number that matters in this business is the amount left over after all expenses. A guy in my town was just listed in the paper as the guy that will maintain the grounds at Bush stadium for it's final season (Go Cardinals). In this paper it listed that he currently has 50 accounts. I bet those 50 accounts bring in a pretty penny when it is all said and done. It also mentioned that most of his customers were Million dollar estates.

Good luck to everyone this season. May all your dreams come true.

PTP
03-08-2005, 08:56 PM
PTP, Are your prices posted on your flyer? I am concerned with your high closing rate. If the prices are posted that could be part of the reason. My first gut feeling was you were closing so many because you were bidding low just to get the account, but then I read that you are not afraid to dis qualify customers over your policy. That tells me you are not afraid to say no. I'm still curious as to how you are closing so many calls?

Since it is the bidding season, I would like to add a little advise to all the new guys. Remember that 50 good priced lawns can be better then 200 poorly priced lawns. The 200 lawns could actually cost you money to maintain them if priced to low. My point is, don't let the number of accounts dictate your success. It is just a number and doesn't mean nothing. The only number that matters in this business is the amount left over after all expenses. A guy in my town was just listed in the paper as the guy that will maintain the grounds at Bush stadium for it's final season (Go Cardinals). In this paper it listed that he currently has 50 accounts. I bet those 50 accounts bring in a pretty penny when it is all said and done. It also mentioned that most of his customers were Million dollar estates.

Good luck to everyone this season. May all your dreams come true.
Yes, my prices are on my flyer. I only closed 1 today but that is because I only took one call. There are several people on my machine that are waiting for me to return their call. So far, my return rate on my advertising is about .003. I think that is really good considering that the season hasn't even really started yet. Judging by last year, a lot of people hold on to their flyers until their grass reminds them to call. I still have those 20,000 going out and I am a little nervous. It is not unreasonable to think that I could get 100 customers all at once. I have got to start shopping for new equipment and crews.

In conjunction with your advice to the new startups, I have just started reading Nuts (about Southwest Airlines) and I find it interesting that they have driven down the prices in the market for the past 20 years or so and they are the only ones who have made profit every single year - it was written about 1996. Also, their employees love working there.

Low prices do not mean low profit. I am studying to become a better manager so that my employees love their jobs. I feel that is one of the great keys to success in this business. They need to be excited about decreasing their times, maintaining quality, and making more money. Yes, they will make more money. I want my forman to hold his head high when he says that he makes over $800 per week. Do you think that kind of attitude might be contageous to the rest of the crew? I think so. Maybe soon they will have the same oppurtunity.

Back to why I close so many. Another reason is because I tell them exactly what they can expect from me. I tell them that the price will be higher unless they stay with me for a certain length of time. This gives me posture. If a customer thinks that they can walk all over you, they will. People respect strength. I also tell them when they can expect me to show up, that I have insurance, and that I will handle their complaints at no charge to them. I tell them that if I don't like them, I will not service them - a little nicer of course. Most people seem to be very impressed by this.

Btw, I find that I get most of my trouble from women. They are the ones that want to prepay, have monthly billing, get references, and all of that. I don't know why that is but there is a bit of trivia FYI.

Soupy
03-08-2005, 09:31 PM
Yea, I kinda figured you had your prices posted. That explains the closing rate. The customer has already picked you when calling most of the time. I'm sure you get calls for questions, but other then that most have excepted your price.

Will the 20,000 going out have prices on them? If so, how are you pricing them if you are not manually handing them out? I have thought about pricing many times and believe it is the way to go, but is very time consuming pricing each house.

PTP
03-08-2005, 09:42 PM
Yea, I kinda figured you had your prices posted. That explains the closing rate. The customer has already picked you when calling most of the time. I'm sure you get calls for questions, but other then that most have excepted your price.

Will the 20,000 going out have prices on them? If so, how are you pricing them if you are not manually handing them out? I have thought about pricing many times and believe it is the way to go, but is very time consuming pricing each house.
Yes, they will. I just quote a certain price for a regular size lot and another price for a large size or a corner lot. Some take a little extra time and others take less time. It all comes out in the wash. I always can dump a customer if they lie to me about their property just so that they can get a lower price.

Soupy
03-09-2005, 01:28 AM
Low prices do not mean low profit. I am studying to become a better manager so that my employees love their jobs. I feel that is one of the great keys to success in this business. They need to be excited about decreasing their times, maintaining quality, and making more money. Yes, they will make more money. I want my forman to hold his head high when he says that he makes over $800 per week. Do you think that kind of attitude might be contageous to the rest of the crew? I think so. Maybe soon they will have the same oppurtunity.

I guess it all depends on what you/I are referring to as profit. If you are talking about net income then you are right. 10,000 lawns at $1 profit will bring you a better net income then 4,999 lawns at $2 profit. Which company would you rather be? I was referring to it as a gain in investment (time and money). If one guys invest $10,000 in stocks and makes $1,000 in return, but another guy invested $5,000 on a better stock and makes $1,000 in return. Which guy profited more? They both made the same net income, but which one made the best profit? I guess another way to look at it would be, A stock broker comes to you and says "stock (A) is more profitable then stock (B)". Do you say, "but wait, I will just invest more money so stock (B) is more profitable.

Lance L
03-13-2005, 02:12 PM
so how many yards do you have so far?

PTP
03-13-2005, 04:03 PM
so how many yards do you have so far?
I started out with about 10 from last year - it seemed like everyone was moving. I have added 20 or so to that so far. Advertising has barely begun. I will let you guys know what is going on from time to time. I was planning to post when I got to 50 since that number is a little more impressive and is somewhat of a milestone. I am not there yet though.

What we need is some good 80 degree weather to get this grass going.

wrestlingcoach
03-13-2005, 04:05 PM
here in Tulsa Area the bermuda grass is barely greening up along the curbs maybe need another 3 weeks for bemuda

but the henbit is nice and purple in places

jpmako
03-13-2005, 05:47 PM
By not telling us what is on your trailer makes yourself seem silly. Come on. There is no way 'whats on your trailer' is so much better then any one elses. I really doubt you figured out some sort of different combination of equipment that will work more efficently than any of ours here.

