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NOTABLE! Starting a lawn care service business

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Gidoza45

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Do you have any business updates? Like what is your monthly revenues, and exspenses. How many employees. How many hours per week do you work in the business? etc.
 

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Johnny boy

Johnny boy

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Do you have any business updates? Like what is your monthly revenues, and exspenses. How many employees. How many hours per week do you work in the business? etc.
We’ve got about 85k in contracts for the year. Employees work 8 months of the year and cost 2500 a month each. It’s me and one employee. So his yearly expense will be 20k. I spend about 800 a month when working in expenses so about 6,400 there.

So less than 30 gets spent to bring in 85.

I help to make sure we get it done right and on time and we finish each day at only 1-2pm. So I can sign up some more people. I might need to in order to pay for the parties I’ve been throwing this summer.

But this winter will be nice. The monthly payments will come in and I’ll have no expenses. Right now it pays for my rent and lifestyle. Easy with no kids and no car payment.

I’ve got ads posted but not a lot of action this time of year so I’ll add customers very slowly for now. For now I’m just making sure the work gets done, spending my time in the gym or out in the lake swimming around. Here’s my view right now image.jpg

Edit: also, I found some mother F-ing bed bugs from a bed frame I bought off of craigslist a bit ago so I’m very pissed about that. So I’ve gotta take care of that. Also just coming off of a bad flu so I’ve had one hell of a week. But all is good. Just gotta make sure the work gets done.
 

Gidoza45

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Dec 6, 2018
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Awesome, thanks for the udpate! Did you quit selling cars or what other hustles you have going on?
 

M.M.M

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Any tips on what you use to make websites so fast and professional looking? Your mouse trap one was really nice! Do you us a page builder or hand code all of it? @Johnny boy
 

nickgraham1234

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Great execution thread Johnny. I've been thinking of getting into a service type business like yours and you threw down a lot of good knowledge. Thank you for the updates. In an industry like this, automation is definitely key. Godspeed
 
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Johnny boy

Johnny boy

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Any tips on what you use to make websites so fast and professional looking? Your mouse trap one was really nice! Do you us a page builder or hand code all of it? @Johnny boy
-Wordpress
-Divi theme builder
-Revolution slider (insert the shortcode into a “code” section in divi)
-Connect useful software such as active campaign and calend.ly

The lawn care website is much more impressive than the media mousetrap website but it took a few different versions and a lot of creativity and time to get it the way it is.
 

nickgraham1234

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@Johnny boy How important is a website in this type of service industry? I have found a niche in my local area that lacks good branding, website design, and general media presence. I know I could do much better than all of them.
 

Timmy C

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@Johnny boy How important is a website in this type of service industry? I have found a niche in my local area that lacks good branding, website design, and general media presence. I know I could do much better than all of them.
Prove it.

Tag me when you start your execution thread!

Popcorn will be ready.
 
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Johnny boy

Johnny boy

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@Johnny boy How important is a website in this type of service industry? I have found a niche in my local area that lacks good branding, website design, and general media presence. I know I could do much better than all of them.
Business is two things

Acquisition
Obligation

You get the work
Then you fulfill the obligation

A website is just a piece of the acquisition part of your business. It increases the conversion among people who become aware of your business and need the service. It will help you, but someone without a website could theoretically still kick your a$$ if they have other solid marketing practices.

In lawn care, people are desperate just to find someone who speaks English and has most of their teeth. You just need to throw up an ad on Craigslist and you’ll get work. Having a website is nice too. All that’s fine and dandy.

The secret is efficiently handling the “obligation” part of a lawn care business. Organizing the work to get it done efficiently and getting paid for the work on time. Your success will come down to whether or not you can have the right formula that will make you either a profitable company or a failing company. It has little to do with having a nice website. The simple decision to only take credit cards up front has been a hundred times more valuable to my bottom line than the quality of my website has. Think about that.
 

MattR82

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Do you think having your GMB optimised and an automated review funnel would help you get clients?

I'm a big believer in it. For me personally it's the number 1 thing I look for. But it seems you are not short of work but prefer to focus on making the work you do have as efficient as possible?

Interesting anyway and great work! It's something I have also thought about as I have a very close friend that has worked as an employee in this area for 5 years while he was getting his bachelor of arts. Now he has a career as a lawn care employee lol! Anyway, I thought about teaming up with him in our own venture. I mostly get the clients, run the biz and he mostly manages a few employees to begin with, till we each cross over a bit in those skills.
 
