How to Grow Your Lawn Care Business During Cold Months, Beyond Adding the Obvious Services

It’s cold in many areas of the country. Temperatures are steadily falling in many states, but that does not mean your business profits have to go down as a lawn maintenance company. One of the most effective ways to grow your lawn care business during the fall and winter months is to add new services.

Goal: Healthy Bottom Line

During the winter months, many lawn maintenance companies market the obvious services such as blowing leaves, mulching, aerating, pruning, and similar services. These are needed services that most lawn care companies tout and bank on to assist in a healthier bottom line.

Grow Your Lawn Maintenance Business by Working with Foreclosures

But to exponentially grow your lawn maintenance business during slower months, you can capitalize off a needed service that has cropped up as a result of the astronomical number of foreclosures on the market: foreclosure cleanup. Foreclosure cleanup businesses generally handle a plethora of services which can include the following: debris removal, interior and exterior cleaning, lawn mowing, trimming, tree removal, roof repair, gutter cleaning, pressure washing, window boarding, door boarding, lock changing, inspections, carpet cleaning, laying and carpet removal, painting, minor repairs, and the like.

Work On HUD Homes

In many scenarios, the homes needing foreclosure cleanup services are HUD homes and often the work is given to smaller companies by foreclosure realtors or larger property preservation companies working as an extension of HUD’s M&M Contractors (“Management and Marketing” Contractors).

Choose Services that Work with Your Business

Though foreclosure cleaning businesses can offer a plethora of services, as a lawn maintenance business, you can choose to add foreclosure cleanup services that fall in line with the services you already offer in your business. For example, you can offer lawn and exterior debris removal such as the removal of limbs, fallen trees and piled up junk such as bicycles, swing sets, grills, etc., from homes that have been abandoned or are in the foreclosure or pre-foreclosure state.

Put Truck and Trailer to Work

As a lawn maintenance company, you likely already have a truck and/or a trailer you can use to pick up exterior debris and haul to the junk yard. You probably already have a saw, large bags, needed gloves and face masks and a small crew. Use them to get a foot in the foreclosure cleanup industry in your area.

You can also choose to offer drive way and exterior pressure washing. If you don’t have a pressure washer, you can easily rent one at The Home Depot or a similar rental outlet. Throw it on your truck and offer this service as part of your foreclosure cleanup cache of services during the cold months so you can profit during what is traditionally a slow time for lawn care businesses.

If you are equipped, you can also offer snow removal (consider partnering with a like company) and interior trash-outs. Remember, you likely already have a truck and you are familiar with the real estate contracting industry as a lawn maintenance company; so why not buy some cleaning supplies, hire qualified interior cleaners and put some miles on that truck in the winter months by offering foreclosure cleanup services.

Using Equipment You Already Have On-hand

The trick in adding basic foreclosure cleanup services to your lawn care business is to keep in mind the equipment you already have on hand. Take inventory of the tools, equipment and supplies you already have, research the foreclosure cleanup industry, and get creative on how you can maximum equipment inventory in your area in the fall and winter months.

Check Your Business Insurance and Licensing

You will want to contact your insurance agent to make sure your existing coverage is ample to cover the new foreclosure cleanup services you want to add to your lawn maintenance business. Also, give a quick call to your governing business license office (i.e., in some areas, the County Clerk) to make sure your current business license is ample to offer foreclosure cleanup services.

Get a Quick Start

To get started quickly, pick up some new car magnets from your local print shop or online printer (less than $30 bucks in most cases!), order some new business cards (you can find free business cards online), find a list of Realtors in your area (go to your multiple listing service) and start contacting them announcing the new aspect you’ve added to your lawn maintenance company’s cache of business services.

Good luck with your lawn maintenance business as you venture into the world of foreclosure cleanup!

10 Things That Make Your Business More Valuable – Often 70% Higher Than That of Your Industry Peers!

The value of your company is partly determined by your industry. For example, cloud-based software companies are generally worth a lot more than printing companies these days. However, when businesses in the same industry are analyzed, major variations exist with respect to valuation. Because of the large number of Baby Boomer owners within the small business community, it is crucial for these business owners to consider building value now so they can obtain higher competitive offers when they transition out of the business. Here are ten things that will make your business more valuable than its industry peer group:

1. Recurring Revenue

The more revenue you have from automatically recurring contracts or subscriptions, the more valuable your business will be to a future buyer. Even if subscriptions are not the norm in your industry, you should be able to find some form of recurring revenue that will make your company much more valuable than those of your competitors.