Another thing. If you have the captial you say you have, why waste your time with lawncare? Everyone i personally knows builds a big lawn care company to get out of lawn care. The use lawncare to build capital to get into landscaping, excavating, etc. My own personal goals for my business is to make the most money with the least amount of employees. Unless i can build a self- run lawn business i doubt i will be in the lawn business in 5-10 years. I really don't even know if i'll last that long, and its not because i am not smart enough or dedicated enough to my business, it because i am smart enough to realize i can make more money in other business and i'd be a fool to stick with lawncare as my main gig.

Matt

When your ready to sell let me know!

walker-talker
03-13-2005, 05:50 PM
What we need is some good 80 degree weather to get this grass going.I was in Tulsa just yesterday and it was sunny and 84º!! Now if you just had another week of that uh? I live in Wichita...not too far away.

PTP
03-13-2005, 05:57 PM
I was in Tulsa just yesterday and it was sunny and 84º!! Now if you just had another week of that uh? I live in Wichita...not too far away.
Yeah, but today we bearly made it over 50. Soon, though, it will be here.

jpmako
03-13-2005, 06:11 PM
I admire your ambition.

Personally I would rather have 100-125 Full Maintenance Accounts.
To me that would be much less of a headache. Have Two 2-3 man crews cutting for 3 days and landscaping the other 2-3. I have seen many guys do this and be very successful. There is a lot less overhead and much less stress.
I know 1 guy that has like 200-225 full maintenance clients. He has to be one of the most stressed people that I have ever met. You stand there and talk to him and he looks like he is gonna pass out. He constantly scratches his head and twitches. I don't want to be like that. I would rather spend more time on less properties making more money and still be getting my :sleeping:
Just my opinion.

Jason

PTP
03-15-2005, 01:05 PM
Well, you all were right about the employees. They can be a little difficult. But I kind of expected that though.

My foreman has a little trouble getting to the properties. He drives around in circles a little and sometimes pulls up to the wrong house. We had a little chat about that today and I think that things will improve. He knows that he can have a maximum of 1% complaint rates until he gets bumped. So far, we are still at 0. He is really trying hard though and I expect that things will improve. He does good work when he finally finds the house though.

The helper is a little different. His work was okay but he was slow and always asked me "is that good enough?" Well, we had a talk yesterday and today there was a major improvement. He was done the edging, trimming, and blowing at the same time that the foreman and I were done mowing. He kept up the quality too. I was real happy with that. He wants to be the foreman of the next truck. I told him that he could have it if he could show me that he could handle the position. On my crews, the foreman has to be the best worker and be an example to the others. If the foreman is slow and does poor work, then everyone else will too but if the foreman is efficient and does good work, then the helpers will follow.

nriddle77
03-23-2005, 01:53 PM
How about an update? Are you getting a good response from your fliers?

PTP
03-23-2005, 02:24 PM
How about an update? Are you getting a good response from your fliers?
Well, things are going a little slow but okay overall. I had a little trouble with my employees but I think that things will be okay - time will tell.

Flyers are working and I have been signing up an average of 1.5 customers per day since the first flyer went out. I expect this to increase as the lawns start growing. My total cost for customer aquisition so far is $150 and they are still calling. Not all of the flyers are out yet. It seems that my cost for this will be a little higher than I predicted but it is still acceptable. I am thinking that the number will be close to $100 at the end of the year.

The response rate so far is .0012 but the majority of the flyers went out on Thursday and 5-10k will go out this week. That is based on the total ads that will have gone out by the end of this week.

Question for you guys: How do you build teamwork? That is my goal. They work okay but things get accomplished better when the crew is more unified. I want to pay my guys as much as possible. If they work together, $900 a week is not out of the question (for the foreman), but to get there they need to have a vision. Any ideas?

The Dude
03-23-2005, 02:49 PM
Give them a bonus program. Something to work towards. I don't mean giving away money either. Maybe put a time limit on them and if they make it with out complaints, they get paid.

marko
03-23-2005, 03:17 PM
PTP. The whole concept of how you are paying your people should tell them all they need to know about teamwork. Sit them down and show them if you mow 2 yards an hour, you make x. If you mow 3 in an hour you make xx. If you do a crappy job and have to redo you make squat. Each should start learning their job and be the most efficient. The 2nd mowing guy should know when to stop mowing, grab the blower so they finish up at the same time. You should also stop paying your guys different amounts. Find a flat fee and be done with it. When they are bitshing, remind them they make the same on the 3,000 SF ones too! Just my opinion. Think about the problems you will have once your accounts start growing. 5 or 6 different pay rates will be a pain. Justmowit uses one for a reason, no time wasted figuring out who gets paid what for what yard.

PTP
03-23-2005, 03:41 PM
PTP. The whole concept of how you are paying your people should tell them all they need to know about teamwork. Sit them down and show them if you mow 2 yards an hour, you make x. If you mow 3 in an hour you make xx. If you do a crappy job and have to redo you make squat. Each should start learning their job and be the most efficient. The 2nd mowing guy should know when to stop mowing, grab the blower so they finish up at the same time. You should also stop paying your guys different amounts. Find a flat fee and be done with it. When they are bitshing, remind them they make the same on the 3,000 SF ones too! Just my opinion. Think about the problems you will have once your accounts start growing. 5 or 6 different pay rates will be a pain. Justmowit uses one for a reason, no time wasted figuring out who gets paid what for what yard.
No, he dosen't. Read the posts again.

It is really not that complicated. Each rate is assigned a number and I just add them up at the end of the day. If they do 10 lawns and 8 are #1 and 2 are #3 then I just do a little math and it all works out.

