View Full Version : Is it really that bad?

Something D
05-10-2005, 09:03 AM
I have read several posts here lately from LCO who are thinking about getting out of the business because business is bad. I have been in business now part time for two seasons with the hope of leaving my full time job to work for myself. I do understand that it depends on the area however most of the discouraging post are from all over. Is it really that bad? Is it going to get worse? Should I even consider leaving my full time job with the hopes of doing this full time? Honestly, I thought I knew the answer but now I often wonder if the risk is to high after reading your all thoughts. I respect your honest opinions especially those who have been doing this for years and years. Ultimately I know the answer will come from me but I do look to you all as advisors just like any other business venture. No BS please, just honest opinions.

05-10-2005, 10:01 AM
I think it is always that bad for any business, in any part of the country. I know struggling attorneys, dentists, plumbers, builders, not to mention 100 year old auto manufacturers, long distance telephone companies, airlines, microchip manufacturers, etc.

Even the larger local businesses in my little town (100 to 500 employees) can go through extended difficult times when high-level employees will swear to you that this is probably their last year in business.

That being said, there are a lot of successful businesses out there too. I think that you need to really enjoy the marketing aspect of the business and you should have a little in savings to weather the bad times.

You also need to know that it is a numbers game. You need to reach a lot of people to get a few good customers. Once you have them, you need to work just as hard to keep them and that goes way beyond just giving them a good mow and trim. That's the way it is with all of the above businesses too.

I can't drive through town without seeing a handful of LCOs. Of course, I see a lot of attorneys and doctors and plumbers and electricians and...

I think now is always a good time to start something new if you have the right attitude. Part of that attitude is knowing that there are going to be tough times and being prepared to work through them.

05-10-2005, 01:41 PM
Something D, any biz can be bad, and if you read my post you know my area is one of the bad ones. However, everytime I about hit rock bottom it has usually turned around. However, this season has been not so good at all. As far as quitting your job, it depends on your market. You may live in an area that has a big demand for you. Also, there is NOTHING like working for yourself!! It feels so good being out of that backstabbing BS working for someone else. I would like to find a good paying part time job and keep the accounts I have now. If I could get about 15 more good ones I would be ok. You would think getting 15 more accounts would not be that hard but its like finding a 25 year old virgin here. Dont let the negative post discourage you though, this is a good biz and very enjoyable, Im just saying if I had a decent job I would be hesitant about quitting just yet. Now if your job sux then I say go for it!!

05-10-2005, 03:26 PM
It is pretty tough, I didn't expect to land a bunch of accounts, I thought I had the upper hand, I speak English for God's sake....several local LCO can't answer the phone in English//but they are cheap....word of month has helped in this town..its a town where who you know will carry you.....I'm from N.M., so this is out, I add one or two here and there from word of mouth and do the best I can to keep them.....Quailtylawn hit it on the head, no more backstabbing BS, its all yours....this is a plus, I'm in the best shape ever, I go and come as I wish, and aiming for no more than 30 accounts.....will I be here next year???Not sure if i will live to see tomorrow....but I'm enjoying life right now!!! :)

05-10-2005, 04:05 PM
I would look at your present job. specifiacally, How stable and how enjoyable it is. in my honost opinion, the lawn care industry is slowly headed deep south.It takes to much effort for dollars returned.However, if money is not an issue and you wanna just work 40 per week with low to moderate stress you can get by but that is about it. In my town the majority of the lawn care workers live in homes a step down from accountants- real estate agents- doctors -plumbers- teachers, ext. I am not saying they are poverty level. Just not the real nice two stories we are mowing.It is the massive amount of hidden cost and time that effect both you personally and your bottom line in this business. Those that grow very big are going non stop just trying to over see lower level society types that don't fit in elsewhere( workers) and keep big customers happy, and the solo owner is working his ass of breathing fumes and dust all day in the hot sun wrinkling your skin prematurely and working on the equipment in the evening, and theres always the excitement of watching a few long term customers have a complete personality change from year to year, to the point they freak out on you for something stupid. Others might see things differently then me., but this is my take on it. I am smart enough to know that an owner would have to do a lot more then mowing to acquire great wealth around here. Mowing has become the bottom of the landscaping industry level work.

