“I own a landscape company. When is the best time to buy lawn equipment?”
The question is, what is the best time of year to buy new equipment?
I personally like December. I like December for a whole bunch of reasons. One, it’s at the very end of the year. You can group all of your equipment purchases into one time period. Which, clearly means you have to project into next year and say, “Okay. How much are we going to grow? How much equipment are we going to need?” This requires some understanding of what’s happened in the last couple of years, along with some planning as to what you expect will happen next year, based on your marketing strategy and how much marketing you will be doing. Then also, understanding what’s happened in the past so that you can make those projections.
From that, you then say, “Okay. I think we’re going to need about this many trucks, this much equipment. Then, you group all of your purchasing, as best you can, for the year into that one time period. You go negotiate your purchase. Because, you’re buying in volume, you have more buying power, you can get a better deal. Then, what you can do from there because you timed this in December and you spent the money, at the last minute in December, you can write it off on your taxes for the current tax year.
Depreciation comes into play and things of that sort. But, you get to take the tax deduction in this year versus if you buy in January and spend the money now, you don’t get any tax benefits until the following March. For that reason, I like the buying power. I like that it forces you to think through what’s going to happen in the next calendar to do some planning. That’s important. To have several things in your business that force you to thinking and planning, that’s good. This does that. Then, the tax deduction is a big one.
Those are my very simple, basic reasons for why I think December is the best time to do it. But, the big take away is, how can you group as much of your purchasing into one time period, where you are doing all of your buying at one time? Probably all of your buying from one vendor, unless we’re talking about chemicals and such. I’m talking strictly equipment in this scenario. How can you buy all of that from one vendor and get the very best deal possible?
Is the cool lawn mower a friend recommended, the best mower for my lawn care business?
When I was at GIE in Louisville, Kentucky, I was reminded that you really don’t want to buy the cool lawn mower. What I mean by that is, walking through GIE, I’m reminded how many different brands there are and how many manufacturers there are selling walk-behinds and riders. There are Skagg and Toro and Exmark and those are just my local brands.
Learn how custom truck beds cut non-billable hours making you a more profitable lawn care company.
If you’re not using custom trucks and custom truck beds, it’s worth considering it, especially over the winter season. Optimizing your fleet to give your team in the field the opportunity to be as efficient as possible is smart business.
Labor is your number one expense. The more you can drive that down, the more money you make. It’s way cheaper to invest in better equipment, better trucks, better truck beds, than it is to invest in more and more people.
Here are several pictures from GIE of custom truck beds. I think you want to get trailers out of your business as much as you can. Like I said, you want to drive that non-billable time out of your business. The way you do it is by giving your guys a perfect set-up to work with by minimizing load and unload time and by making sure they can find all their tools.
This last picture here is from Tony Bass’s company where they sell custom trucks. I don’t know what they cost and I’m not endorsing them. I’ve never actually even met Tony but I’ve heard great things about him. He is completely on to something with the custom truck beds in all different forms. They could be open truck beds. They can be on the back of Ford Rangers. They could be on the back of F-150s. I have several different types of them.
Custom truck beds work. You should look at it in your business, whether you work with somebody like him or you figure out how to do it yourself. There’s a lot of wisdom in this approach. There’s efficiency in getting trailers out of your business as much as you can.
Are you emailing lawn care customers? Use caution. It could just get you fired.
Text messaging, emailing, or trading Facebook posts with your clients, and even with your team, can really get you into a lot of trouble. It is really cool, convenient technology and you and your clients want to use it, but I’d really caution you based on some experiences I’ve had in the past, solely relying on this technology for convenience.
First, there’s nothing that will replace human interaction and building a relationship through human action. Second, as you know, there’s no way to interpret tone. For example, years ago, I was a partner in a company and we did not let our district managers when they were dealing with our clients who were property managers, we did not let them trade emails.
We didn’t even publish their individual emails. There was basically one email. We didn’t want them giving out their email addresses. We wanted them talking on the phone. If one of our clients messaged in or sent an email and said that they needed to get something taken care of, or that they had a problem, or were unhappy about something, we didn’t want our team emailing back.