I thought that the pay system would kind of lend itself to this. We will just give it a little more time though and see how things go.

Soupy
03-23-2005, 04:16 PM
I am assuming at this point you are not so much concerned about time. Let them take all the time they need as long as the routes get done. As you grow then I can see were time will be somewhat a issue, but these guys are going to work as fast as possible with the type of pay scale they are on.

The goal I am guessing you are most concerned about is quality. Lower their pay slightly and offer them a bonus and only give that bonus when all lawns are done to your expectations. Don't count on a customer to call and complain. You need to randomly check their work and if everything checks out then give them the bonus.

I think the big difference that some might not be considering when looking at Justmowits operation. Is the fact he uses foreigners through the H2B program and they are use to a lot less pay. He offers them a good pay and they work their buts off for him. They are use to working hard for their money.

It isn't something I would think would be easy to duplicate with american workers. If it was I would think Justmowit wouldn't be bothering with H2B programs.

You need to get a bullet proof plan in place so you don't have to constantly pull your workers aside and change policy. Be very firm and set examples out of bad workers. It might take some employee turn over before everything starts running smoothly for you.

Make them redo lawns on their time but do not use that as your only means of tracking quality. Customers do not like to complain. Most will put up with it for a little while and then just drop you. You need to set quality to your standards and do random checks every week on different lawns. Check as many as you possibly can each week and if any trimming is skipped, bagging not performed, etc. then hold their bonus. Be very firm about the bonus and let them know that it is your way of saying job well done. Let them know that it is not to be expected.

Basically you want to deduct the bonus from your target pay rate and then when everything is done right you give them that pay. If they do crappy work then they make less money and still must do redo's. Do quality checks with your customers as well. A simple "how are we doing" form, that they can fill out, or just a phone call will help let you know how things are going.

marko
03-23-2005, 04:31 PM
http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?p=815724#post815724

A total of 2 rates. What are you going to do when you have 10 crews mowing 25 lawns a day? seems like a lot of un-nesessary work to figure that mess out. The key to the plan is how simple it is for the customer and his company

marko
03-23-2005, 04:36 PM
PTP. Are you just accepting credit cards?

PTP
03-23-2005, 04:56 PM
I am assuming at this point you are not so much concerned about time. Let them take all the time they need as long as the routes get done. As you grow then I can see were time will be somewhat a issue, but these guys are going to work as fast as possible with the type of pay scale they are on.

The goal I am guessing you are most concerned about is quality. Lower their pay slightly and offer them a bonus and only give that bonus when all lawns are done to your expectations. Don't count on a customer to call and complain. You need to randomly check their work and if everything checks out then give them the bonus.

I think the big difference that some might not be considering when looking at Justmowits operation. Is the fact he uses foreigners through the H2B program and they are use to a lot less pay. He offers them a good pay and they work their buts off for him. They are use to working hard for their money.

It isn't something I would think would be easy to duplicate with american workers. If it was I would think Justmowit wouldn't be bothering with H2B programs.

You need to get a bullet proof plan in place so you don't have to constantly pull your workers aside and change policy. Be very firm and set examples out of bad workers. It might take some employee turn over before everything starts running smoothly for you.

Make them redo lawns on their time but do not use that as your only means of tracking quality. Customers do not like to complain. Most will put up with it for a little while and then just drop you. You need to set quality to your standards and do random checks every week on different lawns. Check as many as you possibly can each week and if any trimming is skipped, bagging not performed, etc. then hold their bonus. Be very firm about the bonus and let them know that it is your way of saying job well done. Let them know that it is not to be expected.

Basically you want to deduct the bonus from your target pay rate and then when everything is done right you give them that pay. If they do crappy work then they make less money and still must do redo's. Do quality checks with your customers as well. A simple "how are we doing" form, that they can fill out, or just a phone call will help let you know how things are going.

Thanks for your advice.

This is definitly a learning curve but I will get it yet. I am thinking that I will loose one of my employees.

I will probably try to hire Hispanic employees later on. Maybe I should have already. But, for now, the lawns are getting mowed and for the most part they are doing a good job. One lady called me today and said that she was really happy with the service so if I am making it sound all bad - it isn't.

PTP
03-23-2005, 05:01 PM
http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?p=815724#post815724

A total of 2 rates. What are you going to do when you have 10 crews mowing 25 lawns a day? seems like a lot of un-nesessary work to figure that mess out. The key to the plan is how simple it is for the customer and his company
I may have made it sound more complicated than it really is. For the most part, we only use 3 pay categories. I have others but they are for unusual circumstances. I can figure their pay in about a minute.

I know that Justmowit charges different rates for regular and large properties and he also charges different for biweekly services and 1-time mows. I may be wrong but I just assumed that there were different pays for the employees that went along with this as well.

PTP
03-23-2005, 05:02 PM
PTP. Are you just accepting credit cards?
Yes.

For some people, it is no problem and for others, it is like pulling teeth or asking them for their firstborn. For all of those that have objections to using a card, I am guessing that I get about half of them signed up.

marko
03-23-2005, 05:19 PM
That is a big time saver I bet. Not having to worry who you need to chase for payments etc. What are your responses to the objections?

marko
03-23-2005, 05:22 PM
I may have made it sound more complicated than it really is. For the most part, we only use 3 pay categories. I have others but they are for unusual circumstances. I can figure their pay in about a minute.

I know that Justmowit charges different rates for regular and large properties and he also charges different for biweekly services and 1-time mows. I may be wrong but I just assumed that there were different pays for the employees that went along with this as well.


You will want a streamlined business when you get busy. I would tell the workers to suck it up and take the good w/ the bad. 1 pay rate is easy to figure out. Multiples will be a PITA once you are dealing with multiple crews. I would also start educating them that "this is your route" and for them to start hitting houses with door hangers next to "their" yards. The tighter "their" route is the more $ they make!

