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tthomass
07-12-2010, 03:45 AM
Those of you that own your own business.....do you keep track of your hours? Here is is 2:40am on Monday and I'm just wrapping up a late day. Today is not the norm for a Sunday night but it is for a weekday.

I typically log 17hrs+ per day to the company Monday-Friday and another 8+ on Saturday/Sunday (conservatively). I no longer can even remember getting off work at 5pm, nor what its like to have time to do anything. This is what it takes for me to be where I am and fortunately I've already begun my withdrawal from field work. Problem is I've gone from one to three crews this year and portions still require me in the field.

101 hrs+ per week.

PaperCutter
07-12-2010, 08:24 AM
I used to track my hours. I found I was more efficient and productive when I did, but spring was nuts- time tracking became one more thing to do and I blew it off. I feel you on the hours though. I'm having an outpatient surgical procedure done Friday and I'm not thrilled at losing half a day.

4Russl5
07-12-2010, 10:09 AM
And our employees wonder why we might not be all warm and happy to see them each morning.... They get a steady check with no stress, consistent hours. We get a 60 to ? hour long work week with the posibilty of having to write a check to keep working.

I don't track hours anymore. When it is billable time for a project yes. I do like a little more balance in my life though. We work 4 tens, and that gives me Fridays to chill and be in the office or meeting with potential clients.

DVS Hardscaper
07-12-2010, 05:23 PM
I dont track my hrs. I work from the time i get out of bed till I get back in bed and close my eyes. I sleep about 5-6 hrs a night. Thats 18-19 hrs / day.

This is where you stop and do some soul searching and some DEEP thinking about life.

This has been on my mind since last October.


And wanna hear somethin funny? On AOL they have news and articles that pop up when you first log on. YESTERDAY they had an article about an attorney. He was a young, rookie attorney. He had won some decent profile cases. Got an innocent man out of prison. He was making $120,000 / year. Working about 80 hrs a week. The article stated that basially equated to him making $40 / hour. Just like contractors - attorneys have billable and non-billable hours. Long story short, he left practicing law and got a job at a university as a law professor. With structured hours and having time to enjoy life.

You take your hours you work and divide that into what you make a year, and I bet what you make less per hour than a server at a busy restaurant.

It takes long hours to build a new or fairly new business. If you do not have a plan for the business that at some point entails a way to eventually balance your personal life with your business life - you need to stop and ask if it's really worth it. For us contractors to work such hours is fine and dandy.........until kids come into the picture. It's fine and dandy..........until you meet someone you fall in love with, and after 2 years of you only having Friday nights and Sunday mornings to spend time with that person - that person gets feit up and the relationship becomes strained.

We have alotta clients that are experts in construction yet they only work 40 hrs a week, and make tripple digits and great benefits. All thanks to the DC area being home to so many facits of the federal gov't...........




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shovelracer
07-12-2010, 09:50 PM
They get a steady check with no stress, consistent hours.

I bailed out early one friday last year to go to the shore with my wife and it forever changed how one of my workers views me. He has basically implied on several occasions that he thinks as soon as he leaves on friday some magical party starts where I have caviar fed to me on gold platters, while being fanned by banana leaves, and swimming in hundred dollar bills. Nothing is farther from the truth. Banana leaves are hard to find around here. I have tried to explain to him many times that while he is home watching the world cup I am spending my weekend meeting clients or gathering materials for the next week. They never get it. Also it is good to know your hours to an extent, but dont calculate your wage because you might find you make less than your workers some weeks.

P.Services
07-12-2010, 10:19 PM
I'm in the same boat with you guys, I havnt worked less then 100 hours in a week as long as I can remember. Gets old,real old. Its made me think about going to work for a company like davey or brickman. Become a manager and pull 100k easy. Limited stress,health benefits, shorter week. Makes me think about it while I'm still young. No more broken equipment freak outs to!
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DVS Hardscaper
07-12-2010, 11:14 PM
Other career possibilities will be market dependent.

Take a larger metropolitian area and working for another landscape company as a manager and pulling $75-$100K is very much a very strong possibility.

