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mikewhit1010
03-31-2008, 10:26 AM
Ok I live in TX so we have been mowing already for a month. I started this business a year ago but this isnt the first time I ran it. I work full time and run a crew while I am at work. Its starting to take its toll. So what do I do.

I have 40-50 accounts. Most of them will go to weekly in May. My average account is $30. I do a lot of landscaping but am in fear that it might die down a bit. Honestly I would quit my job now but I need just about 3500 a month to survive and pay down past debt.

My questions are. You bigger guys have you seen a down turn in business due to the economy? When did you know it was time to break off? How much are you guys really making. I make 42K a year at my job and this year all my sales for lawn care will be 40-50K. I have to pay out a lot of labor and I lose a lot of jobs because I cant do them all.

I have posted on here that I was doing both but I have decided it needs to be one or the other or I need to drop down my lawns so I can manage them better. Any thoughts?

topsites
03-31-2008, 10:42 AM
Raise your prices so then your problem is gone and you can help me work on mine :laugh:

mikewhit1010
03-31-2008, 10:54 AM
What do you mean work on your problem

larryinalabama
03-31-2008, 11:04 AM
I would work on that pasT debt then save a little......THEN JUMP IN HEAD FIRST WITH BOTH FEET FOLLOWING.

mikewhit1010
03-31-2008, 11:14 AM
The problem I have is I think I can make more money doing this. I started to raise my prices and currently accounts I pick up now start at $32 and these are accounts I can get done in 30 minutes max. I have accounts on the same street so I normally can average about 50-60 an hour. It makes more sense to do it but I am worried about the slow season. To be honest I would love to be out on my own but just not sure. However I dont know if I can run this business from work. My guy is late today and hasnt started. I have about $400 worth of business out there and its not being started. That means I will probably lose at least one of those accounts. Ahhhhh. I wish I had all the answers. Thanks for the help so far guys.

larryinalabama
03-31-2008, 11:26 AM
Well Im also on the bubble sot to speak, I have decided <unless I get laid off my job> to wait 1 year before going full time. Im building a new house and remodeling another by myself. So I only fave 9 accounts and 2 are close to my job and wont be able to keep them when I go full time. Hopefully next Spring I can start advertising and building my business. I have been purcahsing eqiuiptment and just need a decient box truck now.

Also theres that Health Ins thing.

mikewhit1010
03-31-2008, 11:38 AM
The good thing is I am 23 and covered under my parents until Im 25 or married.

nitro121
03-31-2008, 11:41 AM
So this year I'm kinda taking a partner. I work full time and run this mowing business during the summer (6 months). So this year I'm bringing on a partner to run all the mechanical stuff (so I don't get phone calls at work for flat tires, broken mower, etc)...I pay him more but he's also going to expand the business in to landscaping too. Basically I provide the funds and equipment....he's going to be the labor and if we run two mowing trucks this year, he'll be the supervisor. All I want to do is return calls, print invoices, and cut/accept checks.

I don't make as much as a full time guy but I've been w/ the gov't 16 years and have a cush job. So I made almost 20g's last year and hope to hit 30 for a part time job/business. That's all I need to get ahead...and my partner will make some decent money and get to work for himself too.

Just hire a guy to go out and cut your yards for you I've done that for the past 2 years. I pay by the yard so if they slack off, they don't get paid (unless traffic or something, then I throw them some money when it's not their fault to keep them happy).

Peace

ALC-GregH
03-31-2008, 12:01 PM
What are you paying the guy doing all the labor, if you don't mind me asking?

Now, the reason I'm asking is, one of my life long friend's wants to do the same kind of work I want to do only he has the cash and right equipment to do it right of the bat. He wants ME to do all the labor while he finishes up his current full time job to retire. What would be fair wages being I NEED to make a living and he has a union job he'll retire from? If it starts out slow, I won't make ends meet until it's large enough to have us both running it.

bullethead
03-31-2008, 12:06 PM
FEAR is a great motivator. That being said - I honestly think you will take somewhat of a paycut in order to dive in full time. (I remember going from making $90k in another field to $12k my first year in landscape.) I also think it will take longer than expected to start realizing your goals. (I thought I would have a "real business" in 2-3 years, it took 5). You need to carve out a weekend of uniterrupted time to sit down and seriously assess your current load, develop reasonable and conservative forecasts - see what it looks like. The key is to be realistic. For example, to sell more work you will need to more labor to free you up. If you start selling more landscape construction work - probably need another crew that focuses on this type of work. More people, more equipment etc. You need time to plow through all of these assumptions. Two of the biggest mistakes I see are a failure plan for additional overhead/personnel to properly manage growth (so you end up with lots of work that is executed poorly) and unrealistic growth forecasts.

