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  #21  
Old 10-19-2010, 09:11 PM
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Big Bad Bob Big Bad Bob is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mowerbrad View Post
I have no problem with hard work to get the jobs. I can handle a large volume of calls and I'm very familiar with my area so directions really aren't needed, plus I could always just turn my TOMTOM on in the truck.

The one thing that I am seeing as a potential problem is giving the customer a price. Obviously it would be inconvenient for me to go out to the customer's house, look at the pile and then call them back later with a quote for the pile, hoping that they say "yes". I will have to have a minimum charge obviously.

Since people would call before hand, I could set up a good route for the days that I'd be out. Most of my service area is subdivisions, so the houses can be pretty close together, so hopefully travel time would be minimal.

Of course I'd bring rakes and a backpack blower to clean up a little around the pile. But you are right that the wind could really make a mess out of the pile, blowing leaves all around the lawn.

I'm thinking I would do the clean-ups at least every monday, since most people would be cleaning up their lawn on the weekends. Or I could always work during the weekend if needed.

I still have lots of planning to do before I really start to move forward with this idea.
Yes you do. And don't forget to figure in Murphy's Law into the pricing. Expect disaster till you either get it worked out or back out.
A couple of guys have tried this plan around here and from what I'm told it's not the pantecea that it sounds like. What are you going to do when you suck something from the pile and jam or worse yet, break your loader. There goes your schedule. At least when you blow them into the pile you control what sticks, logs, rocks and pieces of metal that go into the pile.
Personally I hate it when a customer calls and says, "I've already raked them into a pile for you so it should be easy.". I've found all kinds of things in those piles that has the customer saying, "How did that get in there?" or "You mean your machine wouldn't pick that carburetor up?"
A little off the subject, it's like when you have a storm and you go to the customer's to clean up the limb damage and the customer has "helped" by piling the branches into a huge tangled mess that you have to dislodge with a chainsaw and then expects a discount for making it easier on you.
Most customers haven't got a clue.
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  #22  
Old 10-19-2010, 09:42 PM
yardguy28 yardguy28 is offline
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Originally Posted by BrunoT View Post
I'm sure it can be done. But before you start counting the money...

Just imagine the hassles with scheduling so that they have their leaves piled up and ready to go exactly when you're in the neighborhood. Or wind blowing piles away before you arrive, scattering them and you getting blamed for leaving a mess. Or cars parked blocking your access to the pile w/o blocking traffic. Or ingesting some junk into your expensive machine the customers toss in. What happens when you show up and there are no leaves there because the game went into overtime and they didn't get around to it? Think they'll still pay up? And enjoy invoicing or collecting $50 checks from dozens of customers. I'm sure that wont' take long.

Then think of having to field a phone call and answer questions, negotiate prices, get address info and directions, deal with problems, and give out your standard schpeel EVERY SINGLE TIME you want to make $50.

I'd rather field ONE phone call, deal with ONE person, and collect about $1500 for a mowing/leaf cleanup season by squeezing one more of those in rather than deal with 30 collecting their raked leaves for peanuts.

It's one thing if you're making small $$$ on scheduled year round service. But one offs? No thanks. A garbage man can do quite well at $5/stop because he has 30 stops on that street and it takes 1 min each and they pay 52 weeks a year, year after year, with one call to field. But this is different.

You'd be better off trying to work something out with LCO's who each have dozens of accounts for you.
what am i missing? what does the amount the check is written for and how many of them there are have to do with anything?

in this business you collect checks written for all kinds of amounts and depending on how many clients you have depends on how many checks you receive. i have checks that range anywhere from $50 a month to hundreds of dollars a month.
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  #23  
Old 10-20-2010, 01:40 PM
BrunoT BrunoT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yardguy28 View Post
what am i missing? what does the amount the check is written for and how many of them there are have to do with anything?

in this business you collect checks written for all kinds of amounts and depending on how many clients you have depends on how many checks you receive. i have checks that range anywhere from $50 a month to hundreds of dollars a month.
It's a matter of how much "management time" one wants to invest in earning $50. Which is easier? Invoicing one customer for $200 or four customers for $50? And it's easier to bill a recurring account each month than to set up a new one that is only generating $50. Sure, it takes just a few minutes, but that adds up. Maybe if one has crews in the field and is sitting semi-idle at the office anyway it'd be no big deal, I suppose.

Or, if you don't want to invoice anyone, are you going to hope the customer left a check for $50 at the front door taped to the window for you, some guy they've never met before? You'll get sales resistance on that for sure. Maybe you could do credit cards, but even then some people don't want to give that out to just anyone.

