Turf Magazine - February, 2009

NATIONAL FEATURES

In Your Own Words: How’s the Economy Affecting You?

Spartanburg, S.C.: “I am ready to begin my business this year and will do so with determination, despite the economic conditions we are in. However, I would very much appreciate the feedback of those in the industry, and those just starting out, as to how the economy is affecting your business and/or how you expect it to affect you this year.”

Ocean County, N.J.: “It hasn’t affected me much, yet. Only a few customers did their own cleanups to save a few bucks. I think I will lose a few customers this year (at least temporarily), but I also think I will still pick up more work this season, as I’ve already had some inquiries. Best of luck to you.”

Upstate South Carolina: “Not much effect on me. The last few months of 2008 were extremely busy for me, and so far, this January is the best I’ve ever had. I just have to get rid of this cold weather so I can get back to work on my cleanups.”

Bellville, Texas: “I’m hoping to go full time this year. Just started advertising this week”

Spartanburg, S.C.: “Thanks guys for the responses. Yeah, it seems to me that this industry might be somewhat less affected by economic downturns than others. It calls to mind another question that I think is related. Who are your typical customers? Are they usually affluent people with plenty of resources? Or, are they more people that are not able to do their own lawns, for whatever reason? Seems like in either case, the work will still be there. Grass will keep growing. Thanks again for the feedback.”

Chattanooga, Tenn.: “On the contrary, those just starting out will likely have a difficult time.”

Grand Haven, Mich.: “I agree. Most of the guys who have had their business for years have a pretty good customer base and have built up a reputation in their area. Where as the new guys have built no name for themselves yet and have few, if any, customers yet. I think it will be harder for the new companies to start, at least they won’t take off quickly, they will pick up some accounts, but not like they would had the economy been OK.”

Ocean County, N.J.: “I have a mix of all different types of people. Luckily for me, most of my customers are pretty well off. I wouldn’t say the majority of them are rich, but they do alright for themselves. Most of them consider lawn maintenance right up there with the cable bill. I know if the bottom dropped out (even more than now) that they would have to make some choices, and we would probably be one of the first to go. But, for right now, a good portion of my customers also work for a living and would rather get an extra hour in at the office than cut the lawn.”

Spartanburg, S.C.: “Thanks for all the input. I certainly expect that times will be harder for me starting out than it was for those that started years ago. My hope is only that there is still enough work out there that a hardworking team who does quality work can still begin to build a business. I’m fine with having to work extra hard. Do those of you who think it will be hard think that there is no longer work out there or that there is no longer room for a new company?”

Ocean County, N.J.: “I agree with these guys that it will be harder for a new company in this economy, but I think if you are driven and motivated and do quality work and push for work, you can be successful. It might take longer, but I think that it can be done.”

Upstate South Carolina: “There is always room for new guys. There are lots of lawn guys out there who don’t do a good job, who don’t call customers back, who take on more than they can handle (with their workload and with their debt on equipment). If you do a good job and show up to jobs when you say you will, in a short time you will have more work than you know what to do with.

“Almost every new customer I get tells me ‘I’m so glad to have someone dependable.’”

Lake Charles, La.: “Hello all, I am new to the business, only three weeks into it. I don’t know if it is just my area, but after only being in the business for three weeks, I have five commercial accounts and 25 residential accounts. I don’t know if it is just luck or what. I had no idea that business could take off as fast as this has, and I still get calls everyday for estimates. Just today I put a bid in on a nice-sized apartment complex. So, if you are just starting out, think positive and things will happen for you.”

Round Lake, Ill.: “I think that’s incredible, almost unbelievable! I hope you aren’t underbidding yourself into a hole. Glad to hear it’s working out so well, congratulations! Hope I’m half as successful as I start to roll out in the coming months.”

“In Your Own Words” is contributed from the lawn care and landscape forum at www.lawnsite.com. Visit them, and join in the discussions.