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Old 10-11-2011, 12:16 AM
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JContracting JContracting is offline
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My Equipment - Year 1

A little about my company. I'm a solo op LLC, insured, pay my taxes, etc. I'm 20 years old and have been working within the industry since I was 15. I go to Anoka Tech for their Horticulture program and after graduating from there I plan to attend the U of M to obtain the bachelor's in Hort.

I started out this year on my own with just the truck, push mower and my handhelds. I had bought an Exmark Metro 48" from an auction from a company that was selling out a large number of pieces of equipment...there's a little story behind it of how I got screwed in the auction. A couple buddies had gone to the inspection day to look at mowers but they had paid more attn to the ZTR's because they didn't know I was in the market until I had told them I wanted a mower...anyway, from the pictures on the auction site (online and it shall remain nameless) it looked 100% good to go, I got a great deal on it and then my buddy and I went to pick it up and it was missing a full wheel assembly, deck pulley, blades, and the wheel that was on there was for a different mower. At that point it was too late and making a big deal of it was not worth it with the price I paid.

But once I earned enough money, I got the mower fixed and have been very happy with it. Business this year has been up and down, and I've dealt with a lot of morons calling me and asking for a price to cut and they practically hang up before I tell them my minimum price. I had 8 mowing accts at one point, lost two due to finance problems and a couple more that didn't pay and still owe so they were dropped.

But anyway, heres some pics of the set up and some work.


Truck & trailer and was in the process of the first clean up of the year until the rain hit


My mower


Some stripes in the backyard of one of my favorite lawns to cut






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Last edited by JContracting; 10-11-2011 at 12:22 AM.
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Old 10-11-2011, 01:15 AM
slamjamrockinman slamjamrockinman is offline
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Nice pics love the truck and exmark, sorry to hear you got screwed. Good to see some MN guys on here, I'm from Edina, 18 years old and currently a freshman at UST. My dad teaches court reporting at Anoka Tech. Do you work in Anoka mostly? If you could come down to the cities a day or two a week you might have more luck with getting work. We grew from about 30 to 57 accounts this year. Its been a great year. Let me know if I can help ya out with anything, I like to network with local guys around my age.
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Old 10-11-2011, 01:26 AM
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mnglocker mnglocker is offline
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Nice stripes with a belt drive. Word of advice on taking new customers and no-pays, have all customers prepay per month for their first year with you until you know the checks are good and come on time.

Resend the invoices, drop them off in person and write final notice on them. If that doesn't get results, send them to collections or take them to small claims court if the bill warrants the expense.
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Old 10-11-2011, 09:41 AM
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JContracting JContracting is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mnglocker View Post
Nice stripes with a belt drive. Word of advice on taking new customers and no-pays, have all customers prepay per month for their first year with you until you know the checks are good and come on time.

Resend the invoices, drop them off in person and write final notice on them. If that doesn't get results, send them to collections or take them to small claims court if the bill warrants the expense.
Thanks for the kind words guys. That is a great idea, I think for 2012 I'm going to require at least the first month up front. My plan I've been using all year that was (in my service agreement) that I send the bill on the 1st (or sometimes before the 1st depending on what date the final service of the month was on) and payment was due by the 15th otherwise services stops and for however long overdue it was, the customer would be charged accordingly based on grass height.

For the no-paying deadbeats I sent them 3 invoices and then a letter threatening a lien or sending it to collections (the amounts were not enough to justify small claims) and will most likely now be sending it to collections.


Quote:
Originally Posted by slamjamrockinman View Post
Nice pics love the truck and exmark, sorry to hear you got screwed. Good to see some MN guys on here, I'm from Edina, 18 years old and currently a freshman at UST. My dad teaches court reporting at Anoka Tech. Do you work in Anoka mostly? If you could come down to the cities a day or two a week you might have more luck with getting work. We grew from about 30 to 57 accounts this year. Its been a great year. Let me know if I can help ya out with anything, I like to network with local guys around my age.

