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Discussion in 'Original Pictures Forum' started by JContracting, May 29, 2012.
Didn't mean to quote what I put before, sorry about that!
In the first year besides Craigslist (which sucks a$$!!! Don't waste your time with it unless you want to deal with cheap a$$es, I did doorhangers my first season along with working for the city (Champlin, MN) doing landscape & lawn stuff as a full time seasonal as I was still going to college full time. I did maybe 700 or so and was tired of it, but I landed a couple decent clients, I still have one of them for full service maintenance. But being as I worked full time already I didn't focus much on my company which I wish I would have done more of but I needed guaranteed income. I landed a nice sized (at the time, now an install of that size is chump change ) off my business cards being at the local hardware on their bulletin board, an elderly couple liked my logo and gave me a call and are awesome clients, they never balked at any prices! We did a $7000 patio for them the following spring in March 2012 and have been on a fert/weed control w/ 2 aerations program as well as a 2 visits for fall clean up.
Year 2 I partnered up with my former best friend, big mistake!!! Long story short, he wanted the business to be a 2nd income to his directional drilling job and we did not agree as well as he liked to take the final check from landscape installs and cash out half it as if it was his profit, ended ties and friendship as well and my entire group of what I thought were my friends basically cut me off.
However, that's not to say a partnership won't work. Just make sure you know the person extremely well, both their good AND bad side! 2 of my now closest friends started an irrigation & landscape install company this year, I told them last winter it wasn't a good idea as I had experienced a total disaster, however they did a solid amount of work (grossed about 66% of what my company has so far, which is great for their first year) this year and have done great (knock on wood!!) so far. They just bought a brand new Boss 8'2" V for their F250 6.0 PSD and will be leasing one of theirs dad's skids w/ snow bucket to do snow, they're working as a sub for another company for this season.
And just today when doing a clean up I happened to bump into two guys I went to school with at Anoka Tech that are in their final year (that have had a partnership doing mostly lawn maintenance for the past 3-4 years and decided to make an official go into business last fall), they were doing a clean up a block away from the property I was working at. They also have a great thing going as well.
Anyway, back to year 2, after we split ties, thankfully we started a separate entity and my company was all mine. I did some advertising on Craigslist which surprisingly yielded some good clients for a few different installs and now one is on board for fert/weed control, aeration, & irri maintenance. I didn't do much else for advertising except worked on my website to get it into the ranks and I did yield a decent amount of clean ups off Craigslist. I did do 1000 fall services doorhangers which yielded absolutely nothing.
This year I had 7500 EDDM Postcards, there should be a picture of them in this thread, one side was for maintenance and the other side was installs, I mailed out about 3100 and became so busy with projects that actually came from referrals from family, a friend & neighbors that I didn't mail any more out. I landed one curved walkway to circular patio w/ freestanding wall & columns off the postcards, the other leads were cheap morons that wanted fert/weed control and that was it. The profit wasn't great on the patio because I wasn't set up well for hardscapes, with having to rent a skid, dump trailer, saw, & compactor, things got expensive and I couldn't find the best help either so we weren't as efficient as I would've liked. Stayed busy throughout the summer until late August and by then I was tired of working so I took a few weeks off besides maintenance services.
For fall clean ups & snow & ice management advertising, I did have 1000 postcards designed and printed however I'm going to hold off on them as I just got them last week because I didn't decide I wanted to have something designed until mid Oct which was too late. But my website coming up high on the rankings for Google have definitely helped for fall clean up leads as well as getting more snow accounts as well as networking with other contractors to have properties subbed to me has also helped. A local property management company has also been sending me a solid amount of fall clean ups as well as residential snow & ice management, been working with them for a little over a year now.
My plan next year is to be more proactive in cold calling commercial properties in Feb/March/April for grounds maintenance contracts as well as mail the remaining 4400 postcards to my target market of residential properties. My goal is to get a 2nd truck and dump trailer at some point and create a 2 man crew for maintenance services and myself & 1 (or more) person do installs as well as fert/weed control unless I find someone that's also licensed.
I interpret it as basically meaning a protocol for whatever is done within your business.
