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ZaK18
02-24-2006, 12:14 PM
A little about me I'm 20...been the owner of my lawncare business for 4 years now...I have (in most peoples opinion a successful business) I have 150 weekly accounts...gross $140,000 a year....Net $60,000...
I only mow and do hedges...I sub out landscaping and fert...etc...Have one crew that has a very tight route and does between 30-35 accounts a day... all residential within 5 mile radius...

Here's the problem...I'm still not happy with this business...Its seasonal, very much dependant upon the weather ( In north TX were in a severe drought) Finding and training dependable workers...and keeping them for more than 1 year is near impossible...They have to get a job during 4 months of winter...and in my case never return...Oh yeah, I pay $12 for the worker $15 crew leader which is over twice to going rate...The work sucks we have to use 21" mowers on all property's, Its a service oriented business, I get no respect...Everyone looks/talks down to me, this business is considered a joke to the public, they view it at right above ditch digging...Its like pulling teeth to get paid...lawncare is the last bill to be paid, its been especially difficult this year with the economy, I have thousands in outstanding bills...There is no barrier of entry to get started...no certification, or license required, so anyone with a cheap mower, wead-eater and broom is now in business...The new advertised price in my area is $18...My bare minimum I charge is $25 which is VERY difficult to get thanks to the lowballers...The price has been going down over the 4 years I've been in business. When I first started I was geting $30 for a now $25 lawn... If this isn't bad enough the grass here is a hybrid bermuda...Which has to be the worst grass to cut...It scalps SOOOO easy, It's always trying to go dormant...It only looks good a few weeks a year...we start cutting at 1 in. in the spring and have to raise the blades once a month to keep from scalping :cry:

Ive put off going to college, so I could build my business...It seemed to be the right thing to do after highschool but now I'm having second thoughts...It seems there are better ways to make a living...Maybe I should be directing my energy into something with a higher payoff...I want to spend my life building something up that I'm proud of...I want to be able to look back at my life and realize I made a difference, or have something spectacular, that I can show for all my years of work...This business just doesn't seem to be right for me, but I dont know what I want to do...Its very frustrating. :hammerhead:

My question is should I continue with what I have, or go to college...Also why do you guys continue with this business, when there are so many variables against you?

FrankenScagMachines
02-24-2006, 12:30 PM
why do you guys continue with this business, when there are so many variables against you?

I do it for the challenge :weightlifter:

And I love the seasons, just wish that winter were a better one here.

I've been in your shoes just so very recently...

I think part of your problem has to do with your area, part of it is your personality/who you are, just takes certain people, but me, I love to work outside and enjoy every season, so, this business is good for me in that aspect :) and I love to help people so I'm pretty good at interacting with them there...

I think this one will take a lot of soul searching to find your answer, and listen to others' advice, but take it only under careful consideration. Do not rely soley on what others may tell you, but do consider their words. I have spent all winter searching myself looking for the answers. I think right now I have finally found them (see my recent thread in this forum called "Can't get away from it, so......" )

Thanks for reading, and I hope you find the answers you are looking for, spend some time thinking about it now during the winter, find a mentor maybe someone in this business maybe someone off of LawnSite, maybe a close friend or family member, and talk to them about it too. No one knows you like your family and closest friends, they know how you are and see things about you that you don't know.

Good luck, keep us posted.
Eric

DFW Area Landscaper
02-24-2006, 12:35 PM
It sounds your largest problem is you've bills to pay and your customers still owe you money...cash flow problems.

I have solved my cash flow problems 100%.

http://www.meierslandscape.com/residential/content/view/12/32/

Switching to next day credit cards have solved all of my collections headaches.

As for the low balling prices, I have been talking to several competitors in my area and it looks like the $20 pricing craze is hopefully going away. When I jumped in to this business $25 was the minimum and then when Justmowit showed up with $19.95 door hangers everyone quickly dropped prices to $20. Justmowit is going to $26 this season and I have made sure a few of the larger LCO's know about it before they print stuff with $20.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

grassyfras
02-24-2006, 12:37 PM
Netting 60k at 20 is damn good. Im staying in just to make an extra 40k or so over the next two years and going back to college. No one said this was an easy job, but what do you care if your making money and our happy with building a business. America was built on that work ethic, if people around you put that down tell them to screw off. You are who you are. Im turning 20 next week and wish I was where you are.

freddyc
02-24-2006, 12:38 PM
you don't do ferts or landscaping....you've singled out mowing ...there's obviously a ton of room for growth....so everybodys in it without a license ---you too!

At 20 yrs old you have a long way to go.... If you're really at 100K at that time period and after 4 years (mostly as a minor) then maybe you should go to college, sit on your butt and hide in an office waiting for your next paycheck hoping to evade the layoff list. Right out of college you're worth $40-60K/yr. But that includes benefits too. Make sure you learn how to say... "yes sir" to the same guy you can't stand every day!

