Am I Doing the Right Thing?

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by troc, Mar 21, 2006.

  1. troc

    troc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    Thanks for all the great info. It's refreshing to know there's more people out there that actually like talking irrigation like I do. OK, here's my history-

    7 years as golf course superintendent(installed 9 hole system on my own)
    3 years running irrigation division at large landscaping company(installed, serviced, project managed all irrigation jobs)

    Planning to go it on my own April 1. I'm certified through IA and I think I have enough experience to make it work, although I felt a lot more confident in January than I do now that spring is coming.
    I guess my question is " Are you guys making it owning and running your own irrigation companies?" I don't have any illusions about getting rich doing this but I would like to be able to pay myself at some point. I've got all the business planning done and in line and now I'm sitting around trying to figure out how I'm going to keep work coming in the first year.
    I know I can make money doing the work and I know I can do good quality work, I'm just worried about getting the work. I've invested some money in fliers and ads but my experience has been that when clients need you they find you. Fliers especially seem very low ROI.
    New member and this is my first post. Any ideas would be appreciated.

    I guess I got a case of the new business butterflies.
  2. Hank Reardon

    Hank Reardon LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 599

    We have had poor response from print media in landscape maintenance. Word of mouth is the best way to get good clients in any field. This is why I am buying an irrigation company to augment our offering. The irrigation maintenance accounts are there and we also have the opportunity to add their landcape maintenance. One division helping the other.

    Even with built in work, I'm worried too!

  3. BSME

    BSME LawnSite Senior Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 829

    I don't think you have to worry about having enough experience... sounds like you'll be fine there...

    I just think growing a sprinkler company is a hard thing to live off of for the first two years...

    since a lot of the solid work comes from referrals it takes a while to build a good customer list

    I do more installs than I'd like to because I can't completely fill the hours yet doing service

    good luck though... it's definitely something you can do...
  4. troc

    troc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    Thanks for the advice-

    I guess I should feel fortunate to have some work lined up and I'm planning to run lean and do the majority of work myself until things get rolling.

    Time Will Tell
  5. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,781

    The return on mailers and flyers isn't so great, BUT if you print flyers yourself and distribute them yourself, the return becomes worthwhile in my opinion. Target neighborhoods you want to work in or that you are already working in. Do flyers when you aren't working. If you don't have anything scheduled, why not walk a few blocks and drop some hand bills. Buy a heavy grade of paper from whoever your going to have print them. I think the last batch I had made cost me under $60 for 500. I paid $9/250 sheets and 8 or 9 cents for double sided copies on that paper. It was 60# paper and I punched a hole in them for a rubber band to slip them on door knobs. I have two kids and they often help me hang the flyers. They split $5 for every new customer we get. To put out 150-200 in a couple of hours is pretty easy, and since they both have experience working with me, they target houses where they can see the tap by the meter (another plus for DC country:) )
  6. aquamtic

    aquamtic LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 303

    Have you thought about going part time to get your feet wet. Its what I did for two years. With a family to support. I decided to keep my full time job and start it part time. I built the name and my customer base slowly. I was also offered to purchase out a very reputable client list off another contractor that I had know very well. This took my client list to just over 400 accounts on service alone.

    Finally two years ago I felt comfortable with the estimated income and went for it full time..

    The buying a client base from someone who is on his way to retirement and who you know is the best way and quick return on the investment.

    Good Luck!
  7. Flow Control

    Flow Control LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,267

    Just don't make the mistake that a lot of new companies do and undervalue the work. Make sure you keep the market where a living can be made. Sell yourself.
  8. Currier

    Currier LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 564

    Check around with lawn mowing guys. Some of them just want to mow but may have a large customer base. Give them your credentials and ask for referrals from them. You may get some sprinkler repair work and some installs.

    Do you know any others in the green industries around you?
    If its anything like here it won't be long until people are overloaded and they start looking for someone to cover those areas that they can't/don't handle.
  9. troc

    troc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    Thankfully, I' m going to be able to do some work for my previous employer.
    I'm hoping this will allow me some time to transition into business for myself.

    As for the market, I plan to price in the middle to high end of the spectrum. I believe I can put out a good enough product to warrant this although I'm sure I'll lose some jobs as well because of price and the fact that I'm a new start-up.

    I just don't want to get in the habit of trading dollars. Profit's not a dirty word!
  10. troc

    troc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    I do know a lot of people in the green industry and they seem supportive. I'm counting on some of those relationships to help me eventually.

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