Take a smaller market full of mom and pop operators and where the biggest landscape / hardscape company is a 4 crew company - and a manager would probably get $45k-$50k per year.

Just to be able to come home in the evenings and be able to sit out on the front porch and enjoy the sunset would be a treat for me.

Also, And I have mentioned this is the past - I know someone that is a manager for a large trucking company. A few weeks ago I iwent to his office. In the parking lot was a brand new Cadillac. I said "who's caddie is that?" He responded "One of the drivers. Our drivers make around $80K per year". They work (5) 10 hr days and they're home every night. Driving a truck - no one looking over your shoulder. No customers to pretend you like. No employees breakin your stuff up. Makes you think.......


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tthomass
07-13-2010, 01:07 AM
I don't mind the hours, I'm single too. The "x" used to say things along the lines of "you're the boss, you can do what you want".......hahaha, that's cute.

I pull the hours for several reasons. For one, there are 7 people that depend on a paycheck from me and some of them have families making that more than 7 people in some fashion dependent upon my efforts. Now, the good news is the business is growing to the point I've begun hiring others to do some of my "stuff" in an effort to reduce my work load. I'm certainly paying my dues, as many of you are, but soon it will finally pay off. It's a great thing to see something grow.

I do look at this business as a stepping stone but to what I don't know exactly.

DVS Hardscaper
07-13-2010, 08:05 AM
If I have 5 employees and they have kids - I usually say something like "I have 12 mouths to feed".

As you get older you get wiser. As you get wiser you start to think "I'm sacrificing quality of life for others"............




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AzLawnMan
07-13-2010, 08:33 PM
If I have 5 employees and they have kids - I usually say something like "I have 12 mouths to feed".

As you get older you get wiser. As you get wiser you start to think "I'm sacrificing quality of life for others"............,

My thoughts exactly. I am actually sitting on the beach right now in my rented beach house for the week. I told my employees I wasnt going to be in this week and if they thought they could hold the "fort" down while im gone. They actually were happy that I was leaving, they said they will finally get a vacation from me! Anyways, trust your employees and you will live alot easier. If you are hands on with everything that involves your company you will have those long hours. I am at the shop by 530am and home by 3pm most days. My main forman usually locks the shop up and fills me in on any problems over the phone on his way home. I just talked to him and he was taking down a 30ft palm and scheduled an appointment to get the dump truck serviced in the morning, and was emailing me info to bid an install and 3 apartment complexes. Trust is what employees want, give it to them and it will pay you back 10 fold. If thay cant handle it, then your stuck. If an employee ever talks to me about my money or how much he thinks I make, I make it very clear that is not accetable, and next time he will be fired. Works every time. You are the boss and they work for you. Two way street, they have a job and you make a living.

P.L.
07-13-2010, 08:37 PM
It's nice to know I'm not the only one who feels this way. After 8 years in buisness it never seems to get any easier. I just had a $16 dollar an hour laborer quit because he said could not handle how hard we work and he could not handle my mood swings. Little did he know he was the cause of both problems. I had to work twice as hard because I paid him to much to do to little and I would get pissed off because of it. The part of the job that kills me the most is going home after 10-12 hours min of work in the field and sitting on the computer doing paperwork, espeically estimates. If I had a good job offer I would take it in a second.

P.Services
07-13-2010, 08:57 PM
The big guns are always hiring. Davey,valleycrest,brickman,trugreen
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DVS Hardscaper
07-13-2010, 09:28 PM
Scott Brickman just bought into a National hockey team. Washington Capitals.


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4Russl5
07-13-2010, 09:45 PM
The big guns are always hiring. Davey,valleycrest,brickman,trugreen
Posted via Mobile Device Yeah I really doubt anyone of us business owners could bear to close shop and drive around in another companies truck. It might be the best thing to ever happen to me, or, it might break my spirit. I am sticking with the big work days. Paper work time for me after a day in the field with the boys!

