New strategies?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by EarthTones, Sep 2, 2009.

  1. EarthTones

    EarthTones LawnSite Member
    Posts: 4

    Ok,so I am new here,so first off hello fellow scapers.
    Here is my situation & I would appreciate any advice from anyone who has been in a similar situation. I am 27 years old & run a small eco-friendly landscape maintenance/design company in usda zone 9, N. California,North bay area. I am licensed,insured & a member of the CLCA & love doing design work,but have to do mostly landscape/irrigation maintenance & small jobs to keep live. I have lived here in CA about 4 years & run my business for about 3 years here,before that I had clients back on the East coast for about 2 years.

    My situation is this & I know times are hard right now,but as I sit here for day three this week of no work at all,I need some hope. I have had some decent size design jobs & good sized maintenance accounts. At first my business progressed decently for being a transplant,but now I'm in a hole. I've lost most my big accounts because the people said they were happy with my work,but had to make financial decisions & "cut back", now I'm starting to lose all my small ones for the same reason & I haven't had a design job in over a year. I'm basically starving & am down to 7 accounts,which are mowing & general maintenance,these do not pay a ton either,they range from $75-250 a month. I see many other larger companies in my area & many illegal looking dudes doing a lot of work around,so there is work out there.

    I have at this point cut my rates to compete,I have a huge yellow pages ad,I have my logo & business/license info on my truck,I advertise on Craigslist, I go door to door,I always talk about my business to new people when I get a chance,I put cards/flyers out at all the local organic markets,I have tried putting out commercial bids,the list goes on,I always here word of mouth is the best & that worked for me back east,but not out here in CA,I've never gotten one word of mouth out here,only people that said how nice the work was & then they flaked out & I am losing all my clients steadily so word of mouth at this point seems like a sinking ship .

    So,what would you experienced guys who have been through similar times do to start picking things up? I don't know where to start,I spent all day Mon. going door to door with cards,no luck.
    There aren't many part-time jobs here & everyone I have had either let me go because they didn't have enough work or they don't want to hire because you have your own company & they are "not comfortable "with it. Man,this sucks,I just want to get working & build myself up,but everyone seems so stingy in this area,they either don't want to pay or they "do it themselves" or "already have a guy". There has to be some hope,I see chumpy guys doing crap work all over staying busy & I do top shelf,quality work & offer comparable rates & am just down & out. Sorry for the long post,thank you for any words of wisdom:confused:
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2009
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    I think your sights might be set a little on the high side.
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2009
  3. EarthTones

    EarthTones LawnSite Member
    Posts: 4

    What do you mean? What should I do to get myself out there more & improve my situation so I can get busier?
    I had 2 large accounts I had for 2 years & just lost them 6 months ago,one was $1,000 a month estate maintenance & the other was $500 a month,I has these for a while no problems. I 've had numerous $5-10,000 design/install job & a couple larger ones. So it's hard to go from that to nothing,if you know what I mean. I'm not expecting to start at the top,but I have my start already & need to keep it going.

    I have tried to keep my sights/expectations low,a few months ago I picked up 2 houses next door to each other just twice a month mow & blows ones was $100 & one was $60 a month & although not estates,just tiny CA lawns,not much money,but I was excited & proud to have any work & I just lost those on Sun.,the guy wanted to cut back & do it himself & I guess he is going to mow the old lady next doors too while he is at it.

    As far as saying chumpy guys too,I'm not being arrogant or a dick,I have nothing but love & respect for fellow landscapers/gardeners. I am talking about the high end houses where the lawns are half brown & the shrubs are trimmed too short and/or unnatural looking & they just look poorly done & you see the guy out there pretending to know what he is doing taking business from people who do know what hey are doing,but I guess the customers don't pay much and are happy? And also the large companies that do sub-par work but get work just because they are big companies,I hate this,they rush & do the crappiest job possible & get paid well. I guess I was just bitching because it hurts to be the man of the house & have nothing to do,while your wife goes off & works all day,comes home & bitches,I need to keep busy to pay the bills & stay sane!

    A lot of companies here do a great job as well & that is a hard part of competition too,so many properties look immaculate & people are happy with their landscaper,so many nice properties are taken. I guess I haven't been here in CA that long if that is what you are saying & it will take time to build,but my frustration comes from,right when it seems like I'm building up,it all collapses again back down to almost nothing.:hammerhead:
  4. rob7233

    rob7233 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 861

    I was kind of wondering what you meant by the above statement also...

    Would you mind explaining your viewpoint and why?
  5. SangerLawn

    SangerLawn LawnSite Senior Member
    from indiana
    Posts: 736

    I want to make sure this is clear….I do not mean any of this in a negative way at all!!!!

    If you any money at all I would recommend getting a good sales man. The work is out there no matter who you are. For some reason your just not having any luck with whatever sales pitch you are using. Maybe a new face will bring your business back to life?
  6. Mckenzie's Maintenance

    Mckenzie's Maintenance LawnSite Member
    Posts: 47

    I have no experience in your situation...thankfully...but I wish you the best of luck
  7. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,899

    Don't pay any attention to Toppy, no one else does :laugh:

    I see a myriad of problems from here, the biggest being you got some bad juju working right now. Did you vote for Obama? That could be it.

    People sense desperation and you just need to shake that, and it is so much easier said than done.

    Welcome to lawn site, check out my e myth thread in the business section, keep your head up and good luck.
  8. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,899

    Check your PM
  9. EarthTones

    EarthTones LawnSite Member
    Posts: 4

    Thanks for the words guys. My girlfriend is young,cute & very good with people,she might make a good salesperson,or I may have to dress up & try a go myself because I can't afford to hire anyone right now.

    How would you approach these salesman deals? Door to door with flyers or cards? Where would be a good place to start to sell my company & it's organic/sustainable ethics without annoying anyone too badly?:confused:
    Anyways,I was back to work today & have a few high end accounts tommorrow,so I feel a little better,but sitting around for three days with no work & bills rollin' in,no good. But again I appreciate the support & didn't mean to kinda ***** the other day. I just need to figure out how to better market,it seems when I try I annoy people,they already have a guy or company or they don't care,so finding the right salespitch & sales situation I guess is key.
  10. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,899

    Organic and sustainable sounds expensive. In this economy you need to be selling value. "Hire me to protect and increase the value your landscape has to your home." Perception is not everything but its important especially for your first impression.

    Make a game of it, develop 3-5 pitches, get them down and then run them out there see which one yields the best results then refine it make it better.

    I was also going with the "holistic approach" but was quickly shot down by a group of professionals who said sounds expensive. I tried to explain it wasn't they said dosen't matter you wont get the opportunity to explain it and if you do they wont believe it.

    I took them at their word and went with the value approach and it does seem to be resonating. I have picked up 3 new accounts in the last month and have a big one to bid right now. I have not lowered my price but I have been doing more warranty or freebies. Many times I am 3-4 times higher than the previous guy.

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