PTP
03-23-2005, 05:51 PM
That is a big time saver I bet. Not having to worry who you need to chase for payments etc. What are your responses to the objections?
"Ma'am, the reason that we use credit cards is that it helps us to keep our prices low."

"No, sir. We accept credit card payment only."

"Well, you can do the auto billing with us or you can call another lawn care company. Do you have a pen handy? Their number is XXX-XXXX."

PTP
03-24-2005, 06:06 PM
Finally, I hit a milestone. Just passed 50 customers today. That includes 3 or so 1-timers though. :D :D :D :blob3: :blob3: :cool2:

Btw, I started with 10 or so this year.

No complaints or cancels yet.

Eho
03-24-2005, 06:51 PM
congrats on the milestone....how did you get there? Just flyers or what? How many flyers did it take to get these results? How many more do you expect? Do you make them sign contracts or just agree to do them all weekly? Please keep us filled in. You re only 2,007 lawns behind justmowit now lol :D
EHO

walker-talker
03-24-2005, 07:05 PM
How many flyers did it take to get these results? I would like to know that also.

PTP
03-24-2005, 07:57 PM
congrats on the milestone....how did you get there? Just flyers or what? How many flyers did it take to get these results? How many more do you expect? Do you make them sign contracts or just agree to do them all weekly? Please keep us filled in. You re only 2,007 lawns behind justmowit now lol :D
EHO
10,000 doorhangers
10,000 val-pak
10,000 postcards

I started the door hangers about 3 or 4 weeks ago. The val-pak and the postcards have not been out a week yet - some of them just went out today.

Most of them are weekly with a credit card.

Justmowit is about to get eclipsed. :D (Probably not - they are aiming for 1000 more properties and it wouldn't suprise me if they had signed 200 already.)

Eho
03-24-2005, 09:02 PM
Sounds like you re doing good and with those numbers, you should make it to 300 lawns. If you put out 20,000 within the last week, you should get a lot of calls soon. Timing is everything, out of the ten customers I added this year, many have come in just the past week. Keep us informed
EHO

JustMowIt
03-25-2005, 09:54 AM
10,000 doorhangers
10,000 val-pak
10,000 postcards

I started the door hangers about 3 or 4 weeks ago. The val-pak and the postcards have not been out a week yet - some of them just went out today.

Most of them are weekly with a credit card.

Justmowit is about to get eclipsed. :D (Probably not - they are aiming for 1000 more properties and it wouldn't suprise me if they had signed 200 already.)

218 for 2005, but we are just finishing taking our "Spring Fallout", so we are just now starting to make some new headway! We will be at 3K by the end of the season, maybe a little more than that.

Mueller Landscape Inc
03-25-2005, 10:06 AM
10,000 doorhangers
10,000 val-pak
10,000 postcards

I started the door hangers about 3 or 4 weeks ago. The val-pak and the postcards have not been out a week yet - some of them just went out today.

Most of them are weekly with a credit card.

Justmowit is about to get eclipsed. :D (Probably not - they are aiming for 1000 more properties and it wouldn't suprise me if they had signed 200 already.)

Great Job!!!

Eho
03-25-2005, 02:33 PM
Justmowit,
Now that you are adding so many lawns, are you adding any more crews ?
EHO

JustMowIt
03-25-2005, 06:00 PM
Justmowit,
Now that you are adding so many lawns, are you adding any more crews ?
EHO

Need to completely max out the crews & trucks we have now, then probably add 3 more trucks this season.

Eho
03-25-2005, 06:32 PM
Hey PTP, I was considering " going big" next year and would need a massive advertising campaign similar to yours. How much did you pay on those 30,000 advertisements and how much do you think I should expect to pay for lets say 10,000 doorhangers?
EHO

PTP
03-25-2005, 06:38 PM
Need to completely max out the crews & trucks we have now, then probably add 3 more trucks this season.
What is maxed out? My foreman wants to do 200/week. I know that is pushing it but do you think that it can be done? I was shooting for 150 per crew but if he wants to do it, he has got me thinking.

PTP
03-25-2005, 06:41 PM
Hey PTP, I was considering " going big" next year and would need a massive advertising campaign similar to yours. How much did you pay on those 30,000 advertisements and how much do you think I should expect to pay for lets say 10,000 doorhangers?
EHO
Doorhangers can be had for 750 per 10,000 at 48hourprint.com. I know that you can get them cheaper than that but this is for the full color glossy ones.

So far, I have found that the door hangers and postcards are most effective. I think that I am getting a little response from the val-pak but it is not nearly as much. Of course, the postcards cost almost 7 X more.

SCW
03-28-2005, 07:42 PM
How much do you think it's helped by having the full-color glossy? We did 5,000 door hangers and used yellow card stock with black print. It was a good, heavy duty card stock and the door hangers looked really professional - designed professionally by my graphic designer. The cost for glossy was considerably more, and given the target market - I didn't think it necessary. What are you thoughts on that PTP?

willretire@40
03-28-2005, 08:34 PM
Have you reached 60 customers yet. Let us know a update on a regular. I just found a company that will pass out flyers for .06 a flyer. They will be putting out 2,500 by the end of the week. Flyers are costing me .03 a flyer right now that is black ink on lime green paper. When i have the money to advertise like justmowit i hope to only be paying .06 a flyer including disturbtion in color. Will also be adding a billboard in about a month. Grass just started to grow here this week. Hope the best for you and i to am aimming for 200 customers in a 2 month period. So next week i will be sending out about 5,000 flyers at least a week and that is door to door.

PTP
03-28-2005, 09:57 PM
How much do you think it's helped by having the full-color glossy? We did 5,000 door hangers and used yellow card stock with black print. It was a good, heavy duty card stock and the door hangers looked really professional - designed professionally by my graphic designer. The cost for glossy was considerably more, and given the target market - I didn't think it necessary. What are you thoughts on that PTP?
I don't know how much it helped. All that I have to compare it with were the half sheets of paper that I wrote estimates on last year.

