PDA

View Full Version : Likely my last season. I believe I'm getting out.


BadRancher
10-04-2010, 10:51 PM
I believe this will be my last year in the biz. Overall it was a great year, but I ran across many problems (mostly truck). I was just hell making sure all customers were taken care of. I lost several customers due to these problems. I hate to give up, but I can't handle another year of this. Both my vehicles were down, problem after problem. A new vehicle is not the answer for me. This is my part time job, I hate to let it go and I am not 100% sure yet.

Anyways I was wondering if you guys could help me value my equipment I have in my sig. The Metro is about 1.5 years old, the Turftracer is a year old. The handhelds except for pole saw and chain saw are 1.5- 2years old. The pole saw and Chain saw are about a year old with very little use.

Thanks in advance!

rain man
10-04-2010, 11:03 PM
Not much help in the value-ing department but hate to hear about the run of bad luck.

BadRancher
10-04-2010, 11:07 PM
Not much help in the value-ing department but hate to hear about the run of bad luck.

Yea, It sucks. I just seems like everything that could possibly happen, happened. I went through my two trucks, then a loaner truck that also tore up on me. I was like something is yelling at me "GET OUT"!

MS_SURVEYOR
10-04-2010, 11:15 PM
BadRancher best of Luck to you my friend. I also lost a truck this year. Sure made life hard. But I did have the money for a replacement set aside. My business is also down. I'm lucky to have some work now. But that is passing by soon. One must look toward the future for answers. This life is not easy.

Thank You BadRancher For Being There When I Called. I'll pass your info around. Sure hope I can help.

MS

BadRancher
10-04-2010, 11:16 PM
BadRancher best of Luck to you my friend. I also lost a truck this year. Sure made life hard. But I did have the money for a replacement set aside. My business is also down. I'm lucky to have some work now. But that is passing by soon. One must look toward the future for answers. This life is not easy.

Thank You BadRancher For Being There When I Called. I'll pass your info around. Sure hope I can help.

MS

Thanks man. I appreciate it.

Southern Pride
10-05-2010, 12:19 AM
I hear you. I had to do an engine AND tranny in my truck before I could even think of starting my business...(P I T A) interested in that turf tracer and any blowers you have, especially redmax.

scagrider22
10-05-2010, 12:21 AM
I know you said a new truck is not an option but a new truck is cheaper than fixing an old one, either way you look at it you have a truck payment so it might as well be on a new truck. And it will give you many more years of reliability.

LawnTamer
10-05-2010, 12:47 AM
I believe this will be my last year in the biz. Overall it was a great year, but I ran across many problems (mostly truck). I was just hell making sure all customers were taken care of. I lost several customers due to these problems. I hate to give up, but I can't handle another year of this. Both my vehicles were down, problem after problem. A new vehicle is not the answer for me. This is my part time job, I hate to let it go and I am not 100% sure yet.

Anyways I was wondering if you guys could help me value my equipment I have in my sig. The Metro is about 1.5 years old, the Turftracer is a year old. The handhelds except for pole saw and chain saw are 1.5- 2years old. The pole saw and Chain saw are about a year old with very little use.

Thanks in advance!

Pics would help us to give you a better ballpark on value. I can tell you, you will lose a load of $$$$$ on most of that stuff, the worst depreciation is in the first year or two. You may be able to minimize the loss a bit by selling the whole gig, equipments and accounts together.

soloscaperman
10-05-2010, 01:05 AM
What kind of truck are you having problems with?

BadRancher
10-05-2010, 01:06 AM
I know you said a new truck is not an option but a new truck is cheaper than fixing an old one, either way you look at it you have a truck payment so it might as well be on a new truck. And it will give you many more years of reliability.

Not really if you think about it. 50,000 miles on a 1/2 ton pulling a loaded heavy duty trailor around all the time is the equivalent of putting on 75000-100000 on an everyday driver. You wear them out too fast to keep around after they are paid for. I prefer the older paid for trucks. But I do see your point. A 3/4 ton is too far out of my range and thats what I have already.

BadRancher
10-05-2010, 01:08 AM
What kind of truck are you having problems with?

A GMC D-max and a 90 Chevy 2500 gasser..... Plus the 02 Nissan Frontier loaner I screwed up.


I feel like the French*trucewhiteflag*

MR-G
10-05-2010, 01:13 AM
I know you said a new truck is not an option but a new truck is cheaper than fixing an old one, either way you look at it you have a truck payment so it might as well be on a new truck. And it will give you many more years of reliability.Its even cheaper to do a complete overhaul...we have done 2 of our 3 trucks and i tell you when they are done they are almost all new....cost can be as high as 10k....but still 10k less than new....hard to finance though...almost have to pay cash.:usflag:

TheC-Master
10-05-2010, 05:26 AM
Sometimes new is cheaper than crazy fixes (I learned that last year when I went through three trucks) and it is hell of tough, but I am thankful for what I went through and grew from. Sad to see you leave though. I myself would buy a gently used one with (25k or less miles) the cost isn't always in the price of directly fixing it, it is in what you lose in time. Time is your most valuable asset of all.

4 seasons lawn&land
10-05-2010, 08:32 AM
raise your prices! Make it worth your while. Make it worth looking at a new truck, at least newer truck. Make it worth dealing with the people. Weed out the cheapos.

And also downsize if its not worth trying to keep up with everything or finding help.

Jpocket
10-05-2010, 08:54 AM
A GMC D-max and a 90 Chevy 2500 gasser..... Plus the 02 Nissan Frontier loaner I screwed up.


I feel like the French*trucewhiteflag*

Your doing something wrong. Unless you bought these trucks in rough shape, a GMC D-max and a 90 2500 are more than enough iron to run a parttime lawnservice. My crew and i used to take care of 130 lawns a week, and i pulled the trailer mainly with my 1985 GMC 2500. Honestly your just doing it wrong.

You ever think of selling the 90 2500 to fix whatever is wrong the DMAX? or sell the DMAX to fix the 90 2500, and bank the rest of the money.

coolluv
10-05-2010, 10:00 AM
raise your prices! Make it worth your while. Make it worth looking at a new truck, at least newer truck. Make it worth dealing with the people. Weed out the cheapos.

And also downsize if its not worth trying to keep up with everything or finding help.

I don't know his situation but raising prices is all well and good if you can raise prices. The problem is most don't know what it is costing them to operate. You see it all the time in this business. This is a prime example. http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=330682

My area is flooded with new guys, I had to lower prices to get work just to have work, I still get out bid for jobs. Sure you can raise prices and sit home on your butt, but where does that get you. Not every ones market is the same, I know my area is getting worse every year. You finally reach the point where you can no longer float the business because rising cost are larger than what you are making. Most don't realize this until everything starts to fall apart and maintenance cost take what little money you are making. As long as more and more people enter this market with little to no experience in running a business, and with the Walmart mentality thinking they will conquer the lawn business, with no idea what they are making, raising prices is out of the question.

But hey, as long as you are cashing checks or sticking that cash in your pocket your doing OK, right. So many guys stumble upon this site and believe its the easy answer to being laid off or working for themselves, well it's not. I say this all the time, don't believe what kids and part timers are saying on here, its not the easy money everyone thinks it is. If you have little to no financial responsibilities and you want to play business man then great. If you have a family and a house and a truck payment and everything else that goes with keeping a roof over your head, then you might want to reconsider this as your avenue for financial security.

With the influx of illegals in this country that have started their own illegal businesses, that are willing to work and are able to work for next to nothing because they can. When you live 12 or more to a house and split the expenses you can afford to work for next to nothing. Not to mention all of the laid off construction workers and factory workers and every other Tom, Dick and Harry out there that either don't know or don't care to figure out what it actually cost to run a business, then prices will continue to drop. Others will say then go high end, well high end people are looking for the cheapest they can find also. HOA's are not enforcing covenants that require fresh mulch and pine straw. Why because they know most can't afford it right now. Most subdivisions, even the upper scale subdivisions look like crap. Landscaping full of weeds and overgrown, nasty old pine straw that hasn't been replaced since last year or the year before.

Faded mulch in the same condition, when people are forced to cut back the last thing on their mind is replacing pine straw and mulch, and if the HOA lets it go then what is the motivation. I know I lost some customers that were high end clients that one of them, either the husband or wife lost their jobs and haven't worked in at least a year and some that have been out of work for 2 years or more. Sure they don't want to cut the lawn, but now it comes down to making ends meet. People moving to find work, more people renting than owning so they don't care what the property looks like, and try getting paid for your work from these people. This is the first year I have been stiffed by customers.

The economy is not getting any better and the more bull that gets thrown around on this site and others like it, the more fools that will enter the market thinking this is the way to there dreams, only to figure it out later on. Some sooner than others. Ask yourself this, do you have thousands of dollars to invest in equipment? Do you have thousands of dollars to invest in advertising? Can you live on next to nothing for a few years? Can you meet all of your financial obligations while you dump more and more money into your business? Will your wife wait for you to finally make it? If you make it at all.

