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View Full Version : I'm losing my A$$ in this business!!


iamthelawnbarber
09-16-2008, 04:58 PM
I'm in PA and I started my side business about 3 years ago to get extra money for family needs. Now it's come to the end of the line where I'm actually paying to mow people's properties. The gas prices are outrageous! My mower keeps breaking down, my truck blew a tranny! I work a full-time job that just barely pays the bills. I have nothing extra. Do I charge customers higher prices? The problem is that my customers don't have the money to pay me what they owe me now! Also, I feel that I am doing these jobs for cheap enough-I may be walking away w/$5 in my pocket when my expenses are paid for. It doesn't even pay for my beer anymore!!! Anyone else in this situation? I don't know if I should just cut my losses and quit the business or hold out and see if next year is better. I am a sole proprietor and my son helps me part time during the summer. I don't know if I can handle picking up more clients. I don't have enough time to do what I have now-since my son is back to school. I'm getting maybe 4-5 hrs. sleep a day.
I'm sure my wife is tired of hearing me complain, so I'll complain to you guys!

lawnwizards
09-16-2008, 05:02 PM
a quick question. how much do you make at your fulltime job if you dont care to share?

Scagguy
09-16-2008, 05:10 PM
Equipment breaks down at times and that is part of the game. Make sure that you're doing preventitive maint on your equipment to help eliminate some problems. The customers that aren't paying you....that's a huge problem. Collect from them or cut them off right now. File leins on their property if you have to. If you have several deadbeat customers, I would be finding new ones that can pay their bills on time to take their place. Everyone in this business has gone through a rough period at one time, and it's happening to you for a number of reasons. Step back, look at the positives and focus on those things. Work on loosing the things that impact your business from a negative standpoint.

FDuce
09-16-2008, 05:20 PM
Since your part time and mow after work, I would eliminate any customers that are not in the immediate vinicity/town of your work and on the way home. This will eliminate any extra travel and since you would already be traveling that rout for your full time job it is not adding any additional expense. I guess this really only works if you don't live right by your full time job.

Another way to look at it is this....
If your weren't mowing, would your transmission have gone out? How would you have paid for it if your full time pay already goes to bills? It seems like you are paying for unforseen expenses that would have normally come out of your full time pay. You may be better off by sticking with the mowing.

saylorsdad
09-16-2008, 05:26 PM
As a part timer you should be bidding jobs pretty high. Remember that you're providing a service to fewer people, and you "in theory" can provide more personalized better service. That's my theory as I carry 5 customers if I have a customer that is slow or gives me crap then I look for another customer. Read better paying better attitude, although I haven't dropped anyone yet for attitude.
My advice go out and bid on some jobs and bid them for what you want to make. If you get them then drop the accounts that don't pay or tell them the new price. Either way you add more revenue, and possibly more jobs.

fastpitcher
09-16-2008, 05:42 PM
The biggest problem we face is scabs! You think you are doing it for cheap what about us that have to pay employees? People like you maybe you are not one but none the less. We can not charge enough because someone is willing do do it for $5. A guy gets laid off on Friday and on Monday he owns a landscape company. Cutting lawns for $5 profit if that. Most of these guys do not even know what it costs to cut grass. All they know is how! Gas is up, equipment is up not to mention complaints are up because my customers are getting 10 fliers a day. We have put the power of pricing on the customers! Until we price are service as it should be we will all lose money!
Rick

Phil G
09-16-2008, 06:13 PM
Hang in there, it's nearly the end of the cutting season. Start talking to your customers now about extra work in the coming months. Pruning , trimming and reshaping.
I figure this, the hours you put into grass cutting are not your work hours, that's covered by your day job. The hours you are putting in are 'your' hours and I'll be darned if I'd work cheap in 'my' time. Don't cut price the job, go slightly higher. If you only get one job in five at least you know you'll be getting paid a good rate for it.
Good luck Phil
http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g144/PhilGz/SmilieUKFlag.gif

coolluv
09-16-2008, 06:42 PM
Well it sounds like you lowballed from the beginning and now after 3 years you are realizing what most realize at about that time. Getting a bunch of work means nothing if you are not making money. You have run your course and now you will fade away with the other lowballers that started in and about the same time you did.

But, don't worry more will follow you and will be my and others competition. But the last guy only charged me $25. Where is he now. I don't know he just quit showing up. That my friend is you. Your the $25 guy that should have been charging $40. Your the guy that quit showing up. Your the guy that ruins the market for the rest of us.

I say pack it in and cut your losses. If you build your business (and I use that term loosely in your case) on cheap,nonpaying, drop you for the next guy who bids it $1 cheaper customers, then thats what you get. What you lowballers need to learn is, its much better to cut 10 lawns for $40, than 20 yards for $20. Less work, less wear and tear, less cost, less everything. Do you have tons of work? Yes. Are you making money? No.

Don't worry though. 1000 more will be geared up an ready to go come spring.

Dave....

ricky86
09-16-2008, 07:07 PM
Coolluv, cruel, very cruel but who can argue. The truth hurts. I don't feel sorry for these guys. Hacks. nothing more.

P.Services
09-16-2008, 07:26 PM
The biggest problem we face is scabs! You think you are doing it for cheap what about us that have to pay employees? People like you maybe you are not one but none the less. We can not charge enough because someone is willing do do it for $5. A guy gets laid off on Friday and on Monday he owns a landscape company. Cutting lawns for $5 profit if that. Most of these guys do not even know what it costs to cut grass. All they know is how! Gas is up, equipment is up not to mention complaints are up because my customers are getting 10 fliers a day. We have put the power of pricing on the customers! Until we price are service as it should be we will all lose money!
Rick

wow you and me think a lot alike, thanks for writing that im not really in the mood.

i could not agree with what you said more!! 100% well said

personally i would have added one more sentence to the end.... sell your shat cut your loses and go back to your real job!!

