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working with other LCO and growing your business

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by grassmasterswilson, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. grassmasterswilson

    grassmasterswilson LawnSite Platinum Member
    from nc
    Posts: 4,548

    Need some advice on growing and expanding. I've been in the mowing business for 8 years and really gotten into apps in the last 3. I'm one of the few local guys that do this. I own a ride on sprayer and ride on aerator, so I have the ability to do large numbers of accounts. I have a website, my truck is lettered, I send out nice professional postcards 1-2 times a year, and offer customer referral discounts. I have excellent customer retention and few if any call backs. I'm just not growing this side of my business like I should. I think I'm 70% mowing and 30% apps/aeration/seeding(this should go up after billing out fall seeding). Not sure what I'm doing wrong.

    I'm thinking of sending letters to other lawn guys and trying to get them to sub out or upsale apps to me. How do you go about this since we both offer mowing? I'm not willing to give up mowing right now since it's such a large part of my invoices and the majority of my clients are full service. I figured you would bill the lco and him pass on to his customer or I could pay a referral and they would then be my app customer -- this may lead to some type of non-compete for mowing.

    What else can I do? I seem to be on the right track. But when all you guys talk about picking up so many customers after a mailing or promotion, I'm don't see that in my area.
  2. Think Green

    Think Green LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,746

    I would like to read how this thread plays out!!!!

    Realistically you are a competitor to them............! At present time depending on other markets, one is completely happy to have obtained and resumed what they have.

    In my state there is this gray area in the law ( " One in the lawn maintenance business cannot sub hire another contractor to spray a lawn without the first person being a licensed applicator themselves.) THIS IS A BIG CONFLICT OF INTEREST! Idiotic in my book but I don't make the penile laws.

    I wouldn't necessary see a problem unless the trust circle isn't broken or you have a no compete clause in your contracts. A friendly handshake doesn't cut it in this business either.
  3. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,887

    Personally i network with a local CPO. In Florida, pest app is a tightly regulated industry that you can't just "take a class to pass". The two industrys are too large for one to do both sucessfully. Referrals flow both ways and has worked out well for both of us. Customers like that we work together for their benefit as well. With both of us on the same page it eliminates finger pointing from one side or the other. We tend to notice things before the customers so all they see are the results. Would it work in your area I don't know.:usflag:
  4. Think Green

    Think Green LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,746

    I agree that doing both businesses correctly and efficiently is a hard monster to conquer. Sometimes to sub out this side of the industry is and can be a life saver as long as the other person doing the work is kept at a phone call away. Is this person trustworthy and accurate on billing and paying themselves. Is this person willing to keep a good relationship with your customer base as you have. These are the best questions that one should consider before subbing out services based on this subject.
  5. fireman gus

    fireman gus LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 517

    We have one other LCO we work with. We both maintain yards and both are licensed for weed control and fertilizing in Oklahoma. At the beginning of each year we get together and look at routes and see if we can combine clients to more efficently run routes. Also if we need help we will work with each other for any job. It has worked really well with us.
  6. PROCUT1

    PROCUT1 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from TN
    Posts: 4,909

    Its a great idea and can work. I used to do it. However your biggest hurdle with other contractors is going to be that you also mow.

    Every experience I've had with a sub has turned out bad if the also provided the service that I do.

    I had a fert guy I subbed thousands of dollars in work to that added mowing and then tried to take that from me.

    I do sealcoating now and used to sub out my striping. The striping guy also sealed and I found him going after my sealing customers and trashtalking my work while he was there striping for me.

    So personally I would love to sub out some work that I don't like doing but would never again consider subbing to someone who could be my competitor.
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  7. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,887

    The more I hear from you I'm convinced sealcoating is even more cutthroat than the lawn business.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  8. PROCUT1

    PROCUT1 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from TN
    Posts: 4,909

    You're right. I'm learning that myself.

    When I got into it, there were no real big commercial guys. The market was full of small operations who did mainly residential driveways and maybe a parking lot or 2 a year.
    I went straight for the big work and quickly dominated that.

    Now, that was pretty shortlived because the real estate market crashed and along with it so did my business. The guys who stayed small are still plugging along fine with their residentials.

    I liked the commercial market because there were only a couple of companies that competed, and we were relatively close on price and quality. So it was a matter of getting the customer to like you more than the other guy.

    I relocated my business to another state where there is still very high demand for commercial sealcoating.

    However. The mindset of the market is totally different. The standards of quality I had to meet in NY, FAR FAR exceed what the standard is here. As a result of that, there is a gap in the pricing here.

    Im having a hard time here starting out because I wont provide work at the standards that the customers here have come to accept and the cheap pricing they are used to.

    Its going to take me time to search out the "high end" properties that wont tolerate the standard level of work. Once that happens things will be easier.

    You always have lowballers and scrubs and low quality guys in any business in any area.

    What surprised me was coming to an area with such poor quality being so wide spread and a huge customer base that doesnt know or doesnt care that there is a difference.

    The people I am encountering here see absolutely no difference between a Ford Festiva and a Mercedes and dont believe that the Mercedes is worth a tiny bit more.
  9. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,211

    Working with another company has a few problems. If you do their work, they may not pay you. They may not be satisfied, or they may want it on a different day or week than when you want to do it.

    You can ask non-competing companies to give you referrals. Can you get a plumber to hand out your business cards or give him a referral fee?
    How about a lawn mower shop? You give out coupons for half-price blade sharpening to your customers. He hands out coupons for half-off your first application for new customers. Trade referrals with tree companies? Trade referral coupons with local barbershop and beauty salon? Anybody have other ideas? Success or failure stories?
  10. vencops

    vencops LawnSite Bronze Member
    from NC
    Posts: 1,537

    What I find around here is...............

    Un-licensed (for applications) LCO's around here will tell you, to your face, that they don't spray.

    Then, they'll go spray.

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