If you like what you're doing, make it work...if not get a cubicle.

milo
02-24-2006, 12:47 PM
i feel like you do. there is really no future in this business. plus a ton of problems that come with it. if i was your age and had a chance to go a different route i would. dont get me wrong, i love working outside and being my own boss but when you sit down and look at everything it is not a good business.

Remsen1
02-24-2006, 12:49 PM
Only you can really decide that. Many of us do this cause we actually enjoy the work. I know that is what keeps me going through the difficult times like you're going through. I think basically you have to ask yourself which aspects must change in order for you to be at peace with yourself in this industry. Then when you determine what must change then you have to determine the degree of change that is needed and whether obtaining these objectives is possible. Some of the items you listed are completely out of your control. If these are on the list of things that must change for you, then you might be better off pursuing other carreers.

Now, If I were in your shoes, net income would be a big issue for me especially considering the volume that you service. I would try addressing this by raising my prices a little, this will accomplish two things it would cut down on my volume and it would make the ones I retain more profitable. Next I would start enforcing late penalties thereby decreasing my volume even more. Now I might be able to let go of an employee for a year and act as crew leader, or if I didn't want to chase a mower all day, then cut their hours back. Lastly any new hires would be paid less than what you're paying, (since you said it's twice the going rate, but you still aren't retaining them), and would be offered an incentive to return the following year.

dr.lawn21
02-24-2006, 01:02 PM
I agree totally with teddyc. I am 25, and went to college right after high school. I have been in the bus since I was about 15 (you know, high school kid cutting grass). Although I continued working through college, I look back and wish I could have spent all of my time devoted to my business. Sure, I got my degree in Horticulture, but in the end it's just a piece of paper.
There is nothing that I learned in college (classes that is ) that I coudn't have learned on my own.
As far as the late paying customers, well that's just one of the trade-offs that you have to make by working for yourself. I would much rather have a few late paying customers, be able to set my own hours, and be my own boss, than have to listen to someone else tell me what to do every week until it's time to retire.
Good luck making your decision. It's worth it in the end. payup

ZaK18
02-24-2006, 01:07 PM
It sounds your largest problem is you've bills to pay and your customers still owe you money...cash flow problems.

I have solved my cash flow problems 100%.

http://www.meierslandscape.com/residential/content/view/12/32/

Switching to next day credit cards have solved all of my collections headaches.

As for the low balling prices, I have been talking to several competitors in my area and it looks like the $20 pricing craze is hopefully going away. When I jumped in to this business $25 was the minimum and then when Justmowit showed up with $19.95 door hangers everyone quickly dropped prices to $20. Justmowit is going to $26 this season and I have made sure a few of the larger LCO's know about it before they print stuff with $20.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

I have my account set up on Quickbooks to take Creditcards...and will be making that transition this year...Ive followed your threads....thanks for help on that, and other issues pertaining to this area :) Actually getting my money that ive busted my ass for is #1 problem...Its gotten so bad, that its like im receiving a gift when I get a check in the mail, If there is any enjoyment in this business, Not getting paid completely ruins that...I will require ALL my customers to be on next day CC this year.


The competitors that charge $20 and under are not taking business away from me...Im not to concerned with them...They will soon be out of business...What they do is lower the perceived value of mowing...and thats what hurts not only me, but every other legitimate business.

Zack

gslawncare
02-24-2006, 01:14 PM
I find it really hard to stay motivated in the corporate field. Luckily I'm a part-time supervisor, but I can't stand having to go to the same damn building and deal with the same lazy Union f's. Just a little example," I've got a guy who shows up to the beloved UPS about 6 times a month. there's 20 working days in a month. Since he calls in just about every day, we can't fire him. He makes 26 per hour. The rocks must be doing him good.

But as a landscaper I'm motivated every day because I'm really in charge. Scheduling jobs, selling, admin. I think us entreprenuers just think differently. Get the work, do the work, get paid and love what you do.

Oh yeah, F waiting for the 15th and 25th. I love getting my payments in the mail.

ZaK18
02-24-2006, 01:24 PM
you don't do ferts or landscaping....you've singled out mowing ...there's obviously a ton of room for growth....so everybodys in it without a license ---you too!

At 20 yrs old you have a long way to go.... If you're really at 100K at that time period and after 4 years (mostly as a minor) then maybe you should go to college, sit on your butt and hide in an office waiting for your next paycheck hoping to evade the layoff list. Right out of college you're worth $40-60K/yr. But that includes benefits too. Make sure you learn how to say... "yes sir" to the same guy you can't stand every day!

If you like what you're doing, make it work...if not get a cubicle.