On the flip side it is not all bad-the freedom is nice- fall is fun when it cools off and you can work hard and not sweat-and a real good song on the headset can bring back a lot of memories. :)

Triple R
05-11-2005, 12:46 AM
Sometimes a wonder why I'm in bussiness. I left a $40k/year job as a spray tech. Used to work about 45 hrs./5 days a week with paid vacation, medical, and profit sharing, plus sizable annual bonus. Now I work 7 days a week more hours than I can count, the net pay is terrible, and forget any fringe benefits. Worst of all is dealing with employees. If I could find the right job I would seriously consider shutting down. But most likely I will scale back and go solo again, cut down on the maintenance and concentrate on the pesticide biz, It's a no brainer for me maintenance= $40/hr. pesticides=$100/hr.

Something D
05-11-2005, 06:36 AM
Its good to hear personal experience with this biz. The fact is my full time job is OK, Salary sux but all in all OK. The truth is I have always been a leader not a follower. It sux working for someone else. I like that possibility of freedom, decision making and taking something from nothing and watching it grow. I don't want to live in a million dollar house but I am tired of living paycheck to paycheck. The market is saturated where I live but there are only a few companies that I know of that are class acts. A lot are scrubs and I know when the Temp rises they will be on the lake screwing their customers over while I am working my tail off in the heat on their old properties.

I know there is no crystal ball to see the future of the lawn care/landscaping industry......its just nice to hear what you all see & hear everyday as well as been through over the years. Thanks again for your stories....Keep them comin

05-11-2005, 07:28 PM
[QUOTE=Something D]The market is saturated where I live but there are only a few companies that I know of that are class acts.

Good luck with whatever you decide. It is hard breaking into a saturated market.

05-11-2005, 08:08 PM
In my town the majority of the lawn care workers live in homes a step down from accountants- real estate agents- doctors -plumbers- teachers, ext. I am not saying they are poverty level. Just not the real nice two stories we are mowing.

I am good friends with 4 other guys in the business in my are. Our ages range from 23-25... we all own our own house. They aren't dumps either.. mine's not the best but it's on 4 acres. I wouldn't say we live below the other people. I mow a dentists yard and he said he was 35 before he got his first house. I'm sure he makes way more then me but that fact that I started building equity and real estate value at 23.. I can prolly have a nice 750k house like his by the time I'm 35. And when do plumbers live in nice houses?

Expert Lawns
05-11-2005, 09:25 PM
I'm getting out at the end of this year

Mo Green
05-11-2005, 09:37 PM
I'm getting out at the end of this year
Sorry to hear that. What is driving you to leave the business?

05-11-2005, 09:38 PM
There's something to be said for working for yourself. I find it very satisfying to be in control of everything. I like making all the decisions for myself as far as scheduling, getting paid, and picking which jobs I want. I enjoy pulling away from a property and leave it looking great. I have some very appreciative customers that are a joy to work for too.
I never stress about the others guys and what they're doing or not doing. I have plenty to think about for myself.
All in all, I'm very happy with what I do.

05-11-2005, 09:44 PM
Most knowledgeable plumbing company owners are doing very well.Unlike lawn care, plumbing new homes does not stop are become a pain to do when it rains. Building is going non stop all around us. I know of one who lives in a very nice house. Remember, I am talking my area. Where you live maybe the market is great for lawnscaping, maybe you will have that home at thirty five, but you will work you tail off to accomplish it in this line of work. By the way my house is pretty cool to. It's just not as nice as the homes most professional people can afford.

