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Need some support with new business

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by Mowey9, Oct 6, 2004.

  1. Mowey9

    Mowey9 Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 93

    To start off my name is Aaron and I am trying to start my own one crew small business. I have read who knows how many treads and posts on this site and have learned a lot about what goes on. I still have much more to learn and I will be the first to admit it. When it comes to advertising everyone says the same thing, to make business cards, put up fliers and make cold calls. I have made about 30 cold calls and the most that I have been able to do is to have a couple of them take my card and then tell me that they will call me. So far nothing has came from them yet. I have seen many people on here say that it takes time and to wait it out. The only problem that I have is that if this fails I may lose a lot with it. I am determined in the fact that I will do and am doing whatever I can to make this happen. I am patient but I am a little worried about it.

    The biggest problem that I am facing is that a lot of the places that I have went to have told me one of the following two things, "We lease this property and the landlord takes care of all of the land and snow removal" or "The company that does the lawn care also does my snow removal." Thats about were everyone of them end. I have had one of them ask if I do lawn care as well as snow removal, but when I told him that I did'nt he pretty much told me no at that point.

    Sorry about this being long, but any help or confidence would help out. Thanks for you time in advance.
  2. PSDF350

    PSDF350 Senior Member
    Messages: 577

    this isn't a business to be hoping to get rich quick. if you cant afford to have a bad year dont do it. the first few years you want make tons of money. but if you can ride it out you will do fine.
  3. Mowey9

    Mowey9 Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 93

    Yes I know

    I know that this is not a get rich business. I subbed last year and broke even last year. I know that I am not going to make 5-10K this year. I'm looking at maybe getting 1-1 1/2K this year after everything is said and done. I have purchased some equipment already. I to get a good foundation this year and make some gains next year. I know that I will be lucky to break even but I am going to try for some more. I am only looking at trying to get 4 or 5 decent accounts(commercial) and total about 6 hours of work per average snowfall. Thanks for the input though.
  4. The Boss

    The Boss 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,099

    When I first started my business 4 years ago, I had a brand new truck and plow to try to pay for. I busted my a-- the first year handing out business cards, fliers, and putting ads in the paper. I started out with 4 accounts that year and now I have over 20. It takes time. Don't expect to make a killing your first year because more than likely, it won't happen. Now that I'm established, I get all my accounts from word of mouth. Work comes to me. Plus, doing retaining walls and other landscaping for my other business, I get alot of accounts that way also. Good luck! :waving:
  5. PSDF350

    PSDF350 Senior Member
    Messages: 577

    sorry if i offened. it was just your first post seemed like if you dont make a certain amount it is going to break you, if so this isn't your business. this is my first year dropping plow in 20 years. i have 10k into equipment i wont make it back this year but. i will you need to understand that also. if you do stick it out you and i should do fine . jmo
  6. Mowey9

    Mowey9 Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 93

    I know what you mean. I don't have nearly as much money in it as you do but given the amount of money that I do have it seems to be a lot. I am going to everything that I can, and i know you will too, to make this happen. It just kinda seem like it a going to be a long battle the first couple of months. I went and did 12 more cold calls today already and still nothing. I think that I might have might have to get into the lawn care or landscaping business?? Just a thought since almost everyone around wants a company to do it all and not just one thing. Thanks for your input and am looking forward to hearing from some more people on this.
  7. snoluvr

    snoluvr Senior Member
    from RI
    Messages: 266

    new accts:

    I have been plowing a few years. The first couple I worked to peanuts and learned.. I started making calls to customers in the end of august. I went on a few day trips around my area. Shopping plazas always have an empty building.Get the number of the management group/owner off that. I have a lot of luck with healthcare facilities.They can not have any accumulation, so it makes for a lot of billing. Always follow up.This is a service indisty and people will always have a complaint about there current contractor.They key is to make them realize it....delays in service..billing.whatever it is.Good luck.
  8. c_maint

