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NOTABLE! Starting a lawn care service business

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Johnny boy

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Yes it is just wasnt sure about getting a $28,000 loan. I was skeptical about the possible hurdles that will have to be undergone each year for tax season.
It’s good for your business. It’s a “liability” that creates leverage to grow your business. Nothing better! If I could get into a billion dollars of debt I would
 

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Raja

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Bump!

Do you have savings or buffer for the business?
 

Kelvin Fernandez

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We offer a watering plan for an extra $30-$60/month for customers that don't have a sprinkler system that have smaller lawns. We bring in our own hoses, sprinklers and timers and set up the system to run automatically for them so they don't have to touch a thing and get a watered lawn all summer without paying for a sprinkler system. It's like leasing. The customer is responsible for damaged or lost equipment.

edit: everything is paid monthly for the whole year so nobody gets only a few months of our services. It's a full year paid at the beginning of each month starting in January. So even though it only needs water for a few months, it's being paid for the whole year. $350 a month for lawn care sounds better than paying $110 each time we come and most visits will be well under an hour.
Can you give me a picture of how the sprinkler system works? Do you dig trenches to install them? Or do you have surface sprinklers that you turn on and remove once it has been watered for the day?
 

Johnny boy

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Can you give me a picture of how the sprinkler system works? Do you dig trenches to install them? Or do you have surface sprinklers that you turn on and remove once it has been watered for the day?
we don't mess with sprinklers anymore. Not enough customers care and it's been annoying for the ones that wanted us to turn on/off their sprinklers. We definitely don't install regular sprinklers. The original idea was to just have a timer attached to a hose splitter that has a couple of hoses that run along the side of the lawn and go to a couple of above ground sprinklers since it would be cheap, keep the lawn watered automatically, and would add some value to customers in a way that low-wage employees could do.

Here is our schedule for customers that are on a biweekly schedule (premium plan). These services are not mandatory for each month but on an "as-needed' basis.

Screenshot (8).png
 

afrankmore

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21 and currently selling cars at the moment. I’ve got some money to throw at something. I just bought a used trailer and have some lawn equipment.

Got a pro website, branding, and I have decent copywriting skills for posting ads. Started with craigslist, Google AdWords and I’m on yelp and google maps. I posted just a single craigslist ad and in a couple hours had jobs booked for $200 for a few hours of work. I got 4 of them within a couple hours. I did this to test my market. (I bought the tools and trailer after this btw)

I’ll be hiring on some young guy for a summer job. I’ve got the LLC, business insurance, and I’ll be picking up a cheap truck from an auction (working in car sales helps).

I did a couple jobs myself on my days off, just to see how long it took and if there would be any problems, it was easier than I thought.

Once I hire on the kid, I’ll go with him on my days off from work until I can justify hiring another person.

My goal is to take over the local market with superior branding, smooth and time saving process, reliability and quality, all while being a fair price. Not cheap, just worth it. The first place I showed up to said “wow, you’re the only person out of 5 that responded and actually came...and your name isn’t Jose!” Haha!

I’ve calculated with driving around and dumping out the grass and time for breaks, the crew will be bringing in about 300-600 a day in revenue while costing me 130-260 depending on if I’ve got 2 guys or just 1, including gas. Subtracting other costs like insurance and everything else like expected repairs, I should be bringing in at least 100-300 per day worked per crew. 5 trucks = $1000 profit per day.

I advertise for all sorts of services in order to justify a higher “full service” price and upsell people that just want their lawn mowed. “Hey that concrete looks kinda gross, we offer pressure washing..and have you cleaned your gutters this season?” It REALLY helps having sales experience as I get started in this.

I’m doing this because I’ve got the money and nearly everything can be sold for at least what I paid for it. I can take phone calls and schedule things at first while I sell cars. Most of the day in car sales is doing very little.

The goal is to have multiple trucks, a physical location with an office, and a team for running the business while I’m off somewhere else, checking in every once in a while. I will NOT turn out like the 50 year old losers still selling cars here at the lot.

Anyone else do the same type of thing here? Did you struggle with employees being shitty? Did you struggle with difficulty getting jobs? Any experienced people with advice is helpful.

Not looking for permission or approval..I’m either looking for advice from people who’ve done it already or just giving a couple people something to think about if they’re on the fence about doing something similar.
I worked in yard service for many years, 90% percent of my co-workers were guys hired out of sober living houses or recovering drug addicts. Only maybe 3 out of maybe 20 are still actually clean, the others relapsed while on route..
 

Johnny boy

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I worked in yard service for many years, 90% percent of my co-workers were guys hired out of sober living houses or recovering drug addicts. Only maybe 3 out of maybe 20 are still actually clean, the others relapsed while on route..
yeah we don't hire those types of people.
 

