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DVS Hardscaper
06-28-2009, 01:13 PM
We're seeing light at the end of the tunnel. So far - so good for us!

We kept quite busy this winter with a nice, small retaining wall job, some clearing work, and late winter / early spring we hooked a nice patio gig. After that, for a few weeks sales trickled, and I mean trickled, and I was very nervous.

But now, we have more worked lined up than we've had for the last 2 years at this time of year! If it wasn't for the federal gov't being such a huge employer in this area, we'd probably be history. A large percentage of the areas we serve consist of residents that are employed in the DC Metro area through the fed gov't. And these people are making up the majority of our clients.

Because our spring got off to such a lousy start, we booked a vacation in July, as I was thinking our workload would be slow. Now I wish we would have booked it for August.

Frankly, I'm burned out. I've dedicated nearly every waking minute to sales, in some form or another, whether it's meeting with prospectives, working on estimates and designs, etc.

How bout you folks?

mrusk
06-28-2009, 01:41 PM
DVS you owe me a thankyou. A thankyou for paying federal income tax. If obama wasn't expanding the federal goverment so much with my tax dollars your wouldn't be so busy.

I heard the paver czar will be introduced next week.


Business is bad here in North Jersey. Contractors are going out of business left and right. No one wants to spend 200k on landscaping and then pay more in property tax when their homes dropped 400k in value.

I do not see things improve until Obama is out of office. If this Cap and Tax passes the senate things will get real bad.

DVS Hardscaper
06-28-2009, 02:01 PM
LOL MRusk, Obama has nothing to do with the fact that the Fed Gov't is the largest employer in this area! It's been this way long before Obama was born!

It's not that folks dont want to spend $200k (holy cow your numbers change every month!), it's that the banks stopped lending.....

mrusk
06-28-2009, 03:14 PM
My clients don't finance projects.

AztlanLC
06-28-2009, 04:57 PM
It's not that folks dont want to spend $200k (holy cow your numbers change every month!), it's that the banks stopped lending.....

I have noticed the same just like judge Judy says it when you tell the true you don't have to have a real good memory.

Bru75
06-28-2009, 05:33 PM
Much the same here DVS, after a sloooow early spring things have picked up a lot. I have more work lined up than this time last year, and am still taking calls for new work.
I have noticed a difference, though, mostly smaller jobs and people seem to be more cautious of commiting to a contract.
Overall, I can't complain.

DVS Hardscaper
06-28-2009, 07:02 PM
My clients don't finance projects.



You probably do not know where they pulled money from to pay you, as most folks don't discuss their finances with a lowly contractor.

The banks stopped lending. Many hardscape contractors are now pushing fertilizer spreaders. Cause and effect. If consumers were not dependant on loans - the residential contracting business would be flourishing. Naturally, there are a few home owners with a nest egg of cash. But even at that - most folks that had nest eggs...no longer do.

The folks that are in a position to buy are taking advantage of the opportunities, and this has helped us tremendously. I did an estimate yesterday for excavation related work. I said to the man "I see you just had a nice size Oak taken down" as I was looking at that stump with a dia. of 3.5'. He replied "I sure did, I had 4 trees taken down for what I was quoted a year ago to get one taken down".

But hey! Small jobs are the backbone to re-strengthening our economy. That, along with adapting.

CALandscapes
06-28-2009, 07:59 PM
In my experience, the bigger the houses, cars, boats, etc. = the more money owed on loans.

As far as work is concerned, we've been fortunate to stay busy with a combination of both high dollar jobs as well as some of the smaller, lower dollar jobs. It's amazing that, sometimes, more money can be made churning out 8 or 10 $5k jobs in a week than a $50k or $60k a week...

PerfiCut L&L
06-28-2009, 08:46 PM
Work here has been surprisingly busier than usual. We have increased our profit margin slightly, and yet we are still getting work. We have hired an additional crew just to keep up. Im not sure whats going on, but im ok with it.

mrusk
06-28-2009, 09:32 PM
You probably do not know where they pulled money from to pay you, as most folks don't discuss their finances with a lowly contractor.

