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what should i do???? sell all/keep going???

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by scagwildcat, Feb 2, 2006.

  1. scagwildcat

    scagwildcat LawnSite Senior Member
    from nw. ct.
    Posts: 507

    year after year ive been spending money on newspaper ads /etc. with little return, i place my ad around the end of march and keep it in till at least September, then i place my cleanup ad. ive been at this since 2001.. i get maybe 5 new clients a year, the town i live in is small , there is a ton of fly by night lco's. and two major lco's, why is it that the big guys get all the jobs, without ads in the paper???? and then im stuck competing with , forgive me for calling them this, but lowballers or part timers... ive invested every penny i have in this, thinking every year , this is the year i will shine, and yet another year has passed , insurance ,fuel, and everything else has gone up..but not my income... when i first started. i figured that it would take a few years to get known around town for the quality work i provide. then i thought it was because i didnt have a one ton, so i traded my 2000 chevy for a 4x4 one ton, got it lettered, bought two new scags, and i still have the amount of work i did before!!!! being on this site you hear people talk about how this is their first year and how they have 50 lawns, how is it possible????
    ive tried everything i could think of,ive called year after year, all of the industrial parks. local towns for open bids, condo's. with no luck... it seems like the others know something i dont ! what is it???? the hard thing for me is i hate to give up!!! otherwise i would have the first year......... thanks for listening
  2. LawnScapers of Dayton

    LawnScapers of Dayton LawnSite Silver Member
    Male, from Dayton, OH
    Posts: 2,574

    Well......I am sorry to hear of your troubles. I guess that there are 2 lines of questions that I would have to ask.... Please don't take this the wrong way...

    1. Do you do good work? Are you reliable? Do you do what you say you will do?

    I do this part time but I have calls all the time for more work because my customers continue to recommend me to family and friends... In this day and age finding someone that does good work, shows up when they say they will and is accountable, means more to many/most people than price. I am not the cheapest or the most expensive but I name my price and get the work that I want to do.

    2. Have you developed a plan for your business? Do you have a target market? Is your pricing competative for your area?

    These are questions that can be tough to answer but are necessary....

    I have found that random advertising in papers has little success.

    I don't know if this will help you. But I hope you are able to make some changes to help your biz progress......

  3. scagwildcat

    scagwildcat LawnSite Senior Member
    from nw. ct.
    Posts: 507

    thanks for your reply, to answer you, ive only had one client have a problem with my work, and i did what i had to do to please them, and they are still a client of mine today, as far as a target market, i take what i can get !!!, my prices are always in the ball park, i also have asked other lcos that i know about my prices, and they have said that i price well within reason... ive askes new client, after i gave my price to them if they would tell me what other bids thay have gotten , and im always within a few dollars.... i check the phone for messages every hour or so during the day, and return calls/give bids that same day.....i think im doing everything above and beyond
    on the other hand, ive lost many jobs over $2 this is how bad it has gotten around here!!!! thanks
  4. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,758

    Scagwildcat, I feel your pain and Im in the same boat as you. Ive been in it since feb of 98 and I have less yards now than my first 3 years in biz. Advertising has done nothing for me but a few one time jobs and bargain shoppers. I have put in applications everywhere trying to get a decent job but like you I live in a small town, we also have 2 big LCO who have it sowed up and a slew of overnighters that appear and disappear like the wind. I have tried to scale down this year and sell everything that I can get by without. I also am very reliable and do good work but it aint good enough. I have been trying to get on with CSX and am fixing to take a 6 week class that I heard that everyone who took it got hired or at least an interview. They start you off at over 19 an hour, if I can get that Im outta the lawn biz.
  5. kc2006

    kc2006 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,442

    Well it sounds like your area is over saturated with "LCO's".

    Whats the average income in your area? As in is it a poverty zone or is everyone doing ok, above average what? That can be a big factor too, if its a very poor area people just don't have the money to spend on a luxury like lawn maintenance, so the few people that do want to spend on it are going to go with the big name companies of the area. This means less and less potential market for you.

    Try doing flyers, put the ad in the paper in the beginning of march and leave it in until June only, from what I've found, people are going to switch LCO's sometime in May, this is when the LCO's are backed up and cant handle their workload in the hustle of spring or the clients find out they hired a shmuck.

    I made the mistake of not advertising as much as I should of last year. I advertised in the spring and just went with what I got. I should of been investing more time all year long trying to gain clients since I didn't pick up that many in the spring. Ad's in papers can be looked over easily, thats why I just put mine in the spring and thats it. If I don't reach my goal of clients this year, I will be investing as much time as I can into putting out doorhangers and magnets.
  6. out4now

    out4now LawnSite Bronze Member
    from AZ
    Posts: 1,796

    Wouldn't back off the advertising. Find a way to reduce costs somehow to compensate. It may mean living without cable TV or something else but ya do what have to. Like said get that closer contact going by doing some door to door. From the sound of it the company is just breaking even every year? Big companies have accounts where they are often invested in something that is making them money on theri retained earnings. They also can do things you can't, delay paying their bills to make as much interest asthey can on their invested dollars and so forth and they generally have a very tight knowledge of ways to cut a little here and there to make things work. They can also buy in bulk which helps. The big guys are out of your leauge so you have to concentrate on the smaller operations. Did you trade in mowers to get the Scags or keep them? Maybe tossing a flex-deck on those can help speed things up a bit. Is it unbelivable that new guys have 50 accounts becasue you couldn't do that many with your current set up or is it simply a matter of way too much compititon? Maybe check out something else. Mulch blowing, hydroseeding, tree work, pest control some area that is underservered. From the sound of it and I'm just guessing, its not a big town so there is really a fixed base to work with. Can you provide some additional info? How big are the larger ops?
  7. scagwildcat

    scagwildcat LawnSite Senior Member
    from nw. ct.
    Posts: 507

    well, to answer your question's guys, as far as the income in my area, im not sure, but i can tell you that the houses around here are selling for no less then 150.000 for a 10x10 shed on a half acre lot, to a mill for a lake home. as far as how many workers the other lco's have, most have 4 to 6 workers.
    as far as speed, i have a wildtcat 61'' and a 52 hydro wbh. it takes me 20min to mow trim a one acre lawn... thats if there's not to many things in my way!!
    mowing, is not all that i do, i deliver/install mulch, spring/.fall clean-ups. shrub prunning, snow plowing....and more..
  8. out4now

    out4now LawnSite Bronze Member
    from AZ
    Posts: 1,796

    So you have been upselling and the larger companies don't have many employees. You have good size mowers too and sounds like you're making good time as well. Tough call. Area must simply be saturated.
  9. kc2006

    kc2006 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,442

    Either the area is saturated or your just advertising in the wrong way.

    Different area's like different advertising methods. Maybe newspaper ad's arent it for your area. Have you ever experimented with other advertising methods? Insert flyers (whole page flyers) in the local newspaper, put doorhangers out, direct mailing.

    It wouldn't be too expensive to try different methods in small quantity and then see what works best. Also get a good refferal program going. Thats normally the best way to get quality customers.
  10. Gene $immons

    Gene $immons LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,028

    Get involved in the community. Join a church, make friends, get some publicity in the local newspaper by donating services to a good cause. Ask people for their business. The newspaper sounds like it isn't working well, try some other things like flyers or direct mail. Are there nearby towns which you could look for work in?

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