Do you have the money to risk? In other words are you willing and able to afford to lose the money you will spend on this business. Sure you can sell your equipment later on if it doesn't work out, but don't expect to get much for it. Throwing out some door hangers and some fliers in the spring is not going to get you the work you think it will. Unlike what you read on here. You have to have fliers, website, business cards, on going marketing that is not cheap. Do you have thousands of dollars to put into just marketing? Not a one time deal in the spring but an on going plan for the whole year. Sure the companies that are making it in this are the ones that are diversified and do much more than mow and blow, and they have all the expensive equipment that goes with it, not to mention the advertising bills that would boggle some of your minds.

Some of these companies spend $10,000 or more just in the spring alone, not to mention $2000 or more a month on advertising. Then you come on here and see these guys making money and think hey I can do that too. Believe me the only ones that are making money are the ones that are spending money and are doing much more than cutting grass and trimming hedges and putting down pine straw and mulch. The more services you offer the more equipment you need, this business will eat you up in equipment alone. Don't listen to little Johnny doing this as a side gig, or the retired guy doing this as a side gig to pay for his toys and to get away from the wife. Most on here are barely getting by, and are young with no real financial responsibilities.

If you think your going to go out and buy a few mowers and throw out a few fliers and strike the big time, you better think again. Next time your out driving around keep your eyes open for the other thousands of guys out there with the same mentality as you. It won't take you long to see the reality that this business is. Just like the OP, he is to the point where the money isn't enough to cover the simple expenses of fixing his equipment. Everything is fine when everything is running fine, but when it all starts to fall apart and the money isn't there to fix or replace what you have, well then reality sets in. Not to mention that most areas are seasonal. My area has no snow to plow, and leaf cleanups are not that popular. So your season is shorter than the northern guys who do fall cleanups and snow removal. So the little money you make during the busy times must be spread out to cover that long cold winter. Well the answer you will get on here is contracts, well try getting people to sign a 12 month contract, not easy. Keep your eyes on craigslist and on the for sale section on here, you new guys can get some killer deals, then next year at this time we will see your stuff for sale even at better deals than what you paid.


Just a dose of reality for those with big dreams and small bank accounts.

Dave...

peteloare
10-05-2010, 10:24 AM
Let him go out of business. If he has to ask for help to value his machines then he cant know how to price his accounts. This is why all of us have to deal with these people that buy a truck etc. and call themselves professionals. They buy the tools of the trade and when there old guess what? no money to replace. Learn how to bid your jobs.

sehitchman
10-05-2010, 10:48 AM
Dave, you are so right about the ATL metro. Everyone has cut back on landscape and even the high end neighborhoods are not in great shape. I posted in another thread about part of my extended family who completely stopped all lawn and landscape maintenance, their yard looked terrible, and they are in one of the top two-three neighborhoods in ATL. We've cut back to PT, only a day or two per week and just keep the equipment in the shed for a better day. I'm really looking forward to another spring competing with the $25 "we cut any yard" guys again. They can have it, I'll keep busy doing other things, I will not work for break even. I continue to feel like you full time guys are just churning dollars here locally and need three crews of undocumented workers to make a living. A solo guy cutting 1/2 acre plus yards for $25 will never cover a families costs and equipment maintenance over the long haul. When things start to break down or need replaced, you are SOL.

WHIPPLE5.7
10-05-2010, 11:06 AM
What happened to your D-max?

coolluv
10-05-2010, 11:10 AM
Dave, you are so right about the ATL metro. Everyone has cut back on landscape and even the high end neighborhoods are not in great shape. I posted in another thread about part of my extended family who completely stopped all lawn and landscape maintenance, their yard looked terrible, and they are in one of the top two-three neighborhoods in ATL. We've cut back to PT, only a day or two per week and just keep the equipment in the shed for a better day. I'm really looking forward to another spring competing with the $25 "we cut any yard" guys again. They can have it, I'll keep busy doing other things, I will not work for break even. I continue to feel like you full time guys are just churning dollars here locally and need three crews of undocumented workers to make a living. A solo guy cutting 1/2 acre plus yards for $25 will never cover a families costs and equipment maintenance over the long haul. When things start to break down or need replaced, you are SOL.

Well its good to see someone that agrees with what I'm saying. I'm not lying or being negative, it is what it is. I see the $25 a cut signs too, there all over around my area. Not to mention the $45 aeration signs. I'm not going to wear myself out or my truck or equipment in a race to the bottom. Those guys are a dime a dozen and are here and gone next season only to be replaced by 1000 more. I was out yesterday and there were 3 LCO's on the same street as me, one right across the street and he was an illegal. No signs on his truck pulling a small wooden trailer and spraying weeds without a license. This is in a very high end neighborhood, and as I was leaving I saw two more driving in. You drive down through these neighborhoods and every 5th house is either for sale or foreclosed on or up for auction. Everyone's landscape looks like crap. Then you have the $4 a bale pine straw guys and $45 mulch guys, its a joke.

LCO's are like cockroaches around me, you have to watch were you step. Thousands of illegals,newbies without a clue on how to price jobs, and every Tom,Dick and Harry with a mower in the back of the car or pulling a trailer with Jeeps, Hummers,Vans, you name it.

If it wasn't so pathetic it would be funny. I have been tempted to take a video camera with me to record the rigs I see in any given day, not only the amount in any given day, but what they consist of and then post it where everyone could see. I just don't have the energy, people think I'm lying about the situation, but I'm not.

Dave...

soloscaperman
10-05-2010, 11:20 AM
Coolluv: I totally agree on what you wrote. All the new guys should read that post. What you didn't state was not just the guys that have those kind of workers running there business but also the ones that live off there rich wives. I am competing against guys that sit home while 3 mexicans are doing the jobs and the guy can afford to sit home since the wife makes the big bucks.

coolluv
10-05-2010, 11:41 AM
Coolluv: I totally agree on what you wrote. All the new guys should read that post. What you didn't state was not just the guys that have those kind of workers running there business but also the ones that live off there rich wives. I am competing against guys that sit home while 3 mexicans are doing the jobs and the guy can afford to sit home since the wife makes the big bucks.

Sure that's another point. Some don't need the money because the wife brings home the bacon. I have nothing to do today because we have been in drought for a few months and then we had a nice rain, well now the temps are dropping and the grass is not growing so here I sit

Dave...

BrunoT
10-05-2010, 12:09 PM
A GMC D-max and a 90 Chevy 2500 gasser..... Plus the 02 Nissan Frontier loaner I screwed up.


I feel like the French*trucewhiteflag*

Why are you using massively heavy (and expensive to own/operate) HD trucks to tow around a few wb mowers that a a Ford Ranger could handle?

If it's because you are doing heavy installs then get out of doing installs maybe. Or arrange for delivery of materials by the supplier. I'm not saying breakdowns don't happen with newer vehicles but one of yours is 20 years old! Your loaner was also pretty long in the tooth. With age comes a higher chance of a failure. Pretty simple. But if you don't want to commit to investing in the business, you will indeed be hamstrung in terms of profits and you will be driven insane (and perhaps out of the biz) by constant breakdowns.

There's a reason old trucks are "cheap". People pay more for a lessened likelihood of a breakdown. A reliable vehicle is part of doing business. Doubly so in a biz where we are expected to always show up on time.

It does NOT cost much more to operate a reliable mowing rig. But if anyone is out there using "ego trucks" (bigger truck = bigger youknowwhat) for the wrong reasons then that's an expensive mistake. I have one myself but that is because I choose to haul a mower in the back from time to time and want the added stability. And I paid just $15,000 for a 2 y/o used Chevy 2500. Before that I was able to do fine with a Tacoma. It yanked a trailer around just fine for 3 1/2 years with ZERO issues. Sold it for just $5,500 less than I drove it off the lot for. hardly "expensive".

My first 3 years were spent with a tiny Chevy S10 that would still cost under $20,000 today. A $350 payment in 2010 is hardly a budget buster. My S10 ran $250/mo and I drove it for 3 years, had ZERO repair costs, minimal maintenance, just a set of (cheap) tires, and sold it for $3500 less than I paid for it. ($12,100). It towed a mowing rig just fine. I couldn't haul sod in it, but that's what $50 delivery charges from suppliers are for.

Many unfortunately see a car payment only as an "expense". That's a mistake. The interest portion is the expense. The depreciation is an expense. The truck is a (depreciating) asset. Part of that payment is returned to you in the form of equity in a "paid for" truck after 5 years or so. You can then apply that as a down payment on the next one. So your next truck is now about 50% cheaper to finance. So if you buy a truck that will not depreciate rapidly with an attractive interest rate (currently very low) it can be a relatively inexpensive purchase. This means you buy what you NEED, not what is "nice to have" . "nice to have" can get really expensive.

Spending around $20K for a new/nearly new truck that will meet most needs and be reliable for at least the first 5 years or so is a small price to pay vs the cost of dumping a business and making $0. But you have to buy what you need and buy it right. You can probably find a low end full size reg cab long bed truck for the very low 20's. It will still be worth quite a bit by the time you've paid for it. And here's something you may not know. many long bed reg cab 1/2 ton trucks actually are rated for much more than their extended cab versions.