P.Services
09-16-2008, 07:31 PM
coolluv i like your reply also. very well said.

ALC-GregH
09-16-2008, 08:02 PM
So your doing it for side money/beer money?

Richard Martin
09-16-2008, 08:30 PM
Tough audience tonite. I like it.

cpel2004
09-16-2008, 08:30 PM
You guys are grilling this guy like a Kansas City Ribeye. lol, Lowballers! Man Im getting a good laugh out of this thread.

coolluv
09-16-2008, 08:42 PM
You guys are grilling this guy like a Kansas City Ribeye. lol, Lowballers! Man Im getting a good laugh out of this thread.

MMMMMMMM Steak, Now I want a Kansas City Ribeye.

Dave...

whoopassonthebluegrass
09-16-2008, 09:30 PM
I'm not gonna condemn you. But I will share this tidbit: if you're gonna go broke, do it sitting at home, not working your a$$ off...

NC Greenscaper
09-16-2008, 09:39 PM
Well it sounds like you lowballed from the beginning and now after 3 years you are realizing what most realize at about that time. Getting a bunch of work means nothing if you are not making money. You have run your course and now you will fade away with the other lowballers that started in and about the same time you did.

But, don't worry more will follow you and will be my and others competition. But the last guy only charged me $25. Where is he now. I don't know he just quit showing up. That my friend is you. Your the $25 guy that should have been charging $40. Your the guy that quit showing up. Your the guy that ruins the market for the rest of us.

I say pack it in and cut your losses. If you build your business (and I use that term loosely in your case) on cheap,nonpaying, drop you for the next guy who bids it $1 cheaper customers, then thats what you get. What you lowballers need to learn is, its much better to cut 10 lawns for $40, than 20 yards for $20. Less work, less wear and tear, less cost, less everything. Do you have tons of work? Yes. Are you making money? No.

Don't worry though. 1000 more will be geared up an ready to go come spring.

Dave....

You words are So True

Genlandscape
09-16-2008, 09:50 PM
Quality work brings quality money. We, who really want to commit our lives to building a business are constantly pissed of by all the lowballers around. Yes, some are just getting started, but most are working for beer money. Can't afford beer? Don't F'ing drink it!!!!! I spend about 80 hours a week working on and in my business, my wife doesn't complain, she tries her best to help me. Quit crying and make a commitment, or get the hell out of my way. Yes, I will charge more than you do because I know what it costs to be in this industry. BUT my work will prove it's worth far more than most. So, if you don't like it and can't deal with it GO HOME!!!!

whoopassonthebluegrass
09-16-2008, 09:58 PM
Wow. Angry people!

ALC-GregH
09-16-2008, 10:06 PM
Quality work brings quality money. We, who really want to commit our lives to building a business are constantly pissed of by all the lowballers around. Yes, some are just getting started, but most are working for beer money. Can't afford beer? Don't F'ing drink it!!!!! I spend about 80 hours a week working on and in my business, my wife doesn't complain, she tries her best to help me. Quit crying and make a commitment, or get the hell out of my way. Yes, I will charge more than you do because I know what it costs to be in this industry. BUT my work will prove it's worth far more than most. So, if you don't like it and can't deal with it GO HOME!!!!

My mower cuts better then yours! :D

delphied
09-16-2008, 10:46 PM
The biggest problem we face is scabs! You think you are doing it for cheap what about us that have to pay employees? People like you maybe you are not one but none the less. We can not charge enough because someone is willing do do it for $5. A guy gets laid off on Friday and on Monday he owns a landscape company. Cutting lawns for $5 profit if that. Most of these guys do not even know what it costs to cut grass. All they know is how! Gas is up, equipment is up not to mention complaints are up because my customers are getting 10 fliers a day. We have put the power of pricing on the customers! Until we price are service as it should be we will all lose money!
Rick

In my area, companies paying employees are the undercutting fools. I wont even try to compete with these bigger companies mowing some of the nicest neighborhoods in my area for 15 to 25 per yard. I wouldnt bid any of them for less than 35. Go figure.

Runner
09-16-2008, 10:57 PM
You have to market the right customers and the right demographics for what you are wanting to accomplish. It all comes down to the level of service you provide. there are always the blue collar middle class people that want service, because it is a convenience factor, and they like their free time for other stuff.
There are those who eat at McDonalds and Little Ceasars, and there are those who eat at the finer steakhouses and places with cloth napkins. The problem is,...the people who eat at the finer steakhouses EXPECT good service and product, and that service and product needs to be consistent. On the other hand,...yes...you will experience those who wish to get a "gourmet burger" at McDonalds prices.
Market your services to the people who eat at the steakhouses and places with cloth napkins. These are the people that are willing to pay a good price. These people have the money to spend. You can't sell a Hummer or Lexus to someone who is budgeted for a Saturn. Not that there is anything wrong with that,...it is the vast majority of American workers... I am just talking about where the most profitable marketing is, though.

gene gls
09-16-2008, 11:01 PM
To iamthelawnbarber:

A lot has been said here, it may sound cruel but a lot is true. A lot of us here have started out as you, part time. Most every type of business has this problem. Anyone starting a business of any kind needs to learn the market for that business and the opperating cost of that business. This is a tough year for everyone. We all have to streamline our businesses and increase prices to refleck the jobs and type of service we provide. I have been at this for 21 years, last 9 have been full time. I downsized 2 years ago to solo. This year I rasied most of my mowing prices by $ 10.00 per visit. Some should have been more. With all the rain we have recived, my gross is down big time. You need to sit back and define your service and the routes you travel. One area you should profit in big time is on your taxes. I know when I was part time, I made out like a bandit on my taxes. It pays to have a good CPA.

iamthelawnbarber
09-16-2008, 11:10 PM
ALRIGHT ALREADY!!! I guess I'll retire my 21" Murray!! And my electric string trimmer!

delphied
09-16-2008, 11:15 PM
You have to market the right customers and the right demographics for what you are wanting to accomplish. It all comes down to the level of service you provide. there are always the blue collar middle class people that want service, because it is a convenience factor, and they like their free time for other stuff.
There are those who eat at McDonalds and Little Ceasars, and there are those who eat at the finer steakhouses and places with cloth napkins. The problem is,...the people who eat at the finer steakhouses EXPECT good service and product, and that service and product needs to be consistent. On the other hand,...yes...you will experience those who wish to get a "gourmet burger" at McDonalds prices.
Market your services to the people who eat at the steakhouses and places with cloth napkins. These are the people that are willing to pay a good price. These people have the money to spend. You can't sell a Hummer or Lexus to someone who is budgeted for a Saturn. Not that there is anything wrong with that,...it is the vast majority of American workers... I am just talking about where the most profitable marketing is, though.


I havent had any luck finding high rollers willing to pay a"good price" mainly because of large companies in our area that lowball just to get the snow plow jobs I guess. I had one jag off underbid my 40 dollar job to 25 just to get the mulch job. The customers cant even believe how stupid these guys are. Thats their words, not mine.

Runner
09-16-2008, 11:38 PM
Yeah,..I've experienced THAT, too! A great market area is out in Grand Blanc, with areas such as Woodfield, and areas on the south end. There are alot of 4 to $500,000 homes out there, but once you get to some of the million dollar homes, these are the people I mean. Everything has to be pristine, and yes,..there is ALOT of work to be done on these homes (beds, shrubs twice a season (atleast), annual mulch, etc.), but they just want it done right, and are not afraid to pay. Many of these doctors' homes (some the husband AND wife are doctors), and other business owners can be fussy, yes... but it is just a matter setting a higher standard for these people. Sort of like I mentioned above, the food, presentation, AND the service better be right in a steakhouse. Now don't get me wrong,...I have some average customers, too. They are ok, get a medium level of service, and are easy to please and work for. However, they pay the Little Caesar prices overall, and expect that level of service, because that is what they are in the market for. However, for the stop, I would rather pay a bit more attention to detail and do a bit more work for ALOT more money.

P.Services
09-16-2008, 11:41 PM
I havent had any luck finding high rollers willing to pay a"good price" mainly because of large companies in our area that lowball just to get the snow plow jobs I guess. I had one jag off underbid my 40 dollar job to 25 just to get the mulch job. The customers cant even believe how stupid these guys are. Thats their words, not mine.

what large companies are you refering to? do you do this full time?

delphied
09-16-2008, 11:55 PM
what large companies are you refering to? do you do this full time?

I dont work full time but I am legitimate and solo. You would prolly recognize the names of the large companies but my response would prolly be deleted if I told you here.

txgrassguy
09-16-2008, 11:57 PM
I didn't read all of the posts so if this has been said already....
Quite simply, to run a business, one HAS to know all of the overhead costs or you will loose your butt.
For those of you complaining about lowballers, diversify your business model, learn how to bid jobs properly, and set your company apart from the scabs.
Be professional, act professional, market your company appropriately and with a firm grasp on your over head you'll make money.
Or go to work for the man.
I'd recommend going to your local Small Business Administration center for tips on how to structure your business model correctly.

P.Services
09-16-2008, 11:59 PM
the name delphied just leads me to belive your a auto worker/landscaper. come on spit it out, grandscapes? they underbid me on a few and my jaw dropped when i saw the bid.

delphied
09-17-2008, 12:02 AM
Yeah,..I've experienced THAT, too! A great market area is out in Grand Blanc, with areas such as Woodfield, and areas on the south end. There are alot of 4 to $500,000 homes out there, but once you get to some of the million dollar homes, these are the people I mean. Everything has to be pristine, and yes,..there is ALOT of work to be done on these homes (beds, shrubs twice a season (atleast), annual mulch, etc.), but they just want it done right, and are not afraid to pay. Many of these doctors' homes (some the husband AND wife are doctors), and other business owners can be fussy, yes... but it is just a matter setting a higher standard for these people. Sort of like I mentioned above, the food, presentation, AND the service better be right in a steakhouse. Now don't get me wrong,...I have some average customers, too. They are ok, get a medium level of service, and are easy to please and work for. However, they pay the Little Caesar prices overall, and expect that level of service, because that is what they are in the market for. However, for the stop, I would rather pay a bit more attention to detail and do a bit more work for ALOT more money.


I tried to get work in Woodfield and thats where the goofballs are cutting for 15 to 25 dollars. I bid one that had so many beds so close, it would have required a 21 with a bagger. I bid 50 and the customer said the company from last year did it for 25. Several customers had the same story. That same company uses Toro Time Cutters instead of commercial equipment. The kids running them cant even make straight lines with that junk. A heard that another big company based on Bristol Rd are mowing condos for 15 per and trust me, they cant be making money at that. Its funny to me. I just play more golf and let the fools do favors for the rich and famous!

delphied
09-17-2008, 12:06 AM
the name delphied just leads me to belive your a auto worker/landscaper. come on spit it out, grandscapes? they underbid me on a few and my jaw dropped when i saw the bid.

