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  #2511  
Old 02-17-2012, 07:51 AM
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etwman etwman is online now
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Marty Grunder has a pack you can buy off his website. Also Joe Calloway has some good books and I've begun to dive into Larry Winget's stuff, which is pretty down to earth.

Meets, the stronger you believe in what you can accomplish, the stronger a WRITTEN business plan you have, the more convincing you'll be to banks, accountants, etc. In defense of banks, this industry as a whole doesn't have the best track records in success so they do have a right to be concerned.

The more you focus in on doing what you are good at, or have a passion with, the more successful you'll become.
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  #2512  
Old 02-20-2012, 02:33 PM
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Graveslawncare Graveslawncare is offline
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If it's in Nashville, TN next year then I'll BE THERE!!! That cuts my expense of going in HALF! Awesome, best news I've heard all day
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  #2513  
Old 02-20-2012, 06:39 PM
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etwman etwman is online now
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Yes it will be in Nashville.

Here's my two cent piece of advice for the spring.

Item #1. If I had a dollar everything I heard a landscape company crying the blues over no snow removal this winter I'd be stupid rich by now. Here's the deal, you should never ever bank on any snow removal income. If you get it, its a cherry on the sundae. I mean I know companies that do hundreds of thousands in snow removal but you can't bank on that. So when you are doing annual budgets and estimate sales for 2012 I never put any snow removal in that. Do I feel bad for companies that didn't get any snow? Sure I do. Do I feel even more sick for them if they banked on it? Nope, not in the least bit. Our snow removal sales are less than 2% of our annual sales, not much, but I don't even think about it.

Item #2. What's worse than banking on snow removal and not getting it? Going into the spring heavily discounting grounds and landscape services to try and cash flow the mess that was created over the winter. Company's that are sitting on mountains of salt, equipment, etc. trying to get spring work out of desperation to try and stop the hemmoraging. Are you out of your mind? You are headed into your bread and butter season. While small discounts may be okay to stimulate interest, discounting things significantly to cash flow a train wreck is a disaster in the making. Two wrongs don't make a right.

So you say "there are companies doing this?" I'll guarantee it. Don't do anything stupid.....or stupider.

Make the spring a strong one, don't look back, just go forward. Go out there and get some early spring hardscape or landscape work. Good grief we have two crews in the field in Feb. That's a first!
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Last edited by etwman; 02-20-2012 at 06:44 PM.
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  #2514  
Old 02-20-2012, 06:58 PM
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meets1 meets1 is online now
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ETW - Very well said. Yes I have alot of snow clients, equipment, some salt/sand on hand yet but I budget in a small percent every year but that is no means what makes the company. I also dont beleive in huge discounts especially early on in the year. Poor excuss for running a business. Sure maybe an attention grabber but that is it.
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  #2515  
Old 02-24-2012, 08:55 PM
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Jarod, I'm sure somewhere it has been mentioned before, but do you usually stick to one brand of block product from job to job? If so, what is your preferred brand and why? I guess depending on the answer to that question, my next would be if you're not brand-loyal to one in particular, how are you selecting certain product for certain jobs? Will you ever use multiple brands of block on one project or do you try to keep that uniform throughout the project?

I've been looking at the way I'm doing things, and would like to get my feet wet in the hardscape side of things as a way to sell more complete jobs so we have been going to a lot of the block company shows and events to check out the different manufactures. My thought was to pick ONE thats going to have the best product, best contractor support and good availability and then stick with them. That way, we're familiar with that line of block and how to work with it so we're not re-learning things every time we do hardscaping (which prob wont be that much) as well as have good relationships with the dealers and reps. Just wondering what your take is on it.

As always, phenomenal work and great business and industry insight! You truly are an inspiration!
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  #2516  
Old 02-25-2012, 07:51 AM
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etwman etwman is online now
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This is a very good question and I'll give you my opinion on it, once again its mine, take it or leave it.

The hardscape supplier market is oversaturated, especially in the northeast. Giving a client 3-4 100 page catalogs will confuse the daylights out of them. I would suggest 1 or 2 at the most.

We used to be brand loyal, putting alot of eggs in one basket with EPHenry. I'm not going to go into details on how the relationship fractured but if you ever wanted to watch the downfall of a powerhouse pull up a front seat to this story. The dissolvement of the conserv division, lack of innovation, removal of key players from the authorized contractor program, removal of key dealers, etc. has all happened. I had lunch a month ago with a few friends of mine who are large contractors, together 4 years ago we represented about $400k in combined annual sales to EPH. That's a dealership. Today none of us buy from them. At first I thought it was just us witnessing all of this until I stepped into a Techo-Bloc round table the other month. (I rarely go to these but did this year). There was a comment said amongst 20 contractors and an applause to the tune of , "don't do what EPH did, leave us and fail to innovate." That's huge, the problem is monumental. The were the Goliath 6-8 years ago and now they are off major percentages in sales in their prime markets. This failure has spread like cancer accross the hardscape market. All that will carry them is their brand name and that will fail at some point too. See what the smart producers realize is their consumer isn't the homeowner (yes they are interested) its the contractor. No homeowner is going to install a 1500 sf patio, sorry. Fail to support and listen to the contractor and you're removing a major customer. Most of our clients will follow our lead in whatever product we suggest because they trust us, and rightfully so they should.