AzLawnMan
07-14-2010, 03:22 PM
During the stressfull time of trying to get 100 properties over-seeded in September or trying to finish 2 or more installs, I promise I never think about working for someone else. I make 4 times what my head Forman makes and he does alot of the work I used to do. Gotta take the good with the bad. I have never worked for anyone other than my dad and now myself, I am very lucky and my situation is somewhat rare. Our industry will boom again and all we have to do when it does is answer the phone and collect the check.
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oakwdman
07-14-2010, 04:24 PM
I'm doing the same. I go to school full time 3 hours away from home and my freshman year (now going into my sophmore yr)I came home every weekend, worked friday nights, and 7am-10pm on sat/sun, then woke up at 415 to drive back to school in time for my first class on monday. That got old, quick. This fall I'm done with my own show. Selling it all, buying myself my dream truck and working towards landing internships with the likes of davey, brickman, valley crest etc. I want structured hours, a steady paycheck and a clear mind the second I sit in my truck to go home, no more clients calling at 8pm, or equipment breakdowns. I wanna work to live, not live to work.

OutdoorCreations
07-14-2010, 05:23 PM
About 50% of the time it totally sucks, about 40% of the time it is normal and the remaining 10% is fun and enjoyable.
Sometimes I feel like I should just be working for a large company with a steady structured enviroment.

P.Services
07-14-2010, 06:11 PM
The thing is though, if you have a little schooling and a strong will you can be making 100k-150k a year worKing for the big guys. I bet there are few and far between that own a biz and still pull 150k out a year for themself. That's not how we do it, we dump it all back into the biz to keep it growing and your life suffers because of it. We try to live on a shoe string budget so the biz can stay fat. I would love to drive a nice caddy, live on the lake and have a sweet boat, go on vacations offend but there's no way I'm going to pull that kind of cash out of my biz. I bet 90 percent of the guys on this site don't turn a profit of 150k anyways.
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shovelracer
07-14-2010, 06:45 PM
I'm pretty sure the money everyone thinks is at the big boys comes at a price. Highly unlikely that is comes from working 9-5 M-F. Probably more like doing everything you do now, except you have some suit telling you how to do your job from 500 miles away. I'd consider a change of work if it was right and meant a better quality of life, but I would not leave what I have built for being miserable with 100K and having to be away from my family all the time. I am home 360 nights a year and that has a value to it also.

AzLawnMan
07-14-2010, 08:08 PM
I'm pretty sure the money everyone thinks is at the big boys comes at a price. Highly unlikely that is comes from working 9-5 M-F. Probably more like doing everything you do now, except you have some suit telling you how to do your job from 500 miles away. I'd consider a change of work if it was right and meant a better quality of life, but I would not leave what I have built for being miserable with 100K and having to be away from my family all the time. I am home 360 nights a year and that has a value to it also.

After I bought the company from my dad, he got bored after about a year and started working for AAA Landscaping in Arizona. He said it was a very well ran company, the whole company were all pro's. Except if they didnt educate you then it doesnt matter what knowledge you have. He is certified in all fields, college and he ran a company for half his life and they said they would start him off at $40k a year until he gets educated. Well he left that job and went to Valley Crest and they offered him $90k a year to run the entire state of AZ! He then interviewed with another big local company and he was offered $100k, but still had to basically run the company from day to day. He just didnt see the benifit of making someone else rich. He was making well over $300k a year doing his own thing, he passed all those jobs up and now works for me part time. Like I said, if they didnt teach it too you, then you dont know crap. He rolls in on tuesdays and fridays and tells me how bad of a boss I am and how crappy my equipment looks!! Gotta love the guy.

zedosix
07-14-2010, 09:50 PM
All my waking hours are dedicated to working my business and enjoying life, for me work is enjoyment. Wether its building a rock wall or cutting my lawns I love it. I would never trade my life for anyone elses that I know. I mean what else do you want to do, spend time watching tv. No

AzLawnMan
07-14-2010, 10:22 PM
All my waking hours are dedicated to working my business and enjoying life, for me work is enjoyment. Wether its building a rock wall or cutting my lawns I love it. I would never trade my life for anyone elses that I know. I mean what else do you want to do, spend time watching tv. No

Well said. I work to take my family on nice vacations and to afford the things that I do.
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DVS Hardscaper
07-14-2010, 10:34 PM
I think we all love to work. That's kinda a required attribute to be self employed.