Im a retired autoworker and I dont landscape. I just cut and trim. I see Im not the only one wondering what they are doing. Do you know your neighbor Joe on the hill at the corner?

P.Services
09-17-2008, 12:08 AM
they might not be making much but i know they arnt working for free, just staying afloat to make it by. i know who you are talking about but the name escapes me. all white trucks green letters open trailers with exmarks.

how about double t those guys mow a lot of grass.

P.Services
09-17-2008, 12:09 AM
joel raymond?

delphied
09-17-2008, 12:12 AM
joel raymond?

Yes. My friend applies fert for him and I was helping. I saw your rig.Mac

P.Services
09-17-2008, 12:25 AM
yeah joel is a real good guy i cant say enough good things about him. hes always helps me out and im always looking for a way to repay him. he has a stump in his front yard im going to rent a grinder and get rid of for him. i owe him a favor. yeah thats the company. do you mow at all in fenton?

IMAGE
09-17-2008, 12:27 AM
ALRIGHT ALREADY!!! I guess I'll retire my 21" Murray!! And my electric string trimmer!


So was your original post a joke also? Get a good laugh out of stirring everyone up? :drinkup:

Runner
09-17-2008, 01:16 PM
Yep. Rob's philosophy is,...if he can make 4 to 5 bucks a lawn,...he's good to go. that's because he has all the other implemented systems down. The routing, procedure, division of cutting power to different areas, etc.. 4 to 5 bucks a lawn may not sound like alot, but when you multiply that by 1200 to 1400 accounts he mows a week, that's not a bad net to be bringing in.

Tyler7692
09-17-2008, 02:01 PM
Tough audience tonite. I like it.

Hell yeah, I'm with you.

P.Services
09-17-2008, 02:04 PM
Yep. Rob's philosophy is,...if he can make 4 to 5 bucks a lawn,...he's good to go. that's because he has all the other implemented systems down. The routing, procedure, division of cutting power to different areas, etc.. 4 to 5 bucks a lawn may not sound like alot, but when you multiply that by 1200 to 1400 accounts he mows a week, that's not a bad net to be bringing in.

i see what you mean, but what if he could have been making 6 or 7? huge diffrence. he knows what hes doing though

nitro121
09-17-2008, 03:44 PM
just run the business. Hire some guy every summer to cut for you and have your son work him in the summers. I work full time and I'm trying to build this up so I can retire.....yep, I charge less than others....if I don't True Green will eventually. Or someone w/ a lot of money to start it up right. I mean lawn mowing is still the only business big business hasn't taken a part of.

I want to be like Just Mow It...1800 accounts, 30 dollar cuts (of course my price is higher because my landscape is different in Va). But same idea.

Then I'll run all the solo guys out of business, then raise my prices 5 years from now. :clapping: Might not work but I have a plan at least. Plus, I'm 3 years in hiring someone to cut for me (was doing the evening/weekend thing myself)....and I clear around 15G's a season by doing the office work....and providing the equipment, shirts, insurance, advertising, etc.

Anyway...make it work....just change your business plan. Or you'll always be a solo guy on this board complaining about lowballers. :laugh: Stay cheap and in 10 years maybe you'll be sitting on 500 accounts talking about how it was a struggle at first.

Peace

Ramairfreak98ss
09-17-2008, 04:00 PM
not sure what area /east/west of pa you are, but it wlll get better.

In NJ, i KNOW companies, well thats an overrated term for scabs around here, but all the joe smoes are loosing their a$$ too, theyre going out left and right and were picking up a few accounts here and there, but its still slow. Next season i think you'll see an increase in lawns at least.

iamthelawnbarber
09-17-2008, 08:33 PM
Well it sounds like you lowballed from the beginning and now after 3 years you are realizing what most realize at about that time. Getting a bunch of work means nothing if you are not making money. Dave....

You hit it on the head with that statement. :hammerhead:I lowballed at the beginning to get customers. But I am not a scab! What are you going to do next? Insult my mother??!!*trucewhiteflag* I offer a service and I do a good job. I go above and beyond to make the properties look nice before I leave. I did not undercut other landscapers and steal business. Two of my clients lost their lawn guy because he went out of business last year. Another client lost his lawn guy because he wouldn't service the area anymore.I'm not charging $5 a property, but with the increase in gas and my equipment breaking down, it's eating into my profit big time! Yeah, against my better judgement I did NOT raise prices at the beginning of this season. I have some elderly clients on a fixed income and was worried about losing their business if I charged more. Now it's biting me in the a$$ because these high gas prices are coming out of my profit. I'm going to have to raise prices across the board next year to stay in business.

Richard Martin
09-17-2008, 08:51 PM
Now it's biting me in the a$$ because these high gas prices are coming out of my profit. I'm going to have to raise prices across the board next year to stay in business.

I recommend that you inform your customers now of your intention to raise their prices next year. Explain why you're raising their price and I would be willing to bet that most, if not all, of your customers understand and agree to the increase. I have always done it this way with great results.

This also gives you a good chance to see if any of them want to find someone else and you can plan your marketing strategies for next year to compensate for any losses.

nitro121
09-17-2008, 09:37 PM
Just keep doing a good job. I was charging $33 a cut (small yards) to get the business going. Then this year...$5 increase to do to gas costs....no one complained or cancelled....that is out of about 75 customers.

Just tell them after your first cut next season.....worked for me. Don't give them time to think about it and buy a new mower or try another company. Next season once the grass is growing like crazy.....they'll just say "keep coming back".

