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CLARK LAWN
11-02-2010, 11:09 PM
after having employees for the last 4 years i am to the point were i am ready to fire them all downsize and just work solo. i am so tired of the excuses, damaging property, beating up equipment. i know many of you have done this. what are the pros and cons to this move.

T.E.
11-03-2010, 12:42 AM
about half the income i once had

PLS-Tx
11-03-2010, 12:59 AM
I feel the same way. Only problem is I can't do it solo anymore, wish I could.

Even if I could now one day I would not be able to so I may as well stick with it.

I do tired of putting up with them, but they put up with me. :laugh:

TJLANDS
11-03-2010, 09:11 AM
Don't mean to sound sarcastic but if you cant handle a business with only 4 employees then maybe running a business is not something you were meant to do.
I think guys that run solo operations as their only source of income are nuts.
Why dont you try to get a job with a large company?

LewisLawn
11-03-2010, 01:49 PM
where clark and I are from a solo operator can make in day what a crew member can make in a week. there are too many solo operators in our market that it is too hard to find quality employees for the money that you have to pay them, the way our economy has affected the job market everyone has gone out an bought used equpment to start their own illigitimate money maker to offset their loss in income while the govt pays the other 80%. However few of these can stand the test of time b/c of poor quality and service and those of us who have been around can keep plugging along. Managing crews of less than 10 people just isn't what it could be and often is in other areas of the states. If you can offer multiple services and have crews dedicated to them such as irrigation and lighting or other forms of installs then the profit margin is there to justify multiple crews, but that form of business is not for everyone

gasracer
11-03-2010, 05:54 PM
Don't mean to sound sarcastic but if you cant handle a business with only 4 employees then maybe running a business is not something you were meant to do.
I think guys that run solo operations as their only source of income are nuts.
Why dont you try to get a job with a large company?

I have to disagree. This is my 3rd season and I think I am doing ok being solo. I limit my outside jobs and take care of my regular customers. They all seem happy with my service. I use part time help for my large jobs.All of my equipment is paid for.

TJLANDS
11-03-2010, 06:28 PM
I have to disagree. This is my 3rd season and I think I am doing ok being solo. I limit my outside jobs and take care of my regular customers. They all seem happy with my service. I use part time help for my large jobs.All of my equipment is paid for.

Wish you luck!

gasracer
11-03-2010, 06:45 PM
Wish you luck!

It is hard work and determination.Who knows maybe in 5 years I might have some employees but until I see the need I will stay solo.

FLAhaulboy
11-03-2010, 07:42 PM
I've been solo for (5) years, had a crew before that & I only work on average half a week now & I've made good $ over the years. Bigger is not always better. I make more $ solo. I've got friends that were once solo, now have several crews, expensive trucks and equipment and I sit back and watch them struggle, on the verge of losing everything because they grew to fast. I suspect a lot of folks don't have the ability to operate a large business, the know how of. I was once in that predicament myself & it took yrs for me to get where I am today. Being "solo" shouldn't be seen as a negative, lots of businessmen think being solo casts them in a negative light, don't see themselves as successful as the other big company out there. That is a bunch of bull.

JD2320
11-03-2010, 07:49 PM
I think guys that run solo operations as their only source of income are nuts.


Why do you say that?

JD2320
11-03-2010, 07:56 PM
I have to disagree. This is my 3rd season and I think I am doing ok being solo. I limit my outside jobs and take care of my regular customers. They all seem happy with my service. I use part time help for my large jobs.All of my equipment is paid for.

6th season for me solo, and all my equipment is also paid for. new JD 2320, two Z-Sprays, Machine Seeder, Walk behind aerator, Ryan 48" 3PT aerator, a GNC 300 gallon sprayer, several Lesco spreaders, backpacks etc etc, 20 foot enclosed trailer.

I owe about 10 more payments on a new 1 ton truck bought in 2008.

topsites
11-03-2010, 08:11 PM
Why do you say that?

In the United States of America, ANYTIME we can not figure out why someone
else does what they are doing, we simply label them crazy.

Let me say it again...

When you, or I, or anybody just can't wrap our minds around someone else's concept, that somehow means
they must be crazy, even thou the fault could well lie within the person who doesn't get it.
Mind you, it is an absolute rule.

Get it?
If you don't, you're crazy.

It's been that way practically forever.
Yes wai, srsly.

JD2320
11-03-2010, 08:28 PM
In the United States of America, ANYTIME we can not figure out why someone
else does what they are doing, we simply label them crazy.

Let me say it again...

When you, or I, or anybody just can't wrap our minds around someone else's concept, that somehow means
they must be crazy, even thou the fault could well lie within the person who doesn't get it.
Mind you, it is an absolute rule.

Get it?
If you don't, you're crazy.

It's been that way practically forever.
Yes wai, srsly.

I suppose you're right. I also hear "I wish I could be that way but for some reason, I can't"

I know many solo operators and the ones that are smart and dedicated do very well with few headaches.

I also know several guys that used to be in that mid range three to four crews or 4-8 employees almost doing a million dollars a year deal who chucked it all and downsized to a solo op or 2 man deal and love their decision every day and make more than they used too trying to manage all the headaches.

And I am not saying a mid range 4-8 man operation can't work well either.

TJLANDS
11-03-2010, 08:47 PM
Why do you say that?

The reason I say that , which of course is just my opinion,
I have known several good guys that were solo and got hurt and lost everything.
One guy got into a bad accident and messed up all his equipment,
couldn't afford to replace everything in time.
He now works for me. And I have his accounts.

I have taken a lot of solo operators accounts when they run into bad weather, breakdowns etc. that pushed back into sat -sun mowing's. Or just skipped weeks altogether.
And other things.

No disrespect as Topsy thinks, just business. Way to many things could go wrong running solo, many no fault of your own.

wbw
11-03-2010, 08:52 PM
Why do you say that?

What happens when you get hurt? What happens when you get sick? What happens when you age to the point where you can no longer work as hard as you do now. What happens when you want to go on vacation during "the season"? You will never make more money than what you can produce. How many more reasons do you want?

Working solo can be a great job. It is almost never as good a job, as a good job. Benefits, retirement and peace of mind all weigh in favor of getting a good job versus going solo. Guys stay solo because they don't have the management skills required to develop good employees. It is definitely the toughest aspect of the job. I am not knocking anyone who is solo. I admire all that it takes to do it by yourself everyday. I just don't think it is worth the hassle and risk if you can't grow and make the BIG DOLLARS.

gasracer
11-03-2010, 08:59 PM
What happens when you get hurt? What happens when you get sick? What happens when you age to the point where you can no longer work as hard as you do now. What happens when you want to go on vacation during "the season"? You will never make more money than what you can produce. How many more reasons do you want?

Working solo can be a great job. It is almost never as good a job, as a good job. Benefits, retirement and peace of mind all weigh in favor of getting a good job versus going solo. Guys stay solo because they don't have the management skills required to develop good employees. It is definitely the toughest aspect of the job. I am not knocking anyone who is solo. I admire all that it takes to do it by yourself everyday. I just don't think it is worth the hassle and risk if you can't grow and make the BIG DOLLARS.

I agree but your business has to grow to the point of needing employees. I am not to that point yet.Everyone has to start somewhere.

MDLawn
11-04-2010, 11:03 AM
Not that I have much bearing on this but I am part-time and want employees. I've run numbers soo many times on leaving a career trying to go solo and they just can't add up to the current career, yes career not a job, I have with benefits, days off, perks of the job. I'll never ever have to work a holiday, whereas with solo you are working everyday. I'm just following in the foot steps of a friend I worked for (he is a career guy that does this part time) who makes more with this part time business with guys working for him. Yes he is legit. But even this part time guy has 3-4 guys that work for him. These guys know its only part time but they are ok with it. To me its the best of both worlds. When i sit down and run numbers my mind always says "Are you really going to want to mow lawns and dig holes at 50 because you have to?" I'll take the young part time employees and manage them. Again just an opinion, everyone is different.

JD2320
11-04-2010, 02:45 PM
What happens when you get hurt? I'd still work


What happens when you get sick? I'd still work


What happens when you age to the point where you can no longer work as hard as you do now. I'll still work and slow down like all old people


What happens when you want to go on vacation during "the season"? I'd go on vacation and when I got back....I'd go...back to work. (Part of the beauty of fertilizing lawns plus I get four months a year off in Winter to take a vacation.)

You will never make more money than what you can produce. I don't need more than 200,000 a year in revenues.

How many more reasons do you want? is this a trick question? I'll guess.....3?

I just don't think it is worth the hassle and risk if you can't grow and make the BIG DOLLARS.



What do you consider big dollars?

JD2320
11-04-2010, 02:53 PM
The reason I say that , which of course is just my opinion,
I have known several good guys that were solo and got hurt and lost everything. How bad does someone have to get hurt so they can't ride a lawn mower or fertilizer spreader?

One guy got into a bad accident and messed up all his equipment,
couldn't afford to replace everything in time. Not buying insurance was his own fault.

He now works for me. And I have his accounts. Don't let him drive. He might have an accident.

I have taken a lot of solo operators accounts when they run into bad weather, breakdowns etc. that pushed back into sat -sun mowing's. Or just skipped weeks altogether. Working Saturday and Sunday??? OH the Humanity!


And other things. Can you describe the other things?


No disrespect as Topsy thinks, just business. Way to many things could go wrong running solo, many no fault of your own.

Most of which could ruin a business with employees also. Lots of businesses with employees....go out of business every day.

wbw
11-04-2010, 07:49 PM
I agree but your business has to grow to the point of needing employees. I am not to that point yet.Everyone has to start somewhere.

When I started I drove a school bus to supplement my income and give me access to health insurance.

It doesn't matter how you start...it's how you finish that counts.

wbw
11-04-2010, 07:51 PM
What do you consider big dollars?

I service swimming pools. Working solo at age fifty I could make maybe 60K.
Next year I will break 100K and I am shooting for 200K in five years.

JD2320
11-04-2010, 08:01 PM
I service swimming pools. Working solo at age fifty I could make maybe 60K.
Next year I will break 100K and I am shooting for 200K in five years.

I fertilize lawns and do almost your five year goal....solo. I don't even have a wife or GF at home to help with the books or domestics.

I know there are some career paths and enterprises that generate lower revenues and one may need helpers to achieve ones goals.

You could never generate the kind of dollars I do mowing lawns or servicing pools solo.

Just realize that taking on an employee legally, that is to say paying taxes, comp, a good wage and some benefits will take you a long long time to overcome, and a lot longer to reach a goal.

On the other hand I am all for giving a man a good job if you have one available and can afford to pay him while still making "profit" Lord knows we need a lot of that in this country.

topsites
11-04-2010, 09:08 PM
I service swimming pools. Working solo at age fifty I could make maybe 60K.
Next year I will break 100K and I am shooting for 200K in five years.

Ewww that's kind of on the low side, almost street urchin.

wbw
11-04-2010, 10:27 PM
Ewww that's kind of on the low side, almost street urchin.

