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Starting my own company next Spring in Southeast Texas

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Heath, Oct 17, 2005.

  1. Heath

    Heath LawnSite Member
    Posts: 27

    What are your thoughts on referral promotions such as half off next service or one free service with any referral? I don't want to work for free of course, but I figured this may be a way to build up client base.

    Thoughts on starting part time in the evenings and weekends beginning spring 2006 until able to do this full time in a year or so?

    Ideas for loading/unloading equipment if I do not have a trailer yet? I hopefully will by the time I plan to start this company.

    Doing this part time at the schedule mentioned above, should I hire one part time guy to help just starting out? How do you pay your help? Hourly, by job, etc.?

    Best practices for marketing? Door flyers?

    Any other items/ ideas I can go over in my head the next several months of preparing would be greatly appreciated.


  2. daveintoledo

    daveintoledo LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,587

  3. Team Gopher

    Team Gopher LawnSite Platinum Member
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    I think your best bet is to let everyone know you are in business. Hand out business cards and flyers to everyone. Referral promotions are great when you are building on an existing customer base where you have people who can refer you based on their experience with you.

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  4. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,220


    Belive me you will work for free sometimes, It's just the name of the game.
    Ya cant forsee every issue that will come up, Dont worrie about paying someone just yet, take your time and concentrate on Advertisement.

    Walk before you run

    I'm in the Dallas area. and was wondering what areas you plan on servicing
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    I'm with the rest of the guys with the advice:

    - I was told I was best off working solo for the first few years and the guy told me this was RIGHT! When you are new, your inexperience will cost you at LEAST double if you have someone else with you - Once you got a few years working solo, you'll have the answers to the miriad questions employees always ask, you'll have the solution to every problem as well - THAT's the image you want to portray when someone's working for you, that you got it down good. Two minds maybe better than one but when neither have much experience, that's a serious problem: NOTHING is worse than being broke down AND having to pay someone, it's one thing to lose money by yourself, you can afford a few hours of free time but to PAY someone else for this free time is a fast way out the door.
    - Far as referrals based on doing free work, brother I don't mean to drag you down but I think you'll do enough free work without this added problem. Put out a LOT of advertising (keyword: tonnes) and do NOT offer free services in print or in word, trust us when we say it will happen enough 'as is.' If you put 'Free estimates' on your ad that will be more than enough... People in the area who hire Lco's most will know you are new (like when they see your ad for the first time) and again no offense but they already know what and how you're thinking and this alone should result in enough free work to fill this need of the new in business, grins...
  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Some other stuff:

    I load/unload the night before:
    - UNLOAD everything NOT needed the next day. LOAD everything needed, a toolbox and some parts is ok but nothing more.
    - FUEL everything up and leave the gas cans behind. I keep a quart of mix fuel in a truckbox (in an old oil container) but my equipment runs ALL day on a full tank if I'm careful, yes, even the weed-eater.
    - Plan ALL the same kind of work for the whole day. One day it's ALL grass-cutting, the next day it's ALL mulch, and so on: This helps keep equipment in the outfit down: EACH piece of equipment adds weight to the beast and if you aim to get 15+ mpg's then your truck and trailer need to be EMPTY. Yes I see Lco's driving down the road with their outfits loaded like they took the whole store ... To each their own but this wastes fuel.

    Far as loading/unloading the tricks I learned is this:
    - With the mower ALWAYS pop a careful wheelie / raise the deck near the top of the ramp to keep the blade bolt(s) from catching on that edge. Doing so prevents you from tearing up the grate, not to mention it's a b!7ch getting the mower unstuck once it's caught.
    - With the 2-cyclers, always load/unload slow to prevent stuff from breaking: Once you catch a throttle lever and it breaks off, you'll see what I mean a lot of the 2-cycle stuff has easy to break plastic parts essential to the operation, break something and it's all over until it's fixed.
    - DRIVE carefully and SLOW! Keep at LEAST 4 seconds distance from the car in front of you (6-8 seconds is better). I think of my outfit like it's a train, you do NOT want to slam on brakes EVER, learn to drive using ONLY the gas pedal as the entire means to control the beast. Oh yeah, lol, watch your blind spots, they're a sizeable area.

    Best practices for marketing: Ad in the local newspaper, preferrably not the main paper but in a big city there are always smaller publications, finding the one where several other Lco's advertise wouldn't be a bad idea. Run this ad at least 2 and 4 weeks is ok for part-time, 10-12 weeks for full-time (thou once I fill my schedule, I like running my ad one week ON / one week OFF - I'm full-time AND I have ads in the Yellow Book as well).
    Let me put it another way: The secret to a busy business with a full schedule like mine is 24-7/365 advertising: I spend 2 or 3 thousand/year in advertising and it NEVER stops, the phone always rings nowadays and I gross over 1000 / week on a more and more frequent basis (going on the 15th 1,000+ week this year - that's $15k in 3 months (cauz it's 1k/week MINIMUM) so as you can see, advertising doesn't cost, it PAYS, the more the better but start out slow, 1 or 2 hundred dollars should get you started with a local newspaper).

    IF flyers you must do, think of putting out NO LESS than 2 thousand, 4 is better but in my experience flyers gain a lower hourly rate than newspaper ads. And yes, you WANT more work than you can finish so you can have the attitude of 'take it or leave it,' a fair requirement in a dog eat dog world where low-balling kills at least half of all new businesses going down.
  7. Heath

    Heath LawnSite Member
    Posts: 27


    I'll be concentrating on the west Houston area to start off. thanks for the tips, good luck.
  8. Heath

    Heath LawnSite Member
    Posts: 27


    great stuff, thanks. i wish you continued success.
  9. SouthernYankee

    SouthernYankee LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 789


    What specific area of Houston are planning on servicing in...Katy....spring....???

    You will need a 36" wb or smaller, I run a gravley 34"ztr which is perfect for houston because of all the small gates and big backyards.

    Also a quality 21" is needed, I have some new clients that have 30" gates and only a 21" will make it through.

    I have some info pertaining to dealers, info ect. if your interested. whats your email, since you cant get pms.
  10. SouthernYankee

    SouthernYankee LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 789

    I forgot some things in my last post.

    Door hangers, flyers, direct mailings are the key to getting buisness here.I have litterally stolen all of my accounts from other landscapers that werent listening to what the customers wanted. People here are looking for quality and professional service, plain and simple.

    You will have a lot of competions from mostly hispanic crews, some legit, others totally illegal. Forget the polictics behind all of this its just something that you will have to deal with.

    The only laborers you will get are at day labor camps.Target homes that are 200k and above, they are the best payers adn dont want to do anything in their yard.

    I would get into mulch,cleanups,shrubs trimming, ect. lots of money in it and if you dont do it, the homeowner will find a landscaper that does and you could possibly lose your account.

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