Peace

delphied
09-17-2008, 09:45 PM
Yep. Rob's philosophy is,...if he can make 4 to 5 bucks a lawn,...he's good to go. that's because he has all the other implemented systems down. The routing, procedure, division of cutting power to different areas, etc.. 4 to 5 bucks a lawn may not sound like alot, but when you multiply that by 1200 to 1400 accounts he mows a week, that's not a bad net to be bringing in.

It sounds like a piss poor return on investment to me.

tedfrk
09-17-2008, 10:44 PM
Lets say he has 1300 accounts a week.thats 216 say a day @ 6 days a week.now how many trucks how much equipment in order to do this amount of accounts,and how many men.He must be doing alot of install work to be covering the costs.how many could he possibly be doing with a crew at the most a day 30 -40?

Lamonicaslawnservice
09-17-2008, 10:48 PM
If you enjoy doing what you do then only keep the really good profit lawns and good payers. Ditch the ones that are border line. I felt the same way as you at one point. Everything didnt happen to me but I felt like I wasnt making any money for all the work that I did. I got rid of all the non payers or the people i would have to chase after my money and kept all my good accounts. now from the good accounts I have only been picking up good accounts and all 46 of my good accounts are profitable and good payers. moneys always there. I feel alot better now:laugh:

topsites
09-17-2008, 11:01 PM
I feel you brother, it's the same way here...

I could quote higher but with 7 years in I already know where that goes...
So I don't think anyone here is stupid either :p

Now I don't have another job, but not drinking helps.

arcticcatzr580
09-18-2008, 03:39 PM
Wow, next you'll be saying that people who mow their own lawns are scabs. Good to see some people helping out but you guys that think you're above everyone are just ********.

PORTER 05
09-18-2008, 06:42 PM
ya i hate lowballers , not that you are one i have no idea, but seems you are not legit

last week got a call 30 FT White Pine complete removal , lady tells me guy said hed do it for $125, lol hahahaha,. WOW, i tell her if she wants to go for it but watch out, tree was on the house pritty much , told her $450, says no way, i leave, get a call 5 days later tells me guy never showed and to take the tree down, 2 days later returned with the crew and removed tree in 1 hr 15 mins....i hate low ballers, hatem good-

arcticcatzr580
09-18-2008, 08:08 PM
Well guys not showing up is one thing but us guys that actually do the work have to start somewhere and the way I see it is that more money comes with experience. For example, Electricians, does an apprentice start at the same wage as a journeyman? No. Me, I just started, I'm told I do a great job. That doesn't mean that I don't have alot to learn. I'm sure that I am a "lowballer" but I'm not out there to rip people off, just out to make a living.
Maybe I'm wrong but I see nothing wrong with guys working for what they think is fair, if a guy wants extra beer money, cool. Atleast he isn't selling drugs to kids to get it. You can hate "lowballers" all you want but they'll always be around and you shouldn't worry about it. I've read it all over this board : do a good job and the jobs will come to you...or something along those lines....


I think this is a great place that's full of knowledge but sometimes, I really don't know about that.


*trucewhiteflag*

delphied
09-18-2008, 08:50 PM
Well guys not showing up is one thing but us guys that actually do the work have to start somewhere and the way I see it is that more money comes with experience. For example, Electricians, does an apprentice start at the same wage as a journeyman? No. Me, I just started, I'm told I do a great job. That doesn't mean that I don't have alot to learn. I'm sure that I am a "lowballer" but I'm not out there to rip people off, just out to make a living.
Maybe I'm wrong but I see nothing wrong with guys working for what they think is fair, if a guy wants extra beer money, cool. Atleast he isn't selling drugs to kids to get it. You can hate "lowballers" all you want but they'll always be around and you shouldn't worry about it. I've read it all over this board : do a good job and the jobs will come to you...or something along those lines....


I think this is a great place that's full of knowledge but sometimes, I really don't know about that.


*trucewhiteflag*

Enjoy yourself. I just dont mow for little profit, thats all. If your out there making friends by giving away lawn care, good for you. If you just want to make your area a much better place, thats great too.

mattfromNY
09-18-2008, 09:25 PM
You hit it on the head with that statement. :hammerhead:I lowballed at the beginning to get customers. But I am not a scab! What are you going to do next? Insult my mother??!!*trucewhiteflag* I offer a service and I do a good job. I go above and beyond to make the properties look nice before I leave. I did not undercut other landscapers and steal business. Two of my clients lost their lawn guy because he went out of business last year. Another client lost his lawn guy because he wouldn't service the area anymore.I'm not charging $5 a property, but with the increase in gas and my equipment breaking down, it's eating into my profit big time! Yeah, against my better judgement I did NOT raise prices at the beginning of this season. I have some elderly clients on a fixed income and was worried about losing their business if I charged more. Now it's biting me in the a$$ because these high gas prices are coming out of my profit. I'm going to have to raise prices across the board next year to stay in business.

I raised my prices average $5/ cut this spring, not one customer cancelled. Actually had a few who called me to find out how much I would be raising their price. I think with more experience in the business, you will realize to look out for number 1 (YOU), and not so much the customer who can/ cannot afford your services. At the end of the day, you are the one you have to go home with and live with, not the old lady customers (well...hopefully not the old lady... you get the point) Always take care of yourself and your family first. If that means raising prices, by all means, raise prices. customers will come and go.

topsites
09-18-2008, 09:34 PM
The way I see it is that more money comes with experience.

That is the way I see things, too.

Wow, next you'll be saying that people who mow their own lawns are scabs. Good to see some people helping out but you guys that think you're above everyone are just ********.

