"In maintenance, I've learned that making money is all about having the right equipment, scheduling and having the right crew size," says Price. "I can't imagine mowing all day with a push mower anymore. I will not take on a new account if it is the only account in the vicinity. You just can't afford to drive across town for one stop.
"Crew size is important, too," Price continues. "Most of my residential accounts take between 15 and 20 minutes to maintain with two crew members; one mowing and one trimming. I've experimented with adding another mowing person to the crew, but it only shaved three or four minutes off a job."
Price charges $40 per hour per person for maintenance, and has a minimum charge of $26 per visit. He charges $10 per 1,000 square feet for lawn care, which translates into $50 per application for a typical homeowner customer. For maintaining and installing irrigation systems, he gets $65 an hour. The charges are competitive in the Amarillo market, and customers know exactly what to expect.
"Some customers shop price, and they may find a better deal," Price adds. "But offering full service gives me an advantage, and I make sure customers know exactly what to expect from our company. They sign a service agreement, which is slightly less intimidating than a contract, but it still spells out the service offering in detail. I believe young, inexperienced mowing contractors make a mistake by assuming customers know what they're getting. Customers don't want any surprises."
Price thinks startup companies make another mistake by overextending themselves. "You don't need a new mower from the start, and working out of a lower-cost rental place will do until you build up some capital," he emphasizes.
Not one to rest on past achievements, Price is looking to add a new service or two. He's already doing some tree root feeding, which is a natural extension of his lawn care service. He's also getting more involved in landscape installation. Teaching a continuing education landscape course at a local college this spring will give his company additional exposure in the market. In the meantime, he hasn't forgotten about his roots in maintenance.
"I enjoy working outside and can't imagine having a desk job," Price relates. "But I also truly enjoy the challenge of growing a business. It's kind of exciting comparing this year's monthly revenue to last year's. Right now, I think the sky is the limit."