I run a legitimate business...I have a business license...I pay all tax...etc...
I quit offering fert 2 years back to make my life easier...Kinda got out of a loop-hole...If a yard was not green, or has weeds etc its not my fault anymore :) ...I got tired of the constant problems trying to keep everyone happy...I feel sorry for anyone doing fert in this area...It is impossible to keep the yards looking good throughout the season...*Impossible*no amount of water, fert...etc is going to make the yards stay green...the grass here sucks.

I will never work for someone...I'm not wired that way...I will always own my own business...I just think Im in the wrong business...I want to be in something with a high barrier of entry, maybe a specialized industry...I just dont know what yet...I dont want to waste my life away...I'm not married dont have kids...This is the easiest time in my life to make a change...

Zack

firefightergw
02-24-2006, 01:27 PM
Ever thought of becoming a firefighter? I work 24 hours on and 48 hours off or 1 day on 2 days off. My job gives me a great deal of satisfaction for being able to make a difference and at the same time I have full-time business. Not bad for the pocket book either to have two incomes. Just a thought.

Grn Mtn
02-24-2006, 01:28 PM
...I have solved my cash flow problems 100%...

I'm impressed. Your website is WYSIWYG. It is very blunt, to the point. You can tell you've been doing this for a while, and have seen the things that some customers are known for doing. I like it. I'm surprised you only offer 1 type of flower. Why don't you throw a few more in the mix? Since your already there every week and make no guarantee's why not really make the statement you mentioned flowers can do for a property...

Mr.Mow-It-All
02-24-2006, 01:28 PM
Zack,
Keep your head up. It sounds like you have a great business, and could make even greater. Like a previous poster stated, maybee try and raise prices a little, or just weed out the ones that don't pay on time. Try and lower your overhead a little. Pay a little less for help, since they don't stay anyway. You could still prolly net 60k or more, but with a little less hedache and less gross (like around 100k).

I am 28 and this is my fourth year goin strong (actuly started when I was kid though), but this year I am going at it full head of steam and anticipate some growing pains as trying to do this full time and find good help (if that is possible). I also have a stay at home wife with three small children, so talk about stress. This can be a very good business if you run right.

If you stick to your guns, when your 28 (heck even 25) you could easily be netting over 100k with the numbers that you have given. So the potential is there (as I am sure you already know), anyway, just keep your head and at least try those few different things this year, then evaluate and the end of this year.

Good luck to ya!

Drew

Jpocket
02-24-2006, 02:01 PM
No there is not much of a pay off in the long run in this business, Im the same age as you gonna be 20 in another month and a half. I was in business ALL through highschool and graduated with a Fulltime Job, Heck Iwas fulltime as a senior, I only went to school half days 2 days out of the week b/c I had a fulltime work load.

I view this business a s a good entry level stepping stone to make some money and develope a good business sense. Eventually I am going to move into other areas as soon as im completley established with a home, and credit..etc.

This business is great in terms of making money, and having trucks and Equipment, however inthe end there seems to be very little return for all of you blood aweat and tears. I am currently looking in to other businesses that I would like to get my foot into by the time im 25. Im thinking of buy a DUmp or Roll off truck in the next few years once I get some good credit. Im looking for something that is alittle less seasonal, and has a worht after you have built it over 20 or so years.

Honestly I wouldn't be looking to get into someones cubicle if I were you, I'd just be looking for a business that will give you more in return.

the ace
02-24-2006, 02:05 PM
Ever thought of becoming a firefighter? I work 24 hours on and 48 hours off or 1 day on 2 days off. My job gives me a great deal of satisfaction for being able to make a difference and at the same time I have full-time business. Not bad for the pocket book either to have two incomes. Just a thought.

God knows you don't make enough as a fireman, is it really necessary to take jobs from guys trying to do this for a living! If you need some extra cash go flip some burgers at Mc D's but let someone else have a chance at an honest living. I know this is the land of opportunity but you've been blessed with a good job so how about giving someone else an opportunity?

Remsen1
02-24-2006, 02:11 PM
You young guys make me smile. When I was 20... in 1996 I was bringing home $13,000 year (after tax) working for "the man". I would say that you are off to a very good start and should be proud of your accomplishments so far and keep up the good work.

topsites
02-24-2006, 02:36 PM
First I don't understand what the problem is if you're netting 60 thousand...
I get paid a thousand / month, and I'm happy... 12k / year, net.
So, what's the problem?

I think you got too many fires going, too much stuff flying around you can not control.

Then I think you're doing it basswardsack, you need to pay less so they respect you more, not the other way around. You're paying those kids way too much, start the new crew this year at $7 / hour and see how the tune changes. If they don't like it, let them go elsewhere for there happens to exist a job shortage and an unemployment line.
.................

Far as customers looking down / talking down, brother I feel your pain but here in my 5th year that is the last thing you want to do to me. It comes with the territory, I don't bend over for them and they usually know better than to try it.

