Does the fact that I am a female owning and operating as my own crew, does that discourage people when I advertise?
No way. Don’t let this bother you. It’s an advantage!
I’m going to make the assumption that you currently provide residential lawn care service.
I can tell you with certainty that the female of the household is most often influencing the buying decision. Most women are either looking for the new lawn care service provider or they are telling their husband to get it done.
Just because the husband makes the call — that doesn’t mean the lady of the house wasn’t the one that made it (finally) happen. She probably did the research and told him who to call.
This isn’t how it always happens but the statistic is well over 50%.
So. This is your competitive advantage. If I were you I would promote the fact that your business is female owned. This is very rare in the lawn business (especially the part about working in the field while you build your business).
All of your door hangers, your website, and your marketing material must have your personality in it. Make yourself the celebrity of the business and play it up.
Use this advantage to set yourself apart. Moving forward I would even look for ways to hire women to help you build, run and do the work of the business.
Most lawn care companies all look exactly the same to the consumer. They all say the same thing. You have an opportunity to get attention and look different than all the rest.
Who knows… there may be a few guys out there that wrongly assume your quality won’t be that of a male owned business. Who cares?!? They aren’t the customer you want. All you have to do is connect with a small percentage of the marketplace, treat them well, give them great service and good quality and they will be very loyal to you.
And they will talk about you to their friends!
I promise… if you think this is a negative you have to stop telling yourself that. This is an advantage.
Where can I buy lawn mowers at wholesale prices?
Even if we were buying 100 mowers at one time we would negotiate a deal with the vendors in our local market.
Every December we test the market to see if the price we are paying for equipment and supplies is still extremely competitive (we buy most of the equipment and supplies we anticipate needing for the upcoming year in December for tax reasons).
Over the years we have spent a lot of time looking around for the very best prices. The prices we can negotiate in the local market are generally as good as any we can find.
Note: If you want maximum negotiating power buy all of your lawn care equipment at once.
Even if we were able to slightly beat the local vendors we normally buy mowers, line trimmers, stick edges, trailers, truck beds, etc from by buying out of state or 100 miles away — we would continue to purchase from the local vendors we have relationships with.
I firmly believe that if we take care of our vendors and send them a lot of business they will take care of us in a hurry when we need very fast service. (Or need them to help us find a new employee.)
If not, we will find another local vendor next year when we make a very large equipment purchase.
We try to be very loyal to our vendors as long as they are good to us and remain very competitive on price.
How Can I Learn About Irrigation and Irrigation Systems?
The fastest way to learn the irrigation business is to locate the vendors in your local area – the guys that sell the parts. They can tell you where to get licensed. They can teach you a lot. Many of them run workshops and classes. There is a lot to learn about pipe sizes, flow rates, pressure, heads and the different controllers… they can advise you all of this and guide you on how to best learn it.
Remember… they want to sell you parts. Go visit them in person. Don’t just call them up and ask questions. Go see them. You will get more attention and respect from them in person than you will over the phone.
The state will require you to get licensed. So they provide books and manuals to prepare. This too will teach you a lot. My experience has been that you must also attend classes prior to taking your irrigators test. You will learn a lot in these classes.
Also, Google search irrigation magazines. Subscribe to every magazine you can find on the subject and start reading them. For example, look at www.igin.com.
There is also information that can be learned on forums such as www.lawnsite.com. Remember, forum advice isn’t always accurate but it can be very helpful.
Amazon probably has books on the subject. Search on something like… irrigation installation.
To learn about licensing in your state search on something like… irrigation license ‘yourstate’.
The vendors that sell the parts will be your very best initial source… they will be able to lead you to all of your other sources. If you don’t already have a business, consider working under someone for a short while and learning. Hands on training is the best way to learn the irrigation business.
1) Figure out your business name.
2) Register your business name with GoDaddy.com.
3) If you can afford it – register your business as an S Corp or LLC from day one. Budget $300 to $400 if you use a service like LegalZoom.com.
4) The same is true for your trademark. If funds are tight I would at least file the LLC or S Corp and hold on the Trademark.
5) If you register a different LLC or S Corp entity name than the name you plan to call your business you must file a DBA (use LegalZoom.com).
6) If you can’t afford to form an LLC or S Corp register for an assumed name certificate at the county courthouse. You can use your social security number. As soon as you can afford it… file to become an LLC or S Corp.
7) Setup your business bank accounts from day one. They are nearly free. This is very important. First file as an S Corp or LLC or Sole Proprietor or Partnership (Assumed Name Certificate at the courthouse) and then visit the bank and setup your business bank accounts.
8) If offered, take the credit card the bank offers with your business account but do not use it. File it away only to be used for emergencies. Debt (too many high monthly payments) runs more small business owners out of business than you would expect).
9) If you are starting your business with a partner consider a Buy Sell Agreement.
10) File for a sales tax permit. (you can generally do this online in your local city)
11) Look for a great inexpensive software tool that has the potential to run all facets of your business as you grow. Obviously we recommend Service Autopilot (http://www.LawnServiceSoftware.com). Regardless of which solution you ultimately chose this is critical.
