What to do in the first years

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by FlawlessLawns, Jun 17, 2013.

  1. FlawlessLawns

    FlawlessLawns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18

    I'm hoping this turns into a great thread full of valuable advice.....simply put, what should a business owner in this industry focus on in the first say 5-10 years of opperation? What should be some goals? Things to strive for? Systems to develop that make opperating the business easier and more profitable in years to come?? I'm talking about growing a LARGE company overtime that almost runs itself and makes the owners life everything they've dreamed of. I'm talking about growing a masterpiece here....and i say this to clearify that all sacrificeand work needed in the early years is perfectly acceptable by me...so lay it out for us vets....what should we be doing??
    Posted via Mobile Device
  2. caseysmowing

    caseysmowing LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,120

    Good thread to start!! My ears are open.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. Kurt6845

    Kurt6845 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 128

    There a few common things you will find on here that folks will say about running a large scale business. 1. It takes time, patience, determination, and as you have mentioned hard work and sacrifice. 2. Don't use credit, buy everything cash. If you buy too much on credit(I'm talking brand new zero turns, walk behinds, trucks etc) you may find yourself at the end of the month realizing that you have 3-4 late customers which may or may not break the bank, especially when you are starting out. 3. There is a such thing as growing too fast. Start slow, figure out how you and/or your crew works and what reasonable attainable goals are for you as far as how much work you can do and how quickly you can do it. 4. Remember that the customer is ALWAYS right. Yes, there are going to be PITA customers and they can be weeded out over time, but if the customer is not happy, you lose accounts and you can see where that ends up. Do good work and you will never need to do re-work. Re-work cost a lot of money and in the beginning stages you really cannot afford to do it. Do it right the first time and every time after that. If a customer has an issue or concern, address it promptly and correct it. 5. Lastly, advertise, advertise, advertise. Websites are great, postcards can be good as well. There are a billion ways to advertise out there, find what works in your area and target certain demographics such as high middle and upper class areas, that's where you will find a majority of your business. Be careful on commercial accounts. I know some areas(such as mine) this area is very competitive and the profit margins are not as high. The other thing is you cannot count on them to be there next year. All it takes is someone else who thinks they can do it for less and your out the contract for next year. 6. I lied, there is one more thing. When you get to the point to hire employees, hire good folks, find people who are trustworthy, have a decent appearance and good people skills. You can teach anyone how to mow grass and sling mulch, but if they ever deal with a customer, they are a direct representation of you and your business. Find good folks and pay them well, it cuts into your profits a little, but if you treat them well, they will treat you well. Good luck! I'm in it with you, as this is our first year and we have gotten a really good start, hoping to explode next year.
  4. DalesLanscaping

    DalesLanscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 58

    Kurt- Agree with mostly all of what you said. Like the part about paying for things with cash but good money management with your existing cash can benefit you with credit cards. Meaning "Reward points" from these cards which can also help you pay for other small things that add up. If you manage your money (Cash) right you have the money set aside to pay those bills. Not many people are really good at this and this is why I would agree with Kurt on this. If you are good with money then "REWARD points to death. Using to give out gift cards to employees and things like that.
    I LOVE the fact he mentioned hire good people. This is your business and Crap employees will only help your bottom line the first year they work for you. The following year you will realize how much damage they caused your company when people are not signing back up or when you follow up on them for next year they tell you the people taking care of their lawn were rude to pets, kids, did crappy job, didn't clean up right, etc.
    Ranking things you need to have the best of ranking from 1-10 are as follows: #1 - #7 Great customer service, #8 do the job right, #9 fix any and all problems (goes with customer service) and #10 no need to rake clients over the coals for a job. Get a good price but do not be greedy. You should know what you need to earn a good buck and pay the bills but raking clients over coals is a great way of losing clients to low ballers. Clients know they want good work for a good price but if you are charging $60 to cut and they get 3 other quotes of $30, $40 and $45. They may take the shot at someone else. Assuming they are OK companies to begin with.
    Just a few things for thought.
  5. jasonhc73

    jasonhc73 LawnSite Member
    Male, from WICHITA KS
    Messages: 43

    I don't have anything to add yet, I'm just subscribing.
    I fall into this new guy category.

    All cash.
    Good service. Serve the customer, I am doing something they can do them selves, so do it way better.
    So far only using craigslist to advertise, and I have about as many customers as I can handle in one day.

    I started out with a 12 year old 21" push mower, then a 28 year old 36" lawn tractor. Now I have a 22" self propelled mower, a 22" field trimmer, a edger, a 16" trimmer, a blower, and a 52" front mount ztr. All paid for with cash. I always price mowing and trimming, then offer edging as extra if wanted. I have 2 regular weekly, 3 more that are "as needed" (they are empty and for sale), and another that wants regular service but somehow can't afford the service (it's a 16000' yard even, 1/3 acre). The rest are mows for people that don't care about their lawns and only cut it so they don't get a fine from the city. I use paypal and smartphone to accept credit cards, so far only person has paid that way. I use paypal to invoice the customers who don't live here that are selling the empty houses. Everyone else is cash when mowed.
  6. caseysmowing

    caseysmowing LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,120

    I have used reward cards since I was 19. My favorite one was the bp card until they changed it. Now I'm using the bank of America card. Love the cards with big sign up perks. I also use my ace rewards card alot becausey ace store is where I get all my Stihl stuff. If you can't pay for ALL of it later don't buy it now.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  7. Kurt6845

    Kurt6845 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 128

    Don't get me wrong, credit is not always a bad thing, but all too often, I see or hear of folks that finance 15k in brand new shiny exmarks or scags and only have 20k in annual sales. This just doesn't ad up, almost all your income goes to payments on equipment, insurance, and fuel. There's no profit at all. This is where I get called a hypocrite, I do have a few things financed, such as my Kubota, but I bought it on 0% for 60 months, so I'm not paying interest on it. I also am in an interesting situation, I bought an existing LCO and started with 30 something accounts and expanded on that. I've got two years left in the military and have a good steady paycheck until then, so I'm trying to buy up the things I need or think I will need two years from now so I can have everythign paid off by the time I get out. Then I have the stuff I need(or in some cases want....) and everything I do is going to be for profit, with minimal expenses. But yes, credit can be a good thing, if used responsibly. It's also good to use the good ole Home Depot Card for stuff like mulch. If you bill monthly like I do, $500 in mulch is a lot of up front cost, but you get it back on the backside, so I don't maintain a balance on the card.
  8. jroux

    jroux LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    So what do your employees do in the winter? I would love to take someone on full time but I can't guarantee them anything in the winter so where is the incentive?
  9. alexschultz1

    alexschultz1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,579

    Four simple rules

    1- show up on the right day at the right time
    2- stay organized
    3- the customer is always right
    4- bill on the same day every month. Mine is the first of every month.
  10. DalesLanscaping

    DalesLanscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 58

    Kurt - You are right Credit can be bad but if you manage your money right and pay the balance off of things you purchase up during the year you should be paying off monthly so no interest. YES, BIG Items 15K should be leased but pay off ASAP to increase you profits as long winters will kill your bottom line.

    We give out the reward cards to employees as Christmas gifts and bonuses which considering they are very happy to get a few hundred dollars in presents (Gift cards) is a good thing. It never costs me money and I usually have a few extra gift cards for myself for Santa!

Share This Page