So stop bending over for your customers and your employees, that's why they're having their way with you.
You will find, unfortunately, people such as the ones you're dealing with now are a dime a dozen. Once you stop bending to their will and whim, most of them will leave at once...
So, plan on putting out some ***ADVERTISING*** to compensate for the short fall.
Also, watch the few who stick with you, they should be the few folks who are worth gold <- Those are the ones you want to deal with exclusively, then once the rest of them are gone, you have yourself a successful business.

down size
02-24-2006, 03:20 PM
Just keep on doing what your doing! We bill every two weeks. If i don't get payed by the 4th week I don't mow until I get payed.And if they still don't pay it's court time. As far as people looking down at you.Thier working 12 months and your working (8) mo. and probably making more than 80% of them. I spent 22 years doing heavy collision work and hated the last 10 years of it. Iwas landscaping nights and weekends for that 10 years. Finally I at 40 years old I started this full time. I'm 48 now and should have started 20 years ago! keep your head up it will get better

impactlandscaping
02-24-2006, 03:30 PM
I think the point being overlooked here is this:


In the green industry , you are in it because of two things..

1.) Money
2.) Love of what you do and satisfaction of doing it well

I think most guys would fall into the latter group. The ones who are in the first group often burn out after a few years, because they can't see the big picture, just $$ signs. Don't get me wrong, money is great and it comes, but there is just something about creating something from nothing, and that's where I get my drive from. It's when you put 1 and 2 together you'll be content and happy. If you are netting 60K, why not hire an account manager, and step back a little. Get involved with other facets of the green industry, and look at add on services for your current client base. Just by the numbers, you can easily upsell to 75% of your clients, and it won't cost you a penny to do so. You might be able to double your gross, and place soem good people in the right places. Only you really know if you want to go back to school or not. Four years and 50-80K later, to come out into the workforce and start over is a little risky to me if you have a pretty decent business, which I think you do. Look into a business consultant possibly, to run through your books and help you find the right direction to take your company, and go along for the ride. Good luck in whatever you decide.:waving:

samk
02-24-2006, 03:53 PM
60k at 20 and he is unhappy. for the people that are writing there is no future for them in this buisness have probally not worked in an office or such. Working for someone is a deadend. you make 40 to 60k a year and at the end what? nothing your 401k if you put into it. when you start making 75 to 100k in the buisness world you are usually a stressed out inividual with no time for yourself or family. I make a good living. I will never get rich but I am far from poor.I can schedule around things so I dont miss my kids stuff. I have roughly 4 months off except for plowing. But most of all I work for myself nobody telling me what to do and no one to report to. Sure I have headaches but they are mine not someones crap rolling down hill to me. The same people treating you like crap will be the same people you are working for but now they own you. Life is work find something you enjoy and do it there are no magic jobs out there at least far and few in between.

Tim Wright
02-24-2006, 04:07 PM
Keep going in your own business. It will take years to catch up to where you are if you get out, go to college and work for someone else.

Get into other lines. What about installing back yard golf greens, etc

Don't sub out the landscaping.

Invest in a covered trailer and get into the moving business during down times.

Invest your money and build a car wash, or sell mowers to others, or build self storage units.

Get into other regions of the state or country.

I think if you set down and think through these things in a few short years you can become very wealthy.

Get the business to work for you, rather than you working for the business.

But you are half way there, don't quit now.

Tim

ZaK18
02-24-2006, 04:08 PM
First I don't understand what the problem is if you're netting 60 thousand...
I get paid a thousand / month, and I'm happy... 12k / year, net.
So, what's the problem?

I think you got too many fires going, too much stuff flying around you can not control.

Then I think you're doing it basswardsack, you need to pay less so they respect you more, not the other way around. You're paying those kids way too much, start the new crew this year at $7 / hour and see how the tune changes. If they don't like it, let them go elsewhere for there happens to exist a job shortage and an unemployment line.
.................

Far as customers looking down / talking down, brother I feel your pain but here in my 5th year that is the last thing you want to do to me. It comes with the territory, I don't bend over for them and they usually know better than to try it.

So stop bending over for your customers and your employees, that's why they're having their way with you.
You will find, unfortunately, people such as the ones you're dealing with now are a dime a dozen. Once you stop bending to their will and whim, most of them will leave at once...
So, plan on putting out some ***ADVERTISING*** to compensate for the short fall.
Also, watch the few who stick with you, they should be the few folks who are worth gold <- Those are the ones you want to deal with exclusively, then once the rest of them are gone, you have yourself a successful business.


Thanks for the reply, but I think that was the worst advise... I cant believe your cool making $12,000 a year, Thats alittle above poverty level...You could almost make twice that flipping burgers...:dizzy: I pay my employees well and inturn get more respect...You get what you pay for...I have paid less and they worked half-assed...I dont bend backwards for anybody...I have my set policys...and everyone has to abide by them...Its not just me not getting paid.. Everyone in the green industry, in my area is having the same problems...Now that I am requiring my customers to pay by CC that should solve that problem. A customer is a good customer when they pay on time without any hassle...