Johnny boy

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Love this thread!! OP Are you taking this winter off to travel?
No, I stayed in washington and got a night skiing pass so I could hang christmas lights during the winter months for extra cash and then go skiing in the afternoons. Thailand was nice and I got that out of my system for now.

I got a newer 2018 F150 so this spring I'll be going hard with the signups and we should double in size by june since we have the trucks and trailers needed.

I met up with David (aka gravy) last fall and we went over how to be as profitable as possible doing the christmas lights.

Now that the lights are done and our lawn services don't startup until mid February, I'll practice my skiing and get everything ready for the season to start.

The goal is to be around 24k a month by june with 4-5 employees and I'm doing 0% of the actual work. That would put my working hours at around 8 hours a week of doing only sales and around 8-9k a month in profit doing very little, which would let me put away enough money each month to grow very organically.

Up until this year it's been like this

Choose two:

a. Have other people do 100% of the work and have lots of free time
b. Make enough money for your lifestyle
c. Have enough money to grow the business

This year I'll be able to transition to having all three. I was sacrificing "a" by doing some of the work so I could save some money on employees and now I'll have enough full time crews to have the guys do 100% of the work while I handle sales.
 

JinderS

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I'm currently working on a side-business which requires a large amount of time upfront without any payoff for the foreseeable future. I'm thinking of copying your business model for Cleaning/maid Service in my town of 350,000 people in Sask, Canada. Have you considered offering cleaning services throughout the winter months?
 

Johnny boy

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I'm currently working on a side-business which requires a large amount of time upfront without any payoff for the foreseeable future. I'm thinking of copying your business model for Cleaning/maid Service in my town of 350,000 people in Sask, Canada. Have you considered offering cleaning services throughout the winter months?
Two different businesses

Not in the foreseeable future no
 

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Johnny boy

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Update:
2 crews rolling. I have 3 full time employees and some guys I had last year are coming back.

Last month (March) we signed up 22 people which added 4000 a month to our revenue in 12 month contracts (48k/yr)

The combo of having simple, black and white, repeatable systems with some elbow grease has been paying off. Customers NEVER complain and everything is dialed in.

From start to finish the customer experience is great. Great job on the phones, great job scheduling quotes, great sales process, quick and quality services, etc.

All of my employees are much higher quality than what I had before. I’ve become much more discerning in who I let into my company. Culture is very important.

We should hit 24-28k/mo at this rate of signing up customers.

Not too long ago it was getting pretty discouraging. Always remember that things get better, and results will lag behind the work you’re doing. And remember when things are better that they can just as quickly get bad again if you’re lazy. Always have the attitude that you’re broke and desperate. Work hard when you don’t need to or else you’ll eventually need to anyways. Just keep the momentum going.
 

Johnny boy

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Update:

21k/mo in revenue. I have 3 employees and I’ll be getting a 4th soon. Everyone’s working well and enjoying their jobs. I pay them 17-20 an hour and full time.

In May we will be trying to get to over 24k a month in revenue, and then replacing the least profitable customers with efficient small properties. We could likely get to 26k a month by summertime and all of our properties being easy with low maintenance easy-going customers.

At 24-26k a month our monthly profit should be anywhere from 12-14k a month. Plus, in the winter revenue stays the same and our expenses plummet, so for 4 months our monthly profit should be like 20k a month or so.

I’m estimating we are pacing a yearly profit of around 180,000 if we can get to our revenue goal which it looks like we might surpass it.

The goal for this year is to now just keep the customers happy and paying each month until next year, and then to double in size again. Next years goal is to get to over 48k a month in revenue, take home around 20-24k a month profit and finally purchase a commercial property for the business and put down some roots.

In other news I got some flying lessons and got to fly around the Puget Sound recently. Definitely worth it!



B2A8B708-A634-44E3-9C0B-6C0EFD5BFF31.png
 

Brrr

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Not too long ago it was getting pretty discouraging. Always remember that things get better, and results will lag behind the work you’re doing. And remember when things are better that they can just as quickly get bad again if you’re lazy. Always have the attitude that you’re broke and desperate. Work hard when you don’t need to or else you’ll eventually need to anyways. Just keep the momentum going.
100% with you on this one, it's nice to see people grinding out an IRL business.

I'm also incredibly impressed with your profit margins, congrats on that. Excited to see how you handle the next phases of growth.
 

Johnny boy

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Swamped with customers and we are nearly at capacity for both crews. Sneaking up on 24k/mo revenue soon.

Now it's time to replace the least profitable customers.

Our dispatching software shows me how long the guys spend at each property. Factoring in driving time, materials, time spent at the property, and number of customer requests/complaints will help me decide who to remove from our schedule, and it gives me an idea of which customer types and which property types we should focus in on.

