First year flop

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by BLC14, Apr 30, 2014.

  1. BLC14

    BLC14 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 108

    I'm just going to get started by giving a little background on me and what I've been doing. Throughout high school I worked for a landscaping/snow removal company. Now from since I was just a kid I had a dream about owning a law care business. so I figured working (part time)through high school for a company id gain the general experience/knowledge to get my own business going. So since the day I graduated high school which is 2 years ago now,I worked full time for a farm down by my house, learned a lot more then I expected about well everything while being able to stock pile the cash to start my business. So this year I wanted to take the plunge and get into this as my primary job. I bought the mower last January because I got a steal on it and had some family members asking for me to do there mowing. Last year I worked full time and did work them on the side. Ive got a part time job delivering pizzas( I hate it) and was hoping to be able to acquire enough yards this year to drop it. Then comes the advertising, I was weighing out options on what to do and what would get the most attention. I went with post cards and did the EDDM. expensive but if I got one customer it was all paid off in the year. I sent out 2500 of them to a localized area and got 5 calls back. 3 for mowing estimates, one for lawn installs(don't do that) and one for mulching. Didn't land any of them, but I was able to get a fairly decent sized commercial property. So now here I am with 4 weekly mowing accounts and one mulch job lined up and its hard to not feel discouraged right now by this first year. In general i'm just asking for some opinions on what I can do to acquire more customers and get my name out there. also just your guys input on the situation would be much appreciated. I just have this feeling that this first year is already a failure. Thanks in advance
  2. TuffTurfLawnCare

    TuffTurfLawnCare LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 668

    Do good work. Always leave your properties in perfect shape. Always smile and say hi to who ever see while at a customers property. As long as you present yourself as professional, clean and well spoken you should have no problem getting neighbors of current clients. Smile. Alot. even if no one is looking, remember, someone is ALWAYS looking.

    If you need more customers in a hurry, you better get to advertising. Get door hangers made and put them out. More EDDM, fliers, etc. Sitting at home on LS isn't advertising. Get out there and go get your customer. Put your business cards in every pizza you deliver.
  3. HPSInc

    HPSInc LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 743

    just because you don't fill your year up with work from the start doesn't mean you cant stay busy all year. I had a slow first year but picked up jobs along the way through referrals and just being seen working. Building a biz takes time.
  4. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 17,023

    It took me 3 years to get a full schedule, hang in there.
  5. tiffanii

    tiffanii LawnSite Member
    Posts: 7

    Any and every business, no matter if it is in the lawn/landscape industry or not, should have the mindset of "We are a marketing company, that does landscaping. We are a marketing company that does lawn care". Once you have the mindset of marketing yourself first and foremost, you'll be selling yourself and not just what you do. Create a brand, a logo, a catch phrase. Get certified and educated in as much as you can. Reach out and try to find a mentor in the industry. Go out and meet people face-to-face. There are hundreds of small companies and solo guys out there that are doing the same as you. If you want to stand out among the rest, do something to stand out among the rest. If you have a passion for lawn care/landscaping but not a passion business, then go work for a landscaping company. Read, a lot. Do your research. Read about entrepreneurs and read the books that they're reading. Look into snow removal for the winter, and holiday decorating/lighting. Many new guys don't start growing until a few years in. Don't let that discourage you. Organize what you want to do, what you want to accomplish and where you see yourself 10 years from now, 5 years from now, 6 months from now and plan it all out. Have a plan A, B, C and D. Good luck!!
  6. Dr. Cornwallis

    Dr. Cornwallis LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 847

    You haven't flopped. It takes a couple years to build a business thats really turning a profit. As others have said, present your self as a professional and do the best work around, people will come with time.
  7. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,984

    I had 4 customers my first year. I am starting my 4th year and it was worth the wait. Remember it is not about how full the schedule is. Rather that the customers you have are good ones.

    Then you will have a decent gross.

    You will hear this often that it takes 3 years for a business to take off.

    EDDM is not cheap. Not saying do not do EDDM. Saying find more ways to advertise. The number of responses that you got from 2,500 pieces is about normal.

    So you need to reach a lot more people. Also you are doing good if you get half the jobs that you estimate. Remember if you are getting every job your prices are too low.

    You are having a normal start.
  8. windflower

    windflower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,080

    Might do some cold calling (sales pitch) at properties you would like to take care of. All they can do is say no thanks. Even with advertising a high percentage of new work will come from referrals. Hang in there, sounds pretty normal for a small business start up.
  9. jcory430

    jcory430 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 11

    Craig's list is your friend. I have gotten a good amount of business there. Some great accounts, some not so great accounts. But the money still spends.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2014
  10. Blade Runners

    Blade Runners LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,021

    What Dr C. and TuffTurf said. Good work will get you customers for free. I know that isn't the answer you want to hear right now but it is very true.

    For customers right now look to online advertising. Craigslist, Thumbtack, etc. We picked up 3-4 good accounts from Thumbtack and even though some on here say CL is where the cheap people look for lawn care, we have picked up numerous customers from there. Either they pay what we bid or we don't do the work.

    Other things to consider are personal appearance (professionalism), equipment appearance well-kept and not rusty junk or trailers that look like they were pulled out of a junkyard with some old wooden sides thrown on.

    Like it or not, people will judge you by your appearance and equipment. Being knowledgable and well-spoken helps a lot too. It helps to sell yourself and your business.

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