The banks stopped lending. Many hardscape contractors are now pushing fertilizer spreaders. Cause and effect. If consumers were not dependant on loans - the residential contracting business would be flourishing. Naturally, there are a few home owners with a nest egg of cash. But even at that - most folks that had nest eggs...no longer do.

The folks that are in a position to buy are taking advantage of the opportunities, and this has helped us tremendously. I did an estimate yesterday for excavation related work. I said to the man "I see you just had a nice size Oak taken down" as I was looking at that stump with a dia. of 3.5'. He replied "I sure did, I had 4 trees taken down for what I was quoted a year ago to get one taken down".

But hey! Small jobs are the backbone to re-strengthening our economy. That, along with adapting.



I know for a fact that none of my clients have pulled from the equity in their home for a project. Mortgage information is all public information all available on the web. I know if a client has a mortgage and for how much before I even meet with them for the first time.

shovelracer
06-28-2009, 10:21 PM
Its a good thing too rusk. I have a client that we have been tossing ideas with since february. What was a 35K grading/planting/fence job has tricked down to 10K. We start tomorrow finally. The original premise was that they were going to refinance and use the additional to pay for the work. In the end they would have had to bring 100K to the table to get the loan. Seams their house is worth less than what they owe. Wonder why. My pay will be out of pocket instead.

And yes there are people looking to take advantage of the financial state of country right now. I have been turning down 3-5 jobs a week because the client wants to offer a price and usually far less than cost at that. Today for example I had the pleasure of meeting a man that built an 8' Grinnell wall, first layer exposed, base was dust, backfill was 3/4 minus, and he had never heard of geogrid. Seems his highly recommended mason was the expert. Best part is that is not why we where called there. His mason being older didnt think he had it in him to complete the 1800 ft2 patio. So the client has 19 skids of seconds block, 2 tri's of stone dust, and the idea that if he just laid 4-6" of dust on his muddy sub grade it would be OK for his needs. So to humor him I asked what he thought it would cost to to do what he wanted. He didnt have an answer to I explained his errors and hinted at a 5 digit price. He was real quick to come back with the answer that he can only spend 3K for labor and any more additional materials.

Its no wonder you hardscape guys are running around with mowers these days. Just stay away from my lawns and its all good. LOL Good luck to you guys.

DVS Hardscaper
06-28-2009, 10:48 PM
I know for a fact that none of my clients have pulled from the equity in their home for a project. Mortgage information is all public information all available on the web. I know if a client has a mortgage and for how much before I even meet with them for the first time.


MRusk, buddy, I wrote "banks stopped lending" :)

I specifically didn't specify any 1 form of borrowing funding :)

Mid-Ohio Scaper
06-29-2009, 11:53 AM
Anybody who knows anything knows that there is never a recession in the D.C. area. Our tax dollars pour in and the damn government just keeps getting bigger. It's the way they like it. The bigger the government the more control they have over the rest of us.

Anyway, things are slower here than years previous, but staying steady-as-she-go's................

Lite4
06-29-2009, 12:14 PM
Anybody who knows anything knows that there is never a recession in the D.C. area. Our tax dollars pour in and the damn government just keeps getting bigger. It's the way they like it. The bigger the government the more control they have over the rest of us.

Anyway, things are slower here than years previous, but staying steady-as-she-go's................

Moved to Indianapolis in March from IDAHO because everything has died there. Indy seems to be a bit better but we are not getting a very good return on our marketing dollars thus far in terms of leads generated. Mostly real small jobs 3-10k in lighting which is ok. I am sure a lot of it is we are new to the area and don't have a big referral base yet. Would like to network with landscapers around my area for a mutually beneficial relationship. Hoping things start picking up more though.

DVS Hardscaper
06-29-2009, 07:29 PM
[QUOTE=Mid-Ohio Scaper;3068598]Anybody who knows anything knows that there is never a recession in the D.C. area. Our tax dollars pour in and the damn government just keeps getting bigger. It's the way they like it. The bigger the government the more control they have over the rest of us.

Anyway, things are slower here than years previous, but staying steady-as-she-go's................[/QUOTE



LOL - not quite the case. The DC area definitely is affected by the recession! Very much so!