What I know for sure is that I have a .0015 response rate from all of my ads combined. If you take out the val-pak that I don't think worked, then it jumps to .0023.

Something to think about, Justomowit said before that they get .0015 in the spring. I am doing a little better. I don't know if having higher quality ads (if they even are higher quality - I don't really know) has something to do with it or not. Another factor would be that I am just starting expansion whereas they are well established. Of course there is more room for me to grow.

lawnandplow42
03-28-2005, 10:00 PM
you sound prepared. good luck

PTP
03-28-2005, 10:01 PM
Have you reached 60 customers yet. Let us know a update on a regular. I just found a company that will pass out flyers for .06 a flyer. They will be putting out 2,500 by the end of the week. Flyers are costing me .03 a flyer right now that is black ink on lime green paper. When i have the money to advertise like justmowit i hope to only be paying .06 a flyer including disturbtion in color. Will also be adding a billboard in about a month. Grass just started to grow here this week. Hope the best for you and i to am aimming for 200 customers in a 2 month period. So next week i will be sending out about 5,000 flyers at least a week and that is door to door.
No, I have not. Last count was 56 including 1 timers. You don't get many calls on Easter.

.06 is reasonable. It is better than what I pay.

200 customers is a nice goal. I hope that you reach it. I am thinking that you will have to add another zero to your 5,000 flyers in order to reach it though.

willretire@40
03-29-2005, 12:07 AM
how many doorhangers have you done so far.

SCW
03-29-2005, 12:13 PM
PTP - on glossy vs. non-glossy doorhangers---we got a .0018 response on the flyers - now that's a close rate - actual customers - not just response. The response was slightly higher - but not much. Most people that called were calling to sign up because the price is right on the hangers. So I guess glossy doesn't make that much difference. Maybe something for you to think about for future printing. Also - that rate is from a 1x drop of 5,000. We're going to do another 5,000 drop to the same area in a couple weeks - I expect a higher response from that drop.

Of course door hangers are not our only method of advertising - the majority of our new customers still come from a local publication we advertise in every month year-round.

T.E.
03-29-2005, 03:00 PM
Maybe I'm misunderstanding what I'm reading. Are you guys saying 18 new customers per 1000? I've got so far a .6% response rate for my door hangers. I have never used them until this year. I don't know what my close rate is yet, as some estimates are still pending. Most say that you should expect a 1% to 3% response rate. I'm optimistic because the warm season grasses are still 2 to 3 weeks away yet. Tony

Maxwells
03-29-2005, 03:39 PM
PTP - Hi I am in NZ do you have franchise mowing operations to compete with in your area ? in nz there are about 5-6 all offering the middle to high end market / service - but no company rearly goes after the low-middle market ? i am think of doing this next spring of i survive the winter Cheers

PTP
03-29-2005, 03:50 PM
PTP - on glossy vs. non-glossy doorhangers---we got a .0018 response on the flyers - now that's a close rate - actual customers - not just response. The response was slightly higher - but not much. Most people that called were calling to sign up because the price is right on the hangers. So I guess glossy doesn't make that much difference. Maybe something for you to think about for future printing. Also - that rate is from a 1x drop of 5,000. We're going to do another 5,000 drop to the same area in a couple weeks - I expect a higher response from that drop.

Of course door hangers are not our only method of advertising - the majority of our new customers still come from a local publication we advertise in every month year-round.
My numbers were close rates as well. Just making sure that we are comparing apples to apples.

PTP
03-29-2005, 03:52 PM
Maybe I'm misunderstanding what I'm reading. Are you guys saying 18 new customers per 1000? I've got so far a .6% response rate for my door hangers. I have never used them until this year. I don't know what my close rate is yet, as some estimates are still pending. Most say that you should expect a 1% to 3% response rate. I'm optimistic because the warm season grasses are still 2 to 3 weeks away yet. Tony
No, that is 18 customers per 10,000 ads - actual close rate.

PTP
03-29-2005, 03:53 PM
PTP - Hi I am in NZ do you have franchise mowing operations to compete with in your area ? in nz there are about 5-6 all offering the middle to high end market / service - but no company rearly goes after the low-middle market ? i am think of doing this next spring of i survive the winter Cheers
No, not that I know of. Chemical and commercial franchises, yes but no residential franchises.

DFW Area Landscaper
03-29-2005, 04:51 PM
PTP,

Interesting thread. I just stumbled onto it. I am doing almost the exact same thing as you here in North Texas. Only difference is I do chemical apps too.

So far, I've distributed 27,102 door hangers (if my crew leaders are telling me the truth). I've landed 83 new customers so far. Some only take bi-weekly mowing, some are weekly with fert apps. All are next day credit cards. Not sure what my average revenue per customer is or anything like that. BUt it looks like my customer acquisition cost is around $51 so far.

Anwyay, I was in Tulsa for Easter and the hendbit is still in full swing. Looks like you guys are about two weeks behind the Dallas weather. Your phone ought to start really ringing within the next two weeks. I have two friends in Tulsa who are in the landscaping business and I can tell you the prices for lawn mowing are much better in Tulsa.

So far, I've signed ZERO new customers today. If I don't land a new customer today, it'll be the first zero day for me since 02/28/05. very depressing to get those zero days.

As for capacity, my number one crew leader is loaded up with $650 worth of mowing on Thursday and about $750 on Friday. This will be the first week where we will be mowing all lawns on the schedule. I'm scared to death he won't have enough hours in the day to get everything done.

As for the $10,000 budget, I just don't see how you're able to make that work. I too am growing from me working on the crew to having three crews working for me and I had to put $80K into the business (though it looks like $20K wasn't needed due to next day credit cards).