You know I am not talking gross revenue. And I am blessed with a wife who makes a lot more than me.

PlantscapeSolutions
11-06-2010, 12:40 AM
after having employees for the last 4 years i am to the point were i am ready to fire them all downsize and just work solo. i am so tired of the excuses, damaging property, beating up equipment. i know many of you have done this. what are the pros and cons to this move.

Here is what I've learned about help. The workers born here are worthless most of the time. They are often flaky, on probation, or on parole. You've got to get workers that come from dirt poor countries that had to risk their life to get here. The south of the border help sticks around especially if you pay them well.

Your biggest challenge is not losing your help in the slow season. Another much larger company uses one of my guys in the winter months when their work visa guys are in Mexico.

Most of the bigger companies pay their guys poorly if they are not legal. You need to try to get some connections at the bigger companies and steal their employee's. Hiring unskilled workers is for the birds. I hired away four people from one of the larger local companies.

If you don't habla Espanol find someone who does who can help you.

gasracer
11-06-2010, 09:12 AM
Here is what I've learned about help. The workers born here are worthless most of the time. They are often flaky, on probation, or on parole. You've got to get workers that come from dirt poor countries that had to risk their life to get here. The south of the border help sticks around especially if you pay them well.

Your biggest challenge is not losing your help in the slow season. Another much larger company uses one of my guys in the winter months when their work visa guys are in Mexico.

Most of the bigger companies pay their guys poorly if they are not legal. You need to try to get some connections at the bigger companies and steal their employee's. Hiring unskilled workers is for the birds. I hired away four people from one of the larger local companies.

If you don't habla Espanol find someone who does who can help you.



I have to disagree. They MUST speak "English"(Spanglish doesn't count) and have a true "Green card". INS will fines are not something I am willing to risk in my business. Since I am solo and have the time to pick the "right" person I want to work for me.

PlantscapeSolutions
11-06-2010, 10:44 AM
I have to disagree. They MUST speak "English"(Spanglish doesn't count) and have a true "Green card". INS will fines are not something I am willing to risk in my business. Since I am solo and have the time to pick the "right" person I want to work for me.

I used to think the same thing but the stressful flow of born here folks really took a toll on quality control. The INS is now ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). As long as your workers provide you with a real looking Social Security number and Green Card that you can copy you've done your part. Pay your guys as workers not subcontractors as well which means paying your 941 taxes like your supposed to.

The system for verifying SS numbers is still not mandatory. ICE targets mostly immigrant criminal activity and employers who take advantage of immigrants. Big employers who employ hundreds of immigrants end up in the spot light as well sometimes.

I've probably had at least a dozen employee's with questionable documents and I've only received a letter from the SSA once. I think the guy was using his son's number which was real but did not match up with the proper name and age on record. The guy hadn't worked for me in several years by the time I received the letter.

I'm from Maine originally but live in TX now. Up north it could be a bit of a challenge to find decent help. Luckily here in the southern states the labor pool is plentiful. I tried to due the work visa thing three years ago and the government left me high and dry. I spent $4000 and got no workers. In this business you have to do what is required to get the job done. I got very lucky and ended up hiring the best workers I've ever had when when the work visa's burned me in the spring of 08'.

wbw
11-06-2010, 03:40 PM
. Since I am solo and have the time to pick the "right" person I want to work for me.

After you hire the "right" person you won't be solo anymore. Then you will take on more work than you can do without help. Then your "right" help will quit, move, get hurt or get arrested. What then my friend? What then?

No offense meant but this is the kind of thinking that makes the transition from solo to employer so difficult. You need to have processes in place. Even if that process is to simply steal employees from a competitor. You need to know what you are going to do when you are in that bind before you are in it.

wbw
11-06-2010, 03:50 PM
I fertilize lawns and do almost your five year goal....solo. I don't even have a wife or GF at home to help with the books or domestics..


I feel your pain. My wife earns a great income but she is only home 2 weekends per month. I have an eleven year old that I care for as well. She goes to a private school with no bus service so I lose 1 1/2-2 hours a day just transporting her.

My near term goal is to simply build routes and sell them. My customers have a market value of @ $1500 each. It is the off season and I picked up two last week and one this week. I am currently preparing to experiment with direct mail. If I can get a 1% response rate I will never look back.

JD2320
11-06-2010, 03:52 PM
After you hire the "right" person you won't be solo anymore. Then you will take on more work than you can do without help. Then your "right" help will quit, move, get hurt or get arrested. What then my friend? What then?

No offense meant but this is the kind of thinking that makes the transition from solo to employer so difficult. You need to have processes in place. Even if that process is to simply steal employees from a competitor. You need to know what you are going to do when you are in that bind before you are in it.

That doesn't make any sense. The employee you hire away from another company has just as much chance of moving, quitting, getting hurt or arrested.

JD2320
11-06-2010, 03:56 PM
I feel your pain. My wife earns a great income but she is only home 2 weekends per month. I have an eleven year old that I care for as well. She goes to a private school with no bus service so I lose 1 1/2-2 hours a day just transporting her.

My near term goal is to simply build routes and sell them. My customers have a market value of @ $1500 each. It is the off season and I picked up two last week and one this week. I am currently preparing to experiment with direct mail. If I can get a 1% response rate I will never look back.

Classic direct mail won't work for you. You have to mail to people that have swimming pools 'Only"
Take an hour and a half to home school the kid and teach her how to use a net and add chemicals.

:)

wbw
11-06-2010, 08:35 PM
Classic direct mail won't work for you. You have to mail to people that have swimming pools 'Only"
Take an hour and a half to home school the kid and teach her how to use a net and add chemicals.

:)

Are you sure I shouldn't be paying postage to send to houses without pools?:waving:

juststartin
11-08-2010, 08:13 AM
Classic direct mail won't work for you. You have to mail to people that have swimming pools 'Only"
Take an hour and a half to home school the kid and teach her how to use a net and add chemicals.

:)

Ok I won't beat around the bush. If being solo is so profitable, what is your net.... not the fantasyland number... the actual number that you pay taxes on?

Being solo is fine, but there are some very big negatives.

1. If you get hurt or sick... you are screwed
2. You can only bill out for a certain amount of man hours per week
3. You have to actually work... which gets pretty damn old after 15yrs

zturncutter
11-08-2010, 08:40 AM
Ok I won't beat around the bush. If being solo is so profitable, what is your net.... not the fantasyland number... the actual number that you pay taxes on?

Being solo is fine, but there are some very big negatives.

1. If you get hurt or sick... you are screwed
2. You can only bill out for a certain amount of man hours per week
3. You have to actually work... which gets pretty damn old after 15yrs

My 2 cents,

#1 You buy disability insurance instead of paying employees with your revenues, you cover yourself with workers comp. insurance and you save money to live on just in case, instead of handing it to an employee.

#2 If you think you are going to bill out 100% of any employees time you are mistaken, figure no more than 75% of the time you pay them for.

#3 You had better figure on working once you have employees, you will just be doing a different job. But you will be working, man will you be working on administration and organization, and a bit of babysitting as well.

zturncutter
11-08-2010, 08:51 AM
Another thing to consider is Liability insurance rates. Here in Florida the rate is based on actual payroll if you have employees other than your self, and only $16,700.00 if you are solo. This has saved me almost $1500.00 per year since going back to solo with still the same $1,000,000.00 policy. That is money that has to be paid out of net not gross.

gasracer
11-08-2010, 08:52 AM
After you hire the "right" person you won't be solo anymore. Then you will take on more work than you can do without help. Then your "right" help will quit, move, get hurt or get arrested. What then my friend? What then?

No offense meant but this is the kind of thinking that makes the transition from solo to employer so difficult. You need to have processes in place. Even if that process is to simply steal employees from a competitor. You need to know what you are going to do when you are in that bind before you are in it.

I am not in a position that I have to have so much work I can't do it all solo. I have 3 different guys that rotate out working for me part time.I use them on the larger stuff and do all the little stuff solo. I know how long it takes me to do the larger stuff solo too.

JD2320
11-08-2010, 01:51 PM
Ok I won't beat around the bush. If being solo is so profitable, what is your net.... not the fantasyland number... the actual number that you pay taxes on?

Being solo is fine, but there are some very big negatives.

1. If you get hurt or sick... you are screwed
2. You can only bill out for a certain amount of man hours per week
3. You have to actually work... which gets pretty damn old after 15yrs

60% of my gross revenues. I've worked for 37 years. Am I doing something wrong?


What gives you the idea that because you have employees you don't have to work?

Again....I think this is why a lot of guys that should be solo went bigger. Then they found out it wasn't all cherry pie and they....still have to work. Besides that they have ulcers worrying about everything under the sun from employees showing up Monday morning, to employees leaving Friday afternoon with all your account and client info.

I'm not saying having employees is a bad thing.....but FFS stop ripping on Solo operators who choose to do it that way.

Ya'll make it sound like we are not legitimate businessmen or business owners because we didn't hire our brothers in law.

TheC-Master
11-08-2010, 07:41 PM
People can do what they want. The tax benefits are better once you know what you're doing and can grow and tax in a different structure. I love getting dirty,and I love getting clean too. Ideally I'd want a business system to run itself so I focus on investing and acquiring multiple assets. That's also why over 90% of businesses fails. Not enough funds and being burned out. If I go on vacation my money goes on vacation, if I sleep my money sleeps. Passive income is the ideal income, if one knows how to do it. I want my money working for me, not having to work for it. Yes there is still management with anything, even investing; but it opens you up to so much more. It's the only way into the BIG leagues. But if you are happy, then that is great. Everyone has different goals.

juststartin
11-08-2010, 11:24 PM
My 2 cents,

#1 You buy disability insurance instead of paying employees with your revenues, you cover yourself with workers comp. insurance and you save money to live on just in case, instead of handing it to an employee.

#2 If you think you are going to bill out 100% of any employees time you are mistaken, figure no more than 75% of the time you pay them for.

#3 You had better figure on working once you have employees, you will just be doing a different job. But you will be working, man will you be working on administration and organization, and a bit of babysitting as well.

#1 Disablity insurance is a good idea... really a total necessity for all solo guys. Good point!

#2 I don't know about employees working only 75% of the time. Time to say "your fired!!" Billing out for man hours is key. Being a solo operator you can only bill out for so many total hours per week. I think as you get bigger, the profit margin may shrink, but the increase in volume will lead to an increase in the net. Solo operators may have a 60% net. But 60% of 100k isn't very much... but if you do a million with 25% net you are starting to make real money!

#3 Yeah I guess your right... different type of work. Doing office work for a couple hours a week, meeting with customers, and checking on jobs sure beats the hell out of weedeating though.

juststartin
11-08-2010, 11:32 PM
60% of my gross revenues. I've worked for 37 years. Am I doing something wrong?


What gives you the idea that because you have employees you don't have to work?

Again....I think this is why a lot of guys that should be solo went bigger. Then they found out it wasn't all cherry pie and they....still have to work. Besides that they have ulcers worrying about everything under the sun from employees showing up Monday morning, to employees leaving Friday afternoon with all your account and client info.

