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Starting (and Fastlaning) a lawn care service business

Johnny boy

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Make sure that you have good logging set up. Your shit will break and the reason's won't always be clear without good logging.

Install Microsoft Clarity - Free Heatmaps & Session Recordings on your portal. It's big brother spyware by Microsoft that gives you video recordings of how people use your website. It's sick, though I've heard it can slow page load times a little bit.

And test your customer portal on a variety of systems + browsers. Your features can vary a lot by browser + device, so you want to be sure that critical features work under every circumstance.
  • Mac OS + Safari
  • Windows + Chrome / FireFox / Internet Explorer (if your customers are older, then they use internet explorer)
  • iOS + Safari
  • Android + Chrome
I've just been showing it to people and watching them use it without me explaining anything including my grandparents but good idea
 
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Two Dog

Chris Sciora, Top Dog
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Greatest benefit of having the partners has been pressure. "You better be ready for 4 crews this next spring, will your sales process be able to handle it?" It forces me to improve. It's been great.
No doubt. That's the old "Necessity is the mother of invention" quote. Your operating experience is a huge help.

I wonder how the turnkey hiring approach will work when it comes to reducing employee churn. There was a workshop at Equip Expo back in October that discussed recruiting, hiring and retention. Basically a big roomful of lawn care company owners and managers bitching about getting people to work for them and asking questions to the consultants on stage.

Q&A: "I hired this guy and he didn't show up on the first day. I hired this guy and he left to work for a competitor to make fifty cents more per hour. How can I fire a toxic worker when he drives three other guys to work every day? Do really I have to offer health insurance benefits?" Endless complaints, not much soul searching.

Too bad none of the moderators said anything like "Well, I'm not too surprised you're having problems finding and keeping people. It sounds like you're offering a low paying crappy job at a crappy company working for a crappy boss."
 

Johnny boy

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No doubt. That's the old "Necessity is the mother of invention" quote. Your operating experience is a huge help.

I wonder how the turnkey hiring approach will work when it comes to reducing employee churn. There was a workshop at Equip Expo back in October that discussed recruiting, hiring and retention. Basically a big roomful of lawn care company owners and managers bitching about getting people to work for them and asking questions to the consultants on stage.

Q&A: "I hired this guy and he didn't show up on the first day. I hired this guy and he left to work for a competitor to make fifty cents more per hour. How can I fire a toxic worker when he drives three other guys to work every day? Do really I have to offer health insurance benefits?" Endless complaints, not much soul searching.

Too bad none of the moderators said anything like "Well, I'm not too surprised you're having problems finding and keeping people. It sounds like you're offering a low paying crappy job at a crappy company working for a crappy boss."

They are degenerates so they do not understand the concept of not hiring degenerates
 

Bambooing

New Contributor
Oct 3, 2014
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Price range for current customers
Lowest: $90 a month
Highest: $375 a month
Average: $150 a month
160 customers at the moment
Do clients expect a breakdown and number of mows expected each year/ mth i.e guaranteed service quotas to be included? How do you sell the p/mth fee with that in mind?

I trust in this industry you would need a great reminder system as the properties mostly require access, do you have like an SMS reminder of booking times including as close as say 1hr out?

Thanks for the thread and good on you. Inspiring!
 
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Johnny boy

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Do clients expect a breakdown and number of mows expected each year/ mth i.e guaranteed service quotas to be included? How do you sell the p/mth fee with that in mind?

I trust in this industry you would need a great reminder system as the properties mostly require access, do you have like an SMS reminder of booking times including as close as say 1hr out?

Thanks for the thread and good on you. Inspiring!
No breakdown (they usually get 20 visits for biweekly and 37 for weekly).

“Why am I paying for nothing in the winter?” -boomer

“It’s $x,xxx per year for our services, so instead of charging you a lot in the spring we spread it out over 12 months for billing simplicity. Otherwise we would be manually adjusting the billing for hundreds of hundreds of customers”

Our dispatching system can do auto reminders but we don’t usually set it to alert anyone (can set the option for each customer differently though). Visits are on the same day so if you don’t make your property available to be serviced, thats on you. We recommend getting a combo lock for your gate and giving us the code so we can lock it back up when we’re done.

I built a late notification system where all our customer service has to do is check a box for the customers we are late for and it sends an email and text to them, much better than how it was before.

The real breakdown is "yeah for every minute we are driving to your property or working at your property, it's gotta equal about $240 an hour or you're not worth it". Customers will tell us "they were here for 15 minutes". Lady, you better be thankful they were there for 15 minutes because if they were there for an hour you would be paying almost $300 a month instead of $99.
 
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Two Dog

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Could workers could use their own trucks?

You could just provide a trailer with all the equipment. Maybe they rent it from you for insurance reasons.

