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View Full Version : We aren't making SQUAT for an hourly rate


thefed
06-21-2008, 02:57 AM
2 guys, grossed 11k last month, 1/2mulch and 1/2 mowing.... when you deduct ALL expenses including gas,maintenance,mulch, misc supplies, fert, office supplies, food, new equipment purchases (only $1800 this year), etc, we are making 8.50/hr each over the first 8 weeks. That number will climb as our only major expense going forward is gas...I suspect it will be climbing up there, but geez....getting everything paid off sucks....we bought a bed edger, trailer, lots of little stuff


if we mow and have no major repairs for the next 4 months, i suspect we will be at $16/hr for the season....not too promising. we are priced as high as we can without being beaten out on every bid....


looks like we need to trim the fat and raise prices slowly

when you REALLY hammer out every last detail/expense, it can be disheartening

Exact Rototilling
06-21-2008, 03:49 AM
Yes I agree the mowing side of my business is very iffy. Margins are very tight. Every kid with a mower is advertising $20 & $25 cuts.

I look at it this way . . . would you rather make the same money working for someone else . . . or doing what you are doing now?

My advice is to find a related service that isn't as exploited as mowing if at all possible.

:waving:

Richard Martin
06-21-2008, 04:08 AM
if we mow and have no major repairs for the next 4 months, i suspect we will be at $16/hr for the season....not too promising. we are priced as high as we can without being beaten out on every bid....


And that was the good news. The bad news is you still have to deduct 15.4% off of your $16 for your FICA "contribution". Subtract $2.46 and your making $13.54 before local, state and federal income taxes. Ouch!

topsites
06-21-2008, 05:51 AM
Shoo who you telling, I've been saying it for some time that all the showboating figures on this site aren't adding up at all, not even close. But at least you guys are seeing it too, this one source of my frustration.

And that was the good news. The bad news is you still have to deduct 15.4% off of your $16 for your FICA "contribution". Subtract $2.46 and your making $13.54 before local, state and federal income taxes. Ouch!

Don't forget to include all the time spent driving, making bank deposits and other paperwork, maintenance, shopping for parts and supplies, also in this case trimming the fat, chatting with customers and other folks, also all the research like when we spend time reading up on stuff...
What about loading and unloading, or switching equipment, does anyone figure that into the equation?

That's still just getting warmed up, I am sure I can come up with tons more but I'm not in the mood.
Lunch, no, break time is free.

But either way I'm around $5 an hour by my closest calculations.

LwnmwrMan22
06-21-2008, 10:03 AM
Now throw in when you have a $1,000 repair, or back to back ones like I did last week.

You're basically working for free for the next month.

It IS getting to the point where this job isn't as fun as it was even 5 years ago.

FWIW, I'll gross out $16-18k / month working solo, so you'll wanna kick in some more hours with those 2 guys.

Richard Martin
06-21-2008, 11:00 AM
FWIW, I'll gross out $16-18k / month working solo, so you'll wanna kick in some more hours with those 2 guys.

I'd have to work 114 hours a week to make that kind of money. It has not, does not and will not ever happen with me.

Az Gardener
06-21-2008, 11:43 AM
Congratulations for waking up and smelling the coffee. So why are you still in the biz?

No seriously, what you should do is estimate how long each piece of equipment will last then divide the cost of said equipment over the # of months it will last you or how long before you plan to replace it. Do this for each and every tool you use right down to rakes and shovels. This will give you a fixed monthly number for reclaiming your equipment costs. This is budgeting you were talking cash flow. Don't forget to budget for maint and repair of the equipment too.

Now start lookin around at the rest of the business and start applying this practice to all your expenses. This way you can do a budget and know what you need to charge to make the hourly rate you want.

After all that damn math you will likely realize I can't charge enough to make any real money. So we return to the top "Why am I still in this biz?"

LwnmwrMan22
06-21-2008, 12:12 PM
I'd have to work 114 hours a week to make that kind of money. It has not, does not and will not ever happen with me.

The original poster stated "gross".

The easiet number to pull up each month is "gross".

I do full service accounts, while trying to charge 75 per hour.

It's not that hard to charge out a $16 to $18k gross per month.

White Gardens
06-21-2008, 01:51 PM
Does anyone else think about the equity that you are establishing??

