Originally Posted by Gr8WhiteNorth
mini trucks- they have their place. we put more miles on them compared to any other vehicles. They normally don't go out on the highway for two reason 1-they don't have to 2- they aren't made to
growth- i grew the business slowly at first using what i had. (rusted out toyota truck, wheel barrow, lawn mower, shovels) i learned how to do the techical things from the previous owner who was a journeyman landscaper. i took necessary courses and training in landscaping from 3 colleges by correspondence. took a business degree from my local university.
The first major purchase was a 72" zero turn exmark. This landed me a major mowing contract. The contract paid the mower off and my way through school for a couple years.
The next major purchase was a 463 bobcat. I thought that thing was unstoppable back in the day. These two items helped gain efficiency in the jobs I would do. The work was split 50-50 lawn maintenance and landscape construction at that point. Landscape construction jobs were basically small yard renos with plantings and sod.
The two machines were bought with bank debt. The mower was paid for right away, but i took the skidsteer over 3 years.
I soon caught on to doing hardscaping and started with basic installations of walkways and patios. Soon we started building a client list and getting referrals. Three years later I got proper training on the subject and have become a leader in our market since.
Our market size is quite small and there were a couple of major players so things didnt happen over night. I did continual marketing efforts from day one that advertised specific products and services we perform. I look back 10 years later and think I really did things right when I printed up our first brochures from my printer at home. Writing up specific services and then figuring out how to do them more efficiently than our competitors was my goal then and still is marketing and operations.
The next major purchase was buying out assets from a competitor. He was a guy that built up a solid client list for maintenance services that was looking to retire. Along with his lawn equipment, I got some wisdom and the list of customers.
I have always used debt to finance our growth. Dont get me wrong, I would purchase the smaller items with cash. Debt is scary, but its also motivational. I secured a large volume of maintenance contracts for both summer and winter that financed all major expenditures for the construction side since it was more asset-based work.
The snow business allowed me to work full time and obtain more customers that would generate additional revenues once I earned their trust. I remember how brutal it was @ -50*celsius doing 40-50 properties with a shovel, then how unreal it was to do them with a skidsteer with no cab heat. It took 1 winter of that until I got heat installed for $2,800. I thought it was a hugely unecessary expense at the time. lol.
Next major purchase was newer skidsteer. I bought a bobcat s300 that was 3 years old. It had 2 speed transmission and made gave us large production gains. At this point we were up to 5 full time staff and a part time book keeper.
Now that I had my feet wet in snow, I wanted more. I saw painfully small sales in the winter months and knew I had to increase sales over the winter. I bought out another competitor. This company had been for sale for a few years and nobody wanted it. The sales were about $45,000 per year , the assets were a skidsteer, loader, dump truck, and some attachments. They had a pretty good commercial client base for hourly snow work.
I bought it for fair market value of the assets and got the clients for free after some serious negotiating. There were some red faces, but I argued they didn't make enough money to justify paying for the clients. They barely had enough cash at the end of the year to pay themselves. In one year I increased the commercial snow sales by 5x. That business had some very simple problems. They were stuck in a rut following the status quo. Their clients followed a regimine of 4 inch and greater snow clearing. The first thing I changed was to get customers to sign contracts for 1 or 2" service. Some loved it, I lost others. This change alone more than doubled sales for the same customer base.
Well, thats all the time I have for now. Family showed up early for supper. I'll continue asap when Im not so distracted.
Wow this is alot of really great info even though your not in my area this helps alot. I have one question. im thinking of starting a lawncare buisness but do i have a landscaping side of the buisness as well because i done have any landscaping experience and im wondering if i should wait until i get some first before starting my own buisness