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

AK Lawn
03-29-2005, 08:09 PM
PTP this is a scary idea, i did exactly what you are doing 5 years ago and man did it blow up in my face, i went out and bought 20,000 in equipment and hired 5 employees, not sure how your going to do it with 2, but nevermind that, and handed out 12,000 flyers and went into the season with 60 clients signed up. I got my 300 clients but had no idea the magnatude of this operation and it was overwellming, in the end i lost most of my exsisting clients and only was able to keep 75 of the 375 that signed up. I had to layoff one crew and sit on the equipment until i had the ability to scale up over the past four years. The worst thing was that i recieved a bad rep in my town and it took a couple years to earn my rep back, it only takes 10 mins to lose a reputation of ten years. I am proud to say the i have increased my clientle and will be servicing 200 clients this summer, just be careful hopefully it works out which ever path you take good luck
AK Lawn
P.S. If you have 300 clients you will have to do 45 lawns a day if you work 7 days a week, just doesn't seem worth it with the man power you are talking about.

walker-talker
03-29-2005, 09:39 PM
AK Lawn, thanks for your post. I know a lot of people don't like to share their "failure", so to speak out of fear they might get bashed. It goes to show that one of the major reason businesses fail is because of rapid growth and their inabilities to handle the sudden new growth. I know I wouldn't want that kind of pressure, that fast.

Eho
03-29-2005, 10:31 PM
AK....just wondering, what is different now from when you struggled to be big?
EHO

jcblfenton
03-29-2005, 11:01 PM
heck, i will come work for you at $700 per week?!

jcblfenton
03-29-2005, 11:10 PM
McDonalds franchise: $500k, that is complete restaurant, crew and first month supplies.

AssuredServicesCo
03-29-2005, 11:26 PM
I have enough customers to make it a drag to do statements at the end of every month. Does anyone have an easy way? I use a Statement I made in Word. It has a tear off base for the return and looks really great. Its just a drag doing them one by one.

Also I have a question. I currently charge a $ 25.00 late fee for payments postmarked after the 15th. This for statements sent out on the 1st of the month for the prior month's service. After three lates the contract goes to cash only for the remainder of the contract. Just wondering what others do other than cancelling people which I know you have to do sometimes. Thanks.

googleplex
03-30-2005, 08:15 AM
I have enough customers to make it a drag to do statements at the end of every month. Does anyone have an easy way? I use a Statement I made in Word. It has a tear off base for the return and looks really great. Its just a drag doing them one by one.
Thanks.

Have you tried using the mail merge feature in Word to do the billing? Once set up, it's almost automatic.

Hope it helps,
Patrick

PTP
03-30-2005, 08:57 AM
I have enough customers to make it a drag to do statements at the end of every month. Does anyone have an easy way? I use a Statement I made in Word. It has a tear off base for the return and looks really great. Its just a drag doing them one by one.

Also I have a question. I currently charge a $ 25.00 late fee for payments postmarked after the 15th. This for statements sent out on the 1st of the month for the prior month's service. After three lates the contract goes to cash only for the remainder of the contract. Just wondering what others do other than cancelling people which I know you have to do sometimes. Thanks.
Credit Cards

PTP
03-30-2005, 09:22 AM
PTP this is a scary idea, i did exactly what you are doing 5 years ago and man did it blow up in my face, i went out and bought 20,000 in equipment and hired 5 employees, not sure how your going to do it with 2, but nevermind that, and handed out 12,000 flyers and went into the season with 60 clients signed up. I got my 300 clients but had no idea the magnatude of this operation and it was overwellming, in the end i lost most of my exsisting clients and only was able to keep 75 of the 375 that signed up. I had to layoff one crew and sit on the equipment until i had the ability to scale up over the past four years. The worst thing was that i recieved a bad rep in my town and it took a couple years to earn my rep back, it only takes 10 mins to lose a reputation of ten years. I am proud to say the i have increased my clientle and will be servicing 200 clients this summer, just be careful hopefully it works out which ever path you take good luck
AK Lawn
P.S. If you have 300 clients you will have to do 45 lawns a day if you work 7 days a week, just doesn't seem worth it with the man power you are talking about.

What was it that you found so difficult? I just passed 60 properties and have found that it is not that hard so far, but I admit that I am still a long way from 300.

Did you have trouble keeping up the quality? Were there billing problems? Employee problems? I am still going ahead with this but I am interested in learning from your mistakes.

I am not planning to have one crew do all 300 properties. I agree that is too much. When size requires it, I will add another crew. The crews work 5 days a week most weeks.

marko
03-30-2005, 11:18 AM
I think he is refering to the day to day operation of a company that grows that fast. Just look at past posts on employee woes and you will see what I mean. It sound like you did a good job getting your first crew together and I hope they are all that easy. All it takes is an idiot screwing around to get in an accident, start mowing on the side for cash, not be reliable, etc, etc, etc. for the problems to start in. With one crew it is probably managable. Once you are running multiple crews and 2 crew leaders are off ill for 2 days at the same time, then it gets a little more challenging.

Eho
03-31-2005, 11:44 AM
hey PTP,
Are you planning on pay your workers per hour or per yard? What is the average price per yard, also what would you pay your workers per yard or per hour?
EHO

willretire@40
04-02-2005, 12:24 PM
How are you doing now Lawn mower.

PTP
04-02-2005, 01:38 PM
How are you doing now Lawn mower.
64

Still ironing out employee problems but it is looking up.

nriddle77
04-02-2005, 05:11 PM
When do you start mowing in Tulsa?

SCW
04-04-2005, 08:46 PM
PTP - 64 customers and how many fliers have been distributed? We're doing our 2nd 5,000 drop of fliers this Friday. We're still getting calls from the 1st drop. What method are you using besides the door hangers? When they distribute the door hangers - are you hitting the same area repeatedly---or hitting different ones each time?

PTP
04-04-2005, 09:11 PM
PTP - 64 customers and how many fliers have been distributed? We're doing our 2nd 5,000 drop of fliers this Friday. We're still getting calls from the 1st drop. What method are you using besides the door hangers? When they distribute the door hangers - are you hitting the same area repeatedly---or hitting different ones each time?
Some repetition - not much yet.