Just the fuel costs alone on 10,000 mi/year of use would save $1500 or so if you went with a v6/small v8 stripper long bed truck vs a HD 4x4 gasser. There's 1/3 of your car payment right there. Then you save about that much more on maint/repair costs. You're up to 2/3. Mow one good lawn a week due to your newfound reliable truck and you're at break even. You'll spend your time earning rather than getting the truck to the shop or trying to fix it yourself constantly. So it could be said that the new truck is "free" in a way.

I have done well buying new or slightly used, driving them up to the point where they will maximize resale value (still low enough miles to be desireable), then selling them myself (not trading in, where you lose $3,000 per deal), and buying another new truck. Zero roadside breakdowns in nearly 2 decades, minimal other issues, and overall low costs of ownership (have never paid over $25K for a truck, usually more like $21K). They always have sold for a price that left my depreciation per year down under $2750. I can live with that.

Edmunds.com has a "true cost to own" feature where you can look up new and used vehicles and get a very ballpark number on what it costs to run a vehicle. The differences can be small, especially when compared to the cost of a breakdown. And from your post it sure sounds like you could use the "peace of mind" a newer truck would provide. Well worth the cost I'd say.

If the problem is getting financed, well, that's a problem. But a lot of American businesses are running into that during this economy. It takes cash to expand and grow a business.

BrunoT
10-05-2010, 12:39 PM
Well its good to see someone that agrees with what I'm saying. I'm not lying or being negative, it is what it is. I see the $25 a cut signs too, there all over around my area. Not to mention the $45 aeration signs. I'm not going to wear myself out or my truck or equipment in a race to the bottom. Those guys are a dime a dozen and are here and gone next season only to be replaced by 1000 more. I was out yesterday and there were 3 LCO's on the same street as me, one right across the street and he was an illegal. No signs on his truck pulling a small wooden trailer and spraying weeds without a license. This is in a very high end neighborhood, and as I was leaving I saw two more driving in. You drive down through these neighborhoods and every 5th house is either for sale or foreclosed on or up for auction. Everyone's landscape looks like crap. Then you have the $4 a bale pine straw guys and $45 mulch guys, its a joke.

LCO's are like cockroaches around me, you have to watch were you step. Thousands of illegals,newbies without a clue on how to price jobs, and every Tom,Dick and Harry with a mower in the back of the car or pulling a trailer with Jeeps, Hummers,Vans, you name it.

If it wasn't so pathetic it would be funny. I have been tempted to take a video camera with me to record the rigs I see in any given day, not only the amount in any given day, but what they consist of and then post it where everyone could see. I just don't have the energy, people think I'm lying about the situation, but I'm not.

Dave...

I also agree with most of that. I'm able to keep rates up and have to actually turn away business when I get a call here and there, but that is partly because of good word-of-mouth and I think a niche' that others don't fill. I also I admit do not have to support a family on what I earn. I would not be doing this the way I do if I had to make $100K. I haven't compiled everything but am pretty sure my per-hour on-site average was up in the mid $70 range for mowing. I'm not going to share how my niche' differs for the very reasons you mentioned. Others will come here and copy it. And they haven't mowed a lawn yet! So why should I give it away? But I will say the one way to not do well is to do what everyone else is doing. That tends to be one of two extremes:

1. Mow/blow/go with junk equipment, doing a mediocre job, cutting corners, and not investing much into your presentation, customer relations, or reputation. You're just another dope with a mower to them. So price is all that matters.

2. Full service luxo all the way lawncare. "lawn stylist to the wealthy". Often this requires employees and then you become just another business with questionable employees on their property. And it's so comprehensive and so labor intensive that it becomes expensive. So even the upper middle class have trouble paying for it. And that means they become....PRICE SHOPPERS.


Somewhere inbetween there is an unmet demand. It's not what it used to be, but I think it's still there to a degree.

The fact is much of your competition out there should be working for you, not against you. But over the last 20-25 years it got drummed into our heads that we're not supposed to be workers, that's for the immigrants. And in the process we destroyed the wage levels so that they can't really afford to work for you. Anyone with some sense can probably beat $10/hour working for himself. Even the really bad ones.
,

Jpocket
10-05-2010, 12:47 PM
I don't know his situation but raising prices is all well and good if you can raise prices. The problem is most don't know what it is costing them to operate. You see it all the time in this business. This is a prime example. http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=330682

My area is flooded with new guys, I had to lower prices to get work just to have work, I still get out bid for jobs. Sure you can raise prices and sit home on your butt, but where does that get you. Not every ones market is the same, I know my area is getting worse every year. You finally reach the point where you can no longer float the business because rising cost are larger than what you are making. Most don't realize this until everything starts to fall apart and maintenance cost take what little money you are making. As long as more and more people enter this market with little to no experience in running a business, and with the Walmart mentality thinking they will conquer the lawn business, with no idea what they are making, raising prices is out of the question.

But hey, as long as you are cashing checks or sticking that cash in your pocket your doing OK, right. So many guys stumble upon this site and believe its the easy answer to being laid off or working for themselves, well it's not. I say this all the time, don't believe what kids and part timers are saying on here, its not the easy money everyone thinks it is. If you have little to no financial responsibilities and you want to play business man then great. If you have a family and a house and a truck payment and everything else that goes with keeping a roof over your head, then you might want to reconsider this as your avenue for financial security.

With the influx of illegals in this country that have started their own illegal businesses, that are willing to work and are able to work for next to nothing because they can. When you live 12 or more to a house and split the expenses you can afford to work for next to nothing. Not to mention all of the laid off construction workers and factory workers and every other Tom, Dick and Harry out there that either don't know or don't care to figure out what it actually cost to run a business, then prices will continue to drop. Others will say then go high end, well high end people are looking for the cheapest they can find also. HOA's are not enforcing covenants that require fresh mulch and pine straw. Why because they know most can't afford it right now. Most subdivisions, even the upper scale subdivisions look like crap. Landscaping full of weeds and overgrown, nasty old pine straw that hasn't been replaced since last year or the year before.

Faded mulch in the same condition, when people are forced to cut back the last thing on their mind is replacing pine straw and mulch, and if the HOA lets it go then what is the motivation. I know I lost some customers that were high end clients that one of them, either the husband or wife lost their jobs and haven't worked in at least a year and some that have been out of work for 2 years or more. Sure they don't want to cut the lawn, but now it comes down to making ends meet. People moving to find work, more people renting than owning so they don't care what the property looks like, and try getting paid for your work from these people. This is the first year I have been stiffed by customers.

The economy is not getting any better and the more bull that gets thrown around on this site and others like it, the more fools that will enter the market thinking this is the way to there dreams, only to figure it out later on. Some sooner than others. Ask yourself this, do you have thousands of dollars to invest in equipment? Do you have thousands of dollars to invest in advertising? Can you live on next to nothing for a few years? Can you meet all of your financial obligations while you dump more and more money into your business? Will your wife wait for you to finally make it? If you make it at all.

Do you have the money to risk? In other words are you willing and able to afford to lose the money you will spend on this business. Sure you can sell your equipment later on if it doesn't work out, but don't expect to get much for it. Throwing out some door hangers and some fliers in the spring is not going to get you the work you think it will. Unlike what you read on here. You have to have fliers, website, business cards, on going marketing that is not cheap. Do you have thousands of dollars to put into just marketing? Not a one time deal in the spring but an on going plan for the whole year. Sure the companies that are making it in this are the ones that are diversified and do much more than mow and blow, and they have all the expensive equipment that goes with it, not to mention the advertising bills that would boggle some of your minds.

Some of these companies spend $10,000 or more just in the spring alone, not to mention $2000 or more a month on advertising. Then you come on here and see these guys making money and think hey I can do that too. Believe me the only ones that are making money are the ones that are spending money and are doing much more than cutting grass and trimming hedges and putting down pine straw and mulch. The more services you offer the more equipment you need, this business will eat you up in equipment alone. Don't listen to little Johnny doing this as a side gig, or the retired guy doing this as a side gig to pay for his toys and to get away from the wife. Most on here are barely getting by, and are young with no real financial responsibilities.

If you think your going to go out and buy a few mowers and throw out a few fliers and strike the big time, you better think again. Next time your out driving around keep your eyes open for the other thousands of guys out there with the same mentality as you. It won't take you long to see the reality that this business is. Just like the OP, he is to the point where the money isn't enough to cover the simple expenses of fixing his equipment. Everything is fine when everything is running fine, but when it all starts to fall apart and the money isn't there to fix or replace what you have, well then reality sets in. Not to mention that most areas are seasonal. My area has no snow to plow, and leaf cleanups are not that popular. So your season is shorter than the northern guys who do fall cleanups and snow removal. So the little money you make during the busy times must be spread out to cover that long cold winter. Well the answer you will get on here is contracts, well try getting people to sign a 12 month contract, not easy. Keep your eyes on craigslist and on the for sale section on here, you new guys can get some killer deals, then next year at this time we will see your stuff for sale even at better deals than what you paid.


Just a dose of reality for those with big dreams and small bank accounts.

Dave...

