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View Full Version : let's anylize this drought


bobbygedd
09-28-2005, 09:28 AM
well, the owner and sponsers of the site won't like this, but here goes. the longer i'm in this business, i see, what a crappy business it is. when it was a tiny one man show, it was great, for extra money. when it was a 2 man show, it was great. but, as i try to grow, i see, just how crappy it is. you can't build a big client base, if you are strict on late payments, and on your policies. the fact is, the more clientelle you're exposed to, the more crap you are exposed to. you litterally have to give services away, work cheap, and let them pay when they want, then, you can build a large client base. but if you do this, you will eventually suffer from burnout. just try and enforce late fees,and late payment policies (cancelations, suspended service), every time a client is late, and you'll see them disapear. just try and charge for everything, like extra leaves on the lawn, debris pick up, toys/trash pick up, and you'll run into problems, and your base will never grow. and then of course, you get drought like we have had here. now, you have 2 employees, you took the time to train them, they are awesome, but you have to give them enough money per hour, and enough hrs, to keep them. now, a drought like this happens, how is it possible to keep these employees? where does the money come from to pay them? if the business is not generating enough to pay them, you must let them go. then, next year comes, and you start over with new employees, training period, can't keep up with the work, and on and on and on...it's a tailchase. there are lawns here, that litterally have gone 5 weeks with no cut, and still don't need it. these same lawns, were only cut maybe twice in july, and once in augest. thier 30 cut season is dwindling down to maybe 20, if that. that means mowing revenue is down by at least 33%. sure, we can take this time to do the "extras", but what good is that? the extras were supposed to be just that, EXTRAS!. so where does the dough come from to pay these people, and yourself? do u let them go? start loaning your personal money to the business, so u can make payroll? what if this happens 3 yrs in a row? my conclusion is this- the solo op can always get by, for awhile anyhow, but he can never make real money, and his exsistance term is limited to around maybe 50 yrs old. a small to medium op, say 80-100 lawns, can get by, but can never grow, unless they give things away, keep thier prices low, and allow thier clients to walk on them. then, a drought occurs, they lose thier help, and they need to downsize to a solo anyhow. a large business-100-500 clients can only be obtained by -not having strict policies, keeping prices low, handling constant turnover. but, the innevitable, is "burnout" or a nervous breakdown, heart attack, mad fit hitting everyone in sight with a shovel. my conclusion is this- i will keep my client base between 80-100 strong. make enough to pay the help, and draw whatever is left over for my own salary, it looks like $500-$700 will be it. meanwhile, i'll be an outsider looking in, while i persue my other business ventures

sheshovel
09-28-2005, 09:42 AM
I thought you were making a killing in renovations?

bobbygedd
09-28-2005, 09:44 AM
I thought you were making a killing in renovations?
can't even do that now, the damn earator won't even penetrate the ground. most people have completely lost interest in thier lawns at this point

Nosmo
09-28-2005, 09:48 AM
Let's just take into consideration the lack of rain and leave
the other problems alone for now.

The reason for having an employee or employees is buying their labor and making a profit on it after their salaries are paid.

For the Short Run an employer can expect to sometimes operate in the hole with the expectation things are going to get better. Normally droughts don't last forever but there are exceptions --- Dustbowl Days of Oklahoma.

For the Long Run if conditions continue on the bad side a decision must be made as to how your business will survive. Most often the first thing which happens is the layoff of some employees.

All the other problems associated with the customers such as slow pay and some who can't be satisfied even if you paid them for allowing you to mow :-) are people problems . People problems are going to be part of your life as long as you remain in business.

Nosmo

fga
09-28-2005, 09:57 AM
well, the owner and sponsers of the site won't like this, but here goes. the longer i'm in this business, i see, what a crappy business it is. when it was a tiny one man show, it was great, for extra money. when it was a 2 man show, it was great. but, as i try to grow, i see, just how crappy it is. you can't build a big client base, if you are strict on late payments, and on your policies. the fact is, the more clientelle you're exposed to, the more crap you are exposed to. you litterally have to give services away, work cheap, and let them pay when they want, then, you can build a large client base. but if you do this, you will eventually suffer from burnout. just try and enforce late fees,and late payment policies (cancelations, suspended service), every time a client is late, and you'll see them disapear. just try and charge for everything, like extra leaves on the lawn, debris pick up, toys/trash pick up, and you'll run into problems, and your base will never grow. and then of course, you get drought like we have had here. now, you have 2 employees, you took the time to train them, they are awesome, but you have to give them enough money per hour, and enough hrs, to keep them. now, a drought like this happens, how is it possible to keep these employees? where does the money come from to pay them? if the business is not generating enough to pay them, you must let them go. then, next year comes, and you start over with new employees, training period, can't keep up with the work, and on and on and on...it's a tailchase. there are lawns here, that litterally have gone 5 weeks with no cut, and still don't need it. these same lawns, were only cut maybe twice in july, and once in augest. thier 30 cut season is dwindling down to maybe 20, if that. that means mowing revenue is down by at least 33%. sure, we can take this time to do the "extras", but what good is that? the extras were supposed to be just that, EXTRAS!. so where does the dough come from to pay these people, and yourself? do u let them go? start loaning your personal money to the business, so u can make payroll? what if this happens 3 yrs in a row? my conclusion is this- the solo op can always get by, for awhile anyhow, but he can never make real money, and his exsistance term is limited to around maybe 50 yrs old. a small to medium op, say 80-100 lawns, can get by, but can never grow, unless they give things away, keep thier prices low, and allow thier clients to walk on them. then, a drought occurs, they lose thier help, and they need to downsize to a solo anyhow. a large business-100-500 clients can only be obtained by -not having strict policies, keeping prices low, handling constant turnover. but, the innevitable, is "burnout" or a nervous breakdown, heart attack, mad fit hitting everyone in sight with a shovel. my conclusion is this- i will keep my client base between 80-100 strong. make enough to pay the help, and draw whatever is left over for my own salary, it looks like $500-$700 will be it. meanwhile, i'll be an outsider looking in, while i persue my other business venturesgood post. and a real accurate dipiction of this years season, with the drought up here.
my one silver lining, my guy must have some low living costs, or standards. he'll call out atleat once or twice a week.. which really balences the work/pay. normally, this would kill my schedule, but under the drought conditions, some haven't been cut in weeks. so i get an extra day off...
and my overhead is relatively low, so that keeps me afloat in times of not getting all of the usual cutting money.
i've also had more time for trimming payup

bobbygedd
09-28-2005, 10:00 AM
Let's just take into consideration the lack of rain and leave
the other problems alone for now.