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Johnny boy

Johnny boy

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Do you think having your GMB optimised and an automated review funnel would help you get clients?

I'm a big believer in it. For me personally it's the number 1 thing I look for. But it seems you are not short of work but prefer to focus on making the work you do have as efficient as possible?

Interesting anyway and great work! It's something I have also thought about as I have a very close friend that has worked as an employee in this area for 5 years while he was getting his bachelor of arts. Now he has a career as a lawn care employee lol! Anyway, I thought about teaming up with him in our own venture. I mostly get the clients, run the biz and he mostly manages a few employees to begin with, till we each cross over a bit in those skills.
Partnerships would be a good idea if other people were smart
 

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MattR82

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Partnerships would be a good idea if other people were smart
I'm getting the idea that I may not be bringing as much to the table as I had thought though. Getting clients with marketing etc doesn't seem anywhere near as hard as running it as an efficient, smooth operation.
 
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Johnny boy

Johnny boy

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I'm getting the idea that I may not be bringing as much to the table as I had thought though. Getting clients with marketing etc doesn't seem anywhere near as hard as running it as an efficient, smooth operation.
Either way other people are usually dumb and not helpful. My website is my personal salesperson and scheduling assistant. QuickBooks is my payment manager. Housecall pro organizes the jobs and what to do and when. The recurring schedule means I’m not out bidding jobs all the time. My worker does half the work and we finish up by like 2pm. Having customer credit cards on file means I’m no longer a debt collector and waiting for our money to come in. What do you need a partner for? They just take money and make you have personal problems in addition to the natural business problems you’d have anyways.
 

nickgraham1234

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The secret is efficiently handling the “obligation” part of a lawn care business. Organizing the work to get it done efficiently and getting paid for the work on time. Your success will come down to whether or not you can have the right formula that will make you either a profitable company or a failing company. It has little to do with having a nice website. The simple decision to only take credit cards up front has been a hundred times more valuable to my bottom line than the quality of my website has. Think about that.
Good points. The industry I am looking into is window cleaning and a couple of other services, as I live in a very high income area on the coast. Its also a college town, so plenty of clean cut young employees for the future . There is definitely competition, but I am going to make an ad like you said and see if I can land some jobs to start. One thing I've noticed is most of the other companies in this haven't ever scaled by hiring teams etc. I guess they built themselves a job, not a business. I never pictured these types of businesses as scale able until I came across your thread. Thanks again.
 

MattR82

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Either way other people are usually dumb and not helpful. My website is my personal salesperson and scheduling assistant. QuickBooks is my payment manager. Housecall pro organizes the jobs and what to do and when. The recurring schedule means I’m not out bidding jobs all the time. My worker does half the work and we finish up by like 2pm. Having customer credit cards on file means I’m no longer a debt collector and waiting for our money to come in. What do you need a partner for? They just take money and make you have personal problems in addition to the natural business problems you’d have anyways.
Generally I would agree with that, but there are also cases where partnerships work. I have known him for a long time, 25 years, and he is a perfect person to team up with on this as he also has a lot of experience in the trenches as an employee in this job. He could probably do it without me, but I think is a little bit afraid to.
 
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Johnny boy

Johnny boy

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Update:

Lately we've just been getting work done and will be wrapping things up within the next couple months for the season. Will still be receiving regular payments from customers throughout the winter.

This has been the best year of my life. I've met with tons of people from this forum. I grew my business and maintained contracts that I signed up this spring. I spent many, many afternoons sitting out on a dock in sunny weather looking out over the water thinking about how lucky I am.

This was the year that I have "found" my purpose. It's not "mowing lawns", but I'm born to be a businessman. This shit gets me fired up and I'm addicted to it.

I am looking to scale the business up more since it has gone so well this year. I only need another truck+trailer+set of equipment (more would be even better). I've had to turn away customers and not scale up our marketing because I couldn't comfortably get 2 crews working without worrying about cash flow temporarily.

I would like to put out some feelers to see if anyone is interested in at least pointing me in the right direction to pursue funding options. The business is doing well, we have long term contracts with our customers, we have a dialed in online marketing strategy, and the business operations are surprisingly scalable. I can manage it without even leaving my bed 95% of the time if I choose to. Since the profit margins are relatively large, I am more than comfortable with a relatively high interest rate to attract investors. I have collateral as well if necessary.

Things have been great. I've been having an amazing time growing this thing. I appreciate the support I've gotten on here in just a year, and I'm looking forward to seeing many of you at the summit coming up.
 
