View Full Version : My Turn

Shaded Green
08-21-2009, 11:16 PM
I suppose this thread would be more fitting elsewhere, but I chose to post here because I'd like as many readers as possible. Sorry ahead of time for the length.

I quit my job today. I've been a crew leader for this guy for almost 4 seasons. I'm very good at what I do, I love my work, I show up early, I get along with all of his customers and employees, I train, I supervise, and I get upset when things don't go well. I'm a very good employee.

That being said, he has recently decided to deduct large amounts from his employees paychecks due to his incompetence as a business owner. I've been taken for almost $400 this year alone. This morning I'm told that the new hire shredded the wiring behind an air conditioning unit and since I was in charge, I would be charged half of the $250 that the customer is saying the repairs cost.

So I quit. I have no job, but I'll get one. I know the market is bad right now, but I'll find something. The $125 was the icing on the cake. I really believe he suffers from some form of dementia. In the end, there is only so much one can be expected to take.

Now I suppose I'll get to the reason for this thread.

Like I said, I'm very good at my job. I plan on doing it on my own starting next spring. I would have started long ago if it weren't for the new DUI laws. (I'm not looking for pity). Three beers and my own poor judgment led to my second DUI and a license suspension of 2 years.

I've finally got my vices under control, I've got the know how, I'm cut out for this. My major downfall is that I have no money. I partially support my mother and my income for the near future is most likely going to drop.

On the bright side, I do have potential investors. In fact, I'm asking a few of my previous employer's customers. There is a good chance they are going to need somebody to maintain their yard next year anyway. Some of them even know of my situation already. They aren't going to like that I'm gone.

I'm not looking for 100k, maybe 25-30. I'd like to build a functioning website, one ZTR, one walkbehind, trimmers, blowers, truck, a dump trailer, market my business, and be able to afford life until I get going, etc., etc., etc. Oh yeah, I don't need shiny new equipment, just stuff that works.

I really need help building a business plan in order to show my investors that I'm capable of doing this. I already know that I have my apartment complex next season. I know it might seem sleazy, but like I said, I'm also going to let a few select customers of my previous employer's know that I'm there when he falters. Which will happen.

To give you an example: My old boss turns down anything under $50. Last year, he raised 3 of our $45 lawns to $50 and they dropped us. It took two men 1/2 hr. to cut all three = $135/hr. His new favorite account pays $450 and it takes 3 of us almost 4 hrs. = $37.5/hr. Oh yeah...... the three used to let us do everything (we even built an $8,000 patio for one). The big one only lets us cut. I'm serious, he's really that bad. There is plenty of money to be made in my market segment.

I guess what I'm looking for is guidance. I know there are some real professionals on this site, and I'd love to pick your brains. I have written contracts, designed t-shirts, designed flyers, created a company logo, made an employee training manual, estimated all my start up costs, know exactly where to market my business, know as fact I can do it, and won't stop until I've succeeded. I know I need to focus my energy on more constructive things to build a business. I need both business and marketing plans.

Does anyone have a business plan they wouldn't mind letting me sample?

Sorry for the rambling........Thanks for making it to the end.

08-22-2009, 01:18 AM
So.. Can you still drive?

Other's business plan's won't help you out. If you just want a business plan to attract investors its not necessary. If people are going to give you money to start a lawn business there not smart enough to ask for a business plan. What kind of return are you expecting for these people?

Have a business plan to help yourself. You don't need a loan to start a lawn business.

Kutz Lawns
08-22-2009, 01:35 AM
Don't get your customers involed in your business and tell them your business plans, get started on your own, then approach them.

Speaking badly about your old boss is not going to help either, nobody likes a busy body!

You sound like you know exactly what you want to do but do it on your own, someone investing in your future company sounds like trouble to me!

I don't know what else to tell you man but I wouldn't go about doing what your doing!

Good Luck & I hope it works out for ya!