Thanks, I love the truck, although I have to give that credit to my dad, it's his and he's letting me use it until I can buy a truck of my own which I'm hoping is by next spring, more-so before June as my 21st birthday is in June and would like to make it my birthday present to reward myself for all the hard work. And the whole getting screwed thing and having to use the push mower for a while definitely makes you respect the other companies out there that have the 20ft+ trailers with 3 mowers on them and a diesel pulling it, etc., it's very humbling to think of where I started and where I am now and can't believe that was only a few months ago.

All of my accts are in Champlin & [the good side of] Brooklyn Park, this spring that's where I focused my doorhangers and every acct is within 3 miles of home (Champlin). I do want to expand into Maple Grove & Plymouth, lots of new developments with the younger generation that hates having to do any outdoor work.

Wow, that must be quite the drive for your dad to go up to Ramsey every day My dad actually went to St Thomas, grad'd with a Bachelor's in Bio and I know of a couple girls from my high school that went there, that's gotta be insane trying to get all your accts done and still go to school full time on top of just traveling back and forth to UST.

One thing I gotta ask...I've done about 700 of my 1000 doorhangers for fall services (I'll include a pic) and have gotten one call which was for full service spring through fall, sent the estimate and my guess is the guy thought he could get everything for half of what my price was. How did you get so many mowing accts because as of now that's what I want to do because I've already made the equipment investment, as it's quick cash flow and eventually leads to the installs.

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2014 Diamond Cargo 8.5' x 20' Enclosed Trailer - Fully Loaded Interior
Exmark Lazer Z X-Series 52" w/ Ultravac
Exmark TTHP 36"
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Old 10-11-2011, 01:15 PM
slamjamrockinman slamjamrockinman is offline
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My dad actually works the Anoka job as his second job, and ya he hates the commute, but he's kind of a workaholic, I think thats where i get it from, lol. I am actually living on campus this year which is kinda tough because I'm home so much because thats where my equipment is. I'll give you a quick bio to explain myself a little, not trying to hi-jack your thread. Last year I teamed up with a buddy for my senior year. We had about 30 acts at the start of this year. Between him and me we got a lot of referrals from each of our clients and were able to grow to our current number of about 60. My partner did a little of craigslist advertising and I passed out fliers to get my first few clients, but after that, our success in getting accounts has been solely on referrals. We pay really good attention to detail, we work for a reasonable price, are nice and personable, and get to know our clients well, which I think has been the reason for so many referrals. I encourage you to do the same. Starting out is is tough to get acts, but just do the things that I have talked about and it will grow in time before you know it. I do no advertising currently and we continue to grow.
My partner went off to Iowa state and has now handed me his side of the business, so I am doing all the work and he still helps with some administrative stuff like billing, and helps manage things. He comes back to work every now and then as well and he comes back in the summer.
Just do whatever you can to get to know people on a personal level. Introduce yourself, tell them your story and situation and they will most likely share theirs as well. Then talk about your services and how you can help them.
You definitely have the right idea on installs. Focus on maintenance for now. Ive done a few big ones, (paver patio last year, sod jobs, etc) they turned out well but I have only had one job where the numbers were what I wanted to see. Were just under equipped and understaffed for those and don't have the knowledge that can allow us to do them as quickly as other people. I decided I want to really focus on maintenance while i'm in school, just doing a few small installs in the summertime. I would recommend the same thing so you don't bite off more than you can chew. Trust me, I've done it, it's no fun. Theres a lot more to landscaping which I'm sure you already know because you have experience in the industry.
It sounds like your starting off good with getting accounts nice and close together and focusing on specific target neighborhoods. I need to do more of that next year, because we are pretty spaced out right know. Don't just take on anything, make sure it's in your area. I made that mistake, and I am still working to condense and consolidate accts.
Good luck next year, let me know if I can be of help in anyway. I was in your shoes just 2-3 years ago, I know what its like.
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Old 10-11-2011, 01:27 PM
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TheBetterDoorhanger TheBetterDoorhanger is offline
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Hey there ~ one thing we have introduced recently is distributing an upcoming seasonal service calendar at the same time you distribute your service door hanger. WIth our Band-It product you can use one Band to attach both hangers to the door & Band-It allows you to easily attach it to the door & feel secure about it not falling off & ending up in the lawn. I think the calendar is a good way to get calls now & also in the upcoming months as it is designed for the season & you can list the services they need to call you about over the next couple of months. If you want to check it out go to http://www.AdeasPrinting.com/doorhan...ervicecalendar. We have a great package deal for it that gets you 1,000 4.25 x 11 door hanger Band-Its & 1,000 6x9 Door Hanger Calendar Stick-Its (so they can post it on the fridge) for $255 (includes free design & shipping).