Such as doing a fall clean up. Implement what you do on the property and do it on every property in the same order, for ex. 1 guy - cut back perennials w/ hedge trimmer while another guy starts blowing out the beds, when all perennials have been cut, other guy grabs a blower and they blow all leaves & debris to turf areas, then both grab a mower or one gets a mower (depending on property size and equipment that is available) and the other runs the blower and proceed to bag the leaves then dump the baggers into the truck bed or street if using a dump trailer/truck w/ leaf loader.
Or a system for tracking leads, I use a sheet/excel document that has the name & contact info, address, source of where they found my company, services requested and a column as to whether or not the work was landed. I immediately take down their information when a prospect calls/leaves msg/emails, when I send off the proposal/estimate, I then highlight a section of that client's info to know it has been sent out.
For part of estimating, creating a labor production standard sheet that contains all information for the amount of time it takes to basically perform services, especially install stuff, from planting shrubs (including digging the hole, placing shrub/tree, aligning/straightening, and filling hole), to installing edging, finish grading, etc. in a per unit structure. Such as square feet for something like grading or laying sod, or each plant of each size for shrubs and trees, and linear feet for edging.
Long story short, there is a lot that goes into building systems into a company. I'm still learning and creating them. I'd definitely start out by reading E-Myth: Landscape Contractor as well as Pricing for the Green Industry to learn about systems.
Thanks for the response! I won't think about going into a partnership. I dont see the benefit of doing it that way. Plus I've seen many partner ships not work out. I want to gain around 5 customers next year. What would be you're advice to me if I wanted to meet these goals? I'm 16 so I want enough to get busy but not a full work load as I dont want to be over my head. Btw I'm not some kid trying to earn a buck. I want to get my company insured as soon as I turn 18.
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That's the best way to go about it! Fully into it (once you're able) or go home. I'd either have flyers or postcards made, if you can afford eddm, I'd do that as it'll save a lot of time instead of walking to 1000+ houses. If you have a truck of your own already, you're further ahead than I was! I used my dad's half ton my first season until I bought my 8.1 in May 2012.
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Love talking to people about landscaping on here who want to grow it and have a successful company. Some people on here just trash this industry saying there's no money in it. It makes me laugh because I've seen many people do very well for themselves in this industry. Also I will be purchasing a ranger/s-10 at the end of this winter. I'm almost not worried about getting 5 accounts because I think with a minimum amount of advertising I'll achieve it. Also that is exactly what I thought systems were. I'm also curious to how many accounts/clients you're company has as well as what percent are commercial vs resi.
That's another thing my former partner strongly believed there's no money in this industry because he tried starting a company right after highschool (which was his dream) and he didn't advertise except xrappy flyers put into the newspaper box of mailboxes, landed maybe 3 properties, gave up and then went to say there's no money in it.
Idk how many clients I actually have, but all expenses are paid from maintenance. For maintenance, 90% resi, 10% comm. Snow is about 50-50%.
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How have you acquired you're commercial accounts and do you prefer resi or commercial better ?
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Not trying to highjack but since I follow this thread I saw this. If your goal is to gain 5 customers I am assuming cashflow is tight. I would keep as much money in the business as possible. I would spend some down time going door to door in your neighborhood or ones you work in explainging, Hey I am so and so with company X. We work in your neighborhood already and I am wondering if there is anything we could help you out with? Start small and keep it simple. You will get your 5 customers.
Another is word of mouth through family and friends. If you are just starting out chances are most of your closest circle still don't know much of what you do. Spend some time educating them. They will be your best sales force.
I'm indifferent, resi is generally a higher margin, but you might have to deal with picky people more so than on a commercial property. For commercial, the margins are lower but in my experience so far, as long as the work is done to par, you rarely hear from them. Plus the size of commercial properties are usually bigger, more money. For plowing I like both. Its a nice change of pace to go from commercial to residential stuff. Its also nice for budgeting. My only complaint from plowing is picky resis that think they should only pay for 1 visit on a 12" storm that would normally be 3 v isits, or when a resi complains about the massive pile of snow in their front yard in mid march, despite tbe fact we received 40+" of snow so far and there's no where else to put the snow.
I have acquired commercial maintenance from referrals, and snow from cold calling & referrals/networking.
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