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NOTABLE! Starting a lawn care service business

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ZCP

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2 zero-turn mowers, two push mowers, two blowers, two weed eaters, the trailer, and 32 existing customers on annual contracts (worth roughly $31k gross)....all for $20k.
put a spreadsheet together to see what assets you are buying and what revenue stream you are buying. see how long until you get your money back.

then ask yourself (not others) if you could spend $20k to get you off your a$$ and running a business or if you have the personal motivation and skill to get all the equipment and 32 contracts yourself. How long will it take you to get to that level? what would be the $ and time invested to get to the same point?

Would the profits for that period of time pay for you to buy the business?

either way .... start or buy/run a lawn business and get going. quit wasting time.
do something now!
 

ZCP

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to continue ........ my kids and i bought several vending routes. we could have started and set them up ourselves over the course of a year or so. our spreadsheet said that for a little more than it would cost us to do ourselves, we could buy instant profits and still have a sellable asset. we pulled the trigger and bought existing routes to save TIME

also .... negotiate with the seller. lower number, rolling buyout, systems, other items they can throw in, any spare parts, other lists, other products, the knowledge of what they would do next to grow the business, etc. .... all worth something

and @Johnny boy Great F*cking job, dude!! Keep slaying it!
 

Gidoza45

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Would a lawn service be considered a fast lane business. If not, I feel like it could be a good vehicle to get you closer to a fast lane business. I feel like this would be much better than regular job trading time for money.
 

Johnny boy

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Would a lawn service be considered a fast lane business. If not, I feel like it could be a good vehicle to get you closer to a fast lane business. I feel like this would be much better than regular job trading time for money.
If you're looking for cash to use for a business idea, I would get into sales. Unless you have some other special skill or unique situation like owning some income-producing asset, sales will be very useful. I did well. My best friend just made 10k a month ago and it's his first year selling cars. He is using sales to get money to get into real estate and that's his goal. He said he could be happy shooting for 50 million. That works for him. I just feel like I'm choking if I'm not doing something that really pushes me. It just depends on what you really want.
 

Johnny boy

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If anyone wants to become an expert in marketing and sales, try to grow a lawn care company in the winter...

That said, contracts are rolling in now and once the schedule is all filled up, I'll hire two guys and add on more workers after that.

Maybe we can get another truck or two this year. This is the year to get as many customers as possible, do a great job and after this year have 50-100 people looking to continue their contract, allowing me to REALLY automate and then scale things for the year after.

12 month contracts are so nice. Recurring payments are so nice. Cancellation fees are so nice. Repetitive work each week is so nice.

Why my competition sucks:

1. They don't realize TERMS are QUANTIFIABLE. They think a $50 job scheduled for biweekly services is the same as a signed contract for biweekly services that cost $50. It IS different. The opportunity for customers to say "I change my mind" takes away a massive amount of revenue and leaves your schedule screwed up.

2. They don't realize the value of repetitive work. Repetitive work means mistakes get fixed by the next week and less mistakes are made. So you can hire cheaper labor because it's simpler work. Bad employees are your fault. If McDonald's and Walmart can hire idiots and make billions, so can you.

3. They don't understand the value perception that happens when you spread payments out to a subscription service that never changes throughout the year. We'll spend 45 minutes at a place and take 37 trips there throughout the year for all of our services. So we are there weekly for most of the year, but we charge only $250 a month. But the grand total is $3000. That's $100 an hour but many customers would shit bricks if we told them that's what we were charging. It's about perception.

4. They think the "fix" to these problems is commercial work, skilled projects, and unique services that are "profitable".

5. They can't automate their business because of the above "fix", and therefore can't scale their business very large.

6. They don't understand marketing. Their community doesn't care about lawn care. They buy lawn care because they don't care about it at all. You're not going to get followers on your instagram page for posting pictures of only lawns. Local businesses need to market like they are the mayor of their town, or the most popular person in their city. I have a podcast show that brings on local influences and businesses, which siphons off the local following these people have onto my page that's more about me than the business. I plan to have a marketing manager for each location to be the face of the company in each city. I don't even think I want each location to have the same name. Local businesses only need to be known locally.

