View Full Version : About To Go Postal Over Scabs...

Albemarle Lawn
03-25-2002, 07:22 PM

Commercials are price shopping around here and as a result prices are less than last year.

It's killing me. I just got fired from a private school that we cut for $750. Many of my colleages told me I should have charged $1000-$1500 per cut. Apparently now it is being cut for much less than $750.

Can't forget to mention we also converted the school property from a barren wasteland to nice turf last fall.

Made it nice and pretty for the SCABS to come play.

Can't charge what I could 5 years ago, and our quality and service is always praised.



03-25-2002, 09:21 PM
Hey, I feel for you man.. but you just gotta diversify and get away from those types of problems, every spring thier is a new batch of cutters out and by fall many of them have gone to the wayside..... Commercial prop managers don't give a rip about you or your business unless you kiss thier butt..... This is why I no longer do commercial work.

03-25-2002, 10:44 PM
All those UVA dropouts must be picking up a Crapsman and goin to work!

03-25-2002, 11:01 PM
I feel ya dude! Lost an account that i had for 2 yrs. Looked like crap when we started, got it looking good. BAM! New management this year..."Your charging us too much... We've found someone else" I know he underbid me because he did work in the mulch beds that we were told they didn't have money to do that. I know in the long run that people that underbid will get bit in the a## but they don't realize that they hurt themselves by charging less and hurt others by drawing down the price on certain scoops of work and make it hard to maintain and keep a business afloat. The underbidding has gotten so bad around here that people are doing state contracts for less then what they were paying 10-12 years ago!! That's pathetic!! Some of us want to start some kind of association that you must meet certain stardards and charge accordingly for jobs. And promote this to customers or potential cleints. So they all know if one hires a contractor from this association that they will expect a certain quality of work and so on and so forth. I mean if u call a plumber or heater guy.... just to ride to your house..$50 service call. You know how rich we'd all be just charging $25 per estimate!? I don't ride around with a $30k-$35k rig for NOTHIN'! People have to open their eyes and smell the mulch! OK done venting. And its only March

03-25-2002, 11:40 PM
I feel your pain! I've been there a few times over the past few years. After the last time I decided to trade my commercials for some good residentials. I now only have two commercials to get rid of this year. I sleep so much easier with residentials on contract.


03-26-2002, 02:00 AM
Good reason to take before and after photos of all properties you maintain. When they start shoping around give them photo reminders of how far they have came. My new website has a login page for each customer & a photo, hope to add a before and after photo to their page so when they log in they will be reminded often of the improvement.

Here is one example, notice the large dead spot in the first photo, former LCO sprayed a few weeds their, killed everything around, there were 5-6 of these around the lawn:


03-26-2002, 02:10 AM
That is what really burns me. Someone comes along that does it cheaper and then were are are accused of charging too much. I feel like being legit is just getting too hard.

03-26-2002, 02:19 AM
Generally those LCO's who are legit have superior equipment & more experience than scrubs. This should enable legits to lowball the scrubs if certain productivity, & overhead reduction techniques are implemented.

Chuck Sinclair
03-26-2002, 02:22 AM
Been there!

I had a lady call for an estimate today said she is looking for some one LONG term, she has had for of our local scubs just stop showing up in the last year. i let her know up front i'm not cheap!

scott's turf
03-26-2002, 08:14 AM
Mowing is a hard way to make a living. I just do it part time and do fine but the equipment I use costs far less than other guys. I have a $6k truck, $1k trailer, 2 $1.5k wb and about $1k of other stuff needed to just mow lawns. That is only about $11k. Many other guys have a mower that costs more than that, let alone all the other expenses. A $30k truck and $10k mower is not going to be more 4X more productive than my setup. Profit is the bottom line for me and should be for everyone. Almost anyone can mow a lawn. This brings out lots of competition and drives prices down. Expand the biz to other areas needing more expertise and less competiton from "scrubs."

03-26-2002, 08:50 AM
u just bragging kirby.:) that picture says more than all the complaining about scrubs etc.lcos do that ,scrubs dont know how.
so the customers get what they pay for, either way they go.
to be honest some of my,fixed income, elderly wont llet me try to make it as good as it can be.. also ,to a lot of country oldtimers
the lawn is just wasted pasture grass.
but i have enough that allow me to see how good i can be .