With this said you need to select a brand that is a quality product, gives great customer support, and truly innovates. Also you need to select a dealership that is close to you. Techo may not be there, it may be Belgard, not sure.

We aren't totally brand loyal anymore, we learned our lesson with that. We won't do it again. My suggestion is to pick one that you feel very comfortable with, and have a few others you use on occassion.

Hope this all helps.
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  #2517  
Old 02-25-2012, 11:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by etwman View Post
This is a very good question and I'll give you my opinion on it, once again its mine, take it or leave it.

The hardscape supplier market is oversaturated, especially in the northeast. Giving a client 3-4 100 page catalogs will confuse the daylights out of them. I would suggest 1 or 2 at the most.

We used to be brand loyal, putting alot of eggs in one basket with EPHenry. I'm not going to go into details on how the relationship fractured but if you ever wanted to watch the downfall of a powerhouse pull up a front seat to this story. The dissolvement of the conserv division, lack of innovation, removal of key players from the authorized contractor program, removal of key dealers, etc. has all happened. I had lunch a month ago with a few friends of mine who are large contractors, together 4 years ago we represented about $400k in combined annual sales to EPH. That's a dealership. Today none of us buy from them. At first I thought it was just us witnessing all of this until I stepped into a Techo-Bloc round table the other month. (I rarely go to these but did this year). There was a comment said amongst 20 contractors and an applause to the tune of , "don't do what EPH did, leave us and fail to innovate." That's huge, the problem is monumental. The were the Goliath 6-8 years ago and now they are off major percentages in sales in their prime markets. This failure has spread like cancer accross the hardscape market. All that will carry them is their brand name and that will fail at some point too. See what the smart producers realize is their consumer isn't the homeowner (yes they are interested) its the contractor. No homeowner is going to install a 1500 sf patio, sorry. Fail to support and listen to the contractor and you're removing a major customer. Most of our clients will follow our lead in whatever product we suggest because they trust us, and rightfully so they should.

With this said you need to select a brand that is a quality product, gives great customer support, and truly innovates. Also you need to select a dealership that is close to you. Techo may not be there, it may be Belgard, not sure.

We aren't totally brand loyal anymore, we learned our lesson with that. We won't do it again. My suggestion is to pick one that you feel very comfortable with, and have a few others you use on occassion.

Hope this all helps.
Thanks for your response! We went to a Techo-Bloc showcase this past week, and I was quite impressed. As with anything like that put on by a manufacturer, you go into these things expecting a sales pitch, and it was to an extent, but I was able to sit there all day and be able to be continually interested. The other thing they did (or did NOT do I guess) that I really respected is they did not stand up there all day and say things like "we do this with our products, so and so does not" or "so and so is inferior to us because of this" and I thought that was great. They didn't feel the need to bash other companies, they just said hey this is what we have, this is how we do it, and this is the technology we are using.

I spent a lot of time talking to the local sales rep and explained what we were looking to do in the market, and that I am taking the ICPI course coming up. He asked if I had any projects planned yet and I said that I was going to go some wall and a patio at my own house sort of as practice sometime this spring, and he actually offered to come to my house for a couple days and help me do the work and show me how to do the work. I was pretty impressed with that. The other reps from other companies just said "oh, heres a catalog and some pamphlets with some how-to tips." It sounds like you were also pretty impressed with Techo at one point.

Again thanks for your response and as always I look forward to more pictures of your work!!
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  #2518  
Old 02-25-2012, 02:22 PM
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SNAPPER MAN SNAPPER MAN is offline
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  #2519  
Old 02-25-2012, 05:49 PM
lukemelo216 lukemelo216 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by etwman View Post
Yes it will be in Nashville.

Here's my two cent piece of advice for the spring.

Item #1. If I had a dollar everything I heard a landscape company crying the blues over no snow removal this winter I'd be stupid rich by now. Here's the deal, you should never ever bank on any snow removal income. If you get it, its a cherry on the sundae. I mean I know companies that do hundreds of thousands in snow removal but you can't bank on that. So when you are doing annual budgets and estimate sales for 2012 I never put any snow removal in that. Do I feel bad for companies that didn't get any snow? Sure I do. Do I feel even more sick for them if they banked on it? Nope, not in the least bit. Our snow removal sales are less than 2% of our annual sales, not much, but I don't even think about it.