I'm not saying having employees is a bad thing.....but FFS stop ripping on Solo operators who choose to do it that way.

Ya'll make it sound like we are not legitimate businessmen or business owners because we didn't hire our brothers in law.

60% of what? 60% of 100k sucks especially if you have to slodge around yards all day.

I guess by work I was referring to manual labor. That sucks!

It really isn't THAT bad running a business. I would rather be running a business rather than running a business and doing manual labor all day!

Being a solo operator is fine! But for god's sake please don't act like you are somehow some type of successfull business man. You cannot even achieve employee management. You wine about headaches this and that, but that is only because you are too incompetent to create a system to make a small business thrive. You act like all large businesses are all bound to fail and full of problems. Why do you lie to yourself? We all know it CAN be done and it IS done everyday.

juststartin
11-08-2010, 11:33 PM
Ideally I'd want a business system to run itself so I focus on investing and acquiring multiple assets. That's also why over 90% of businesses fails. Not enough funds and being burned out. If I go on vacation my money goes on vacation, if I sleep my money sleeps. Passive income is the ideal income, if one knows how to do it. I want my money working for me, not having to work for it. Yes there is still management with anything, even investing; but it opens you up to so much more. It's the only way into the BIG leagues. But if you are happy, then that is great. Everyone has different goals.

Exactly. Very good points.

JD2320
11-09-2010, 12:27 AM
60% of what? 60% of 100k sucks especially if you have to slodge around yards all day.

I guess by work I was referring to manual labor. That sucks!

It really isn't THAT bad running a business. I would rather be running a business rather than running a business and doing manual labor all day!

Being a solo operator is fine! But for god's sake please don't act like you are somehow some type of successfull business man. You cannot even achieve employee management. You wine about headaches this and that, but that is only because you are too incompetent to create a system to make a small business thrive. You act like all large businesses are all bound to fail and full of problems. Why do you lie to yourself? We all know it CAN be done and it IS done everyday.

I guess maybe I come from a different era than you where we aren't afraid to work. I do manual labor. I "slodge" around lawns all day, and my office all night and I enjoy it. I am passionate about it.

I never once said having a large business is bound to fail....lol I just said that if you think you can not work yet own a business with employees however large, then you are naive, and inexperienced.

If you think 60,000 dollars of net income sucks, then we are done talking because that's just stupid. I'm not going to tell you what my actual gross revenues are but suffice to say they are more than 100K, and I get 4 entire months off per year while you're shoveling snow too. :)

And a PS. I don't cut grass either.

StoneFaced
11-09-2010, 02:17 AM
I've been on both sides of the fence. I prefer not to have employees, I often times work solo, other times I work as a general contractor and consultant...which is what I really enjoy. I've competed against some of the largest, often times I win. One of my best selling points is that my clients deal w/ me start to finish. I design it, I hand select the material being used, I'm either installing it or on site while the work is being done. Problems are seldom for both parties, because there isn't a communication break down between when the job was sold and when it was installed. If there is a question, or a change...I'm right there. My designs are better and stronger working solo, because I'm not usually pressed to run out the door to micro-manage, they get the time they deserve...been there, done that. There's just something about waking up in the morning, putting on a pot of coffee & some good background music to set the mood, and then hitting the drawing table. If it's a complex brainteaser design, I just might have to spark one up and put on some Floyd...or go to a breakfast meeting w/ other contractors and builders to discuss the phases of upcoming projects...we like to network like that. I've worked w/ the same trades 15-21 years, if I need extra labor I use theirs. I've never met a project that I couldn't do, or had the resources to do...but we don't build bridges, skyscrapers or freeways.
Was this just about running lawn care or business in general? I stopped mowing lawns in 88.

ohdad34
11-09-2010, 06:21 AM
I've been on both sides of the fence. I prefer not to have employees, I often times work solo, other times I work as a general contractor and consultant...which is what I really enjoy. I've competed against some of the largest, often times I win. One of my best selling points is that my clients deal w/ me start to finish. I design it, I hand select the material being used, I'm either installing it or on site while the work is being done. Problems are seldom for both parties, because there isn't a communication break down between when the job was sold and when it was installed. If there is a question, or a change...I'm right there. My designs are better and stronger working solo, because I'm not usually pressed to run out the door to micro-manage, they get the time they deserve...been there, done that. There's just something about waking up in the morning, putting on a pot of coffee & some good background music to set the mood, and then hitting the drawing table. If it's a complex brainteaser design, I just might have to spark one up and put on some Floyd...or go to a breakfast meeting w/ other contractors and builders to discuss the phases of upcoming projects...we like to network like that. I've worked w/ the same trades 15-21 years, if I need extra labor I use theirs. I've never met a project that I couldn't do, or had the resources to do...but we don't build bridges, skyscrapers or freeways.
Was this just about running lawn care or business in general? I stopped mowing lawns in 88.

Right on! That drought of "88 was somethin else wasn't it? Pretty sure some guys have some kind of complex or got beat up in school, and now they have some kind of control issue, so they have to find a way to have people under them. Two of my best friends have companys with multiple crews. I love it! I get lots of work from them because when they get behind, or get themselves in a huge bind, THEY CALL ME. And yes, they gross hundreds of thousands more than me, but for some reason they're losing work, not getting any new. And yes, at the end of the year, after crunching the numbers, I ALWAYS put more money in my pocket. To each their own. Oh yeah, I think they're both on anti-anxiety medication also. I sleep very well at night, they dont. THE ONLY WAY TO HAVE GOOD EMPLOYEES IS TO BREED THEM!

wbw
11-09-2010, 08:01 AM
THE ONLY WAY TO HAVE GOOD EMPLOYEES IS TO BREED THEM!

Trust me on this. Breeding them doesn't always produce the desired results.:laugh:

TheC-Master
11-09-2010, 09:44 AM
Like I said I *love* getting out and getting my hands dirty from time to time in my business. But if you can run a large business effectively why not? That's how Donald Trump, Bill Gates, Ted Turner, etc did it. Some say "well I don't need to be that rich". It doesn't matter. You have better tax advantages and your money is working for you. You are making an asset and acquiring it vs being the system. Building an empire to last even after I'm gone is my idea. And I love doing that just like I love doing my business. I love moving and making things grow. The idea of being wealthy by physical labor is fading. Now in the information age, wealth and success can be attained by very young people who understand business systems. You can beat it or join it.

Yes, acquiring and training employees is a pain. No doubt. But if you can master it, it will make you much better off. Far better off. That's the hardest part of the business by far. Managing and delegating. I know because I'm a person who likes to "do it myself" and "it's only done right that way". I had to give up some things myself, so I can definitely understand both sides.

JD2320
11-09-2010, 10:34 AM
Wealth is subjective. One persons wealth is obviously someone elses scorned income. The average income these days is something like 22,000 dollars.

In my opinion making 3 times that is doing pretty good.

This information age you speak of and easy money is whats ruining the work ethic of our young people. Some of them have posted in this thread too. They don't want to have to work to attain that wealth. They want it handed to them on a silver platter.

They see movies like that recent movie about the creator of facebook and think Hey! That looks easy. Then they get hit upside the head with a 2 x 4 of reality, and start a Lawn care business because hey! That looks easy. Then they hire people to do the work for them because Hey! That makes it easier.

Nothing good is easy, cheap, or free.

TheC-Master
11-09-2010, 10:53 AM
Wealth is subjective. One persons wealth is obviously someone elses scorned income. The average income these days is something like 22,000 dollars.

In my opinion making 3 times that is doing pretty good.

This information age you speak of and easy money is whats ruining the work ethic of our young people. Some of them have posted in this thread too. They don't want to have to work to attain that wealth. They want it handed to them on a silver platter.

They see movies like that recent movie about the creator of facebook and think Hey! That looks easy. Then they get hit upside the head with a 2 x 4 of reality, and start a Lawn care business because hey! That looks easy. Then they hire people to do the work for them because Hey! That makes it easier.

Nothing good is easy, cheap, or free.

Wealth is subjective, you're absolutely right. In the big picture a million dollars isn't that much, much less six figures. It's a drop in the bucket.

We do have very many lazy people, especially Americans. However there is a difference between working diligently and just laboring. Relying on physical labor isn't working as it is in less demand and jobs are being sent all over the world to people who will work harder for less. Young people with computer skills are in demand more than middle aged exec's making the "big" 6 figures a year.

You can work hard making your business (you *will* work hard), but you also need to work smart, that's leverage. Would you use an axe or a chainsaw? Better yet, let someone else use that chainsaw for you.

Leverage is doing more with less and as time increases we will be doing more and more with less and less; that's the purpose of technology. That doesn't dismiss work ethic, just allows for more to be done. People choose to be lazy. Anybody who thinks business is easy will find out soon enough, it's about the hardest thing you can do. People look at me and think it fell into my lap while they were out popping out kids they can't afford and things like that and seem to think I owe them or something. It's a shame we've become an entitlement nation with such laziness. Which is why I don't even bother with family and friends anymore. I'm unbiased down the line.

JD2320
11-09-2010, 11:41 AM
I don't consider a 6 figure income a drop in the bucket. Maybe I am different. I don't have kids. I don't need to leave a legacy to anyone, or provide for anyone but myself. Maybe that's one reason being a Sole Proprietor works for me in my mind. In my will I leave everything to my girlfriend and if she pre deceases me it goes to the ASPCA.

All I need is to get the bills paid, have enough to buy what I want, which I do now although I still have room to grow as a solo operation. I'm not looking to be and don't want to be the next Bill Gates, or Mark Zuckerberg.

This fascination with being the Next Bill Gates is a disease in my opinion.

TheC-Master
11-09-2010, 11:48 AM
It all depends on the person and what they do with it. It depends on what you want. My goal is giving back more and more. It's good for everyone that way. 6 figures is good if you want to "make it" and have a few toys. If you want to start a company, acquire other assets, and build new things, it isn't that much. With billions and trillions moving around, it really isn't. It isn't "bad" to have, but it isn't all that either.

There is responsibility with that kind of money anyways. It isn't for everyone and most people won't ever do that anyways. I focus on growing and giving. The more I give the more I grow, the more I grow the more I give. Works like a charm.

JD2320
11-09-2010, 12:51 PM
Well give some to me.

:cool2:

TheC-Master
11-09-2010, 01:06 PM
Well give some to me.

:cool2:
Nah you're smart. I respect any legit businessperson.

Friends, fam, or whoever is just looking for a handout I don't bother. People make themselves in their situations generally. I had a kid want my airbrush and said he had a business. I told him since he was a business person make the little 100-200 dollars and go buy his own. Better than handouts (I know you're joking though).

JD2320
11-09-2010, 01:17 PM
No. I'm not. See if letting your money work for you is good. Letting your money work for me is even better.

I never turn down free cash. I remember once while working at a machine shop I bent down to pick up a penny off the floor. Couple guys laughed and started tossing pennies on the floor. Each time they did? I picked them up.