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Johnny boy

Johnny boy

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Starting from 0 in contracts at the beginning of this year we are now at 7k or so in monthly revenue and about 3k in profit each month during the growing season (March until the end of October, and in the winter it will go up past 5k in profit since our customers pay 12 months of the same payment but we hardly do any work in the winter.

Customers can cancel for a 2 month cancellation fee but so far we have well over 90% customer retention for people who signed up for a full 12 months. There were a couple of people who we allowed to pay month to month since they were putting their houses on the market, but we’ve since replaced them with full-year customers.

From conversations with our customers we feel that our lifetime customer value will be high since a good percentage of them want to continue with us next year, but even if that is not the case, customer acquisition has been very easy.

Our marketing spend is very small. We get business from our “google my business” listing and also Craigslist ads. Our average cost to acquire a customer for a year long contract is somewhere around $15 if I had to put a rough estimate on it. Maybe lower but I want to be conservative. When we would scale up our marketing to fill more spots and get a second crew working full time, our customer acquisition costs would likely jump up to somewhere close to $30-$40 each, but that is still a great deal.

Given that a single average customer’s lifetime value is at least over a thousand dollars up to possibly a few thousand in NET profit, our marketing return is astronomical. That’s a given in local service industries though.

Our costs are primarily variable as opposed to being fixed costs. If there were 5 crews working one year and we hypothetically lost a ton of customers and the business shrinks, it’s easy to have 3 crews operating since the trucks and trailers not used will only be costing depreciation and light maintenance. The labor and gas burned would be nonexistent for those downsized crews and our costs would be lowered quite easily.
 

Gidoza45

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Dec 6, 2018
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How do you set up yearly customers for year round payments? Like do you take the average cost over 12 months? Do they sign a contract? What stops them from canceling in the winter, etc.?
 

MattR82

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Nice work!

What's the advantage to them signing up for a year when there are many months nothing is needed?
 
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Johnny boy

Johnny boy

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How do you set up yearly customers for year round payments? Like do you take the average cost over 12 months? Do they sign a contract? What stops them from canceling in the winter, etc.?
We have their credit cards on file and do not allow cancellations in the winter and we will take them to small claims court if they want to try to screw us over. It is written very clearly in our contracts they sign.

Also, when you tell people upfront they cannot cancel in the winter, they are usually decent people. There are always bad apples but that’s what the courts are for. I will get a judgement, then a writ of execution and they will wake up to wage garnishments or a bank levy.
 

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Johnny boy

Johnny boy

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Nice work!

What's the advantage to them signing up for a year when there are many months nothing is needed?
It’s deceptively cheap because if we visit a property 20 times during the year and charge $120 a month for a year. That seems fine to many customers, when it comes out to $72 a visit and we are there 25 minutes each visit. That comes out to $170 an hour but no one will want to pay us $170 an hour ever. Or $72 a visit. They think about price differently that way and it has made a world of difference for us.
 

MattR82

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It’s deceptively cheap because if we visit a property 20 times during the year and charge $120 a month for a year. That seems fine to many customers, when it comes out to $72 a visit and we are there 25 minutes each visit. That comes out to $170 an hour but no one will want to pay us $170 an hour ever. Or $72 a visit. They think about price differently that way and it has made a world of difference for us.
So they view it as being able to pay off the 20 visits worth over a year instead of the actual season? Or it just mentally seems cheaper to them when it's not really any different?

If it's the second one, do you think it will leave a bad taste in anyones mouth when renewal time comes up?

I like this idea but it's a shame there's not something you can also offer during the winter months.
 
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Johnny boy

Johnny boy

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So they view it as being able to pay off the 20 visits worth over a year instead of the actual season? Or it just mentally seems cheaper to them when it's not really any different?

If it's the second one, do you think it will leave a bad taste in anyones mouth when renewal time comes up?

I like this idea but it's a shame there's not something you can also offer during the winter months.
We do a couple of cleanup visits but it’s mostly the off-season.

And our customers mostly love it. An affordable payment each month on a credit card, they don’t have to worry about the lawn, we show up each week or every other week, and everyone’s happy. But either way, it’s all emotional. They would never say “sure I’ll pay you $170 an hour to cut my grass”, but they love $120 a month and seeing the lawn taken care of consistently without any hassle.
 

MattR82

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We do a couple of cleanup visits but it’s mostly the off-season.