7. They also think the "fix" for having a shitty business is to take on any and all work. The problem is their acquisition of customers. "We can't only do one service because not enough people would sign up". Sounds like a marketing problem, you lazy loser.

8. They buy big machines and trucks. What's the ROI of a fancy truck? Does it help you get more customers because you look "official"? Get your 2018 F150, I'll buy a $4,000 truck with a good engine and dump the rest into facebook ads. We'll see who wins. And good luck trying to accommodate the customers that have walkways and gates that won't fit your mower that costs more than my truck. Also, how are you going to grow your business if you need way more money to expand. You need $50,000 to add another crew. I need like $7000.

9. They don't understand cash flow. My payments come in at the beginning of the month before any work has been done. Plenty of time to pay for things, pay employees, maybe add another crew... you think "the money is in commercial work"??? They slow pay like nobody else.

10. They didn't read TMF.
 
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minivanman

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Although I have money and time invested in businesses that do commercial work, I have never been a proponent of getting commercial work. I've went out of my way to avoid it. You are preaching to the choir on this post as far as I'm concerned.
 

Johnny boy

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Update: Even with the systems I've set up there's still almost too many people reaching out for lawn care. Only signing up people for year-long contracts. I have to get a new place this year too.
 

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Lex DeVille

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Update: Even with the systems I've set up there's still almost too many people reaching out for lawn care. Only signing up people for year-long contracts. I have to get a new place this year too.
Can you automate the response to outreach, put them on a waiting list and raise your prices?
 

Johnny boy

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lake.jpg

All customers are on signed contracts for regular services. I work 4-5 hours a day and I'm moved out. Living on Lake steilacoom in Lakewood, WA. Not bad for a 1st place at 22. Here's the dock and patio.

lake1.jpg

I will add on more customers, save up for an extra month, buy another truck, and hire on workers and use that month to add on customers to my own schedule so I don't do the same thing as last year; sit around and be lazy but feel cool for not working. It was just feeding my ego being only a boss, but it wasn't feeding my bank account or the growth of my business. There are not enough margins at the moment to have workers do everything, pay for me to live, AND grow the business. I need to kickstart it myself a bit more before I can purely manage AND grow it.

It's the mcdonalds of lawn care. Here's your mower, here's your weedwhacker. Go where the ipad in the truck says and do what the ipad says to do at that property. If it says you need to put down "ABC fertilizer" on setting "6", then you do it. I'll pay 15/hr for two people that can each drive if needed. Two people a crew means redundancy. At first the redundancy is just me, but it will work fine having multiple crews with 2 people in each. If there are absences I can offload a job from the light crew to the full crew's schedule.

As I grow, I'll have a secretary scheduling and dealing with customer service, scheduling, data entry, etc. I will eventually hire a manager for a single location and build up another location 15-20 miles away.

My goal is to build a chain out of this business.
 

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Go where the ipad in the truck says and do what the ipad says to do at that property.
Just curious if you have a software for this, or if you manually optimize the routes/procedures.
 

Johnny boy

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Just curious if you have a software for this, or if you manually optimize the routes/procedures.
I have 5 sections that shape my service area like a pizza and each area is serviced on a specific day. The properties only a couple of minutes away can be filled in any day to fill empty spots. So that optimizes routes pretty well.

The procedures are on an app called housecall pro. The ipad has it's own apple ID and email so its also the login email to an employee profile on housecall pro, so I can dispatch jobs to the ipad or whichever ipad is in each truck as I add more crews. And I can make the jobs recurring. I can also track the location of the ipad live and look at routes taken and track time on each job to see where there are inefficiencies or maybe the guys are wasting time. Each "job" can have notes and has an auto generated photo of the street view of the property to help identify the right house when arriving. I can include notes from the customer like if they want something done specifically during that visit or to make sure not to do something they don't want done. It's a better way to communicate with the workers when it comes time for that. It also helps having recurring services because workers will become more familiar with the properties and any errors can be corrected.
 