Very well put, every new guy should read this

hackitdown
10-05-2010, 12:48 PM
I agree with BrunoT. I went for 3 years with a Toyota. No problems. I switched to a 3/4 ton Chevy only because I got into plowing. There is no reason to spend the extra cash on a heavy truck and fuel to tow a trailer and mowers that weigh only 3 or 4 thousand pounds.

And I just don't understand why a guy can't make a truck payment on a cheap truck. If you cut 3 lawns per week at $50 per cut, that is $600 per month to work with. My most recent truck was a 3 year old Chevy 2500 with 40K miles for $16K.

Badrancher...if the mowers and trailer is paid for, just buy a new or slightly used truck under warranty. Sign up for the payments. Sell those old beaters for scrap. One decent truck is all you need. Get a stripped 1500 or F150 for $20K new or even less for used.

TheC-Master
10-05-2010, 01:08 PM
I don't know his situation but raising prices is all well and good if you can raise prices. The problem is most don't know what it is costing them to operate. You see it all the time in this business. This is a prime example. http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=330682

My area is flooded with new guys, I had to lower prices to get work just to have work, I still get out bid for jobs. Sure you can raise prices and sit home on your butt, but where does that get you. Not every ones market is the same, I know my area is getting worse every year. You finally reach the point where you can no longer float the business because rising cost are larger than what you are making. Most don't realize this until everything starts to fall apart and maintenance cost take what little money you are making. As long as more and more people enter this market with little to no experience in running a business, and with the Walmart mentality thinking they will conquer the lawn business, with no idea what they are making, raising prices is out of the question.

But hey, as long as you are cashing checks or sticking that cash in your pocket your doing OK, right. So many guys stumble upon this site and believe its the easy answer to being laid off or working for themselves, well it's not. I say this all the time, don't believe what kids and part timers are saying on here, its not the easy money everyone thinks it is. If you have little to no financial responsibilities and you want to play business man then great. If you have a family and a house and a truck payment and everything else that goes with keeping a roof over your head, then you might want to reconsider this as your avenue for financial security.

With the influx of illegals in this country that have started their own illegal businesses, that are willing to work and are able to work for next to nothing because they can. When you live 12 or more to a house and split the expenses you can afford to work for next to nothing. Not to mention all of the laid off construction workers and factory workers and every other Tom, Dick and Harry out there that either don't know or don't care to figure out what it actually cost to run a business, then prices will continue to drop. Others will say then go high end, well high end people are looking for the cheapest they can find also. HOA's are not enforcing covenants that require fresh mulch and pine straw. Why because they know most can't afford it right now. Most subdivisions, even the upper scale subdivisions look like crap. Landscaping full of weeds and overgrown, nasty old pine straw that hasn't been replaced since last year or the year before.

Faded mulch in the same condition, when people are forced to cut back the last thing on their mind is replacing pine straw and mulch, and if the HOA lets it go then what is the motivation. I know I lost some customers that were high end clients that one of them, either the husband or wife lost their jobs and haven't worked in at least a year and some that have been out of work for 2 years or more. Sure they don't want to cut the lawn, but now it comes down to making ends meet. People moving to find work, more people renting than owning so they don't care what the property looks like, and try getting paid for your work from these people. This is the first year I have been stiffed by customers.

The economy is not getting any better and the more bull that gets thrown around on this site and others like it, the more fools that will enter the market thinking this is the way to there dreams, only to figure it out later on. Some sooner than others. Ask yourself this, do you have thousands of dollars to invest in equipment? Do you have thousands of dollars to invest in advertising? Can you live on next to nothing for a few years? Can you meet all of your financial obligations while you dump more and more money into your business? Will your wife wait for you to finally make it? If you make it at all.

Do you have the money to risk? In other words are you willing and able to afford to lose the money you will spend on this business. Sure you can sell your equipment later on if it doesn't work out, but don't expect to get much for it. Throwing out some door hangers and some fliers in the spring is not going to get you the work you think it will. Unlike what you read on here. You have to have fliers, website, business cards, on going marketing that is not cheap. Do you have thousands of dollars to put into just marketing? Not a one time deal in the spring but an on going plan for the whole year. Sure the companies that are making it in this are the ones that are diversified and do much more than mow and blow, and they have all the expensive equipment that goes with it, not to mention the advertising bills that would boggle some of your minds.

Some of these companies spend $10,000 or more just in the spring alone, not to mention $2000 or more a month on advertising. Then you come on here and see these guys making money and think hey I can do that too. Believe me the only ones that are making money are the ones that are spending money and are doing much more than cutting grass and trimming hedges and putting down pine straw and mulch. The more services you offer the more equipment you need, this business will eat you up in equipment alone. Don't listen to little Johnny doing this as a side gig, or the retired guy doing this as a side gig to pay for his toys and to get away from the wife. Most on here are barely getting by, and are young with no real financial responsibilities.

If you think your going to go out and buy a few mowers and throw out a few fliers and strike the big time, you better think again. Next time your out driving around keep your eyes open for the other thousands of guys out there with the same mentality as you. It won't take you long to see the reality that this business is. Just like the OP, he is to the point where the money isn't enough to cover the simple expenses of fixing his equipment. Everything is fine when everything is running fine, but when it all starts to fall apart and the money isn't there to fix or replace what you have, well then reality sets in. Not to mention that most areas are seasonal. My area has no snow to plow, and leaf cleanups are not that popular. So your season is shorter than the northern guys who do fall cleanups and snow removal. So the little money you make during the busy times must be spread out to cover that long cold winter. Well the answer you will get on here is contracts, well try getting people to sign a 12 month contract, not easy. Keep your eyes on craigslist and on the for sale section on here, you new guys can get some killer deals, then next year at this time we will see your stuff for sale even at better deals than what you paid.


Just a dose of reality for those with big dreams and small bank accounts.

Dave...

I agree pretty much completely. The problem is that most who start this don't have financial education or any sales experience, both are essential. Most people can barely pay their bills doing "normal work" because they are bad managers of money. In a business it will kill you. People don't see the hard work it takes to run a business. Especially this. They see these other morons out here looking like crap and charging crap and they don't get it. I found success by doing contracts. I endorse quality and service, along with professionalism. It took a lot of work, but I must say that even right now I have calls coming in for contracted work. I tell all people that call me straight up that I am about building relationships, and maintaining year round, and I'm not a cheap quick cut. Because of that I get the right people. Business owners, CEO's, big clients and some who just want to have their landscape looking good. We keep adding because you want to have extra this time of year. If a person can't manage people, funds, or sales, they have no business in business. I value my company and I am not a "lawn boy" I'm a business owner with a landscaping company. My last year was rough and I stuck it out and rebuilt with a new motto and way. Contracts, autopay, no checks, no nonsense. Life has gotten better and better.

Also, mow, blow, and go is a workable business, it is just lower margins/higher numbers. Since we are more personal we opt for full service and contracts. That way it isn't so much about nailing tons of customers quickly as it is providing good work all around.

hackitdown
10-05-2010, 01:29 PM
I agree pretty much completely. The problem is that most who start this don't have financial education or any sales experience, both are essential. Most people can barely pay their bills doing "normal work" because they are bad managers of money. In a business it will kill you. People don't see the hard work it takes to run a business. Especially this. They see these other morons out here looking like crap and charging crap and they don't get it. I found success by doing contracts. I endorse quality and service, along with professionalism. It took a lot of work, but I must say that even right now I have calls coming in for contracted work. I tell all people that call me straight up that I am about building relationships, and maintaining year round, and I'm not a cheap quick cut. Because of that I get the right people. Business owners, CEO's, big clients and some who just want to have their landscape looking good. We keep adding because you want to have extra this time of year. If a person can't manage people, funds, or sales, they have no business in business. I value my company and I am not a "lawn boy" I'm a business owner with a landscaping company. My last year was rough and I stuck it out and rebuilt with a new motto and way. Contracts, autopay, no checks, no nonsense. Life has gotten better and better.

Also, mow, blow, and go is a workable business, it is just lower margins/higher numbers. Since we are more personal we opt for full service and contracts. That way it isn't so much about nailing tons of customers quickly as it is providing good work all around.

Hey CMaster, I like the website. Impressive. But how do you keep the suit so clean when you are working? :)

TheC-Master
10-05-2010, 01:39 PM
If I have to get dirty I have a special uniform for that. I might start a company, Mowing in Suits! It will stand out so much that it'll get tons of business and looks! :laugh:

BadRancher
10-05-2010, 01:46 PM
I don't have a DMax because I wanted a big flashy truck. I got it because I got a pretty good deal I thought at the time. It had miles but it was a diesel and I figured I could get a lot more out of it till a rebuild or new motor. It has had injector issues and has snowballed from there.

For the D-bag that suggested I'm lowballing because I'm not sure what to sell my equipment, kiss my a** and go screw your self hoss.

I know how to handle what I'm doing. I paid about 12,500 for all I have eqipment wise. I thought about putting it on the market for in between 8000 and 9000 and dealing from there.

