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Back to Ground Zero

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by American_Lawn, Jan 24, 2008.

  1. American_Lawn

    American_Lawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 211

    I talked to my contact today for my contract and he said that I will be losing about 75 accounts in my area that I service. :cry: I was expecting great things from this contract this year, and BAM!! its all changing. I was all geared up and ready to hit the ground running this season and now I have to rethink my whole plan. I see this as bad and good. Bad because I lose the ability to make that easy money, yet good because I can pick up some of my own clients. I have zero right now. Good thing its not mow time yet. I guess I will be hitting the pavement and trying to get my name and services out there ASAP. I will have about 40 cuts a week with my contract but I need more work. I can do those in 2 days. My problem is I did not want to start going this direction until 09. So now I have to find a cheap, yet effective way to advertise to get some clients. I see alot of door to door coming up. My question is What can I say that sets me apart from the rest? By all means I do not want to be cheap. All I can really do is basic services, hedges and fertalize. No pesticides though. Do I have a chance? What do you guys recommend? I need help.... Thanks for reading
  2. bill8379

    bill8379 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 778

    Whoa, eggs in one basket disaster. That's too bad.

    Still, depending on your expenses (living expenses) you might still be in good shape. Flyers, door hangers.. season in Texas must be coming up real fast down there. I still got 3 ft of snow on the ground..

    I would think of it in a positive way (after the meltdown) restart your business with 40 accounts and 3 years experience and you don't have to answer to the man. Look at it that way, you're in good shape

    btw, what kind of situation you have where you do other people's work? is is subbing or gov. contracts? I would definitely get my own customers. I just reread your post and it sounds like you have one boss that controls your last 40 accounts. That's scary.
  3. American_Lawn

    American_Lawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 211

    Thats one thing I didnt do, I lived within my means. Everything I made went back into the business. I will still profit about $2500 a month, but that is not good enough if I want to make a living out of this. I am working on some flyers now. Hard lesson learned. But better now than later I guess....
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I don't think putting money back into your business is the problem, but it sounds like the problem might be in how it went back in...
    Did you just buy a bunch of tools and machines at full price, or what?

    Nothing wrong still, so long it's paid for, now it's just the good days of buying are over and it's that time to get to using those machines for the next 8-10 or more years, time to buckle down and get in the driver's seat and don't let up for a good 100,000 miles or so, you know, time to hunker down for a long haul.

    That's all, I've been in that situation and worse, the first time (or three) is always the worst but you get used to it. More than anything I would use this opportunity to learn how to prevent yourself from getting in a pickle the next time.

    What helped me, obviously tight money times is no good, but remember when times are good is don't just spend like there's no tomorrow... Save the money first, I say you need at least TWO winters money in the bank but even one winter is good, more is always better. Nothing beats money in the bank, absolutely nothing prevents desperation better.

    Then if you're shopping, it is time to start finding parts at a discount and start repairing your own machines... It's all fine and dandy when you can afford to just let the dealer hack at it, but there always comes that time, so this would likely be a good year to start learning a lot about repairs and maintenance in the DIY dep't.

    Last but not least, take this opportunity to start working on reducing your cost.
    No offense but you can't make it on 2500 a month?
    I could do that standing on my head, without further ado and cash to spare.
    Half of that is when I start worrying, 3-400 a week to me is marginal.

    It's not just the cost of doing business, it's the cost of living also, both of these need to come down, way down, and then down some more. This takes time, but you could start by installing a $7 water saver shower faucet, that saves $20 a month with an hour's initial labor, just one example.
    'nuff said, sorry to lecture, good luck.
  5. bill8379

    bill8379 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 778

    I've read some of DFW's early threads, back when he had a couple crews and trying to get more business. It was Door hangers, door hangers and more door hangers. He's in Texas too, I would hire a couple mexicans and swamp neighbourhoods.

    If you hand out door hangers 4 days a week you'll pick up customers. I guess in America it's illegal to put a flyer in someones mail box (we can do that here).
  6. American_Lawn

    American_Lawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 211

    Thanks for the info. The only thing I went crazy on was upgrading from a jd lawn tractor to a 34z toro. The first thing I did when I made extra cash was put it in the bank for this winter. I am ok, but I was hoping to be crazy busy this march. With this contract I will make about $1200 a week before expenses. I know there are better ways to spend my money, I am pretty tight when it comes to spending money outside the biz. What are some good ways on broadening my services? Like seasonal coloring and mulching?
  7. bill8379

    bill8379 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 778

    Definitely get your pesticide license asap. I decided to push far harder this year in Fert/squirt because I've read so many times how it has much less over head then mowing and a higher profit margin.
  8. American_Lawn

    American_Lawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 211

    Yes it is I believe. Some of the homes I go to have them inside the boxes(vacant homes). The problem here is some of the neighborhoods that I would go to service there would be 3-4 flyers on the door. I plan on going to another area though. I also read on here the average return is 10 customers per 1000 flyers. Is that about right? I have a relative at a printing shop that told me today they would gladly print up flyers for free, I will be taking advantage of that. I just dont know how many, I dont want to suck the well dry if you know what I mean.
  9. American_Lawn

    American_Lawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 211

    That was my plan to do this year. And to gain some more knowledge before I tried to get clients. Guess I need to get on the ball. I wont be doing pesticides until I do. I want to be as legit as possible. I cant stand the ones who just dont care.
  10. bill8379

    bill8379 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 778

    I don't know if you would get 10 customers per k but ten phone calls for sure. For generic flyers, I've never put out less then 10k. It's the magic number around here where things get cheap. Production and delivery.

    edit: you know what, anybody that saves money for winter has a head on his shoulders. I bet you do fine.

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