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Business is bad! What am I doing wrong?

10047 Views 53 Replies 29 Participants Last post by  thomaslawn
Ok, so I bought this business two years ago. I have stayed at about the same size, until this winter. I lost 20% of my clients, which is 10. Problem is, I have been losing my larger, more profitable clients over the last year as well. In turn, I have been acquiring smaller accounts. Also, all small landscape jobs (read: under 500$), have pretty much disappeared into thin air. I have lost 3 out of the 4 commercial accounts I had. When I lose work, its because someone moved, or they found a guy for cheaper, but no one ever lets me go because of the quality of my work. Most of my clientele/demographic is over 50, retired, and owns their own home.
I have a large business loan(2k a month), credit cards up the ying yang and a baby on the way. I get most of my business from word of mouth, people seeing my work, and my double-size phone book ad. My work is among the best in the county, my yards are almost all green, weed free, and trimmed. I charge a rate that is in the middle for my area, 37.50, an uninsured mow and blow guy charges 30 an hour, and the large guys here charge 50.00 an hour. I am fully insured and all that, have my spray license, but no contractors license(not doing large jobs). I had to let go my part timer and I am picking up the work load with one guy that is part to full time depending on the work load. I am getting exhausted working 10-14 hour days, sometimes 7 days a week. 90% of my money has come from maintenance, I spend 3-3.5 days a week mowing. I have been just scraping by to pay my monthly expenses, but I have been having to pay some bills with credit cards. They are NOT going down. I have amassed 16,000 dollars in credit card/line of credit bills to my business side. I have absolutely zero money saved for when I owe money on my taxes this year. I am still paying off my gas bills from a year ago's winter, 3k dollars in 4 months, my income hit the ground, and gas went through the roof. My draw is just over 2500$ a month and a lot of that goes to cover expenses that are partial business related (rent at my house(1275$), electricity, cell phone,etc..)I just do not know where to go but stay where I am. Can someone give me some advice?
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Some good advice already in this thread. But cut expenses, do the lawns yourself with no helper, and advertise with some fliers to regain the accounts you could not or did not retain. You will always lose some accounts and need to always be concerned about adding more to compensate and or grow.
It is not possible here this time of the year for me to run my business without an employee. We receive 36 inches of rain here annually, and most winter months we only get 2 days a week that its not raining. So, in order to get the lawns done in time, I have to have a helper. In the Spring to Fall, I work about 70hrs a week myself plus my guy will probably be full time. I cant do that anymore, that's not including the paperwork I have to do at home and phone calls etc... I have switched insurance companies last month, saved myself 1500 a year total. I do most of my own maintenance on my equipment, my truck gets about 8.6-9.3 mpg pulling my trailer. The speed limit from my house to most of my clients is a 50 zone, in CA you legally cant go over 55 with a trailer anyhow. Most of the debt was from starting the business. We had to go from an apt to a house. That was almost 3k in deposits. I had to buy a bench, grinder, air compressor, tools, random little things at sears , that was another 1000.00 to start. Then immediately after I bought my business that September, the economy just sank, especially with Winter. We were putting expenses on the line of credit, like rent, gas, etc...I bought my equipment only when pieces broke down to the point where it was not economical to fix them, and I did actually pay cash for my new lawn equipment. The phone book ad generates for me about 25-30 phone calls a year here, most of which I bid, I have about a 50% close ratio. When my clients cancel service, 99% of the time, they tell me in person. The only thing i ever hear is they have sold the house and moving, or they cant afford yard service anymore. My average cut is about 35 a week. I have about 10 larger accounts that generate 50 a cut, and one large account that generates 150 a cut. I do a let of trimming, but this time of the year, that doesn't generate much. I like your ideas, keep them coming if you can.

I like the idea of sending out anonymous little letters, self addressed, postage paid letters asking why they canceled service.
The fliers are a good idea, but not sure they would work here very well.
Why would you want to waste time and money sending out postage paid envelopes asking the clients why they canceled after you already said they tell you in person and most often it's because they move, or want to do it themselves? Unless it's because of poor workmanship or bad business practices.....who cares why they cancel. Just move on and I can't believe you don't use fliers.

The phone book is a dead horse. I can't remember the last time I even saw a phone book let alone used one.

It's the internet now.

Get a small website cheap on godaddy and ****can that phone book ad, and pass out fliers on those days you cant mow because of the rain.

Fliers work. Period.

Early to bed early to rise. Advertise Advertise Advertise.
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