That boils my blood some days but I try not to worry about it,
not the least of the reasons being I have been there :p

landscaper22
09-18-2008, 11:21 PM
I must say that I glanced through some of these posts, but did not read them all. My thoughts....Someone mentioned more money comes with experience. That is true. An even broader statement I would add is as you gain more experience hopefully you are also beginning to understand basic business. People sometimes don't charge enough because they don't know any better. This business is getting rough. It is difficult to make a good profit. I have finally made the decision that my focus and priority is on making money. I used to be scared to go up on prices out of fear of being dropped or because poor old Mrs. Jones is on a fixed income and can't afford an increase.
But you just have to realize you are in business to make money. If you are losing your a** then it's time to find another line of work.
Next year I may price myself out of business. But I would rather be dropped for being too high than to work my butt off all day every day and make very little profit. I have only picked up one new customer all of this year. The business is not pouring in like it once was, and most likely it will not do so next year.
What ever it takes, you know? Prices for everything is on the rise. Food, fuel, electricity, natural gas, as well as many other services. Customers continue to pay for the things they want and need. They just have to understand they have to pay more for us too. You can't really afford to take the hit. You have to pass on the extra expense to your customers. Everyone else does, so there is no reason why we can't. It's just business.

brian_b
09-19-2008, 12:24 AM
The economy and the rising costs to do business is making the day to day operations a struggle. We specialize in weed and feed and the fertilizer prices have skyrocketed. We have about 10,000 customers throughout the Mid-Atlantic and we have successfully brought in a lot of small companies with 50 to 600 customers.

You do not have to loose everything to keep your independence. There are alternatives.

topsites
09-19-2008, 06:03 AM
I did want to add, lowballing or high pricing, I suspect the exact method lies in each and every Lco's own hands
but what I also know is that with today's state of the economy the customer is willing to take but so much and I hate
to say it but cheaper still wins the battle, and always will.

Now hold on a second, it's not lowballing per se!
Some folks think it is, but it's not, or it doesn't have to be.
Because it's not about doing a lower or lesser quality job, it is about doing the same high
quality job for less money, and it is for these reasons that cost reduction is a permanent
part of my doing business.

While some folks call me a lowballer, the simple fact is I spend time reducing the cost, and not just
that of the business, but my cost of living as well, because the two work somewhat hand in hand.

And it does take experience, and in that sense time, but in order to gain
said experience it is never too early (or too late) to start.

Speaking of lowballing again, if you did price a job too low it may not be a total loss,
it is those exact jobs that can help, somewhat by force, to make us realize certain
ways in which to reduce cost, for one because we're not getting paid enough not to.

Take heed, when there are companies whose cost is half of yours,
guys like that can, and always will, outbid the competition.
Why, because we can, and I need the work, too.
The best part is, guys like me, we don't have to do it for half :p

The other thing is, the process has helped me truly realize what my cost was in the first place.

Even if you don't know your own costs, it can be reduced, simply by watching one's expenses one can start to
nail down certain little things (and maybe one or two big things) that are plain costing a fortune, and start
working on a few things, one here, one there, to start and then continue reducing the cost of doing business.

I'm to the point now I take regular analysis of mine :p

Here's one example:

whoopassonthebluegrass
09-19-2008, 08:46 AM
We have about 10,000 customers throughout the Mid-Atlantic and we have successfully brought in a lot of small companies with 50 to 600 customers.

Wow! I hate you. :laugh:

Runner
09-19-2008, 12:04 PM
Lets say he has 1300 accounts a week. Thats 216 say a day @ 6 days a week.now how many trucks how much equipment in order to do this amount of accounts,and how many men.He must be doing alot of install work to be covering the costs.how many could he possibly be doing with a crew at the most a day 30 -40?

Yeah, he does a bunch of installs, as well. He runs around 20 trucks for maintenance, I believe. All of various sizes. All trailers are enclosed, and some are reather large. I thing the average is around 16 to 18 ft., though.
Also, there is no way he could be doing 30 a day. I would venture to say maybe around a dozen or so per crew. Many of his accounts are rather large. He has a website, if you google it.

P.Services
09-19-2008, 04:14 PM
Yeah, he does a bunch of installs, as well. He runs around 20 trucks for maintenance, I believe. All of various sizes. All trailers are enclosed, and some are reather large. I thing the average is around 16 to 18 ft., though.
Also, there is no way he could be doing 30 a day. I would venture to say maybe around a dozen or so per crew. Many of his accounts are rather large. He has a website, if you google it.

who are we talking about? mac?

J&R Landscaping
09-19-2008, 09:56 PM
Well it sounds like you lowballed from the beginning and now after 3 years you are realizing what most realize at about that time. Getting a bunch of work means nothing if you are not making money. You have run your course and now you will fade away with the other lowballers that started in and about the same time you did.

But, don't worry more will follow you and will be my and others competition. But the last guy only charged me $25. Where is he now. I don't know he just quit showing up. That my friend is you. Your the $25 guy that should have been charging $40. Your the guy that quit showing up. Your the guy that ruins the market for the rest of us.

I say pack it in and cut your losses. If you build your business (and I use that term loosely in your case) on cheap,nonpaying, drop you for the next guy who bids it $1 cheaper customers, then thats what you get. What you lowballers need to learn is, its much better to cut 10 lawns for $40, than 20 yards for $20. Less work, less wear and tear, less cost, less everything. Do you have tons of work? Yes. Are you making money? No.

Don't worry though. 1000 more will be geared up an ready to go come spring.

Dave....

That about says it all.. Good post!