I think we all work for vacations, family, dinners out, etc.

But reality is, and only you can answer this - is all those hours, and all the stress worth it? Think about it - we all have successful clients. I know many of my successful clients work as employees to companies and are not doing anything that I could not do happily - and they have 1/2 the stress :)

Moneypit
07-14-2010, 11:30 PM
But reality is, and only you can answer this - is all those hours, and all the stress worth it? Think about it - we all have successful clients. I know many of my successful clients work as employees to companies and are not doing anything that I could not do happily - and they have 1/2 the stress :)

Not to mention they will be able to stand up straight at the age of 50.
I don't know about you guys, but I'm 32 now and I'm starting to worry about my physical future.

DVS Hardscaper
07-15-2010, 12:44 AM
I've heard paver guys do have knee problems. I have knee problems, but I also used to be an avid runner, which is definitely not good for the knees.

Those stand on Velkes will destroy knees also. All that bouncing all day long.

Then we have the sun and skin cancer to contend with!

I think maybe I'll become a nurse..............




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AzLawnMan
07-15-2010, 01:01 AM
Ha! My wife is a nurse and brings home a pretty penny, oh and she gets 4 days off a week. Listen, if the economy was booming and clients were paying what we needed them to pay, none of us would want to do anything else. I remember getting 20 calls a day and only looking at 3 maybe 4 and getting them all. In this slow economy, my buisness will be up 25% this year from last, and it is dead slow. I am on vacation now and the only calls I'm getting are off of current customers looking for extras, no new work. But I am pretty happy knowing I am getting by very well.
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patriotlawn375
07-15-2010, 02:16 AM
Down here, where litterally everyone is one big happy family, everyday there is someone new soliciting for business. I spend a lot of time just fixing the bad jobs that others have tried to do. Now i'm no expert but I do hold myself and my work to a personal standard that i feel is above a lot of other locals. Same with you guys of course. So it's not uncommon to work those LONG days to make sure it is right and the customer is happy.

But i would question if the guys who say they would be happy having a "less stressful corporate" job could really handle it. I mean no disrespect but at one time i became so tired of the life of long hours that i decided i'd hang up my hat and goto work for someone else. On top of that i was working for the state, and i promise all that BS about "4 guys standing around watching 1 guy work" is as true as can be. I won't sugar coat it, i had an easy as sh*t job, hell i ended up doing my work b/c i was used to hammering it out and then played on the damn computer the rest of the day. So i honestly can say i had the "perfect job". and after 5 months of what most americans would call a retirement position, i couldn't stand it anymore. I thought i was going to lose my mind having to go to meetings and listen to a bunch of whiny paper pushers all day long that were complaining about the heat while wearing slacks and a polo.

So think hard before you dive off into that world, b/c as the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

zedosix
07-15-2010, 06:37 AM
I grew up on a farm and working hard is instilled in my blood, so doing anything else but working (physically) is out of the question. Long hours, I need more hours to do what I want to do. I just feel sorry for the youth today, actually I feel sorry for the people having to depend on the youth today.

tthomass
07-17-2010, 05:25 PM
I grew up on a farm and working hard is instilled in my blood, so doing anything else but working (physically) is out of the question. Long hours, I need more hours to do what I want to do. I just feel sorry for the youth today, actually I feel sorry for the people having to depend on the youth today.

Good 'ol farm boy, me too.

My hours were about to reduce but I just signed my biggest contract. The thing is I did the other stone work on the property and I'm required to be on site to ensure masonry style matches. I'm much better with this particular stone vs my guys.

I have no problem giving guys responsibility. The question is can they handle the responsibility that you need them to take on. My main guy is very close to going on his own and current patio is his test run......but then I fired his helper so now I'm on the site until I get a replacement.

I also believe we as owners need to mix in some non-work activities. I'm going to consume current backlog prior to breaking ground on the big job and we'll all go to King's Dominion amusement park. This will do a lot for moral and clear heads/attitudes (not really an issue)......relax a little.

