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View Full Version : Money saving tips for beginners.


PerfiCut L&L
07-25-2008, 07:10 AM
We are looking for ways to save a few bucks when it comes doing a job. If you dont mind, list one thing you have done either recently or in past, to save money as business owner.

For us (since we are a new company) the purchase of certain small tools has helped tremendously.

- Backup chop saws (so when one breaks you dont have to run to get parts)
- Purchase of a heavy duty plate compactor #5500 compaction force. (reduces the number of passes we need to make on our base material) also allows for slightly larger lift increments.

* Future purchase of a F550, I know will save a lot in fuel and time by increasing our haul capacity and reducing the number of trips.


Feel free to share some things you have experienced and learned from. Parhaps something you did but didnt get the result your were hoping for.

rt20
07-25-2008, 09:25 AM
We put one person in charge of prep time. It just seems like when everyone got their own stuff ready there was a lot of waste in labor. Everyone just goes over a check list to make sure they got everything and they are out the gate. If the person in charge of prep needs help, he, and only him delegates to get everyone out as quick as possible. We run three crews on most days.

PatriotLandscape
07-25-2008, 07:17 PM
We skimp on excavation. it saves a ton in base material!! just kidding.

We try to make sure everything for the job is on site and counted so we don't run out of pavers at 4:55 on Friday.

tthomass
07-26-2008, 12:30 AM
When it comes to a truck look beyond the "I've got a 550 ho ha ho" and do it the way you want it...not the way it sits on the lot. Want more capacity? You need more then a 550 if you want to haul decent loads. 2 cents

Saw......keep extra pull starts on hand. Also good idea to just have an exra 5 gal of mix available. Say kept at the yard or whatever so if you need it you 've got it and don't have to fumble for finding oil etc. Also keep an extra diamond blade on hand and also a carbon blade. Do not buy the expensive diamond blades. I run $70 blades all the time and they last a long time. I also don't care if I hit rebar, I just go right through it. A 1500SF patio I'm about to build with a ton of cutting....one blade will last the whole job. Both of my TS400's are rebuilds too........saved a lot of $.

PerfiCut L&L
07-27-2008, 10:12 AM
Extra PULL CORDS! a MUST. Nothing worse than shutting down for two hours while you run to the store to get a $3 pull cord. We always keep 2 or 3 extras. Same with blades. When we get down to only one left, we re-order or go buy more stock.

bobhat
07-27-2008, 11:31 AM
You might know this already but.. If you have two or more crews segment each task that is to be done and send the labor to that task accordingly.

for example,

drawing up: efficient with 2 guys
Laying brick: efficient with 4 guys

so send your labor to whatever you think will be the most efficient.

DVS Hardscaper
07-27-2008, 12:27 PM
This is a very good thread.

We've been in business for 18 yrs. And have been a full fledged hardscape company for 12 years. Now, I ain't seen it all, but I've been around the block a time or two :)

I wish I had 2 hrs to sit here and type, as I could go on and on and on with ways to save money.


Let me first say something gabout this industry:

This industry sells a LUXURY product. In most cases It's a luxury like Vars, boats, and RV's. That means this industry is ECONOMY driven. When the economy slumps - the first thing the residental markek will drop is their hopes of building their patio.

Just because you get 5 calls a day for work in the spring, does not mean you're ontop of the world. THIS is when many contractors go out and splurge on trucks and machines.

As time allows, i'll post how we buy equipment, my points of view, and how we rent a shop/yard.

STL Ponds and Waterfalls
07-27-2008, 03:30 PM
I'm waiting to get my enclosed trailer one day so I can have ALL my tools with me at all times. If you have an open trailer put a few tool box's on it to have your tools with you. Nothing pisses me off more than when I rush out in the morning and forget a special tool that you need for that certain job.

Another thing to save you money is a good contract from hell and a detailed build sheet for your customer that wants you to do everything to his property but doesn't want to pay for the extra's. I use to do a lot of little extra type stuff just to be nice and hope for that extra referral, but not any more! DO NOT DO ANYTHING FOR FREE!

BOEpavers
07-27-2008, 11:38 PM
For us, it is basically take most of the previous posts and combine them. First the enclosed trailer -allows everything to be on site and you don't have to worry about "did I put x in the truck?". Also allows for storage of commonly used materials such as edge restraint, spikes, Mirafi, etc. Backups of critical tools - they break, get lost, get buried (happened to brickhammers and sunglasses). As for the starter rope issue -all our equipment is either Stihl or Honda powered. We keep complete recoil assemblies for both in the trailer. Whe one breaks on a job, 4 screws at most and a new on is on. Save re-roping for the vening in the shop. Having all the same 2 cycle equipment means one fuel mix. DItto previous posts on diamond and carbon blades. Keep a few in the truck. If your cutoff saw and paver saw have different size arbors, be sure you get blades with a bushing for the arbor hole. That way one blade fits both. The list goes on and on. You'll never get to the perfect place cause when you think you have something new comes out!

ANC Stone Creations
07-28-2008, 04:21 PM
My advise is do not hire 100 guys, don't get lazy do some work.
Learn how to bid the jobs, don't worry about saving money, these jobs are paid for by the customer per what they want.

To all of you that think fancy trucks and trailers will help, that makes me laugh, does not matter.
Learn how to stay organized, and most important figure out what you need before you get to the job ( you dont want to look like an idiot running back and forth ten thousand times from supply store ) if you have told your customer you know what you are doing and then this?


The overhead you have goes back to your customers, keep it low.

etwman
07-28-2008, 05:17 PM
Find good leaders who will make good foreman. Put a solid crew under them of 2 or 3 others and don't pull them apart and send them other directions. The longer they stay together the stronger team they become. Their efficiency will build and the results will be what you want and need. There's nothing more frustrating for a good foreman to have their crew pulled this way and that way every morning when they come to the shop, especially when they are working on a complex project. Don't break good crews up.

