I had a great podcast last Thursday night with lawn care business author Ken LaVoie . Check out his site at http://www.lawnguru.net. The podcast lasted about an hour and we covered a lot of interesting topics. We also had many of our Gopher Lawn Care Forum friends call in and ask Ken questions as well. You can download and listen to the podcast here http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/15950.
If you have further questions on this podcast or would like to join the discussion further, please visit the post on this podcast at the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum.
One of the things I was amazed with when talking with Ken was how the one type of marketing that worked best for him was word of mouth and nothing else he ever did worked as well as that. He has been doing this for 20 years too.
Early on Ken was mowing part time and working as a chef in a restaurant. When he had a disagreement with his boss and was fired, he found himself having to make his part time mowing into a full time job. The first thing he did was put an ad in the newspaper and then he was off and running. He said the newspaper ads tended to get a lot of price shoppers but to get himself going, this was all he needed. Later he got a small ad in the yellow pages and that seemed to bring in more profitable customers.
Our forum member, Tim, had a great reflection on the podcast that I wanted to share with everyone as well. He said:
“Well this is a forum and it is open for discussion, so here’s my commentary. In the first ten minutes that I listened to, if you check out the previous post I submitted in Dec 2007 you will find I had made post on the new vs used equipment, (keeping up with the JONES) the 20% growth rate but I posted 25%, also the first guy that called in is exactly right if you purchase any NEW equipment there better be 40% revenue over and above the cost of such equipment. example $10k mower there better be $28K just to cover that mower. This is basic business 101. I will say this again if you cant do the book keeping your self then hire a CPA or at the very least a good book keeper and they will tell you if you can afford a new piece of equipment from your revenue to debit reports. Just because you have that one big contract and you think your on the highway to big money, doesn’t mean you can afford it, to many unpredictable things can happen at any given time. MOST of all your business should never rest on one customer being over 20% of your business, if you have all your business or over 50% depending on the revenue generated by one client you are headed for disaster and you better start working harder on getting more customers to balance your business better. HINT we have a projection of 200k + in revenue this year (2008) and not one customer totals more than 20% of that revenue. BTW April 1st was our 1 yr date. this is only our second season and we survived the worst drought in 30yrs, most didn’t. How did we? by not putting all our eggs in one basket, buying new trucks and equipment, I bought used mowers and when we generated enough to buy more I did but only when I had 2 times the cost of that equipment, We just bought a NEW Super Z 72″ got it for almost 11k and its paid for, we own it! Last year we wrote off over 8k in bad debit to add to the unpredictable things that can happen. So think long and hard, think of all the bad things that could happen before you jump and start having big equipment payments.
As you know I never have anything bad to say about anyone, and I want everyone to know and understand I’m not now either, I just never heard any straight answers, I haven’t read the book, so I have no real opinion of it, what I hear sounds like a lot of business information gathered together and put into an order. I do not agree with the low-balling doing it for 10 dollars less just to get the job kind of guy, I don’t agree with the grab what ever you can theory, nor do I agree with the picking only certain types of customers to market, I was burned by a very upper class family and once by a department President of P & G when the family broke up and the President was FIRED! So that theory goes right out the door to me. I have been and will continue to provide excellent service at a fair and reasonable rate and I will let the client decide if they can afford it. I was surprised once by the looks of a property, when the man handed me 10 k in cash before I even stated and when I completed he paid that day in cash. Now this client never appeared to have 2 nickles, but looks are deceiving in all neighbor hoods. Think about it, don’t limit yourself, and always protect your self in some way, shape or form.”
Thanks to everyone who took part in this podcast. It was a real eye opener for me and I hope others who are running a lawn care business find it to be just as informative.