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To specialize or try to do a bit of everything?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by MindI, Oct 27, 2006.

  1. MindI

    MindI LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    For an LCO just starting out (just finished my first full season) I was wondering if looking ahead, is it wiser to develop a business that offers it all or stick with a few, 2 or 3, specialties? For instance, do maybe just mow and blow, fertilizer, tree pruning, landscape and design, irrigation, etc. or just 1, 2, or 3 of those.
  2. meets1

    meets1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,855

    You'll find out as time goes by that you need to abjust the biz model. Every year move your biz 10 - 20% in another direction. As you grow, there will be others that follow - probably like yourself - you get customers from other LCO's and the circle just continues unitl comes back to you. So just mow & blow - to start with OK. Build a client base - and more work will follow. Fert. plans, go with aeration which goes with de-thatching which may lead to seeding. Everything builds upon each other. Typical example of the corporate ladder!

    Like us - there are more and more people mowing. Bankers, school teachers, after hour guys. They kill us with residential yards as in price. Commercial - were ok b/c I offer everything. Landscape maintance, striping/sweeping the lot, snow removal, mowing, fert. plans. ect. The "after hour crowd" can't supply the equipment or justify to have that much stuff to do it all. But they can all go to Sears and get a craftsman for $1500 & and weedeater for $69 and there off and running a mowing company. Yes - I applaud them for doing something different, going out and being there own boss but when the comments are made to me that mowing must be good to have that equipment such as a skid or new truck - I am like well.............

    Hope there is alittle insight in my thought process!

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    Well, the more you CAN do, the better off you'll be in the long run. However just starting out, I'm assuming you are solo or maybe with one employee...so you have to be realistic. Can't spread yourself too thin. As you grow and add more employees it becomes easier to have, say a dedicated landscape crew or irrigation tech or whatever.

    Probably better off initially to focus on a few aspects of the business rather than take on too many tasks.
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Likely the best I can recommend is kinda let it fall into place.

    You might try what I do when I feel the urge, and that is to run the ad as usual but ADD one more service to the ad, and see how it goes from there. That way, you have the chance to learn as you go without breaking yourself, that is, if things shouldn't go at all the way you thought they would, you still have your usual services to fall back on.
  5. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    The problem with adding more and more services is you wind up needing and buying more and more equipment to go along with it. And that is equipment that gets used less and less over the years. I made that mistake early in my business career. I have equipment that I haven't used in years that is practically brand new.

    I say to specialize. You can do a better job than most and charge more for it than others. :clapping:
  6. noseha

    noseha LawnSite Senior Member
    from MI
    Messages: 554

    i think it has something to do with your personality and make up. Do you like to have a dozen things going on at once on the same day. do you feel the need to gather a lot of info. and maybe schooling do you have the financial backing to go in to the fields growing into a new field is hard to do.
  7. lawnman_scott

    lawnman_scott LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,547

    I agree. You cant do everything, especially when you start out, and then you have equipment sitting making you no money.
  8. Tim Wright

    Tim Wright LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,034

    Start out with what creates cash flow and makes you money the easiest, with the least cash outflow.

    I would not branch out until your base business is running smoothly and you have build a system of Office SOP's, field SOP's, have people trained, etc., to work in the other areas that you do not want to work in.

    Then add add-ons, then branch out, and choose what areas you want to personally work in.

    But I would not Branch out without a specific plan and step by step goals to get you where you want to be.

    For instance, do you want to be a mow and blow company, or do you want to be that AND a paver installing company? Do yo want both in the high end or low end of the market?

    After market or new construction?

  9. Proscapes

    Proscapes LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    Great answers to that question!

    I would say find out what you love to do most. Is it mowing? Start with that and network the rest with subs who provide you with the work you want to do. That way you will service your customers with professional quality while at the same time growing your business. These business relationships will build you a solid customer base without the logistical headaches of running divisions before you're ready.
  10. MindI

    MindI LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    Yip, I already have equipment I bought back in April that I have used once, and wondering when I'll use it again. Probably the answer is to build up the mowing clients and start offering additional services to them with equipment you can reasonably justify buying because you know you'll use it again and again, while picking up the extra employee that you need on the way. I'll be working out a business plan this winter most likely, and your responses help.

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