ALC-GregH
03-31-2008, 12:06 PM
Also, if I were to do this, I could easily claim my taxes as independent contractor. Correct?

I still would like to open my own business but I'm alittle afraid of the possibility of failure or not making ends meet. I have personal bills that still need to be paid outside of the business. Obviously I want to get them paid down or paid off by running my own business. HELP..... I'm torn between the two.

mikewhit1010
03-31-2008, 12:16 PM
FEAR is a great motivator. That being said - I honestly think you will take somewhat of a paycut in order to dive in full time. (I remember going from making $90k in another field to $12k my first year in landscape.) I also think it will take longer than expected to start realizing your goals. (I thought I would have a "real business" in 2-3 years, it took 5). You need to carve out a weekend of uniterrupted time to sit down and seriously assess your current load, develop reasonable and conservative forecasts - see what it looks like. The key is to be realistic. For example, to sell more work you will need to more labor to free you up. If you start selling more landscape construction work - probably need another crew that focuses on this type of work. More people, more equipment etc. You need time to plow through all of these assumptions. Two of the biggest mistakes I see are a failure plan for additional overhead/personnel to properly manage growth (so you end up with lots of work that is executed poorly) and unrealistic growth forecasts.

Very true. I dont think I would take that big a pay cut since I have something established but I think in the first year I will be making less. I dont know if I can handle making less just because of my current debt. I run a crew now but they just need me there all the time. I hate having to go back over work. Thank you for the advice. I was actually thinking about taking next weekend to sit and think about it all.

lawnboyoung
03-31-2008, 02:07 PM
thats a million dollar question.let me know when you find out

mikewhit1010
03-31-2008, 02:21 PM
thats a million dollar question.let me know when you find out

HA ha that is very true too. I think about half the people on this site has asked them selves that question before.

nitro121
03-31-2008, 06:20 PM
I was paying my help $13 a yard and he was cutting in between 8 - 12 a day. Most yards are $33.....Just Mow It type system, get'em low and I'll add a couple dollars over the next year. But in 2 seasons I have about 80 customers and more calling already.

But, I'm paying my friend $15 per yard and if we get two trucks going (if I get enough new customers) I'm going to give him a couple bucks off each yard the other guy cuts.

But then my "partner" doesn't get paid to drop off/pick up mowers, fert, seed, fix a flat tire, etc.. If he goes 3 weeks with no equipment failure he makes out, if he had the mowers break down 5x in a week, then he eats it....just like me, just like a partner.

I've tried 10 - 13 an hour, but these lazy mo-fo's just won't work....and no one wants to work more than 8 hours. So I'm not doing the 2 person crew.....1 guy, 1 truck, 8 yards a day (except my partner wants 10 a day).

Peace,
Gary

txgrassguy
03-31-2008, 06:30 PM
I have not observed any down turn in the economy - in fact quite the opposite.
The answer to your primary question as too what to do relies solely upon your own ability and perseverance.
Your ability to sell yourself to your clients and your perseverance in making the whole thing work.
If you can answer positively to any of these two then start a full time LCO.
If not, remain working for someone else.
It's that simple.

mikewhit1010
03-31-2008, 10:32 PM
Thank you for that response. I havent seen really any problem in the economy and I was wondering if I had just been lucky.

I can sell myself to any client. People like me because I graduated from TCU and my business is around TCU. I can pick up commercial accounts because I am not afraid to talk to them. I am slowely adding lawns at higher prices and dropping the ones from the begining. Honestly I guess I am just scared of this winter but I still did 2K a month with half the lawns. Thanks guys for all the support and help. I will let you guys know what I end up doing. I like the idea of paying per yard. I have to many guys that dont mind working long hours but I eat serious money when they are driving.