CareCPA

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I have 5 sections that shape my service area like a pizza and each area is serviced on a specific day. The properties only a couple of minutes away can be filled in any day to fill empty spots. So that optimizes routes pretty well.

The procedures are on an app called housecall pro. The ipad has it's own apple ID and email so its also the login email to an employee profile on housecall pro, so I can dispatch jobs to the ipad or whichever ipad is in each truck as I add more crews. And I can make the jobs recurring. I can also track the location of the ipad live and look at routes taken and track time on each job to see where there are inefficiencies or maybe the guys are wasting time. Each "job" can have notes and has an auto generated photo of the street view of the property to help identify the right house when arriving. I can include notes from the customer like if they want something done specifically during that visit or to make sure not to do something they don't want done. It's a better way to communicate with the workers when it comes time for that. It also helps having recurring services because workers will become more familiar with the properties and any errors can be corrected.
Awesome. You seem like the kind of person who would automate/optimize where possible, so I would have been surprised if you were manually doing it.

Also, just saw this:
If McDonald's and Walmart can hire idiots and make billions, so can you.
Definitely makes you think about what's possible. I keep thinking it's too difficult to teach my employees what I know (and thereby free up more of my time). But that's ridiculous, since I learned it somewhere.
 

The Abundant Man

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How long have you lived in Lakewood? I'm just wondering what the old Hollywood Video got replaced with?
 

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Johnny boy

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I violates the commandment of scale.
If 500 people called me and wanted to sign up, I could quote them online, collect their credit card info, spend 3 hours writing out the schedule for them, run their first payment, use that as a down payment with a private loan to purchase 14 trucks, trailers and equipment, and rent a empty lot to park everything, and I could hire the workers within a couple of weeks using temp agencies, Craigslist, Indeed, etc. And then I have a +1 mil / year business operating at a 40% profit margin. It would not be the easiest couple of weeks but I could do it.

But yes, ebooks scale better. I'll keep that in mind.
 

ZCP

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I violates the commandment of scale.
makes a bunch of money in the meantime......

not sure what your definition of scale is? explain your post to help the discussion?
should @Johnny boy be doing something different? seems like he is killing it..... what is he missing? what could he be doing better?
 

Johnny boy

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makes a bunch of money in the meantime......

not sure what your definition of scale is? explain your post to help the discussion?
should @Johnny boy be doing something different? seems like he is killing it..... what is he missing? what could he be doing better?
I could be doing everything better.
 

EVMaso

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Great thread, great stuff Johnny Boy. I especially appreciate how you listed out your automated process for handling leads. That kind of process is applicable to basically any industry.

Also from reading your other posts I appreciate your style. No BS, no fluff, straight to the point.
 

Andreas Thrane

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I feel like i want to get on the first flight from Denmark to the states and hook up with you, so im able to learn by firsthand.

This thread is awesome.
 

Johnny boy

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For the last couple weeks, I've worked about 4 hours each week while my employee worked. My business brings in enough to pay for expenses, an employee working full time, and all of my personal expenses. In the winter, I will have an extra 3000-3500 each month because I will have the same revenue without an employee or work to do so no gas or other expenses. That is if I do pretty much no work at all. I could just sit on the dock and relax all summer, get a second truck in the winter, sign up lots of customers and have two crews working full time next year and continue not doing the actual work. However, my brain gets weird when I don't work. It just turns off, gets foggy, and I become stupid and unhappy. It's funny that I'll dream about doing nothing like in office space, and then when I can do nothing, I hate it.

So instead of being lazy, I am going to sign up more customers, help my employee work and get done early in the day so I can make more money, get my blood moving each day, get done around 4pm and still get to enjoy the lake. I'll grow, have more money to save up for a rainy day and get to a second truck by this year possibly. If I can get to two trucks working full time, this winter will be quite an experience. It'll be more money than I've made in a year in a couple of months without doing hardly any work. I'll have 2 weeks off, then 8 weeks off just two weeks after that.

