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NOTABLE! Starting a lawn care service business

Discussion in 'Business Models, Niches, Industries' started by Johnny boy, Jun 4, 2018.

  1. minivanman
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    minivanman Gold Contributor Speedway Pass

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    I know a guy in Kansas that says he makes about $60,000 a year profit from each guy he has aerating. He doesn't offer any other service besides aerating nowadays since his grandson is older. I don't know how many guys he has doing it these days.
     
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  2. NaPal
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    EXACTLY! Aerating is bank. My dad works for a national company and has told me this for years. Upsell by overseeding right after with a spreader :)

    Does the guy you know aerate all summer long? Or just spring/fall? It's very tough to aerate when it hasn't rained for 2 weeks. :clench:
     
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  3. minivanman
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    I'm not sure what his schedule is. He doesn't offer any upsell. Does the job and on to the next. I think all of his customers are repeat these days. Back a few years ago he said he didn't have to advertise anymore. He probably told me how many people he has working and maybe when he does it but I don't remember now and neither me or my friend has talked to him in a few years.
     
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  4. Johnny boy
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    people ask for that and I’ve talked to some people that want that type of service. I’ll just go to the local golf course and chat with the groundskeeper. Or maybe a minor league baseball grounds crew. Throw it in as an add on.

    It would be easier to market to people than mowing. Walk up to decent houses with dead grass and leave a nice little letter about how it’s a science and we can make it much better. Along with a recommendation of the first thing we’d do, to get their interest and reel them in, like good sales copy.

    Isn’t trugreen doing the same thing though by spraying lawns?
     
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  5. CPisHere
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    Yes, seems like an easy, high $ sale to the right customers.

    I hadn't heard of them but it looks like that is what they do.
     
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    I can already see a flyer titled, "YOUR GRASS SUCKS".

    Then followed up with a 'Join the Ranks of Chuck Norris and unleash our Astonishing Lawn Secrets Today!"
     
  7. Paleo
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    I've been seriously thinking about snapping up some used equipment this winter and putting a crew out there next spring just because the local companies SUCK at marketing. I've been in this house for over a year and have gotten one door hanger, one crappy flier and I think one postcard from lawn mowing companies. I could do the marketing and have a couple of guys execute. I have no desire to take it beyond one truck but it could be a nice side business given the quality of the competition.
    Trugreen does market heavily but they are sprayers, not mowers.
    The typical mower here looks like a bag of rags. Twice recently I have seen this scenario- a guy with a truck and trailer with no lettering, mowing grass wearing jorts and no shirt with a cig hanging out of his mouth. NOT the same guy. These are very nice neighborhoods too. If you just require that your employees be fully dressed you are way ahead of the competition.
     
  8. Johnny boy
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    Johnny boy Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    I have the guys wear company polo shirts and they’re both English speaking 100%.

    We invoice online and are satisfaction guaranteed. Everything is professional.

    I stole some practices and strategies from the car lot.
     
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  9. Johnny boy
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    Update:

    Workers are kicking a$$. Showing up every day. Getting jobs done quicker than expected and doing quality work.

    Got my licenses yesterday.

    Taking online payments.

    We have our schedule filled up for the next few days. And loads of bids being scheduled.

    Staying on top of scheduling and keeping track of leads. Everyone goes into the system and everything is flowing smoothly. A couple weeks ago I couldn’t handle the leads and I’d be late at responding to a third of the people. No more of that. Everything is dialed.

    Once I schedule my guys out for more than 2-3 weeks straight and more to come, I’ll bring on another crew.

    Profit is slightly less than expected because after spending hundreds on legal zoom wasting my time, filing again with the state for another 200, paying 300 for licenses and paying insurance in full, combined with being less than fully efficient with jobs early on has resulted in not making as much as expected. Still making money though. Doing the math it makes sense to bring on another crew soon.

    Next BIG hurdle: finding a way to outsource the bidding, sales and customer service... I can’t clone myself so it’s a necessary part of scaling the business. Not enough income and time left in the season for a commercial property.

    We’ll see. I’m not buying any property when the market is this high though... I’m a lawn mowing company not a real estate investing company.
     
  10. minivanman
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    You said you will have to outsource the advertising, how are you advertising right now?
     
  11. Johnny boy
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    Craigslist, google AdWords and yelp ads.

    I don’t need to outsource that. I can do it all in a couple minutes from my computer. Craigslist is 90% of our business.
     
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  12. NaPal
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    Looks like I've just found my first place to market :praise:
     
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  13. Boo
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    If you really want to scale you need to productize your services. You can't be going out to bid on jobs, especially if you're primarily doing mowing for them.

    You can either:

    - Estimate lawn sizes and price that way (customer estimates size or you use a mapping solution to see the size online)
    - You price per hour

    That way you can do it all online and don't need to drive around between lawns taking measurements and wasting your time. Sure, occasionally you'll over estimate and sometimes you'll underestimate but overall it should average out the same if you set the systems up correctly. Cleaning companies do the exact same thing, typically based on the number of bedroom and bathrooms - obviously sometimes the houses are far bigger than they expect and that's that, but at least they didn't have to drive around bidding on places.