10000 flyers
10000 doorhangers
It has been a week or two since the last drop and I have 13 calls to return tomorrow (I actually had to mow today so I couldn't answer the phone).

Nriddle - I started on March 7

willretire@40
04-04-2005, 10:06 PM
One of your employees not working out. Let us know tomorrow how many accounts you have after you return those calls.

Soupy
04-04-2005, 11:57 PM
Some repetition - not much yet.

10000 flyers
10000 doorhangers
It has been a week or two since the last drop and I have 13 calls to return tomorrow (I actually had to mow today so I couldn't answer the phone).

Nriddle - I started on March 7

PTP, next time forward your calls to your cell phone and take/return calls between jobs. This helps a lot with miss opportunities. Then again, it might not matter much with your pre pricing method, but it is better safe then sorry. Old people for one, hate talking to a machine, but even the ones that don't mind leaving a message like to hear back the same day.

Tip: Make sure your cell phone voice mail has the same/similar message as your land line.

Eho
04-08-2005, 07:05 PM
How many lawns you up to now PTP?
EHO

PTP
04-09-2005, 07:43 PM
How many lawns you up to now PTP?
EHO
72

We average 2 lawns per hour with a 2 man crew.

Pro - Cut
04-10-2005, 03:30 AM
Good luck I am in the same boat. But I have no past exp. When you have a vision you are ahead of the game. People will tell you the worst that do not have faith. Without vision or faith you will fail. You sound like you have both and will succed. In my case I have both but no exp in profenisal law care. One word of advise prayer is powerfull and you can get any thing you ask for thro prayer. good luck and it will be great to here how you do at the end of the year.

Leone LawnCare
04-10-2005, 11:32 AM
In my opinion it is easy to land the customers, but the challenge is going to be keeping them, they dont care about employee problems. Your going to experience growing pains at an accelerated rate. and i cant wait to hear how hard it is to ad a new crew midway through the season. have fun

PTP
04-10-2005, 03:25 PM
In my opinion it is easy to land the customers, but the challenge is going to be keeping them, they dont care about employee problems. Your going to experience growing pains at an accelerated rate. and i cant wait to hear how hard it is to ad a new crew midway through the season. have fun
I lost 3 customers this year. 2 of them were gone before we even serviced their property once - nothing that could have been done to prevent that. The other one beat me to the punch - I was going to fire her. Other than that, I have recieved more compliments this year than any other. Some have called just to say "thank you." All lawns (except one) have been serviced on a timely basis this year.

If I make employee problems sound bad - it is not so bad. It is just the biggest problem that I have. Everything else is going fairly smoothly.

amtrucker22
04-11-2005, 11:34 PM
i cant wait to hear how hard it is to ad a new crew midway through the season

That is great... You cant wait for him to fail. I wonder why...

ALarsh
04-12-2005, 07:48 AM
PTP, what cities are you cutting in? Also, what is the average size of a lawn you cut?

How many accounts do you have now?

PTP
04-18-2005, 03:14 PM
I just passed 100.

Now, just to make things clear, these are not all weekly accounts. About 3/4 are. The rest are made up of biweekly and 1-time mows or cleanups.

I signed up (actually, my wife did) another 8 last Friday. I have got another 15,000 postcards to go out but I think that I will hang on to them for a bit. Even for me, there is such a thing as growing too fast. So far though, it is not too fast. Everyone is getting timely service and I have recieved more compliments this year so far than any other.

ALarsh
04-18-2005, 04:12 PM
PTP, what cities are you cutting in? Also, what is the average size of a lawn you cut?

How many accounts do you have now?


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

PTP
04-18-2005, 04:31 PM
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Tulsa, Jenks, Bixby.

Gross lot size is under 16,000. Most are under 12,000.

LwnmwrMan22
04-19-2005, 01:05 AM
I just passed 100.

Now, just to make things clear, these are not all weekly accounts. About 3/4 are. The rest are made up of biweekly and 1-time mows or cleanups.

I signed up (actually, my wife did) another 8 last Friday. I have got another 15,000 postcards to go out but I think that I will hang on to them for a bit. Even for me, there is such a thing as growing too fast. So far though, it is not too fast. Everyone is getting timely service and I have recieved more compliments this year so far than any other.


Sooooo.... are you trying to say that in your 300-450 clients you're going to count 1 timers as well??

TECHNICALLY, you're still at 75, or at best 90 or so, if the bi-weeklys are included.

Not trying to be a dink.... just trying to not look at over-inflated numbers?????

PTP
04-19-2005, 08:30 AM
Sooooo.... are you trying to say that in your 300-450 clients you're going to count 1 timers as well??
I will let you know when I get there.

The reason that I told you those numbers was so that they would not be over inflated. But, thank you for pointing that out anyway.

Mueller Landscape Inc
04-19-2005, 09:09 PM
So what is your most cost effective ad now?

PTP
04-19-2005, 09:49 PM
So what is your most cost effective ad now?
I don't really know. The postcards have the highest return rate but they cost the most by far. The door hangers do alright as well. The Val-pak did terrible but cost only $400 for 10,000. I got one for sure out of that - maybe more but it was not worth it.

I think that they all cost about the same per customer. I am not sure exactly because I do not ask how they heard of me and some of my ad areas overlap. Later on, unless I have a better idea, I am going with postcards only. The valpak is ineffective and the door hangers are too slow. Besids that, the only company that I have found to deliver them can't seem to keep them within the area that I specified.

Today, things went well. My foreman broke $13 per hour and the helper was pushing $9 - this is high for my area. Later, that should be better because todays route was a little spread out. Myself, I netted about $225 after all expenses. I am fairly happy with this and expect that it will only increase.

Maxwells
04-19-2005, 10:43 PM
Hi PTP
How do you manage all those accounts scheduals etc do u use software ?