Zack

DFW Area Landscaper
02-24-2006, 04:22 PM
Hopefully, the day is coming when a home owner can't get their lawn mowed without a credit card on file.

There are a lot more of us requiring them today than there were three years ago...that is for sure.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Jpocket
02-24-2006, 04:44 PM
I think the point being overlooked here is this:


In the green industry , you are in it because of two things..

1.) Money
2.) Love of what you do and satisfaction of doing it well

I think most guys would fall into the latter group. The ones who are in the first group often burn out after a few years, because they can't see the big picture, just $$ signs. Don't get me wrong, money is great and it comes, but there is just something about creating something from nothing, and that's where I get my drive from. It's when you put 1 and 2 together you'll be content and happy. If you are netting 60K, why not hire an account manager, and step back a little. Get involved with other facets of the green industry, and look at add on services for your current client base. Just by the numbers, you can easily upsell to 75% of your clients, and it won't cost you a penny to do so. You might be able to double your gross, and place soem good people in the right places. Only you really know if you want to go back to school or not. Four years and 50-80K later, to come out into the workforce and start over is a little risky to me if you have a pretty decent business, which I think you do. Look into a business consultant possibly, to run through your books and help you find the right direction to take your company, and go along for the ride. Good luck in whatever you decide.:waving:

Good post!

PGA
02-24-2006, 05:01 PM
Zak, why dont you hire a guy and let him run the labor part of your company. Pay him 15 or an hour. Hire 2 others pay them 8 an hour.

Go back to school and concentrate on that.


You obviously are getting burned out and need some relief.

lasher66
02-24-2006, 05:12 PM
BUDGETING-- sounds like your biggest problem. If your net is 60K, pay yourself about 3/4 of that per year and leave the rest for emergency or reinvesting in some equipment. Then divide that amount by 12 and pay yourself that amound every month. Nothing more. Now your on a yearly budget and you dont have to work in the off season. I am sensing that you are probably living a little above your means and you are not able to pay yourselft that way, but it will make life much simpler. People always ask me in the winter time "wow, you must really be hurtin for money this time of year?" I say " Nope, making the same right now that I was in May." Hope this helped.

Jason

nobagger
02-24-2006, 05:37 PM
Like several guys have said, you have to love what your doing. If you don't whats the point? Yeah there is going to be massive headaches, but find the problem and fix it. If you have that amount of slow payers there obviously a communication problem between you and your customers. I, like many guys had this problem at one time or another. My fix to the the problem was simply being assertive and upfront with all of my customers. I don't know if it was embarrassing to them or what but it seemed to work. I was no "Bobby" to them but they got the message. If your getting burned out then look into other avenue's for your business. You stated you wanted something you did to last, then look into the landscaping end of this type of business. I know I am very proud of our work and the best thing is I can see it every day when driving by. Go to college and maybe look into a Landscaping Architect degree and incorperate that into your business. Your only 20 something, do something before its too late to move on. Good luck:)

Az Gardener
02-24-2006, 06:12 PM
First congratulations, you have done very well, chances are you can do very well at what ever you decide to do. Now the tough part, what do you want to do? When you do something you love you will never work another day in your life. If this is not it sell the biz or find someone to run it for you and do what you want. I think you will hate collage, they wont move fast enough for you and all you will see is the waste. BTW you are right on regarding wages. You are an entrepreneur, something that cant be taught probably need to thank your folks for that.

Howard Roark
02-24-2006, 08:08 PM
Quit if you're this unhappy.

B**ching about it on an internet forum won't get you closer to whatever it is you seem to want.

Define what it is you DO want, and ask yourself what it's going to take to get there.

K c m
02-24-2006, 08:17 PM
I put up with the frustration because it allows me to attend a private college and i like kicking my machines.

Norm Al
02-24-2006, 08:44 PM
if your not happy mowing try this one www.colornew.com

LwnmwrMan22
02-24-2006, 09:30 PM
60k at 20 and he is unhappy. for the people that are writing there is no future for them in this buisness have probally not worked in an office or such. Working for someone is a deadend. you make 40 to 60k a year and at the end what? nothing your 401k if you put into it. when you start making 75 to 100k in the buisness world you are usually a stressed out inividual with no time for yourself or family. I make a good living. I will never get rich but I am far from poor.I can schedule around things so I dont miss my kids stuff. I have roughly 4 months off except for plowing. But most of all I work for myself nobody telling me what to do and no one to report to. Sure I have headaches but they are mine not someones crap rolling down hill to me. The same people treating you like crap will be the same people you are working for but now they own you. Life is work find something you enjoy and do it there are no magic jobs out there at least far and few in between.

My thoughts exactly, even after starting my 18th year in May.

captken
02-24-2006, 10:45 PM
Hopefully, the day is coming when a home owner can't get their lawn mowed without a credit card on file.