Big Bad Bob
09-19-2008, 11:24 PM
I'm in PA and I started my side business about 3 years ago to get extra money for family needs. Now it's come to the end of the line where I'm actually paying to mow people's properties. The gas prices are outrageous! My mower keeps breaking down, my truck blew a tranny! I work a full-time job that just barely pays the bills. I have nothing extra. Do I charge customers higher prices? The problem is that my customers don't have the money to pay me what they owe me now! Also, I feel that I am doing these jobs for cheap enough-I may be walking away w/$5 in my pocket when my expenses are paid for. It doesn't even pay for my beer anymore!!! Anyone else in this situation? I don't know if I should just cut my losses and quit the business or hold out and see if next year is better. I am a sole proprietor and my son helps me part time during the summer. I don't know if I can handle picking up more clients. I don't have enough time to do what I have now-since my son is back to school. I'm getting maybe 4-5 hrs. sleep a day.
I'm sure my wife is tired of hearing me complain, so I'll complain to you guys!

Lower all your prices by $5.00. Then put an ad in the paper that you will beat any other lco's prices by $5.00 or better. You will pick up a ton of customers. You will lose a little on each one but you will make it up on volume.

nemow
09-19-2008, 11:40 PM
Well it sounds like you lowballed from the beginning and now after 3 years you are realizing what most realize at about that time. Getting a bunch of work means nothing if you are not making money. You have run your course and now you will fade away with the other lowballers that started in and about the same time you did.

But, don't worry more will follow you and will be my and others competition. But the last guy only charged me $25. Where is he now. I don't know he just quit showing up. That my friend is you. Your the $25 guy that should have been charging $40. Your the guy that quit showing up. Your the guy that ruins the market for the rest of us.

I say pack it in and cut your losses. If you build your business (and I use that term loosely in your case) on cheap,nonpaying, drop you for the next guy who bids it $1 cheaper customers, then thats what you get. What you lowballers need to learn is, its much better to cut 10 lawns for $40, than 20 yards for $20. Less work, less wear and tear, less cost, less everything. Do you have tons of work? Yes. Are you making money? No.

Don't worry though. 1000 more will be geared up an ready to go come spring.

Dave....

I thought last years drought would have gotten rid of these guys...:nono: Sorry but its tough

Runner
09-20-2008, 02:47 PM
who are we talking about? mac?

Rob over at GScapes.

landscaper22
09-20-2008, 08:40 PM
I thought last years drought would have gotten rid of these guys...:nono: Sorry but its tough

You would think...:confused: But the drought and the high gas prices just seems to have lured everyone to the business instead of discouraging them. Why, I don't know. Either I'm missing something, or there are some crazy people out there. I think in my area we must have about one lco for every 10 properties in town. :laugh: I laugh, but it is unbelievable how many I see each day.

brucec32
09-20-2008, 11:45 PM
1. Not everybody's cut out for self employment.

2. Stop drinking beer if you can't afford it. If you can, what's the problem?

twotone
09-21-2008, 10:25 AM
Well guys not showing up is one thing but us guys that actually do the work have to start somewhere and the way I see it is that more money comes with experience. For example, Electricians, does an apprentice start at the same wage as a journeyman? No. Me, I just started, I'm told I do a great job. That doesn't mean that I don't have alot to learn. I'm sure that I am a "lowballer" but I'm not out there to rip people off, just out to make a living.
Maybe I'm wrong but I see nothing wrong with guys working for what they think is fair, if a guy wants extra beer money, cool. Atleast he isn't selling drugs to kids to get it. You can hate "lowballers" all you want but they'll always be around and you shouldn't worry about it. I've read it all over this board : do a good job and the jobs will come to you...or something along those lines....


I think this is a great place that's full of knowledge but sometimes, I really don't know about that.


*trucewhiteflag*

When the owner sends out his electricians (journeyman and apprentice) the price he charges is based on man hours. I charge by man hours, $50 per hour per man whether it's myself, a 5yr. employee or somebody I hired yesterday.
All the work has to be done, from grunt labor to the fine finish

You get what you pay for

Keep holding our heads up and our prices

milkie62
09-23-2008, 03:25 AM
Well then if the same price is going to be charged for each man whether seasoned guy or brand new guy the IMO the customer is getting ripped off.The new guy is not up to speed and the customer has to pay ??? I do not think it should work that way.If that is the case then the whole crew should be making the same money.The LCO wants to make money left and right it seems at times.I just priced a job a little less than I normally would just to get a 3 job cluster that will work out perfect for me.I do not think that is lowballing.It is what works for me as a part timer.IMO a lawn guy is just that a lawn guy.Yes,alot of money can be tied up in equipment IF the person whats to spend big money.You could buy a Craftsman lawn tractor and it may last a season or two before needing a new one.But also you will eventually wear out a Walker,Exmark or Toro too.But bigger money to replace than the Craftsman.It all boils down to what you want to pay.Do you think your plush $40k truck is going to last longer than my Stock $23k truck with same powertrain ? Not hardly.Except when you pull up and give a customer a bid of $85 because of all your payments.I pull up with clean lower priced equipment and give a bid of $70.Am I lowballing -----Not really because I do not have the monthly payments you have but am making the same wage as you.Some customers will only look at that they are paying for new equipment not quality care.Clean equipment is clean equipment ---- PERIOD.Cheaper equipment that is cared for will last longer than expensive equipment that is uncared for.My ins is $450 a yr,advertising is $70/mo and gas varies.On the job gas is about 2-2.5 gal hr total for ztr,walkbehind,trimmer and blower.I get alot of good info from this site but it seems like some of the guys here need to find another line of work.I got an idea----Be a lawnmower guy by day and moonlight as a plumber or electrician after work.Drive down to the local electrical supply and get outfitted with a complete set of Klein tools and various boxes,switches,conduit,and wire and lowball the electrcians out there.