2. Something Different

Buyers buy what they cannot easily replicate on their own, which means companies with a unique product or service that is difficult for a competitor to knock off are more valuable than a company that sells the same commodity as everyone else in their industry.

3. Growth

Acquirers looking to fuel their top line revenue growth through acquisition will pay a premium for your business if it is growing much faster than your industry overall.

4.Cache

Tired old companies often try to buy sex appeal through the acquisition of a trendy young company in their industry. If you are the “darling” of your industry trade media, expect to get a premium offer.

5. Location

If you have a great location with natural physical characteristics that are difficult to replicate (imagine an oceanfront restaurant on a strip of beach where the city has stopped granting new licenses to operate), you’ll have buyers who understand your industry interested in your location as well as your business.

6. Diversity

Buyers will pay a premium for companies that naturally hedge the loss of a single customer. Ensure that no customer amounts to more than 10 percent of your revenue and your company will be more valuable than an industry peer with just a few big customers.

7. Predictability

If you’ve mastered a way to win customers and documented your sales funnel with a predictable set of conversion rates, your secret customer-acquiring formula will make your business more valuable to a buyer than an industry peer who does not have a clue where their next customer will come from.

8. Clean Books

Companies that invest in audited statements have financials that are generally viewed by buyers as more trustworthy and therefore worth more. You may want to get your books reviewed professionally each year even if audited statements are not the norm in your industry.

9. A “2iC”

Companies with a second-in-command who has agreed to stay on post-sale are more valuable than businesses where all the power and knowledge are in the hands of the owner.

10. Happy Customers

Being able to objectively demonstrate that your customers are happy and intend to re-purchase in the future and consistently make referrals will make your business more valuable than an industry peer that does not have a means of tracking customer satisfaction.

Like a rising tide that lifts all boats, your industry typically defines a range of multiples within which your business is likely to sell for; but whether you fall at the bottom or top of the range comes down to factors that have nothing to do with What You Do, but instead, How You Do It. Consider the following eight value drivers:

(a) Financial Performance: Your history of producing revenue and profit combined with the professionalism of your record keeping;

(b) Growth Potential: Your likelihood to grow your business in the future and at what rate;

(c) The Switzerland Structure: How dependent your business is on any one employee, customer, or supplier;

(d) The Valuation Teeter-Totter: Whether your business is a cash suck or a cash spigot;

(e) The Hierarchy of Recurring Revenue: The proportion and quality of automatic, annuity-based revenue you collect each month;

(f) The Monopoly Control: How well differentiated your business is from competitors in your industry;

(g) Customer Satisfaction: The likelihood that your customers will re-purchase and also refer you; and

(h) Hub & Spoke: How your business would perform if you were unexpectedly unable to work for a period of three months.

By working on these value drivers, your business can build significant value over time and, with the right tools and resources, you may be in the position to get offers of over 70% more than your industry peers. And, the sooner you start, you can not only expect a more valuable business, but a much more profitable one in the short term.

How Much Food Should You Have In Your Longterm Food Cache?

So the SHTF and you have successfully bugged in or bugged out according to your contingency plans. Now what? Is this going to be a longterm crisis due to war, asteroid strike or solar flare EMP? What is longterm for you…a couple weeks, months or several years?

I suggest that there are three distinct duration intervals for which you should stock supplies:

72 Hour Events

Something has happened while you are at work, school or stuck at home. It may be a riot, power outage or minor earthquake. You may need to use your BOB, GHB or GOOD kits to get home or stay at home until the crisis passes. Most people already have food and beverages at home to make it through a three day event. Of course food is just one supply that is needed to survive. In winter, sufficient heating is critical and power, lighting, communications are important at anytime.

Multi-Week Events

Recently there have been several events affecting people in the United States that impacted their lives for weeks and months at a time. Winter blackouts have lasted for weeks on end and are often combined with lack of running water, no heating and impassable secondary roads to suburbs. Floods and hurricanes often destroy houses, clothing, vehicles and much needed supplies such as food. These events often call for relocation to a BOL (Bugout Location) where you have put away supplies in advance or to a prepared relative’s home several hundred miles away from the impact area.