We wanted our team to pick up the phone, call that individual and get it straightened out. We wanted our client to hear the tone and we wanted our team member, our district manager, to hear the tone of the client and make sure it truly got resolved.
I was just reminded of this today when I received a text message from one of my vendors and the text message basically made me mad. It made me think I could replace this person. I just didn’t like their tone and the way they were handling something. They were sort of blaming something on me that had nothing to do with me. I never picked up the phone and talked to them, but I did continue the text message and realized that they were completely wrong in their assumption.
I’m not giving you the details but basically they made an assumption, they were frustrated at me. Had I not continued the text, I wouldn’t have realized why they were frustrated. They were just simply wrong and when I corrected them, problem solved.
That kind of stuff, had I just stopped that text message, I would have continued on thinking I’m ready to just get rid of this individual. Think about that with your team. If they’re trading messages with the client, if they’re trading text messages or phone calls or Facebook posts, how is your client perceiving what they’re saying? Is your team member even perceiving what the client’s saying correctly? Are they understanding their tone?
We’re moving into all kinds of really interesting technology and convenience. It does not hurt, in fact it pays to continue to pick up the telephone and use the phone to really build relationships and provide great service.
Jonathan answers, “How much money do I need to save to retire and still be able to keep my lifestyle?”
Hello. I’ve got a question that I’m going to answer, and first I’ll read it to you. My question is, “How much should I sock away for the future when I retire? I’m 40, and I will be starting a lawn care business part-time next spring. I know there are a lot of factors here. Thanks.”
This is another one that with a lack of information, it makes it very challenging for me to answer it, but let me throw some stuff out at you and give you some ideas.
Probably when you were younger, you’re imagining, and I was this way, I thought, “Man, if I could just make $90,000 a year, and if I could save a million dollars, boom, life would be first class, like, I’d be set.” Then you make ninety grand and then you’re like, “Uh wow, this ninety grand doesn’t buy nearly as much freedom and fun as I thought it would, and oh man, now I’ve got a wife and kids, and wow, that’s not as much as I thought it was.” And, a million doesn’t pay so well anymore, so let me give you an example.
Back when I was in my early 20s and I had money market funds with Vanguard, I think I was making like 5% in my money market fund, maybe 6, it was great. I don’t remember the exact amount but it was really good. It was like 5%. I still have that same money market fund today, it’s one of many, and in that fund, I think I make .018%…not even a quarter of a percent. I have another money market fund that they’d only let me put so much money into it, it capped out, and I earn 1% on that. It’s my best by far. In fact, I think they use as a loss leader to get business, because at the end of 2015, I no longer will get 1% of my money in that anymore. Just think about that math. Let’s just say it’s 1%. If you saved a million dollars, what’s 1% a year on a million dollars? You can’t live on that.
Now you can’t even keep a 1% return on money right now in a money market fund. Not that you’d keep all your money in a money market fund, but it’s just very conservative. If you go to something like Treasury Bills with the US government, super, super safe, because I believe by law, if they can’t repay them, they tax the public, so they’re considered ultra-safe, but they don’t pay. The return is horrible. A CD with the bank…horrible returns. None of these things on a million dollars would pay you enough money to even live. You could not survive. You probably couldn’t even pay your rent or your mortgage with the money on that.
So you have to have your money in assets that are growing, and they have to be diversified across a bunch of different stuff. They can’t just be in ultra safe things; which brings risk into the equation, that something could go wrong. That money that you had spent years and years building, something bad could happen to it; it’s not there when you need it. Or 2008 could happen and the absolute worse time to be pulling money to live on, is ’08 when everything’s been cut down by 40%. Now you’re pulling your principal when it’s only got 60% of the original value. I could go on and on. There’s all these factors to consider.