The reason for having an employee or employees is buying their labor and making a profit on it after their salaries are paid.

For the Short Run an employer can expect to sometimes operate in the hole with the expectation things are going to get better. Normally droughts don't last forever but there are exceptions --- Dustbowl Days of Oklahoma.

For the Long Run if conditions continue on the bad side a decision must be made as to how your business will survive. Most often the first thing which happens is the layoff of some employees.

All the other problems associated with the customers such as slow pay and some who can't be satisfied even if you paid them for allowing you to mow :-) are people problems . People problems are going to be part of your life as long as you remain in business.

Nosmo
well nosmo, then, let us adress the employee problem. you are trying to build, you have employees, you get them trained where u want them, it's time to build further. the workload is cut by a third, you have to let one, or both go. you are now back to square one. you need good employees to build, you need a customer base to support these employees. your customer base diminishes (not permenantly, but conditions won't allow service to continue). now, in spring of 2006, your large customer base is back and ready for service, but your employees have moved on. so, you seek/hire/train new employees. let's face it, one quits, or is a slow learner, you can't keep up with the work, you lose clients, and worse yet you can't build.....and on and on and on.......this business is for people who can live on china mans wages. it's easy as hell to make, $5, 6, $700 a week, but try to make real money, and the sh!t will hit the fan

bobbygedd
09-28-2005, 10:14 AM
yes adam, but things like trimming, mulch, etc are supposed to be extra, or, in addition to, the "base service" which is, the grasscutting. losing the base service causes a $$$$$ problem . personally, i am fine, cus we have other income. but strictly from a business point of view, an operation with 2 employees, has to be able to provide 3 salaries, mine, and the 2 employees. SOMEONE has to go without pay, should it be them? then i lose them. should it be me? then i can't pay my bills. it's a tailchase, a freakin tailchase. add the drought, and the late payers, and you don't have enough cash flow to support the operation. i know a guy, who has 600 clients. think he's doing well? he added late fees, and strictly enforced them. think it helped? nope. he's making a few bucks off late fees, but mostly is fighting a big turnover because of it. he's going nuts. the man is ready for a nervous breakdown.

BryPaulD
09-28-2005, 10:14 AM
maybe let them work and you do other stuff? Go sell it up, fall ferts, aerates, seeds, clean ups, new contracts, etc.

lawnworker
09-28-2005, 10:23 AM
Bobby, I am just a solo operator. If I was trying to grow, I would do a contract that guaranteed a set amount each month. You really have to be good at selling this type set up, cause basically you get paid when it is a drought. Many people will probably question this, but it is the only way a big business has any idea what revenues will be.

bobbygedd
09-28-2005, 10:31 AM
Bobby, I am just a solo operator. If I was trying to grow, I would do a contract that guaranteed a set amount each month. You really have to be good at selling this type set up, cause basically you get paid when it is a drought. Many people will probably question this, but it is the only way a big business has any idea what revenues will be.
well, thank you very much. i am the king of selling this agreement, but let's face it, what's right is right. i can get paid every now and then for missed services, but i can't justify being paid for 30 cuts, when only 17, 18, 20 were actually performed.

PROCUT1
09-28-2005, 10:32 AM
well, the owner and sponsers of the site won't like this, but here goes. the longer i'm in this business, i see, what a crappy business it is. when it was a tiny one man show, it was great, for extra money. when it was a 2 man show, it was great. but, as i try to grow, i see, just how crappy it is. you can't build a big client base, if you are strict on late payments, and on your policies. the fact is, the more clientelle you're exposed to, the more crap you are exposed to. you litterally have to give services away, work cheap, and let them pay when they want, then, you can build a large client base. but if you do this, you will eventually suffer from burnout. just try and enforce late fees,and late payment policies (cancelations, suspended service), every time a client is late, and you'll see them disapear. just try and charge for everything, like extra leaves on the lawn, debris pick up, toys/trash pick up, and you'll run into problems, and your base will never grow. and then of course, you get drought like we have had here. now, you have 2 employees, you took the time to train them, they are awesome, but you have to give them enough money per hour, and enough hrs, to keep them. now, a drought like this happens, how is it possible to keep these employees? where does the money come from to pay them? if the business is not generating enough to pay them, you must let them go. then, next year comes, and you start over with new employees, training period, can't keep up with the work, and on and on and on...it's a tailchase. there are lawns here, that litterally have gone 5 weeks with no cut, and still don't need it. these same lawns, were only cut maybe twice in july, and once in augest. thier 30 cut season is dwindling down to maybe 20, if that. that means mowing revenue is down by at least 33%. sure, we can take this time to do the "extras", but what good is that? the extras were supposed to be just that, EXTRAS!. so where does the dough come from to pay these people, and yourself? do u let them go? start loaning your personal money to the business, so u can make payroll? what if this happens 3 yrs in a row? my conclusion is this- the solo op can always get by, for awhile anyhow, but he can never make real money, and his exsistance term is limited to around maybe 50 yrs old. a small to medium op, say 80-100 lawns, can get by, but can never grow, unless they give things away, keep thier prices low, and allow thier clients to walk on them. then, a drought occurs, they lose thier help, and they need to downsize to a solo anyhow. a large business-100-500 clients can only be obtained by -not having strict policies, keeping prices low, handling constant turnover. but, the innevitable, is "burnout" or a nervous breakdown, heart attack, mad fit hitting everyone in sight with a shovel. my conclusion is this- i will keep my client base between 80-100 strong. make enough to pay the help, and draw whatever is left over for my own salary, it looks like $500-$700 will be it. meanwhile, i'll be an outsider looking in, while i persue my other business ventures


Dam Bobby......... This has to be your best post here....... As far out as you can be a lot of the time whatever your operation is you do have a good understanding of business.....