There are a lot more of us requiring them today than there were three years ago...that is for sure.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

I hope that day never comes...Yes my business is worth the effort....I thrive [I believe] due to positive interpersonal relationships with my customers. I started out giving and honest effort for honest reward. The rewards have been overwhellmingly positive.

I no longer have to be "ghetto tough" from these humble beginnings......http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=68868&highlight=soul+food...I got a laugh re reading this post....When I first started.

I offer an honest service for what ever price I can get from my now "well heeled clients who trust me....

firefightergw
02-25-2006, 01:08 AM
God knows you don't make enough as a fireman, is it really necessary to take jobs from guys trying to do this for a living! If you need some extra cash go flip some burgers at Mc D's but let someone else have a chance at an honest living. I know this is the land of opportunity but you've been blessed with a good job so how about giving someone else an opportunity?

You've got to be kidding?:hammerhead: :laugh:

Are you offering to put my three kids through college? This is not a part-time gig for me. This is a full-time business.

Bull
02-25-2006, 02:59 AM
firefightergw, from one fireman to another, ace seems to be the type who you would like to see sit down on the working end of a pike pole.

Mike M
02-25-2006, 08:49 AM
I thought about the cost-of-entry issue as well; generally in business, the more money you invest, the higher the risk/return potential . Also, investing in time/effort to get licensed or certified helps to reduce competition as well.

I'm very satisfied with my lawn business, but I find myself looking into installs: landscaping, irrigation, hardscaping, etc. Turf magazine had an article on installing playgrounds. Putting green installations look interesting.

You can improve your lawn business or build a new one, if you don't mind reading business books, search about the "80/20" principle (20% of what people do usually makes 80% of their profit); here is a review I found on Amazon for Koch's 80/20 book. I think this is what most people on this thread are saying (look at number 3!):

1) Celebrate exceptional productivity . . .look for the short cut. . .be selective. . . only do what you do best. (pg 38)

2) Keep it simple. Size often creates complexity - which in turn creates inefficiency. Pour your effort into the 20% that makes a difference. Sometimes it is better to lose unprofitable customers to competitors (pg 93)

3) Hold on to your good customers and employees forever!

4) The key to 80/20 is not time management. Don't try to do more. Just do more of the right things.

5) Do what you enjoy because enthusiasm and success is a complementary cycle.

6) Three great lists:
The top 10 low-value uses of time (pg 161)
The top 10 highest value uses of time (pg 161)
The ten golden rules for career success (pg 194)

ICE
02-25-2006, 09:34 AM
In answer to your first question, I would say that it depends. In a perfect world, YES. However, you will ALWAYS have times of drought and problems with employees, customers, equipment and the list goes on. However, that is just one of the headaches you get with running your own business. I still think that if you are 20 years old, and are netting 60K, then you are doing better than most. But, if you are not happy with what you are doing, then it may come time to move on. As for me, I just could not even break into a system where the pushmow guys have extreme dominance in the market. Customers would say I have seen your work, and it looks GREAT, but I can't see paying you $30/week when I am paying $20/week to Georgie down the street. I would say, that is fine and move on. And now, I am moving out!

Tim

Eclipse
02-25-2006, 09:40 AM
Ever thought of becoming a firefighter? I work 24 hours on and 48 hours off or 1 day on 2 days off. My job gives me a great deal of satisfaction for being able to make a difference and at the same time I have full-time business. Not bad for the pocket book either to have two incomes. Just a thought.

Are full time FF jobs that easy to get in Texas. Here in Michigan they are next to impossible to get. Way to many applicants for the available positions.

mrusk
02-25-2006, 10:04 AM
If your not happy in this business, figure out what you want to do. Then keep working until you have enough $ to do that thing that you want to. Then quit the lawn business.

I'm 19 and know i will proably only run my lawn/landscape co for 2-3 years more max then i am out. I want to build homes. The only reason i started my co was because i knew i could make more money working for myself than the man. When i graduated high school i knew i wanted to start a home building business, starting my lawn/landscaping company was my way of rasing capital to build my first spec house. 80% of my business is hardscapes. I enjoy doing hardscapes. When i build houses i'll still get to landscape them, so i'll still get to do something i enjoy.

You just got to figure out what you love to do, then figure out how to make a living doing it.

MTR
02-25-2006, 11:52 AM
A little about me I'm 20...been the owner of my lawncare business for 4 years now...I have (in most peoples opinion a successful business) I have 150 weekly accounts...gross $140,000 a year....Net $60,000...
I only mow and do hedges...I sub out landscaping and fert...etc...Have one crew that has a very tight route and does between 30-35 accounts a day... all residential within 5 mile radius...