The million dollar dream is flawed. It’s not enough. So what I would suggest at a minimum, which for most people they’re going to throw up their hands when they hear what I’m about to say, but for me, the minimum number is $5-million. But it also comes back to, “What do you expect out of life, and what is the lifestyle you want to live, and travel, and cars, and homes, and things of that sort. Five million, truly is not an extravagant lifestyle, but it’s a pretty good one. It’s a really good one, but the return on that if invested in a somewhat safe fashion is enough that you could continue having a pretty good life, that might be equivalent to the times when you owned a company and it was making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in profits.
For me, the $5-million isn’t enough to do what I want to accomplish, but for most people, it truly could be enough. It’s just I kind of have a little bit bigger goal than that. But that could be flawed. You may say, “Boy, that’s crazy!” But $5-million is kind of that number. What happens when you hear $5-million? You hear $5-million, you’re like, “I’m never going to get to $5-million. I mean, that’s impossible. It’s going to take me forever. I’m 40 years old. How am I going to save $5-million after tax?” And some of your money could be pre-tax.
That gets into what I really want to mention. Here are a couple things: One, the way I believe you think about this is, this is the beauty of building a company, and this is the beauty of building a company where you’re not the person doing the work, because imagine being the person doing the work when you’re 60 or 70. It’s not going to happen. Then you better have that money to live on. Another thing to keep in mind is as technology and medicine, everything continues to improve, I think it’s realistic to believe that we’ll live longer; five years, ten years longer than the average.
I don’t know what that is, but we will continue to live longer, even at 40, you have plenty of time in terms of time horizon for a tremendous number of things to improve in society, that it’s possible that the average life expectancy will have increased by five or more years, by the time you get into your 80s. That requires more money, so back to my point. If you don’t commit to learning and doing what it takes to build a real company that has a team, and it’s not just you, at 60 and 70 years old, how much energy and motivation will you have to keep up with the ridiculous amount of change that’s happening in society, as you’ve got to continue to think creatively about your business, and as you have to continue to year after year, mold your business to keep up with all the disruption and the change.
So you want to build that team around you to help you. If you do that, this totally changes the amount of money that you have to have saved. Totally. This $5-million requirement isn’t the same, because really the reason for $5-million is so that when you invest it, it can return to you some amount of money. I didn’t do the math, but let’s just say it’s two hundred grand a year. The real focus here, is not the $5-million, the real focus is the return you get each year; the money that you make each year, so that you can live.
Your investment is spinning off cash. That cash is what you live on. The real goal is the two hundred, not the $5-million. So what you first do is you figure out how much money do you need to live on in the future? Remember, there’s going to be inflation and things in the future, so the value of money continually declines, so in the future, how much do you need to live on? That’s what you’re trying to get to. Five million just is the principal that you need, so that after your return on investment on that $5-million, it returns to you $200,000 to live on.
Now could you create a business with a team that runs itself, that doesn’t require all of your time, that maybe when you get older, you only have to work in that business 15 hours a week, and that business returns to you $200,000? That’s the same thing. Your business is an asset; it’s an investment. What I think the real approach here is, how can I build a company that is a real company, which is very different from what most people build, because they’re unwilling to learn, do the work, or go through the short-term pain to better themselves, to grow, and to solve problems?
If you’re willing to do that, then this business could make you, let’s call it, $150,000 a year. It could be way better than that, but let’s just call it $150,000 a year. And you have decided that you want to live really well into retirement, and so you want to make at least $200 a year. Now the amount of money you need invested is way smaller. Maybe it’s a million and a half. I’m making up numbers. If you do my math, it’s going to be screwed up; I’m making a point. Now maybe all you need is a million and a half, because the million and half will spin off another fifty. Or maybe you need a couple million, so that that couple million will spin off a hundred a year, and you can use fifty of that to live on, and another fifty keeps getting saved; so that you’re still saving every year as you go into your retirement.
When you think about it that way, that your business is an investment, and it can generate a big portion of your retirement income, and then your money saved can make up the difference, or if you could accomplish it where your business pays for all of your retirement, and your investments just continue to grow, and grow and grow, then you’ve really built a security blanket, in a sense. You’ve really set yourself up to be somewhat protected. Then too, when you’ve done that with your business, you don’t have to take as many risks on your investment to get a big return. You can play it a little more safe. Yes, you’ll get lower returns, but that the probability of something happening to your stash is way less.
