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NOTABLE! Starting a lawn care service business

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Johnny boy

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.
 

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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?
 

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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 

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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
 
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Johnny boy

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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Ing

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Hi man, a nice story about your success!
I cant accept (thats wrong! I accept YOUR ambitions! But I just have an idea! ;) )your winter ambitions. I planed a similar business and in my plan I did winter services in winter.
My brother in law works at a business similar to yours. And he does winter services all winter long. Every one, who has a parking lot needs that (stores, hospitals, factories...). It will ad or doubble your business! So put a board on your trucks in winter and make winter services!
 
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Johnny boy

Johnny boy

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Hi man, a nice story about your success!
I cant accept (thats wrong! I accept YOUR ambitions! But I just have an idea! ;) )your winter ambitions. I planed a similar business and in my plan I did winter services in winter.
My brother in law works at a business similar to yours. And he does winter services all winter long. Every one, who has a parking lot needs that (stores, hospitals, factories...). It will ad or doubble your business! So put a board on your trucks in winter and make winter services!
No. I’ll be getting paid the same amount as each month in the spring since our services are prorated. I’ll be on vacation. No need to be sad in the winter in Washington. Gotta have my sunshine.
 

Kwyant36

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Jun 16, 2019
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I've been lurking this forum for a little while, and I think it's more than just motivational. I need ideas too. I read the post on unsexy businesses, and I think lawn care qualifies.

I would consider this gold, however I think the idea proposed in this forum is a little optimistic, but achievable. I find it hard to believe someone with only car sales experience can suddenly jump into another industry, and find success in such a short period of time.

My approach is to spend appx 4k on a truck, appx 2k on a trailer, and 5k on used equipment found at auctions with cash. I won't launch the business until the spring of 2020.

I live in Michigan and wouldn't begin advertising until February. I would spend the next 2 months hanging bandit signs, knocking in doors, and cold calling. I would set up a website with paid ads, but nothing crazy. Possibly place ads on doors? I hear it's all about how effective the ad is itself


I would plan on operating as a sole entrepreneur for the first year to see how this goes. I would plan on getting 50 seasonal customers to keep me extremy busy the first year. 50 customers give, or take.

Hire employees if I'm winning after season 1?
 
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Johnny boy

Johnny boy

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I've been lurking this forum for a little while, and I think it's more than just motivational. I need ideas too. I read the post on unsexy businesses, and I think lawn care qualifies.

I would consider this gold, however I think the idea proposed in this forum is a little optimistic, but achievable. I find it hard to believe someone with only car sales experience can suddenly jump into another industry, and find success in such a short period of time.

My approach is to spend appx 4k on a truck, appx 2k on a trailer, and 5k on used equipment found at auctions with cash. I won't launch the business until the spring of 2020.

I live in Michigan and wouldn't begin advertising until February. I would spend the next 2 months hanging bandit signs, knocking in doors, and cold calling. I would set up a website with paid ads, but nothing crazy. Possibly place ads on doors? I hear it's all about how effective the ad is itself


I would plan on operating as a sole entrepreneur for the first year to see how this goes. I would plan on getting 50 seasonal customers to keep me extremy busy the first year. 50 customers give, or take.

Hire employees if I'm winning after season 1?
My tips right now are

1. Recurring services only and make a “plan” they can sign up on

2. Contracts for everyone but make it a digital form they fill out and call it “terms and conditions” instead of shoving a 3 page contract in front of them and scaring them away

3. Use QuickBooks for recurring payments it’ll help make sure you have them by the balls because you’ll have their cards, and they won’t be able to ignore an invoice. It’s just automatically taken out.

4. Include cancellation fees in your contracts

5. The simpler the work, the less mistakes employees will make.

6. Get basic equipment like walk behind mowers. Less that can break. Easy to fix. Cheap, so it’s easier to grow to a second crew. Simple for the workers to use. Smaller lawns are more profitable anyways I promise.

7. You’ll feel like it’s impossible to sign anyone up and then boom, the grass starts growing and you get 10 calls every single day. Sign them all up. Don’t miss calls.

8. Craigslist posts and google is everything. Home adviser is good too but watch out for them sending too many leads at once you’ll have to pay for.

9. Your employee policy will be written from your first employees F*cking up in every way imaginable.

10. Your competition is mostly on the autism spectrum so be confident and keep your prices high. They’ve got few better options.
 

Kwyant36

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Jun 16, 2019
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My tips right now are

1. Recurring services only and make a “plan” they can sign up on

2. Contracts for everyone but make it a digital form they fill out and call it “terms and conditions” instead of shoving a 3 page contract in front of them and scaring them away

3. Use QuickBooks for recurring payments it’ll help make sure you have them by the balls because you’ll have their cards, and they won’t be able to ignore an invoice. It’s just automatically taken out.

4. Include cancellation fees in your contracts

5. The simpler the work, the less mistakes employees will make.

6. Get basic equipment like walk behind mowers. Less that can break. Easy to fix. Cheap, so it’s easier to grow to a second crew. Simple for the workers to use. Smaller lawns are more profitable anyways I promise.

7. You’ll feel like it’s impossible to sign anyone up and then boom, the grass starts growing and you get 10 calls every single day. Sign them all up. Don’t miss calls.

8. Craigslist posts and google is everything. Home adviser is good too but watch out for them sending too many leads at once you’ll have to pay for.

9. Your employee policy will be written from your first employees F*cking up in every way imaginable.

10. Your competition is mostly on the autism spectrum so be confident and keep your prices high. They’ve got few better options.

Good info here. I'm going to start solo next year with the goal of having a few crews working by the second year.

I believe digital marketing is key these days in these types of industries. Do facebook ads, do craigslist, definitely build a website, and use paid advertising. Maybe run an ad in the local paper? Only older people read them these days. Give potential customers a ballpark before estimating. You don't want to waste time dealing with cheapskates.