I just see it as even though your not grossing as much as you would like, but your building your LCO into some sort of value. The real payoff I feel would be to sell it when you retire and reap the rewards then. It just sucks in the meantime.

nosparkplugs
06-21-2008, 02:52 PM
IMO the smaller guy who is dependant on the residential customer with disposable income is hurting. All of my accounts are paid 12 months a year, and I can budget accordingly. I was able to quite my healtcare job last October loosing some income with that too. What have you done to combat high gas price's beside whine about it? I downsized sold off my gasoline powered trucks 2 years ago invested in diesel power/ new Walker mower well before these fuel prices rose. Switching to all bagging with Walker GHS from mulching stopped our weekly mulching vistis less fuel=more$$. Let all my cheap commercial, residential customers go that complained, and were slow payers. You must take a proactive role in your future, depending on our route I only carry the Walker when possible reducing unessary equipment and weight on the trailer, I use GPS to plan our routes in advance, use fully synthetic lubricants in all our engines, dual By-Pass filtarion on our diesel truck reducing oil changes to zero. Fuel additives to increase fuel economy, I was "hyper-mileing" two seasons ago, get ahead of the curve,the resources are within your reach grasp hold and use.

milo
06-21-2008, 03:00 PM
i posted no future in this business not to long ago and people were trying to tell me i dont know what im talkin about...
im glad some of you see that owning and cutting grass for a living is not as good as some think.. some people think wow i made 300.00 in 4 hours this is great... now buy health insurance, gas, maintense and pay your taxes. also remember the people have to pay their bill too. wow you grossed maybe $90.00 in 4 hours. not to good. oh and no retirement plan either plus up front cost of equipment. well what do i know.
for u guys starting i try to say do something better for yourself but who am i??? i know nothing right

nosparkplugs
06-21-2008, 03:08 PM
i posted no future in this business not to long ago and people were trying to tell me i dont know what im talkin about...
im glad some of you see that owning and cutting grass for a living is not as good as some think.. some people think wow i made 300.00 in 4 hours this is great... now buy health insurance, gas, maintense and pay your taxes. also remember the people have to pay their bill too. wow you grossed maybe $90.00 in 4 hours. not to good. oh and no retirement plan either plus up front cost of equipment. well what do i know.
for u guys starting i try to say do something better for yourself but who am i??? i know nothing right

Speak for yourself, I been busting my tail for 8 years, and have made it in this industry, quit my high paying, healthcare job with; paid time off, sick time, retierment 401k, and have no regrets. Some people are not ment to run their own business, and should be working for coroprate America. Frankly it's people like you that bring this country down.

lawnguyland
06-21-2008, 03:10 PM
16-20k solo for a month's gross is very possible, BUT you have to be full service and do all the applications, shrub trimming, etc etc to get there and have a tight route in a high income area.

Not every month either. Mostly april, may, june, september,december are my bigger months

milo
06-21-2008, 03:18 PM
Speak for yourself, I been busting my tail for 8 years, and have made it in this industry, quit my high paying, healthcare job with; paid time off, sick time, retierment 401k, and have no regrets. Some people are not ment to run their own business, and should be working for coroprate America. Frankly it's people like you that bring this country down.

whatever, wait till your paying 6.00 a gallon for your diesel gas by the end of the year. i know then u will just raise your prices.

nosparkplugs
06-21-2008, 03:24 PM
whatever, wait till your paying 6.00 a gallon for your diesel gas by the end of the year. i know then u will just raise your prices.

Speculators, your one of the many during this time. The goverment, military, and industry are dependant on stable diesel prices, and the government will keep diesel lower

landscaper22
06-21-2008, 04:06 PM
I think I am going to get more into irrigation repair. In my area, you can't find anyone in irrigation willing to come out in the summer because they are so busy. I don't really want to get into installing systems. But I see an opportunity here. I could make decent money just replacing heads, fixing breaks in lines, and replacing valves. You can profit more form that type of work because people are willing to pay more. For instance, my mowing minimum price is $30. But I would not even show up to look at an irrigation system for less than $50 minimum service call charge. Even that is probably a low price.

Az Gardener
06-21-2008, 04:21 PM
Does anyone else think about the equity that you are establishing??