That’s the way to really think about it. Don’t just think about, “Yeah, I need to build this big amount of money so I can be done, and I’ll live on that money.” What if your business is thought of just like investing in stocks, or bonds, or real estate, or whatever, and it’s spinning off cash that you live on.
A couple things. I read a book awhile back that will do a better job explaining this. I read this book, I was like, “Hm, yeah.” I was kind of nodding as I was reading it. It did a good job of explaining some of what I just said, which I had learned years and years ago, and I think that Tony Robbins, he wrote a book called, “Money: Master the Game,” and he does a really good job of explaining that.
In fact, he has a calculator you can go to to put in some things about your home, your cars, your vacations, all these different things you want. He’ll say, this is how much money you need to make per year, and then it will say, “This is how much money you need to save.” I think it even gives the business analogy in there that I just gave. He does a good job explaining it. I recommend that book. I thought it was good.
Regardless of what you think of Tony Robbins, and I actually don’t have a problem with him. I think he does a tremendous amount of good. But some people don’t like him. I think that book is a solid read. I recommend that to everybody. I think he does a really good job of explaining some financial topics at a more simple level, that we all can understand.
One other book, so for Academy, for our elite members in Academy, one of our members asked what I thought of the book called, “Profit First,” by a guy named Mike something. His last name starts with an M. The cover has a pig on it, like a piggy bank, a pink pig. I’m only half-way through the book. I haven’t formulated my opinion yet. I will say that I’m on the fence on a few things, but I’ll have my opinion when I’m done, and I can kind of think through it. I will say, that he has said a ton of things in that book that I completely agree with, that I’ve said, probably on video and to others a million times, and I feel like I’ve agreed with him on a lot of stuff.
The only thing I’m not quite sure about is, can I grow companies as fast using his method as I have with my approach? I don’t know. I’ve got to think through that. Where I’m going with this is, that book is probably a solid read. I can’t say for sure if it’s a great book, or my favorite, but thus far, I think it’s a no-brainer to read it, and think about it. So many of us build these companies that don’t generate a lot of money, or a lot of profit, and I’ve probably said it before, that’s the entire point of the business. It’s gross revenue is not the point and he makes that argument.
If you get your business set up properly, and you build it properly, so that it’s someday sort of running itself, or running very smoothly with minimal involvement from you, and it’s spinning off a lot of profit, you’ll very quickly accomplish the goal I’ve talked about. You don’t have to wait until you’re 65. You can get there in five, 10 years, or maybe shorter, depending on how aggressive you are. So those two books would be good reads to think through your goal of building enough money to retire, and be very successful.
If you are not doing this, you will struggle to grow your lawn care company.
We’re working on a project right now at ServiceAutopilot. It requires that we call about 10% to 15% of our members, about 300 companies. What we’re finding is that to get them on the phone generally takes a couple calls. That’s a broad generalization, because there’s a whole bunch of clients, members that answer on that first call. However, there’s a lot that we have to leave a voicemail for. We’ve been having this discussion internally and that’s the point of this video.
It is absolutely imperative that you answer your phone and that I answer my phone. Your marketing doesn’t work very well if you don’t answer your phone. Your customer service isn’t very good if you don’t answer your phone. The most common scenario is that when someone is looking for a service provider, they have a list of a couple people that they probably found on the web or they got door hangers off their door. They called the most interesting one first. If they don’t answer, they don’t leave a message generally, and then they call the second one, and then the third one. If that third one answers, and they sound good and give a fair price, they get the business.
The game is speed, and when you don’t answer your phone, you’re losing the game of speed. Clients want things to be easy and fast. When you’re the guy that doesn’t answer, when you’re the company that doesn’t answer, you don’t win the business. Your competitor does. After you spend all that money on marketing and you don’t answer your phone or I don’t answer my phone, then it feels like, “Oh, this marketing thing just doesn’t work. None of this marketing works.” It’s generally because the calls aren’t getting answered.
