A Green Dream

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Green Dreams, Sep 27, 2004.

  1. Green Dreams

    Green Dreams LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 593

    I have been in the fert 7 squirt business for 17 years now. I got hired at a Texas based company in 1988 at 21. At the beginning of 1989 that company was sold to a mega company.

    I stuck it out there (I still don't know how) until the end of 1994. Thats when the No Compete for my former employer expired and he wanted to start over. So we did. I learned alot for the next 8 years as we grew nicely. But after 9/11, things turned. The economy really shook him up. He had hired a couple of whiney sheet starters. Our direct mail responses dwindled. He wasn't growing like he was before. He was stubborn and didn't want to try new marketing. I could see he was growing tired of the business.

    At the end of March one day, I came in from my route and that was it. There were vultures from a mega company all over the office. He had sold out again to the same competitor. I had money saved and was 2 months ahead on my mortgage. I could hold out through 2004 if need be.

    There were 5 of us there. Three took 25% paycuts and went to the mega guys. They pursued one extensively, but he wouldn't return their calls. Me? They never called me. Boo Hoo, huh? Its personal with these guys. I took great pride in sticking it to them. They needed me, but wanted me to ask for a job I assume.I am better than them. I knew it when I worked for them and its even more obvious now. Guys I had trained that I thought would never last would now supervise me. "Let me think it ove...No!"

    I know I can make it in this business if I just had a little boost. Banks wouldn't return my call or brushed me off. One that did talk to me wanted me to use my home equity. "Let me think it ove..No!"

    One of my old customers is the GM at a Ford dealer. My good credit got me a low rate and no money down. They took 25% off the sticker. I signed and drove away in an F250..$350 a month.

    Now I need spray rigs. I had a credit card with a 9.9% rate on it. I was about to close it as it had been paid off for a while. I'm glad I didn't. I used it to get my rigs, printing, and everything else. I had the cash for licensing and insurance so off I went...100% legit.

    I ran my same route for 8 years. I had no list but a good memory. If I remembered your name and street, I'd look you up on the internet white pages. I would drive by and get house numbers off of others I could remember. I sent them all letters letting them know I was still out there. I asked 2 attorneys and the Small Business Administration if I could do so legally. They all said I could...as long as I had not stolen a list. I didn't and never had access to the computers, so I'm clear.

    One day I get a certified letter from Mega Co. Telling me to stop using their "confidential and proprietary customer information." Amazing...my lawyer responded saying "we have no Non Compete agreement and no list, so leave him alone." Hopefully they will. I am sure they tried to report me to the State. And when they found out I was legal, they tried to intimidate me.

    Those guys had alot of nerve. Here you can buy a crawling message that will run during the local forecast on the Weather Channel. We penned a nice one in '03. It started out "Weeds Got You Down?" and went on to say "call us blah blah blah." We ran it for a month a got some calls. About 2 weeks after we run it, what do I see? Right across my screen..."Weeds Got You Down? Call Mega Lawn Guys" No shame, I tell you.

    So I thought I'd play their game. If you go to Google and punch up one of the national chains of lawn care, they all pop up. So I bought an ad and used every national chain and other related keywords to make my ad appear. It has worked as one of my new customers specifically told me so. He had just moved here and was looking up Mega Co on a search engine. He said the results were Mega Co, Mega Co Complaints, then We're Suing Mega Co, and then Me. He liked my site, I met with him and now he's my cussamah. I have gotten 2 that way so far. It cost me about $10 to land those two. My old boss said he paid around $100 for a customer. Ouch..

    Here I am now with about 25% of the customer base I want. All in less than 3 months. I am about to make a TV spot and run it in '05 on local cable, just in my area. I am hoping that will help me grow close by...Stay Tuned.

    I have advice to those of you that are reading this board looking for inspiration. Talk to and hang around "Winners." People with No Fear. The people who have that entrepreneur spirit. They are around you. Go visit the local guy you see on TV pushing his store/product. Ask questions...they'll be flattered.

    You can do it...you just need a little boost.

  2. MudslinginFX4

    MudslinginFX4 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,170

    Good story, I wish you luck in the up coming season. I know you will make it, and make it big. You have the will and the want to make everything happen!
  3. Green Dreams

    Green Dreams LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 593

    A six pack of Heineken got that out of me. Now I'm sober and can add a bit...lol.

    A Business Radio station was on the air for a while here. When it went on the air, I made myself listen...everyday! I had no frickin clue what they were talking about, but I hung in there. There was a show with a guy named Dave Ramsey. If you have never heard of him, find his show. Read his book. He told me more about money than anyone else ever did. And its no different than what my Grandma used to say. www.DaveRamsey.com

    There was another show with a guy named Dan (themoneyman.com)Frischberg. The man is a genius and always looks for "winners" to put on his show. Mattress Mac (galleryfurniture.com) Deborah Norville, Ed McMahon, and on and on. People who overcame and conquered. I was even more inspired. I could see some of myself in these regular people who just had a drive in them.

    In 3 years of listening to this station, I went from being in debt and broke all the time to being out of debt, stuffing our 401ks at 15% and putting down 20% on a house 75% larger than our old one and in a great area for my kids. You know how I did it? I got mad...and I wasn't going to be stopped.

    Of course, the radio guys got dropped for Howard Stern. What a waste....

    I hung around more with my old boss who has that "spirit." Everyone else thinks he's an old fart. He's a self made man who failed miserably before he got it right. I just shut up and let him rattle. That spirit can't be taught. You have it or you don't. I may not have it born in me, but I try to convince myself that I was. I have gone from nerve-racking fear of failure to knowing if I fail, life will go on and I'll have pizzas to deliver... lol! And thus, we wil not starve.

    I'll never be rich. That I am content with. I just want to do good work, support my family, send my kids to whatever school they can get into, and go fishing.

    This gets cornier. Maybe sometime I'll tell y'all about the sign from God that told me I could make this happen. An older, religious lady that works at Sam's....

  4. JustMowIt

    JustMowIt LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 367

    What are your service areas?

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