Now they got a good chuckle out of it. I got 50 cents.

TheC-Master
11-09-2010, 02:01 PM
Yea, but giving someone the money isn't giving them the knowledge. Hence why many lottery winners go broke soon after.

JD2320
11-09-2010, 02:25 PM
I'll take my chances. Gimme.

:weightlifter:

But that's getting back to what I think is the ruination of a lot of young people these days. Most have all the wrong heroes, and expectations and they want things given to them.

It irks me but doesn't surprise me in this thread and the other that so many people think hard and long about how to get out of working and probably want to pay the people that do work, peanuts.

I'll work till the day I die and be thankful I can. I don't think I have once ever thought about retirement in any big picture and I am almost 51 years old.

My brother retired when he sold the business and what does he do all day? Luncheons with his snobby friends and he's president of the band boosters at his kids high school and he does whatever his wife (biotch) tells him which is usually cutting coupons or doing the dishes.

I'd eat a gun if that were me.

TheC-Master
11-09-2010, 02:50 PM
I'll take my chances. Gimme.

:weightlifter:

But that's getting back to what I think is the ruination of a lot of young people these days. Most have all the wrong heroes, and expectations and they want things given to them.

It irks me but doesn't surprise me in this thread and the other that so many people think hard and long about how to get out of working and probably want to pay the people that do work, peanuts.

I'll work till the day I die and be thankful I can. I don't think I have once ever thought about retirement in any big picture and I am almost 51 years old.

My brother retired when he sold the business and what does he do all day? Luncheons with his snobby friends and he's president of the band boosters at his kids high school and he does whatever his wife (biotch) tells him which is usually cutting coupons or doing the dishes.

I'd eat a gun if that were me.
It all comes back to demand really. A guy who can wash dishes is easy to replace. A person who can come up with an idea to serve millions and make things easier or better is rare.

"Rich" people aren't all that bad. I find them to be quite pleasant. There are good and bad of every category. But the rich basketball players and musicians are more of the problem because they get the money at a young age without the skill and people aspire to be that. A lot of those guys end up washed up in the future.

cjmoore82
11-09-2010, 05:47 PM
GREAT CONVERSATION.... Are we really going back in forth about whether solo is better than more employees??? This is comical. Everyone wants the American dream, right? Everyone wants to make the big dollars!

How do these single operations expect to retire? You can only do so much sales, increasing your business to a certain point only to flat line. Maybe you can get your sales up to $200k by yourself... then your business will have a net worth and you can sell it for MAYBE $200k. Can you retire off that? If you have multiple crews doing 5 times the work and your sales are 1 million... could you retire off that sale?

No offense but like it was said earlier.. maybe the solo operators just can't hack the growing business. Nothing wrong with that. It is a lot easier just having one crew to worry about and also getting things done the way you want them. Maybe you all just need to hire better people.

There are so many factors why people would want to go solo again but really... your just not running business correct. Sorry :(

I am 28 and going to hit 1 million in sales this year... if I can do it, then so can you! or maybe not

P.S. I pick up every penny too. So does Donald Trump.

JD2320
11-09-2010, 06:44 PM
CJ you make some valid points but to say that someone who wants to be solo just isn't running their business correctly is wrong. Maybe that's what THEY want to do. Maybe it's not good for you but it's not your business.

Maybe someday I will add an employee or two. In my business each employee can generate upwards of 200K each, and sales don't happen like they did ten years ago, so it would be several steps backwards to take a step forward but it's a valid idea.

It would cost me no less than 45,000 dollars per year just to pay salaries, comp, benefits, unemployment insurance and taxes on 1 employee, and then there's a new truck and trailer. That's another 40 grand, and possibly some equipment, that's another 10grand.

So right there we are at close to 100 grand just to add 1 employee. The first year.

My own personal situation may be different than a lot too as far as retirement. I have a decent sized portfolio of stocks and a second home that together is worth over 300 grand right now, and my longtime girlfriend makes 100K a year, so yes I feel as though I could retire if I chose too and I know for a fact that with 1 phone call I could sell my current accounts for 1.25 times earnings for a given year.

I also have 75,000 worth of equipment that could be sold.

But.....I know what I am doing, and yeah, to answer your question 1 million is better than 200,000.

Congratulations by the way. That's a nice milestone for you if you reach that 1M mark. :clapping:

gasracer
11-09-2010, 06:47 PM
GREAT CONVERSATION.... Are we really going back in forth about whether solo is better than more employees??? This is comical. Everyone wants the American dream, right? Everyone wants to make the big dollars!

How do these single operations expect to retire? You can only do so much sales, increasing your business to a certain point only to flat line. Maybe you can get your sales up to $200k by yourself... then your business will have a net worth and you can sell it for MAYBE $200k. Can you retire off that? If you have multiple crews doing 5 times the work and your sales are 1 million... could you retire off that sale?

No offense but like it was said earlier.. maybe the solo operators just can't hack the growing business. Nothing wrong with that. It is a lot easier just having one crew to worry about and also getting things done the way you want them. Maybe you all just need to hire better people.

There are so many factors why people would want to go solo again but really... your just not running business correct. Sorry :(

I am 28 and going to hit 1 million in sales this year... if I can do it, then so can you! or maybe not

P.S. I pick up every penny too. So does Donald Trump.

Here is the difference in you me being solo. I DON'T PLAN ON DOING THIS THE REST OF MY LIFE!!!!! I am doing it till the economy gets better and I go back to work in my field. My wife makes more than I ever could at this or my regular field so I don't have to bust my ass to make a 100 Grand a year. I work 3 to 4 days a week, 7 months out of the year.

cjmoore82
11-09-2010, 07:20 PM
:) Great points as well. Not everyone has the investments like yourself. House, Girlfriend (who is raking in money), equipment, etc. Just bringing up some valid points that solo individuals need to remember. It could go either way. For me its better to grow, for you its better to stay solo. Everyone made some great points!!

To answer the very first question... stay solo if it works! Go Big if you can!

sdk1959
11-09-2010, 07:22 PM
And I am blessed with a wife who makes a lot more than me.

That's a smart man.Thumbs Up

Men that marry poor & needy women, not too bright of a decision with today's divorce rate, divorce laws, and divorce outcomes. Men who do can lose their business, home, assets and a good chunk of their income. Chivalry is dead.

Excessive child support is the new hidden tax-free (for her, not you) alimony and it is much worse than alimony. At least with alimony you don't pay taxes on it she does, you don't pay if she cheated, there's a time limit, and stop paying if she remarries.

Can't trust those poor women, a man is nothing more than a wallet to them. If a women makes a good income she's with you because she wants to be with you, not needs to be for financial reasons.

juststartin
11-09-2010, 07:49 PM
I guess maybe I come from a different era than you where we aren't afraid to work. I do manual labor. I "slodge" around lawns all day, and my office all night and I enjoy it. I am passionate about it.

I never once said having a large business is bound to fail....lol I just said that if you think you can not work yet own a business with employees however large, then you are naive, and inexperienced.

If you think 60,000 dollars of net income sucks, then we are done talking because that's just stupid. I'm not going to tell you what my actual gross revenues are but suffice to say they are more than 100K, and I get 4 entire months off per year while you're shoveling snow too. :)

And a PS. I don't cut grass either.

Yeah I did manual labor for several years... probably worked more hours than you ever have, but then I had an epiphany. I realized my time is worth more than $10-$15 an hour. That is basically what you are paying yourself to slodge around jobs. If you can not make a profit without paying someone else to do it, you may need to re-evalaute your price structure... I know I have.

Because I do not prefer to do manual labor I am naive? My time is worth more than a day laborer(so is yours!)

$60,000 net sucks!! I know guys that have just two or three employees and net more than that without getting dirt under their fingernails. 200k isn't even that great after you pay taxes on it.

Why the jab at lawn service guys? Anyone that is truly successful in this business, love reoccurring income whether it be lawn applications or lawn service. RESIDUAL INCOME!

PS I don't shovel snow!

JD2320
11-09-2010, 08:27 PM
:) Great points as well. Not everyone has the investments like yourself. House, Girlfriend (who is raking in money), equipment, etc. Just bringing up some valid points that solo individuals need to remember. It could go either way. For me its better to grow, for you its better to stay solo. Everyone made some great points!!

To answer the very first question... stay solo if it works! Go Big if you can!

After I typed all that and it was posted I thought that hell....this isn't about me and my personal situation, but about running solo or not.

My situation is probably a lot different than most and I am thankful for that but
it has nothing to do with the topic as a general rule.



But I still think....No, I know that a solo operator can still make a good living in Lawn care if it's taken seriously. Some people will and are satisfied with that and don't need too or have interest in becoming the next Brickman or Tru Green.

JD2320
11-09-2010, 08:33 PM
Yeah I did manual labor for several years... probably worked more hours than you ever have, but then I had an epiphany. I realized my time is worth more than $10-$15 an hour. That is basically what you are paying yourself to slodge around jobs. If you can not make a profit without paying someone else to do it, you may need to re-evalaute your price structure... I know I have.

Because I do not prefer to do manual labor I am naive? My time is worth more than a day laborer(so is yours!)

$60,000 net sucks!! I know guys that have just two or three employees and net more than that without getting dirt under their fingernails. 200k isn't even that great after you pay taxes on it.

Why the jab at lawn service guys? Anyone that is truly successful in this business, love reoccurring income whether it be lawn applications or lawn service. RESIDUAL INCOME!

PS I don't shovel snow!

You don't listen very good. What I said was that if you think you don't have to work and have employees then you are naive and inexperienced. Just because you don't get your pretty nails dirty doesn't mean you don't have to work.

I certainly don't make 10-15 dollars an hour. More like 110-115 an hour.

I net more than 60,000 too, and don't have any employees. :) The sixty K number you came up with. I said I make 60% net. I never said what I produce in an 8 month period.

And if you think making 60,000 a year sucks, then good for you. 99% of this place would disagree with you.

TJLANDS
11-09-2010, 09:33 PM
Yeah I don't operate junk. I run a top shelf operation, and yes, if you pay a man 20 dollars an hour, with medical, comp, taxes, higher insurance rates, unemployment insurance etc it cost's at least 45K a year for 8 months of employment.



Top shelf solo..more power to you.

But for the employee costs and other costs and adding crews you should probably stick to what you know and not what you think because you are way off.

110-115 hr solo fert guy, you should do seminars

JD2320
11-09-2010, 09:59 PM
Top shelf solo..more power to you.

But for the employee costs and other costs and adding crews you should probably stick to what you know and not what you think because you are way off.

110-115 hr solo fert guy, you should do seminars

Ok well why don't you explain to me why paying a man 20 dollars an hour legally with benefits won't cost you 40-45K a year.

Not sure why you don't believe the hourly number but in an 8 hour day one man can produce at least 1200 dollars average doing fertilizing. When I machine seed I generally make 350.00 an hour. I can fertilize an acre of turf in 20 minutes for 150.00 or do four 40 dollar residential s in an hour. So can any lawn fertilization man.

