How long did it take you to get a full schedule?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by echeandia, May 30, 2007.

  1. echeandia

    echeandia LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,131

    This question is for those of you who have been in business a few years. When you first started out did it take a couple of seasons to finally get a full schedule? Right now I have two full days a week. I could have had more had I lowered my prices but I didn't want to do that. I am thinking I am doing okay but I want to hear from you veterans. Thanks.
     
  2. Lohse's Lawn Service

    Lohse's Lawn Service LawnSite Member
    from US
    Posts: 213

    I am a veteran by no means, but I have about 65 customers after being in the business for 5 years and I stay fairly busy, especially with the extremely wet Spring we're having in Texas. I am during the school year, a one-man operation for the most part, but then when summer gets here, my brother is out and we get after it.

    Just know that you don't have to be a veteran to have a "full schedule." That phrase may mean something different to everybody. It all depends on your own willingness to go out and gain more customers. I've picked up about 25 this year alone! If I can do it, you can do it. Sounds cliche, but it's true.
     
  3. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,220

    Hay Lohse:

    Where in Texas are you......? I'm down hear west of Houston in a town called Bellville, serving Beenham also..... give me a holler....

    If you have seen the TV ad's.... ITs true, Blue Bell is so good because the cows think Brenham is heaven......
     
  4. GreenT

    GreenT LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 43,014

    echeandia,

    High volume/low net or low volume/high net. This, I have found, is one of the hardest decisions to make when starting in this business.

    I am exactly in the same situation you are, by choice. I could definitely pick up more customers if I tried to match or beat the competition around here however, I've decided to concentrate on quality vs. quantity.

    My prices are much higher than anyone else in my area, for example: I lay down a yard of mulch ($18.00)for $120.00 when everybody else does it for $30.00 to $60.00. I target customers that need/want full service maintenance (mowing, weed control, hedges, etc.) on a yearly agreement and try to stay away from just mowing. This gives me leverage to charge higher prices.

    To your question, I don't think it matters how many days you work, or how many accounts you have. Only how much profit you make.
     
  5. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,220

    when you in Business for your self..........You work everyday
     
  6. WJW Lawn

    WJW Lawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,330

    Aint that the truth! Amen!
     
  7. bullethead

    bullethead LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Posts: 273

    Until you are 100% utilized, I think you are nuts to pass on lower margin work. It's a bad business decision in my opinion. Anytime you can take on work that will cover your variable costs and throw even a dollar above and beyond that to covering your fixed cost, you are better off doing it. Only when you are 100% utilized, should you then start on culling/replacing your less profitable customers.

    There is also an intangible benefit to doing this = it's called exposure. More people will see you and your company name, the more you are on the road.
     
  8. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,654

    It's true thou, I don't think it matters either so long the price is right. I find I either have a TON of work for dirt cheap (or somewhere close to it), or I have a lot less work but when I do work I get PAID.

    It really doesn't seem to matter, bank account wise, whether it's a little work for a lot of money or a lot of work for less, but it took me years to pry myself away from the 'I need more work' mentality, even now I'm having a tough time in my 6th year, I have 39 customers, I think, maybe 40.

    And it is about the profit, say the cost of one grass cut runs me $28
    Now I can do it for $30 and have a ton of work, and I get $2 profit.
    Or I can do it for $35 and I get $7 profit and I have a LOT less work.

    That is why it is the hardest thing to see, at least for me it was, that $7 profit really is at least twice as good as $2 profit (and in 3 lawns), and to stop thinking of $90 vs $35, because the one thing I got tired of is running myself and the equipment ragged.

    How was it that I figured it, 40 customers spending at LEAST $600 a year is better than 60 customers spending at MOST $600 / year, I can't remember exactly because it doesn't work out in a way I could make sense of it, but work out it does.

    I mean, I don't know about $120 cu/yd of mulch but I have been known to get upwards of 100 for one, then 85 each for two or more, but it's not free money exactly because I usually hand spread my mulch vs. rake spreading it (and it is a pita but I try not to think about it, the money helps). But the thing is, I get paid more because I spend more time in a person's yard, and it looks better afterwards, and less time spent in the truck not getting paid.

    The first year, I have to admit, was a bit rough lol.
    The second year is usually much better, and it was, my 3rd blew, my 4th and 5th went swell, this my 6th is so looking real slow for me, oh well, you know you kinda get used to it, there always will be better years than others.
     
  9. txgrassguy

    txgrassguy LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,083

    I have been fortunate in that despite a modest beginning, equipment wise, I have always had a full schedule.
    As it stands right now, I have nine full time formen/laborers and three part time people - a driver, a mechanic and my admin person.
    Currently I am not accepting new maintenance clients and my install division is backed up for at least 2&1/2 months.
    Life is good:drinkup:
     
  10. KTO Enterprises

    KTO Enterprises LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,286

    I disagree. Why wear your machines out and your body out for work that doesn't make good money. Exposure guarantees you nothing. I have some neighborhoods where cars pass me all say, and no one stops. And I have neighborhoods that seem like no one is ever around and word of mouth gets me work.
     

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