Please share your success formula

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Smitty58, May 22, 2005.

  1. Smitty58

    Smitty58 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 531

    I've been a legit part timer for a couple of years now. My plan is to go full time in the spring of 2006. I would like to hear some ideas for success from those who have been there done that. Some things I would like to hear about are , how much cash backup in the bank are you comfortable with, what kind of equipment do you feel a person must have to be successful, strategy for getting and sustaining new customers, how diversified are you, etc.
    Thanks,
     
  2. J Hisch

    J Hisch LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 952

    I know people who are profitable having multiple crews and others who work out of the back of their pickup truck. The best single piece of information I can offer is to control your fixed expenses. Simply meaning dont go out and make the mistake of thinking you need more equipment in case you get the work. Since you are part time then you understand the cost associated with your current situation. However when you go full time you need to remember you dont have the luxury of counting on your current job to carry you through. I run 2 crews. It takes time to build your business so be willing to scarifice for a while and not have all the creature comforts your mind will convince you that you need. Money in your bank is better than equipment on your tralier. Also figure out the type of lawns you want and seek then out. For example, maybe you just need to look at 5k lawns and under. If someone call and wants you to do something out of your plan simply let them know what your focus is. Cash reserves always make business plans eaiser. if you could have about 5000.00 in bank when you start you should be well prepared. 5k will cover any repair you might have, on your truck or mower. also gives you a little to live on while your waiting for your money. ALso I would request a check at the time of service. Sarting this now will save you from having cash crunch.
     
  3. Smitty58

    Smitty58 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 531

    J Hisch - thanks, some good advice. This is what I'm looking for. Just curious you say you have 2 crews. How do you run those crews, do you have a route for each,(if so how many props) are they 2 man crews, and do the get a set pay or hourly.
    Thanks for the help.

    Anyone else want to share your success formula?
     
  4. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,563

    keep detailed records. use accounting software like quickbooks or gopher.

    knowing your cost of doing business is key. I'll bet that 75% of the people on this site don't really know EXACTLY how much it costs them on an hourly basis to work.
    factor in every expense you have for the year (this includes payroll). divide those expenses by the number of BILLED HOURS. and this will give you an operating cost.

    next is knowing how long jobs will take. this comes with experience. ALCA has a labor time data handbook that will help with time estimating.

    the last thing is to delegate responsibilities. hire a few key people that know what they are doing. give them flexability and "ownership" ....

    we generally keep at least a two months operating expense in cash.
     
  5. Smitty58

    Smitty58 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 531

    Thanks Yardpro, I agree that most don't really know their costs. I think since a lot of people here do this part time they don't "need" to really narrow down how much it's costing them to operate. I am guilty of that ,I do know how much I have to deposit each month and sometimes I'll track how long it takes to mow each yard. Other than that I have not spent a lot of time on hourly costs and billed hours. For now it is just me and my son ,but we definately see the benefit of having a couple of guys to help and once we get to that point we will be looking to add on so we can concentrate on hardscaping while the 2 man crew takes care of the weekly maintenance jobs.
    We bought Gopher to track jobs and do invoices ,but I'm sure it will do more than what we are doing with it right now and I am a spreadsheet nut ,I keep everything in Excel.
    thanks for the advice
     
  6. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,360

    Get up, get out of bed and get to work.

    Sounds simple, right? Well, many I know that fail is due to this. They think, I'm my own boss. They don't realize they are not a good manager of themselves. Sitting around waiting and complaining gets nothing done. People seeing you out working will get you lots more work.
     
  7. Smitty58

    Smitty58 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 531

    65hoss - so true, I never could understand why someone would pay others to do the work while they sit at home in front of the tube or out on the golf course. That would be great ,but the whole time your parked in front of the tv you could be out making money. Now I guess there are some that have gotten so big that they can slack off a little but I prefer being out there in the trenches.
     
  8. HOOLIE

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    Yes, some sound advice here. I would stress also, the importance of having a tight route. If you're doing mainly mowing, keeping the windshield time to a minimum is a must. Since you're part-time still, I would spend some time and decide what areas you want to service, then advertise those areas hard and heavy when you do go full-time.
     
  9. Smitty58

    Smitty58 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 531

    All good advice, one of the other things that makes it tough is we also do hardscaping. Of course the hardscaping seems like its been feast or famon so it's kind of hard to build the maintenance end of it. If we build up too many maintenance customers to give us a nice base and then we get a bunch of hardscaping jobs it's hard to get them done. However there is a lot of money to be made in hardscaping so you hate to not go after that. Anyone have any experience in that area? Hoolie mentions windshield time which is a great point ,but again on hardscaping jobs you take what you can get even if it is'nt in your "routed" area. Then the windshield time kills you ,so it is'nt easy getting the perfect mix.
     
  10. evan price

    evan price LawnSite Member
    Posts: 28

    My primary focus is large office parks, industrial plants, etc. and I do a good job of marketing a full servie setup, snow removal, shovelling and salting, and complete grounds upkeep including planting and mulching, managing annual and perennial plant beds, etc etc. and to be honest, my formula for success is get up early. I like to be in the truck by 6 am.
    If its sunny I'm makin money. payup
    Then I go above and beyond for my customers, there are guys out there who dump in some cheap bulk mulch and a few marigolds and call it a planting bed, but if you go whole hog with ground cover and flowering plants that bloom out all through the year, people like that. Also rock gardens and water features..
    I hire high school/college kids as temp labor when I'm busy. I hire a lot of experienced guys from my competitors as needed. I have acore of 2 people who work all year round doing snowpushing and etc in winter (slowest time!).
    Lately I see a lot of Mexicans. I haven;t hired any yet but not because I won't, just not needed to.
     

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