08-22-2009, 01:49 AM
First off the moderators will move your thread over to "Starting a Lawncare Business"

Secondly the investors sounds OK, as long as you will be paying them back. Do NOT give anyone a stake in your company.

Third: Leave your boss' clients alone that is underhanded to go back and stab him in the back by taking his customers. Someone will do it to one day. On the other hand if he dropped them and they are no longer his customer's I think it would be fine to call them up and let them know.

Fourth: I didn't see anything about advertising in your thread. You need to come up with a comprehensive advertising plan for this spring. You want to saturate the market for about 3 months.

Fifth: Start getting your bookkeeping stuff together NOW. Also get your licenses.

Sixth: Good luck. Hope this helps.

08-22-2009, 07:55 AM
When you get your check, if the deduction for the damage is enough to put your hourly rate below minimum wage then you may have a case to get back some of the money. Also you may have a case for unemployement. While you did quit, it could be said that he forced you to quit, or chased you away. Get with a lawyer.

08-22-2009, 10:28 AM
When you get your check, if the deduction for the damage is enough to put your hourly rate below minimum wage then you may have a case to get back some of the money. Also you may have a case for unemployment. While you did quit, it could be said that he forced you to quit, or chased you away. Get with a lawyer.

Yes, yes and yes. He can not deduct any money from his employee's like you say he's doing. Get a lawyer and go see the labor board in your area. Believe it or not, you can FORCE him to give you your job back and pay restitution on the withholding's if you can prove he pushed you away by making you pay for damages you did not inflict.

08-22-2009, 10:55 AM
I'll tell this story that is a little different. I worked at a local auto shop. We got a base pay of 18hrs a week if we showed up everyday (5 days). I know it's not much but at the same time, I would always make more hours in flat rate each week. This is the kicker, if you miss a day they would deduct 8hrs from your base pay! So if you didn't make base and missed a day, you'd obly get 10hrs pay for the 4 days you spent there. That didn't bother me much since I always made about double the base in hrs. I had made plans to take off one Saturday and told the shop manager and he agreed to let me off. Come Friday, I had over 40hrs flat rate in 4 days. Not a bad week really. The following week I get my paycheck and it's short by 8hrs! I was like WTF! I immediately go to the shop manager and confront him. He tells me something isn't right, wait until the owner gets in and talk with him. He gets there and tells me I missed a day of work. I told him it was approved and that I had more then doubled my base. He says there's nothing he can do. At that point, I got on the computer and looked up the labor laws, printed them out on HIS printer and dropped them in front of him on the deck. I told him either he has a check for the difference tomorrow or I'll have a lawyer contact you, your choice. I had a check the next day and he couldn't fire me for doing so.

Jay Ray
08-22-2009, 11:31 AM
Glad you were able to prevail and keep your job. But if you go to war against your employer, you may win a battle or even some consecutive battles. But if the employer wants you gone, they can always find a way.

08-22-2009, 02:35 PM
I didn't last long. Found another job a month later and left the place.

Shaded Green
08-22-2009, 06:31 PM
Yes....... I have my license again.

I don't plan on copying anyone's business plan. I'd just like some pointers.
IE: How do I estimate my potential client list.

Sorry if I seemed to badmouth my previous boss. He's actually a very nice guy. However, his business is failing and he's begun taking it out on employees.

As far as stealing his accounts, my Mother taught me better than that. I'm simply going to notify his customers that if he messes up (which I'm betting he will) I'll gladly take over maintenance on their property.

I won't report him to any authorities either. I've been working under the table, and so are all the guys who still work for him.

Asking his clients if they would like to invest in me doesn't feel wrong. The ones I'd ask know me fairly well.

Please keep the input coming guys. Thanks for any help.