I just see it as even though your not grossing as much as you would like, but your building your LCO into some sort of value. The real payoff I feel would be to sell it when you retire and reap the rewards

Unless you are building a complete business that can operate without you all you really have left after years of work is some accounts for sale. You could groom a buyer in a key employee and get someone who is going to work the business. You can get some more $$ that route but you will most likely have to give good terms and then you are at their mercy.

No spark, what is hyper mileing? I asked my mechanic about amsoil he said in our extreme heat the traditional frequent oil changes are the way to go. We are close friends so I don't think he is just trying for job security.

MitchDaniel
06-21-2008, 04:37 PM
Speculators, your one of the many during this time. The goverment, military, and industry are dependant on stable diesel prices, and the government will keep diesel lower

Doesn't look like the government has kept diesel lower!! If diesel stays at $5.00/gal or higher much longer, this country is in big trouble (not that it already isn't).

nosparkplugs
06-21-2008, 05:15 PM
Doesn't look like the government has kept diesel lower!! If diesel stays at $5.00/gal or higher much longer, this country is in big trouble (not that it already isn't).


Thats agree'd, notice congress is actually holding "emergency" hearrings on drilling in the United State's territories to stablize these oil prices. China is going to start drilling off the US coast soon. That has the US government scrambling to revist the legislature that slick Willy signed banning off shore oil drilling. If we don't drill ourselfs, foreign countries already are planning to, even some within the green movement are rethinking the need for off shore oil drilling or on the Alaskian tundra.

nosparkplugs
06-21-2008, 05:26 PM
Unless you are building a complete business that can operate without you all you really have left after years of work is some accounts for sale. You could groom a buyer in a key employee and get someone who is going to work the business. You can get some more $$ that route but you will most likely have to give good terms and then you are at their mercy.

No spark, what is hyper mileing? I asked my mechanic about amsoil he said in our extreme heat the traditional frequent oil changes are the way to go. We are close friends so I don't think he is just trying for job security.


Everyone knows a mechanic or someone who is the "know all" on oil, you have answered your own question about oil changes. You my be good friends, but less oil changes= less income for him. Hyper-mileing is a term used for getting the most MPG out of any vehicle. The movement was created in California, and embrace's some conservative to extreme methods to get every last MPG out of fuel. Reducing oil changes only one piece of the puzzle.

Toy2
06-21-2008, 06:07 PM
MILO thanks for giving everyone your thoughts, I agree with you 100%, I work for the goverment and love it.
Woke up Friday to rain falling and stayed home, as I layed in bed I wondered how many LCO's hate the rain because it messes with the schedule....got to enjoy the day without the worry of money!!!!

Allsparkplugs, I'll give you 8 more years and see if you still have it all!!

South Florida Lawns
06-21-2008, 06:18 PM
This is how things are in Florida everyday. You just gotta work Fast and get a lot of business.

nosparkplugs
06-21-2008, 06:54 PM
MILO thanks for giving everyone your thoughts, I agree with you 100%, I work for the goverment and love it.
Woke up Friday to rain falling and stayed home, as I layed in bed I wondered how many LCO's hate the rain because it messes with the schedule....got to enjoy the day without the worry of money!!!!

Allsparkplugs, I'll give you 8 more years and see if you still have it all!!

Oil prices are high thanks in part to wall street speculators, Your speculating failure in the lawn care industry? I worked for the local government run level 1 trauma center, and like all government run systems their is always someone making more than you doing less work, and some else has control of your schedule.
Like I said running a business is not for everyone; however the rewards are great, just like the risk of failure is great. I have more peace of mind now than ever, and enjoy spending more time with my family. It would be nice to have the power to predicate the future, until then I live in the comfort knowing I have a stable business. I don't "worry" about money per say? thats unnecessary stress. I look forward to the rain most of the time, its necessary for the continued growth of the green industry, and our plant. While the rain changes our schedule it'a not a disaster, and brings no extra stress for us.

Toy2
06-21-2008, 07:17 PM
How can you have peace of mind knowing some "beaner" is going to take customers from you without a blink of an eye?

Could he affect you while you were working a job that took a "brain" to function? Doubt it.

So unless you have some other type of $$ support, family, inheritance, judgement, you are unique that money is of no concern.

