What to do in the first years

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

  1. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,019

    Don't run out and buy a 40k truck, 5k trailer and fill it with another 25k worth of gear and hire 2employees. Then think you will pay for or justify it by knocking on doors and handing out business cards. Used but not used up equipment is perfectly acceptable. You don't get hired based on the biggest, shiniest setup. Invest in marketing. Don't even consider commercial for a few years. Start solo and build from there. Save for winter or build a winter side to your business.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  2. Caddyshack Lawn Care

    Caddyshack Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 746

    Kurt is dead-on with #4 when you're starting out. A few things to add:

    1. You're talking about 5 and 10 year goals. For someone starting out those are too far in the future. You should be setting 1-month, 1-year, and maybe 3-year goals. And a goal not written down isn't a goal, it's a dream. Put them on paper, track them and measure them on time. If you don't reach a goal, write down the obstacles and what your plan is to overcome the obstacles with the new goal/timeline.

    I know this sounds silly but it's really not. If you want to net $2,500/month figure out things like what your gross has to be, how many accounts you will need (and how you will get those accounts), what you will do at the end of the season, etc. If you're not sure about what goals you should be setting, ask. There are a lot of experienced people here.

    2. I see you're from St. Louis. The bad news is that it's a tough market with a lot of competition. The good news is that there is unlimited growth potential for someone who does an outstanding job. Ignore my bad news and focus on the good news.

    3. I sound like a broken record saying this. But NETWORK. When you see a crew about to get into their truck stop and throw them a beverage. Offer them cash for any work they don't want or can't handle. The same for the treatment guys.

    There are a lot of threads on here on this topic. Do some searching because there's gold to be mined.
  3. Green Clean

    Green Clean LawnSite Member
    Messages: 97

    Good info here guys
    So far I have learned that the biggest thing is customer service
  4. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,139

    Learn your costs.

    Establish yourself a firm financial foothold.

    Build your customer relation skills, and base.

    Concentrate on doing a good job, always.
  5. FlawlessLawns

    FlawlessLawns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18

    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. Leland Lawn

    Leland Lawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 238

    We have 4 full time guys on right now, and during the winter we do all sorts of odd jobs and snow removal. I hate doing gutter cleaning, garbage pickup, and stuff like that... but it's money to keep us afloat!!

    Our full time guys are have a guaranteed pay, kind of like a salary in the off season. We promise like $900 each month to them even if it never snows or we don't have another work for them to do. When they do work their hourly rate pays of the "salary" amount before they can earn any more for that month. A lot of the guys really liked this last year, since they didn't need to get another job to survive but they could also have a lot of down time in their schedules. Plus most of the guys made more then their guaranteed pay each month due to 12+ hour snow days!
  7. biodale

    biodale LawnSite Member
    Messages: 181

    This is my 5th year in the lawn care business, so I am certainly no expert. We have surpassed $250,000 gross for the last 12 months so I do have advise if you want to grow the business.

    1) If you don't love the business get out now. Hassles with employees and clients will drive anyone crazy so you have to love the business.

    2) Do good work every time. Anyone can occasionally do a good job. Clients want a company they can count on every time. Repeat business and referrals will follow if your clients can count on you every time.

    3) Get good equipment. Every piece of equipment I have is working every day. I cannot afford break downs. Take care of your equipment.

    4) Develop a good relationship with a dealer of your choice. Equipment will break down and having a dealer who will loan you a demo until the equipment is repaired is invaluable. I realize I have to pay for this to keep the dealer in business. So don't bargain hunt for the best deal. If you have a good dealer, pay the price without complaint.

    5) You will lose some bids. Don't take it personally. If you win all your bids you are bidding too low.

    6) Invest in your company. Leave all the money you can in the company. It takes money to grow. I live off of the wife's salary and all profits from the company go back into the company.

    7) Pay your taxes. The government doesn't care about murder, rape, or pillaging, but they are serious about collecting taxes. You will not be in business long if you cheat on taxes.

    8) Employees - The company cannot be better than the employees. I cannot do all the work so I must rely on employees. Most of them do mediocre work and do not particularly care about the job. When you find a good one, give him responsibility. You might have to pay good wages to keep a good employee, but money will not motivate most employees. They want responsibility, respect, and to grow in the company. I hired the lead technician from another company with 10 years of experience. He told me he had learned so much after working with me for just one year.

    9) The customer is NOT always right. I try to be fair and reasonable. I do not want a customer who is out to take advantage of me.

    These are just things that came to mind immediately. It is certainly not a comprehensive list. Hope it helps some.
  8. gcbailey

    gcbailey LawnSite Silver Member
    from WV
    Messages: 2,717

    I can't count the number of residential clients we've picked up over the years for 1 of 2 reasons...

    1. The LCO quit showing up... Be professional, be dependable, be reliable. If you aren't/can't show up let your clients know.

    2. The LCO didn't listen to the client... Places that were never trimmed, never cut, etc...

    I was told by a very, very successful landscape owner when I was first starting out... "you have to spend money to make money". If you use credit wisely it can cause your business to grow, and to grow great. Like others have said, don't be reckless with it, but there may be a time that comes where you don't have enough up front cash to buy that big ZTR that will open doors to larger clients, but with proper financing/credit you can afford it and still make money.

    Plan for a rainy day (season), and not just literal rain...

    Do what it takes to make your business legit. Sure there are several small LCOs out there who have made pocket change and survived for years by doing cash only or whatever. However, if you want to grow, you've got to do it the right way... Become a business (LLC, corp, etc...), pay your taxes, get insured, do it the right way.

    Find your niche and find what else you can do in the same realm and make money. While we don't do much hardscaping, we do everything from mowing, to brush hogging, to lot clearing, to garden prep, things that others won't/don't do.

Share This Page