How Jeff’s Website Got Him 100 Clients
At Jobber, we love hearing stories about how people started their field service companies and what they did to grow them. There are many sites that may focus on the huge franchise companies, but we find those who are the small and medium guys to be the most interesting.
What you can learn in this Q&A with Jeff:
- The importance of a great website and how it benefited him.
- How he grew without debt by being smart with his finances.
- What having even just a couple great employees allowed him to do.
- The importance of caring and wanting to over-deliver to your clients.
1) What is your name and your business name?
My name is Jeff Lego and my company name is Lego Services LLC.
2) What is your job title?
The owner, CEO.
3) Where do you do business?
We work primarily in Central Pennsylvania within Blair County. We do larger landscapes in State College and Johnstown areas, but most of our lawn related services are in the Altoona metropolitan.
4) Do you have a website?
Yes, we have an actually pretty awesome website for a lawn care company. Users can submit service requests, ask questions, read articles & blog posts, and submit payment online. The website address is www.legoservices.com.
5) What kind of services do you specifically provide?
We used to provide almost anything property maintenance related. Since we have grown and can survive without picking up every job we come across, we have limited our services to lawn care, landscaping, (beds, retaining walls, patios), and fertilizer/treatment programs.
6) What year did you start your business?
The business was started in 2009.
7) Anything special to note how it all began?
We originally started as L & L Lawn Care for the first year. Myself and a former friend with the last name Lloyd decided to start the company. My grandfather had passed away a few years prior leaving a garage full of lawn maintenance equipment. He was known for managing cemeteries and neighbours properties while he was alive, and as a child I helped him frequently and learned my way around the techniques and equipment. Lloyd had worked for another landscaping company for around 5 years, a conversation started and we decided to go into business. Lloyd moved to Texas the same year we started and I kept the business running into what it is today.
8) You started your business four years ago and are now adding full-time employees and have close to 100 clients. How were you able to grow to that amount?
I believe a lot of companies are successful because the owner is known in the community, has tons of contacts, and can pick up the necessary amount just by word of mouth. I did not have this luxury. I had no high-end contacts, no body ready to sign up as soon as we went into business, no new truck and no new equipment. We started with a run down push mowers and weed whackers, a 2001 Chevy s10, and a rusty old trailer.
It was www.legoservices.com that got us where we are.
I actually work another full-time job as a software developer, web developer, and general IT specialist at a local retail operation. I knew a lot about web design so and SEO practices so I built www.legoservices.com and www.blaircountylawnservice.com. The first year did not grow fast. Flyers helped us pick up a few clients and the website needed time to start being ranked. We cleared a little over $7,000 our first year which I completely reinvested into the business.
The second year tripled to an income of approximately $20k. The website grew in page ranks and I made sure to keep updating it with new content and relative information. Our client base was around 25 regular maintenance customers and we began buying new equipment.
This previous year was our best. We closed the year with 92 customers, tripled our gross income again and became incorporated. With new trucks, commercial mowing equipment, new trailers, and all the fun toys guys like me love —we look like and are competing with the big guys in town now.
To start the 2014 season I added a two full-time employees and purchased ten thousand every door direct mailer postcards. The season has not even started yet and I am thinking I may have to add another truck to our company and separate into two routes.
One important fundamental I kept was not to acquire debt. I purchased new equipment and advertising whenever I could afford it. I did not put anything on credit, bank loans, etc. I purchased with cash and kept debt at zero. I still follow the practice to this day.
9) What was the biggest challenge in getting to the point where you could hire full time employees?
The biggest challenge was time. I work two 40 hour jobs for the most part, especially in the spring and fall. I have three days for Lego Services, four days for my other job. It was hard to fit enough work into three days to be able to afford the upfront cost for legal employment. But working two jobs was also my greatest crutch—I could buy what I needed for the business while using my other income for bills. If the business failed, I still had solid income.
10) What has been your business’s biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
This would be time again. It is hard to cram as much work as I did in three days. The challenge was finding someone capable and reliable enough to manage customer accounts during Monday-Thursday without me, and finding someone that was willing to wait for the company to grow for big paychecks. I can’t exactly account overcoming it to anything except I found great guys named Ryan and Mike that were excited to help build this company and grow with it.
11) What is the biggest reason for your business’s success and why?
The biggest reason for success would be that I care what each individual property looks like whenever we leave. I want the stripes to be perfect, the edging to look the best on the block, and I want that customer to feel like they should have paid double for the service we provided. This would never work if I would not have found the guys I did as they care just as much as I do about detail.
12) You don’t currently use any kind of field service management software. How are you able to stay organized and efficient?
I don’t use any software created for usage in my industry, no. I actually use Google and QuickBooks for a lot of things. Google calendar has great recurring events for lawn care schedules, I can plan everything down to the hour and leave descriptions, addresses, and phone numbers. A simple share with the email address of one of my guys and it can pop up on their android cell phone calendar. I normally print an agenda for each day or weekend and leave it in the truck. The agenda has a list of customer names and addresses. The truck has a GPS unit with all customer names pre-programmed.
Google Docs also allows me to share price sheets with the guys. If they are on a property and someone asks them a price for mulching a flower bed, they can pull up the price guide, take the measurements, and correctly estimate the job. I also have the garage inventory in a document with a file that shows where each item goes and how many we have of that piece.
I think that Google has done a great job providing tools for guys like me to keep track of basically anything they need to. I know there are paid versions of almost everything that I use, like Google Apps, but for now, the free versions work – it saves me money and we feel like everything is neatly organized.
And everyone knows what QuickBooks is – I keep track of all sales, expenses, vendors, customers and so on with QuickBooks.
13) What technologies do you use to increase productivity at your field service business?
I have used a few apps, one of them called RouteXL. It will allow you to input addresses for a route and then recalculate the shortest most efficient way for you to travel that route. It actually over an hour driving time the first time I used it. I input my routes once every two months or so just to make sure we are not wasting time or gas with too much driving.
Another app for the iPad (it is for android, but doesn’t work as well) called IScape Pro has literally been a dream for me. It allows me to take pictures of customers properties after which I can choose from a giant list of various shrubs, flowers, trees, stone products, etc. and add them directly to the image. I then reshape, turn and layer the added item. I have picked up quite a few landscaping jobs because it gives me the ability to show the customer what I am picturing in my mind within a few minutes.
Google has been huge of course, as mentioned above.
The other technologies would be the lawn equipment. Whenever we decided to move from homeowner lawn equipment to the commercial equipment, that is whenever everything changed for us. I purchased a Scag v-ride last year and it has taken a lawn that we used to spend four hours on down to a little less than an hour.
Out of all the things I can say to anyone getting into this type of business, the most important would be to buy the expensive commercial equipment as soon as you can. I know starting out it is not really affordable, but once you can purchase it don’t hesitate. It will save you time and money beyond belief.
Thanks again Jeff for taking part in a Q&A with us. We are glad that we were able to have you on and share your story with everyone. If anyone else is interesting in telling your story of how you got started, email me at [email protected]