Here's the problem...I'm still not happy with this business...Its seasonal, very much dependant upon the weather ( In north TX were in a severe drought) Finding and training dependable workers...and keeping them for more than 1 year is near impossible...They have to get a job during 4 months of winter...and in my case never return...Oh yeah, I pay $12 for the worker $15 crew leader which is over twice to going rate...The work sucks we have to use 21" mowers on all property's, Its a service oriented business, I get no respect...Everyone looks/talks down to me, this business is considered a joke to the public, they view it at right above ditch digging...Its like pulling teeth to get paid...lawncare is the last bill to be paid, its been especially difficult this year with the economy, I have thousands in outstanding bills...There is no barrier of entry to get started...no certification, or license required, so anyone with a cheap mower, wead-eater and broom is now in business...The new advertised price in my area is $18...My bare minimum I charge is $25 which is VERY difficult to get thanks to the lowballers...The price has been going down over the 4 years I've been in business. When I first started I was geting $30 for a now $25 lawn... If this isn't bad enough the grass here is a hybrid bermuda...Which has to be the worst grass to cut...It scalps SOOOO easy, It's always trying to go dormant...It only looks good a few weeks a year...we start cutting at 1 in. in the spring and have to raise the blades once a month to keep from scalping :cry:

Ive put off going to college, so I could build my business...It seemed to be the right thing to do after highschool but now I'm having second thoughts...It seems there are better ways to make a living...Maybe I should be directing my energy into something with a higher payoff...I want to spend my life building something up that I'm proud of...I want to be able to look back at my life and realize I made a difference, or have something spectacular, that I can show for all my years of work...This business just doesn't seem to be right for me, but I dont know what I want to do...Its very frustrating. :hammerhead:

My question is should I continue with what I have, or go to college...Also why do you guys continue with this business, when there are so many variables against you?

Net 60k unhappy....obviously you are getting burned out from this business...how much is you oustanding bills? Debt ratio is fundamental in every business, it is not how much you make that dictates, but how much you owe and can you sustain rough ride....all sort of rough ride like you mentioned above all of it...price, employee , equipment, expenses and of course debts, that will dictate the course of business.
It is so true that you have to "love" and enjoy WHAT you do to do it for the rest of your life.

Best regards,

kc2006
02-25-2006, 12:08 PM
I didn't real through all the posts, but this is my take.

If you can't see "your" future in this business or any other for that matter, your not that good of a business owner. Theres obsticles in any business, more in some. We have alot of obsticles I agree. But, it hasn't held the big companies back. After talking to Mac (olderthandirt) or reading what he has to say it's made me realize you have to be more focused on the business/administrative side then the work side. The people I see (local) that fail are ones that are focused on the work side, want to get all new equipment and look great but they aren't profiting much at all. They do GREAT work, but you talk books with them, they have no clue.

I used to think "I'm going to do this for a few years then get out of it and go to college and work somewhere in a different industry" but not anymore. I have 2 brothers that went to college, one didn't have a job for almost 3 years after college, the other is still looking and is resorted to getting a cdl and is now applying at a local pesticide company. I'd rather take my own situation and make it work to my advantage, then go ge ta degree and hope I can get a job somewhere and hope that job isn't shipped over seas in 5 years.

Don't bash me about the degree part, because I am going to be attending college in a year or two. But I won't be depending on that piece of paper to get me through life. How's the saying go? 10% of life is put in front of you, and 90% what you do with it.

LwnmwrMan22
02-25-2006, 05:44 PM
I didn't real through all the posts, but this is my take.

If you can't see "your" future in this business or any other for that matter, your not that good of a business owner. Theres obsticles in any business, more in some. We have alot of obsticles I agree. But, it hasn't held the big companies back. After talking to Mac (olderthandirt) or reading what he has to say it's made me realize you have to be more focused on the business/administrative side then the work side. The people I see (local) that fail are ones that are focused on the work side, want to get all new equipment and look great but they aren't profiting much at all. They do GREAT work, but you talk books with them, they have no clue.

I used to think "I'm going to do this for a few years then get out of it and go to college and work somewhere in a different industry" but not anymore. I have 2 brothers that went to college, one didn't have a job for almost 3 years after college, the other is still looking and is resorted to getting a cdl and is now applying at a local pesticide company. I'd rather take my own situation and make it work to my advantage, then go ge ta degree and hope I can get a job somewhere and hope that job isn't shipped over seas in 5 years.

Don't bash me about the degree part, because I am going to be attending college in a year or two. But I won't be depending on that piece of paper to get me through life. How's the saying go? 10% of life is put in front of you, and 90% what you do with it.

I'd be one to bash you for getting your degree.

Sure, it'd be nice to have a degree in horticulture, or business management, but look at all the people on here that say it didn't help them when they were running their business.

A degree in business management isn't going to tell you which mower you need that'll best suit you for your line of clients.

A degree in horticulture isn't going to help you get any more lawns than without, since so much of this industry is based on pricing structure that's already been set in place.