Like I said, maybe you guys numbers are different because you use older trucks and don't pay your employees a prevailing living wage and are mowing an acre of lawn for 40 bucks

I dunno.

I do know one thing though. Most people underestimate the cost of running a legitimate business. Especially on the internets.

TheC-Master
11-10-2010, 12:17 AM
No need to run junk, but you don't have to spend 3x the price either. I love quality stuff, but I find a truck for about 20k that looks fantastic. Only has 20k miles on it. Run it until about 150k, and then sell it for a good amount and buy something else good.

People make 6 figures seem like it's all that. Making 2k a week (about 104k) isn't "terrible", it just isn't what people make it out to be. I've discussed this with several employees who have these kinds of jobs. After expenses, well...

And definitely get a prenup, it's essential nowadays. Unless you plan to have nothing.

JD2320
11-10-2010, 12:28 AM
Decent basic truck runs 25,000 around here, enclosed trailer 8-10K and a piece of equipment averages 8-9K (ride on spreader sprayer), 200 gallon sprayer for truck 4K.

It all adds up quick.

I'm at a point where I don't have to or want to buy anything used anymore.

TheC-Master
11-10-2010, 12:54 AM
It doesn't matter what one makes, it's about keeping costs down. Many millionaires and billionaires will state this. What 8-10k trailer are you using to do fert? A truck with 17k miles and a year old is going to be a *much* better deal than buying it new for 40-50k because of the depreciation spike on vehicles. There's really no point in doing that for a work vehicle. Then again solos tend to do that. For a personal/work vehicle you might want that. If it is a work vehicle for my workers why would I care about a vehicle that works and looks just a good as a new on for half the price or less? It's just a waste in expense and profit margins to me. People spending 100k on a landscape related rig are just spending an outrageous amount of money (not saying you are). Unless you are using true commercial vehicles or something. Which I don't see the need for unless you're pulling tons of weight.

sdk1959
11-10-2010, 12:58 AM
What I find missing in this thread is posters are comparing gross revenue numbers without regard to costs associated to both types of operations.

Solo w/helper operation vs Crew operation.

A solo operation with a helper is very efficient operation. The initial outlay for equipment is minimal. Basically you should only have to double-up on some of your handheld equipment for your helper. No need for another truck, trailer, ztr, walkbehind, 21" mowers. This means you can keep the equipment at home, no need to pay rent for extra space, extra vehicle insurance, extra maintenance. Not true with a crew operation.

Management, Customer Satisfaction, Relations & Turnover

From a management perspective you are on-site at every job with your helper employee to mentor him, keeping a eye on quality & productivity, lending praise or criticism. This results in a better employee, less employee turnover, less money spent on want ads, less time returning phone calls, interviewing countless prospective employees.

For customers being on-site you can take a proactive approach and be cordial & suggestive of other work that can be done, be it hedge trimming, mulching, tree pruning, clean-up work, etc for increased revenue and a closer bond to the customer. They don't have to be home, a note left or a quick call is all it takes. To them you are more than just the lawn guy, which translates to more customer loyalty, and less customer turnover. No wasted money running ads, time & gas wasted giving estimates to replace lost customers every year. With a crew its a passive approach, the customer must initiate the conversation or phone call for additional work.

These are just some of the things that were not mentioned in this thread regarding costs and revenue.

As a rough estimate a crew operation would have to gross 3X the revenue of a solo operation w/helper to make more net profit when you factor in all the additional costs, customer turnover and lost income opportunities with a passive customer approach.

JD2320
11-10-2010, 01:00 AM
Talking about a Dodge 1/2 ton pickup with a few options going for 25K. Basic truck. A Pace 16 foot trailer is 7-8K

Nothing extravagant but just good stuff. It also basically matches the unit I drive.

But that's only a possibility down the road. I still have a few years to grow before I decide if I want to take on an employee.

TheC-Master
11-10-2010, 01:22 AM
What I find missing in this thread is posters are comparing gross revenue numbers without regard to costs associated to both types of operations.

Solo w/helper operation vs Crew operation.

A solo operation with a helper is very efficient operation. The initial outlay for equipment is minimal. Basically you should only have to double-up on some of your handheld equipment for your helper. No need for another truck, trailer, ztr, walkbehind, 21" mowers. This means you can keep the equipment at home, no need to pay rent for extra space, extra vehicle insurance, extra maintenance. Not true with a crew operation.

Management, Customer Satisfaction, Relations & Turnover

From a management perspective you are on-site at every job with your helper employee to mentor him, keeping a eye on quality & productivity, lending praise or criticism. This results in a better employee, less employee turnover, less money spent on want ads, less time returning phone calls, interviewing countless prospective employees.

For customers being on-site you can take a proactive approach and be cordial & suggestive of other work that can be done, be it hedge trimming, mulching, tree pruning, clean-up work, etc for increased revenue and a closer bond to the customer. They don't have to be home, a note left or a quick call is all it takes. To them you are more than just the lawn guy, which translates to more customer loyalty, and less customer turnover. No wasted money running ads, time & gas wasted giving estimates to replace lost customers every year. With a crew its a passive approach, the customer must initiate the conversation or phone call for additional work.

These are just some of the things that were not mentioned in this thread regarding costs and revenue.

As a rough estimate a crew operation would have to gross 3X the revenue of a solo operation w/helper to make more net profit when you factor in all the additional costs, customer turnover and lost income opportunities with a passive customer approach.

Absolutely, there are different costs with solo vs non. My business is very relationship based so I understand. What I do is talk to the customer, build the relationship, go there the first few times and then I'd let it go from there. Eventually there needs to be a leader on the field who can handle issues like these and save you more time in the long run. It also depends on the business. Full service everything is better with relationships and can help a solo out. I have customers who would let me walk in their house and buy me gifts, etc. Some still do when I meet them myself.

Mow, blow, go, is more about numbers and can help more with crews. Different costs and everything altogether. After the first crew it starts to cost less for the additional. It's the first branching out that costs in more ways than one.

Talking about a Dodge 1/2 ton pickup with a few options going for 25K. Basic truck. A Pace 16 foot trailer is 7-8K

Nothing extravagant but just good stuff. It also basically matches the unit I drive.

But that's only a possibility down the road. I still have a few years to grow before I decide if I want to take on an employee.

25k on a truck isn't bad. I like the 4 door Titan I got last year for 17k with crew cab and everything. Slightly used, but I drive a lot so it is pushing 65k miles.

Trailers can definitely be found used, they are just metal and not that costly to deal with generally. With my equipment I was buying new, but now I'm thinking of buying from those who went out of business with pretty much new stuff for less than 50 cents on a dollar. I buy in bulk whenever I can and order online. Quality but better prices. I'm not talking about some 1k truck on Craigslist, I'm talking good stuff.

juststartin
11-10-2010, 07:12 PM
You don't listen very good. What I said was that if you think you don't have to work and have employees then you are naive and inexperienced. Just because you don't get your pretty nails dirty doesn't mean you don't have to work.

I certainly don't make 10-15 dollars an hour. More like 110-115 an hour.

I net more than 60,000 too, and don't have any employees. :) The sixty K number you came up with. I said I make 60% net. I never said what I produce in an 8 month period.

And if you think making 60,000 a year sucks, then good for you. 99% of this place would disagree with you.

Essentially you are paying yourself $15 an hour to do go out and spray every day. You can replace yourself for $15 an hour... so in other words your time is only worth $15 an hour to you.

I have pretty good feeling you do right around 60k net based on some of your comments. I doubt your taxes even say you profit 60k a year.

juststartin
11-10-2010, 07:26 PM
Absolutely, there are different costs with solo vs non. My business is very relationship based so I understand. What I do is talk to the customer, build the relationship, go there the first few times and then I'd let it go from there. Eventually there needs to be a leader on the field who can handle issues like these and save you more time in the long run. It also depends on the business. Full service everything is better with relationships and can help a solo out. I have customers who would let me walk in their house and buy me gifts, etc. Some still do when I meet them myself.

Mow, blow, go, is more about numbers and can help more with crews. Different costs and everything altogether. After the first crew it starts to cost less for the additional. It's the first branching out that costs in more ways than one.



25k on a truck isn't bad. I like the 4 door Titan I got last year for 17k with crew cab and everything. Slightly used, but I drive a lot so it is pushing 65k miles.

Trailers can definitely be found used, they are just metal and not that costly to deal with generally. With my equipment I was buying new, but now I'm thinking of buying from those who went out of business with pretty much new stuff for less than 50 cents on a dollar. I buy in bulk whenever I can and order online. Quality but better prices. I'm not talking about some 1k truck on Craigslist, I'm talking good stuff.

I agree about buying used. I buy mowers used with under 500hrs run them for 2000hrs and sell for maybe a 1-2k less than I paid. I buy Isuzu cabover diesels with 100k miles for $6-10k and sell them for a few thousand less than I paid for them at 300k. Isuzu's tend to be extremely reliable. Even larger companies are buying used now.

JD2320
11-10-2010, 07:34 PM
Essentially you are paying yourself $15 an hour to do go out and spray every day. You can replace yourself for $15 an hour... so in other words your time is only worth $15 an hour to you.

I have pretty good feeling you do right around 60k net based on some of your comments. I doubt your taxes even say you profit 60k a year.

What difference does it make to you, big money? You've already stated in here that even making 200 grand a year sucks.

If I could replace myself for 15 dollars an hour, I would do it tomorrow. Twice. Facts are that it costs a legitimate businessman paying a worker legally a ton more than that after you pay for all the things that come along with hiring a worker.

juststartin
11-10-2010, 09:00 PM
What difference does it make to you, big money? You've already stated in here that even making 200 grand a year sucks.

If I could replace myself for 15 dollars an hour, I would do it tomorrow. Twice. Facts are that it costs a legitimate businessman paying a worker legally a ton more than that after you pay for all the things that come along with hiring a worker.

I guess you are the expert!

TheC-Master
11-10-2010, 10:16 PM
I agree about buying used. I buy mowers used with under 500hrs run them for 2000hrs and sell for maybe a 1-2k less than I paid. I buy Isuzu cabover diesels with 100k miles for $6-10k and sell them for a few thousand less than I paid for them at 300k. Isuzu's tend to be extremely reliable. Even larger companies are buying used now.

That's pretty cheap for the Izuzu, I would have never guessed that low. But I didn't look. The trucks we had been using were fine. I might look into that with such a damn low price. Diesels tend to last. What do you find about maintenance cost?

There's no need to buy a vehicle or something like that brand spanking new for a worker. It should look excellent. But it doesn't have to be brand new. You're just cutting into your profits. Don't buy some 1k crap off of the internet either but buy something good and reliable. Now for a play vehicle for personal use that might be different... maybe.

Chilehead
11-10-2010, 10:23 PM
I think the key to being successful as a solo-operator is having both a high percentage of your business netting 40% profit margin or better AND having a tight route density. This equates to a relatively high positive cash flow and customer volume, and a relatively low amount of down time (from driving). I feel that I've done fairly well being solo since 2002, and can speak from working for a big LCO in the past (grossing $2M annually) that I'm likely more profitable than him (as are many of you).