I did the above and Ill tell you what......Its a b!tch sometimes....

Customers only seem to want "extras" and installs when the grass is growing like crazy and were swamped....

Then we get swamped with what seems to be an endless supply of extras, I now go out and hire a couple of more people and have a dedicated " extra" crew......

That lasts usually for two weeks...... They fly throught the extras and then the grass slows down..... Now we have no extras......no grass to cut....and now two guys we dont need on the crew...

So what to do now...... Lay off the guys...... Carry them doing useless things..... Cleaning the shop only takes so much time......

This year I got somewhat lucky and did massive advertising and are staying busy and fortunately a couple of guys left on their own so were ok..... But we have had plenty of 1:00 days this year

PROCUT1
09-28-2005, 10:34 AM
The idea of " contracts" whether you mow or not are great..... However when 100 others are pay as you go..... The customers start thinking......

fga
09-28-2005, 11:00 AM
cut....and now two guys we dont need on the crew...

So what to do now...... Lay off the guys...... Carry them doing useless things..... Cleaning the shop only takes so much time......


you have to see how clean my truck was washed the other day... and my wife's car... and my trailer. :) the dog ran before i could catch her though.

PROCUT1
09-28-2005, 11:02 AM
If my trucks get washed anymore they wont have any paint left......

Nosmo
09-28-2005, 11:32 AM
I no authority on employees but I did work for my uncle years ago who had a lot of employees. He was pretty good at keeping some and some didn't stay. He had many types of jobs for all of them . Some jobs were more skilled than others but all of the employess were needed at that time.
This was 1958-1962.

In 1962 My uncle still had a lot of employees but I left like a lot of others had before me. It was just a few years later that my uncle decided he didn't need nearly as many people working for him so he really cut back on hiring and even encouraged some of the long time employees to retire.

Now look what kind of shape my Uncle Sam who owns the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marines is in.

Nosmo

olderthandirt
09-28-2005, 12:38 PM
Theres a happy medium that you need to find, Solo is to hard on the body, 10-15 employees you have to much hassles and problems and when its all over with the bottom line is not that much more than a guy with 2-3 man crew. And theres been good and bad yrs for as long as theres been cutters so you save from the good yrs to carry you over in the bad yrs. same as any other biz. JMO

DLS1
09-28-2005, 01:18 PM
Bobby time to get back into your previous Printing press world life and do this part-time by yourself. Your empire of you and two helpers isn't working in your lemon world. Learn to make lemonade. You could always start your other side business as Wal-Mart greeter during the down times. :D

dmc456
09-28-2005, 01:24 PM
Drought = Renovations = $$$

The drought this summer proably cost me about $10-12k, but will make $30-40k in a month of renovations due to the drought. We will also get 20+ new customers out of the renovations.

Use the drought as a time to get more good paying customers. People that renovate their lawn are easy pickings for a full time customer.

Most people that have thier lawn killed off are not satified with their current lawn service or I could be wrong.

Nosmo
09-28-2005, 01:30 PM
Economics 101 teaches to survive in business -- the proprietor must be efficient. In times of hardships (drought) (high fuel costs) and competition for example the most efficient of operations will survive.

Nosmo

alwaysgreener
09-28-2005, 01:56 PM
BG good post but sounds like you do only mowing. You can not survive on mowing only. Mowing lawns is just to keep your name out there not to make a living at it. You need to get into Hardscapes, Landscapes, and Excavating to make any real money. What you are providing is unsecured credit with your mowing and colleting when work was done not very smart. You canít go to Burger King and get a meal and pay at the end of the month. We do not offer just mow, trim, and blows, all of our customerís take a full property maintenance contracts and either pay all upfront OR half now and the rest in July. I have never had a problem with non payments or late payments.

LwnmwrMan22
09-28-2005, 02:32 PM
sheesh.... get contracts, get them paid up front every month. Do fair work for a fair price, go through life without all these other distractions. It really is that simple.

It's just like rent, a phone, your insurance. They all want a set amount up front, and then each month you're not paying last month's bill, you're paying this coming up month's bill, or the next bill in front of that.

If you can't get your customer to agree to that, move on.

If you can't get enough customers to where you've got enough for 2 crews, keep it at one.

If you can't get enough customers for a full crew, work your butt off as a solo op or with a part time helper or two.

If you can't get enough customers to justify doing this job, then look somewhere else.

It's not a crappy business, you just have to work it towards how you want it.