It WILL help you land a spot I'm sure if you're looking to get into larger companies.

However, if you were to start up your company and advertise, with the only real experience is that you have a degree, while other people already have 3-4-5 years of experience, with portfolio's and the such, who do you think is going to get more work??

kc2006
02-25-2006, 06:02 PM
I'd be one to bash you for getting your degree.

Sure, it'd be nice to have a degree in horticulture, or business management, but look at all the people on here that say it didn't help them when they were running their business.

A degree in business management isn't going to tell you which mower you need that'll best suit you for your line of clients.

A degree in horticulture isn't going to help you get any more lawns than without, since so much of this industry is based on pricing structure that's already been set in place.

It WILL help you land a spot I'm sure if you're looking to get into larger companies.

However, if you were to start up your company and advertise, with the only real experience is that you have a degree, while other people already have 3-4-5 years of experience, with portfolio's and the such, who do you think is going to get more work??

I personally feel its still a good thing to have. It's something to have as backup and diversify myself. I never said I was going to go get a degree in hopes it will get me more work. I intend to get a degree in something dealing with business administrative, that can always be useful.

I've already got the 4 years of experience in the field so if I go get the degree...its just extra icing on the cake. And I'm a fat guy so icing is always great :laugh:

old dog 80
02-25-2006, 07:04 PM
sounds like you need to run the crew this year! Gets you closer to the client.
60K is a pretty good job.You can go to school and start at 25k or 30k.
Ever think your attitude is blowing employees out of the water? I have done that!If people quit paying,ya gotta stop service or put them on prepay.
Accounts receivable don't buy groceries.Abused employees don't last the season.Yes ther are lazy ones but they are everywhere.I you don't like
your occupation chageit! If you don't like the conditions,change them.
Who cares what other people think-you have a successful business.
Maybe you need to look more upscale in clientele....

LADYBIRD
02-25-2006, 07:14 PM
I feel sorry for you guys at least in canada we have snow removal. Wich isnt much but it ties us over. Are grass is lush and we have to cut it forsure every week.

ZaK18
02-25-2006, 08:07 PM
I feel sorry for you guys at least in canada we have snow removal. Wich isnt much but it ties us over. Are grass is lush and we have to cut it forsure every week.

I think people up North have it easier...you can add...Snow removal or sell firewood during the winter...Your season is shorter, but when its warm the grass actually grows...Nothing grows here when its 100 degrees and 5% humidity :cry:

lawnprosteveo
02-26-2006, 01:42 AM
Ever thought of becoming a firefighter? I work 24 hours on and 48 hours off or 1 day on 2 days off. My job gives me a great deal of satisfaction for being able to make a difference and at the same time I have full-time business. Not bad for the pocket book either to have two incomes. Just a thought.Not a bad idea. I got on the dept. 6 yrs ago...it gives me a decent salary and benefits. With the 48 off I get, I work my side biz. Its been great!:drinkup:

firefightergw
02-26-2006, 01:40 PM
firefightergw, from one fireman to another, ace seems to be the type who you would like to see sit down on the working end of a pike pole.
Or a halligan.:laugh:

GrassBustersLawn
02-26-2006, 04:31 PM
How many 20 year olds are NETTING $60k a year (LEGALLY)???

Keep fine tuning your business model, SAVE YOUR MONEY, work hard NOW & retire young (50).

Mike

petekief
02-27-2006, 03:52 PM
"How many 20 year olds are NETTING $60k a year (LEGALLY)???

Keep fine tuning your business model, SAVE YOUR MONEY, work hard NOW & retire young (50).

Mike"

look kid it's obviouse you've never been out there - unless your going to Pharmacy school - or an engineering school - you won't see 60K for a long long time

i am 48 and never broke 30K "working" accept for one year - EVER

thats why i'm getting into this business - slowly - part time this will be my third year - but moving in this direction

if i were making 60K a year i'de be tickled - it would be twice what i ever made

now i didn't go to college but i've always been pretty well paid and work at pretty good jobs - but don't think college will be some magic thing unless like i say you aproach it looking at a deffinite end result i.e Pharmacy 75K to 90K to start or something like that

dlr1
02-28-2006, 08:22 PM
It sounds your largest problem is you've bills to pay and your customers still owe you money...cash flow problems.

I have solved my cash flow problems 100%.

http://www.meierslandscape.com/residential/content/view/12/32/

Switching to next day credit cards have solved all of my collections headaches.

As for the low balling prices, I have been talking to several competitors in my area and it looks like the $20 pricing craze is hopefully going away. When I jumped in to this business $25 was the minimum and then when Justmowit showed up with $19.95 door hangers everyone quickly dropped prices to $20. Justmowit is going to $26 this season and I have made sure a few of the larger LCO's know about it before they print stuff with $20.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper
what do you mean by next day credit card?