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Expanding the Company

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by LA LAWNS, Mar 22, 2003.


    LA LAWNS LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146

    This is my first time on any forum. I was wondering if anyone would like to share their story or advice on growing their company. My wife and I run a Mom and Pop operation of about 90 clients. We would like to expand, i.e. hire help and start a second crew, but don't know when to "cross that bridge". Is it worth the trouble?(from and experienced point of view).
    We live in the south (zone 9&10) where lawn mowing business nearly stops in Jan. and Feb.
    Any advice will be appreciated. Thanks in advance,
  2. Expert Lawns

    Expert Lawns LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,660

    LA Lawns:

    I wouldn't consider 90 accounts a small mom and pop biz. I'm a solo op with only 30 accounts. I too am looking to expand and possibly hire some help, add mowers, crews etc. If you don't mind, share with me how you came about getting those 90 accounts and how long you've been doing it. I understand your wife helps you. Does she mow with you or does she take care of the paper work and bill paying? Thanks
  3. LCAmerica2

    LCAmerica2 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 22

    Ive come to find word of mouth is the best way to expand your buisness. i started out in a back of a explorer w/10 acc.
    while working for another company and doing this on wknds.
    slowly i pass out flyers started talking to gas stations churches small buiss.taking little by little. mind you only cutting w/push mower. without using any credit so i dont screw myself, in the last three years i went from 10 to 155 buying used equip. and slowly building myself up now i just started a second crew and a garden crew,and now starting to bid on condos. i find it takes time to build and you just have to be ready to take that next step. good luck i hope this help you in some small way . just keep cutting
    Lawn Care America
  4. MSYardman

    MSYardman LawnSite Member
    from MS & LA
    Messages: 62

    First of all, get a map of the area that you service. Mark all of your existing accounts. Then, systematically call on each property around your accounts to fill them in.

    In other words, if you mow a property on Pine Street, put out flyers, talk with neighbors, do anything you can to get all the business within a block of that property.

    On my block there are 8 homes. Three home owners do their own yards and there are five different contractors that mow the other five yards. How much more efficient would the work be if one contractor had all five lawns.

    Also, I know that two of the properties will come available for contractors in two years because that's when their sons leave for college.

    Outline your work area and then work like heck to fill it in.

    LA LAWNS LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146

    Thanks Expert Lawns, LCAmerica2, and MSYardman, for your responses. My wife does work in the field with me. We both do everything that needs doin'. I think you guys may have missed my point. I don't think I would have any trouble getting enough work for adding an employee. In fact, I am reluctant (sp?) to advertise for fear of having too much work. My wife and I are operating at full capacity now. I wanted to know if anyone had grown to 2 or more crews and then decided that the cons out-weighed the pros: taxes, broken equipment,lack of good help,etc...then downsized because life was easier that way. Speaking of good help, anyone know what happened over the last 15 years to make kids so lazy? Thanks again...LA LAWNS
  6. LCAmerica2

    LCAmerica2 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 22

    yea tv and the internet no one wants to work now adays.
    i come to find that finding workers is my biggest down fall
    we are located in a small city were their are alot of homeless and dope heads and i get tons of them looking for work. give them a chance and the stab me in the back every time. looking into minority workers. all companies in my area already have them,i try not to go that route but now i have to start thinking of the buisness future.like just today called two of my workers back said lets start next week if weather is good. sorry mike im going to work for another company or im not cutting lawns this year. well why didnt you call and say somthing to me. now im short handed , so i dont know what to do.
    Lawn Care America
  7. double e

    double e LawnSite Member
    Messages: 197

    I started crews 2 years ago- I was so scared to send guys out, I have 3 full- time and 1 part- time

    2 guys cut approx 110 yards in 4 days- with 1 day a day for yardwork
    1 man and myself cut 2 days- 40 yards or so- then 3 days for yardwork and landscaping
    Sometimes I'll send him on his own cutting, while I give bids
    My part-timer works on tug boats- hes off 2 weeks and on 2 weeks at a time- He does most of my trator work- We take care of about 120 empty lots- bushhog every 3-4 weeks

    All 4 guys a ALESOME!!!- A I treat them that way. We work 7-4- 5 days a week- once in a blue moon we work on Sat.- - We all have families and want to spend time with them-

    So your answer is you can expand- and still only work regular hrs., But take your time. I only added 1 guy each year, and worked my way up-

    but those payroll taxes do suck-
    Another downfall is winter- I keep them year around - I guarentee 25 hrs. per week- sometimes can be tough- lots of shop work, but no income

    LA LAWNS LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146

    Thanks for the info. I like the idea of adding only 1 person per year. How can you afford to keep these guys in the off season? I can hardly pay the bills in the off season, much less pay a guy or 2 to hang around my garage...LA LAWNS:dizzy:
  9. John at JDH Select

    John at JDH Select LawnSite Member
    from Indy
    Messages: 66


    I started in the business in 1992 without a single account. By the end of 1993, we were mowing over 60 accounts and doing quite a bit of "small" landscaping. This required a crew of 3 additional employees. At the end of 1993 I ran the numbers and found I had made less money than I did in 1992, lost more hair, and met up with several of the laziest teenagers in my area.

    In 1994, I cut loose the employees and the expensive overhead and went back to mowing by myself. In 1995, my wife joined me and we mowed 25+ for the next several years. Overhead was very low and profits were very big! We were only-part time for those several years, then got out of the buisness all together in 2000 when the babies came along.

    In 2002, I decided to team with another friend and go back into business. The clients ("good clients") kept calling and asking me to cut their grass. They could not find a lawn care company that would manicure their lawn as we did. After careful consideration, we started our current company. Our first year was small, but we have jumped right back into a large company attitude, again.

    I have acquired another company, hired employees, opened a shop, began advertising and buying equipment and am ready for things to pop. I caution you to run the numbers before you hire the second crew. I am an accountant by trade, so I now have the foresight to plan for my expansion. I have carefully measured the costs of doing this much business from employees, employee overhead, insurance, maintenance, rent, advertising and "TYLENOL". If handled right, it is a GREAT THING, but please be aware that good employees are hard to find. Be very selective and do not accept the first application that is turned in. You will find that nobody is as concerned about the longevity of the business as you are. The employees do not worry about scratching the new truck, busting a tire, or leaving the straps behine on the job-site. You must find someone (usually, a mature person) that is willing to help you grow the company.

    Good luck and please feel free to call, or email with any questions about growth or calculations that may help you make a good decision.

  10. LA LAWNS

    LA LAWNS LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146

    Thanks for your reply John. I will be making any future advances slowly and methodically. ...

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