Hoping to grow

Discussion in '<a href=http://www.plowsite.com target=_blank ?>Sn' started by cutntrim, Mar 16, 2000.

  1. cutntrim

    cutntrim LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 474

    If you don't already know, you can probably surmise from my username that we are a lawn care company first and foremost. However, we love plowing and want to get bigger in that area. Not every business in town has a lawn but they all have parking areas. Some of those with lawns may cut the grass themselves, but aside from gas stations and garages, most businesses don't or can't do their own plowing. There is a big market out there and we'd love to expand. This season we've got about 20 commercial properties and 10 driveways for three trucks. With all three trucks running we're done our route in about 8 hours. <p>Anyhow, I'd like to hear from those guys who are plowing alot of properties and for whom plowing represents a large percentage of their gross annual profit. When you decided to take the big step-up where did you start? Equipment first, properties second? Other way around? Loan or lease equipment? New or used? Retail businesses or industrial plazas? Municipal sites/schools, or home owner associations? Did you go door to door in the summertime or did you blitz your local media with print advertising? <p>In 10 years I've learned a great deal about running a lawn care business and running a business in general. But by no means am I under the illusion that I know it all. Reading and posting on this forum (and to a lesser extent the commercial lawn forum) has been a refreshing course in the meat and potatoes of operating a successful service business in a cutthroat business environment. <p>Thanks in advance for any and all advise and comments.<p>----------<br>Dave in S.Ontario<br>
     
  2. n y snow pros

    n y snow pros LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 252

    Dave i am surprised you did not get a flurry of replies from your post and i have been watching it.We started out doing lawn maintenance on homes. 5 years later we only do snow and we only do commercial sites.I could probably write a dictionary here,but i think its best to keep it short and my advice is to join S.I.M.A. If SIMA was around 5 years ago and i was smart enough to join i would have saved myself alot of time and trouble,but experience has taught me well.SIMA can give you much more than anyone of us could ever give you.hey dino and the rest of you regulars give a piece of advise,the one piece you feel helped your bussiness grow best. My piece is to join sima.I think there is an old Irish saying,but dont quote me on it &quot;MAY THE SUN SHINE ON YOUR BACK AND THE SNOW BURY YOUR ASS&quot; come on guys help him out!!! I f you would like to call me please feel free to at 914-485-4200<p>----------<br>J PARKER<br>914-485-4200
     
  3. GeoffDiamond

    GeoffDiamond LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Maine
    Posts: 1,651

    I think the hardest part about growing is finding the clients. It may also depend on the amount of indusrty and businesses in your service area. It isn't how much you know, but who you know in the area. Often times property managers talk to each other. So try to get in good with one manager and provide good work, and he might get you more work.<p>As for equipment, i would recomend accounts first than buy, unless ya can use another truck in your summer work. All of my snow removal equipment ie loaders and trucks are used in the summer. The only snow removal equipment only used in the winter are V-Boxes and snow shovels and blowers and snow plows.<p>Geoff<br>Geoff<br>
     
  4. plowking35

    plowking35 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from S.E. CT
    Posts: 1,687

    Ok John, <br>I read this post and thought I would see what the big dogs say. I am in the same position Dave is. I have 5 trucks on the road, and want to grow. I personally would stay away from retail, I want to market to industial properties and municipal parking areas. <br>Defitnily get the properies first and the equip later. Loaders are cheap to lease for the winter and pusher boxes are 3-5 grand depending on what size you buy.That combo will move a mountain of snow in short order.<br>As for one piece of advise join SIMA. They will guide you through the grwoth process and tell how to market and sell your services.<br>BTW Sammy is in for 12+ on MOnday in Denver. <p>----------<br> Professional Ice and Snow Management <br>Products:Services:Equipment www.sima.org
     
  5. Lazer

    Lazer LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,446

    Drivers - Good ones.<p>I would have as many trucks/loaders as I had good operators.<p>Good drivers do nice work fast with no damage to equipment or property. = Money in your pocket.<p>Poor drivers do sloppy work slow while beating up equipment and damaging property.<p>The equipment we have today with pusher boxes, V-plows and pull plows: Production per unit is better than it's ever been. Everbody knows there's mountains of contracts to be had.<p>If only you had the drivers...<br>
     
  6. cutntrim

    cutntrim LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 474

    Thanks for the advise so far guys. I figured I'd get some responses, I prefer this forum to the lawn care one. Too much bickering and b.s. over there. <p>My partner and I definately like the idea of leasing a loader w/pusher box. We could park it at one of the lots and drive it from lot to lot if they were fairly close together. We've noticed that not every lawn care company around here also does snow. This could be an advantage for us in securing 12 month property maintenance contracts. Personally I'd rather deal with one single contractor who does everything instead of subcontractors for different services. It's not easy to get your foot in the door though. Maintenance companies that do quality work seem to hang on to those 12mo. type contracts for years. Competition is fierce here, lot of guys chasing the same buck. Sometimes seems that the only companies looking for new contractors are the ones who are always looking for a better price each and every year. Oh well, Rome wasn't built in a day. <p>----------<br>Dave in S.Ontario<br>www.cutntrim.com
     
  7. plowking35

    plowking35 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from S.E. CT
    Posts: 1,687

    Dave<br>Also a key developement for expansion is the use of good subcontractors. All the large co's I see all use subs. Its cheaper than buying your own fleet and looking for good drivers. Plus thgey usually dont hammer their own equip. I use a few of them and it works great, just watch how much control you try to put on them, I the US the IRS is always looking to reclassify someone.<br>Some companies use a referral benifit program to solicite new subs.<br>Dino<p>----------<br> Professional Ice and Snow Management <br>Products:Services:Equipment www.sima.org
     
  8. cutntrim

    cutntrim LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 474

    Dino,<p>I agree on the need for subs when dealing with many/large properties. We probably can't come up with more than four drivers including ourselves so we'd definately have to go the way of subcontracting once we expanded beyond our capabilities. I'm guessing you're talking about tax implications when you mention reclassification of subs. We'd check into it with our accountant before subbing out. Rules may be different up here in Canada. <p>Either yourself or Geoff has probably mentioned it in a previous post, but roughly what does it cost per month to rent a loader for the winter. We'd hope to rent for Dec.1st until March 31st, but might require 5 months (Nov 15-Apr 15). We figure that being able to switch between a pusher box and a bucket would allow us to clear and to stack/cleanup. Personally I've driven a little bobcat but not a loader. I look forward to learning though. Oh yeah, do any of the pusher boxes fold up or do you have to drive down the street with a 16-20' box out front?<p>----------<br>Dave in S.Ontario<br>www.cutntrim.com
     
  9. GeoffDiamond

    GeoffDiamond LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Maine
    Posts: 1,651

    Ok Lazers got the low down on snowpushers. I think there is only one that folds, the 24' one. The rest you take down the road as is, which isn't fun in the day.<p>Geoff
     
  10. n y snow pros

    n y snow pros LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 252

    Ok guys the protec pusher boxes are offered in a folding configuration starting at 16 ft and folding boxes up to 24ft. thes boxes when folded are only 8ft wide.we rent loaders for the winter months and it has worked out really well for us.some of the new protecs have had some structural problems with the sides caving in,but this has been supposedly resolved. i have 2 new boxes this has happened to,but protec stands behind there product.protec gives a complete life time warranty against everything except rubber edge and paint.i have used this warranty on one of my other boxes and it came back better than new.<p>----------<br>J PARKER<br>914-485-4200
     

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