It would save a ton of money for opening a new location. I can't decide whether it's a great idea or stupid. LOL.
 

Johnny boy

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Could workers could use their own trucks?

You could just provide a trailer with all the equipment. Maybe they rent it from you for insurance reasons.

It would save a ton of money for opening a new location. I can't decide whether it's a great idea or stupid. LOL.

“Hey I quit”

*poof*

“oh shit better try to find a replacement with a truck”

*80 bad reviews later and going to $0/mo*

“Hmmm….F*ck”
 
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Bambooing

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Oct 3, 2014
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Our dispatching system can do auto reminders but we don’t usually set it to alert anyone (can set the option for each customer differently though). Visits are on the same day so if you don’t make your property available to be serviced, thats on you. We recommend getting a combo lock for your gate and giving us the code so we can lock it back up when we’re done.

I built a late notification system where all our customer service has to do is check a box for the customers we are late for and it sends an email and text to them, much better than how it was before.
So you never go really specific with booking timing for a client job and having that relayed to the client?

E.g ‘Client X’ having a backyard accessed via lockable gate or backyard only accessed via the lock up garage); ie instead of saying your job is booked for 11am 1/12/22, you state that your property is booked in for 1/12/22, “please make arrangements so we can access it on the day?

I trust you also have things lie no mow policy when dogs are present too?

Loving your work and tremendous gift of sharing your wonderful journey. Onwards and upwards or you!
 

Johnny boy

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So you never go really specific with booking timing for a client job and having that relayed to the client?

E.g ‘Client X’ having a backyard accessed via lockable gate or backyard only accessed via the lock up garage); ie instead of saying your job is booked for 11am 1/12/22, you state that your property is booked in for 1/12/22, “please make arrangements so we can access it on the day?

I trust you also have things lie no mow policy when dogs are present too?

Loving your work and tremendous gift of sharing your wonderful journey. Onwards and upwards or you!
“Your first visit will be this Tuesday and then biweekly from then on, you’ll be billed today and then on the first of each month”

Yeah any dogs or locked gates we just skip it. Better luck next time
 

Johnny boy

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Bambooing

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“Your first visit will be this Tuesday and then biweekly from then on, you’ll be billed today and then on the first of each month”

Yeah any dogs or locked gates we just skip it. Better luck next time
And if you get rained out? How do you manage that with the client and your team?

Eg. Try for the next day or skip until next scheduled service? Thanks
 

door123

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raincoats for the guys and a box of vagisil for anyone who can't handle working in the rain.
You know your feminine products...I had to look that one up.

I just had fire a guy cause he didn't want to work in the rain.
 
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Johnny boy

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You know your feminine products...I had to look that one up.

I just had fire a guy cause he didn't want to work in the rain.
Lol

Every excuse you’ll hear…ask about it upfront on the interview and get a clear affirmation it won’t be a problem.

“There will be dog poop”
“We work in the rain, and any temperature under 115 and over 20 degrees”
“Monday through Friday, available from 8 to 3 at least”
“Can you work normally or do you have some f*cked up wrist or something?
“Does all of that work for you? No vacations or things you need time off for coming up?”
 

WillHurtDontCare

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Johnny boy

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Franchise regulation:

Our model does not currently take a franchise fee upfront. We simply own a percentage of the franchise itself and profits are distributed later. The franchisee needs minimal upfront capital, there is no fixed royalty, and there is little financial risk (subjective opinion).

Because no fee is taken and any distributions are taken after a 6-month period, we are exempt from the FTC franchise rule.

1670179254017.png

That means we can sign agreements and get rolling in most states.

The states we will be operating in, Washington and Utah, have their own state restrictions.

Utah: only requires a filing that states we are in compliance with the FTC franchise rule (easy)

Washington: Minimum payment exemption in WA, contained in RCW 19.100.030(4)(b)(iii) does NOT have a 6-month provision. So IF the state finds that the distributions ARE considered a franchise fee, defined in RCW 19.100.010(8), then our distributions would be crossing the $500 threshold and we would be subject to Washington franchise registration and disclosure, which, in my professional opinion, is a massive bitch.

But, since there are no other fees, and there is 0 expectation or guarantee explicitly outlined in reference to exact profits, the agreement of taking equity does NOT have any monetary value yet, until we actually take distributions. So at the time of the agreement and for a long time, we will fall under the minimum payment exemption and are exempt from Washington registration.

What we'll be doing is:


1. Regardless of FTC rule exemption we will be preparing and distributing a FDD and following rule as if we were not exempt.