    Not only does it save you a bunch of time, you'll also see your conversion rate increase because people can book online in minutes rather than waiting days for you to come bid on their home.

    Check out this company: Lawn Mowing & Lawn Care Services in Washington, D.C. | Lawn Tribe

    They do it based on $ per hour and then give the client an option to either check "go over the time to do the job right" or "do the best you can in the time slot".
     
  14. Johnny boy
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    If I have a commercial location with 4+ trucks I imagine it would make sense to have a manager that bids jobs and does other things. Along with an office lady to take calls and schedule bids.
     
  15. NaPal
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    Question:

    How does one find out about companies that are bidding out lawn/landscape services?

    I.E. > Local bank branches, chain restaurants, HOA's, shopping plazas.
     
  16. Johnny boy
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    Johnny boy Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Update:

    Changed business model into a single plan that we don’t deviate from now signing people up for next year.

    No more “do you do (insert custom bullshit that takes up mental energy and isn’t scalable)?”

    One formula for determining price

    Contract work only

    Contracts are air tight and I had an attorney look it over

    Higher profit margins

    Each contract = average of 3600 revenue for next year = less annoying bidding jobs and avoiding variance = less headache and costly errors.

    Goal before the years end: 90 contracts

    Currently working on getting a commercial lease on a warehouse in a nearby town

    Goal revenue for next year: $327,000 determined by contracts signed in the next few months.

    Moving fast.
     
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  17. minivanman
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    Good job on no custom work. In the house cleaning business we never did custom work and it made it really simple and 1 reason things usually went so smooth. Me and the office worker knew exactly what was being done, the QC person knew exactly what to check and the worker never had to guess at what needed done. We did the same thing at every house. Now we did have 2 plans.... GOLD & SILVER. Something to think about for yourself is the same. With the GOLD, offer something simple and make more profit on the job.
     
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  18. Johnny boy
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    Johnny boy Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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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.
     
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  19. Ken Elshoff
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    I’ve heard of a program (not sure if it’s state or federal) where the government will reimburse employers for one full years worth of salary if they hire felons. Lots of folks getting released are decent people and need jobs.

    So, basically you get a free employee for one year.

    Of course, there is one a**hole locally who hires felons for one year, gets reimbursed, then fires them so he can hire more —it’s a perpetual revolving door of free one-year employees. His whole company was built by ‘free’ employees. Don’t be that guy.

    If I hear of the program name I’ll come back and post it but I’m sure you could find it though google if you are interested.

    Just a thought.
     
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  20. Johnny boy
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    Johnny boy Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Wow...you think a lawn care employee could stay for a whole year? That would be crazy.
     
  21. Ken Elshoff
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    I don’t know. Good question. I’ll try to find the program. You could probably call a local parole officer and ask about that program. They wouldn’t be involved but they might know some details. Plus, I know lots of hard working felons who are great people and no one will give them a job. It’s crazy. A workforce that business owners ignore. Not all of them are, of course.
     
  22. Ken Elshoff
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    This is a really insightful post. I never considered aeration. I stewed on your post a bit and it makes total sense!

    As a lawn mowing business, you are competing against homeowners who already have lawn mowers.

    So you are trying to zero in on customers who can’t/won’t mow their own lawns. Same with lawn care (fertilizer, etc).

    Simply, most homeowners have mowers and fertilizer.

    But FEW own aerators. I don’t know anyone who owns one, in fact.

    So, by offering aeration, EVERY lawn owner is your potential client — even if they mow their own lawns.

    Terrific niche!!

    Thanks for giving me some food for thought.
     
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  23. minivanman
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    Back in the 90's my friend owned a large plumbing company and most of his workers were on work release and then once they got out, they usually stayed working for him.... for awhile anyway. There were some that went on to be licensed plumbers and straighten up since they had a good job.
     
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  24. Real Deal Denver
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    Wow, that's a pretty steep fee. We pay $250 a month, but we get a heated pool, tennis courts, lawn care, snow removal, trash removal, and outside maintenance. They're repainting right now, in fact.

    At that price, people still scream. Good luck with that fee structure. I know it would not fly here, and I live in an above average area.
     
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  25. NaPal
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    I'm focused solely on Aeration right now. Around here it sucks because you can/should only aerate in the Spring & Fall. You have limited time windows. And the ground needs to be moist to pull the plugs.

    You need to watch out for irrigation systems and electric dog fences + whatever else is in the ground. I've heard from a friend who has already cut off 2 clients cable/internet to their homes this fall because the lines were not installed as deep as they should of been in the ground.

    BTW I have 14 yards lined up for $2200 this weekend. Not all of that is profit because I am overseeding. Aeration also takes a toll on the body! You will feel it if you do it yourself to get off the ground.
     

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