As I was writing this, I thought about what I'm going to do this winter and the answer is a rickshaw run . I like making decisions fast like that and I did the same when I decided to climb Mt.Rainier and bungee jumping so this is no different. It'll give me something to work towards and focus on.

another update: just paid for my ticket. I forgot you need a team lol.

image1 (4).jpeg
 

Pat D. Rick

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As I was writing this, I thought about what I'm going to do this winter and the answer is a rickshaw run .
This looks awesome! Which one did you choose, Sri Lanka, Himalaya or India? Do you do it all on your own or do you have some mates that will go with you?
It reminds me of when I decided in January that I could run a marathon, so in April I finished my first marathon ever. I like the idea of thinking about some crazy/funny stuff and then actually doing it.
Pretty much like entrepreneurship I guess.
 

Johnny boy

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This looks awesome! Which one did you choose, Sri Lanka, Himalaya or India? Do you do it all on your own or do you have some mates that will go with you?
It reminds me of when I decided in January that I could run a marathon, so in April I finished my first marathon ever. I like the idea of thinking about some crazy/funny stuff and then actually doing it.
Pretty much like entrepreneurship I guess.
India. The January one.

And I asked a fastlaner if he wanted to go and we’re gonna talk about it this week but he’s pretty interested. I’m going to take two people with me.
 

reedracer

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For the last couple weeks, I've worked about 4 hours each week while my employee worked. My business brings in enough to pay for expenses, an employee working full time, and all of my personal expenses. In the winter, I will have an extra 3000-3500 each month because I will have the same revenue without an employee or work to do so no gas or other expenses. That is if I do pretty much no work at all. I could just sit on the dock and relax all summer, get a second truck in the winter, sign up lots of customers and have two crews working full time next year and continue not doing the actual work. However, my brain gets weird when I don't work. It just turns off, gets foggy, and I become stupid and unhappy. It's funny that I'll dream about doing nothing like in office space, and then when I can do nothing, I hate it.

So instead of being lazy, I am going to sign up more customers, help my employee work and get done early in the day so I can make more money, get my blood moving each day, get done around 4pm and still get to enjoy the lake. I'll grow, have more money to save up for a rainy day and get to a second truck by this year possibly. If I can get to two trucks working full time, this winter will be quite an experience. It'll be more money than I've made in a year in a couple of months without doing hardly any work. I'll have 2 weeks off, then 8 weeks off just two weeks after that.

As I was writing this, I thought about what I'm going to do this winter and the answer is a rickshaw run . I like making decisions fast like that and I did the same when I decided to climb Mt.Rainier and bungee jumping so this is no different. It'll give me something to work towards and focus on.

another update: just paid for my ticket. I forgot you need a team lol.

View attachment 24960
I'm gearing up for the Bataan Death March next year, but this thing sounds wild!
 

reedracer

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Btw, I thought of a marketing ploy. Offer clients and their neighbors 5% off for each contiguous neighbor. That way you can do say ten lawns at once. The 5% is off each new price so for $50 full fee it would go
0 neighbors $50
1 $47.50
2 $45.13
3 $42.87
4 $40.83
...
10 $31.51 ea. Basically, you make $315 without having to move the truck
 

Johnny boy

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Btw, I thought of a marketing ploy. Offer clients and their neighbors 5% off for each contiguous neighbor. That way you can do say ten lawns at once. The 5% is off each new price so for $50 full fee it would go
0 neighbors $50
1 $47.50
2 $45.13
3 $42.87
4 $40.83
...
10 $31.51 ea. Basically, you make $315 without having to move the truck
People don’t care about financial incentives like that. They tell their neighbor just because they like you and you speak English. Everyone gets a “discount”.

I used to think those incentive offers would help but I was overthinking it.
 

minivanman

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Especially 5%. Now if you gave them 10 free mowings for each customer they got you, they MIGHT get you a couple.... but then you gotta mow them 10 times for free. :eek: But like Johnny said, ain't nobody got time for 5%..... or even 25% or 50%. But I will give you credit.... that was a GREAT marketing ploy in 1963!;)
 

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