My point is that many towns across the country are nearly completely shut down as many of the folks work / or have worked for industries that are no longer in business.

Mid-Ohio Scaper
06-29-2009, 07:37 PM
[QUOTE=Mid-Ohio Scaper;3068598]Anybody who knows anything knows that there is never a recession in the D.C. area. Our tax dollars pour in and the damn government just keeps getting bigger. It's the way they like it. The bigger the government the more control they have over the rest of us.

Anyway, things are slower here than years previous, but staying steady-as-she-go's................[/QUOTE



LOL - not quite the case. The DC area definitely is affected by the recession! Very much so!

My point is that many towns across the country are nearly completely shut down as many of the folks work / or have worked for industries that are no longer in business.

Really? I would have put money on D.C. being recession proof.:confused: What with so many lawyers and politicians with large wallets and the government printing money when they need it.
I must be missing something..........

shovelracer
06-29-2009, 08:12 PM
If you've ever been to DC, and maybe DVS can correct me, for every lawyer and politician there is 100's of people just getting by or worse. Granted it's been years since I've been there, but it never struck me as a well to do area. Much like many urban areas. Of course the area mentioned is most likely the suburbs of, but still.

DVS Hardscaper
06-29-2009, 09:35 PM
If you've ever been to DC, and maybe DVS can correct me, for every lawyer and politician there is 100's of people just getting by or worse. Granted it's been years since I've been there, but it never struck me as a well to do area. Much like many urban areas. Of course the area mentioned is most likely the suburbs of, but still.


I have a friend who's mom works for a law firm in DC. About a year ago we had to go to her office to pick up a piece of furniture. We're talking a building that was about 5 stories high (DC has limits on how high a building can be built) took up probably 1/2 a block, and a roof top terrace. This firm has handled many national, high profile corporate cases that we all hear about on the evening news. Truely amazing!

We have a client that works for a big law firm that's on Pennsylvania Ave. He's been there 15 years. Over the winter he said he was worried that he may not have a job much longer. I said "why don't you have any cases?" He replied "we have plenty of cases, the problem is our client's aren't paying their bills".

Ha, I know of a guy that lives in Reading Pa, but has an interior decorating business in DC. His client base is all attorneys! He does the interior design at their offices, their residences, and at their weekend and beach homes! He lives quite comfortably.







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PlatinumLandCon
06-29-2009, 11:22 PM
Things are insane for me up here in Canada. I haven't felt anything from this bubble bursting, neither has my family. I've increased prices at least 10% and have been buying up new tools and a new (to me, '04) truck to keep up with demand for work. I've planned on employing 3 guys full time this summer, I'm now at 5. Booked for a good 6 weeks, if not more, with another 6 quoted awaiting a reply. If this is business in the bad times, I can't wait for the good years.

ford550
07-05-2009, 10:29 PM
After a sllllooooww start to March and early April, we have been cooking ever since. After we did our home show, billboards, direct mail etc., we have been steady. Our volume of calls is definitely down, but the quality of the lead is WAY up! Also, no more $100K+ jobs anymore. Mostly $20K-$35K jobs. Which is fine with me, the guys are happier too. Staying on a 2 month+ job is boring and quite honestly less profitable as the job is so big, many things usually go wrong. After reducing our OH and streamlining the employees, we are running lean and mean and actually making better PM's this year than in years past. We are 9 weeks out with work right now and I have a couple designs coming in every week.

With all that being said, I have talked to with many of my vendors and they say if it wasn't for me a maybe 2 other companies, they are would have nothing to do as no one else has work. So that leads me to believe that the natural "weeding" out is finally happening and in my opinion is exactly what this industry needed. Only the well positioned companies are going to make it IMO. Come September I think there will be a lot of auctions of companies and their equipment b/c they aren't going to make it.

I think the consumers are tired of the sh*t work that most of the companies out there provide. I have not had to negotiate price this year yet. And I know for a fact that I have been sometimes a couple thousand higher that other companies, but there "product" sucks.