Joel B.
09-28-2005, 02:35 PM
well, the owner and sponsers of the site won't like this, but here goes. the longer i'm in this business, i see, what a crappy business it is. when it was a tiny one man show, it was great, for extra money. when it was a 2 man show, it was great. but, as i try to grow, i see, just how crappy it is. you can't build a big client base, if you are strict on late payments, and on your policies. the fact is, the more clientelle you're exposed to, the more crap you are exposed to. you litterally have to give services away, work cheap, and let them pay when they want, then, you can build a large client base. but if you do this, you will eventually suffer from burnout. just try and enforce late fees,and late payment policies (cancelations, suspended service), every time a client is late, and you'll see them disapear. just try and charge for everything, like extra leaves on the lawn, debris pick up, toys/trash pick up, and you'll run into problems, and your base will never grow. and then of course, you get drought like we have had here. now, you have 2 employees, you took the time to train them, they are awesome, but you have to give them enough money per hour, and enough hrs, to keep them. now, a drought like this happens, how is it possible to keep these employees? where does the money come from to pay them? if the business is not generating enough to pay them, you must let them go. then, next year comes, and you start over with new employees, training period, can't keep up with the work, and on and on and on...it's a tailchase. there are lawns here, that litterally have gone 5 weeks with no cut, and still don't need it. these same lawns, were only cut maybe twice in july, and once in augest. thier 30 cut season is dwindling down to maybe 20, if that. that means mowing revenue is down by at least 33%. sure, we can take this time to do the "extras", but what good is that? the extras were supposed to be just that, EXTRAS!. so where does the dough come from to pay these people, and yourself? do u let them go? start loaning your personal money to the business, so u can make payroll? what if this happens 3 yrs in a row? my conclusion is this- the solo op can always get by, for awhile anyhow, but he can never make real money, and his exsistance term is limited to around maybe 50 yrs old. a small to medium op, say 80-100 lawns, can get by, but can never grow, unless they give things away, keep thier prices low, and allow thier clients to walk on them. then, a drought occurs, they lose thier help, and they need to downsize to a solo anyhow. a large business-100-500 clients can only be obtained by -not having strict policies, keeping prices low, handling constant turnover. but, the innevitable, is "burnout" or a nervous breakdown, heart attack, mad fit hitting everyone in sight with a shovel. my conclusion is this- i will keep my client base between 80-100 strong. make enough to pay the help, and draw whatever is left over for my own salary, it looks like $500-$700 will be it. meanwhile, i'll be an outsider looking in, while i persue my other business ventures



Sooooo............why are you in the lawn business then if it's so crappy? I rarely see you post anything positive about the lawn biz and you seem to have a lot of stress and headaches from it. Just curious why you stay in it if it's so bad.

What other business ventures are you pursuing?

Joel B.

Cigarcop
09-28-2005, 02:52 PM
[QUOTE=Joel B.]Sooooo............why are you in the lawn business then if it's so crappy? I rarely see you post anything positive about the lawn biz and you seem to have a lot of stress and headaches from it. Just curious why you stay in it if it's so bad.

Joel B.[/QUOTE

well said Joel........

lawnworker
09-28-2005, 03:25 PM
well, thank you very much. i am the king of selling this agreement, but let's face it, what's right is right. i can get paid every now and then for missed services, but i can't justify being paid for 30 cuts, when only 17, 18, 20 were actually performed.


Bobby, Yeah, but the flip side of contracts are if it rains a whole lot you are over worked due to having to cut a lot. Like I said I have not sold these type contracts, but if I did, I would sell them with the points:

Gedd's lawn service in order to be able provide reliable to customers year to year has to have a steady income

It is sorta like an Insurance policy. They are insured of a well cared for yard under all growing conditions.

A one stop shop combine all services into contract.even if it is just stopping by to show them your shovel.

Mr. Magpie
09-28-2005, 03:56 PM
Why hasn't anyone mentioned??? Its the area you are in, period. The area is I'd say 80% of the decision to start a LCO that makes most $ by mowing.

Bobby, your area obviously sucks, because it is subject to drought, period. Your area sucks because you seem to be stuck with crappy clients, period. No amount of smarts or experience is going to hide the fact that your area sucks for LCO, this goes for everyone not just you in NJ.

None of the stuff you mentioned matters here in S. Florida, it is overflowing with middle-class customers and their jungle St. Augustine lawns, with accompanying strict city adherence to code and short driving distances. And I'm sure there are other places too just like mine. Your area of NJ might not be one of them, you might be realizing this now.

Man, you as a guy as on top of the industry as you are, could make a killing down here.

DLS1
09-28-2005, 04:09 PM
No amount of smarts or experience is going to hide the fact that your area sucks for LCO, this goes for everyone not just you in NJ.



I would tend to disagree. Rodfather and I think a few others are from NJ and they seem to be doing okay. It could be they don't complain like Bobby and are not doing good either.

Being a LCO is just risky business no matter where you are at (i.e. drought, hurricane, to many LCO's in one area, working in poor area of town, other LCO keeping the cost per yard low low priced,etc. )

Envy Lawn Service
09-28-2005, 04:46 PM
Dam Bobby......... This has to be your best post here.......

I agree...

A few more people also made some VERY GOOD posts to this thread as well.

South Florida Lawns
09-28-2005, 05:05 PM
There is always more than enough work in Florida. Plus our droughts arn't as bad or happen that often. Although we do have the dry season, the grass stays green in our area through out the whole year. We do every other week in the fall through winter as well as part of spring. We have virtually no hills or fall leaf cleanups to mess with. Just think you could even retire down here.

rodfather
09-28-2005, 06:13 PM
Well, let's look at this in perspective...

Last year was phenomenal for mowing. Rained EVERY week all summer long. First time in 11 years we did not get a single "skip us this week Rod" the entire year ( and I have documented it). t even got to the point we were friggin' double cutting 25% or more of the lawns in July and August!!! Hello, if you didn't make big time money in 04, you were a candidate for being the Village Idiot. Nope, sorry you were the Village Idiot.

2003 was almost identical for us in the Northeast (and yes) I live in NJ less than an hour from Bobby. That year, my records show we got exactly 2 (that's right) 2 calls to skip mowing that week.

Now I don't know how many exact customers we had in 03 and 04 (on average I would say 150) or so. Now let's do the math...150 customers x 30 cuts = 450 visits x 2 years = 900 showups. Out of the 900 possible cuts, we did 898 of them...not to shabby huh?

Even with this year being lousy (and only up until August) you still weigh in what we did the previous 2 years and it ain't all that bad. Mac said it, "you take the good with the bad". And he's right, period. Am I gonna throw in the towel? F*** no...I am in it for the long haul and expect these bumps in the road. They are inevitable. if you think not, you are just kidding yourself. Every business goes through a cycle up and down every 3 or 5 or 7 years NO MATTER what business you are in. It's that simple.

Now Bobby, all I can say to you personally was you did the LCO thing part time for like 8 or 9 years or so before jumping in full time. And I was one who personally told ya over the winter thought you were doing the right thing. 2004 was great for you and me. 2005 was not so great...you just have to accept it and suck it up IMO.