12) If you are just getting started and you are not using Service Autopilot consider buying QuickBooks day one and getting your business off to the right start financially. By the way, at http://www.lawnservicesoftware.com/ you can get free software that when you’re small will allow you to delay the purchase of QuickBooks – it will do everything you need for now.
13) Create a simple file folder structure in a small two drawer file cabinet and keep all of your paperwork and files organized. If you wait until the end of the year to record your financial records in QuickBooks and organize your bank statements and paperwork you will be miserable come tax time. This is one of the easiest ways to minimize costly tax mistakes.
14) At year end clear all of your file folders from the file cabinet and put them in a box. Start all of your file folders fresh for the new tax year. Label the box. This will help keep all of your important paper work organized by tax year.Once again, if you are not using Service Autopilot consider setting up QuickBooks so you can use their built in credit card charging functionality. Service Autopilot automates the process for you but if you are not a Service Autopilot user QuickBooks has a fairly easy to use manual process. Accepting and charging your clients credit cards is a great way to speed up your businesses cash flow and get paid fast and on time.
So about 4 years ago when I was still working the phones a lady called our office for an estimate. I tried to quote the work over the phone but she wouldn’t hear of it.
She wanted to meet in person. She wanted to know she could trust us.
I consented, but I didn’t want to go see her in person… we were far too busy and I already knew the rate. I didn’t need to see her lawn.
When I arrived she was nice enough but I could tell something wasn’t right.
After a bit of meaningless chit chat I felt like she relaxed a bit.
Apparently she did. She asked me to come in the house and wanted to show me to the back yard.
As soon as I exited the back door I saw it.
A Live Oak with a 10 inch caliper. Problem was it didn’t have a canopy. It was virtually just a trunk.
The company before us sent a crew out to top her Crape Myrtles. Apparently the workers were unfamiliar with the difference between a Crape Myrtle and a Live Oak (there is a big difference).
I thought to myself… must be one of those cheap, low ball, lousy lawn care companies that give us all a bad name.
The company that destroyed her tree was reputable. Not a big national but a local company with a fine reputation.
It gets worse.
Years earlier she planted this tree with her husband… shortly before he passed away from cancer. The tree was something they planted together in his memory.
She teared up as she explained the situation.
I didn’t know what to say. We got the business… but her trust has been hard to win. She was burned. Bad.
In October, we had a crew leader at a property we’ve maintained every Saturday for years. He was by himself taking care of a few properties with Winter Rye.
It’s right off a major highway. It’s a nice property but surrounded by an industrial park with some ruff areas.
Elder, the crew leader, was one of my very first hires. He’s been one of the very best guys I’ve ever hired. I’d let him watch my kids. I absolutely trust him.
He had just packed up the truck, loaded the trailer and was blowing off an area within sight of the truck but quit a distance from it.
I got a call from a tenet in a nearby building.
He called to tell me he witnessed my worker (Elder) running after his truck. He was calling me because our truck had just been stolen and Elder’s phone was in it.
We made several mistakes. 1) Elder left the keys in the truck… under the seat and 2) Somehow when we bought the new 61” Scag Turf Tiger we failed to add it to our insurance policy.
The truck was found in Del Rio, TX 40 days later. The trailer, Scag, Toro’s, Steele Line Trimmers, Stick Edger, RedMax backpack blowers… all gone. Never to be seen again.
This just happened 6 months ago. The Scag wasn’t insured. Shame on me. I would have preferred to have donated the 10k I lost to charity then to some group of losers too lazy to work for their own equipment.
For whatever reason, I was relieved to learn that Elders keys… the ones he left in the truck were not used to start it. They ripped out the steering column… or something like that… I’ve never stolen a truck so what do I know.
I’ve learned a lesson or two. Actually way too many to count.
I like this business. I like to share the dumb stuff I’ve done and the great things we are doing. I enjoy teaching.
So there you have it. That’s why I’ve created this site. That’s why 100% of the content is FREE and will remain FREE.
I’ve been asked by the guys in our company… “why would you want to share this with others, some of our competitors in our local market might use some of our techniques to compete against us”.
True. Maybe a few. Honestly I’m not worried. Not because I’m cocky or over confident.
We’ve got some great competitors. I’ve personally had lunch with some of them.
I’m not concerned because there is more than enough business to be had. More than that, I’ve learned that no matter how many people I share ideas and secrets with very few will implement. Very few will take the ideas, put them into action in their business and reap success.
I don’t get it. This stuff works. I’ve created a huge success. A success that is growing daily with very little of my involvement. There is a ton of money to be made in the lawn care business. There is a life of freedom available to lawn care business owners.
Why do so many ignore the opportunity in front of them?
I hope that’s not you.
The more we as an industry share best practices with each other the better our companies will become. The better the industry will become.
And when that happens I won’t have to apologize to a prospect that lost her husband to cancer and lost the one thing they did together in his memory to a company that failed to teach their employees the difference between a Live Oak and a Crape Myrtle.
I’m working to create a highly profitable company that gives my family and our team of employees a better life.
I hope you’ll do the same.
Who is Jonathan Pototschnik — is he worth listening too?