Thanks again.

coonman
03-31-2008, 11:17 PM
FEAR is a great motivator. That being said - I honestly think you will take somewhat of a paycut in order to dive in full time. (I remember going from making $90k in another field to $12k my first year in landscape.) I also think it will take longer than expected to start realizing your goals. (I thought I would have a "real business" in 2-3 years, it took 5). You need to carve out a weekend of uniterrupted time to sit down and seriously assess your current load, develop reasonable and conservative forecasts - see what it looks like. The key is to be realistic. For example, to sell more work you will need to more labor to free you up. If you start selling more landscape construction work - probably need another crew that focuses on this type of work. More people, more equipment etc. You need time to plow through all of these assumptions. Two of the biggest mistakes I see are a failure plan for additional overhead/personnel to properly manage growth (so you end up with lots of work that is executed poorly) and unrealistic growth forecasts.

Sounds like you were the minority and not the majority. I would wager most guys that got into the lawn biz did not make anywhere near 90k a year. The most I have ever made at a job was exactly half of that. It had to be a tough decision for you for sure. But for guys making 20-35k a year, it is a little easier. I can't imagine someone going full time could not replace that salary. I made 12k last year just mowing part time about 12-15 hours a week. I say start with bare minimum equipment and only buy more when you have so much work that you have to buy bigger to keep up, doing it this way you should be fine.

lawn dogg
04-01-2008, 12:55 AM
Also, if I were to do this, I could easily claim my taxes as independent contractor. Correct?

I still would like to open my own business but I'm alittle afraid of the possibility of failure or not making ends meet. I have personal bills that still need to be paid outside of the business. Obviously I want to get them paid down or paid off by running my own business. HELP..... I'm torn between the two.

i too was torn at first, if you work hard,do a good job,sell and market your services and apreciate you customers and employees you will find that the rewards are great . that does'nt mean that there won't be some bumps in the road that you will need to work thru. been doing this now for 15 yrs, still learning and hope to be doing it for many more id say go for it and give it 110% :walking: if i can be of any help shoot me a pm

Ed Ryder
04-01-2008, 01:25 AM
I work full time and run a crew while I am at work.

I have 40-50 accounts. Most of them will go to weekly in May. My average account is $30. I do a lot of landscaping but am in fear that it might die down a bit. I make 42K a year at my job and this year all my sales for lawn care will be 40-50K. I have to pay out a lot of labor and I lose a lot of jobs because I cant do them all. Any thoughts?

Thoughts...

1. The first question is: do you want to work for yourself or do you want to pursue a career path working for somebody else?

Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each option. Write them down.

If I had a $42,000 job, what guarantee would I have that this employment would remain constant?

As for me, I don't like somebody else having power over my life like that - where I could be fired or lose the job in a staff cutback or whatever.

I like grass cutting because I get the winter off. (I spent 3 months in Ukraine this winter and had a great time.)

2. You have a crew doing 40 to 50 lawns? And did I read that some of them take 30 minutes? And you need $3500 a month to cover living expenses?

If it were me, I'd ditch the job, ditch the crew and all the hassle associated with them, and get it up to 70 - 100 lawns. Work hard by yourself. Then maybe for 2009 do steady controlled growth - if you really want to advance to having workers.

It seems to me you are too distracted and mismanaging your little business. Focus on something.

Perhaps the lawn business is not your thing?

topsites
04-01-2008, 01:33 AM
What do you mean work on your problem

Well you come up with one solution to fix a problem, but another can of worms gets opened along that way...
It always works like that, yin and yang, danged if you do / danged if you don't, that's what I mean.

So I give you a solution, you know, and it fixes your problem, right?
Yes, but you'll have other, new problems to deal with.
Every solution opens another can of worms, then you deal with that, and so on...
This goes on until one day everything gets so dang complicated you just have to start all over, how I do it.

So if you raise your prices you'll as likely end up with a customer shortage, but it does take time, later comes a money shortage and now you understand my problem lol.