TheC-Master
11-10-2010, 11:42 PM
We cover a good radius but we hit certain parts of town each week. That is what we find works best. They also pay extra at longer distances (they don't know that of course).

juststartin
11-11-2010, 07:53 AM
I think the key to being successful as a solo-operator is having both a high percentage of your business netting 40% profit margin or better AND having a tight route density. This equates to a relatively high positive cash flow and customer volume, and a relatively low amount of down time (from driving). I feel that I've done fairly well being solo since 2002, and can speak from working for a big LCO in the past (grossing $2M annually) that I'm likely more profitable than him (as are many of you).

I am sure your profit margin is higher, but do you really think you have a larger net profit? If he has a 15% profit margin and you have a 50% profit margin, he still makes 6 times more than you do.

Chilehead
11-11-2010, 09:24 AM
I am sure your profit margin is higher, but do you really think you have a larger net profit? If he has a 15% profit margin and you have a 50% profit margin, he still makes 6 times more than you do.

Right, but I look at it this way. If I gross $70K in a year at 40% profit margin, my net profit is $28K. If my profit margin was only 15%, I would need to gross $186K-plus to still clear a net profit of $28K. That's a crew's worth of work, and a long shot for a solo operator to handle. IMHO, a company that grosses less for the year but finishes with a net profit is healthier economically than a larger company doing high volume, but only ending up with a proportionately lower net profit. The key word is "proportion", meaning your net profit to gross volume ratio.

TheC-Master
11-11-2010, 10:02 AM
Right, but I look at it this way. If I gross $70K in a year at 40% profit margin, my net profit is $28K. If my profit margin was only 15%, I would need to gross $186K-plus to still clear a net profit of $28K. That's a crew's worth of work, and a long shot for a solo operator to handle. IMHO, a company that grosses less for the year but finishes with a net profit is healthier economically than a larger company doing high volume, but only ending up with a proportionately lower net profit. The key word is "proportion", meaning your net profit to gross volume ratio.

Absolutley, although early in expansion you will lose some net even for a short period of time.

I spend early parts of the week chilling and doing light admin. Some days I do scheduling while I'm on here or handle calls. I'm about to leave now. There's always more to do.

juststartin
11-11-2010, 07:55 PM
Right, but I look at it this way. If I gross $70K in a year at 40% profit margin, my net profit is $28K. If my profit margin was only 15%, I would need to gross $186K-plus to still clear a net profit of $28K. That's a crew's worth of work, and a long shot for a solo operator to handle. IMHO, a company that grosses less for the year but finishes with a net profit is healthier economically than a larger company doing high volume, but only ending up with a proportionately lower net profit. The key word is "proportion", meaning your net profit to gross volume ratio.

The larger your company the smaller the "profit margin" not necessarily "net profit."

The point is to make more "take home." There is a cap on your "take home" if your are solo. This is a fact. There are only so many hours you can bill for. When you in essence "multiply" yourself, the sky is the limit on your net profit(given proficient management.)

Landscape Poet
11-13-2010, 11:42 PM
I agree with you. The people that have everything working on its own have all the free time in the world.
There is not anyone that everything working - there is always something that could be better - and this is what they are doing, if not they are falling behind.


A local company has 20+ crews working, while the owner stays at his vacation house for the latter part of the week. If you are a delegation expert and can hire people and you can inspire the same motivation that motivates you... IT IS POSSIBLE. It is possible - for a short period of time. If this person stays at home and does not inspect his operation - hold people accountable for their numbers - the bank could soon foreclose on that vacation property. Nobody cares about a business like the owner - Nobody!

Landscape Poet
11-14-2010, 12:00 AM
Ok I won't beat around the bush. If being solo is so profitable, what is your net.... not the fantasyland number... the actual number that you pay taxes on?

Being solo is fine, but there are some very big negatives.

1. If you get hurt or sick... you are screwed
2. You can only bill out for a certain amount of man hours per week
3. You have to actually work... which gets pretty damn old after 15yrs

Being solo is fine - but before anyone comes on a National website and says that they think solo guys must be stupid or lazy, well I guess they better about FL before they say that. If I recall I think that there have been three or four FL guys on this thread so far saying that a solo operation can fair very well down here, but some folks are to hot headed to listen.
I would bet that many of the solo operators on this site from FL take home more than some of you guys from the northern states who yes indeed run crews so you THINK you are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Just to make myself clear - I did say take home - and I do not think you guys that have participated in this thread talking about crews being so great even want to get started comparing ROI!!!

Now is being solo perfect! Nope, but the classic question that you guys that think crews are the only way to go always say "what if you get hurt, then your business is gone".

Well that is like me saying "what if your employee's are high and damage a clients property?" " What happens when one of your employees that is making you so much money, is doing a application of pesticide or fert and some how kills all the fish in a local pond?"
You see, it goes both ways, the fact is that you better have insurance for both instances - but either way - bad sh8t can happen.


My point is this - you as the owner of YOUR business needs to grow as you feel fit.
Also remember when you are paying for your over priced visit to Disneyland and see that solo guy in the lane next to you with his trailer and truck, make sure and wave at him - because he may be making more than you and your three man crew you are so proud of. :gunsfirin:gunsfirin:gunsfirin

TheC-Master
11-14-2010, 12:52 AM
There is not anyone that everything working - there is always something that could be better - and this is what they are doing, if not they are falling behind.

It is possible - for a short period of time. If this person stays at home and does not inspect his operation - hold people accountable for their numbers - the bank could soon foreclose on that vacation property. Nobody cares about a business like the owner - Nobody!

Of course one has to be on top of their business (unless they sold it or have someone else running it. The fact that you have more time is undeniable. It also depends on the size of the business.

I find it harder to believe that a southern solo would net more than a northern large crew (that's well managed). GA and FL and particular have way low profit margins for most landscapers and I'd find that odd.

First things first a smaller company has a higher % of return (or should) that's called the law of diminishing returns. A solo might take back 60% of his money. But it's a small amount. You don't see Bill Gates or someone similar taking back such a high percentage off of their product. It probably isn't even 1%. But since they sell such a massive, massive amount, they make loads of money. 1% of 500 billion is more than 60% of 60k.

If a person is injured (in which someone being hurt can do it *anywhere* and not just without working, that includes illness or a car accident. There is no protection against that. They'd have to hope they could hire someone, something they could have done in the first place. It would be very unlikely they'd have a good system in place and they'd see a huge loss.

Insurance and certain corps are a hedge against what you are saying (stupid workers), these things unfortunately do happen everyday which is why these things exist.

Dealing with workers is tough, very tough, it isn't easy work, but it allows you to do so much more. Doing something solo is someone else's decision and doesn't make them a bad person at all. It's just only so much you can do. You get a day's pay for a day's work. There is more than that out there if you build a system. Also you can sell the system and attract investors better than with a solo op as there is more value.

Landscape Poet
11-14-2010, 02:32 AM
Of course one has to be on top of their business (unless they sold it or have someone else running it. The fact that you have more time is undeniable. It also depends on the size of the business.

I find it harder to believe that a southern solo would net more than a northern large crew (that's well managed). GA and FL and particular have way low profit margins for most landscapers and I'd find that odd.

First things first a smaller company has a higher % of return (or should) that's called the law of diminishing returns. A solo might take back 60% of his money. But it's a small amount. You don't see Bill Gates or someone similar taking back such a high percentage off of their product. It probably isn't even 1%. But since they sell such a massive, massive amount, they make loads of money. 1% of 500 billion is more than 60% of 60k.

If a person is injured (in which someone being hurt can do it *anywhere* and not just without working, that includes illness or a car accident. There is no protection against that. They'd have to hope they could hire someone, something they could have done in the first place. It would be very unlikely they'd have a good system in place and they'd see a huge loss.

Insurance and certain corps are a hedge against what you are saying (stupid workers), these things unfortunately do happen everyday which is why these things exist.

Dealing with workers is tough, very tough, it isn't easy work, but it allows you to do so much more. Doing something solo is someone else's decision and doesn't make them a bad person at all. It's just only so much you can do. You get a day's pay for a day's work. There is more than that out there if you build a system. Also you can sell the system and attract investors better than with a solo op as there is more value.


Now with that said and out of the way - lets approach the fact that you have a hard time believing that a southern solo can net more than a northern crew. And again I can not speak for your area, but in concerning FL, lets look at the facts, and in more detail, we will look at my particular area of operation.

1. 12 month lawn care - not 8 months not 9 months - all twelve months. Now it is also common to bid maint. based off a monthly amount. For example instead of saying we will cut your lawn for x amount a cut, we approach it as we will cut your lawn for X amount a month. Thus we have a steady income all year long.
2. 12 month of service does not mean 12 months of service - That means I will be on your property weekly from lat Feb or Early March to Nov. 1 - Then I go every other week. These open weeks allow me to many projects which lead to additional revenue on top of my monthly payments.
3. FL - it consumes more water per capita than any other state - No people are not drinking more water down here - but I can tell you what they are doing with it - irrigating their lawns. Every new home down here has a irrigation system standard - You know what that means? That means adjustments are needed, heads get broken, control panels need replaced. You know who does this stuff if they are smart. Thats right the solo operator and I doubt your "crew" members have the knowledge to complete these task, unless you have a irrigation division.
4. Lot size - I am approaching 100 clients as a solo operator. I work 5 days a week. Keep in mind that these customers are all sending in a constant payment all year long. You know why I can do this? My right is tight because of population density, but also lot sizes are smaller. Most lots in my neighborhood for example have less that 8 k of turf. A great amount of them are under 3 K. You know how long it takes to mow, trim, edge, blow and trim the hedges on these properties? Most likely less time that it takes some of this guys up north to get from one stop to the next. I can also tell you it takes me less time with of my Z than it would that WB you are showcasing to your customers on your website. You want to take a guess what you can charge for one of these account a month?
5. Go back to number 2 - You know what the main turf grass in Central Florida Lawns? St. Augustine. You know what the souther chinch bug love to destroy? That is right, Saint Augustine. You know what grass can not be grown from seed. Thats right Saint Augustine. So now take a guess what this southern boy does on those off weeks, which just happen to be a great time to install Saint Augustine because pressures are lower this time of year? That is right Sod. Quality sod install here brings at least $350 a pallet on a bad day.
6. Again - as someone on here stated - think of the cost of lets say a 4 man crew. Insurance goes up! More equipment is needed so initial and ongoing equipment cost is higher, also figure in that employees also are more likely to abuse your equipment or not be concerned about repair issues, this means faster replacement cost, more down time, higher repair bill%. Down time expense - You are paying employees for windshield time - you are paying them when they need a bathroom break in between every three lawns. This all drives your profit % down compared to the solo guy, because you are not losing 1 mans time, you are losing 3 or 4 peoples time.
Again as someone stated - there is not a need for a solo to rent storage place for equipment or a seperate shop. They can store their equipment needs in their garage. You are not going to do that with equipment needed for a 4 man crew now are you.
7. Just because you are solo does not mean you work alone. Take the sod installations I was talking about. I usually sub out a guy with a bobcat who does my removal for 18 cent a sqft. and hauls it away for that price. I then hire labor for the day. In a day earlier this month I walked away with $1100 profit for less than 6 hours work. That was a nine pallet install - I have a 16 pallet install and a 4 pallet install already scheduled this month too. Are you seeing how a solo op can make more profit dollars than a "Crew" of 3 or 4 up north yet?