2. We will file for Utah.

3. We will first file a no-action request letter with the director of Washington Department of Financial Institutions in accordance with RCW 460.80.060 which allows for the director to make changes on a case-by-case basis within chapter 19.100 (the part that covers franchise rules). The letter will argue that because of the lack of an upfront fee, lack of fixed royalties, lack of large unrecoverable upfront investment, and lack of disparity of sophistication between franchisor and franchisee (I'm some stupid kid), and that any distributions are taken at a much later date and are not guaranteed, that registration requirements should not apply because they are against the reason the rule was created anyways (to protect franchisees from losing lots of money) and that the minimum payment exemption was included to cover situations like ours, but we seek assurance in the form of a no-action letter to confirm that we will not be in violation by not registering our franchise with the state even if profit distributions exceed $500, considering that is the only source of revenue for the franchise corporation whatsoever.

4. We will sign agreements regardless, because at the time of signing we are not required to register since there is no fee paid and any promise to pay distributions has no exact amount.

5. If we get a letter of no-action from the director, then we will be able to continue signing franchisees, and will not have to register at any time with the state as long as we follow what we said we would follow in our letter request.

6. If the response says "you're shit outta luck bud" then we will register and file the FDD along with the addendums, fees, etc. with Washington. But, there is no rush since we only have to get registered before taking distributions from franchisees. That buys us plenty of time and we can respond to comments and make amendments to the FDD. What's nice is that we are a simple business, there's little upfront capital needed, and not a ton of BS needs to be in our agreements, and they can be updated later since we will have a short time period on all of them for now until we can finally get a good law firm to handle this crap for us.

Okay now back to reading some more. I have..... like 50 tabs open.

1670181626091.png
 

Two Dog

Chris Sciora, Top Dog
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Our model does not currently take a franchise fee upfront.
You can also take a promissory note without losing the exemption.

there's little upfront capital needed
How do you decide how much equipment / space without knowing how many customer there will be in Year 1?

You'll like this flyer. It's one of the Augusta locations for sale that I found a couple months ago.
 
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Attachments

  • Augusta Lawn Care Franchise Sales Flyer Nampa ID.pdf
    7.3 MB · Views: 18

SleazyDan69420

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Jan 7, 2023
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The other aspect is that you hiring people for largely unskilled entry level jobs. By nature the character of the kinds of people that do that work is not going to be the virtuous, honourable go-getter. That kind of person is either upskilling themself or starting THEIR own business. What that means is you have to incentivize the kind of person that is a minimum wage employee.

I won't try to comment on running a business because I haven't done that myself. However, my dad has ran a landscaping business that I've helped with and I have worked in a couple of different jobs and understand where a lot of such employees (including uni students) are coming from. Two things I would mention:

First, uniformity of properties is important. What I mean by this is that ideally you want your clients properties to be generic boxes on the hillside. Some Properties can have random overgrowth, dead grass with roots that have grown and become entangled in to tarpauline that was used as a moisture barrier, and other stuff that can make the job a pain in the a$$. If you take commission from the client, you do more work for same pay, if your paying an hourly rate, your paying employees more for the same commission (and if they're unskilled and unmotivated, it can drag on a job for days). Generic properties requiring generic services is the ideal imo.

Secondly, if your looking for employees, how you advertise is most important. For example, if you want more employees in summer, you can advertise on university job boards, the amount of businesses that don't do this is astounding. Advertising on multiple platforms (seek, indeed etc.) but most importantly for your target demographic (uni students looking for holiday work) increases your exposure and gives you a bigger base of potential employees from which to weed out. Some companies only advertise on single lesser known job board, which results in less responses and poorer quality employees as a result.

As for motivating employees, uniforms and instilling a sense of pride and professionalism I think helps a lot. If the employee at mcdonalds feels like a wageslave make money for the man their attitude is going to be "minimum wage minimum effort." if they feel that they are providing a service to society and that their job is something they can take pride in their work will reflect that pride. To that end, the uniforms employees wear can affect this. In security companies, guards that wear suits and ties routinely act with more proffesionalism and attention to detail than if they wear a generic fluorescent polo with a company label plastered on the back. As I said though these are just my personal thoughts and the trouble with free advice is you get what you pay for so take it with a pinch of salt.
 

Johnny boy

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Salam Alaikum

Just finishing up my Moroccan trip. 300 miles across the Sahara and the Atlas Mountains on a 50cc turd on two-wheels.

Back to the Canary Islands to pickup the girls and then back to USA to kick a$$ take names and work like slaves.

Insha’Allah

*me in tuxedo*


AA2F5C54-67FB-4809-AB67-6C16147D4A6B.jpeg

77D57BC9-35AD-4BA6-8C6B-31AFBCB440BB.jpeg
 

Johnny boy

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Starting a lawn care service company is a big decision and it depends on your interests, skills, and experience. If you have experience and knowledge in lawn care and are passionate about it, then starting your own business can be a great opportunity. According to IBISWorld, the industry revenue for Lawn Care Services in the US is around $9 billion in 2021, and the average revenue per company is around $500,000 to $1 million. So as per my opinion it is a good startup.
Thanks for the most NPC, AI written comment I have ever seen.
 
