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  #1  
Old 09-19-2007, 09:48 PM
LawnCare_EMT LawnCare_EMT is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: College Station, TX
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New to the Biz..Any suggestions

1) I have recently started my own Lawn Care service and am looking for some much needed help from the veterans in the business. I work as an EMT for a local EMS service on a 24 on/ 48 off shift, and was looking for a small business I could start on my days off. I have currently have 5 weekly accounts, and work by myself. I have read that many of you have insurance, accountants, Tax ID numbers, Business Licenses and so on… My question is really how important is all this stuff for someone who has a small service like mine. I do plane on growing next season, due to starting so late this season and would like to have as many clients as I can handle.

2) Commercial contracts, I have been contacted by a local Home Owners Association asking to provide lawn services for a very small duplex community of approx 7 duplexes all in a row. Am I allowed to take on a commercial contract with none of the stuff listed above?? What do I need to obtain a commercial contract?

3) Anybody have luck with the yellow pages, online advertising, door hangers... From what i can remember the yellow pages is really expensive

PLEASE HELP ME OUT
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  #2  
Old 09-19-2007, 10:10 PM
Andrew's Lawn Maintenance's Avatar
Andrew's Lawn Maintenance Andrew's Lawn Maintenance is offline
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Location: Derry, NH
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Hi, I have been in the business for 3 years and provide full service lawn care to residential propertys. I may be some help to you so please feel free to ask me any questions you may have about pricing, contracts, billing, services to provide ect. P.S. I am always in the lawn care part of this forum. Good luck!
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  #3  
Old 09-19-2007, 10:38 PM
mattfromNY mattfromNY is offline
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Location: Central NY
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Best advice I could give would be to do a search on here about insurance, licensing, etc. that you have questions about. These topics come up quite frequently. My opinion is YES, you need to carry insurance to protect not only you, but your family, your assets, the customer, etc. VERY IMPORTANT.
You are running machinery that can injure, maim or kill, on someone else's property. You are dealing with people who you do not know, some who would like nothing better than to sue you for some small thing you do to their property.
My best advice would be to read, read, read, and when you think you know it all, keep logging in to Lawn Site, cause you'll always find an answer.
Welcome to LS, good luck with your venture, hope it all works out really good for you, dont give up when the going gets tough (It surely will). I started out full time in May of '06, This past Monday I went to see my accountant and she was amazed that within the past 3 months (third quarter '07) I grossed more than I did all of last year. I would never say its been easy, Its not cheap, but I love it, I'm starting to develop a great clientel and I havent given up. Dont make commitments to customers that you cant keep, that will hurt business more than telling someone 'No'.
Hopefully in a year you'll be giving someone some hard earned advice that you believe in.
Good luck
Matt.
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  #4  
Old 09-19-2007, 11:03 PM
MowHouston MowHouston is offline
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Location: Houston, Tx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LawnCare_EMT View Post
3) Anybody have luck with the yellow pages, online advertising, door hangers... From what i can remember the yellow pages is really expensive
When I first started in February of this year, I was told to go door to door with door hangers. Everyone seems to think they're great and I'm sure they are but online advertising has been very productive and much less expensive.

There is a company here in Houston (www.frontdoormarketing.com). They will design, print, and deliver the stuff for you, which is top of the line service. 15,000 = $3000 or something. But -professional- hangers, designed, printed, delivered, and delivery verified. I'm sure you could do door hangers cheaper (I'm googling "Door Hangars" and finding companies that will do $3000 two-color hangars for $179) but these don't look very professional and from what I have researched, a professional door hangar will give a potential customer a better first impression of your compay than those two colors.

Anyhow, the guy with www.frontdoormarketing.com said that with professional hangers, and with their experience, you have a conversion percentage of 1%. I would assume if you have less professional door hangars, you might get less. So, you can do the math on those. I know I did 200 door hangars to test it out (two-color) and I got 1 customer from it. Plus I did it all myself. Waste of time in my opinion.

In the beginning the majority of my business came from www.craigslist.org. You don't need a website to refer them to, they can just use your contact info on your ad, but websites make you look more professional if you do them correctly and put time and thought into them. I made a graphical ad and I would post it two or three times a day to keep myself toplisted. Now I just post it in the morning and evening before I go to bed. This method in Houston would get me around 1-3 customers a week.

Along with Craigslist, I now go through a marketing company called Idearc Media. They print the Verizion Yellow Pages and run www.superpages.com. I get anywhere from 1-5 calls/website schedulings a day, the majority of them turn into customers because they've already hit my website, see my services, rates, service area, etc. It's all pretty much weeded out at that point. Just today I got three new customers that I've just added to my route.

If you wanna know more about websites and advertising online, I've already explained a bunch here: http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=200668

I basically do everything online or on the phone with my customers. I get their Credit/Debit Card info and verify it before the first cut. And from then on, I do regular scheduled cuts and bill them the next day. The customers love this. I rarely see my customers but when I do, I make sure to introduce myself to them and let them know that I'm a good guy.

This is a huge post. I hope it has helped with the advertising and online aspect of the lawn care business. I may still be new at this, but I've got a lot of the office/marketing stuff down pretty damn good.

Last edited by MowHouston; 09-19-2007 at 11:03 PM. Reason: Typos drive me nuts.
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  #5  
Old 09-20-2007, 02:57 AM
topsites topsites is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Richmond Virginia
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My advice is dated and second hand, don't take this advice for gold.
I'll tell you what I know but it's not ironclad.

If you earn more than $600 a year per one line of income, it needs to be declared, even those 5 customers likely need declaring on taxes. Now a few dollars over is not a big thing, maybe 7-800 but you can't just keep raking it in freely, if they catch you it's back tax issues for all those years... You put yourself in my shoes, I get certified mail from the IRS demanding money, they talk about account and asset seizure... I get these on such a regular basis that I done got used to it, but I have to write a check that clears the bank, and I have to stroke it out for however much they ask for, I have no more choice in the matter, see how this works?
And if I can't pay they then set up an electronic link to my account and just auto-draw it.
If that happens I might as well shut my doors.
And that's from someone who did pretty close to his best to do it the right way, what would've happened if I didn't?

Now you might be able to run it as a hobby, this bit of knowledge stems back to 1998 or so and may have changed, but back when the IRS limited hobby income to $1,000 a year. A wife who shares your hobby can help if you file jointly, perhaps some creative accounting and what have you stretch you out to 2500 or 3000 but man, you think about it real hard and long because if you are thinking of grossing much over 1000 a year then you need a Federal tax ID number.

And if you are running a business without a business license then you are breaking the law.

As for the accountants and everything else, you don't need all those services right away, but they're the guys who told me what I just told you... Here again you would be well advised to at least speak to the county clerk, ask some of the same questions and that will help get you started.

Last edited by topsites; 09-20-2007 at 03:03 AM.
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  #6  
Old 09-20-2007, 08:13 AM
mattfromNY mattfromNY is offline
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Location: Central NY
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Topsites, Do you sleep?
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  #7  
Old 09-20-2007, 11:42 AM
topsites topsites is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattfromNY View Post
Topsites, Do you sleep?
'till teh crack of noon
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  #8  
Old 09-20-2007, 04:58 PM
LawnCare_EMT LawnCare_EMT is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: College Station, TX
Posts: 30
Thankyou guys, for all your help. Starting out can be somewhat overwhelming and ill take all the help i can get..
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