I find it interesting that you like to refer to Bill Gates. So lets talk about Bill Gates Empire. You know Microsoft could be kind of viewed like the solo operator right. You know why Microsoft is such a great company? It is not their revenue. It is their profit %. Thats right profit is still what matters, even on Wall Street although it may not seem like it some days. Look back at the past - there was a time when Mac owned the PC market in terms of revenue. I think if you look back over the course of time, including the numbers for 2009 why MS rules over apple. Why - that is right profit % - Apple has experienced great growth in recent years - but as you can see they are dong all that work for less % than MS. So again, Wall Street looks at profit and ROI. You have already admitted that solo's are more likely to make a higher gross% - so who' ROI should be achieved faster? So who is most likely considered a "safe" investment on Wall Street? Now some will say that Wall Street looks for growth too. Correct - but what did Wall Street learn about fast growth in the recent past about fast growth - think internet bubble! Profit % is were it is at.
Here this may help you out - http://royal.pingdom.com/2010/04/09/the-money-made-by-microsoft-apple-and-google-1985-until-today/

Again - I do not think there is anything wrong with being large and running crews. I think if that is your goal, then go for it. I will eventually expand out when I feel it is the right time. And no I am not scared of employees as people have suggested of others in this thread, I had for many years over 400 employees under my direct supervision, but I will not sit here and listen to folks try to talk smack about solos being dumb, lazy, scared etc. And yes the fact is that I am sure that there are plenty of solo operators in FL that pull in more profit in dollars and % than many of the so called gurus of running crews up north on this thread talking down to this solo guys. Not all but I bet there are many - I do also know there are going to be 3 to 4 man crews that can bring in more profit % than a solo.

I can go on and on if needed, but I got to go rest my little solo head.

Stillwater
11-14-2010, 08:38 AM
I can go on and on if needed, but I got to go rest my little solo head.

I enjoy a nice rant as much as the next guy, but good rants contain all fact, 1 of your talking points are less than factual. What state uses the most water?

juststartin
11-14-2010, 09:56 AM
Now with that said and out of the way - lets approach the fact that you have a hard time believing that a southern solo can net more than a northern crew. And again I can not speak for your area, but in concerning FL, lets look at the facts, and in more detail, we will look at my particular area of operation.

1. 12 month lawn care - not 8 months not 9 months - all twelve months. Now it is also common to bid maint. based off a monthly amount. For example instead of saying we will cut your lawn for x amount a cut, we approach it as we will cut your lawn for X amount a month. Thus we have a steady income all year long.
2. 12 month of service does not mean 12 months of service - That means I will be on your property weekly from lat Feb or Early March to Nov. 1 - Then I go every other week. These open weeks allow me to many projects which lead to additional revenue on top of my monthly payments.
3. FL - it consumes more water per capita than any other state - No people are not drinking more water down here - but I can tell you what they are doing with it - irrigating their lawns. Every new home down here has a irrigation system standard - You know what that means? That means adjustments are needed, heads get broken, control panels need replaced. You know who does this stuff if they are smart. Thats right the solo operator and I doubt your "crew" members have the knowledge to complete these task, unless you have a irrigation division.
4. Lot size - I am approaching 100 clients as a solo operator. I work 5 days a week. Keep in mind that these customers are all sending in a constant payment all year long. You know why I can do this? My right is tight because of population density, but also lot sizes are smaller. Most lots in my neighborhood for example have less that 8 k of turf. A great amount of them are under 3 K. You know how long it takes to mow, trim, edge, blow and trim the hedges on these properties? Most likely less time that it takes some of this guys up north to get from one stop to the next. I can also tell you it takes me less time with of my Z than it would that WB you are showcasing to your customers on your website. You want to take a guess what you can charge for one of these account a month?
5. Go back to number 2 - You know what the main turf grass in Central Florida Lawns? St. Augustine. You know what the souther chinch bug love to destroy? That is right, Saint Augustine. You know what grass can not be grown from seed. Thats right Saint Augustine. So now take a guess what this southern boy does on those off weeks, which just happen to be a great time to install Saint Augustine because pressures are lower this time of year? That is right Sod. Quality sod install here brings at least $350 a pallet on a bad day.
6. Again - as someone on here stated - think of the cost of lets say a 4 man crew. Insurance goes up! More equipment is needed so initial and ongoing equipment cost is higher, also figure in that employees also are more likely to abuse your equipment or not be concerned about repair issues, this means faster replacement cost, more down time, higher repair bill%. Down time expense - You are paying employees for windshield time - you are paying them when they need a bathroom break in between every three lawns. This all drives your profit % down compared to the solo guy, because you are not losing 1 mans time, you are losing 3 or 4 peoples time.
Again as someone stated - there is not a need for a solo to rent storage place for equipment or a seperate shop. They can store their equipment needs in their garage. You are not going to do that with equipment needed for a 4 man crew now are you.
7. Just because you are solo does not mean you work alone. Take the sod installations I was talking about. I usually sub out a guy with a bobcat who does my removal for 18 cent a sqft. and hauls it away for that price. I then hire labor for the day. In a day earlier this month I walked away with $1100 profit for less than 6 hours work. That was a nine pallet install - I have a 16 pallet install and a 4 pallet install already scheduled this month too. Are you seeing how a solo op can make more profit dollars than a "Crew" of 3 or 4 up north yet?

I find it interesting that you like to refer to Bill Gates. So lets talk about Bill Gates Empire. You know Microsoft could be kind of viewed like the solo operator right. You know why Microsoft is such a great company? It is not their revenue. It is their profit %. Thats right profit is still what matters, even on Wall Street although it may not seem like it some days. Look back at the past - there was a time when Mac owned the PC market in terms of revenue. I think if you look back over the course of time, including the numbers for 2009 why MS rules over apple. Why - that is right profit % - Apple has experienced great growth in recent years - but as you can see they are dong all that work for less % than MS. So again, Wall Street looks at profit and ROI. You have already admitted that solo's are more likely to make a higher gross% - so who' ROI should be achieved faster? So who is most likely considered a "safe" investment on Wall Street? Now some will say that Wall Street looks for growth too. Correct - but what did Wall Street learn about fast growth in the recent past about fast growth - think internet bubble! Profit % is were it is at.
Here this may help you out - http://royal.pingdom.com/2010/04/09/the-money-made-by-microsoft-apple-and-google-1985-until-today/

Again - I do not think there is anything wrong with being large and running crews. I think if that is your goal, then go for it. I will eventually expand out when I feel it is the right time. And no I am not scared of employees as people have suggested of others in this thread, I had for many years over 400 employees under my direct supervision, but I will not sit here and listen to folks try to talk smack about solos being dumb, lazy, scared etc. And yes the fact is that I am sure that there are plenty of solo operators in FL that pull in more profit in dollars and % than many of the so called gurus of running crews up north on this thread talking down to this solo guys. Not all but I bet there are many - I do also know there are going to be 3 to 4 man crews that can bring in more profit % than a solo.

I can go on and on if needed, but I got to go rest my little solo head.

Do you really pull your equipment with a grand cherokee or is that some kind of joke?

juststartin
11-14-2010, 10:04 AM
Being solo is fine - but before anyone comes on a National website and says that they think solo guys must be stupid or lazy, well I guess they better about FL before they say that.

I just said if you are a solo "scaper" please do not consider yourself some kind of successful businessman.



Also remember when you are paying for your over priced visit to Disneyland and see that solo guy in the lane next to you with his trailer and truck, make sure and wave at him - because he may be making more than you and your three man crew you are so proud of. :gunsfirin:gunsfirin:gunsfirin

Say what? I understand some solo operations may be more profitable than some very poorly run larger companies, but I think you are in denial. As a solo operator there is a limit to your success. Why can't you just admit you don't have the balls and the determination to take it to the next level?

Michael J. Donovan
11-14-2010, 11:53 AM
if you want to discuss solo operations versus having employees that is fine, but there's no need to get personal about it and start talking about others and that's why we cleaned it up a bit

thanks

Landscape Poet
11-14-2010, 12:24 PM
I enjoy a nice rant as much as the next guy, but good rants contain all fact, 1 of your talking points are less than factual. What state uses the most water?

Read and understand what I said - what state uses the most water per capita - That is what I said correct?

TheC-Master
11-14-2010, 12:24 PM
True. Sorry about that. I tried to make my point without being *too* mean. I'll just talk to juststartin for the most part or someone who I can relate to more.

Landscape Poet
11-14-2010, 12:26 PM
Do you really pull your equipment with a grand cherokee or is that some kind of joke?

Yep - did you want to compare fuel mileage? I know you guys with crews would never think about such a thing because you are so big time - but on average with trailer in tow I get 12 to 13 miles a gallon. How about your? Considering the price of gas - tell me what the gas advantage of that is, but I guess having a v-8 in a Cherokee is not man enough for you.

Landscape Poet
11-14-2010, 12:31 PM
As a solo operator there is a limit to your success. Why can't you just admit you don't have the balls and the determination to take it to the next level?

There is nothing about me that is scared about taking it to the next level - again follow what I have written - I have a history of leading multiple people, I have a degree in Bus. Mgmt with a specialization in Human Resources - I do not doubt that I have the ability to expand out when I am ready. So you BS talking point here has no validity here! The time I choose to expand is when I feel that it is the correct time for me to do it, one in which will allow me to expand while still maintaining a profitable company - not because I just want to say how many crews I have.

Landscape Poet
11-14-2010, 12:35 PM
I enjoy a nice rant as much as the next guy, but good rants contain all fact, 1 of your talking points are less than factual. What state uses the most water?

I will check my post - but I think what I said is what state uses the most water per capita - if not this was my intention but it was late last night when I wrote that I may have goofed.

Landscape Poet
11-14-2010, 12:37 PM
I will check my post - but I think what I said is what state uses the most water per capita - if not this was my intention but it was late last night when I wrote that I may have goofed.

That is indeed what I posted - which state uses the most water per capita - Unless the University of FL has that wrong and is just teaching that in their courses - I would say that is a accurate statement.

juststartin
11-14-2010, 12:58 PM
Yep - did you want to compare fuel mileage? I know you guys with crews would never think about such a thing because you are so big time - but on average with trailer in tow I get 12 to 13 miles a gallon. How about your? Considering the price of gas - tell me what the gas advantage of that is, but I guess having a v-8 in a Cherokee is not man enough for you.