    c_maint Member
    Messages: 46

    Do you have family near by? Do some free ones. I started out 6 years ago doing 3 driveways on my own street. You have to have a pitch. I included walkways. At the end of that first season I was up to 15 driveways. Now I'm at the point where I have to referother plow services to them. I have 35 driveways and 2 lots. I'm telling you , if you stick it out it'll happen. I'm sure everyone has the same story.
    Good luck
  9. capital

    capital Senior Member
    Messages: 127

    Am wondering if you would like to give me a call. I run crews here in Des Moines and am currently looking for another sub contractor to help out. Regarding on how to go about getting business, do not have any secret formula to help you out. Let me know what part of town you live in and can give you a hint at what type of accounts you would be helping at. Most of our subs run their own job sites / areas of town with my crews concentrated towards down town and west side commercail accounts.
  10. Grn Mtn

    Grn Mtn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,644

    cold calls are okay, but...

    The safest way to ensure a success early on is to be a sub. Its not a bad thing, someone else does all the work and you just have to show up. Do this for a few years and you'll learn what you need to do on your own. You'll also will have made good connections with other plowers (IE your old boss, so don't burn bridges) This is very helpful like if you get stuck, you just call your buddy and not a tow truck. If you have your own # on your truck people will see you out and call you, plus you get to do your own pick-ups.
    Cold calls are okay but I feel your better off speaking to someone in person. Clean the truck, dress nice, try to be informed about who your prospecting. Have a price in mind and your niche, "I keep my accounts to a minimum so in case of a blizzard I will be able to keep your lot clear and open for business"
    Just some of my thoughts, hope they help.
  11. Mowey9

    Mowey9 Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 93

    Thanks for the advice

    Thanks for the advice so far. I subbed last year and learned a lot about the plowing end of the business. I however did not learn as much as I wished I had about the business aspect of it. I know that subbing is a good think to do and I might do that again this year if I can't get things straight for myself. I would like to go solo this year but I am realizing that it might not work for me.

    As far as cold calls. I did'nt really call them. I did all of them in person and talked to the managers or business owners of almost everyone of them. The biggest thing that I have found to stand in my way is the fact that I don't do any lawn care. A lot of the people that I have talked to have asked me if I did lawn care to. I have had a couple of them tell me that if I did lawn care then they would sit down and talk to me to see what I had to offer them, but they want a company that gives them "the whole package."

    I am going to keep trying and see what I come up with. I should have the magnets for my truck within a few more days and plan on putting them on as soon as I get them. I'm going to fight this one out, I don't like going down without a fight. I will keep asking the questions on here and keep getting the great advice from you guys. Thanks again for all the help so far.

  12. Mowey9

    Mowey9 Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 93


    Hey guys I was wondering what you think I should do. Heres my situation: I took your guys advice and went around to some of the local grocery stores and put up some fliers and some business cards.

    I went and checked on the tonight and it looked like they were all gone. Come to find out another local guy here is doing the same thing and I found all of my fliers under his folded in half. It seems to me like it was done on purpose. I might be wrong. I have moved mine back put from under his and did not do anything to his at all. I will be going back to check on them here every night before the store closes. Would it be wrong of me to say something to him if when I go back I find them like I did tonight. I am not trying to start sh*t with him, I am just out to try and get my fair share of the business. Any comments on this would be great.

  13. Dwan

    Dwan Senior Member
    Messages: 879

    If I caught someone doing that with my advertising he would not be able to walk home. If he is messing with your adds then he is taking food off your table. You could check with the store security camera's
  14. PSDF350

    PSDF350 Senior Member
    Messages: 577

    yes it would be just fine and more to the point necessary to have words with this scumbag. :gunsfiring:
  15. westernmdlawn