Hope this helps -- good luck with your business & let me know if I can help you with any door hangers or direct mail projects in the future.

Robin
Adeas Printing
www.AdeasPrinting.com
866-778-4254 ext 200
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  #7  
Old 10-11-2011, 01:31 PM
slamjamrockinman slamjamrockinman is offline
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One thing I forgot to mention. Say your out doing a fall cleanup and you see a neighbor outside and their yard is covered in leaves. Take a minute to go talk to them, tell them you could help them and maybe give them a good reasonable price on a clean-up. You'd be surprised how often that works. A lot of neighbors are pretty close and they all know each other. You do a good job at two accounts in the neighborhood, and you'd be surprised how fast they will pass your name around. Tell them you can offer refferal discounts and neighborhood discounts as well if there neighbors sign up for your service. Your most likely working weekends being in school, so there's always people out.
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Old 10-11-2011, 06:48 PM
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bobcat48 bobcat48 is offline
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Looks great,best of luck to you.
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Old 10-11-2011, 07:59 PM
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oakwdman oakwdman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slamjamrockinman View Post
Nice pics love the truck and exmark, sorry to hear you got screwed. Good to see some MN guys on here, I'm from Edina, 18 years old and currently a freshman at UST. My dad teaches court reporting at Anoka Tech. Do you work in Anoka mostly? If you could come down to the cities a day or two a week you might have more luck with getting work. We grew from about 30 to 57 accounts this year. Its been a great year. Let me know if I can help ya out with anything, I like to network with local guys around my age.
Not to Hijack but I lived in Edina for 4 years as a kid as my Dad was working with Bachman's. Small damn world
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Old 10-11-2011, 08:22 PM
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JContracting JContracting is offline
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Location: Champlin, MN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slamjamrockinman View Post
My dad actually works the Anoka job as his second job, and ya he hates the commute, but he's kind of a workaholic, I think thats where i get it from, lol. I am actually living on campus this year which is kinda tough because I'm home so much because thats where my equipment is. I'll give you a quick bio to explain myself a little, not trying to hi-jack your thread.


Don't worry about hi-jacking the thread, no issue. And that's gotta be hard as hell to commute non stop, tough to enjoy the "college experience" but that's not for me. I'm all for drinkin beer with my buddies but I prefer a different setting than the house party on frat row or w.e


Last year I teamed up with a buddy for my senior year. We had about 30 acts at the start of this year. Between him and me we got a lot of referrals from each of our clients and were able to grow to our current number of about 60.

I've got some ideas for a referral program, thinking of sending out a letter within the next week letting my current customers know about it. And I never really thought of that, but 200% growth with numbers like that, that's insane! Keep gettin after it!

My partner did a little of craigslist advertising and I passed out fliers to get my first few clients, but after that, our success in getting accounts has been solely on referrals. We pay really good attention to detail, we work for a reasonable price, are nice and personable, and get to know our clients well, which I think has been the reason for so many referrals. I encourage you to do the same. Starting out is is tough to get acts, but just do the things that I have talked about and it will grow in time before you know it. I do no advertising currently and we continue to grow.

I tried out craigslist, got some good work, one account that was a temp mowing for 5 weeks, got a good price, problem was that it was 14 miles away on the west end of Maple Grove. I still have a bunch of doorhangers left from spring (which will be sent out next spring, much earlier than I did this year due to waiting to get them!) and will get the remaining of my fall ones out within the next week or so, just need to find the right neighborhoods. I definitely pay attn to detail, definitely nice & personable, I haven't gotten to know my customers as well as I should but that's something to work on. I think my biggest issue is wanting too much for services, I just can't get myself to lower prices, however, my prices are right in line and aren't extremely high but 80% of the time I'm dealing with some cheap a$$ off craigslist and most of them think $35/cut on a well maintained lawn that takes 30 min to complete is too much.