Our biggest sources of new customers have been an exceptionally high ranking on organic google search results, and then ads on thumbtack, craigslist, and facebook. Surprisingly facebook has been worse than last year. The secret isn't one place to advertise, it's about being everywhere. This time of year about 80% of people we gave quotes to have told us something along the lines of "I couldn't even get a call back from the 15 other places I called, you guys not only answered the phone, but a nice lady talked to me and scheduled a quote the same day". So the secret really is just answering the phone in this industry, which is only possible since we have repeatable, easily managed, scalable systems in place. I pay more than a car payment each month for software and systems for our phones, email, dispatching, billing, etc. Get a lot of customers, so you can be pickier and be more profitable, so you can pay your employees well and afford nice systems, so you can advertise and be available when all those customers call.

Growing something with employees is such a ride. I deeply appreciate everyone who helps each and every day with the business. I tell every person within our small company daily that I appreciate everything they're doing and I pay them above average and nearly all decisions I make are with them in mind.
 

sparechange

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Swamped with customers and we are nearly at capacity for both crews. Sneaking up on 24k/mo revenue soon.

Now it's time to replace the least profitable customers.

Our dispatching software shows me how long the guys spend at each property. Factoring in driving time, materials, time spent at the property, and number of customer requests/complaints will help me decide who to remove from our schedule, and it gives me an idea of which customer types and which property types we should focus in on.

Our biggest sources of new customers have been an exceptionally high ranking on organic google search results, and then ads on thumbtack, craigslist, and facebook. Surprisingly facebook has been worse than last year. The secret isn't one place to advertise, it's about being everywhere. This time of year about 80% of people we gave quotes to have told us something along the lines of "I couldn't even get a call back from the 15 other places I called, you guys not only answered the phone, but a nice lady talked to me and scheduled a quote the same day". So the secret really is just answering the phone in this industry, which is only possible since we have repeatable, easily managed, scalable systems in place. I pay more than a car payment each month for software and systems for our phones, email, dispatching, billing, etc. Get a lot of customers, so you can be pickier and be more profitable, so you can pay your employees well and afford nice systems, so you can advertise and be available when all those customers call.

Growing something with employees is such a ride. I deeply appreciate everyone who helps each and every day with the business. I tell every person within our small company daily that I appreciate everything they're doing and I pay them above average and nearly all decisions I make are with them in mind.

I've had thoughts of being pickier with my own business of delivering my products, apartment buildings give me business PTSD when trying to dial the wrong numbers on an order form on the keypad or getting no answer.

Residential is simple, type in the address on my phone and drop off the package and vanish like the wind, but the waiting in apartments is a hassle. Funny little story, I was doing sample runs and arrived at an apartment around 8 or 830pm ish.

Buzzed the apartment building and let them know I have their order, they said try again tomorrow we are just getting ready for bed. Yes thank you for making me come all the way down here to give you a free sample at my own cost for materials, delivery and more importantly my time.

Good job on your success man, how much time do you spend personally on admin stuff? Seems like you are fairly hands off and ''divorced'' from the business in terms of time.
 

Johnny boy

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I've had thoughts of being pickier with my own business of delivering my products, apartment buildings give me business PTSD when trying to dial the wrong numbers on an order form on the keypad or getting no answer.

Residential is simple, type in the address on my phone and drop off the package and vanish like the wind, but the waiting in apartments is a hassle. Funny little story, I was doing sample runs and arrived at an apartment around 8 or 830pm ish.

Buzzed the apartment building and let them know I have their order, they said try again tomorrow we are just getting ready for bed. Yes thank you for making me come all the way down here to give you a free sample at my own cost for materials, delivery and more importantly my time.

Good job on your success man, how much time do you spend personally on admin stuff? Seems like you are fairly hands off and ''divorced'' from the business in terms of time.

In the mornings I get up, have some bacon and coffee, and make the schedule for the day. Takes about 5-10 minutes. I check emails, enter in new customers into the system, charge their cards, put them on our recurring billing system, etc. that takes about 3 minutes per customer.

Then, I head out and go to work. I drive one of the trucks and train the newest employee and make sure everything looks good. I have the more complex jobs on my schedule. Once I purchase a 3rd vehicle (or fix up my old car) I’ll keep the 2 trucks parked at the lot and the guys will be working alone.

I then give quotes from 4-6pm and come home around 6-7.

So right now I work 10-12hr days. I’m not trying to 4-hour workweek this thing right now. I’m busting my a$$ at the moment.

But pretty soon it’ll transition to where the guys work alone and there’s nothing left to do but make sure employees are happy and the work is getting done.

Theoretically once I have another vehicle to drive as my personal car and the guys work alone, I will work for probably an hour a day and make like 13-17k a month.

With that said, I still have no problem heading in to cover someone who couldn’t make it in that day. Life happens and people aren’t machines.

So no, right now I am not a passive owner but that’s because I need to go buy another truck.
 

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