BTW, I hope stay around regardless...your good friend. :)

VnDrWLawnCare
09-28-2005, 06:43 PM
I couldn't agree more that our line of work has its ups and downs. I cant say it enough that 2003 was an awesome year with very few skips. Last year not as great, but would take 04 any day over this year. I say to myself why i do this as i am filthy and probably spent more in fuel and time driving around than i made cutting. But when i think about next year, why would i want to give it up or sell it off for someone else to have a phenominal year if it plays out that way. We just dont know if next year will be another 2003??

Eric

Ric
09-28-2005, 06:48 PM
BooBy BooBy BooBy

When you are in a weather related field you have to except what mother nature gives you. You also must plan for the slow times. At least Mother Nature did blow away your business and Flood you house. Take this as a lesson and move on. It is like farming, some years the crop is big, other you do not do so well.

I am not going to preach and tell you what you should of done better because I really don't know your market. But What ever happen to the King of Mowing in the North east and the consulting business?? Seem like only a month ago I was reading about those things.

You can look at this as failure or you can break out the green paint and look at it as a great opportunity to make up lost ground.

6'7 330
09-28-2005, 06:55 PM
BooBy BooBy BooBy

When you are in a weather related field you have to except what mother nature gives you. at it as a great opportunity to make up lost ground.
This business can be very much like farming; Mother Nature can give the best-operated business a whammy.

For us, The July-Aug drought here is going to help our bottom line, because of 50% more renovations then normal. With the explosion of new homes and business going up, the meat of our business, installation revenues were up good.

rodfather
09-28-2005, 06:58 PM
At least Mother Nature did blow away your business and Flood you house.

Ain't that the truth...words of wisdom Ric. Personally, I don't know how I would ever cope with that. Someone take me around the back of the barn and put a shovel to my head if you would please...

rodfather
09-28-2005, 07:03 PM
Ric & Bill...the weather affects EVERYONE'S business...there is no denying that. And nothing you can do about it too. You just have to roll with the punches and ride out the tide. If ya can't, then it is time to think about punching the clock IMO.

turfquip
09-28-2005, 07:52 PM
I'm not convinced demand for renovations will be as strong as anticipated this Fall. Economic pressures have some people hesitating to spend big bucks. Discretionary spending takes a hit when bills for essentials like fuel rise.

The need is certainly there, but I think demand will dissappoint. I had a Lesco renovator on order but cancelled after Katrina. I just feel that in my area at least, attitudes are changing... priorities are changing. Theres uncertainty in the economy right now.

Bobby, it might just be time to dump your stuff and get out.

nitrotim
09-28-2005, 08:24 PM
yes adam, but things like trimming, mulch, etc are supposed to be extra, or, in addition to, the "base service" which is, the grasscutting. losing the base service causes a $$$$$ problem . personally, i am fine, cus we have other income. but strictly from a business point of view, an operation with 2 employees, has to be able to provide 3 salaries, mine, and the 2 employees. SOMEONE has to go without pay, should it be them? then i lose them. should it be me? then i can't pay my bills. it's a tailchase, a freakin tailchase. add the drought, and the late payers, and you don't have enough cash flow to support the operation. i know a guy, who has 600 clients. think he's doing well? he added late fees, and strictly enforced them. think it helped? nope. he's making a few bucks off late fees, but mostly is fighting a big turnover because of it. he's going nuts. the man is ready for a nervous breakdown.

I was getting ready to let one of my two go and was having a hard time deciding which one. The decision was made for me over the weekend when one of them landed in jail. His girlfriend calls me and wants me to bail him out. YEAH RIGHT I don't think so. $1350. So as leaf season approaches I will have one employee. I was going to buy a trac vac but will get by with the BG 13hp wb, backpack blower and a RAKE and tarp.

ed2hess
09-28-2005, 08:30 PM
It has been very hot and dry here in Texas including the 106F today. To offset some of the risk we have over half our business in commericial that is all irrigated. And, about 60% of our residential have irrigation. It seems like people up North is going to have to look at use of irrigation? Unfortunately it seems like many of the yards are very big up there unlike our situation. Most yards can be irrigated for around $120 per month.

topsites
09-28-2005, 08:56 PM
well, thank you very much. i am the king of selling this agreement, but let's face it, what's right is right. i can get paid every now and then for missed services, but i can't justify being paid for 30 cuts, when only 17, 18, 20 were actually performed.

See why I keep bugging out about the folks talk about cutting grass 28x / year, I kept trying to tell you guys MOST of my lawns get cut 16-18 times / year, a FEW get 20-22... The rest is wishful thinking in this business.

Yeah the part with the aeration does suck but some of you guys act as if one slow month is going to kill your business... If that is the case, what is going to happen to you during a slow YEAR or TWO?!! For me, there is no choice... You HAVE to save money, otherwise you can not and will not survive.

It takes time (months per thousand sometimes, other times 1-2k / month) but money in the bank is what allows me from NOT having to back down, NOT letting them run all over me, and ultimately allowing ME to make the right choices every time. It is these choices which in the end, gain me a better class customer, they realize I'm serious when *I* REFUSE to aerate a lawn right now even IF the customer didn't know any better but THAT is what makes a difference is to NOT rip off the customer, that gets me enough business time after time to survive.

I've never been busier since I decided to run an honest business, and I'm sorry now to each their own but a contract that says you get paid whether any work is done or not, that to me is not very honest but that's just me. Ok, to get paid regardless isn't dishonest per se...BUT:
If it works for one of you hey that's great, I'm just saying what works for one may or may not work for another and in my case, that crap would NEVER fly with my customers.

The other thing I will say is although there's a FEW Lco's here in town do grass-cutting ONLY, for most of us it doesn't work like that... After all, we can always do aeration in early spring and here in less than a month, it's leaf-cleanup time.

Envy Lawn Service
09-29-2005, 12:31 AM
:(

Well I keep coming back to this thread to type a reply...
But I'm just going to level with the majority of you guys posting here and just say...

By the time I catch up reading this, I am just at a total loss for words, every time.

...................

