Attention all Newbies, and us regulars.... Important info..

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by kandklandscape, Sep 11, 2004.

  1. kandklandscape

    kandklandscape LawnSite Senior Member
    from PA
    Posts: 341

    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!!!!
     
  2. HOOLIE

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    I agree with a lot of your points, but I differ in opinion on answering the phones. But it depends on where your company is at. For me, I'm not advertising now, pretty much everyone I get is from referrals. Since these people are already 90% sold on doing business with me, they will leave a message. Its not like they're gonna start calling other LCOs because no one answered the phone.

    If you're doing a lot of advertising, it helps to answer the phone as much as possible. If you have someone to answer it. I'm solo, working all the time.

    A good piece of advice- don't misrepresent your company. Always act professional, but if you are a solo operation, don't act like you can be all things to everyone. That'll just get you in trouble. For example, I had a new customer last year. He called to ask about doing a lot of other things besides mowing, I told him the mowing pretty much takes up all my time, probably can't handle any extra work. He kept pushing me. Finally I said "Look, I do all the work myself. I mow 6 days a week. No time to fit in a 40-yard mulch job on the side. If you want your lawn to look good, I'm your man. If you expect me to show up with a chainsaw 5 minutes after a 60 foot tree falls over in your yard, then you might want to go with someone larger". Anyway, I think he respected that I was upfront about the size and scope of my business. So many guys try to do everything, and there's only so many hours in the week.
     
    dcondon likes this.
  3. pbillings

    pbillings LawnSite Member
    Posts: 50

    I thought it was one of the best threads I've seen on this website. Your right Hoolie. If your a loner you can't bite off more than you can chew. But, I think if your starting off, KANDKLANDSCAPE has hit it on the head. Like some guys I know that have been in the biz for awhile and are good professionals and have repeat referals, your name will speak for itself. In my case, I'm starting new in the spring. I'm gonna do my damnest to look, sound, smell, anything it takes to look like I know what I'm doing, to get those referals, and I'll back it up.....EXCELLENT THREAD, KANDKLANDSCAPE...................
     
  4. HOOLIE

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    I don't answer the phone much right now, but when I was starting up, my wife carried it around the house with her so we wouldn't miss a call. Right now I can't handle much new work, not advertising much, get maybe 2-3 calls a week from existing customers, generally routine questions.
     
  5. cochino12

    cochino12 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 319

    Try answering every call for two months and see how much MORE word of mouth business you COULD have had.
     
  6. jpp

    jpp LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,128

    Good points. But as Hoolie said the answering the phone thing it a little hard for a one man operation. Sometimes I forward the answering machine to the cell phone when I am expecting a lot of calls. If you don't answer it you have a message while you are out and can call them back.
     
  7. HOOLIE

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    The point I was trying to make about "word of mouth" calls is, these people are calling for me SPECIFICALLY. If I don't answer, they're not going to start going down thru the Yellow Pages. Therefore they will most likely leave a message. Whenever I decide to expand I'll probably have my calls forwarded to myself or my wife.

    If you carry your cell phone while mowing, what do you do when it rings, just shut the mower off real fast or throw your trimmer down? Pleeease. The customers I have are more important to me than potential customers. Focus on the task at hand. In the Spring I'd never get anything done if I had to stop and answer the phone constantly.
     
  8. jpp

    jpp LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,128

    If you carry your cell phone while mowing, what do you do when it rings, just shut the mower off real fast or throw your trimmer down? Pleeease. The customers I have are more important to me than potential customers. Focus on the task at hand. In the Spring I'd never get anything done if I had to stop and answer the phone constantly.[/QUOTE]




    You missed the point.As a matter of fact I have stopped to answer the phone while I was working becuase a member of my family has health issues. Family is important so I do take those calls. Now as I was saying to forward your calls to your cell phone. If you are in the truck then you answer the phone. Common sense says you don't stop cutting or trimming a yard to answer the phone. That is why there is voicemail.Check the messages in between yards. At least while you are out after your yards are done you can possibly give quotes out after you have done your route.

    So please don't suggest to me when I should answer my cell phone. My customers know I am running a business and they know that is one way to get a hold me. I don't know about you but my customers are pretty understanding. Now that being said I know when to answerthe phone and when not to answer the phone. Thanks for your remarks though.

    JP
     
  9. pbillings

    pbillings LawnSite Member
    Posts: 50

    I've heard that alot of cell phone and pagers get chopped up all the time by accidentally dropping them while mowing....I think I'll leave them in the truck and answer them between jobs...
     
  10. jpp

    jpp LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,128

    Yep they sure do.A friend of mine lost his pager that way. 90 percent of the time my cell phone stays in the truck but when the family member I spoke about is not doing well then the phone is on my hip. When I do have mine out of the truck it is on my hip but facing in towards my hip. That way it is tight and won't come off.
     

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