03-26-2002, 09:48 AM
People don't know how to price a job, they don't know how much it cost them to cut a lawn. They have a misconception that they can do as well as a pro with home owner equipment. I know I've been there and done that!

I used my crapsman, to take an hour to do a city lot, then I found out I could do it as fast with a 24" yazoo. then I cut my time to 50 min with a hydro crapsman, then to 30 min with a cub cadet Z mower. Now with a 48" Jd walk behind and a 60" great dane Z
I can do the same little lot that used to take an hour in 15to 20 min. All for the same amount of money.

I also found out that I had worn out a 1987 GMC pickup without having anything left to get another. And worked a lot harder in the process

The moral of the story is I guess it is all realitive The more you have spent on equipment the more you will make bottom line.

I used to have a hard time doing even a half an acre an hour,
now I have a very hard time taking a half hour to do a half an acre.

People have a hard time understanding that I can pullup at their house sitting on a lot in town unload, mow, trim, and blow, load up and get $1.00 per min. They want to pay the same but want you there for an hour or more cause thats what it takes them, but after a time or two they realise they have better things to do with their time.

I had one old lady who griped every time, who always wanted more then we had agreed, stop her griping when I pulled up in my "new" truck last year. She had seen me in a $2000.00 truck that I had bought new pulling a 8000.00 mower and it didn't make sense. Then I pulled up in my 97 k3500 crew cab and she comented on it how nice it was, I told her my other one was about to bite the dust and somthing clicked that I "couldnt afford to work for nothing". I havn't had to do any extras for her sence.

Go figure.

Here are the facts. If your legit you must get enough to pay for the equipment you have, or are going to have to get, you must also pay your taxes, insurence, licenses, buss expenses. If you don't know what these are you shouldnt be in bussiness.

People just don't understand the "cost of doing bussiness"
but it is true "the more you spend the more you will make"

Scott you might be right with your 11,000.00 worth of equipment it depends where you are. But you will have to replace equipment Have you figured that in? But I haven't seen a walk behind that will keep up with my Z. But can you pull up with a 4 man crew and do a 5 acre apartment complex in an hour? I have.

I am trying right now to get a buss back I lost to a scrub last year, the beds look like hell the shrubs havn't been trimmed, weeds in what was a beautiful lawn. For what $10.00 per service.

So I will keep driving my ton duelly 4x4 pulling my JD WB and my Great Dane Z My echo hand held equipment. And make more mowing then guys I graduated with who are lawers and bussiness men. I will also add to the local ecomony by employing people.

Why? Because I am not afraid to work. And I have edecated myself to what it cost me to work.

I have been doing this for 9 years now and I have seen them come and seen them go and I have tried to learn "Why they go"


scott's turf
03-27-2002, 08:05 AM
Jim, I understand what you are saying. I am just bringing up the cost of overhead reflecting the cost of services. I never act like an item is paid for but when it does come time that a mower or truck dies I will go out and buy another used one and save lots of money. This does not work for everyone beceause some guys just can't fix their machines. If you can't do your own work it will not always save you money. I have a $6k F250 diesel. Just got a paint job done and I always keep it looking nice. Sure it is 10 years old but it looks brand new. It is a work truck though. It gets me from point A to point B so I can make money. If you are making as much as you say you are than of course you are not doing anything wrong. But somethings going to have to give here. As the years go by, trucks and mowers get more expensive and the cost of lawns don't. Buy equipment that makes you more productive not better looking. If you own an older truck that looks great and gives you no problems how can a newer one be more productive. How does a $30k+ truck make you more profit than an old one that runs great? You will still drive the same speed to the customer's houses. Secondly, 90% of the time I mow someones lawn they are not even home. The customer cares about results not how expensive your rig is. I can understand some mower upgrades if your production is maxed out. But with some of there ztr prices are rediculous. Over $12k for a mower! You could buy two wb 48" mowers and the labor for less and mower quicker (I think). I have been running this lco for 8 or so years part time. I went to college and graduated last year and am now an engineer. It is a great combination and I make good money. If I could comfortably make $60k+ profit from my lco I would do it in a heartbeat. I know many of you do and that is awesome. Maybe you can't compare a PT opperation to a FT one. I just know that if I bought new mowers and trucks all the time that I would be in debt right now.

