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What do you do in the Winter in Texas?

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by aclane2000, Nov 16, 2006.

  1. aclane2000

    aclane2000 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    I have 250 clients in Austin, Tx. and 4 employees to keep busy. Last year i only had 2 guys and some renovating projects to keep us buys. I DO NOT WANT TO HANG CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. It's a liability, it takes experience I dont have, and of course...I'm scared of heights.
    How late should I be putting out winterizer? How cold is too cold for sod? Trimming bushes? Trees?
    I dont even need to make profit. I just need to keep my wonderful employees from starving this winter. Preferably doing things I dont have to oversee too closely. Thanks for your input!
  2. DBL

    DBL LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,219

    first off how cold does it get down there is it even a winter. about the only thing we can do in the cold winter up here is plow snow and tree removal until spring
  3. Jusmowin

    Jusmowin LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 727

    How about Firewood? In my area I make pretty good WINTER money selling firewood.
  4. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,116

    The crap has to flow down hill. No other choice. You have to pass it on.

    Your client's don't want to pay for lawn mowing 4 months of the year so you have no choice but to lay off every fall until spring. The nature of the business. I don't like it, but it is reality. That means your workers need to be making really good money during the season so they can save for the winter.

    H2B seems to be the perfect solution for seasonal labor like this. The workers go home to visit family in the winter and return each spring.

    DFW Area Landscaper
  5. leafitalawn

    leafitalawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 108

    You can always have them work around the house... (Mr. Miagi voice), "sand the floor", "paint the fence", "wax on wax off". Seriously though, other than that, you have to plan in advance...like a year or so. Maybe pay less during the work year, but pay year round (kinda like a 12 month maintenance contract??). Then it will be like a benefit..paid vacation. Also, they can always help out in the following years marketing campaign.
  6. aclane2000

    aclane2000 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    Down here in Austin it usually doesnt freeze too hard. Rarely a November freeze, usually a lite freeze in December, Occasionally a hard freeze in Jan/Feb. Is It bad news to trim hedges in Nov. or Dec.? What about trees?. I know the grass company says its fine to plant grass year round, but can you really plant st. Augustine in Dec?
  7. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,116

    Yes, you can plant st augustine any time of year and you can prune trees and trim shrubs and clean beds in the winter, but....

    Where are you going to find clients who want this done right now? Residential clients only think about this sort of thing in the spring time. If you cold call them, it may get you some work, but you are stooping to Chemlawn's level. If your clients know you are a small company, they will think you are desparate for work and many will eat you alive if show the slightest sign of weakness. If you do decide to cold call, I would approach the call with a service oriented pitch...like, we noticed you have bare dirt around the base of your tree...did you know that shade kills bermuda?...so on and so forth.

    Another gamble is that some of your clients may have been intending to cancel service and just haven't found the time to call you. I guarantee if you call 250 clients to offer additional services, a percentage of them will end up cancelling.

    the way I have been combatting the problem, is, last summer, I started offering a new service I call "automatic shrub trimming and bed clean-up". We automatically come out 4 times per year to clean the winter leaves, trim the shrubs, prune the crepe mytles, scalp the ornamental grassess, etc. It is a pretty easy sale if you offer it and it keeps the crew busy with profitable work.

    The business of residential landscape maintenance involves a lot of bluff. The minute a client realizes you need them more than they need you, they will eat you alive and then they usually end up cancelling. They will start thinking, "as long as they're making $10/hr..."

    DFW Area Landscaper
  8. huh

    huh LawnSite Senior Member
    from Lubbock
    Messages: 251

    I worked for Caldwell Tree Company for a short time in Austin

    we were in the tree the day after a snow if it was dry enough so winter tree work is not a problem in Austin

    try doing junk hauling as well....people need crap hauled 24 X 7 X 365

    also if you have an enclosed trailer you could try and haul for students that have graduated or failed out of UT or Texas State at the end of the fall semester.....short hauls to S.A. or Houston

    go out to the edge of town and clear cedar and mesquite....lot easier when it is not 102 degrees out....look up "Yellow Dog Services" in this forum....he probably knows plenty of places you can cut brush to keep your crews busy....and if they can tell a Mesquite from a Cedar from an Oak then you probably don't need to baby sit them :)
  9. Damian

    Damian LawnSite Member
    Messages: 242

    I try to heal.

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