I don't want a new 1/2 ton because pulling equuipment all the time wears them down too
fast and they don't last in good shape till paid for. Trade on them is lower because you have worn them out. That why I prefer paid for or cheap vehicle. Plus new depreciates about 5-10% as soon as you drive off the lot.
Posted via Mobile Device

TheC-Master
10-05-2010, 01:47 PM
I don't have a DMax because I wanted a big flashy truck. I got it because I got a pretty good deal. It had miles but it was a diesel and I figured I could get a lot more out of it till a rebuild or new motor. It has had injector issues and has snowballed from there.

For the D-bag that suggested I'm lowballing because I'm not sure what to sell my equipment, kiss my a** and go screw your self hoss.

I know how to handle what I'm doing. I paid about 12,500 for all I have. I thought about putting it on the market for in between 8000 and 9000 and dealing from there.

I don't want a new 1/2 ton because pulling equuipment all the time wears them down too
fast and they don't last in good shape till paid for. Trade on them is lower because you have worn them out. That why I prefer paid for or cheap vehicle. Plus new depreciates about 5-10% as soon as you drive off the lot.
Posted via Mobile Device
I hope you do what works for you? Do you think it is worth getting a loan for? I of course don't think your bad in either way good friend. :)

BadRancher
10-05-2010, 01:51 PM
I don't know C. I like the truck and may trade it in and keep plugging away at it. I have cash set back. I just don't want to deplete my emergency fund ya know.
Posted via Mobile Device

TheC-Master
10-05-2010, 02:11 PM
Why are you using massively heavy (and expensive to own/operate) HD trucks to tow around a few wb mowers that a a Ford Ranger could handle?

If it's because you are doing heavy installs then get out of doing installs maybe. Or arrange for delivery of materials by the supplier. I'm not saying breakdowns don't happen with newer vehicles but one of yours is 20 years old! Your loaner was also pretty long in the tooth. With age comes a higher chance of a failure. Pretty simple. But if you don't want to commit to investing in the business, you will indeed be hamstrung in terms of profits and you will be driven insane (and perhaps out of the biz) by constant breakdowns.

There's a reason old trucks are "cheap". People pay more for a lessened likelihood of a breakdown. A reliable vehicle is part of doing business. Doubly so in a biz where we are expected to always show up on time.

It does NOT cost much more to operate a reliable mowing rig. But if anyone is out there using "ego trucks" (bigger truck = bigger youknowwhat) for the wrong reasons then that's an expensive mistake. I have one myself but that is because I choose to haul a mower in the back from time to time and want the added stability. And I paid just $15,000 for a 2 y/o used Chevy 2500. Before that I was able to do fine with a Tacoma. It yanked a trailer around just fine for 3 1/2 years with ZERO issues. Sold it for just $5,500 less than I drove it off the lot for. hardly "expensive".

My first 3 years were spent with a tiny Chevy S10 that would still cost under $20,000 today. A $350 payment in 2010 is hardly a budget buster. My S10 ran $250/mo and I drove it for 3 years, had ZERO repair costs, minimal maintenance, just a set of (cheap) tires, and sold it for $3500 less than I paid for it. ($12,100). It towed a mowing rig just fine. I couldn't haul sod in it, but that's what $50 delivery charges from suppliers are for.

Many unfortunately see a car payment only as an "expense". That's a mistake. The interest portion is the expense. The depreciation is an expense. The truck is a (depreciating) asset. Part of that payment is returned to you in the form of equity in a "paid for" truck after 5 years or so. You can then apply that as a down payment on the next one. So your next truck is now about 50% cheaper to finance. So if you buy a truck that will not depreciate rapidly with an attractive interest rate (currently very low) it can be a relatively inexpensive purchase. This means you buy what you NEED, not what is "nice to have" . "nice to have" can get really expensive.

Spending around $20K for a new/nearly new truck that will meet most needs and be reliable for at least the first 5 years or so is a small price to pay vs the cost of dumping a business and making $0. But you have to buy what you need and buy it right. You can probably find a low end full size reg cab long bed truck for the very low 20's. It will still be worth quite a bit by the time you've paid for it. And here's something you may not know. many long bed reg cab 1/2 ton trucks actually are rated for much more than their extended cab versions.

Just the fuel costs alone on 10,000 mi/year of use would save $1500 or so if you went with a v6/small v8 stripper long bed truck vs a HD 4x4 gasser. There's 1/3 of your car payment right there. Then you save about that much more on maint/repair costs. You're up to 2/3. Mow one good lawn a week due to your newfound reliable truck and you're at break even. You'll spend your time earning rather than getting the truck to the shop or trying to fix it yourself constantly. So it could be said that the new truck is "free" in a way.

I have done well buying new or slightly used, driving them up to the point where they will maximize resale value (still low enough miles to be desireable), then selling them myself (not trading in, where you lose $3,000 per deal), and buying another new truck. Zero roadside breakdowns in nearly 2 decades, minimal other issues, and overall low costs of ownership (have never paid over $25K for a truck, usually more like $21K). They always have sold for a price that left my depreciation per year down under $2750. I can live with that.

Edmunds.com has a "true cost to own" feature where you can look up new and used vehicles and get a very ballpark number on what it costs to run a vehicle. The differences can be small, especially when compared to the cost of a breakdown. And from your post it sure sounds like you could use the "peace of mind" a newer truck would provide. Well worth the cost I'd say.

If the problem is getting financed, well, that's a problem. But a lot of American businesses are running into that during this economy. It takes cash to expand and grow a business.

This is actually a great post and exactly what I'd do. No need to buy a 50k vehicle for this. I have found 4 door full cabs at 17k in this economy, it had 36k miles. You have something reliable that works good vs headaches and trash. I agree 110%

I don't know C. I like the truck and may trade it in and keep plugging away at it. I have cash set back. I just don't want to deplete my emergency fund ya know.
Posted via Mobile Device

Yea especially with a kid. I think you can find a way around this though if you still want to keep at it. :)

hackitdown
10-05-2010, 03:59 PM
I don't want a new 1/2 ton because pulling equuipment all the time wears them down too
fast and they don't last in good shape till paid for. Trade on them is lower because you have worn them out.
Posted via Mobile Device

I don't think your truck strategy worked for you, it is at the point where you want to bail. You may want to reconsider based on some other people's experiences.

For example, I sold a used Toyota with 120K miles on it for $12K. It was 6 years old, and used for 3 years to tow my landscape trailer. I think I got good money for a used 1/2 ton.

I bought a 2006 Chevy 2500 for $16K last March, with under 50K miles, just 3 years old. In 4 or 5 years I will have taken it to 100k miles and sell it for about $10K to someone willing to take on a riskier truck with high miles. Yes I am making payments, but they are small. Worth every penny.

BadRancher
10-05-2010, 04:15 PM
Another more important reason not to buy new or highend used is that I'm only part time. A significant ammount of my net would be going into a truck payment. Then its like working a part-time job just to pay for a new truck.
Posted via Mobile Device

bradseabridge
10-05-2010, 04:30 PM
so what, if its just part time and you aren't spending all your mowing income on the payment, then you are still making profit. Whether it's $5 or $500 it's still profit at the end of the day. I have read this whole post and its just a bunch of whining. If you need a new truck, buck up and buy it. It's as simple as that, go get a loan whatever for 15k and make a $350 payment on it once a month, that's half of what you will be making a month mowing if you making about $800 after taxed roughly. Cool you have $300 at the end of the month after your payment to do whatever they hell you want with. Stop complaining it's life bro, sell both your busted trucks and use that money as a down payment on a used 1/2 ton. PERIOD! why is this so difficult, if you don't want to do it just sell your **** and move on and stop talking about it.

BadRancher
10-05-2010, 04:58 PM
Who the f*** would want to make 5 dollar profit on a business?

You can say I'm whining or whatever. I don't want a new vehicle note. I don't like financing ****. My wife wife already has a new vehicle we have to pay for. So if your not gonna reply with a respectful, decent opinion, don't reply with a dbag statement. Ya don't know me or my business or my finances. Please read the original post. I wasn't asking for a pity party!!!!!
Posted via Mobile Device

hackitdown
10-05-2010, 05:13 PM
Another more important reason not to buy new or highend used is that I'm only part time. A significant ammount of my net would be going into a truck payment. Then its like working a part-time job just to pay for a new truck.
Posted via Mobile Device

If you are only generating enough revenue from mowing to barely cover a $400 truck payment, then I think you are correct...it is probably time to sell your equipment. It would not make any sense to only cut 2 or 3 lawns per week and break even.

However, if you are generating a couple thousand per month mowing, and your nearly new equipment is paid for, that would be a different story.

bradseabridge
10-05-2010, 05:31 PM
Who the f*** would want to make 5 dollar profit on a business?

You can say I'm whining or whatever. I don't want a new vehicle note. I don't like financing ****. My wife wife already has a new vehicle we have to pay for. So if your not gonna reply with a respectful, decent opinion, don't reply with a dbag statement. Ya don't know me or my business or my finances. Please read the original post. I wasn't asking for a pity party!!!!!
Posted via Mobile Device

That wasn't the point, read and comprehend, no one would want a $5 profit BUT IT'S STILL PROFIT!

You are part time, you obviously don't NEED the money. But I'll go be a Dbag mowing all my accounts in a truck that runs and has for the past 20 years without a dime put into it.