Longterm Events

The devastation of war, catastrophic natural disasters and economic collapse can make your current home and lifestyle into nothing more than a memory. The Tsunami of 2004 and New Orleans Katrina Flooding are two examples of events that leave the survivors with nothing but the clothes on their back and no choice but to relocate and start over. This migration and rebuilding can take years to complete and many survivors will be refugees relying on others for assistance for much of their lives.

How do you prepare for a longterm event? Can you trust that your supplies will be safe and available in your current home? Should you split your supplies across several locations to hedge against the impact of the possible disaster? What can you do now to prepare for the recovery and rebuilding of your life?

Those with unlimited financial resources, can buy bunkers and stock them with all imaginable types of supplies to last for decades. But for most people that work just to get by with perhaps only a paycheck or two between their current lifestyle and bankruptcy, each decision and purchase towards longterm preparation has to be beneficial by cost and ultimate value.

Ideally, you should have a bugout location already identified and stocked with basic supplies. This could be a vacation property, family farm or the home of a relative. The bare minimum supplies for a bugout location are food and water to support the number of people and length of time needed.

For just a family of four over a year’s time, that will be a lot of food and water. It’s possible to buy and put away that amount of food but it is costly and actually takes some room to store. Can you live off of stored food indefinitely? Obviously, no you can’t. If the infrastructure that you use to acquire food is broken or unavailable to you, how do you feed yourself?

Well, we can look to the 19th century for the solution. Small scale farming and keeping of animals will be the lifestyle post-SHTF.

If you are at your BOL longer than a year and committed for the near future to that location, then gardening and farming should become your new occupation. A couple of acres of land can produce a great deal of food. You should plant a variety of foods to take advantage of seasonality and nutrition.

Now if you start farming and raising animals in year two of your new life, there won’t be much food produced until the following year. If there is bad weather, flooding or disease you might lose most of the production from that year.

You should prepare to live off of your food cache for at least two years to give your new farming and ranching efforts a chance to bear fruit. The first year of cache is just to get you over the initial devastation of the longterm event and the second year is to feed you while you are busy transforming your BOL into a self-sustaining farm.

What should go into your two year cache? It turns out that an adult needs over 2,000 calories per day to maintain their current weight and health. If you are active during the day, you should actually double that requirement.

How do calories equate to the volumes of food that you can purchase by the pound or gallon? Well, it varies by the food type, but generally a serving as documented on food packaging is about 250 calories. That would be two and half cups of rice, or a cup of beans, or a can of chili. Each of those servings is about one pound in weight after preparation.

Here’s a good food storage calculator provided by the LDS:

http://lds.about.com/library/bl/faq/blcalculator.htm

As you can see, a single adult requires about five hundred (500) pounds of varied food per year. If you focus equally on white rice, pinto beans, rolled oats and canned meats, you should have the right mix of food staples to survive.

In order to add some variety and supplement your required intake of nutrients and minerals, you should also include a case each of real maple syrup, domestic honey (not from China), iodized salt, black pepper, assorted spices and powdered drink mixes.

This food cache needs to be purchased and stored at your BOL ahead of time. Most of the items I suggest have near indefinite storage lengths, if kept cool, dry and airtight. Rice and pinto beans will last for decades, while honey and salt have been discovered to last for THOUSANDS of years.

You can supplement your food staples with freeze-dried and nitrogen packed foods that come in various flavors and meals. These are often more expensive than the bulk staples, but may be worth it to you by providing some mental and emotional health benefits. Macaroni and cheese or tuna casserole are great comfort foods that the family can enjoy while settling into their new lives.

Given that a one (1) pound bag of rice or a can of chili seem to be going for about a $1.00 nowadays, it is reasonable to estimate that the cost per person per year will be about $500.00. If you look for sales and buy in bulk, you should be able to come down from that by as much as 25% or more.

You don’t have to buy all of that food at once! Get into a routine of double buying when you go to the grocery each week. Look for sales and deals and buy then. If you keep at it, you’ll be surprised how soon you will have six (6) months or even a year stored up already!