    westernmdlawn Member
    Messages: 39

    I will tell you what I have learned (from experience). First of all, I am in similar shoes. This will be my second year plowing. I do landscaping and lawn care too. What I found is that the three services work together in such a complementary way that it is awesome! When I go to do a grass mowing estimate, I know in the back of my mind that this person could potentially become a lawn care, landscaping, and snow removal customer. Like you have already found, people like a one stop shop. Anyway, the method that I have found that works best for me is to shine the truck up, dress nice, and go to see people in person. You need to mentally gear up beforehand. You need to sell yourself and your services. It is a fact - people can be talked into services, even if they don't need them. I approach customers with a salesman like attitude. I don't harass them, but I come to the table with more than one ace in my sleeve if you know what I mean. You need to be perceptive when you talk to potential customers. If you realize that they do in fact need someone to do their snow removal, but just don't have someone lined up - then make damned sure that you nail it down before you leave. Thats another thing. You MUST close your sale while they are talking about it and thinking about it. Don't let them think it over or "get back to you" on it. Nail it down then, even if you have to press it and sweeten up the deal somehow. You can always dump the account later if you have to. It will happen for you, I promise. Like everyone else has said - you have to wait and keep plugging at it. It WILL come eventually. Remember, your accounts should all be, for the most part, additive. In other words, you should retain at least 90% of your accounts from year to year. Do a good job for a fair price and you will have all the work you can handle in due time. Peace out homey.
  16. Mowey9

    Mowey9 Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 93

    Thanks for the encouragement westernmdlawn I am still hanging in there rolling with the punches and throwing some of my own.

    PSDF350 and Dwan:
    I see what you mean and thats what I was thinking about doing I was just wanting to make sure that that it didn't seem like I was over reacting about the whole ordeal. Thanks for your input again and hope to hear others soon.

  17. eng50

    eng50 Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    You might have thought of this, but you can look at it from the reverse angle if you arent offering other services. Look up, stop and talk to, or call lawn care people in your area, I find, at least here, that they don't all plow, actually, most do NOT, and some are willing to hook up with you and then, combined you and they offer a year round solution! Just another idea...

  18. NEtranspalnt

    NEtranspalnt Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    Do it the way I am

    I am brand new to snow removal. I suggest that you do your business the same way that I am. After reading alot of the posts and threads on this site, I have seen that the most profitable area of snow removal is side walks and speading. Focus on THAT aspect only. I am bidding on aprroximately 6 large commercial accounts and I am ONLY bidding the sidewalks/spreading. This way I have NO money tied up in a truck, plow, spreader, subs, etc. My only outlay is a new snow blower, a 4 wheeled cart to haul the mix around, a shovel, and a piece of crud S-10 that I can use to hump my new snow blower over to my new accounts. I also have a small outlay in sand/ice melt. I can store everything I have in my garage. If I don't land any accounts, I will still have my blower that I can use residentially to recoupe my investment.

    I network with people every day. I talk to everyone I see. This has gotten my foot in the door, so to speak, with many businesses that need snow service. I asked them if I could submit a bid for their sidewalks and ice, and every one of them said YES. They know that I will have a much lower bid for them than the guys driving the trucks, as I have NO OVERHEAD.

    I expect to get at least 2 of the bids and will reap a very healthy profit this year.
  19. Mowey9

    Mowey9 Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 93

    Thanks for the thoughts NEtransplant but I already have a good truck and a 8'plow. I'm not going to just leave the plow at home. i want to put it to work to work and make money for me. I am looking at getting a 300# capacity tailgate spreader for about $500 and i already have everything else, like plow shovels, 2 snow blowers, sand and calcium hook ups. All I really need is the contracts to fulfill my business needs.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2004
  20. GTL Inc.

    GTL Inc. Member
    Messages: 30


    Well all the above post have said some thing very good to say. First you have to make sales calls try to make about 35 a day. Use a leave behind with your card attached to it. Make up a site seller of all your linc and insurance paper work people like too see that you are who you say you are.

    Then as you are out making calls if you can take all your equipment with you and make sure that it is ready for action and it should be clean.Dress in clean clothes, try to come up with some type of an uniform for you, look sharp.

    Next map out your sales area that you want to sell in.Go to the tax records via computer and put together a mailing list, start mailing now.

    For every card you collect add that too your list also, phone follow up and set an appointment, DO NOT GIVE PRICES OVER THE PHONE no matter what.

    Along with the business cards and the door hangers have printed letter head and envelopes, it is best to look professional just in case, one more thing thank you cards printed.So you can send them out also, or leave them behind when done.Follow up with the customers and ask them how you are doing. Then ask for referrals pumpkin: