Business License, how to use this to increas your business

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by gusbuster, Aug 9, 2000.

  1. gusbuster

    gusbuster LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,970

    Here’s a way for all you legitimate maintenance contractors to make more income by gaining more customers without word of mouth or advertising. I just wanted to share my experience from this month.

    2 months ago, while talking with a friend that is in the same business, he made a comment about how he was asked by a police officer if he had a business license for the city he was working in. The police officer was out talking to him in regards to a noise complaint (Saturday, 10 am) and was making sure he was operating legit. He said, “your asking me if I have a license, why don’t you ask those gardeners up the street if they have a business license?” The officer said to him “we only ask if we get a complaint of some sort.”

    Well anyway, while we were talking about it, came up this idea that was used by other contractors. It was 3 years ago, after 8 different maintenance contractors complained and filed a petition with the City of South San Francisco; the S.S.F. P. D. did an enforcement sweep. If they saw you working in their city, they stopped and talked to you, asked you if you had a business license for South San Francisco, took your name, called the dispatcher. If you didn’t, you got a ticket for $75 plus you had to go to city hall and get a $25 business license. The contact with the officer lasted all of 5 minutes. That year, the city collected in business license fee’s and fines an additional $12,000 during that sweep period. South San Francisco has a population of around 635,000 people.

    My friend and I did a similar thing with our city this last month. We got a petition signed by myself and 12 other maintenance contractors that operate in Millbrae. First week of July, we presented this petition asking the city manager to order the police chief to enforce; Business License Tax is covered by Millbrae Municipal Code Title 7 Chapter 1 Sections 7-1.101 thru 7-1.707. The next step we took was to call and arrange a meeting with each councilperson. We didn’t get to talk to all of them so at the next city hall meeting, during the public discussion session, we read the petition to the whole city council. Each council member asked us a bunch of questions. Some of the tough to answer without being a bigot.

    Well it gets to be the end of July and nothing happens. Yesterday, a Millbrae officer stopped to talk to me when I was getting my morning coffee at 7-11. He asked me if I had business license for Millbrae. I showed him where my sticker was and the end of that. Asked why he was asking me, told me about how they were doing a sweep enforcement that started last Tuesday. The city got some complaints from some local contractors and the city manager asked the police chief to have an officer do a business license check with any contractor working in Millbrae. This officer told me that out of 15 or so people he checked with, I was the first person to have a business license.

    Since Monday, I have received 4 calls asking me to quote service. All of them said that their gardeners quit. Gee, you need to have a SSN or Fed Id number to get a business license.
  2. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,697

    Thanks for the idea but no thanks. I would never turn in my competition to the "man" just to get business.
  3. yardsmith

    yardsmith LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 628

    dang I like that.
    You're not turning anyone in, it's a random sweep to level the playing field.
    The reasoning is not to get biz but make sure everyone is playing fair. You have to be licensed; what's wrong with everyone else abiding by the law too? Otherwise if all the others are not legal, you've wasted $$ you could use for something else.
    Our town is the same way-too many cutthroats, & the market is low with getting fair compensation for all the investment we've made; it's because the lowballers have little to no overhead, & usually don't have a clue what an 'operating cost' is.
    I have enough biz to keep me busy, but there's absolutely NOTHING wrong with making sure everyone is legit if they're going to infiltrate this market. Gives us a better name too, cuz less half wits doing same thing, & property losses would be lessened due to proper ins., thus improving our image as a whole as more professional.
    Good idea
  4. Guido

    Guido LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,087

    Amen!! Couldn't have been said any better!!


  5. dhicks

    dhicks Member
    Messages: 770

    What a great idea! :D
  6. Great idea. We have the same problem where I operate. Most of the operators are not licensed. We are required to have a City business license and a county business license. The cost of each is a minimum fee of $20, with minimum gross revenue of $12,000 per year. The rate for our class of business is 1/8% of the gross revenue.

    Most of the legit LCO's located here are talking about taking this one step further. There is a discussion of getting together and forming a local lawn care association, with the goal to set up guidelines and minimum requirements for a lawn care/maintenance company to follow. Some of which are a business license, and insurance, both of which are relatively cheap compared to the alternative.

    We are covered up with guys cutting yards for $10 - $15 with a worn out Murray/MTD/etc. residential mowers and taking 1-2 hrs to cut a 1/2 acre yard.

    Sorry for rambling on this.
  7. jcoat

    jcoat LawnSite Member
    Messages: 112

    For those who "oppose" turning non-legitimate lmos in, I have some statements.
    On one hand, I have been on the forum for several months and have heard, by several members mind you, that there needs to be a standardized billing and level of service. Great idea! That's where ALL involved begin working smarter, not harder to earn profit for their legitimate businesses.
    On the other, yes, there is a lot of competition and yes there are a lot of customers out there, BUT why not level the playing field. You pay taxes (hopefully), carry liability insurance (hopefully), operate quality equipment (ditto), so why shouldn't they?
    Lastly, it's pretty hard to put my two cents in when I have yet to start my lmo. I am entering this fall (with cleanups) and already made the right decision to do all I can to be fully legit. Business license, no problem; insurance, no problem; taxes? Paid.; top notch equipment, well I am working on that one, but everything I do have is commercial. Also, I have NO problem turning the competition in if they aren't legitimate. I pay, so you know what, they should too!

  8. Scraper

    Scraper LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,656

    JCoat - "Lastly, it's pretty hard to put my two cents in when I have yet to start my lmo. I am entering this fall (with cleanups) and already made the right decision to do all I can to be fully legit. Business license, no problem; insurance, no problem; taxes? Paid"

    You're paying taxes on a business you haven't already started? Uncle Sam love people like you.
  9. jcoat

    jcoat LawnSite Member
    Messages: 112

    Yeah, yeah, yeah... when the biz starts I will be paying those taxes... the lmo will be part-time starting out while I work my 40 in the sucky corporate world. I am ready to ditch this joint for something I really enjoy doing: Pretending to be Tim "The Tool Man" Allen, riding KICK A$$ equipment, getting nice and gamey and working my tail off to become an ELM! He's my hero! Heck, I love to get dirty playing outside, may as well get paid for it!!!
  10. Scraper

    Scraper LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,656

    JCoat: I hear ya man! Just bustin' in my previous post! I'm in the same boat and am going for it full next spring! I've been doing the part time thing for 6 years now. I think my wings are ready! :)

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