So you'll likely have to invoice them or waste time knocking on doors of people with jobs who often aren't there hoping to get paid. What happens if they don't have money waiting for you? Do you do the job or not? Do you double back later once the foulup is worked out? What happens if they don't pay the invoice? What happens if they say they left a check, that check gets cashed, and you don't get it? None of these happen regularly, but enough to be a hassle.

The more you have to juggle, the less time you have to spend on productive income producing tasks. I've found that you spend a lot more time than you think anytime something out of the routine happens. It's worth it for a big job, but this isn't huge money. Then again, if one would otherwise be sitting idle and needs the money, it's better than nothing.
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  #24  
Old 10-20-2010, 02:00 PM
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knox gsl knox gsl is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrunoT View Post
It's a matter of how much "management time" one wants to invest in earning $50. Which is easier? Invoicing one customer for $200 or four customers for $50? And it's easier to bill a recurring account each month than to set up a new one that is only generating $50. Sure, it takes just a few minutes, but that adds up. Maybe if one has crews in the field and is sitting semi-idle at the office anyway it'd be no big deal, I suppose.

Or, if you don't want to invoice anyone, are you going to hope the customer left a check for $50 at the front door taped to the window for you, some guy they've never met before? You'll get sales resistance on that for sure. Maybe you could do credit cards, but even then some people don't want to give that out to just anyone.

So you'll likely have to invoice them or waste time knocking on doors of people with jobs who often aren't there hoping to get paid. What happens if they don't have money waiting for you? Do you do the job or not? Do you double back later once the foulup is worked out? What happens if they don't pay the invoice? What happens if they say they left a check, that check gets cashed, and you don't get it? None of these happen regularly, but enough to be a hassle.

The more you have to juggle, the less time you have to spend on productive income producing tasks. I've found that you spend a lot more time than you think anytime something out of the routine happens. It's worth it for a big job, but this isn't huge money. Then again, if one would otherwise be sitting idle and needs the money, it's better than nothing.
This is my thought process on it as well, anytime you do a one off job there is a premium for the extra hassle. Most people know that the regular customer will get a break on this type of service compaired to seeing a sign and calling you. I also would make it a point to collect cash or check payment before starting the vacuum up, I wouldn't waste time riding around being a bill collector. If a customer ask why upfront just tell them it keeps the prices down not having to look for my money.
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  #25  
Old 10-20-2010, 09:15 PM
yardguy28 yardguy28 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenstarlawns View Post
This is my thought process on it as well, anytime you do a one off job there is a premium for the extra hassle. Most people know that the regular customer will get a break on this type of service compaired to seeing a sign and calling you. I also would make it a point to collect cash or check payment before starting the vacuum up, I wouldn't waste time riding around being a bill collector. If a customer ask why upfront just tell them it keeps the prices down not having to look for my money.
nope.....

one time jobs are worked into my route where they fit and are charged the exact same amount as a regular client is. only difference between one time jobs and regulars is i require 50% up front for one timers.
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  #26  
Old 10-20-2010, 11:07 PM
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mowerbrad mowerbrad is offline
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Like I said guys this is still in the planning phase. There are lots of things that I will need to decide on and research...how will I do the billing?...what size trailer/loader?...what will my prices be?...is this service something consumers in my area will be interested in?...how much are people willing to pay for a service like this?...etc.

Right now, I think that there really is money to be made offering this service to both consumers and fellow LCO's in my area. There are plenty of ways that I can bill these people without too much hassle. Obviously putting them into my computer may take a little bit, but I can think of ways to help with billing.

And as far as "things" that may be in the leaf pile, I have no doubt that I may encounter stuff. But I think by being a vidulant operator I can minimize any foreign debris from getting sucked up. Obviously I can't see everything, but I can sure try to minimize it. Plus making sure that customers know to only put leaves in the piles, no sticks, rocks, wood, metal, etc. For the most part, I have had very good luck with customers following any direction I give them. So I think as long as I tell them what not to put in the pile and to only include LEAVES, I should for the most part have very little problems. But I'm not saying I won't have problems.
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  #27  
Old 10-21-2010, 05:57 AM
LawnScapers of Dayton LawnScapers of Dayton is offline
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I started doing this this year, $60 for the first 30 minutes, $1 per minute after that..... my truck holds about 14 yards........so far so good....

I have a free dump site and 2 cities that do not offer leaf pickup. Also the City of Dayton stopped leaf pick up this year.......although those folks don't want to pay more for the service I am finding out......
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  #28  
Old 10-21-2010, 09:19 AM
Darryl G Darryl G is offline
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I also do my regulars with my mower. I load just the Lazer into my 7 x 12 dump truck and then just dump the leaves in the front portion. A few years ago I went out and bought a leaf loader with the same idea as you, to start going after piles. My problem is that by the time I get done with my regulars it's already pretty late in the season and running the leaf vac setup really doesn't work well for me on them because I need my mower for the final mow. I also don't like having a box on my dump trailer because it makes hauling other stuff like brush difficult. For a solo op, I think a dump insert is a better route. That way you have the vac when needed and can still bring your mower(s) along. Another option is to put a box on the trailer with a hoop and tarp top so that it can be easily removed.