Sometimes that even means not answering the calls on Saturdays. If you want to win the game in the big selling season which, depending on your business, might be spring, it might make sense to answer the phone on Saturdays. It might make sense to answer the phone into the evening. This is really interesting, because at ServiceAutopilot, of all the cloud-based software systems out there in the industry, we tend to be the one that attracts the bigger or more successful companies.
If you were to analyze our clients, you’ll see that we have a lot of bigger companies. We have a lot of companies, a lot of people, but if anybody is going to cancel ServiceAutopilot, it’s the little bitty company that’s just got a crew or a tech and it’s because they won’t do even a single training with us. They won’t learn the systems, so they just go to another system that’s really simple and super, super basic that can’t do that much because it’s easier to use.
The reason I wanted to say that is I wanted to point out that when I say that many members aren’t answering their phones, one, we have some incredible companies that do. That’s how they built their companies is they’re willing to do the things that the little guys aren’t willing to do. That’s how they got big.
I wanted to point out that even within our client base that tends to be bigger and more successful than the clients that other companies have, we still see many of our members not answering their phone. It’s absolutely imperative, critical that you answer your phone. It’s the difference maker. It’s the thing you cannot ignore.
I wanted to record the video to remind you that if you’re not answering the phone, spend the money on that. It will improve your customer service and it will make all your marketing work better. You’ll sell tons more work. You’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes. Figure out how to answer the phone. It’s a difference maker.
In this video, Jonathan gives the pros and cons of accepting lawn maintenance subcontractor jobs.
I’ve had a number of Service Autopilot clients and individuals that watch Lawn Care Millionaire email me and ask this question. It has to do with management companies that control a lot of work. Maybe not necessarily a property management company but you might imagine in this scenario a company that has foreclosed on properties and has to have or find a contractor to go out and mow the property, change the locks, wash the windows, or perform some level of service. There are a lot of these companies and basically they will give you work and they will pay you for that work. Basically they’ll give you a list of maybe 50 jobs they need you to service. You’ll do the 50 jobs and they’ll give you a check.
I’m not sure what you call those companies. I think of them as management companies and there are a lot of these. We have quite a number of Service Autopilot clients that will work with these companies. Over the years, we’ve had some Service Autopilot clients that exclusively built their entire business around getting a spreadsheet every week from a management company and doing as much of that work as they possibly could. They would then send in before and after pictures and get paid.
The question was, is this a good idea? Should I take this work? Should I accept the lawn maintenance subcontractor jobs? It comes with a contract that you have to sign. Is it a good thing for my business? My answer most recently, and I’ve given this answer before, is I don’t think that doing work with these management companies is a great long term strategy to build your business around.
Their jobs generally pay less. They don’t generate as much revenue for you as a job where you went out and sold it and found that client yourself. Also, these jobs tend to be harder on your equipment and they tend to be more difficult to perform. These are generalizations. That’s not always true but that’s been my finding and my understanding in talking with others.
The other concern that I have about jobs of this type is that if you get too much or too many of these jobs, you’re building your business around one customer. If they stopped giving you work, it could be really bad for your business. It could potentially end your business if they make up too much of your revenue. I would say that early on if you’re just getting started or you’re very small that accepting this type of work might make sense strategically. You might want to accept this type of work for some period of time while you’re learning how to sell and market and bring in your own work.
In other words, you would perform this work for a while. It would help you bring revenue to your business which would help you grow, hire employees, buy equipment, things of that sort while at the same time you’re working on marketing and getting your own clients where you eventually replace the work you’re getting from the management company with your own clients. You would slowly phase out of accepting that type of work.
My answer is, I think it makes sense strategically for a short while in your business. But, don’t let it get you distracted from doing your own marketing and getting your own clients. If you take so much work from the management company that you’re so busy and you’re doing most of the work yourself that you’re now too busy to go really build a business, all you’ve done is secured for yourself a job and you’re not building a real company. That job could all go away one day if the management company stops giving you work.
That’s my recommendation on how to think about taking lawn maintenance subcontractor jobs.
Here are Jonathan’s top 4 tips from his How To Start A Lawn Care Business eBook.
