The thing that made my day...

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Willofalltrades, Feb 22, 2007.

  1. Willofalltrades

    Willofalltrades LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,000

    Ok last night I wrote a book about a current problem I have. It got deleted because I said something mean... understood the moderator's actions. Heres what I had written:

    In business for two years but desprate to grow
    I have been in business for a total of 2 years. The first season I had 7 accounts. The second, last year, I had 8 residential and 1 commercial. That is with barely any advertising. This year I have a goal to get 35 weekly service customers. Getting them has proved to be tricky though. I do not have anything in the bank and no credit. What I do have is equipment though. I got a deal on a Walker last year. I basically got a new Walker for $7000 (MTGHS 26hp EFI, 48" GHS deck, 42" mulch deck, dethatcher, low pro tires, 9.5 Bu catcher, HD gearboxes). Some would say it was stupid for me to buy this machine at such a young stage in my business and that fine. The fact is that the machine brought in the commercial account and three residentials just by how good of a job it does. Also, the only way to grow is up with this thing. If I was to get 35 accounts I will purchase a 52" deck and be done. So now have 4 times the amount of clients with almost the same mower payment. point: this season, if my business grows, would turn that "stupid $7000 mower" into the smartest investment I would have made.
    Now to the problem, remember the part about no money? This is where it kicks my butt. I want to do a insert in the local Paper to 50,000 people or some similar kind of advertising media so that I am guaranteed I get my 35 customers. Now I can't just do one so I figure I would do two. That brings the total to around $3800 for both runs. I will be able to afford that $3800 over a 12 month payment plan If I reach my goal. Do you think I should sell the Walker mower in order to be able to afford the advertising?

    I can start with a John Deere WB I own thats paid for when I do get customers in the spring. I really don't think my deere can handle the abuse of 35 lawns a week by its self. It has 1000 hours and a failing right hydro. I think I would be able to finance a Stander or something like that after some time but not right away. By selling the Waker I would loose the commercial account which is a big chunk of $$. If I keep it I am guaranteed they will re-up with me for this comming season.

    If you say keep the Walker, where to get the advertising loan. A bank will not look at me (no credit), Parents don't have the funds around currently (unexpected bills from my grandma dieing), Uncle is cheap, family friends... don't want to loose their friendship over money, My hands are tied. I do have a solid business plan, can I find a person willing to invest in a landscape company?

    I do have a back-up plan after back-up plan as far as re-paying the money. if the ads flop and I don't get 1 customer, I just got hired selling cars by a local Ford Dealership as well as I am starting a concrete cleaning company with my cousin.

    Some saw it some didn't (the thread). I found out I have four weeks to repay the advertising bill from the paper. I think I can make $3-$4000 between now and late April at my new job (selling Fords so If you need a truck or car in northeast Ohio... PM me and I'll help ya lol) If not...I know for a fact I will have it by the end of May (so I get on the dead-beat list for a month... oh well). If all else fails... sell the Walker then.

    Another feature the Paper person talked about is lets say I want to do 2 inserts to 50,000 people. They will print 100,000 flyers and then insert them whenever I want to what ever zip code I want. So If I wanted to pound a certain area with flyers and then throw a few twards a different market... for a few larger yards or smaller ones... I can. Tell me what ya think and this one won't be deleted. Thanks,
  2. Willofalltrades

    Willofalltrades LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,000

    I mean I am paying $38/m for a PROFESSIONALLY designed, printed insert (8x11 front and back) that I have complete control over. Although I do have to spend $1900 to do it... I can get that by the time the bill's due.
  3. Ecoscape01

    Ecoscape01 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 375

    I can't tell you anything from 1st hand experience but I can tell you this. My ex-roomate is graduating from Grad School in a few weeks with a master's degree in Industrial Psychology (Basically Business). He spends rediculous amounts of money on advertising (about 1800 per month between those ValuePack inserts and 1 page in the Yellow Pages) on his handyman/ kinda little bit of everything business. The guy is really business saavy. I have learned a lot from him. But he is cryin poverty and bitchin about not getting a return on his advertising investments and being short of work. Yellow pages advertisements as well as other forms do work when done properly but if you don't have the cash on hand, they're a little risky. I know I'm a newbie and you've ripped me before so you prolly don't appreciate this much but I'm seein my roommate's business go down the tubes because of how much he spends frivalously on advertising and legal bs. just my .02
  4. Carolina Cuts

    Carolina Cuts LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,152

    IMO, I think it would be silly.
    Let me see if I get this straight.... you cut lawns.... with a lawnmower. A good lawn mower. A lawn mower that MOST can't afford. (like me)... and you want to sell this only top running piece of machinery you have, in order to gain more work? I'm gonna try and sum it up in a shorter sentence.

    You want to sell your lawn mower in order to get more lawns?

    Personally, I think... NO. Bad idea. Years ago, like most, I started with a pushmower, towing it while riding my bike.... with a broom across the handlebars. Made some money, moved up to a WB when I got my license... the bigger, faster machine made me think... "What the hell was I doin' push mowing lawns for?????" In otherwords... if I knew then, what I know now. Well, YOU KNOW IT NOW!!

    I would skip the 500,000,000 person newspaper insert... start out with something a lil more simple... Flyers... business cards.... knock on doors of real estate agents... etc.... adapt and improvise...

    Hell, a small newspaper ad for a month would be cheaper then the insert, no?
  5. hackitdown

    hackitdown LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,610

    I think it may be a good idea to explore less expensive advertising. I tried 6 or 7 different methods until I found the 2 that worked well, and at the right price. I actually asked everyone I could where they would look if they needed to hire a landscaper, and that gave me some good ideas.

    I also have a friend that spent over $1,000 on one of those Val-Pac things, and got a total of 2 customers out of the deal. Not good.
  6. wowmowwow

    wowmowwow LawnSite Member
    Messages: 209

    nah be frugal with that $. there are other ways to get your name out there.
  7. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,988

    Keep the mower.

    I'll say this in the nicest way possible - get off your duff. Pass out flyers yourself. Send e-mails to realtors and property managers. Make phone calls.
  8. Willofalltrades

    Willofalltrades LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,000

    Were both newbies I just have a little more lessons learned from dumb mistakes. Your post was appreciated.
  9. Willofalltrades

    Willofalltrades LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,000

    What do you think about spending $1900 to have 50,000 inserts professionally made, printed, and inserted into the paper? Or would you recommend no paper inserts at all?
  10. Ed Ryder

    Ed Ryder LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 541

    Uh... I got back into the grass cutting business in 2001 after the stock market destroyed me. I had very little money. I created a smart flyer, spent $16 for 500 flyers, targeted specific neighborhoods, and went from nothing to $1200 per week in 3 weeks. And then I continued to get customers with no further advertising expense. I spent barely anything.

    Your ideas of spending so much on advertising sounds a little nutty to me. It's unnecessarily risky. I think you can accomplish your goal of getting 35 customers with much less money at stake.

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