My partner went off to Iowa state and has now handed me his side of the business, so I am doing all the work and he still helps with some administrative stuff like billing, and helps manage things. He comes back to work every now and then as well and he comes back in the summer.
Just do whatever you can to get to know people on a personal level. Introduce yourself, tell them your story and situation and they will most likely share theirs as well. Then talk about your services and how you can help them.

That's gotta be tough with him being so far out, but partnerships are definitely not for me. That's the thing I have to get, the becoming personal with customers, I've hardly talked to them at all aside from getting them signed up for blowouts.

You definitely have the right idea on installs. Focus on maintenance for now. Ive done a few big ones, (paver patio last year, sod jobs, etc) they turned out well but I have only had one job where the numbers were what I wanted to see. Were just under equipped and understaffed for those and don't have the knowledge that can allow us to do them as quickly as other people. I decided I want to really focus on maintenance while i'm in school, just doing a few small installs in the summertime. I would recommend the same thing so you don't bite off more than you can chew. Trust me, I've done it, it's no fun. Theres a lot more to landscaping which I'm sure you already know because you have experience in the industry.
It sounds like your starting off good with getting accounts nice and close together and focusing on specific target neighborhoods. I need to do more of that next year, because we are pretty spaced out right know. Don't just take on anything, make sure it's in your area. I made that mistake, and I am still working to condense and consolidate accts.
Good luck next year, let me know if I can be of help in anyway. I was in your shoes just 2-3 years ago, I know what its like.
I made the mistake with that account 14 miles away and have done estimates up to 15 miles away which ended up turning into nothing as people expected $600 worth of work to be $150...
I actually started out this school year back in Aug starting and finishing an install. Took longer than I'd like being it conflicted with mowing and school but my man hour rate was great, much better than mowing! 7 yards of rock, a few plantings, few transplants, 73 linear feet of crappy brick border wall w/ caps (lowe's, customer wanted it to match their existing wall - budget issues). Sold them on Aeration, as well as a fall clean up and sold them on fert next year, whether I decide to get my the license and be insured for it or do what I'm doing now with subbing to a fert only company is TBD.





Quote:
Originally Posted by slamjamrockinman View Post
One thing I forgot to mention. Say your out doing a fall cleanup and you see a neighbor outside and their yard is covered in leaves. Take a minute to go talk to them, tell them you could help them and maybe give them a good reasonable price on a clean-up. You'd be surprised how often that works. A lot of neighbors are pretty close and they all know each other. You do a good job at two accounts in the neighborhood, and you'd be surprised how fast they will pass your name around. Tell them you can offer refferal discounts and neighborhood discounts as well if there neighbors sign up for your service. Your most likely working weekends being in school, so there's always people out.
That is something I'll definitely do if I get a few more lined up. I'm going to change up my pricing structure or group them in with other services as my fall doorhangers specify so I can get more lined up and in a close vicinity.



Being that this is a pic thread I'll add one.

Maple Grove Yard Waste site today, I had never seen a line up like this before, and there were about 6 vehicles behind me. The whole area where people dump grass and leaves was full.
__________________
'01 Chevy 2500 HD ECLB w/ 8.1 - 06 Tow Mirrors, 285s, 17" MB Chaos Wheels, Torsions Cranked, Airlift Airbags
2014 Diamond Cargo 8.5' x 20' Enclosed Trailer - Fully Loaded Interior
Exmark Lazer Z X-Series 52" w/ Ultravac
Exmark TTHP 36"
225 Gal MN Wanner Skid Sprayer
8' Boss RT3 Straight Blade

Licensed Applicator

Graduate - Anoka Technical College w/ Associate's in Hort/Landscape - May 2013
In business since Feb 2011
23 Years Old

When you have systems, you have control.
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