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What do you think? Some ideas?

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by ColvinsPS, Dec 19, 2010.

  1. ColvinsPS

    ColvinsPS Member
    Messages: 73

    I started my business in March last year (Lawn, Landscape, and snow removal). I have been in the lawncare side of things for 5 years or so just helping people out and doing for summer jobs and extra money with only doing family here and there as customers per say. This year we bought some crappy used equipment and went at it on our own. My dad, brother and I worked pretty hard (mostly on on junky equipment) and over the past year we serviced about 15 customers. As the year progressed we started buying more equipment as it seemed like a good deal and our mentality was to really prepare for next season more or less.
    About June we picked up commercial insurance on a dump truck we got and it covers our trailers. We also picked up basic liability too in order to cover ourselves "just in case" and also to advertise we had it.
    Same story with snow removal. I have done very little in the past but worked hard to get customers this year.

    The whole time i was attempting not to just be a lowballer since i wouldn't want work stolen from me on price but rather my attempt was to stay rather competitive but do really good work and get customers with that.

    I gotta be honest... it is seriously hard to get customers this way. I picked up a few driveways and in order to make some money i will be subbing to another local lawn guy to help him out. I couldn't get any commercial stuff at all.

    It seems the lowballers are getting all the work and may expand until their tactics catch up with them.

    My question i guess is how does a guy like me start a business in this type of market without being a lowballer and building a business on good hard work. I truly try not to take work from companies i know do a good job and service people well. Actually i haven't taken anything from anyone this year i do not think. I got took a few times but that's another story.

    Let's say that this year has been good but not profitable at all in fact i owe my parents about 20k for all the stuff so far. Lots of "learning experiences" (no payers, slow payers, people that get mad when you actually charge them $8 worth of interest because they haven't paid you-then you take it off to make them happy and they drop you anyways!)
     
  2. deereequipment

    deereequipment Member
    Messages: 90

    Trial and Error.
    Do quality work.
    Keep trying, Keep trying, and keep trying.
    That's about it.
     
  3. ColvinsPS

    ColvinsPS Member
    Messages: 73

    That's my plan for now. I am in an ok spot since my family and I are currently living with my parents since i just finished a 1 years intensive masters program.
    I/we will keep at it!
    Thanks
     
  4. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,382

    It takes time, patience and hard work. There are only a few companies I know that started off with both feet running but they were employee's of another well established company that took over half of the customer's with him. Find some classes on running a business and you'll be leaps and bounds above 80% of your competition. This is something I wish I did a lot sooner, I had a very good "idea" as what to charge but no two businesses are the same. You'll hear "know your costs" over and over but without knowing that your just guessing and sometimes you'll get lucky but more times than not you will be on the loosing end.
     
  5. ColvinsPS

    ColvinsPS Member
    Messages: 73

    Thanks Brian,

    I do hear "Know your costs" a lot but my understanding of that is that your costs change depending on your work load and locations etc.
    It costs me a lot to go mow 5 houses or plow 5 driveways that are 1-5 miles apart than it would for me to mow/plow 5 driveways next to each other. I guess its know your base area of price and try and figure how much it would cost from there.
    Also with knowing the prices in your area... it seems everyone is tight lipped about prices. I guess it is because they are worried about losing business!?

    I knew i should have kept my business management major in college!
     
  6. Mick76

    Mick76 2000 Club Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2,157

    Don't expect anything to just fall in your lap.... as others have said hard work is where its at..... and your fighting a uphill battle with the economy.... read and use the search function here on plowsite... you'll learn a ton but be careful, you'll have to weed out all the bs some of the members sputter on here... joining SIMA might be a good option for you to help with your business......
    HIH
     
  7. ColvinsPS

    ColvinsPS Member
    Messages: 73

    Thanks I hope i am not sounding like i want it to fall in my lap. Maybe i did. That's not my intent. I'm willing to work so hopefully it will pay off.

    Thanks guys! I appreciate the input and help. Ill check out Sima.

    I like plowsite. It seems most guys on here are a lot more informative and helpful than lawnsite. I posted a similar thread there and it has no response. Guess too many people don't want to give away their secrets.

    O well. Hope everyone's season is a blessed one this year! I am praying for snow right now that's for sure. Need to make some money to pay the bills.
     
  8. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,382

    Well your costs/hr. are going to be the same whether your driving 5 miles or .5 miles to service an account. If you need to make say 45/hr for mowing and it takes you an hour to get there you should include that in your bid. But if your mowing/plowing a property thats 5 minutes away your price should reflect that as well. Myself and many other's charge load up time and or travel time for removal. I'm not going to spend an hour if not more loading up a skid steer or driving our loader to a site for nothing. Same with you, your not going to drive 20 minutes to plow a drive way for the same money you would charge for a driveway thats right around the corner.
     
  9. Mick76

    Mick76 2000 Club Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2,157

  10. ColvinsPS

    ColvinsPS Member
    Messages: 73

    Thanks guys. I guess a little more experience will help me find my operating costs better. I need to work on entering all of my expenses form this year. I guess i have to organize myself better to get a better idea.

    Thanks!