Several years ago, I wrote an eBook titled, “The Real Facts About How To Start A Lawn Care Business”. If you’d like it, you’re welcome to have it for free. I’ll put a link at the bottom of this video and you can click that and download the eBook for free. There’s truly no catch. I’ve given it away a lot of times and you’re welcome to it.
A couple quick thoughts on getting started in the business, just based on a few things I’ve learned in working with others over time. Hopefully they’ll be of help if you’re just getting started. One is, I would really recommend that you just go do it. I see so many people wanting to put together a business plan or think through everything, that’s great, the exercise of thinking through it’s fantastic but that’s something that can keep you from getting started and it can make you wait one more year and then one more year and then basically you wake up one day and you’ve never started the business. You’ve got a family and a mortgage and everything else and you just never got it done.
My argument is, just go out there and get started. Go make your first thousand bucks. Go do it part time, whatever you got to do. I’m not a big fan of doing it part time long because I think that it makes it easy to kind of throw in the towel when you have a backup plan. But, I’m saying just go make that first thousand bucks, do it part time, get all your ducks in a row so that when next spring rolls around you are completely ready to go and you’ve already learned some lessons, and there’s nothing to keep you from getting started.
Second, keep it simple, just focus on a few core services to get started. Don’t try to provide every other service like all of your competitors who have been doing it for ten years. You don’t have to do all that, yeah in time you might want to but just keep it simple. That’ll give you a better chance of being successful, you are more likely to make it, there’s less stuff you have to worry about, and the fewer things you do, the better you’ll do them and you’ll make more money at it. Trying to do too many things is absolutely not worth it.
I would say number three is, remember what your number one goal is. Your number one goal is to sell. Your number one goal is not to build processes or procedures or think through what might happen in six months when you hire a person. It is not to get all your ducks in a row for when you hire a manager someday or think about all of the types of equipment you could possibly need. Your job is not to optimize your business and think through all of the potential problems and risks and things that might come your way. Your only job is to sell and then when you sell, do a really good job performing that work. Everything else will fall into place. It’s going to be messy, it’s not going to be perfect, it won’t run perfectly. If your personality is where you have to have everything perfect, your ducks in a row, and you’re very process oriented, you have to fight that tendency and you just have to know that your only job is to sell because selling and making money is survival, everything else doesn’t make you money. It just optimizes the business and trims costs. Do that later. First, you sell.
Fourth, and I’ll leave it at this, think about cash flow. Most of the industry generates the invoice at the end of the month and they get paid thirty days later. How can you do that different? My opinion is charge credit cards, the day of service or the week after service. How can you speed up cash flow? Most companies fail for one of two reasons. One, they don’t have enough money, generally in the form of not getting paid fast enough, meaning they have slow cash flow, too much money is going before the money comes in so they can’t keep up, they can’t make enough money. They never have enough money to grow. That’s the first reason most companies fail. The second is they don’t sell and market. They never learn how to market their business and grow. Solve the sales and marketing thing. I mentioned that just before and now focus on cash flow. How can you get paid the fastest way possible? A lot of really smart people could have much bigger businesses if they’d solve their cash flow problems. But they don’t.
They continue to say it doesn’t work in my market. “I can’t charge clients credit cards in my market”, or whatever the story is, but unless you solve that problem you will never be able to grow. I’ve seen it over and over again. You’ve got to have as much free cash as absolutely possible. Figure out how to get paid in advance, figure out how to get paid on a credit card, figure out how to speed up that cash flow. Plumbers have figured it out, HVAC has figured it out, house cleaners get the check left at the house each day when they clean the house. Every other industry’s figured it out, so don’t follow the norm in the industry and it will help you get to where you want to go way faster. If the eBook’s of interest, download it. It’s free, there is zero catch. I hope it helps.
LawnCareMillionaire.com is new and improved! Check out the website for even more lawn care business tips and strategies.
