Please comment on this "advice" that I was given (kind of long)

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by dave80, Aug 27, 2003.

  1. dave80

    dave80 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 42

    Next year will be my first year in business full-time. I have enough accounts right now that I can survive, but I will certainly need to add some if I plan to make any money. I have several ways planned to add accounts, one of which is networking (just to expedite the process). There is a guy that I know that supposedly has been in business for 14 years, and all he talks about is how busy he is. For some reason though, he still does this part-time, and he mostly only does landscaping. I am looking right now to just offer full-service lawn care next year (mow, fert, aerate) and do only smaller landscaping jobs such as throwing down some mulch once in a while or trimming shrubs.

    We had talked earlier in the year, and he told me that if I needed any help to come and talk to him. Well, figuring that he only does landscaping, I thought that it would be a good way to get some more business cards out there for lawn service. So, I stop by his house the other day and talk to him. Tell him that I will be getting a 60-inch Z next year, probably an Exmark, and what I would like to do. First of all, he argues with me about the whole Exmark/Toro situation. He tells me I am completely wrong, and that Toro makes Exmark. He has a 52" Toro Z-Master that is probably about 5 years old, and proceeds to tell me that the Exmark and Toro is the exact same machine. Of course I know different, but not wanting to make him mad I just go along with what he says. Then we get to talking about getting some new business.

    The next thing he tells me is that I should take a loss the first year, then basically make up some excuse the next year as to why I need to raise my prices (insurance went up or higher gas prices, etc.). He said this way people will be able to see what kind of work I do, and won't mind the price increase. The last thing that we talked about was fert, which he apparently does. He proceeds to tell me that he only uses granular, and never liquid, just because it is too expensive. The worst part though, was that he tells me that I will never be able to get a lawn free of all of the weeds, and will probably have to call ChemLawn in to get it looking good.

    I am thinking by now......I am not going to bust my --- and not make money. I don't care what he says, I am going to price the work according to what the market will bear, so that I can make money and won't be stuck explaining to the customer why I need to change the price of her lawn from $25 to $35 in a year because I decided to underbid it on purpose the first time. Regarding the fert, I have seen ChemLawn's work and also from what I have read here I am not all that impressed with it. Furthermore, I look at it as if you can't make a lawn look good, then why are you even offering the service when it could ruin your reputation.

    Like I said, this guy has been in business for 14 years and is supposed to be so busy, yet he continues to work his full time job year after year and not pursue this full time. My instinct is to never go talk to this guy again and work on getting accounts other ways. I am interested to know what you guys think about this, so please let me know.
  2. PPLMike

    PPLMike LawnSite Member
    Messages: 48

    Exmark is indeed a sister company of Toro. You can't go wrong with a Z master or one of Exmarks ZTRs, but most people on here do prefer the Exmarks. They are the #1 commercial mower seller in the industry.

    Some of the other stuff you mentioned sounds like nonsense.
  3. Rustic Goat

    Rustic Goat LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,194

    Follow your instincts, avoid this guy and his advise like a rotting corpse.

    BTW Are you licensed for all the apps you're writing about being able to do?

    Granular is the way to go for lawn apps.

  4. mrbenfer

    mrbenfer LawnSite Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 136


    I guess your going to have to decide whos going to be running your business. If you dont agree with how this guy runs his business simply dont do business with him. You sound like a smart guy, go advertise yourself around town during the winter and get your own accounts.

    Those "OLD FOLK" think they know everything. But so do us young guys too.
  5. Moguy

    Moguy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 238

    Sounds like thats why the guy is part time. I think whatever your services are and are done with good quality it will open many doors to other types of work. It would seem if the customer likes the work you do they wouldnt mind spending a little more money each year if you choose to raise your prices.
    Best of Luck
  6. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    I was going to ask the same thing that Rustic asked and that was about the applications.

    It's fine for fertilizers, but pesticide applications is another story. And yes, hate to tell you but you will never be able to totaly have a 100% weed free lawn. Some weeds don't germinate until after 30 years.
  7. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    I would also talk to some other people and must importantly of all, do the research yourself. Only you will find out what works and what doesn't work. Trial and Error
  8. SLS

    SLS LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mars
    Messages: 1,540

    "Like I said, this guy has been in business for 14 years and is supposed to be so busy, yet he continues to work his full time job year after year and not pursue this full time."

    Pretty much sums it up if you ask me.
  9. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,028

    Do you own thing. If you didn't have Lawnsite you probably would have received some rotten advice that you might have taken for gospel. Everyone has their opinion (as we all do here too) but you have a little B.S. filter because of this site.
    Keep moving forward, get you pest ap license and learn about applying these chemicals to a lawn. I agree that granular fertilizer is better.
    Lots to learn and do. Just use your experience with the guy to make you better. Now start finding ways to increase your customer base. Good Luck.
  10. GLAN

    GLAN Banned
    Messages: 1,647

    I'd say you already have a good head start.

    You got a good head on your shoulder.

    Work on getting the applicators license this winter.

    We're here if you need any help.

    And join a local or near by trade association, your cooperative extension. Go to meetings and seminars.

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