Maybe you should go back and read my entire post, instead of getting angry and only reading the first line.

bradseabridge
10-05-2010, 05:33 PM
If you are only generating enough revenue from mowing to barely cover a $400 truck payment, then I think you are correct...it is probably time to sell your equipment. It would not make any sense to only cut 2 or 3 lawns per week and break even.

However, if you are generating a couple thousand per month mowing, and your nearly new equipment is paid for, that would be a different story.

It makes sense if you are only doing it part time and just want some extra money. If you other job pays the bills then spend your mowing money on whatever you want.

BadRancher
10-05-2010, 05:52 PM
I mow to pay off my bills and bank money, not to get leisure money. Getting a new truck defeats the purpose.
Posted via Mobile Device

bradseabridge
10-05-2010, 05:56 PM
Not being able to make money mowing would be worse, then you wont have any extra money to pay bills with, see where I'm going with this. In the short term yeah it sucks, but in the long run paying $350 a month for a newish reliable truck is worth it. Sell your other trucks and use the money as a down payment. I can't beleive that $350 a month is more than half your monthly gross. I'm part time and only have 12 accounts and I make about a grand a month, with some other service type stuff I do.

Groomer
10-05-2010, 06:01 PM
shouldn't this be titled the "official 2010 I quit and here's why thread"? Would make it seem a little more professional. Sorta.

93Chevy
10-05-2010, 06:28 PM
I believe this will be my last year in the biz. Overall it was a great year, but I ran across many problems (mostly truck). I was just hell making sure all customers were taken care of. I lost several customers due to these problems. I hate to give up, but I can't handle another year of this. Both my vehicles were down, problem after problem. A new vehicle is not the answer for me. This is my part time job, I hate to let it go and I am not 100% sure yet.

Anyways I was wondering if you guys could help me value my equipment I have in my sig. The Metro is about 1.5 years old, the Turftracer is a year old. The handhelds except for pole saw and chain saw are 1.5- 2years old. The pole saw and Chain saw are about a year old with very little use.

Thanks in advance!

I don't really have any equipment help bud, but I'm in the same boat with a different motor. I made a ton of bad decisions and I don't have the cashflow to cover my expenses and save up for winter. I just can't do it. I'd rather take it easy and maybe get a "better" "real job" instead of what I do now daytime. I wish I could get out right now...I'd just take what I get...just walk away, but it's not that simple. I need to finish off this year, and use my cash wisely so I still come out on top.

soloscaperman
10-05-2010, 06:35 PM
Bad rancher what other work do you do with your clients? In this business you have to diversify. I am trying to get into Seal coating and power washing next year. Every year I realize mowing isn't going to "cut" it. Mowing these days is just to get your foot in the door to supply more services from that customer. I got a lot of Mulch jobs, tree jobs, and seeding jobs this year which I needed real bad.

mbrew
10-05-2010, 08:21 PM
I mow to pay off my bills and bank money, not to get leisure money. Getting a new truck defeats the purpose.
Posted via Mobile Device

It does seem like you've had a run of bad luck this year. The only advice that I'd give is to take your time, resolve your truck problems and then take a fresh look at your situation and see what the best decision is for your family. Things may look a bit different in the spring.

I do have one principle that I stick to pretty close and that's that I don't take financial advice from someone unless I'm certain that they actually have more money than I do and a good track record of being able to keep it.

I don't really have any equipment help bud, but I'm in the same boat with a different motor. I made a ton of bad decisions and I don't have the cashflow to cover my expenses and save up for winter. I just can't do it. I'd rather take it easy and maybe get a "better" "real job" instead of what I do now daytime. I wish I could get out right now...I'd just take what I get...just walk away, but it's not that simple. I need to finish off this year, and use my cash wisely so I still come out on top.

It sounds like there's an interesting story there. Maybe it's worth starting another thread so that others can learn from those decisions? I'm just guessing, but in your pictures you have a lot of new equipment and it looks like a new trailer. All financed at the beginning of the year? We've all made bad decisions at one time or another. I'm hard headed and most of what I've learned was the hard way.

Good luck.

93Chevy
10-05-2010, 08:31 PM
It sounds like there's an interesting story there. Maybe it's worth starting another thread so that others can learn from those decisions? I'm just guessing, but in your pictures you have a lot of new equipment and it looks like a new trailer. All financed at the beginning of the year? We've all made bad decisions at one time or another. I'm hard headed and most of what I've learned was the hard way.

Good luck.

Not to hijack, but a quick response, then I'll let the thread get back on topic.

I'm not "over my head" in debt. Sure, I owe a monthly mower payment, but it's not breaking the bank, so to speak. Basically, I can afford all of what I have, even if I walked away and kept all my equipment. But with my truck problems and slow work for two months, my assets aren't earning their worth currently.

Basically, the stress of running a part time operation and trying to grow it while in school and working a full time job got to me. Maybe a lot of others can handle it, I'll be the first one to shake their hand, but I can't do it anymore. I'm stretched too thin. I need to "walk away," find a job where my degree comes in handy, move out of the house, and grow up a little. I don't know if my risk tolerance is conducive of business ownership.

Sorry to get off topic with my story, but maybe the OP can relate a bit. :waving:

BadRancher
10-05-2010, 09:39 PM
Not to hijack, but a quick response, then I'll let the thread get back on topic.

I'm not "over my head" in debt. Sure, I owe a monthly mower payment, but it's not breaking the bank, so to speak. Basically, I can afford all of what I have, even if I walked away and kept all my equipment. But with my truck problems and slow work for two months, my assets aren't earning their worth currently.

Basically, the stress of running a part time operation and trying to grow it while in school and working a full time job got to me. Maybe a lot of others can handle it, I'll be the first one to shake their hand, but I can't do it anymore. I'm stretched too thin. I need to "walk away," find a job where my degree comes in handy, move out of the house, and grow up a little. I don't know if my risk tolerance is conducive of business ownership.

Sorry to get off topic with my story, but maybe the OP can relate a bit. :waving:

Yea. I dont like to to take risk either. When I do (because we all have to) I do it in baby steps if possible.

slawn
10-05-2010, 10:11 PM
Hang in there BadRancher. I know October is going to put a hurt on me, we're dried up. I'm doing less then half my accounts this month. As far as a truck goes not sure what to tell ya. I'm using a 2001 GMC 2500HD with the 8.1 engine, talk about a gas hog. Only reason I use it I had it before I went into the lawn business and its paid for. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

slawn
10-05-2010, 10:20 PM
BadRancher, if you do decide to sell, I might be interested in your redmax trimmers.

BadRancher
10-05-2010, 10:30 PM
BadRancher, if you do decide to sell, I might be interested in your redmax trimmers.

10-4 I'll PM you when I decide.

hackitdown
10-06-2010, 07:10 AM
Hmmm...."93 Chevy". What does he have in common with BadRancher? Maybe raking a risk on a truck isn't such a risk.

Besides, you gotta have a reliable car no matter what you decide. If you stop mowing, you need a car to get to a regular job. If you try to get away with an old beater, you won't be able to get to work.

MOturkey
10-06-2010, 10:07 AM
Not to hijack, but a quick response, then I'll let the thread get back on topic.

I'm not "over my head" in debt. Sure, I owe a monthly mower payment, but it's not breaking the bank, so to speak. Basically, I can afford all of what I have, even if I walked away and kept all my equipment. But with my truck problems and slow work for two months, my assets aren't earning their worth currently.

Basically, the stress of running a part time operation and trying to grow it while in school and working a full time job got to me. Maybe a lot of others can handle it, I'll be the first one to shake their hand, but I can't do it anymore. I'm stretched too thin. I need to "walk away," find a job where my degree comes in handy, move out of the house, and grow up a little. I don't know if my risk tolerance is conducive of business ownership.

Sorry to get off topic with my story, but maybe the OP can relate a bit. :waving:

I've said it many times, some people are cut out to be in business for themselves, some aren't. If you aren't, the best thing you can do for yourself is to learn this at an early age, find a good job working for someone else, stay with it, and retire with a pension or huge IRA.

jbannick18
10-06-2010, 10:49 AM
Where were you cutting lawns badrancher? Here in FL it's very easy to make a living.

BadRancher
10-06-2010, 11:17 AM
I'm not having problems with making a living doin the work. This year I actually turned some away. The problem was both my vehicles going down all the time. Lots of folks have said get new, but to me I really don't do enough business to justify new, and I don't want the note that comes with a new vehicle.
Posted via Mobile Device

scagrider22
10-06-2010, 11:33 AM
I'm not having problems with making a living doin the work. This year I actually turned some away. The problem was both my vehicles going down all the time. Lots of folks have said get new, but to me I really don't do enough business to justify new, and I don't want the note that comes with a new vehicle.
Posted via Mobile Device

What your not understanding is that your two trucks are a car payment if they break down often, you are paying to have them fixed plus you are losing money in your down time. I will say it again its cheaper to but new or almost new truck. I try to buy trucks that have around 10,000 miles on them and have 100,000 mile drivetrain warranty. I save lots of time, money, and aggravation this way.

MDLawn
10-06-2010, 12:07 PM
Not to hijack, but a quick response, then I'll let the thread get back on topic.