Just my .02

Thebottomline
07-19-2009, 08:27 PM
DVS, how do you see the future playing out? How do you think business will be affected by a HUGE increase in taxes in the near future? If you are struggling this year, it seems like you might be in for a stinky surprise next year.

DVS Hardscaper
07-19-2009, 10:00 PM
I do not know anything about a tax increase. I've been hearing things here and there, but I don't have any facts about this.

Additional business expenses must always be passed on the the consumer.

If you can't make any money - then time to sell the equipment and become a paver sales rep.

I say that to be funny, but seriously, have you ever thought about this? A paver sales rep has so many contacts to the industry. they see so many different things and they see so many different brilliant ideas. You'd think they would take all they have seen and start one heck of a paver installation business. Yet....they don't. Have you ever thought about why this is? I have.




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kootoomootoo
07-19-2009, 10:31 PM
those guys who use words such as huge don't understand basic progressive taxation principles. but hey you and your friends stop now while the going is good.

Thebottomline
07-19-2009, 10:41 PM
Ws tax breaks will end in 2010. This will in effect be an increase. The national health insurance will also be funded by tax increases.

As far as paver reps... I have talked with some of these guys and managers of nurseries. They are missing one key ingredient that most business owners have... and that is guts!

Thebottomline
07-19-2009, 10:43 PM
those guys who use words such as huge don't understand basic progressive taxation principles. but hey you and your friends stop now while the going is good.

I don't know kooter, we might be better prepared for the coming financial disaster since we see it coming. You might have to move down here and get a job cleaning the shop for me when your expenses outweigh your take home.

Lite4
07-19-2009, 10:46 PM
those guys who use words such as huge don't understand basic progressive taxation principles. but hey you and your friends stop now while the going is good.

What you call "basic progressive taxation" simply means continued and increased government mandated theft. Ie.. cap and tax, ie.. health care reform; plans your emperor is trying to put in place for forced wealth redistribution from the hardworking, taxpaying Americans for the benefit of the lax and lazy and non taxpayers. I would say ob should take a class in basic economics but we both know what his agenda is with these new bills. He knows exactly what he is doing!!! Hang on to your wallets customers, your prices are about to go sky high!

DVS Hardscaper
07-19-2009, 10:54 PM
Ws tax breaks will end in 2010. This will in effect be an increase.

As far as paver reps... I have talked with some of these guys and managers of nurseries. They are missing one key ingredient that most business owners have... and that is guts!

Can you explain what the "Ws tax breaks" entail and whom they're for?

Ok, so because someone isn't a business owner you think they are missing "guts"?? Or could it be they're smart enough to know not to go down such a road? I'd bet you some paver sales reps and some nursery managers make more money per year than most contractors that participate in this thread. And have WAY less stress. And have WAY more family and personal time :)

Thebottomline
07-19-2009, 11:37 PM
Can you explain what the "Ws tax breaks" entail and whom they're for?

Ok, so because someone isn't a business owner you think they are missing "guts"?? Or could it be they're smart enough to know not to go down such a road? I'd bet you some paver sales reps and some nursery managers make more money per year than most contractors that participate in this thread. And have WAY less stress. And have WAY more family and personal time :)

The rates of federal income tax will go up a few percentage points in 2010.

I am just telling you what they have told me. It takes a certain amount of guts to step out on your own.

I think most landscape contractors don't make any money anyway. I am pretty close to the manager at the local supply store, and I could not believe the amount of companies that bounce checks or owe large sums of money.

The fact is though, it is very hard to build wealth being a paver rep or nursery manager. Getting W2'ed gets kind of nasty. And alot of times if you work for someone else, there is a ceiling to the amount of income you can bring in. There is NO ceiling if you are a business owner. Plus, I don't see to many w2 employees on the golf course during the week.

I agree with you on the stress level and family time. But then again, if you are a business owner, you control your destiny. Having a low stress level business and having family time is achievable. I am not saying it doesn't take alot of work to get there, but it is possible. Having a few hundred thousand in the bank, and all of your assets paid for would reduce your stress level wouldn't it? Having a manager to run your crews and secretary in the office to handle the phone calls would give you more time for your family right? When I am not in the situation I want to be, I find the problem is staring right back at me in the mirror!!