View Full Version : Anybody know of any good books on the subject of "cost of doing business"?

12-15-2005, 10:37 AM
Title pretty much sums up my question.


12-15-2005, 11:10 AM
wow, Matt you read my mind! I was searching like crazy for topics about this last night and was going to post this same question. I was going to post about just books in general that explain costs of business, business planning and strategy, anything to further knowledge.

But this works for now :D

12-15-2005, 11:38 AM
I just came from Amazon, but I was looking for something more tailiored to this industry.

12-15-2005, 12:50 PM
Ive looked through book stores, but theres nothing about business in lawn care or green industry that i have found. The one book i bought was building a business plan which was published by socrates. It goes fairly in depth on what a business plan should consist of any things you need to analyze and so forth.

turf dog
12-15-2005, 01:01 PM
Have you looked at e myth for contractors. It does not deal specifically with the green industry but has good info about running a contracting bus.

AL Inc
12-15-2005, 03:19 PM
Matt, did you look into C. VanderKooi? I went to one of his seminars last winter and bought one of his books. Some of it was way over my head, but I did get a lot of useful info out of it.

12-15-2005, 04:34 PM
Here is one that looks interesting, but at a cost of $160 I might hold off for awhile.


I have heard of VanderKooi and I might of went to one of his seminars at the GIE, but it would have been a general seminar. I will check out one of his books.

12-15-2005, 05:01 PM
You might check out "How to Price Landscape & Irrigation Projects" by James R. Huston. It's always been my favorite.

Randy J
12-15-2005, 09:02 PM
I built an excel spreadsheet concerning the cost of doing business sometime back. If you do a search you'll probably find a thread with the spreadsheet in it. You could use that as a template to work from, or at least get some ideas from. I had factored in variable costs - such as fuel, maintance, etc., and fixed costs - such as phone, advertising, equipment and depreciation, etc. The worksheet broke it down to a per-hour cost of doing business based on expected hours of work for the season.

12-15-2005, 11:18 PM
Matt, if you can teach yourself fairly well, go to your local college campus and look around for a managerial or cost accounting book. This time of year, students are selling back their books and if you catch them before they sell them back you could offer them a couple dollars more than the book store and you both come out ahead.

It certanly will not be industry specific but you will get solid info that can be applied to any industry.

12-16-2005, 12:31 AM
Matt, what exactly do you need from an industry specific book?

I went to the library today and got a few small business accounting books and I'm learning alot from them. It seems that using balance sheets and profit/loss statements would be most of the battle in learning your cost of business. If you were to do a profit/loss statement daily you could probably nail down your hourly costs?

Correct me if I'm wrong. I'm still very new to getting in depth with the accounting end of business so just throwing that out there to see if I'm correct with my thinking...or at least on the right path :D

12-16-2005, 02:28 AM
your costs will never directly come from your B/S. They will always first show up on your I/S and then may work their way to your B/S through accounts like accumulated depreciation, prepaid assets, etc.

But yes, you are on the right track.

12-16-2005, 04:33 PM
frank ross book entitled pricing for the green industry. Can usuaully be bought throught planet or your state landscaping association

12-16-2005, 04:43 PM
Check out this book...Joel seems to have covered every aspect. Also, you cannot argue with the price.


Fantasy Lawns
12-16-2005, 06:12 PM
This doesn't really have real numbers or such ...but is good reading related to business issues & landscape as well as lawn care ....real numbers can be written down related to one's own personal needs .....what I may pay fore rental of storage, insurance, WC and what other may pay will vary soo much state to state .....

You may try to create a budget ....if this is what your looking fore .... as that is what a budget kinda is .... real numbers broken down into monthly cost ...any-who this is a good book eiether way

Books Million

"How to Open, Operate a home base Landscaping Business"

by Own E Dell


Globe Pequot Press

Good common sense ..... do good to take some local business class at the local community college as well

12-16-2005, 11:15 PM
Not really on topic, but one of the best business books I have ever read was "E-Myth Revisited" I think it was by Michael Gerber. On setting up and planning a business - very applicable to this industry too.

12-20-2005, 04:14 AM
not green specific http://www.nppa.org/professional_development/business_practices/cdb/cdbcalc.cfm but if you can find out from these guys if the code is opensource you could hire a geek to modify it for the green industry and possibly even sell it.

12-20-2005, 04:16 AM
Check out this book...Joel seems to have covered every aspect. Also, you cannot argue with the price.


I have seen it in the phx public library. Good book for starting out guys has cd with forms and everything.

Mower For Less
12-20-2005, 02:22 PM

I have this book, and it has a chapter that deals specifically with bookkeeping for the biz. It is not as in depth as an accounting book, but if you couple it with a basic accounting book, it should help you get a full picture in relation to your biz.

If you want nuts & bolts basic accounting, I recommend:

If you preffer a more entertaining way to learn basic accounting, try:


12-21-2005, 12:04 PM
MalLawnCO pointed me to the Planet web site where I found a great operating cost study book. Costs $55. when you are a member and $100 if you are not. Good reference because there is no fluff, only figures and equations to help you keep on track with industry averages. Start there, it is helpful.

12-21-2005, 12:08 PM
You might check out "How to Price Landscape & Irrigation Projects" by James R. Huston. It's always been my favorite.

Bingo! Best I have seen also.
Sat at his seminar last year at a John Deere conference. Very good stuff.

Not only does this book tell a lot about costs, but it tells how to use it.

Team Gopher
12-21-2005, 02:15 PM
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12-26-2005, 05:02 PM
I bought a book called "Operating Cost Study", published by Planet/ANLA. It is available off the Planet website.

Very good book, has information broke out into different types of contractors and sizes.

Don't be overwhelmed by some of the terminology used, it is explained well. Also, if your company is much smaller than the companies reviewed, don't worry. I am very small/only open for 5 months and found it to be a useful resource, and checked my percentages against those presented. I just have smaller numbers.

Vander Kooi has good tools as well, and their services/products are well worth the investment.

12-26-2005, 07:57 PM
Sean Adams has some good books, Im sure he has a good one on this subject.

I bought one last year and it cleared up some grey areas for me.

12-26-2005, 10:28 PM
Books are great, but don't need to be industry specific. You would be even better off taking some accounting classes - either college level or adult education. I have found that when business owners without accounting knowledge or experience get some information (i.e. from industry tailored texts), they try to reverse engineer their own numbers in order to conform. This is a very bad idea. The seminars are pretty helpful for some topics - I seem to remember a guy named Kevin Kehoe was in tune with reality compared to some of the others.

All the books in the world regarding industry averages, costs for equipment, etc. can't taylor make themselves to your own situation. A class will help you USE the numbers that you come up with.

Mower For Less
12-27-2005, 12:40 AM
I have seen one of Kevin's seminars last winter when he was in Frankenmuth, MI with the Gravely on Tour.. tour. I enjoyed it and learned a few things, and it was free. Keep an eye out for Gravely on Tour if they do it this year and try to attend.


12-27-2005, 02:11 PM
Thanks for the replies guys. I ordered a couple books from Amazon and a couple from Planet. I think these 4 books will help greatly and keep me busy for awhile.


02-13-2007, 01:49 AM
can you send me that excel spredsheet thanks