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Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by David Gretzmier, Jan 15, 2014.
trying a photo of front progress:
hey, cool, all it took was finding and downloading some app to disable skydrive and actually let me have access to the files on my computer. cool. oddly, in this pic the new metal side looks wider that the wood side. just perspective of photo though, the metal side is 30 feet wide and wood is 35.
pic from rear, metal finished on back wall
newer front pic with purlins and side windows for office. you can see the height of the old building, we are leaving the old wall propped up until the roof is on and we will open that up to the poles on the old building. two sided pallet rack will run the length of that wall
you will notice the building is built about 10 feet from the property line. I offered my neighbor a pretty penny for just 50 feet more on that side, less than 1/4 of an acre to just park employee cars over there, and he initially said yes until I met with city, county officials, drew up papers and brought cash. then he got all weird and said no, but offered to sell me more like 2 acres when he is ready. he is 77, and I am not sure when that ready time will be. I really need to move to a better central location in a few years rather than continue to spend labor driving. so just a quick lesson folks, if someone offers you 5 times the apprasied value for a strip of land, the time to take it is now.
Do you ever ponder how much more growth you can handle before you hit the wall with your man power and yourself? I'm assuming you must be running at 80% or more of capacity where there is only so much you can do before the stress of getting everything done on time kills you or you have to hire a well paid management type person to help with sales or 911 calls.
With your scale I realize it takes effort just to keep up with customers lost to moving vans, losing jobs, ect. The moving van has been a real SOB with my landscape maintenance business this past year. Many people saw their million dollar homes that had lost 200-300K in value in 09, 10', and 11' rebound hard this year and gain back all the value lost. The moving van has been my arch nemesis this past year.
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The stress is pretty incredible. But I would say this business has been way high on the stress scale since 60 customers or so. The % loss of customers each year has been pretty consistent over the last 5 years, about 10% per year. But before that it never went above 5%. As you grow, unfortunately the quality and personal relationships will slip and I think that is unfortunate, but also the way it is. Doing math, I have always thought that if the 10% loss continues to be consistent, and I continue to close 40-50 new clients per year, then my max is somewhere around 400-500 customers, but probably not at this location. I seem to need a 2 man route and truck for each 40-50 customers. Even with the new side, my current land and building will not support that many trucks and employee cars. I am already planning my next building to be completed after 3 more seasons.
As far as stopping or slowing growth, I suppose I could stop or severely slow advertising or raise prices on everyone to be at 0% growth. But I really like to be a company that grows every year sales wise by at least 10%. It allows me to stay ahead of inflation and it tells me I own a business that is increasing in value. For me it is more exciting to think about solving problems than staying he same. It forces you to innovate and come up with new solutions to manpower and hard assets such as building and vehicles.
I know that is not for everyone. I am finding through my consulting side that a lot of guys hit 60 or so customers and they just want to maintain that to keep 4 lawn guys fairly busy during nov-jan times. They don't want to buy new trucks, hire guys, or build storage. It always amazes me that when I show them they are making an extra 20-40k in profits from the Christmas side, they just gobble up the profit money each year and do not increase the asset value of their business. Land and buildings always sell. Trucks always sell. And it is always easier to find a buyer for a 500k-1m sales business than a buyer for a 100-250k business.
Finally, once you have 3 or more trucks out there with nice graphics on them putting up lights, growth kinda just happens. We have 6 trucks out there now, and other than pricing I can't really stop the phone from ringing. We increased prices on all new items across the board, did not put out yard signs this year, did less postcards than last year, less yellow page ads, and closed more new customers and more new dollars. There may be a tipping point in this business that word of mouth and website together just pushes you on.
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That is a great building. Figuring out where to go is tough.I am on the same route but on a much smaller size..but the future is bright...now if this snow will melt and we can get on with it!