If you like the Lawn Care Millionaire business ideas, tips, and videos, then you’ll like this. I’ve decided to start creating additional content…additional videos, additional tips, and ideas and I’m putting it on ServiceAutopilot.com. If you visit the website and you click the Learn button at the top, it will take you to our blog. On that blog, we have all the business ideas and tips that you’re used to at Lawn Care Millionaire but with unique content. There will be more ideas to grow you’re business, more ideas to find employees, and more questions answered.
Go to ServiceAutopilot.com, click Learn, and you’ll see blog posts. Someone on our team helps me write and edit these posts. I create videos and we put those videos on ServiceAutopilot.com. You can also find those videos on the YouTube channel for Service Autopilot. Check out the content. It’s additional content like what you already watch and appreciate. I think you’ll find it to be valuable. Check it out.
Jonathan shows pictures of his first truck and lawn mower to show where he started and how he grew his business.
In a recent video I made mention of how easy it is to get discouraged when you look at somebody else who’s talking about how great their business is. Maybe they are giving you ideas about how to grow yours and you’re looking at the scale and the size of their business. Maybe you’re thinking they’re lucky, or wondering how in the world do I ever get there, or thinking they must have had some advantage that I didn’t have. Who know what you and I probably have thought over the years when we see somebody else that’s way down the road way ahead of us.
I thought it would be interesting to show you a couple pictures of where I started. This would have been about late 2004 and I don’t have the exact pictures. I really regret that I didn’t take pictures of the team and of our set up in the very beginning.
For those that know me, I was in the lawn care business from about 15 to my freshman year of college. I got out and I was out quite a while. I got back in the business in late 2004. The truck you’re seeing on the screen was my very first truck and the piece of equipment here, the Cushman, was my very first piece of equipment. They did not look good.
Now, these two pictures I didn’t take. I went and found a couple pics on Google that looked very similar to what I had. The way I ended up with this set up is, I bought this equipment off somebody just to get started and that was 10 years ago now and it looked old back then. You can only imagine how we first looked.
Then a little later we took over a, basically there was a big commercial property that we took over and they were doing their own maintenance and their maintenance team took care of 9 properties. We took over all 9 of those commercial properties. They were doing it in-house and we bought their trucks and equipment.
My second truck was a beat up F150 that had just been beat to death and it had about 150,000 miles on it. The interior was covered in dirt and grease and I’m sure they smoked in the truck. It was a mess. It had a giant dent in the back tailgate from a trailer and then on the side it had a dent behind the opening third door, I guess you’d call it, because it was an extended cab.
That’s where I started. Nothing was wrapped, nothing was painted, all my trucks were junk. Then I went to another used truck which was an older F150, like an old body style F150, 3 generations ago now and that was my third truck. After that with the 4th, 5th, 7th truck that’s when they started to get better. I was still buying used but they started to improve.
That was the beginning of the business. That’s how I got started and I so wish I had the pictures now because people that come on to the team now have no idea what it was like in the beginning. All they see now is a big organization that runs pretty well. It’s not perfect but they don’t know what it took to get started. They don’t know how hard it was, they don’t know what we went thorough, they don’t know how we would grind it out, they don’t know where we started with hardly anything.
When we had a little bit more, we bought a little more and we kept making incremental improvements. Now what you see is a pretty interesting organization but it took a long time to get here and there was no way I could picture this. My early team, there’s no way they could picture this 10 years ago and say this is what it’s going to look like someday. We didn’t even know how we were going to get here. At first we just wanted to get to 1000 clients and that seemed like this insanely monumental task of how am I ever going to do that. Because there were hardly any companies that were that size in our local market so it just seemed really ambitious. The way it happened, we could see as we slowly made more and more progress, as we had a little bit more money, as we had a little bit better people, as we had a little bit better equipment, it’s like “Oh, I can see how I can get to the next level and then the next level and the next level.” One day you look back and you’re like wow, I cannot believe where we came from.
Most of us that weren’t handed a whole lot of money in life and didn’t have some form of advantage all started with the pretty boring uninteresting set up and we progress from there. That’s how it happens. The guys giving you advice, and the big companies you’re looking at, some have few advantages, but most probably didn’t and they just did the time and they did the work and they reinvested and worked their butt off.