Sammy
09-23-2008, 05:43 AM
........... I got an idea----Be a lawnmower guy by day and moonlight as a plumber or electrician after work.Drive down to the local electrical supply and get outfitted with a complete set of Klein tools and various boxes,switches,conduit,and wire and lowball the electrcians out there.

What about if he moonlighted as a cop, fireman or teacher ? :)

Big Bad Bob
09-23-2008, 06:12 AM
Well then if the same price is going to be charged for each man whether seasoned guy or brand new guy the IMO the customer is getting ripped off.The new guy is not up to speed and the customer has to pay ??? I do not think it should work that way.If that is the case then the whole crew should be making the same money.The LCO wants to make money left and right it seems at times.

You do realize that workman's comp and soc sec cost the same whether the employee is experienced or not don't you?
The customer isn't paying for the employee. They are paying for MY expertise and MY supervision and management of the employee and the project. Always charge the same for all employees.
I would never ever put up with a customer chewing on one of my employees for quality of work. They need to come to me. That is MY responsibility as the owner. They contract with ME, not my employee.

mowjoe666
09-23-2008, 07:16 AM
The way I see it, If I do'nt mow my customers yards for $20, someone else will. If I raise my prices, then 5000 new lawn guys will be knocking on my customers doors offering to do it for less. Not a week goes by without me finding another $20 a mow flier on the front door of one of the houses I mow. Now if you guys are loosing customers, maybe you should do better work or lower your prices. Customers do'nt care that you're lawnmower costs more than there car. Be happy you get paid as much as you do. Where else can you make so much tax free cash income?

delphied
09-23-2008, 08:31 AM
The way I see it, If I do'nt mow my customers yards for $20, someone else will. If I raise my prices, then 5000 new lawn guys will be knocking on my customers doors offering to do it for less. Not a week goes by without me finding another $20 a mow flier on the front door of one of the houses I mow. Now if you guys are loosing customers, maybe you should do better work or lower your prices. Customers do'nt care that you're lawnmower costs more than there car. Be happy you get paid as much as you do. Where else can you make so much tax free cash income?

You can mow all the lawns you want for $20.

rsp1961
09-23-2008, 11:03 AM
I'll throw in my $.02 worth:

ifya cant stand the heat, ....

also, if you cant afford beer, then dont drink it, and if you cant go without beer, then your lawn mowing business is the least of your worries. Might want to take a good look at what's really going on. I have a feeling the real issues lie somewhere between "cant afford to buy beer" and "my wife is tired of hearing me complain"...

good luck.

thomaslawn
09-23-2008, 04:19 PM
If you are only making a $5.00 profit off of each yard, I think the answer is obvious. I think in your situation you're better of utilizing your free time looking for a different full time job that pays your bills. Making $5.00 per yard is getting nowhere and certainly is not providing you and your family with any future. Try to sell and get out before you completely loss your (ass)ets.

Big Bad Bob
09-23-2008, 06:03 PM
The way I see it, If I do'nt mow my customers yards for $20, someone else will. If I raise my prices, then 5000 new lawn guys will be knocking on my customers doors offering to do it for less. Not a week goes by without me finding another $20 a mow flier on the front door of one of the houses I mow. Now if you guys are loosing customers, maybe you should do better work or lower your prices. Customers do'nt care that you're lawnmower costs more than there car. Be happy you get paid as much as you do. Where else can you make so much tax free cash income?

Look. I don't go after the $20.00 yards. I don't even try to compete for them. I go for customers who appreciate a good job, reliability and that I give a damn what their property looks like. I have only lost one customer in 8 years because of price (other than on the initial bid) and that was when his daughter decided I raised my price too much. I have never lost one for quality. He actually called me a few weeks later and practically begged me to come back at my higher price. I, of course turned him down. I don't have time for cheapazzes or to play games. I am absolutely positive that my customers don't go based on price. One of my customers told me that his neighbor offered to take care of his property for free and my customer turned them down flat. He was satisfied with our service and liked the way we do things.

And I pay all my taxes including sales tax that I collect. Umm, I did lose one new customer after my monthly bill included sales tax. She said none of the other guys she's had mow her lawn "charged" sales tax. I told her the other guys were conducting business illegally. She also called me back after a few days, explaining that she had talked to her attorney and he told her I was perfectly legit in "collecting" sales tax, and asked us to continue to provide service. I, of course turned her down. Once again,I don't have time to play games.
I have 35 regular full time customers with an average price of $42.50 / week and 273 spot customers with an average billing of $355.00 / year. Now we all know that this is not pure profit but I still do very well. I live better than I did working for someone else. None of this has come easily and there was a time when I was unsure if this was the business for me. I have to give a lot of credit to many here on Lawnsite for so many ideas.
You may be happy with your business plan and I salute you for it. It's just that we seem to be on different paths. Do what works for you and everyone else will do what works for us.

It is all about the way you conduct your business and what direction you want to go..

mississippiturf
09-23-2008, 06:14 PM
It is all about the way you conduct your business and what direction you want to go..


I salute you kind sir. Very well put and echos my sediments as well. If I wanted the twenty dollar yards, I could get them all day. Twenty dollar yards simply don't fit my business plan. Those LCO's that do twenty dollar yards are only in business a year or two. Then they get replaced by others that try to make a go at it.

Kglenn04
09-23-2008, 07:33 PM
ouch gotta cut the ones who are not paying start gearing up for the fall buddy