And our customers mostly love it. An affordable payment each month on a credit card, they don’t have to worry about the lawn, we show up each week or every other week, and everyone’s happy. But either way, it’s all emotional. They would never say “sure I’ll pay you $170 an hour to cut my grass”, but they love $120 a month and seeing the lawn taken care of consistently without any hassle.
Awesome stuff man. Is it your own idea or common to the industry?
 

Ing

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Hi,
I ve read the thread months ago. Its still inspiering.

I thought about that since years, as a friend of mine works at a facility manager servive and even would jump in as an employee, If I started.
But your business, only caring about lawn, is great.

How do you manage the different sizes of the properties?
Do you allways take 120 or does it depend on the size?

I would be interested to see your internet occurs. Is that possible?

The thing I would be interested in, is, whether that business model would work in Germany, too.
The pros here offer lawn mowing at 500€ per year for 500 m² lawn. That would be narrow!
 
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srodrigo

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I spent many, many afternoons sitting out on a dock in sunny weather looking out over the water thinking about how lucky I am.
I don't think this is luck. It's the old serving a need with great execution. It's well deserved.

This was the year that I have "found" my purpose. It's not "mowing lawns", but I'm born to be a businessman. This shit gets me fired up and I'm addicted to it.
And this is the difference between you and most of us who haven't 'made it' yet.
 
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Johnny boy

Johnny boy

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Update: customers stuck to their word and kept paying the whole winter without trying any shady shit like chargebacks on their credit cards. Had only a couple of issues but for the bulk of customers it was a very very smooth winter getting paid from everyone.

Currently in Bangkok. I've been traveling around a bit. I came to Thailand early December, went to India for a couple weeks in January (This is what I was doing... Rickshaw Run India - The Official Guide by The Adventurists), came back to Bangkok and heading to Honolulu tomorrow morning.

When I get back late February, I'll be starting up again with lawn care. I'll post the ads, hire the workers, and hopefully I'll have a 2nd crew out working soon.

I'm building websites to get enough cash for another crew. After the 2nd crew is out working a full schedule, I'll have enough monthly profit to add crews easily without any worry.

It's been a hell of a year. The summer was a fun time enjoying the lake, and I get to spend the winter in 90 degree weather with my girl. I'm excited to see how this season goes. Having lots of fun while still making progress towards my goals. I'm in no rush. It's a marathon.
 
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Johnny boy

Johnny boy

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Hi,
I ve read the thread months ago. Its still inspiering.

I thought about that since years, as a friend of mine works at a facility manager servive and even would jump in as an employee, If I started.
But your business, only caring about lawn, is great.

How do you manage the different sizes of the properties?
Do you allways take 120 or does it depend on the size?

I would be interested to see your internet occurs. Is that possible?

The thing I would be interested in, is, whether that business model would work in Germany, too.
The pros here offer lawn mowing at 500€ per year for 500 m² lawn. That would be narrow!
price depends on lawn size but I adjust based on time it takes to do it, since time is my expense. I don't understand your question about how we manage the different sizes.

Message me I'll link you to our site. Made it myself.

It might work in Germany. Find out by posting ads and seeing how things go.
 
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Johnny boy

Johnny boy

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Update: We are growing. Just bought a 2017 Tacoma. I have two trucks and two trailers now. The one crew is me and an employee. I'll be setting aside the simple properties and having my employee take them over in the other truck by himself. I will hire another employee to work with me so I can train him and maintain some quality control for the more picky customers.

Right now, our one crew is at 8,000 a month for 12 month contracts.

I am running facebook ads targeting women aged 25 and up, top 50% of income and living in our service area. I have spent $341 in ads and have signed up a yearly total of $19,000 (1,600/mo) in contracts over the last two weeks . I like that a lot. 40 conversations turned into 10 new customers. I'm assuming an LTV of what we get from only one year to be conservative, when in reality, it's a lot higher. My ROAS is huge right now. Even if they all cancelled after one year, my return on ad spend is over 5,000% and my profit margin is 35% (assuming I pay twice as much in labor since I'm doing some of the work myself).

32744

We have 50 customers on contract in total so far.

My goal for this year is to get to have two crews working full time. That will net me 80k profit (around 180k revenue) this year and I'll be able to fund a 3rd and 4th crew much easier.

I think it's possible if I dump enough money into facebook ads and they can provide an acceptable return from now until July.

I'm just enjoying taking it one step at a time. One more customer. One more employee. One more crew. One more location. One more state. It'll take time but I'm not in a rush.
 

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