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Johnny boy

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Opening 4th location.

We rebranded since our name used to include a geographic location, so now that isn't a problem.

All new entities.

Delaware parent corporation owns everything, including HQ office in Washington. Personal name is not public, office addresses for everything. Doing it the right way.

Everything's uniform. Registered agent service for every company, everything's at the same bank, all locations are individual llcs with own bank account, all location unique expenses charged to the corresponding accounts including things like adwords and fb ads. All corporate expenses that are not location unique are charged to HQ properly. No mixing of bank accounts. Organization is key as we scale up.

Documents for all companies go to our main office. We scan, upload and categorize. Lots to keep track of. VIN #'s, EIN's, account #'s and logins for all state revenue departments, employment offices and portals, etc.

App/customer portal is all done for mobile and desktop.

New phone system is getting ready to switch over.

Will be no more emails or 2 way texting. Only phone calls or using our app.

Instant quoting system is live.

Money likes easy. Easy to find, easy to signup, easy to be an employee and get trained, easy to become franchisee, low capital to start, easy to run since we run it from one central office, easy for us to handle leads with easy crm, etc.

Everybody is lazy. Build things for the average person since on average it's going to be most of the people you encounter. The average customer is like 'X'. The average employee is like 'Y'. The average investor/franchisee is like 'Z'. Make it easy for all three parties to make it easy on you. X="doesn't want to mow their lawn, $99 a month is a good deal for a well branded, convenient, non-subcontracted company to come reliably and do the work" Y="Doesn't want to work super hard, probably will make lots of mistakes unless things are crystal clear and obvious, but will stick around and get the work done if you pay them decently and make the work easy as cake and repeatable. Loves routine". Z="Usually has a business that isn't scalable but they make 1-200k and want to diversify, or they want to make the jump from med-high income employment to self employment but want a safer bet than doing stuff themselves".

When we open a new location, the franchisee gets a truck and trailer that they maintain ownership of, we open up the location llc and holding company for them, we set everything up so all accounts are in one place, all tax registration is handled properly, etc. Then we sign it over to them and they get a company set up the right way without it being different with each individual franchisee. Then as owners of that company we sign our franchise agreements. We split ownership of the individual location llc, and our HQ handles the operations. Customer service, sales, setting appointments, managing leads, dispatching, notes, filtering through resumes, etc. And we don't take any revenue, only a proportional split of profits. If a location is not making a profit we don't deserve a dime, the only purpose of opening up is to make a profit. We put our money where our mouth is. Worst case if a location doesn't work they can sell the truck and trailer since they own it, and they lose a few grand that was spent on ads trying to acquire customers. The holding companies are typically s-corps, so they can open 1, 2 or as many locations as they want, all profits they get go through the s-corp so they can have only one moderate salary getting taxed and take the rest as distributions.

Other franchises run by saying "give us $30,000 upfront and we will let you run your own business with our logo and a couple weeks of training and then we take 10% of your revenue for the privilege". I think that's stupid. I'm sure that we will charge an upfront fee in the future but I don't like the "okay now you go run your own business have fun" model. It doesn't create a uniform system, and it often turns the franchisee into a wage slave. Better to use economies of scale for things like support, sales, dispatching, scheduling, etc. and leave only the necessary in-person operations to a manager employed at the location.

When people partner with you and there's not clearly defined roles, they'll bring "their way" of doing everything and if you try to have a company full of 500 people doing things "their way", expect it to be a giant shit show. So that's why we do so much of the setup ourselves. #1. no more shit show. Uniformity. #2. That's actually an attractive feature to others because they have less to worry about. "What do you need me to do?" "Just read up on our intro docs, here's info and disclosures about us and here's what to expect. Go find a suitable truck and trailer and you'll need probably 10k liquid from cash or a loan for initial ads and payroll. We will set everything else up and then sign it all over to you and let me know if you have questions". It's a lot easier than "okay go start a company, figure out where to register with the state and all of the tax agencies yourself, get the ein and bank accounts, figure out your own CRM and make sure to answer the phone calls, it's your job to do everything, just make sure to pay us our check each month due on the 1st".

One of our franchisees in Kent, WA has never met any of the employees. He doesn't know their names, they don't know his. It's hilarious. He runs his own company and doesn't want to ever see them. He just checks in on the billing software to see how it's going, and he says "I hope you're ready for this spring, I want to add 4 crews this year". We have multiple locations in the Puget Sound so a manager can go cover for another place if there's an emergency so he never has to be around.

Between our new automations, instant quote system and our customer portal I think we'll be able to crank up sales/onboarding. We will need to focus our attention to putting out good ads since we are going to be spending like 50k on facebook ads alone this spring.
 
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