:(

Lawn-Scapes
09-29-2005, 01:41 AM
sheesh.... get contracts, get them paid up front every month. Do fair work for a fair price, go through life without all these other distractions. It really is that simple.

It's just like rent, a phone, your insurance. They all want a set amount up front, and then each month you're not paying last month's bill, you're paying this coming up month's bill, or the next bill in front of that.

This is what I did a couple of years ago and it has worked out great. I have worked less this year and have made more money than any other year. As of now... no questions asked. However there may be some during next years renewal... I deal with it then. I think that most long term clients understand that it all balances out... and you must provide TOP NOTCH service.

I cut 3 of my largest lawns today for the first time in 3 weeks. All three have been paid in full for the season since June. Two of the three home owners just smiled and waved to me today.

Bobby.. I don't know how much of what you right is true but I could never run a business the way you describe. It's not easy to build a business but I think it would be easier if you didn't have 20 page contract with 2000 policies. KISS

Lawn-Scapes
09-29-2005, 01:55 AM
See why I keep bugging out about the folks talk about cutting grass 28x / year, I kept trying to tell you guys MOST of my lawns get cut 16-18 times / year, a FEW get 20-22... The rest is wishful thinking in this business.

This statement leads me to believe that you don't know what you're doing and will continue to make small change in this business.

lawnman_scott
09-29-2005, 01:57 AM
sheesh.... get contracts, get them paid up front every month. Do fair work for a fair price, go through life without all these other distractions. It really is that simple.

It's just like rent, a phone, your insurance. They all want a set amount up front, and then each month you're not paying last month's bill, you're paying this coming up month's bill, or the next bill in front of that.

If you can't get your customer to agree to that, move on.

If you can't get enough customers to where you've got enough for 2 crews, keep it at one.

If you can't get enough customers for a full crew, work your butt off as a solo op or with a part time helper or two.

If you can't get enough customers to justify doing this job, then look somewhere else.

It's not a crappy business, you just have to work it towards how you want it.
This is the point of the thread, but no one gets it yet. Or do people beleive that Bobby has completly reversed his attitude on everything? I cant beleive no one got on him about the failure thing, he even put in "other business intrests" right there for someone to jump all over. Cant justify charging for 30 cuts when you do 16,17........... come on.

Envy Lawn Service
09-29-2005, 02:20 AM
I finally found words to describe my loss for words...

You know that feeling you get when you find out you really really did not know someone as well as you thought you did... at all???

You become aware of something and you don't even know what to say?

Well, that pretty much sums it up.

So here's to 2 Green Industry "eye openers" in less than a year that will forever change my 'once sheltered' view of this industry as a whole. It's just absolutely mind boggling to me to even think of how many posts I've read here on this site from members "obsessing" about efficiencies, production, penny-pinching tactics, and every last freakin minute of the day.... and then I come here and read this.... Ya gotta be freakin' kiddin me!!!


Bobby,

Do you remember your posts about "precedence"???? Well, if this thread does not prove beyond the shadow of a doubt YOU ARE DEAD ON RIGHT (more than even I realized) then I don't know what does....

Anyways Bobby, it's late and I'm sleepy, but first chance I get, I will PM you a very simple BUSINESS strategy that you can apply to your operations in a very business-like manor.... and I really think it will ease your woes.... at a rate of killing two birds with one stone.

Meanwhile, have one on me.... :drinkup:

TURFLORD
09-29-2005, 07:17 AM
I'm not gonna read this whole thread, I'll just jump in here. BG's post is no revelation to me. Been there,done that. Still decided to stay solo. Much easier. Less stressful. Just as much money (relatively speaking). Of course I still have a per capita amount of customer issues, but at least the police won't find any employee skull fragments in my chip pile. :p

DLS1
09-29-2005, 09:32 AM
I finally found words to describe my loss for words...

You know that feeling you get when you find out you really really did not know someone as well as you thought you did... at all???



Your kidding. Your just learning that on the internet.

People can type anything and make up another world for themselves like Bobby.

By the way, I won millions in the lottery several years ago and do lawn care for fun. Oh I forgot I make $60 an hour every hour day after day mowing. :D

PMLAWN
09-29-2005, 04:18 PM
See why I keep bugging out about the folks talk about cutting grass 28x / year, I kept trying to tell you guys MOST of my lawns get cut 16-18 times / year, a FEW get 20-22... The rest is wishful thinking in this business.

.
16-18 times a year. It says you live in Richmond. That can't be too different from Charlotte. I get about 38 per year. I have seen people in Chicago talking about almost 30. How do you get down so low.

Ric
09-29-2005, 05:27 PM
Ain't that the truth...words of wisdom Ric. Personally, I don't know how I would ever cope with that. Someone take me around the back of the barn and put a shovel to my head if you would please...


Rod

In reference to the Victims of Katrina.

Maybe I should come totally clean about my retiring. Yes I lost a great deal in Hurricane Charlie, But my business didn't fail, I did. I had it back together and was making up my loses but, then I looked at how much more I had to do and Gave up the ghost. Call it post traumatic depression or what ever you want. But having every thing you have worked for blow away is a big hit. Only 11 years before Hurricane Charlie I loss everything in a divorce and It gets old really quick trying to climb back up the ladder again. I cut my losses and sold out to my crew, who is doing quite well now with all the re-landscapes. I have not worked since and have lived off my retained earning and investments. But 2004 was a real bad year with many things be on my control happening. A $ 31,000 fine by the state of Florida, a death in the Family, trouble with my kids, 4 hurricanes, a minor heart attack and Law suit by a national corporation was just more than I could handle mentally in a years time. Hopefully now I am ready to go at it again. But this time at my age it will be the short bus route. I don't want employees or to be a big operator. In fact I only want to work part time and as little as possible. I want to enjoy what little Life I have Left.

cantoo
09-29-2005, 10:09 PM
I bought a used Olathe renovator and a used Bobcat lawn mower last week. I hope a few more guys have a bad year so I can buy a few more things. I should be able to make a few extra dollars with the renovator and the Bobcat matches the one we bought last year.
Repossessed sale tomorrow, 600 cc snowmobile here I come.

karen1122
09-30-2005, 03:35 PM
A humble Gedd??? I almost fell off my chair

It is amazing how many people overlook a business plan. Plans for how to grow, key metrics for monitoring progress to those plans, the dedication to reviewing the metrics, and a bootload of contingencies for every bump in the road you can imagine. Doing this planning before you take the leap makes the execution as easy as keeping score and then following the roadmap.