Hope you guys are having a good season, ours has been great and we're really looking forward to something special next year.

treemover
07-19-2010, 11:23 PM
I came from a farm background as well and never had a boss other than my dad. Been doing this for 12 years now and always get the should i jump ship feeling during the busy times or when I am chasing payments. My thoughts on this(and my wifes, she is an HR manager in the business world) grass isnt always greener on the other side. You cant tell me a lot of people envy us for working for ourselves. I believe the "the other side" has the stress as well, worry about bosses, layoffs, job stability, and general work place drama. So all in all I guess we all have a good thing going....I guess. good luck to all:drinkup:

DVS Hardscaper
07-20-2010, 07:56 PM
I'm not a big believer in the "grass isn't always greener......." line.

Everything in life is what you make of it.

Operating a small biz is an enormous responisbility. And lets go one step further - EMPLOYEES! Managing employees.....whether they're your employees or you work for a company and you're a manager.......is a huge responsibility.

Most of us started out as 1 or 2 man operations. How simple life is at this stage! Kinda like in the 70's when most people had cars with no air conditioning! Kinda like in the 70's and 80's when you'd go on a family vacation in the car and you'd actualy look out the window at the new scenery! Whereas today - you have a DVD player in the car and little junior has his eyes peeled to the screen the entire time, missing the Statue of Liberty as you pass through NYC.

Next thing you know you're adding employees. Just like cars are adding computers - things start to get more complex.

And with that comes the need to push and work harder to generate sales on a steady basis.

Before you know it you have a handful of employees. You have a payroll and payroll taxes to manage every week.

Your number one client refers you to their best friend. The best friend turns out to be a nightmare client. But because your long time beloved client referred you - you gotta keep on truckin and not let your long term client down.

Next thing you know is employee Raul is complaining that employee Edgardo is not pulling his weight. Raul is threatening to quit if you dont do something about Edgardo. But you cant just fire Edgardo because you first must make sure Raul's claims are true and that Raul is not acting out of spite because he has his own issues with Edgardo.

Employee Arturo is accusing you of shorting him on his hours. When the hours are calculated by the minute and there is no way they can be inaccurate. Yet Arturo shows up for work late and neglects to write on his time sheet that he started at 7:12 instead of 7:00.

While all this is going on someone vandalized your equipment and you gotta get written quotes for parts replacement for the insurance company!

Sometimes things we do in life are nothin other than stepping stones for bigger and better things. Many self employed people, especially in the green industry are VERY head strong. They fail to see the reality of life. You can run a successful company. You can have the most content clients on earth. And you never know when a door to something better may open.

Again, I'm not a believer in the "grass is greener" line. I'm a believer passion, common sense, a believer in methodical thinking, as well as positive thinking :) Your career as a landscaper may very well have opened your eyes to something else........

Owning a biz has it's rewards. You meet some incredible people. You have clients that you end up being best friends with and even go on vacations with them. We did a small walkway for a couple in the're late 30's, they were so excited that they were finally getting that walkway, and so appreciative of all the hardwork we did. And thats what makes you wanna keep going.

On the other hand, potty training your 2 yr old is priceless. Taking those training wheels off his bike and letting go of the back of the seat for the 1st time, and seeing the look on his face when he realizes he just rode a two wheeler on his own.....is even more incredible.......



Just a little insite on the reality of owning a small biz :)


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tturbonegro
07-24-2010, 10:13 PM
Tooo many !!!!

fishscaper
07-25-2010, 01:11 PM
I'm a Account Manager for one of the "Big 3" national companies. Let me tell you that the grass definitely is not always greener on the other side. We tend to work just as many hours, have all the employee isues and believe me when I say we aren't getting rich doing it either.

Of course having the steady paycheck is great. But that comes at the cost of constantly being tracked and monitered by big brother. You have to justify everything to HQ and have many, many people to report to.

What is the solution to working less hours? Is it to move to a more rural and inexpensive area? If you make $60,000 where I live it won't get you anywhere. If you could made 2/3 of that living somewhere that a nice house cost $235,000 then you might not have to work so many hours. Is there a solution to leading a more balanced life?

fishscaper
07-25-2010, 01:14 PM
By the way, my profile says I live in upstate NY. I do not. This profile was made years ago when I was going to school and I no longer live there.