Buy good solid used equipment. A paint job can go a long way. Other than my pickup I haven't bought one new piece of equipment in my business in 10 years. Running out and buying all brand new equipment, and financing it to the hilt will get you nowhere fast.

Green Team Landscaping
07-28-2008, 05:52 PM
Buy used. Run the equipment til' it wont run any more.

etwman
07-28-2008, 07:00 PM
That is probably one of the best pieces of advise. Buy used. There are guys all over this site that jump into business and buy the shiny new truck. Here's a little insight. A new $28k truck will lose about $17,000 of value in the first four years you own it. To get the same result you could toss a $100 bill out the window once a week on your way to your jobsite. Okay so you buy new for the warranty? If you lose $17k of your value over four years, on average you have paid too much for a warranty. You could have completely rebuilt the entire truck twice for $17k.

Bottom line, go find a reliable good used truck.

tthomass
07-28-2008, 07:15 PM
Take note of where you are spending a lot of time. Maybe have plants delivered or stone delivered instead of an hour with three guys at the yard loading, tarping and drive time. Cut out the middle man when you can but at the same time don't burn the middle man as you need them. Example: I buy perennials from the growers @ $3.50 vs the nursery @ $5.50. When you're buying a few hundred or even thousand it adds up. I do still buy shrubs and trees from the middle man. They hold it in their yard until I need it and you can usually work out a little discount on volume pricing. I even have them price against other suppliers sometimes. I'm just honest and say look, I can get it here for $x, match it and I'll buy from you etc.

Used equipment is crucial. Never rush a purchase! Research the heck out of what you're buying before you buy and then watch the market so you know a good deal before you buy.

AztlanLC
07-28-2008, 09:51 PM
Tell you guys to bring their lunch

Grass Happens
07-28-2008, 10:30 PM
Tell you guys to bring their lunch

that's good idea, its amazing how long a 30 minute lunch break is when everybody is at mickey d's

LB1234
07-28-2008, 10:40 PM
I've made two upgrades this year that I have seen significant improvements in man-hours (or lack thereof).

A larger plate compator with the mat. We used to cover the darn thing with geotextile and have to hold in place on curvy walks. Now its just one guy bolt it on and you are done.

The next is a dual grade self leveling rotating laser. It truly is a one man show. No more string lines in the way, I don't need one person at the transit and one person on the grade stake. We no longer have to spend the first 10 minutes on the job getting the transit level. Literally screw it on, eyeball its level and hit the power button.

Another thing that we have done which others have stated is getting an enclosed trailer. Its nice to be able to lock it up on site and not have to haul it around all week. And another 2MPG in the truck isn't bad on the wallet either. However, I believe the key is having your guys keep the trailer clean and well ORGANIZED. I was surprised when I started really paying attention to man-hours how much time was lost when we couldn't find the spray nozzle to the hose or what toolbox the deadblow hammer was in. Everything is labeled in the trailer and has a spot. If it doesn't we make one.

tthomass
07-28-2008, 11:15 PM
*Lunch

If you must go out for lunch......go at 11am and beat the crowd. Its really not an early lunch considering what time we start. Also, everybody doesn't need to go......one guy with the order.

Keep in mind fuel use to go get lunch. Say you burn 2 gallons of diesel, thats $10 per day. Based on 5 days a week and 45 weeks......thats $50 per week and $2,250 for the year for the liberty of going to get lunch. I admit, most of the time we go get it and 2 gallons would be on the high side. Sometimes it annoys me, sometimes I don't care because of the time I save from not having to go to the grocery store and then fix my lunch each day. Depends on where we are working too. If we are in DC, we pack. Where we are working now has resturants 1 mile from us and we go there for lunch.

One more side note.........we take 45min lunches most of the time.

SOUTHERNGREENSCAPES
07-29-2008, 02:28 PM
This is a very good thread.

We've been in business for 18 yrs. And have been a full fledged hardscape company for 12 years. Now, I ain't seen it all, but I've been around the block a time or two :)

I wish I had 2 hrs to sit here and type, as I could go on and on and on with ways to save money.


Let me first say something gabout this industry:

This industry sells a LUXURY product. In most cases It's a luxury like Vars, boats, and RV's. That means this industry is ECONOMY driven. When the economy slumps - the first thing the residental markek will drop is their hopes of building their patio.

Just because you get 5 calls a day for work in the spring, does not mean you're ontop of the world. THIS is when many contractors go out and splurge on trucks and machines.

As time allows, i'll post how we buy equipment, my points of view, and how we rent a shop/yard.


DVS: I am looking forward to reading your up comming post. Practical advise from a pro is hard to beat...

McLandscapingInc
07-30-2008, 10:01 PM
pay off all your equip asap

enclosed trailers

dry erase boards inside the trailers for site notes

pack anything and everything in your trailer

pack your lunch

crab
07-31-2008, 12:03 AM
lunch yes ,travel time bad I'm chilled to my core what is you're secret DVS ,please why is it i cant seem to do what you do.love a captive audience you do.

fool32696
07-31-2008, 03:20 PM
Lot's of good ideas here. I think I need the dry erase board in my trailer.

ANC Stone Creations
07-31-2008, 05:26 PM
How many years has everyone been in business?

White boards cost alot compared to a note pad!

Are you going to pack it in the office at night so you know what it says on it.

TAKE GOOD NOTES ON NOTE PAD

crab
08-01-2008, 10:31 PM
do good work you will go far,there is no secret.take good care of you're business and it will take good care of you.DVS still want to know you're secrets,that last picture looked great.