08-22-2009, 06:38 PM
Don't have anyone invest in a lawn care business. There is very little return for the investor's money. You don't need to start out as big as you would like. Start small and work your way up. Go get yourself a nice 21" mower, trimmer and blower and start there. Build up some money and then upgrade your mower to a 32 or 36 wb. For under $1000 you can get all the basic equipment you need to start a business. It obviously wouldn't be "flashy" but it would get the job done. Also, don't do a website yet, they can get really expensive which is an expense you don't need in your first year. If you want to have a website, do that in your second year assuming that you are doing well.

Shaded Green
08-22-2009, 06:45 PM
There are some things I'd like to do that I could probably do without. With that I agree.

That being said, the market segment that I feel I need to target would be impossible to service without a commercial mower.

OK..... I finance a mower and a truck.

Now, how do I buy a trimmer, blower, trailer, string, fuel and every other thing involved? Then how do I pay for advertising to get customers? We're talking at least 2-3k.

White Gardens
08-22-2009, 08:30 PM
One thing is that if you still get the business from the people that want to invest in your business, then you'll make your money back faster and better.

If you've got these clients lined up, then try to have one or two of them pay up-front on contract for the season. This would help get you started without the input from an outside investor.

Only problem is that you would also need to find more accounts to pay for the day-to day operations.

Who needs a truck ?? Put a hitch on a car, and a trailer big enough to haul a Quick 36.

Start small, dream big.

Shaded Green
08-22-2009, 08:56 PM
Well........ I can't get anyone to pay up front. They are still my old bosses' clients.

I'm saying that they will eventually be mine. Even if he does manage to stay in business, he's an older guy.

I'm trying to write a business plan right now from the few examples I can find online. I just don't understand how to come up with profit margins, break even points, costs, gross profit, or any of that when I've got only my apartment complex which is $450/month. It's a small place. My price is actually high.

I do plan on advertising by going, myself, door to door with the flyers I've designed, but haven't purchased.

How do I know, or guess, how many people will sign up and how much they are paying?

08-22-2009, 11:54 PM
I'm not trying to offend you or assume anything about you, but this is where college can be a good thing. Taking a few basic accounting and tax classes would answer these basic questions. The formulas that you want to know are all online. You can also buy a used accounting book for probably 5 bucks on amazon. I think I have one in my room you can have for 5 bucks plus shipping.

The break even formula is fixed costs divided by your contribution margin. E.X you spend $20,000 on equipment and advertising. You figure out you use 3 dollars per lawn for gas, string trimmer line, depreciation on mower, blower, trimmer. Lets say you mow lawns for $30 a peice. $30-$3 is $27. $27 is your contribution margin.

20,000/27= 740 lawns you have to mow to break even.

Now, you can take this formula and get more creative with it. Lets say you want to have a profit of $40,000. Take 40k plus 20k divided by your contribution margin.

60,000/27=2,222 lawns you have to mow in a year.

08-22-2009, 11:58 PM
I think that formula is one of the best accounting formulas. You can factor in some tax and everyhing with it. If you find all your numbers to put into it such as resale value of equipment, life span of equipment and how much it costs you to obtain a customer, you could become a wealthy lawn guy.

The hardest part of all this is having accurate numbers. Its hard to estimate these things.

Remember, "Garbage in, is garbage out"--Keep that in mind for when you use your excel spread sheet.

Shaded Green
08-23-2009, 12:25 AM
Remember, "Garbage in, is garbage out"--Keep that in mind for when you use your excel spread sheet.


No offense taken at all. I am, however, presenting my business plan to two people with their MBA's from Wharton. And I'm actually a part-time 30 year old junior with a 3.6 G.P.A. majoring in Business Administration.

I have never written a business plan and I really think I should nail it in order to provide myself with a realistic opportunity to do this. I sincerely Thank you for your help.

I'm scrambling around in my own mind. I finally found a good example online. I'm not copying it by any means. I'm finding myself amazed at how much I already know, but didn't know how format it. I've got so many different things and ideas running through my head. I think I just need a little guidance.