Basically, the stress of running a part time operation and trying to grow it while in school and working a full time job got to me. Maybe a lot of others can handle it, I'll be the first one to shake their hand, but I can't do it anymore. I'm stretched too thin. I need to "walk away," find a job where my degree comes in handy, move out of the house, and grow up a little. I don't know if my risk tolerance is conducive of business ownership.

Sorry to get off topic with my story, but maybe the OP can relate a bit. :waving:


Incedibly a lot on your plate. Get that full time job and then start up again and only take on what you can.

jkilov
10-06-2010, 01:43 PM
Lots of folks have said get new, but to me I really don't do enough business to justify new, and I don't want the note that comes with a new vehicle.
Hang in there :waving:. I will repeat what you don't want to hear, but trust me it's the right thing.

Been there, done that, traded in my 7.3 psd money pit that was getting me broke for a brand new 5.4 F-250 with most of my savings gone. 5 years and 162,000 miles later I have zero regrets.

The solution is right in front of your face. You have savings in case of emergency. THIS IS an emergency. An F-150 or 1500 with high ratio diff is enough for your single axle trailer and two WBs. Trading in your old trucks will aid financing. New truck will be paid off in no time, trust me .. trust me! :).

jbannick18
10-06-2010, 04:57 PM
IMO if you can't afford a car payment for a work truck that is reliable you are doing something wrong in the business. It is after all a write off. And if my truck only lasted me 75k I'd never buy another GM. It's at 31 right now

93Chevy
10-06-2010, 05:05 PM
IMO if you can't afford a car payment for a work truck that is reliable you are doing something wrong in the business. It is after all a write off. And if my truck only lasted me 75k I'd never buy another GM. It's at 31 right now

You are correct. I did a lot wrong. That's why I'm done.

It's also a cash-flow decision. You can write off enough where you pay virtually no taxes, but if you have no cash, then what's the payoff?

STL Cuts
10-06-2010, 06:41 PM
Not to hijack, but a quick response, then I'll let the thread get back on topic.

I'm not "over my head" in debt. Sure, I owe a monthly mower payment, but it's not breaking the bank, so to speak. Basically, I can afford all of what I have, even if I walked away and kept all my equipment. But with my truck problems and slow work for two months, my assets aren't earning their worth currently.

Basically, the stress of running a part time operation and trying to grow it while in school and working a full time job got to me. Maybe a lot of others can handle it, I'll be the first one to shake their hand, but I can't do it anymore. I'm stretched too thin. I need to "walk away," find a job where my degree comes in handy, move out of the house, and grow up a little. I don't know if my risk tolerance is conducive of business ownership.

Sorry to get off topic with my story, but maybe the OP can relate a bit. :waving:


Hey man, how is your Snapper Pro treating you? I've been satisfied with mine so far, best bang for the buck out there.

And out of curiousity what is your degree in?

93Chevy
10-06-2010, 07:24 PM
Hey man, how is your Snapper Pro treating you? I've been satisfied with mine so far, best bang for the buck out there.

And out of curiousity what is your degree in?

There's a reason I bought the Snapper Pro... hours of research and cash flow projections led me to that mower. It's not a Scag or Exmark, but you're not paying for it either.

I'll have a degree in Human Resource Management in December.

turfman59
10-06-2010, 07:37 PM
There's a reason I bought the Snapper Pro... hours of research and cash flow projections led me to that mower. It's not a Scag or Exmark, but you're not paying for it either.

I'll have a degree in Human Resource Management in December.

It sounds like to me the guy wants to get out, and if it takes a pep talk he needs a mentor rather than a new truck, I wouldnt ever talk someone into this business or out of this business. If your loving what your doing sometimes the issues with equipment or trucks just go along with the territory. another challenge of a business owner, If the guys customers are suffering because he's spread himself to thin, well thin he's caught in the middle of the road and gets squashed like a grape ( sorry about the Karate Kid metaphor)

MR-G
10-06-2010, 08:59 PM
I don't know his situation but raising prices is all well and good if you can raise prices. The problem is most don't know what it is costing them to operate. You see it all the time in this business. This is a prime example. http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=330682

My area is flooded with new guys, I had to lower prices to get work just to have work, I still get out bid for jobs. Sure you can raise prices and sit home on your butt, but where does that get you. Not every ones market is the same, I know my area is getting worse every year. You finally reach the point where you can no longer float the business because rising cost are larger than what you are making. Most don't realize this until everything starts to fall apart and maintenance cost take what little money you are making. As long as more and more people enter this market with little to no experience in running a business, and with the Walmart mentality thinking they will conquer the lawn business, with no idea what they are making, raising prices is out of the question.

But hey, as long as you are cashing checks or sticking that cash in your pocket your doing OK, right. So many guys stumble upon this site and believe its the easy answer to being laid off or working for themselves, well it's not. I say this all the time, don't believe what kids and part timers are saying on here, its not the easy money everyone thinks it is. If you have little to no financial responsibilities and you want to play business man then great. If you have a family and a house and a truck payment and everything else that goes with keeping a roof over your head, then you might want to reconsider this as your avenue for financial security.

With the influx of illegals in this country that have started their own illegal businesses, that are willing to work and are able to work for next to nothing because they can. When you live 12 or more to a house and split the expenses you can afford to work for next to nothing. Not to mention all of the laid off construction workers and factory workers and every other Tom, Dick and Harry out there that either don't know or don't care to figure out what it actually cost to run a business, then prices will continue to drop. Others will say then go high end, well high end people are looking for the cheapest they can find also. HOA's are not enforcing covenants that require fresh mulch and pine straw. Why because they know most can't afford it right now. Most subdivisions, even the upper scale subdivisions look like crap. Landscaping full of weeds and overgrown, nasty old pine straw that hasn't been replaced since last year or the year before.

Faded mulch in the same condition, when people are forced to cut back the last thing on their mind is replacing pine straw and mulch, and if the HOA lets it go then what is the motivation. I know I lost some customers that were high end clients that one of them, either the husband or wife lost their jobs and haven't worked in at least a year and some that have been out of work for 2 years or more. Sure they don't want to cut the lawn, but now it comes down to making ends meet. People moving to find work, more people renting than owning so they don't care what the property looks like, and try getting paid for your work from these people. This is the first year I have been stiffed by customers.

The economy is not getting any better and the more bull that gets thrown around on this site and others like it, the more fools that will enter the market thinking this is the way to there dreams, only to figure it out later on. Some sooner than others. Ask yourself this, do you have thousands of dollars to invest in equipment? Do you have thousands of dollars to invest in advertising? Can you live on next to nothing for a few years? Can you meet all of your financial obligations while you dump more and more money into your business? Will your wife wait for you to finally make it? If you make it at all.

Do you have the money to risk? In other words are you willing and able to afford to lose the money you will spend on this business. Sure you can sell your equipment later on if it doesn't work out, but don't expect to get much for it. Throwing out some door hangers and some fliers in the spring is not going to get you the work you think it will. Unlike what you read on here. You have to have fliers, website, business cards, on going marketing that is not cheap. Do you have thousands of dollars to put into just marketing? Not a one time deal in the spring but an on going plan for the whole year. Sure the companies that are making it in this are the ones that are diversified and do much more than mow and blow, and they have all the expensive equipment that goes with it, not to mention the advertising bills that would boggle some of your minds.

Some of these companies spend $10,000 or more just in the spring alone, not to mention $2000 or more a month on advertising. Then you come on here and see these guys making money and think hey I can do that too. Believe me the only ones that are making money are the ones that are spending money and are doing much more than cutting grass and trimming hedges and putting down pine straw and mulch. The more services you offer the more equipment you need, this business will eat you up in equipment alone. Don't listen to little Johnny doing this as a side gig, or the retired guy doing this as a side gig to pay for his toys and to get away from the wife. Most on here are barely getting by, and are young with no real financial responsibilities.

If you think your going to go out and buy a few mowers and throw out a few fliers and strike the big time, you better think again. Next time your out driving around keep your eyes open for the other thousands of guys out there with the same mentality as you. It won't take you long to see the reality that this business is. Just like the OP, he is to the point where the money isn't enough to cover the simple expenses of fixing his equipment. Everything is fine when everything is running fine, but when it all starts to fall apart and the money isn't there to fix or replace what you have, well then reality sets in. Not to mention that most areas are seasonal. My area has no snow to plow, and leaf cleanups are not that popular. So your season is shorter than the northern guys who do fall cleanups and snow removal. So the little money you make during the busy times must be spread out to cover that long cold winter. Well the answer you will get on here is contracts, well try getting people to sign a 12 month contract, not easy. Keep your eyes on craigslist and on the for sale section on here, you new guys can get some killer deals, then next year at this time we will see your stuff for sale even at better deals than what you paid.


Just a dose of reality for those with big dreams and small bank accounts.