03-27-2002, 08:54 AM
ONe of the biggest problems is the IRS. The scrubs are not claiming their income and getting away with it. Eventually they may get caught. But the IRS these days seems to go after the easy targets and the high profile cases. With parttimers its even easier to hide sideline income. But the irs has had budget cuts and some of their power taken away lately. If they cracked down this would make a big difference in the scrub population and keep the field competitive.

03-27-2002, 10:00 AM
Scott's turf
In regards to buying two used 48s instead of 1 rider and using the employee to make up the difference in efficiency.

The main problem is having to rely on that employee. Yes I have employees but I find it better to buy the most efficient equipment and rely less on employees.
12K for a ZTR are you looking at the diesels? Most are in the $7500-$9000 new 60" 25HP gas.
The larger the area you are cutting the more efficient the ZTR will be.

that is a good idea of the before and after photos

Like Charles said the companies that dont report their income. A new customer of mine asked if I accepted checks. What kind of question is that, unless the previous company always worked for cash and never reported a thing. She wandered why I was $5 higher.

Even though my business is still growing, I don't think but twice have I underbid the previous company. The majority of my new customers are switching from other companies that they are not happy with. My most recent acquisition is a $60 cut that use to be cut for $40. That is a substantial jump, but she said she has watched me mow over the past year( I do her neighbours) and said she was impressed with the job I do.

03-27-2002, 10:15 AM
Scotts Turf

I am in a similar situation as you, but I'm going fulltime this year after college graduation. I have 2 wb and 2 used trucks...but also just got licensed for pest apps and do a helluva lot more than just mowing.....I am thankfull my overhead is low.

Tyner Lawn Service
03-27-2002, 10:42 AM
I deceided this year to bid on 5 companies with commercial properties. I was fair but not cheap. I got one company to sign up. The others made it sound like I did'nt have a clue on prices. I had very well detailed bids, good meetings with them, the first to submit the bids etc. They all told me they were looking for a good company and not just price. Yeah right!! When I had to call to see if I got them they all went with the lowest bid(some beyond) low. I even ask the one company if I gave the fertilizer away free would I have gotten the bid. Her answer was yes by a couple of dollars "but we would'nt felt right you not making money and if we would have gotten a good job" DUH!!! The company they had last year did a terrible job at weed control. It's crazy out there. I have found with few exceptions stay with residential, be good to them and work hard. It will payoff in the long run. Alot of guys never pencil out or know if they are making good money on volume anyway.

Darryl G
03-28-2002, 02:12 AM
By the definitions used on this board, you folks would label me a scrub, and that offends me. I don't have any sort of license (not required for mowing or yard work in CT), I don't pay unemployment taxes or workmens comp (not required because I have zero employees), and I didn't pay a penny in State or Federal income tax this year (none due after deductions). My 85 Chevy runs and looks just fine and only has 75,000 miles on it, and my 6 HP 21 inch push mower cost me under $300. I can mow 1/2 acre per hour with it (I walk fast), and 5 gallons of gas lasts me a week. I don't need a trailer or even ramps, I just heave my mower, tiller and other equipment onto the truck. I've gotten 3yrs years out of Ryobi trimmer with blower and hedge trimmer attachments. My advertising costs are zero (all word of mouth referrals), my office in my truck and I already had a phone. I think that my biggest recurring equipment expense is handles for hand tools. And you know what, I probably do charge less than many of you. Is that my fault or yours?

Hey, we all have different ways of getting things done and making money. I'm tired of being told that I'm not legit unless I have things I don't need!

So why don't you all stop beating up the "scrubs" and find a way to make your business more profitable.


03-28-2002, 07:08 AM
My idea of a "scrub" is not someone who doesn't have as nice of equipment as I have, it's the guy who is operating ILLEGALY. I never make fun of someone who is trying to make a living as long as he is paying his dues and charging a fair market price.