Create a unique name for your business, and use a catchy logo. Don't simply use part of your actual name. Come up with something unique. Walmart is a unique name. Would you be more likely to shop at Waltons? Meijer did it, but that's the exception. Meijer sounds better than Walton.

You should have a goal of creating a brand in this industry. Create a brand with the idea of hiring. I'll do fine my first year solo, but I want to become a manager of my company within a few years.

Only buy a good commercial mower. They say a well used commercial mower is far better than a new mower available at a box store.

Don't work for less than 70 per hour while at the customers site unless it's a large job.
 
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Johnny boy

Johnny boy

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Good info here. I'm going to start solo next year with the goal of having a few crews working by the second year.

I believe digital marketing is key these days in these types of industries. Do facebook ads, do craigslist, definitely build a website, and use paid advertising. Maybe run an ad in the local paper? Only older people read them these days. Give potential customers a ballpark before estimating. You don't want to waste time dealing with cheapskates.

Create a unique name for your business, and use a catchy logo. Don't simply use part of your actual name. Come up with something unique. Walmart is a unique name. Would you be more likely to shop at Waltons? Meijer did it, but that's the exception. Meijer sounds better than Walton.

You should have a goal of creating a brand in this industry. Create a brand with the idea of hiring. I'll do fine my first year solo, but I want to become a manager of my company within a few years.

Only buy a good commercial mower. They say a well used commercial mower is far better than a new mower available at a box store.

Don't work for less than 70 per hour while at the customers site unless it's a large job.
Just use whatever mower you can get first. Then get a new commercial one. People don’t sell good mowers. They sell broken and barely fixed mowers.

I have an exmark 21. It mows wet grass well and the deck can be raised up high so it’ll handle overgrown stuff better. It was $1300.

A customer gave us their old John Deere mower that doesn’t have a bag so we’ll run that around and mulch the grass up sometimes.
 
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Johnny boy

Johnny boy

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It's been a little over a year since I had the idea to get into this business. It'll be one year since registering with the state for my business license on July 5th. So I'll say right about now has been a year since I started. (I'm getting a cake for my business' birthday party for July 5th)

A year ago, I had never started an official business. I had never hired an employee. I had never dealt with taxes aside from getting a return through turbo tax from my regular job. Before I started this business I sold cars for one year. Before that I had played college baseball for a couple years. But one year ago when I started this thing, I was living at home, using pretty much every dollar I had to pay for new equipment or pay for employees to do the work. Sometimes getting phone calls from the bank from a negative allowance, with a phone bill being threatened to be shut off, and nobody calling for work.

But, I've always felt extremely lucky. I've always stumbled upon great lessons early on and made the right mistakes to learn the best lessons from so I don't have to wait until I'm 40 to finally learn them. I may always stretch myself thin and take more risks than any normal person would take, but I know it's helped me more than it's hurt me.

The more I taste, the hungrier I get. I feel like my life is a tuned up car with 400 horsepower and I'm begging for a bottle of nitrous to go faster. My whole life I've always felt I was never where I needed to be. When I was a baseball player, I was just "playing baseball", but never felt like that's who I was. That feeling went with me everywhere and I felt like I was playing a role in whatever I did. Not with this, though. Took me a while to realize that I really was just made to be in business.

I never knew what I really wanted because no goal felt good enough. I wasn't motivated because the end result just didn't excite me. But what I'm doing now and the visions I have for it excite the hell out of me and fire me up.

And I'm so excited because what I'm doing isn't the type of path that creates quick returns and fizzles out, like a music career or a sports career. Be great, make a couple mil, fade away into obscurity... This isn't some quick scheme like throwing some cash into bitcoin. This is a business. A steady, long-term, compounded growth type of business that'll be so much less likely to shrink than other types of income. And damn it's fun.

I like to make decisions that I'll be proud of looking back, and usually that means disregarding fear. I started focusing heavily on making decisions that scared me a few years back and it has paved the way for everything. I'm extremely proud of trusting myself, walking confidently when I couldn't see where I was stepping, not listening to others and only listening to my gut, not losing confidence when there was zero evidence that anything would work, making the hard decisions when I had the opportunity. It just reinforces that nobody's voice will ever matter to me.

When you start out, there's a lot of things that you're afraid of that would "devastate" you. There's a lot of harsh things that are tough to accept. There's a lot of "worst fears" that you find out are completely true and I think growth is about being able to handle them. If I had known that yes, it will take tons of work and yes, I will have to dedicate myself fully towards this and yes, I will have to change everything about myself to accomplish anything...I might not have done it because those were my worst fears. Eventually the dream itself forces you to make a decision and change something, yourself or your goals. And I'll be damned if I ever change my goals. It's like my dreams have killed my old self. I won't let the reverse be true. I'll always try the easy way first because sometimes it works and you find a nice way of doing things, but if I have to, I'll do whatever it takes.

If I could say what I want from life, I want it to be visceral. I hate the mundane and routine. I hate the safe and ordinary. I want to almost die a few times. I want 200mph and I want the windows down as I do it. I want to do all the things others are too chicken shit to do themselves. I remember when I was very young and I told my mom I thought I was either going to be a millionaire or be homeless and nothing in between.

365 days. That's all it's been. I've got nothing but time but I'm not going to waste it. Just like climbing a mountain. One step. Then another and so on. 1 foot at a time. Stop and enjoy the view every once in a while. Take a rest for a bit and then it's right back to the trail.
 

Mario_fastlaner

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I just read lots of that execution thread and also your post about making new friends and improve relationship as an entrepreneur. You're just 1 year older than me, but I definitely can learn a lot from you. Follow.
 

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