PTP
04-19-2005, 10:47 PM
Hi PTP
How do you manage all those accounts scheduals etc do u use software ?
Gopher and Quickbooks.

willretire@40
04-22-2005, 06:07 PM
do those 2 programs work together seemlessly

walker-talker
04-22-2005, 07:27 PM
The postcards have the highest return rate but they cost the most by far.When purchasing your mailing list, how did you narrow it down?

Last year I targeted zip code, home-owner, age (over 50) and property value (+$125,000). I am curious what you did and what was your response rate.

Thanks
Matt

PTP
04-22-2005, 08:40 PM
do those 2 programs work together seemlessly
Nope. If they do I don't know about it.

Quickbooks for billing and finances.

Gopher for scheduling.

If Gopher is reading this, I have a suggestion. I want to be able to pull up a customer and see their history and future mowings. Sometimes a customer will call and it takes me a while to find them in the schedule. For the biweekly customers, sometimes I have to search through 2 weeks. Is there a way that I can do this that I have overlooked? I would think that something like this would be linked to the customer folder but I can't find it.

PTP
04-22-2005, 08:43 PM
When purchasing your mailing list, how did you narrow it down?

Last year I targeted zip code, home-owner, age (over 50) and property value (+$125,000). I am curious what you did and what was your response rate.

Thanks
Matt
I ordered some postcards, dropped them off at the mailing service, and they took care of everything. I told them to hit everything except apartments.

My sign-up rate from postcards and doorhangers is about .004 combined. I think that they did about the same. Maybe the postcards did a little better.

greeneakers04
04-27-2005, 09:58 AM
PTP, what are you doing with the calls you get that are larger than the size you service? Are you subbing them out, denying them service, or doing them yourself with the larger mower (if you still have it).

I am super proud of you, man. Your thinking is right on target. Keep it up. I am doing the same thing, just a little slower.....$$$$ :)

PTP
04-27-2005, 06:09 PM
PTP, what are you doing with the calls you get that are larger than the size you service? Are you subbing them out, denying them service, or doing them yourself with the larger mower (if you still have it).

I am super proud of you, man. Your thinking is right on target. Keep it up. I am doing the same thing, just a little slower.....$$$$ :)
I refer them to another lco. It is not worth the hassle for me to sub it out.

My larger mower is a 36" Wright Stander. I still have it but it mostly sits there. I use it once a week to mow my church. I also use it once in a while when we need to knock down some really high stuff. Of course, there is an extra charge for that. Anyone who wants me to get out of my office and actually mow is going to have to pay for it. :D payup

SCW
05-11-2005, 03:48 PM
Can we get an update PTP? How are things goin'?

PTP
05-11-2005, 04:19 PM
Can we get an update PTP? How are things goin'?
Well, I have 111 customers as of today. With the biweekly accounts and all, I service about 80 or so per week.

I just finished firing my second foreman. I really hate to do that. It seems that nothing ruins a day like that does. The problem was that he signed off on 17 accounts yesterday - but he did not mow 5 of them. This is not the first time this has happened but I did not know that it was this bad. I really don't know if he did it on purpose or by accident but skipping 20-25% of the properties is not acceptable - even if it is a mistake. It's not like these were new properties either, we had done them before. He also had a map showing the location and an address.

Now I have to put on my boots again for another week while I show the new foreman the ropes.

Now that I am done unloading, overall things are going good. I probably make things sound bad but really they are not. We just naturally talk about our problems. I figure that I have grossed 15K so far and the grass is just starting to grow. Of course, my net is nowhere near that (if you include every expense I am still in the negative) but the year will end with a nice profit.

walker-talker
05-11-2005, 05:39 PM
Can you give an idea of the total amount spent on advertising and exactly how many clients you gained from your advertising? Not counting one time jobs...just weekly and bi-weekly accounts.

SCW
05-11-2005, 05:59 PM
Hey PTP---that's great! Congratulations! Would you still say that postcards are the most effective - even over the door hangers? Are you still using postcards & door hangers?

PTP
05-11-2005, 10:44 PM
The total ad amount is about $7000 so far. I don't know exactly how many regular customers I have - Gopher won't count them for me. I do know that I service between 70 - 80 properties per week so if you add a little to that to make up for the biweekly customers, I have 90-100 customers on the schedule.

Yes, still postcards and doorhangers. I think that they work about the same but the postcards are so much easier to deliver. Of course, they cost 4x as much as well.

walker-talker
05-12-2005, 09:15 AM
That's actually not too bad. To most, it may sound like a lot of money, but for the revenue it will generate, I think you did well.

Now that $7K was for 10,000 postcards/doorhangers and valpaks...is that correct? And were all these pretty much sent to the same households?

As some of you might know, my flyer campaign was a total flop this year. Sent out 25,000 flyers over a 3 month period via neighborhood newsletters. One reason I went this method was the cost of the delivery was so cheap (about 3 cent each). In short, I picked up 3 weekly accounts and 1 chem app account. I have another 5,000 going out in the Sunday newspaper, this Sunday. I never went this route, but thought I would give it a try. Next year will be strictly doorhangers and postcards. Last year I sent out 5000 postcards at a one-time shot and did better than these flyers. It's always interesting to hear of other's successes and failures. That's why we are here....to learn. I had been targeting just a few different zip codes, but think that might be one of the problems. Possibly the market is too saturated with other LCO's.

greeneakers04
05-12-2005, 10:04 AM
Good job, PTP! What is the churn like? How many have cancelled and why?

PTP
05-12-2005, 07:53 PM
[QUOTE=walker-talker]That's actually not too bad. To most, it may sound like a lot of money, but for the revenue it will generate, I think you did well.

Now that $7K was for 10,000 postcards/doorhangers and valpaks...is that correct? And were all these pretty much sent to the same households? /QUOTE]
Actually, it is a little better than that. I included in that figure 13,000 postcards that just started to be delivered yesterday. I will probably add at least 40 more customers from that.

I am by no means done advertising yet. When everything gets kind of settled down and going smoothly, it will be time for another batch.