05-11-2005, 09:45 PM
Expert let me know what you are thinking of doing, If you do sell your business. I always look for new ideas to make money :)

05-11-2005, 09:47 PM
Hello guys:

We all know that mowing is the most time consuming and sometimes expensive part of the industry. However, as many of you have said, it all depends where are you located and the portfolio of services you are offering. If you are depending only on mowing then location and the type of customers are keys. On the other hand, I am a firm believer that if you offer cleanups + custom fertilization + mulch + pruning/trimming + lawn renovation along other maintenance services you can turn your mowing/maintenance venture into a more profitable business. It has been my key for the last 2 years. Most of the times we go to a customer to kill 2 up to 4 birds with one stone making the stop a money-maker.
In conclusion, competition is everywhere, but remember sometimes they are buying YOU, your attitude, your promptness to reply back, your quality of work, your knowledge of horticultural practices.

Ed Correa

05-11-2005, 10:19 PM

It's a no brainer for me maintenance= $40/hr. pesticides=$100/hr.

My lowest maintenance properties generate $55/hr. My highest ones around $115/hr. (the $55's are being ROTATED OUT as we speak!) I think it is somewhat of a REGIONAL thing. I know CA is one of the LOWEST PRICED maintenance markets in the country. TO MUCH CHEAP LABOR AVAILABLE. On the other hand CHICAGO is the highest. We are in between, but get pretty decent rates here still. (Cheap labor influx...(illegal Mexicans) has gone WAY up here in the last 5 years, so I imagine our market will be going down :( eventually))

BUT WHAT YOU SAY is true. I've been expanding my chemical business the last several years as it is higher profit generator. I've seen several area companies grow BIG fast & then sell out for $$$ & it is the PESTICIDE ones that are doing it.


Rob's landscaping
05-11-2005, 10:39 PM
I am getting out of the business too. I love cutting grass the customers are nice it's the help that drives me nuts and the rain.

Expert Lawns
05-11-2005, 10:46 PM
A few other opportunities came my way that I have been waiting a long time for. I love this industry and love what I do, but when I started this biz, I knew I wouldnt' be doing it the rest of my life. I knew I wanted to get out of this town and do something different with my life, so I applied to film school and was accepted. No turnin back now.

05-11-2005, 10:48 PM
A few other opportunities came my way that I have been waiting a long time for. I love this industry and love what I do, but when I started this biz, I knew I wouldnt' be doing it the rest of my life. I knew I wanted to get out of this town and do something different with my life, so I applied to film school and was accepted. No turnin back now.
Good luck bro.

Soon as I get my own Sports Talk show, I'll quit too...... I'd better keep my gas cans full. :)

05-11-2005, 10:57 PM
knock on wood my Bus is booming in the area im in. I live in a touristy town with lots of weekenders and summer people. They come to relax.Not to mow. Peole from out of town are just buying up Chautauqua lake. Blue collar work is real big here.

05-11-2005, 11:10 PM
We always get these posts this time of year. Everyone should read a book called E myth. Now don't take this the wrong way I hate to read as much as anyone. But I think the reasons most of us get out is for the wrong reasons. I am sure they are good reasons but maybe the wrong ones. Maybe I am just different in my thinking. But, some of you talk about downsizing or getting out. I am trying to figure out a way to compete with Brickman! Every year we get bigger and yes the headaches get bigger also. But, I look to the days when I will be running this ship from my ship!

Just my two cents. If you do not think like a big company you will never be one.

05-12-2005, 11:01 AM
Expert Lawns that sounds cool, but what do film school graduates do? Make movies or star in them.

Expert Lawns
05-12-2005, 09:30 PM
Make them. I want to go into editing actually. Post production; people that put the movies together so they can send them to the theaters so you can watch them. By "put them together" I dont' mean package them and send them out UPS. Obviously movies are shot in scenes. Scenes need to be put together and edited and have sound effects added etc. Just something I think would be excited and I've always been fascinated with it.