I am unable to find respect in this business, so as it stands now, its just for beer $$!!!!

nosparkplugs
06-21-2008, 07:46 PM
I'm sorry you were unable to find respect in this business; and can understand how that could lead someone to find another means of income. I do not worry about "beaner" are you meaning the lowballer's? The more year round commericial accounts you can aquire the more stable your cash flow is. I have seen very few "beaner" bid on a commercial account, and if they do get the chance, their lack of business cerdentials seal their fate in the end. I never said money is "no concern"? I do spend 5 days a week making it, and 2days off now. I need time to rest, I enjoy not having to get stressed over money issue's now.

capnsac
06-21-2008, 07:47 PM
I don't like these posts, not one bit. Not only are they disheartening to read, they make me want to quit before the fun has really begun. It takes time, and too many people try to put on a bigger pair of pants before they have grown into the ones they have on.

I am solo, I will be for the remainder of this year, and I will be for the next year. After next year is when I will hire employees. I will gross 70K this year, with most of that going towards equipment (all equity) gas and you know the rest.

The next year will be all profit, all of my equipment will be mine, and all of it will only be a year old. I will have those same accounts for the following year, not because I am optimistic, because it is already affirmed. I will make around 80K next year respectively, with 50% of that going to the business as expenses, taxes, etc. The remaining will be put back into the business, and I am only giving myself 12,800 a year.

What it all boils down to is you aren't going to make a million dollars in 5 years. A guy I know that has been in the business for 12 years is now at the point where he is making good money. His business grosses 500k, and he himself profits around 150,000 off of that. So, he is only taking a 33% profit off of that 500k. It takes time, patience, and a lot of planning to get where you want to be in this business. Get in touch with property managers, they will be your best asset. Patience is also key. Don't get discouraged by figuring hourly rates, why would you want to stress yourself out about that anyway?

Just have fun with it, and realize that the harder you work now the less you will later. Oh, and stay away from negativity, it's contagious.

capnsac
06-21-2008, 07:50 PM
Oil prices are high thanks in part to wall street speculators, Your speculating failure in the lawn care industry? I worked for the local government run level 1 trauma center, and like all government run systems their is always someone making more than you doing less work, and some else has control of your schedule.
Like I said running a business is not for everyone; however the rewards are great, just like the risk of failure is great. I have more peace of mind now than ever, and enjoy spending more time with my family. It would be nice to have the power to predicate the future, until then I live in the comfort knowing I have a stable business. I don't "worry" about money per say? thats unnecessary stress. I look forward to the rain most of the time, its necessary for the continued growth of the green industry, and our plant. While the rain changes our schedule it'a not a disaster, and brings no extra stress for us.

Good post's nosparks. I like your attitude, you keep things positive. :clapping::clapping: To many negative ninny's on this board.

nosparkplugs
06-21-2008, 07:54 PM
I don't like these posts, not one bit. Not only are they disheartening to read, they make me want to quit before the fun has really begun. It takes time, and too many people try to put on a bigger pair of pants before they have grown into the ones they have on.

I am solo, I will be for the remainder of this year, and I will be for the next year. After next year is when I will hire employees. I will gross 70K this year, with most of that going towards equipment (all equity) gas and you know the rest.

The next year will be all profit, all of my equipment will be mine, and all of it will only be a year old. I will have those same accounts for the following year, not because I am optimistic, because it is already affirmed. I will make around 80K next year respectively, with 50% of that going to the business as expenses, taxes, etc. The remaining will be put back into the business, and I am only giving myself 12,800 a year.

What it all boils down to is you aren't going to make a million dollars in 5 years. A guy I know that has been in the business for 12 years is now at the point where he is making good money. His business grosses 500k, and he himself profits around 150,000 off of that. So, he is only taking a 33% profit off of that 500k. It takes time, patience, and a lot of planning to get where you want to be in this business. Get in touch with property managers, they will be your best asset. Patience is also key. Don't get discouraged by figuring hourly rates, why would you want to stress yourself out about that anyway?

Just have fun with it, and realize that the harder you work now the less you will later. Oh, and stay away from negativity, it's contagious.

Great Job, I started out Solo, and your on the right track. It takes time to grow a business, and like I have said it's not everyone's cup of tea. Good work is still appreciated with high profits, and with all the negative speculators about not just on this site, but in society it's easy to get sucked into the BS. Gotta have some faith too