Have Lawn & Landscape Maintenance Sold - Now Ready To Get Landscaping Up To Par..

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by mcw615, Oct 27, 2009.

  1. mcw615

    mcw615 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 473

    I have been in business for 3 years primarily doing lawn and landscape maintenance contracts. That division is solid. I am ready to become a landscape company. I have learned my lesson from trying to push the business to grow too much trying to take 10 leaps at a time vs. one step at a time. I have layed low this year and plan to gradually come out of hibernating next year and make 2011 a fireworks show explosion of "Where did this company come from?!?"

    I am working on getting my contractors license, I am working on studying for my certified horticulturist, and I am going to study and further my education and knowledge of the landscape/horticulture industry over this winter and throughout next year to prepare for 2011. Another reason I have laid low is because it is hard for me to get financing to cover mowers etc. I turn 20 years old next month, I have a great credit score and the whole 9 yards but get turned down because I don't have a lengthy credit history (because of my age) and also I have not had a solid 3 consecutive years in business. I don't want to push landscaping, hardscaping and everything else and not have a really good knowledge of each before moving on to the next and not have the financial power as a resource to be able to finance things as now I just have to pay everything in cash. The main thing is I want to have all licenses, certs, and become members of organizations and have a good knowledge of the horticulture industry and feel good with my skills and know what I'm doing (I know a lot I will learn in the field) but I have learned you only get one FIRST IMPRESSION and you really want to knock the socks off of that prospect with your knowledge, and passion for landscaping. I want to work on projects, and not low jobs. Be a respectable company for doing great work. You don't want to look like an idiot trying to push your landscape business and not know what your talking about then come back a year or two later, you have already used up your first impression with that person.

    Where I am getting to is I would like some advice from some Landscape Company Operations of some of the things I should be working on right now to help make things run smoothly when I market all these services?

    With my lawn and landscape maintenance I have relied on word of mouth advertisement to get my business to where it is today. Do you get a lot of GOOD work to pretty much keep you going from W.O.M?

    What would you recommend for when I get ready to start trying to pick the landscaping up to do such as marketing...PROFESSIONALLY??? To get the lawn side going I passed out thousands of cards to get full time, but that was before I was a professional in the overall landscape industry business

    And just any regular input/advice/recommendations?

    THANKS!!
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2009
  2. mcw615

    mcw615 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 473

    *********** my title i meant to say solid, not sold ***************
     
  3. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    First off, you really don't need to finance anything.

    If you've got a successful maintenance company then you should be able to cover the costs of the minimal equipment needed to do landscaping.

    1.) Take Deposits from your customers for each project. Keep using cash. There is no reason to over-finance yourself just to operate.

    2.) Get a tax ID number, even as a sole proprietor and find some local companies that you can open a credit account. Try not to use these accounts if you can to minimize your debt, but it will be good standing account on your credit report.

    3.) Until you establish you landscaping division, I wouldn't by any big purchases and when you do, find used to start out with. Even if that means well used, and you can fix it up.

    4.) Rent machines for jobs until you can afford them. Example, You don't want to by a tiller (a good used one) until you use it more than X amount of times a year. Or, don't by equipment until the cost to rent in one year equals 2 years of payments on that machine.

    After four years of establishing my biz, I might be able to finally drop the money on a mini skid. Even then I'm not sure if I should wait one more year.

    Maintenance is good income. With the handful of yards I mow, and my bi-weekly landscape maintenance accounts, I've been still able to operate as a business without raking up debt when I go through a lull between landscape installs.

    As for marketing. I do fliers when ever I'm slow and out of 1000 I've past out, I've gotten 10 customers. I did also just join a local BNI group in Bloomington Il, and that has been great so far.
     
  4. mcw615

    mcw615 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 473

    We are a full company, incorporated, insured, I have 10 employees, 3 maintenance trucks and an "enhanced" truck which I use for doing the pruning, mulching, fert, aeration, irrigation install & repair, winterizing irrigation etc. I have just always focused on staying in maintenance so far because I am very good at it, train my guys to do GREAT work and it's guaranteed income which is good when you have a building to pay for, utilities, insurance and everything. We own a wide variety and assortment of equipment, the main thing I am trying to seek is marketing specifically for landscaping, and key things I need to learn to make other processes go easier. I plan to just rent equipment on an as needed basis per job, and when it seems to be feasible to purchase equipment I would start with a used bobcat, used mini ex, and a mini skid. Those seem to be the most used equipment.
     
  5. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,740

    Rule #1: Don't expect your equipment to get you work (see on 3-4 on White Gardens post above).
     
  6. mcw615

    mcw615 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 473

    Yes that is very true and never have thought that way, but thanks. Unfortunately there are people out there that think they just need to buy a commercial zero turn mower like "the big guys" and go knock on some doors and they will be making money.................... bottom line - NOT HAPPENING
     
  7. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,740

    When you really think about it, construction can have less overhead than maintenance unless you get really tool horny. Shovels, rakes, brooms, wheel barrows and some non-power hand tools can get most of it done. Granted, you can move a lot more earth a lot faster with a machine, but you don't need a Dingo and an auger to plant 2 gallon shrubs.
     
  8. mcw615

    mcw615 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 473

    Less overheard, not really any equipment maintenance such as sharpening blades, and everything else, plus your billing your hourly rate straight vs. having employees drive from location to location, so you have a MUCH greater profit margin with landscaping and again much less equipment overhead
     
  9. ryde307

    ryde307 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 540

    mcw was/am in a similair situation.I am in a partnership corporation all legal and well. Been doing the lawn work and irrigation for 6 years. We stayed away from landscaping didnt feel comfortable offering it to compete with others. I spent alot of time with friends who are full time landscapers learning every thing I could and try to learn every chance I get. That said we moved into landscaping slowly last year much more full time this year. To start it all came through word of mouth and through existing clients we have a good trust with. It's slow but was the pace we wanted. I still bring in outside people to help if I ever feel I am not capable of doing A+ work. I also am part of a BNI group like white gardens said.
     
  10. mcw615

    mcw615 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 473

    I have considered joining BNI getting in with others, but haven't had time for it this year. I believe I just need to further my education, build more knowledge, get some jobs to start off, do a really good job and I guess let the landscape division kind of grow itself with word of mouth and a little umpf. Kind of the way I got the mowing going. Had to be cheap to get people excited, and it's in everyone's nature to tell everyone when they get an excellent quality service for a reeaallllyyyy good deal. A new local restaurant opened in town a few weeks ago.. I just dined there the weekend before last, extremely good food, great service, and was only $5.95 as Applebees, Logan's, Roadhouse etc would be $9.95-$12.95 for the similar meal and appetizers. I know since then I have told gosh who knows how many customers and friends how good this restaurant is. I'm sure in a couple months after they have set regular customers prices will go up.
     

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