Steve's Place

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by steveiiturf, Nov 6, 2013.


Whats Holding You Back From Growing Your Business?

Poll closed Nov 27, 2013.
  1. Lack of Good Labor

    3 vote(s)
  2. Not Enough Sales

    5 vote(s)
  3. Cash Flow

    4 vote(s)
  4. No Direction or Plan

    1 vote(s)
  5. No Key Support Staff

    2 vote(s)
  1. steveiiturf

    steveiiturf LawnSite Member
    Messages: 50

    Hi, my name is Steve. I write a column for Turf Magazine, am the owner of Southwest Landscape Management in Columbia Station, Ohio and have a small consulting business called Rak Consulting that helps landscape companies grossing $1 million or less in sales grow to the next level. Since I write for Turf and this site is an affiliate, the publishers and I thought I could use this space to expand on some of the topics I cover in my articles. Kind of like an interactive platform to discuss best practices, systems and ideas that can help all of us grow our businesses. I am also working on a book that will cover growing a landscape business and I will post updates here and ask for input from anyone willing to give me their two cents.

    I will be happy to answer any questions you have about getting your business to the next level, wherever you are in the process. Just remember I try to stay focused on the companies with revenues of a million or less. Let me know your thoughts and questions.

    So how has this year been for your company? Strong? Profitable? Terrible?
  2. Armsden&Son

    Armsden&Son LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,358

    Hey there Steve, thanks for reaching out on the forum. I think it's pretty cool that you are doing this... and yes, I have caught your column as I am an avid Turf reader... I am a sole proprietor and am just finishing up my first year out. I have been in the industry for just over 15 years working for a well established company just north of Boston, Ma. My wife, son and I recently moved to Upstate New York for family reasons and while I had been saving money to start a company in Boston, we just fell in love with the Adirondacks and decided to stay. So things have been challenging this first year considering my whole business plan was based on Greater Boston's demographics and data. Needless to say, things are very different here in Upstate New York... However, I am lucky enough to be living in a "city" with about 21,000 people and plenty of surrounding towns and hamlets and such. So, my business plan has been tweaked.... Here is an example... Where there was little to no need for me to look into or focus on Brush-hogging in the greater Boston area, it could now be considered prudent to look into a smaller tractor with a pto set up as there are plenty of folks with the need where I am now...

    So, with there being many differences in the areas that I am servicing, I feel that I may have some unique things to offer to potential clients here. For example, you don't see many beds up here with nice deep crisp edges... most tend to have the landscape edging (which I despise by the way). I have worked this into a few of my clients beds and they seem to love it and it has the caught the eyes of neighbors and passersby as well. Point of the story is that I think that I can take the quality and attention to detail that is standard in the Boston suburbs and offer it to folks up here as something new and different from the norm..... (I am also one of the only outfits that properly stripes lawns.... I run Walkers by the way)

    Anyway, just wanted to introduce myself and say thanks for reaching out on the forum. I'm sure I will have plenty of questions and points of discussion to bring up and I look forward to reading what you have to say...
    David Armsden
    Armsden Landscaping
  3. nashlawn01

    nashlawn01 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 463

    I would probably read your column but I've signed up to receive it 3 times and still have never received it.
  4. Landrus2

    Landrus2 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,050

    Hey Steve keep those ideas coming
    Thanks again :waving:
  5. steveiiturf

    steveiiturf LawnSite Member
    Messages: 50

    Hey David A. it sounds like you have the experience and an eye for detail so I wish you the best of luck with your new company. Starting a new business is always a challenge so congratulations on making it to the one year mark! Thanks for introducing yourself and for reading my column, I really appreciate it. Lets keep the dialogue going, feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

    nashlawn01 I'm not sure why you aren't getting the magazine but if you want to send me your mailing info I will get it to the right people. You can also read Turf online, I think theres a link to all of the magazines on this site.

    Thanks for all the comments, keep em coming.
  6. Armsden&Son

    Armsden&Son LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,358

    Actually, since you mention it.... I do have a question that I would love to ask someone who helps big companies and small alike.... The question is thrown around a lot here on L.S but having a legit consultant answering it can be a lot different than what is available.... So, obviously I am a sole proprietor, solo op, whatever folks want to call it. It is only my first year out and my business plan calls for me, myself, and I for at least 2 more years. Of course my goal is to grow this business as much as I can and that includes hiring employees at a certain point. This year however, I was surprised at how much I could accomplish by myself. I have no loans out, no equipment or truck payments (like I said, I saved up to start this business) and I feel like I can make a really good go of it staying solo. But really, how good of a go can a solo op have? So, my question is.... Have you ever consulted a strictly solo op? What were they hovering at for gross? net? With your extensive experience, have you ran into folks who are at the tipping point but refuse to start hiring? I have read and I know all about Mike Gerber's philosophy of "on the business, not in the business" and believe me, I truly want bigger and better things. I know for a fact that there is a glass ceiling being solo.... Just wanted to get your thoughts on this issue..... FYI... I am currently full service. This past season I not only offered but made profit doing, Maintenance (mowing, trimming, blowing) Weed Control (just picking, no NY license yet) Pruning, Spring/Fall cleanup, Landscaping Installation,(beds, trees, plants bushes) Mulch, Hardscapes, (patios, retaining walls) Culvert Installation, De-thatching, Aeration, And I even did a couple seal coat driveway jobs!
  7. steveiiturf

    steveiiturf LawnSite Member
    Messages: 50

    We have not worked with anyone running solo yet, however we have worked with a few guys considering starting a landscape company. I don't have any hard numbers for a one man operation but I would guess that gross sales would be under the $100,000 mark. I've known a few people in my area that were one man operations that were doing between $35,000 - $60,000. You are right that you will only be able to grow so far before you hit the ceiling of what a one person company is capable of. Your question about refusing to hire someone when you are at the tipping point is an excellent question. I think waiting a few years may be a bit long for you to wait on hiring someone. Considering that you want to grow the company you may want to consider hiring someone sooner than later. I know it might sound a bit scary to bring someone on at this point but you will have to deal with employees eventually. I could go on and on regarding this topic, but that is just some food for thought. As for the Gerber philosophy, you are spot on with that, The E-Myth is a great book for a new business owner. I'm glad you found it. Good luck.
  8. Armsden&Son

    Armsden&Son LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,358

    Good points... Thanks Steve..
  9. steveiiturf

    steveiiturf LawnSite Member
    Messages: 50

    Please vote on my poll. If you have any additional comments just post them here.
  10. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,647

    My business is where I want it to be with the exception of winter months.

    I know a few people who own car dealerships, they sell 100 to 120 cars per month and have run their business like that for literally decades. I can say they are all rather well off.

    Growth is good, but growth can also Kill the Golden Goose.

    The key to building wealth is not a giant business.
    The keys are.

    Become debt free both personal and business wise.

    Make more than you spend, invest and save the rest.

    Its not really that hard to become wealthy even in todays economy. If you cleared 5000$ after taxes per month and lived on 3000$ per month and spent a few years paying off all your debt in 20 to 25 years you would be a wealthy person.

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