Most people think that they can do all of this on the fly. They skip the planning stage and think that they can recover if the metrics indicate they are going south. Most small businesses fail.

DLS1
09-30-2005, 04:01 PM
A humble Gedd??? I almost fell off my chair

It is amazing how many people overlook a business plan. Plans for how to grow, key metrics for monitoring progress to those plans, the dedication to reviewing the metrics, and a bootload of contingencies for every bump in the road you can imagine. Doing this planning before you take the leap makes the execution as easy as keeping score and then following the roadmap.

Most people think that they can do all of this on the fly. They skip the planning stage and think that they can recover if the metrics indicate they are going south. Most small businesses fail.

Your speaking a forum language to Bobby when you mention metrics and business plan. :D

This could be another one of his many made up stories (trolls) but this does sound like the real Bobby. Business plans are nice but you still have to have lots of customers and ones that pay. Bobby fails in both categories if you read a few of his many trolls.

He will probably add his comments as soon as it looks like this thread is dying so he can try to keep this troll of his living on. Or he could have already quit the business and went back to the printing press world. :D

Ric
09-30-2005, 04:43 PM
Your speaking a forum language to Bobby when you mention metrics and business plan. :D

This could be another one of his many made up stories (trolls) but this does sound like the real Bobby. Business plans are nice but you still have to have lots of customers and ones that pay. Bobby fails in both categories if you read a few of his many trolls.

He will probably add his comments as soon as it looks like this thread is dying so he can try to keep this troll of his living on. Or he could have already quit the business and went back to the printing press world. :D


DLS

Last time I talked to BooBy he was talking about a Hot Dog stand. I Suggested he call it Dago Midget Dogs and put anchovies on top. He told me He was in great shape and would be wearing a Thong to attract customers. He also said Kinkos is not hiring and might sell tomatoes on top of Hot Dogs and call it Spaghetti Sauce Dogs. I believe Mr. Midget's Tiny Weenies might be a good name.

Toy2
09-30-2005, 07:27 PM
I feel this year was hard on everyone, except Justmowit......Solo will work for me....I feel i did my best this year, yea I had to get a job....but I still push the mower as needed....I just don't feel so stress out......I have to travel an hour to get to work each day and pay the high fuel cost, but I still come out ahead at the end of each month, plus need the insurance....just in case.......hopefully next year will be better for me......and all of you.....good post BG..... :D

Nosmo
09-30-2005, 07:41 PM
We're way behind on rain for the year and September was the driest I can remember . We only had 1.22 ins. this month and where I have not watered is like a brick. Want to aerate but I'll have to wait but the supposed good news is we are supposed to get rain late tonight.

Yes Bobby has talked about being more diversified and one of those expansions will be a Hot Dog Stand (cart). My suggestion which might attract more business and provide the customers with entertainment while waiting on the Hot Dogs is: A trained Monkey, wearing a purple Bell Hop type
hat and carrying a tin cup to take the money.

Nosmo

rodfather
09-30-2005, 07:43 PM
I feel this year was hard on everyone, except Justmowit

The weather affects EVERYONE. Period

lawnman_scott
09-30-2005, 09:06 PM
The weather affects EVERYONE. Period
Unless you are in an area where you charge equal monthly payments year round for service.

BryPaulD
09-30-2005, 09:24 PM
let's anylize this drought

well...... hot, lack of rain, less mowing. There it's anylized. Do more services, sell more stuff. Stay busy.

rodfather
09-30-2005, 09:50 PM
Unless you are in an area where you charge equal monthly payments year round for service.

Try that up here in res and you will be out of business...period

Ric
09-30-2005, 10:20 PM
Unless you are in an area where you charge equal monthly payments year round for service.


Scott

I had that discussion with Rod on AOL messenger. Just as we have issues in our market they have other issues. You and I have see year round pricing work both ways for us. But even in years where we have a long rain season and do more cuts for the same price, we still have a stead income and make out. If we could only get their prices and our year round payment it would be a really great business.

Toy2
09-30-2005, 10:35 PM
Not sure on the hot dog stand, the local guy here that has a HD cart is also looking for a job, he sits right along the Interstate and across from Baylor...and business still sucks....if you can set it up at Home Depot or lowes then i think you have a better chance...or as my friend back in Albuq. did...hire a female in a bikini to sell your dogs!!!! :)

Craftybigdog
09-30-2005, 10:43 PM
Well guys you just re affirmed what I felt about 2 mo. ago. I was so close to hiring help. I lost my 2 guys to college. I wanted to grow so big, but the deeper I looked into it. What a nightmare. So now I just stretch it out a little bit and do it all myself.

lawnman_scott
09-30-2005, 10:51 PM
Scott

I had that discussion with Rod on AOL messenger. Just as we have issues in our market they have other issues. You and I have see year round pricing work both ways for us. But even in years where we have a long rain season and do more cuts for the same price, we still have a stead income and make out. If we could only get their prices and our year round payment it would be a really great business.
Yeah, if I could get the prices here some people say they get I would be doing very well, thats for sure. But I would take what we have here over anywhere else, virtually gauranteed income, no worrying about next year, dont have to save up for winter....... see i really do love florida.

