Well, I do not want this to get in the wrong section, so I will make the first part easy, and to the point. I was 16 when I started my LCO, I am now 22. Ok, there is my first part, now on to being professional! I really sat back and thought this year. This is my 6th year doing the business. When I started, I thought oh cutting grass is not going to make me a living. My parents had always told me that when I started as well. Since the end of last year, we have quit mowing... Went onto bigger and better things. Such as specializing in New lawns, sidewalks, patios. Totally drop all mowings. Well, this has been a great learning expereince. Dropping mowing has been a rough move for us. Well, not for "us" for extra income it has been a bad move. It once paid the labor rates for doing what we specilize in. Therefore, the specialties that we do, only pays one way. When you have mowing, and specitity work, you get paid twice. I mean really, think about it. Here is my point, no matter what you do in this business, do not just think it is just LAWN mowing. Never listen to the negative person. BEING NOT PROFESSINAL..... I am one to say, we have been very not professinal in the past... the things we have done wrong... 1. Not answer the phone, EVER. 2. Have an answering machine pick up the phone calls. 3. Never be in the office. 4. Leave the phone messages on the machine for days. 5. Show up late for estimates. 6. Not come in a uniform. 7. Have some lame old piece of paper, with a white background. BEING PROFESSIONAL 1. Changing not answering the phone, to adopt and hour a day sitting at the desk. Some of you may say, I do not have an hour to eat, let alone sit by the phone. In this time of sitting there, I get some some good action. Normally 6 calls and hour, one time I got 15. 2. Well, still have the answering machine. However, change the machine DAILY. Have it say, Hello this is so and so LCO, we are either on the other line, or are away from the DESK at this time. Please leave your name, phone number, and a detailed message, and as soon as I return, I will return your phone call. Thank you, and talk to you soon.... beep... DO NOT SAY WE... It makes you sound un professional. 3. Never be in the office. This goes to my adobt an hour a day. Well, M-Sat that is. Folks, if you called Walmart, the nursery, Lowe's and no one ever was in OR answered the phone, wouldn't you be a little angry? Think about it. If someone catch's you returning calls, and being in the office at times, then they will more likely deal with you. 4. Leave the phone messages on the machine for days, is the WORST thing ever. You get... I see your ad in the paper, are you still in business, the neighbor said you called them but you did not call me, the guy down the road said you came to my house and said that you are busy and that you cannot even make phone calls. When customers hear or see this, they think something is phony... At least from my gathering... 5. Show up late for estimates, happens to me STILL, and always will... Because Mrs. Jones wants to tell you that her cat is 14 years old, and that it urinates all over her carpet.... By the way, do you know anyone who cleans carpet? HONEST STORY ppl!!! Try your best to show up on time, and if you are going to be at all a minute late, CALL! The worst the customer can say is DO NOT COME, and that tells you they were a waste of your time anyways. 6. Not coming in uniform is not the best thing. I have khaki golf shirts to wear for my estimates. However, sometimes I get a call for a estimate, I am in the neighbor hood, and I come over, therefore, always carry a nice clean k and k shirt with me! Uniform's make you look professional, make you look like you are really happy to be in the business, also shows you that you will be around for years to come. 7. Lame estimate form. This makes you look unprofessinal, and makes you look like you are just the normal john's lawn care. NOT trying to be rude. But this is more for the big timers here guys... I have a nice watermark on the background, followed by our letterhead.... This makes it look nice, neat, and right to the point. It has a sun, cloud, tree and flowers on it. If I knew how to post it, I would. However, it gets to the point. Also, it is our logo we have it on our trucks, t shirts, paper, business cards, phonebook, EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!!!!!!! Customers remember things like this. So get a good logo!!! ALthought I still try to say these things, I even break my word at times. The whole point of this story is to just try to be professional. There are MANY of us out there, and MANY of us will disappear in a few years. So why not stick around for a few years and make yourself look better. It made me feel so much better this year, because I was about ready to give up, until I came up with a few simple solutions. To be honest, all I needed was uniforms, and the paper. The paper has got me 2 jobs so far. YES I am serious.... I got it because someone told another customer they liked the watermark, and they liked it to! Stupid stuff sells jobs guys. And let this stupid stuff sell yourself. Do whatever it takes to make it in this biz. I will try back later and type more. The lady is complaining because I am still on this box!!!!