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Business Model or Cutting Grass for a living?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by ztrguy, Sep 8, 2007.

  1. ztrguy

    ztrguy LawnSite Senior Member
    from NE FL
    Messages: 466

    For those of you that are full time lawn care operators, do you actually run your operation like a business or do you just cut grass for a living?

    What do I mean by that? Well, two things. What type of business do you run?

    1) Professional image, trucks lettered up, shirts with company name, making time to advertise constantly and grow your business accordingly, etc

    2) Pickup truck, no signs, no work shirts, not much advertising, just pick up business when it falls into your lap by word of mouth or someone that stops and asks you.

    Myself, I run a number 2 business, but I think the only way to really grow is convert over to a number 1 business. To fully operate your business like a business needs to be operated. To letter up your trucks, get shirts, and advertise on a constant basis. I think if you act more like a real business and not just someone that cuts grass your chances are better at becoming a bigger business. Now, I'm not wanting to get huge...but I wouldn't mind to double my business. Should I step out and switch over to a business of image and branding?! What are your thoughts? And you guys that did eventually switch over from just cutting grass to actually looking like a business; how was the switch? was it a positive switch? pros & cons?

    Thanks for all the help!
  2. fitzg2md

    fitzg2md LawnSite Member
    Messages: 156

    I am a business minded person. I sell a service. It just so happens to be landscaping and lawn care. #1 version all the way. Not just with landscaping, but with the multitude of business ideas I would like to explore in the coming years.

    Personally, I dont want a job...I want a business. To each there own though!
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I think it all depends on the owner, all too often I compare myself to someone else and I think I'm better than them because I can see right away they don't do certain things the way I do them, but in hindsight I later also see they do a lot of things I don't do...

    But I do agree on a strong paid advertising program as I find I can't rely on word of mouth, to me that's the biggest joke ever made up with folks acting like it's the greatest thing since sliced bread, it don't even come close to what paid ads do for me, nowhere near close.

    As for pricing, all my stuff is down to a system, it prevents under and over bidding to a large extent.
  4. bigjeeping

    bigjeeping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 903

    Number 1 is very tolling on the mind and body. You almost become one with the business entity. I put in 40+ hours/week and I don't even do any of the physical labor - Just phone calls, estimates, maintaining equipment, straightening out my workers.. all the fun stuff, not. I get extremely stressed taking phone calls all day!! It gets hard sometimes. Many days I've wanted to throw in the towel, but I haven't yet. In fact, it has become very rewarding to sit back and watch my self-sufficient, profit driven company take raw resources (labor and capital) and transform them into a valuable service for my customers. What a great market capitalist economy we have.
  5. fergman

    fergman LawnSite Senior Member
    from VA
    Messages: 286

    #1 all the way. from the very beginning till death. whats the pros? too many to type or talk about. whats the cons of being #1? maybe people might think you are too expensive to afford BUT that could weed out a FEW of the people that want work done for nothing. and if your #2 then its possible that if a customer thinks you bid too high, then they might think, WELL.... ill just call billy joe cuz he looks like #1 and he will not go out of biz and probly be more dependable,offer more services,do a better job,and he would make me look like i have money because i have somebody that looks really good and professional mowing my yard. also. when people see somebody going around with no signs,shirts,letters of name on truck they think you dont have insurance,trying to get started and they think you are NEVER going to make it, just trying to get beer money.
  6. fergman

    fergman LawnSite Senior Member
    from VA
    Messages: 286

    one bad thing that can happen with word of mouth is they think they know what there yard is gonna be priced at because they have already heard what you charge for maybe a similar sized yard. and the original person alot of times thinks you owe them small little extras without paying for it and they think they can run there mouth a little bit over nothing and start telling you what day THEY want there yard mowed on. theres plenty more but im starving!:)
  7. delphied

    delphied LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,067

    There are pros and cons for either 1 or 2. Im somewhere in the middle. I advertise a bit and have the signs on both truck and trailer. Advertising has paid for itself and more. Signs on equipment and people seeing my work got customers. Very little success with word of mouth. Being a 1 or 2 depends on how big you want to get too. I want to stay solo so I dont need to be purely number 1.
  8. Mrs. H

    Mrs. H LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 708

    Can you be ALMOST #1.

    I mean the truck is professionally lettered, professional advertisements (Yellow pages, custom business cards, a few radio ads a couple of years back, brochures for special products and services).

    But, no shirts...I mean they wear shirts (Thank goodness in most cases.) but no pro uniform. Although I am thinking this may be a cool thing to get a certain husband for Christmas. Once you set up the print template at the shirt shop, a one time fee, then you can buy just the shirts as needed. Anyway...I know that it would boost our professionalism.

    We are the 2nd largest lawn care in town. Behind a guy who's name is "Professional Lawn Service". He's got 2 (? I think) crews, and David is working on going for a 2nd crew again. He did breifly back in 2003, have 2 crews I mean. But, it's true, you have to live and breathe lawn care to keep up with all that. At least at our stage.

    So, we are a #1 lower end/level. Does that make sense? :confused:
  9. Chilehead

    Chilehead LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Stockbridge, GA
    Messages: 1,956

    If you approach your work like a #1 company, you're a businessman. If you approach your work like a #2 company, you're a hobbyist. If you can't take your work seriously, can you really expect your customers to? I think this sums it up.
  10. Vikings

    Vikings LawnSite Bronze Member
    from canada
    Messages: 1,657

    It brings in work when you are big but if you only have 30 customers...

    It's also a real down side to it. I once lost 5 houses on the same street (Snow Removal). I had them for a couple years, I got them all by word of mouth and I lost them by word of mouth.

    I raised my prices and the RING LEADER found someone cheaper. That was like 20% of my income at the time.

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