I dont have a single customer, big commercial included that havent been skipped a few times a year, and I would say I can remember less than 10 times people asked if I was going to reduce their bill in 10 years. I then explain to them why I dont or cant do that.

cgland
09-30-2005, 10:56 PM
IMO the key to withstanding these conditions is to be a diverse company. By Bobby's comparisons we are a large company (we do not give sevices away, we are strict on late payments, and we have very little turnover) We run 2 mowing crews, 1 maintenance/enhancement crew and 2 landscape crews. If one crew is slow we divert them to another to help with the workload. In rare cases we sometimes have to lay a crew off for a week. My guys realize that droughts or extended periods of rain come with the territory and are prepared to accept the layoff. We never have guys jump ship because of a drought, because we only hire green industry professionals who know the ins and outs of the job. We don't hire former plumbers or out of work truck drivers who are used to a different work environment. Our guys know the deal. Granted, we pay them a good wage, but we get alot of good work out of them.

Chris

LwnmwrMan22
10-01-2005, 12:24 AM
Yeah, if I could get the prices here some people say they get I would be doing very well, thats for sure. But I would take what we have here over anywhere else, virtually gauranteed income, no worrying about next year, dont have to save up for winter....... see i really do love florida.

I dont have a single customer, big commercial included that havent been skipped a few times a year, and I would say I can remember less than 10 times people asked if I was going to reduce their bill in 10 years. I then explain to them why I dont or cant do that.

I try to tell people around here, or anyone that I talk to, to get people to pay on a flat fee.

Even if you give them a 10% discount, mark your prices up by 10%.

I have 38 stops in the summer, and 14 of those I plow in the winter. They're all on flat fees.

The 14 I plow as well, it's a flat fee year around. You don't have to worry about anything as far as house payment, truck payment, you can actually have a budget to the penny.

It's the only way to make a true living, working solo, in this business.

You're basically salaried by 30 or so different bosses.

Ric
10-01-2005, 12:27 AM
Yeah, if I could get the prices here some people say they get I would be doing very well, thats for sure. But I would take what we have here over anywhere else, virtually gauranteed income, no worrying about next year, dont have to save up for winter....... see i really do love florida.

I dont have a single customer, big commercial included that havent been skipped a few times a year, and I would say I can remember less than 10 times people asked if I was going to reduce their bill in 10 years. I then explain to them why I dont or cant do that.


Scott

I am in a much smaller market than you and my county has the Highest age average in the world, that your area once had many many years ago. My point is no need for a shovel here, the customer chase me down the street to pay. However There are Two sides of the tracks also. The BMW crowd and the VW crowd.

BTW How many by percentage have you set up on automatic pay each month. I got Multiply customer Checks in one envelope from each bank. I would guess about 20% were on auto pay.

LwnmwrMan22
10-01-2005, 12:59 AM
Yeah, if I could get the prices here some people say they get I would be doing very well, thats for sure. But I would take what we have here over anywhere else, virtually gauranteed income, no worrying about next year, dont have to save up for winter....... see i really do love florida.

I dont have a single customer, big commercial included that havent been skipped a few times a year, and I would say I can remember less than 10 times people asked if I was going to reduce their bill in 10 years. I then explain to them why I dont or cant do that.

I try to tell people around here, or anyone that I talk to, to get people to pay on a flat fee.

Even if you give them a 10% discount, mark your prices up by 10%.

I have 38 stops in the summer, and 14 of those I plow in the winter. They're all on flat fees.

The 14 I plow as well, it's a flat fee year around. You don't have to worry about anything as far as house payment, truck payment, you can actually have a budget to the penny.

It's the only way to make a true living, working solo, in this business.

You're basically salaried by 30 or so different bosses.

lawnman_scott
10-01-2005, 01:10 AM
Scott

I am in a much smaller market than you and my county has the Highest age average in the world, that your area once had many many years ago. My point is no need for a shovel here, the customer chase me down the street to pay. However There are Two sides of the tracks also. The BMW crowd and the VW crowd.

BTW How many by percentage have you set up on automatic pay each month. I got Multiply customer Checks in one envelope from each bank. I would guess about 20% were on auto pay.
I would say about 10% do autopay, a few credit card, but all pay in advance, all residential that is.

olderthandirt
10-01-2005, 01:39 AM
The problem is not having a 12 month pay plan or not. You will bring in X amount of $$$ per yr whether its all in 1 pay or spread out over 12 months. You will also need X amount of $$$ to live on yr. to yr. The first thing you need to do is figure out a way to make the enough $$$ to sustain your standard of living. If you can not do that then you will be out of biz, but if you can do that you stick to a budget and save from the good yrs to carry you through the bad yrs.

PMLAWN
10-01-2005, 11:40 AM
The problem is not having a 12 month pay plan or not. You will bring in X amount of $$$ per yr whether its all in 1 pay or spread out over 12 months. You will also need X amount of $$$ to live on yr. to yr. The first thing you need to do is figure out a way to make the enough $$$ to sustain your standard of living. If you can not do that then you will be out of biz, but if you can do that you stick to a budget and save from the good yrs to carry you through the bad yrs.
BINGO!!!!!!!
Not only do your need to knows your costs in business but also at home so you know that you are in the right business.

Precision
10-01-2005, 08:44 PM
Scott

I had that discussion with Rod on AOL messenger. Just as we have issues in our market they have other issues. You and I have see year round pricing work both ways for us. But even in years where we have a long rain season and do more cuts for the same price, we still have a stead income and make out. If we could only get their prices and our year round payment it would be a really great business.

Amen.

I have had ZERO resistance to monthly rates. Hell, I even charge the first month when they sign the contract and pre-pay each coming month.

With all due respect Rod, I doubt that people who are referred to your or know your product would balk at that, so long as it is set up properly. If you have a 7 month season then 7 equal payments and word your contract appropriately. Focus on the fact that you are doing what is best for the yard ... Of course I am not in your market, so I don't know. But 3/4 (or more) of the people here charge weekly but I don't have a problem with my method.

Envy Lawn Service
10-02-2005, 12:07 AM
Precision,

Good business men think alike.
Your program sounds just like mine.

Did you develop that yourself or adopt it from reading my continous rantings about it?
Sure would be nice to know I had aleast gotten one person here to see the light over the years. This thread has made me feel that no one actually does this besides me, including those I assumed were Pro's and did so also.

See my last post in this thread....