Item #2. What's worse than banking on snow removal and not getting it? Going into the spring heavily discounting grounds and landscape services to try and cash flow the mess that was created over the winter. Company's that are sitting on mountains of salt, equipment, etc. trying to get spring work out of desperation to try and stop the hemmoraging. Are you out of your mind? You are headed into your bread and butter season. While small discounts may be okay to stimulate interest, discounting things significantly to cash flow a train wreck is a disaster in the making. Two wrongs don't make a right.

So you say "there are companies doing this?" I'll guarantee it. Don't do anything stupid.....or stupider.

Make the spring a strong one, don't look back, just go forward. Go out there and get some early spring hardscape or landscape work. Good grief we have two crews in the field in Feb. That's a first!

I agree with this 100%. I was running my own company, but I didnt enjoy it as much as I thought I would. It just wasnt for me. Now I am the maintenance and snow manager for another company. Its a perfect fit. All winter long I have been hearing we have no money we have no money becasue of no snow. Well I told them maybe next year we should look at a few seasonals. I wasnt apart of the selling this past year. But they didnt like seasonal last year becasue we had the big blizzard and on one account that was seasonal they got smoked, so this year everything is per push. Well guess what no money this year. Now as i am bidding the maintenance I am trying to sell snow services in with it, and we are doing a handful of seasonal contracts. The company is over 15 years old (snow for about 4 now) but hasnt realized yet that you need to have a good balance of seasonal and per plow accounts. I like to cap my snow, others dont, but that is an entirely different discussion.

As far as the spring pricing, that is my biggest concern right now. All of these companies coming in at 1/2 our cost just so they can get some work. I had a 4k contract (simple maintenance: mowing, trim bushes, and lawn care, no cleanup or anything becasue they did it as a commmunity) with a HOA that i did with my own company for 4 years. I switched to the new company and he was ok with that and said he will most likely be re-signing with me again but had to put it out to bid as always. New company came in for $1400.00 for the year. I know the company and they are hard up for $ because of no snow.
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  #2520  
Old 02-25-2012, 08:23 PM
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Graveslawncare Graveslawncare is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lukemelo216 View Post
I agree with this 100%. I was running my own company, but I didnt enjoy it as much as I thought I would. It just wasnt for me. Now I am the maintenance and snow manager for another company. Its a perfect fit. All winter long I have been hearing we have no money we have no money becasue of no snow. Well I told them maybe next year we should look at a few seasonals. I wasnt apart of the selling this past year. But they didnt like seasonal last year becasue we had the big blizzard and on one account that was seasonal they got smoked, so this year everything is per push. Well guess what no money this year. Now as i am bidding the maintenance I am trying to sell snow services in with it, and we are doing a handful of seasonal contracts. The company is over 15 years old (snow for about 4 now) but hasnt realized yet that you need to have a good balance of seasonal and per plow accounts. I like to cap my snow, others dont, but that is an entirely different discussion.

As far as the spring pricing, that is my biggest concern right now. All of these companies coming in at 1/2 our cost just so they can get some work. I had a 4k contract (simple maintenance: mowing, trim bushes, and lawn care, no cleanup or anything becasue they did it as a commmunity) with a HOA that i did with my own company for 4 years. I switched to the new company and he was ok with that and said he will most likely be re-signing with me again but had to put it out to bid as always. New company came in for $1400.00 for the year. I know the company and they are hard up for $ because of no snow.
I would venture to say that the companies that are underbidding you like that will be out of business within the short term. Then the account will be up for bid again. My opinion is that patience wins out. I bid on a Target location last year. The property management company said we were "too far apart" on our numbers. I was coming in at about 19k (that's mowing, trimming 3 acres of turf, 19 zone irrigation maint, 60 yards mulch, aerating, overseeding...you get the idea, the whole schabang). Well I asked HOW far apart was "too" far apart and they told me they were looking to spend about $350 a month!!! That was 1/5 of my monthly price! I did the math and I couldn't even JUST MOW it for that, much less do everything else in the scope of work. So this January, guess what? Same location is up for bid again. I talked to the management company who told me the "contractor" they hired last year "failed miserably". I literally told the guy "I told you so."

Moral of the story is, don't compromise your prices and profits just to sell work out of desperation. Hold fast, and within a short time, that undercutting contractor that is in your way right now, will cease to exist. The client will have learned the valuable lesson that they don't want what they get for 1/2 price, and your higher bid will actually start to look refreshing, even desirable to them. Low bids cut in front of me ALL THE TIME. Do I lower prices to "compete?" No. I wait until they go out of business or get fired, then try again. Like ETW says, that's just my 2 cents. Take it or leave it.

Thanks for all the business insight, ETW. I look forward to meeting you here in Nashville next Feb!
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