business plan

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by greatgatsby, Jan 30, 2008.

  1. greatgatsby

    greatgatsby LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    i am attempting to write a business plan for my new llc. seems to be a good idea for future loans, goals, and helps me to focus on what exactly will do and look like. anyway, has anyone written a plan? if so has it been useful to you? also i will be doing my lawn business in minnesota... am thinking about snow removal as well. don't have any real plow experience. any recommendations? i have a ford f-250. would like to offer snow removal to my customers if that is something i can afford to do. or maybe i will get a winter doing something else. thanks
  2. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,296

    gatsby - If you are just starting a business and take it seriously, a plan is a very good idea. Develop a purpose for being in business and goals that you want to accomplish. Do some financial forecasting and budgeting. Develop a marketing plan for your services. None of this needs to be fancy for your first year, but you will want an idea of where you are going before you get too deep. Google up 'Business Plan' to find some good links that contain elements of a plan.
    Good to hear from a fellow minnesotan. After the blizzard yesterday, I have cabin fever big time and wish I was out putting some fert down or buzzing down a lawn...
  3. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    A business plan is always a good idea. First, you need a strategy. Is there a market niche you want to fill? What will make you different, and stand out?

    I think the reason so many LCO's fail is that they can't find a way to differentiate themselves from the competition. If you just go in with equipment, you pretty much have to compete based on price, and it's tough to succeed doing that.

    When I created mine, I looked at what I wanted to do, and then at what others were doing... and how I might improve on their level of service. The guys around here low ball like crazy for mow and blows. No way I can compete with $20 mow and blows on these smallish 3 to 4 k properties. After looking at the properties they maintain, I saw that some had serious problems... weed problems, poor irrigation habits, too heavy handed with the hedge trimmers... and started to figure out what I would have to do differently.

    So, I decided to commit to IPM. Basically, in short, that means being a horticulturist. It means reducing pesticide applications by using other types of pest controls, knowing when a particular ornamental should not be pruned because bad timing could invite diseases and infestations. Knowing how to prune to keep a hedgerow free of bare spots without letting it outgrow it's intended size for where it is planted.

    Knowing more about soil, and making amendments to it to increase microbial content, which can help prevent leaching and keep a herbicide working longer in the top six inches of soil. Knowing what will get rid of a very common nut sedge problem around here, and being licensed to apply. More total property management instead of competeing with big crews of illegals.

    My plan includes being somewhat price competitive with those outfits for maintenance, but I make my profit on added services, such as annual installations, ferts, pesticide apps, growth regulators to keep a hedge from outgrowing it's location.

    I'm only going into my second year, and only just got certified for pesticide apps. But, I have what I think is a workable strategy. Then, I decided that this would ONLY work with residential accounts, not commercial ones. Made all my equipment decisions based on that... small gates, customers that want better property management. That target market aslo drives how I advertise. More local stuff, like door hangers and church bulletins. No need for the cost of ads in the yellow pages.

    That is a very abbreviated explanation of how I put my business plan together. Of course, I am also projecting growth and revenues as well wieghed agianst expected operating costs and overhead.

    A business plan should be fluid, changing as needed, and always part of everything you do. If you forget to follow it, you start going in too many directions. Set your goals, and strategize how you will achieve them. Then keep it implemented in your daily operations. That's my 2 cents.
  4. bill8379

    bill8379 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 778

    You could afford to offer snow clearing, in fact with a 3/4 ton (if it's 4x4) you could plow. But for residential drive ways I use snow blowers, charge by the month. I hate it when it snows because I get paid whether it snows or not. Winnipeg here.:) That blizzard only squeaked by us but the wind made our temps -44C :( I went out and cleared the drifts.

    I only use snow blowers and shovels and only do residential drive ways, been doing that for 8-9 years.
  5. M&MLawn

    M&MLawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 132

    We actually started out the opposite snow plowing first. With an F250 at least 3/4 ton you could put a plow on there and make some nice money. We charge per push and so we LOVE when it snows. Since you are a newbie with that my advice is get a plow on and just start practicing in your driveway and friends driveways. Practice getting as close to trees or an object (that you cant harm) as you can and once you have it perfected move on to the next level. Next would be pulling up to garages and learning to back drag away.

    Check out sister site for more forums on plowing.
  6. bill8379

    bill8379 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 778

    I wanted to do that but last year I just couldn't afford everything. I only had enough for the truck. But I wanted a Daniel's Pull plow and a boss V... too much money lol. Maybe in a few years.:laugh:
  7. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    And these last few posts have what to do with generating a business plan?
  8. bill8379

    bill8379 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 778

    If you read the original post, he's interested in offering snow removal and he's also on a budget. Snow blowers are a cheap way to get into that biz.

    btw, your post is WAY off topic.
  9. dgZtrak737

    dgZtrak737 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 120

    This guy knows his stuff, I bet you are going to, if not already have a very successfull business
  10. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    Not quite. He asked about a business plan.

    This is the first part of the thread starter:

    i am attempting to write a business plan for my new llc. seems to be a good idea for future loans, goals, and helps me to focus on what exactly will do and look like. anyway, has anyone written a plan? if so has it been useful to you?

    I suggested defining his goals first. Then to find ways to differentiate his company from others, and put that into a workable strategy. Whether that strategy is to price compete by getting volume, a higher level of service, or a niche market strategy like applications or organics, to mention just a few options out of many.

    How many times do you hear the NFL coaches talk about setting goals, having a plan, preparation, and implementing them? That is what wins, and it's been like that for a long time. A coach looks for mismatches, plays to his strengths and takes advantage of opponent's weaknesses. That is what a business plan does.

    Without a fluid business plan that is the driving force behind every decision that is made you are a ship without a rudder. You estimate how much you need to spend in advertising, and WHERE to spend that money, and project as best one can what new revenue that investment will create... PLAN your ROI based on the targeted customer base you are after... all based on the business plan. If you want tight routes, use flyers, door hangers, church bulletins. You want volume and rapid growth, the Yellow Pages could be a better option.

    You simply can't make sound business decisions without a business plan, even if it only exists in your head. Better to have it on paper though. Banks don't like loaning $ to companies that don't have a viable business plan.

    He can include plowing in his plan.... as with most of what we all do, performing the work is the easy part. Making it all come together requires in most cases, a plan, a strategy. Or, you are just pinning your hopes on dumb luck.

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