Best ways to expand....

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by LandscapeSolutions, Aug 10, 2005.

  1. LandscapeSolutions

    LandscapeSolutions LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    I have a delimma. Ive been in this business for at least 12 years now. Im 24 and should graduate next May from K-State with a degree in Horticulture specializing in Landscape Design. As of now, I only work for myself. I have enough clients to keep me busy about 30 hours a week (if the grass is growing....right now its just frying). I don't make odles of money, maybe just gross $26,000/ year.

    What I want to know is what are the best ways to expand my business? Is it better to just work for myself or take on employees? Eventually I want to get more heavy into landscaping since ive spents thousands of dollars learning about it from K-State!

    At this time all the advertising I do is a flat nothing. I kept it that way so I wasnt swamped with work while I tried to take classes. I mean I did put a classified ad in the newspaper Feb. and March of this last year. Most, if not all of my clients I gained from referrals. I charge $30/hour, which means most my lawns are between $20-25. I know it seems low, but thats the going rate in this town. I will be increasing my prices slightly for next year though.

    I will have two yellow page display ads this next year. One will be under lawn care, and the other under landscaping. I also have a website. I though maybe a website would land a few clients, but I highly doubt it will, but im keeping it regardless. Soon I will be having my logo, business name, and phone number pastered on the side of my truck with vinyl. Early next year I intend to mail out 250 (maybe more) post cards I had printed up to targeted neighboorhoods in my town.

    The population isnt great here....maybe 35,000 without the students, so I dont know exactly how large my company can become. There are already several well established lawn/landscape firms here as well.

    The equipment I own as of now is 2 36"WBs, 1 52" Hydro WB, a sulky to fit all the WBs, numberous reliable push mowers(all self-propelled), 2 FS80 Stihl trimmers, Echo blower, Echo hedge trimmer, Shindaiwa chainsaw, numberous crapsman hand tools, Deere 111/with snowblade (only used to remove snow), Snapper SX5200 snow blower, Elcheapo POS Canadania snow blower, Jackson wheelbarrow, Merry rototiller, earthway speader, 6x12 utility trailer with trimmer rack, 1997 Chevy K-1500, plus other kicknacks not worth mentioning. I spend a LOT on equipment in preparation for expansion. If I can pick it up cheap, Ill buy it :D

    One last thing.....I plan on getting engaged soon, and therefore I'll have to worry about providing for two people as opposed to just myself within about 18 months. I dont want to have to take on a side job to have to earn extra money!

    Any advice that you can give would be of tremendous value.
  2. mcwlandscaping

    mcwlandscaping LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,163

    I would suggest A LOT more than 250 postcards. That is the number i usually Pass Out in a couple of hours in a neighborhood or two. That is just my 2 cents. Good Luck regardless!!! Also, i really like your website, especially how all of your services are well explained and the site is easy to use to find information, Excellent Job!
  3. J Hisch

    J Hisch LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 952

    Buy out exisitng business, it is the best way to expand.....
  4. LandscapeSolutions

    LandscapeSolutions LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    Well 250 is what I have printed up as of now. I don't intend to roll through the ghetto to mow for crack houses....thus why I stated targeted neighboorhoods. Ive lived here since I was 4 and I know which parts of town have more money than other (of coarse it isnt hard to tell....). Being that I live in Kansas acquiring properties with irrigation systems is a BIG plus in the summer. Some developments here seem to have a requirement that every lawn have a irrigation system....its wierd...

    What is your return rate on the postcards? (how many clients do you gain from say 1000 cards?)

  5. Lux Lawn

    Lux Lawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,267

    If you say there is only 35,000 residents minus the students then take out the "crack house's" send them all a post card.Trust me a new company starting up needs all of the advertising they can get.Return rate for fliers is around 1% if they are good so postcards maybe a little higher.I would send out as many as possible.
  6. MrFangs

    MrFangs LawnSite Member
    from Zone 8
    Messages: 119

    Postcards left on the door 1%. Postcards through the mail 0.04-0.05%.

    250 is really low. I would suggest in the neighborhood of 2,500. :)
  7. LandscapeSolutions

    LandscapeSolutions LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    Would fliers or postcards be better?

    So with a 1% rate...with the $80 cost to professionally print 500, that would mean the 5 new cutomers cost me $16 to acquire. I guess thats not so bad when I'll be making a thousand or two off them each year.

    When is the most ideal time to distribute these postcards? Early spring?

    Would door hangers be a better choice if I where to leave the 'promotional' info on doors?
  8. Lux Lawn

    Lux Lawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,267

    Out of 500 you might get a response rate of 1% that doesn't mean you will get 5 jobs out of it.You may have 2 price shoppers in there to see if you a cheaper then their current guy.Then you may get beat out on 2 of them and only land 1 new account.Thats why you need to advertise as much as you budget will allow for.

    As far as fliers or postcards being better...I have always done fliers in the spring I am thing about doing a combination of both.Just remember when passing out fliers not to put them in mailbox's.Some type of coupon works good as well, make them think they are getting a great deal right up front.
  9. grassman5

    grassman5 LawnSite Member
    from zone 6
    Messages: 10

    I may be out of line with these comments since I don't know you.

    Is your future wife going to work to provide the benefits?

    I would suggest you sit down and talk with your future wife what you want for your/her future (i.e. own your own landscape business) and get her feedback. She may have other ideas what she thought you might do with that degree.
    If you don't have your future wife on your side then you may be doomed with a bad marriage.

    Might be exaggerating that last comment about the bad marriage but doing it to make a point that your wife is your support partner in this business and you need her commitment to make life happy around the house while you struggle to run a successful.

    Does she want to work the rest of her life to provide the benefits if you can't make much money doing the business.

    What else can you do with the degree if this doesn't work out doing it full-time?

    Sounds like you may need to move to a really big town to make it work for full-time to get enough customers and also to run several crews if you want to get that big.
  10. MrFangs

    MrFangs LawnSite Member
    from Zone 8
    Messages: 119

    Your wife should answer phones, do taxes, and keep up the books; while you work. It would work nice. She can stay home and all.

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