Now are far as going after the one time piles...it' can be a royal pain. People tend to rake all the sticks and anything else that's on the lawn into the piles and what they call a pile is often a row of leaves 100 feet long at the curb or a big pile in the back yard that you can't get a truck/trailer combo to. It's rarely a matter of just pulling up and picking up a pile. The other problem is that often times the piles have been sitting a while and are wet/compacted and that makes a huge difference and/or the wind has spread them out over a large area. In many cases, it would have been easier and cheaper for them if I had just done the whole cleanup myself. Abouit the only good thing I found about going after curbside piles was that I could go out after dark to do them with some portable lighting (like 5 to 8pm) and bring in some extra income. Most people are fine with $100 minimum where I am. Oh, there is the occasional job where the customer made a nice, easily accessible pile for you with no sticks and you're in and out of there in 20 minutes, but my experience is that they're few and far between.

I still may end up mounting the vac on my dump trailer, but if I do it will be at the end of the season. For the couple of accounts I have where a leaf vac is the best/most efficient way to do the job, I'll just sub out a friend of mine until then, like I've been doing the last few years, or just haul them out in bulk.
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  #29  
Old 10-21-2010, 09:22 AM
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punt66 punt66 is offline
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I sold my vac setup. Its a waste of money. Hire it out for the few yards that you need it. Also, unless you get an 40hp plus vac it will take longer then you think to suck them up. I am glad to get rid of it. Its faster to vac it up with my mower and empty the bags in the truck.
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  #30  
Old 10-21-2010, 09:34 AM
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mowerbrad mowerbrad is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DRM Ventures View Post
I started doing this this year, $60 for the first 30 minutes, $1 per minute after that..... my truck holds about 14 yards........so far so good....

I have a free dump site and 2 cities that do not offer leaf pickup. Also the City of Dayton stopped leaf pick up this year.......although those folks don't want to pay more for the service I am finding out......
Are you finding any problems with doing this? Customers putting sticks and such in the piles? Even making it hard to get to piles in the backyards?

Quote:
Originally Posted by darryl gesner View Post
I also do my regulars with my mower. I load just the Lazer into my 7 x 12 dump truck and then just dump the leaves in the front portion. A few years ago I went out and bought a leaf loader with the same idea as you, to start going after piles. My problem is that by the time I get done with my regulars it's already pretty late in the season and running the leaf vac setup really doesn't work well for me on them because I need my mower for the final mow. I also don't like having a box on my dump trailer because it makes hauling other stuff like brush difficult. For a solo op, I think a dump insert is a better route. That way you have the vac when needed and can still bring your mower(s) along. Another option is to put a box on the trailer with a hoop and tarp top so that it can be easily removed.

Now are far as going after the one time piles...it' can be a royal pain. People tend to rake all the sticks and anything else that's on the lawn into the piles and what they call a pile is often a row of leaves 100 feet long at the curb or a big pile in the back yard that you can't get a truck/trailer combo to. It's rarely a matter of just pulling up and picking up a pile. The other problem is that often times the piles have been sitting a while and are wet/compacted and that makes a huge difference and/or the wind has spread them out over a large area. In many cases, it would have been easier and cheaper for them if I had just done the whole cleanup myself. Abouit the only good thing I found about going after curbside piles was that I could go out after dark to do them with some portable lighting (like 5 to 8pm) and bring in some extra income. Most people are fine with $100 minimum where I am. Oh, there is the occasional job where the customer made a nice, easily accessible pile for you with no sticks and you're in and out of there in 20 minutes, but my experience is that they're few and far between.

I still may end up mounting the vac on my dump trailer, but if I do it will be at the end of the season. For the couple of accounts I have where a leaf vac is the best/most efficient way to do the job, I'll just sub out a friend of mine until then, like I've been doing the last few years, or just haul them out in bulk.
One of the things that I was planning on doing is making the sides on the dump trailer easy to take off. That way I could easily use it without a leaf box on there.

I still think that if I give the customer enough direction as what to do, things can go smoothly. I figure if I tell them to make ONE pile (not row) next to the driveway or street and only to put in leaves...I should have pretty good results. I'm sure I'd still run into some problems though, hopefully they'd be few and far between.

But you do bring up some good points that I will have to think about.
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