Dave...20+ YRS AGO I QUIT THE AEROSPACE INDUSTRY AND BOUGHT A LAWNMOWER....a lot of hard work and common sense along the way...a lot of mistakes as well...today looking back..it was the best thing ive ever done...no regrets at all....it wasnt and isnt easy..but it can be done...3 crews of 3...comfortable...not rich...this biz will be my retirement someday...when you want it bad enough u can make it happen...:usflag:

BadRancher
10-06-2010, 11:29 PM
It sounds like to me the guy wants to get out, and if it takes a pep talk he needs a mentor rather than a new truck, I wouldnt ever talk someone into this business or out of this business. If your loving what your doing sometimes the issues with equipment or trucks just go along with the territory. another challenge of a business owner, If the guys customers are suffering because he's spread himself to thin, well thin he's caught in the middle of the road and gets squashed like a grape ( sorry about the Karate Kid metaphor)

Na, Its not that I want to quit. I also know that headaches are part of it. I dunno just the fact of going through 2 vehicles and a loaner is enough to make people second guess and want to give up. I mean come on, how many folks go through their main vehicle, then their secondary vehicle and then a loaner. Its just crazy stuff.

h2oskier
10-06-2010, 11:37 PM
Hate to sound like your mother but when life gives you lemons, its time to make lemonade. Hope you get your spirits back, because from looking at your post pics looks as if there is a little mouth to feed also. Good Luck witch ever venue you take.

soloscaperman
10-07-2010, 12:06 AM
Sometimes people do things wrong and the best way to fix it is not to quit but do the complete opposite. Also in any business your going have to invest your money and life into it. The reason I haven't had a girlfriend for a while is I want to focus on my business 100% It takes time, sweat, pain, and mistakes till you are where you want to be. Good luck in what happens but every business owner goes through a rough time.

Hate to say this but sometimes you gotta be lucky, meaning being in the right time at the right place or you have to take crazy chances.

delphied
10-07-2010, 09:05 AM
Well its good to see someone that agrees with what I'm saying. I'm not lying or being negative, it is what it is. I see the $25 a cut signs too, there all over around my area. Not to mention the $45 aeration signs. I'm not going to wear myself out or my truck or equipment in a race to the bottom. Those guys are a dime a dozen and are here and gone next season only to be replaced by 1000 more. I was out yesterday and there were 3 LCO's on the same street as me, one right across the street and he was an illegal. No signs on his truck pulling a small wooden trailer and spraying weeds without a license. This is in a very high end neighborhood, and as I was leaving I saw two more driving in. You drive down through these neighborhoods and every 5th house is either for sale or foreclosed on or up for auction. Everyone's landscape looks like crap. Then you have the $4 a bale pine straw guys and $45 mulch guys, its a joke.

LCO's are like cockroaches around me, you have to watch were you step. Thousands of illegals,newbies without a clue on how to price jobs, and every Tom,Dick and Harry with a mower in the back of the car or pulling a trailer with Jeeps, Hummers,Vans, you name it.

If it wasn't so pathetic it would be funny. I have been tempted to take a video camera with me to record the rigs I see in any given day, not only the amount in any given day, but what they consist of and then post it where everyone could see. I just don't have the energy, people think I'm lying about the situation, but I'm not.

Dave...
It has taken about 3 years of this for people to finally admit that this is the truth of the matter. Ive seen people say they would rather mow for themselves for minimum wage than work at Home Depot. You guys can have it. I just priced a lawn at $32 but didnt get it. It seems that $25 is the going rate and I just wont do a lawn for that.

MDLawn
10-07-2010, 01:13 PM
It has taken about 3 years of this for people to finally admit that this is the truth of the matter. Ive seen people say they would rather mow for themselves for minimum wage than work at Home Depot. You guys can have it. I just priced a lawn at $32 but didnt get it. It seems that $25 is the going rate and I just wont do a lawn for that.


Ha thats high, it seems the going rate for a 1/3 acre lawn around here is between $15 & $23. :laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:

I walk away from sooo many of these or get told I was beat out by this!

It's funny too, somtimes many of these houses back up to a small pond. When you look around the pond I can see the ones I do (green, look like a fairway) and the ones others do (brown short grass, circle mowing patterns, etc..). But those people could care less so they wouldn't go with me anyways. Hopefully they move soon and someone else who cares moves in!!:waving:

BrunoT
10-13-2010, 06:48 PM
I don't have a DMax because I wanted a big flashy truck. I got it because I got a pretty good deal I thought at the time. It had miles but it was a diesel and I figured I could get a lot more out of it till a rebuild or new motor. It has had injector issues and has snowballed from there.

For the D-bag that suggested I'm lowballing because I'm not sure what to sell my equipment, kiss my a** and go screw your self hoss.

I know how to handle what I'm doing. I paid about 12,500 for all I have eqipment wise. I thought about putting it on the market for in between 8000 and 9000 and dealing from there.

I don't want a new 1/2 ton because pulling equuipment all the time wears them down too
fast and they don't last in good shape till paid for. Trade on them is lower because you have worn them out. That why I prefer paid for or cheap vehicle. Plus new depreciates about 5-10% as soon as you drive off the lot.
Posted via Mobile Device

My experience is falling on deaf ears, I guess.

I just gave you two examples of not 1/2 ton full size, but tiny COMPACT trucks doing just fine towing what you're towing, over 3 years, and then being sold at top dollar in fine condition, with zero mechanical issues. One had 36K miles on it, the other had nearly 50K. ZERO issues, nothing out of pocket, great resale, both used daily for work and minimally for personal use as I had a second family car for that. That's HARD MILES.

Now what about the other trucks?

I leased a Ram 1/2 ton 4x4 for 3 years at $350/month with zero down back in the 90's and had zero out of pocket costs and the guy who inspected it at turn-in said he'd never seen a cleaner one.

Drove one of the older smaller Tundra V8's for 3.5 years and sold it privately for $16,500. Drove it off the lot when new for $25,000 even. Less than $2500 depreciation a year. Again not a dime out of pocket, the only repair was one brake job (under warranty for warped rotors) and two oxygen sensors (you can do that yourself in 10 min). It was running perfect, looked great, I just wanted another Ram out of boredom. It also got 14mpg towing a trailer vs 10.5mpg the Ram got.

Modern half tons are rated for 8,000 to 10,000 and are able to tow a 2500-3000 lb trailer and gear with no problems. (At least through the warranty periods) Remember, that's 50-100K miles for powertrain (the part affected by towing) depending on the brand. Buy a Chevy 1500 reg cab long bed W/T model and you'll have a mostly worry free work truck for 5 years and it'll be worth nearly half what you paid for it at the end of that period if you take care of it and sell it privately.

This is a business, not a job. One has to spend money to make it. Or keep buying huge oil burners that originally cost $35-$40K but have issues and keep tearing your hair out. With interest rates at historical lows you'd better "load up" on equipment when you can, for when interest rates rise (and they will with all the money printing going on) it'll be too late.

Invest in a $150 set of seat covers and rubber floor mats and use some care and hard work cleaning it up before selling it, and your truck will look above average no matter how hard you use it.

BrunoT
10-13-2010, 07:01 PM
Incedibly a lot on your plate. Get that full time job and then start up again and only take on what you can.

Agree with this post! That's too much. It may not seem like it when you're young, but your body will get revenge on you for going too hard when you're young. It doesn't show up right away, but there are so many systems in your body affected by mental and physical stress that will only wear out when you hit about 40.

I worked through school, college (including holidays), never took a vacation till I was mid 30's, and by the time I was early 40's my indocrine system started to crap out. This is the engine that runs your body. If you are not getting sleep, 2 days of rest a week on average, etc, do so now or you will pay for it later. Doctors have told me this. It's too complicated to explain what happens, but trust me, it does.

soloscaperman
10-13-2010, 07:02 PM
There should be no reason to buy a diesel unless your towing a skidsteer or more then 3 ZTR's on a trailer. Diesel trucks cost what over $8K+ more then gas motors?? Gas engines have come a long way and have a lot more torq and HP then 5+ years ago. I'm sorry but when a diesel fails get ready to bend over and open your wallet. The other thing with them is your lucky to find a good diesel Mechanic and the down time is much longer and that cost money as well.

Gas engines are so much easier to work on and the parts are always at your local parts store.

The LawnRanger
10-13-2010, 11:02 PM
Don't give up brother When things go wrong get down on your knees and pray to the man above it will work out we all have had our troubles its just part of business listen to me "YOU WILL NEVER GET ANYWHERE WORKING FOR ANYONE ELSE BUT YOUR SELF" I come from 3 generations of lawn care professionals and my Grand Father told me You have to spend money to make money so cowboy up go get you a newer truck and get your $ss to mowing you will be lot happier working for your self

BadRancher
10-18-2010, 08:25 PM
Thanks guys. Great posts.

BrunoT
10-19-2010, 10:39 AM
It has taken about 3 years of this for people to finally admit that this is the truth of the matter. Ive seen people say they would rather mow for themselves for minimum wage than work at Home Depot. You guys can have it. I just priced a lawn at $32 but didnt get it. It seems that $25 is the going rate and I just wont do a lawn for that.

Yeah, but I think the address "Flint Michigan" might have a lot to do with that. They're giving homes away in Detroit, the economy there is busted, laid off workers are jumping in, and lawn care is not a priority for many Rates are probably not that bad in most parts of the nation.