Our diesel isuzus get 12mpg, but they are purpose built trucks. One even has the capacity to get 8 guys to the jobsite while hauling a 8k lb skid steer.

I just don't see many professional companies that would be able to justify the productivity and capabilities of a jeep.
Posted via Mobile Device

juststartin
11-14-2010, 01:04 PM
There is nothing about me that is scared about taking it to the next level - again follow what I have written - I have a history of leading multiple people, I have a degree in Bus. Mgmt with a specialization in Human Resources - I do not doubt that I have the ability to expand out when I am ready. So you BS talking point here has no validity here! The time I choose to expand is when I feel that it is the correct time for me to do it, one in which will allow me to expand while still maintaining a profitable company - not because I just want to say how many crews I have.

More billable hours- more potential for profit. The only problem with being solo is the glass ceiling.
Posted via Mobile Device

Landscape Poet
11-14-2010, 01:18 PM
More billable hours- more potential for profit. The only problem with being solo is the glass ceiling.
Posted via Mobile Device

I understand that - but there with the potential for more billable hours - there are cost such as more employee down time, less productivity, higher insurance cost - like I said - I am not anti bigger crew - just their are cost associated with each type and to say that a solo operation is not a business - it is just a job, or that solo's are stupid or lazy is what triggered my adding to this thread....not that I thought one was better than the other, just that what mattered most was the profitability of the business.

And even though yes there is glass ceiling for solo's - there is also one for larger companies too. You see no matter how large you get - there will always be someone waiting for you just to get large enough that you can no longer compete with them in a area - and they will take that market share from you. That for example is why there is Wal-Mart and Target and Best Buy. Wal-Mart grabs their market share - but just because they are so big - even though they really try - they can not meet every need of every...so Target comes and takes a share and so on and so on.

Landscape Poet
11-14-2010, 01:34 PM
Our diesel isuzus get 12mpg, but they are purpose built trucks. One even has the capacity to get 8 guys to the jobsite while hauling a 8k lb skid steer.

I just don't see many professional companies that would be able to justify the productivity and capabilities of a jeep.
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Think about this - That Jeep - if needed can transport not on the equipment for regular maint. with the trailer, but can also hold 4 employees comfortably if needed - while still allowing for room for additional supplies such as trimmer line, 2 cycle mix bottles, irrigation heads, glue as well as marketing materials, etc to be placed in the cargo area. Not a bad deal for a solo guy right? I must say that is pretty impressive for your truck though on mileage. Is that with equipment loaded or is that with stock ratings. Mine was with equipment in tow just FYI. I can still actually get 18 mpg when using it for personal use or going to jobs which do not require the trailer.

juststartin
11-14-2010, 01:45 PM
Good grief! I understand there are more expenses(hence the smaller profit MARGIN) when running a larger operation. But which net is a bigger #? 60% of 100k or 20% of 1 mil?

I would consider a solo op more of a job than a business. Does your business run you or do run your business?

There is no glass ceiling for larger companies. Your post doesn't even make sense! Has Brickman hit a glass ceiling?
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zturncutter
11-14-2010, 02:22 PM
Good grief! I understand there are more expenses(hence the smaller profit MARGIN) when running a larger operation. But which net is a bigger #? 60% of 100k or 20% of 1 mil?

I would consider a solo op more of a job than a business. Does your business run you or do run your business?

There is no glass ceiling for larger companies. Your post doesn't even make sense! Has Brickman hit a glass ceiling?
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Are you trying to say that Brickman operates on a 20% profit margin.:laugh:

juststartin
11-14-2010, 02:28 PM
Are you trying to say that Brickman operates on a 20% profit margin.:laugh:

Are you delusional? I said 20% on a mil gross.
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zturncutter
11-14-2010, 02:32 PM
I don't think so, so to clarify you believe that the average landscape/lawncare operation doing $1,000,000 gross per year has a net profit of $200,000.

juststartin
11-14-2010, 02:46 PM
I don't think so, so to clarify you believe that the average landscape/lawncare operation doing $1,000,000 gross per year has a net profit of $200,000.

I think there a lot of variables, but I think 20% is a good number for a well run company. I think above 20% is attainable as well.
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zturncutter
11-14-2010, 02:56 PM
Michael, your numbers as usual are very accurate for a Florida business and I would like to add that in my humble opinion you are wasting your time on this thread. The old adage you can bring a horse to water but you cannot make them drink comes to mind. Years ago when I worked as a salesman for a large landscape firm in Sarasota Florida they were happy as a pig in chit when we could hit 6% net profit, the last year I worked for them they grossed $1.8 million.

juststartin
11-14-2010, 03:04 PM
Michael, your numbers as usual are very accurate for a Florida business and I would like to add that in my humble opinion you are wasting your time on this thread. The old adage you can bring a horse to water but you cannot make them drink comes to mind. Years ago when I worked as a salesman for a large landscape firm in Sarasota Florida they were happy as a pig in chit when we could hit 6% net profit, the last year I worked for them they grossed $1.8 million.

How many owners and how much were there salaries?

Like I said there are many variables, larger jobs have lower profit margins, govt jobs have lower profit margins, and the amount of landscape materials factored into your gross can drastically change your profit margin.
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Landscape Poet
11-14-2010, 05:00 PM
Michael, your numbers as usual are very accurate for a Florida business and I would like to add that in my humble opinion you are wasting your time on this thread. The old adage you can bring a horse to water but you cannot make them drink comes to mind. Years ago when I worked as a salesman for a large landscape firm in Sarasota Florida they were happy as a pig in chit when we could hit 6% net profit, the last year I worked for them they grossed $1.8 million.

I know Z - I am from up north originally so I understand what their business is like up there, but I have a hard time getting them to understand the business down here and why being solo down here is not such a bad issue. I myself did not understand for awhile what opportunities I let myself pass up down here because I did not understand the environment at first.
But it does appear that most would disagree either because they can not see the point I am making, or just do not want to. Like I have said I can see the benefit of running a big crew - but I would never call someone a lazy ass because they chose to due that, I would never state that they must not be able to hack it as a solo. Please note that I will call out sloppy work though.

It is different environment down here for sure - and it is hard for many to imagine what the possibilities are.

sdk1959
11-14-2010, 05:18 PM
Good grief! I understand there are more expenses(hence the smaller profit MARGIN) when running a larger operation. But which net is a bigger #? 60% of 100k or 20% of 1 mil?

I would consider a solo op more of a job than a business. Does your business run you or do run your business?

There is no glass ceiling for larger companies. Your post doesn't even make sense! Has Brickman hit a glass ceiling?
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Read this thread below especially the first post from the thread starter. He spells it out and is spot on in his business analysis. Going big-time has substantial risks, ignore them at your own peril.

http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=262189

juststartin
11-14-2010, 05:33 PM
Read this thread below especially the first post from the thread starter. He spells it out and is spot on in his business analysis. Going big-time has substantial risks, ignore them at your own peril.

http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=262189

Or you can grow slow, have an hourly rate that is profitable, have your marketing figured out, and pay cash for EVERYTHING! Kind of hard for your shop to get foreclosed or your trucks repo'd when you own it outright.

While I think it is important to realize the mistakes of others, I think your mentality has ensured your failure.
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sdk1959
11-14-2010, 06:10 PM
Or you can grow slow, have an hourly rate that is profitable, have your marketing figured out, and pay cash for EVERYTHING! Kind of hard for your shop to get foreclosed or your trucks repo'd when you own it outright.

While I think it is important to realize the mistakes of others, I think your mentality has ensured your failure.
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Paying cash for equipment when growing slowly is good a business practice, but just acknowledging the mistakes of others in business without learning from them but repeating them will insure failure. Read the whole thread, there is a lot of good information in it.

As I stated in a previous post, a crew operation would have to do 3x the gross revenue of a solo operation with a helper to have a higher overall net profit for the reasons stated in that post.

TheC-Master
11-14-2010, 06:39 PM
Well I'm from the south and I made a massive post but that was wiped and that's all in the past. Yes going big has risks as does anything in life worth the reward. Small has it's risks too as were already mentioned. People can do what they like and that works best. I can't complain. :)

juststartin
11-14-2010, 07:02 PM
Procut was probably bidding jobs at $17 a man hour. He tried to compete in the low margin large maintenance contracts. He financed everything and had a weak bank account. I think you can make money at low margin jobs, but I would prefer not to go that route.

I have talked to the owner of yardmaster out of mi and oh(and now ga) and he was SHARP. He bought a 100k worth of trucks for the maintenance at ft benning with cash. I sold him a couple used cabover trucks.

It takes money to make money and procut was broke.
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TheC-Master
11-14-2010, 07:06 PM
Procut was probably bidding jobs at $17 a man hour. He tried to compete in the low margin large maintenance contracts. He financed everything and had a weak bank account. I think you can make money at low margin jobs, but I would prefer not to go that route.

I have talked to the owner of yardmaster out of mi and oh(and now ga) and he was SHARP. He bought a 100k worth of trucks for the maintenance at ft benning with cash. I sold him a couple used cabover trucks.

It takes money to make money and procut was broke.
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You definitely have to invest money in your business. But I don't think you have to be rich to make money in a business. You just have to grow steadily and carefully. What happens is things begin to accelerate and people think they're on top of the world, when their costs end up going over their profits. I've seen many go from scratch and end up doing well. If I have expense I like for it to make me money and not take away. Of course I see exactly what you are saying and mean though. :)

But yea. Low margin jobs are a numbers game. More than full out work you have to have tons in a concentrated area.

juststartin
11-14-2010, 07:09 PM
Btw one of my friends grosses 175k and nets 100k. Another friend grosses 750k and nets 160k not including the owners salary. These are the #s they pay taxes on, not some fantasyland #.
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TheC-Master
11-14-2010, 07:16 PM
Btw one of my friends grosses 175k and nets 100k. Another friend grosses 750k and nets 160k not including the owners salary. These are the #s they pay taxes on, not some fantasyland #.
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Those sound about right. That also should include one being passive income (I'd imagine). Does your second friend pay in another tax structure?

juststartin
11-14-2010, 07:27 PM
You definitely have to invest money in your business. But I don't think you have to be rich to make money in a business. You just have to grow steadily and carefully. What happens is things begin to accelerate and people think they're on top of the world, when their costs end up going over their profits. I've seen many go from scratch and end up doing well. If I have expense I like for it to make me money and not take away. Of course I see exactly what you are saying and mean though. :)

But yea. Low margin jobs are a numbers game. More than full out work you have to have tons in a concentrated area.

Well I think to grow you need to start working on a bank account first. I think if you do a million dollars a year, you need a at least a 100k in the bank.

juststartin
11-14-2010, 07:28 PM
Those sound about right. That also should include one being passive income (I'd imagine). Does your second friend pay in another tax structure?

Not my definition of passive. Always room for improvement! Both are s-corps.

TheC-Master
11-14-2010, 07:41 PM
Well I think to grow you need to start working on a bank account first. I think if you do a million dollars a year, you need a at least a 100k in the bank.

I agree no need starting big broke.

I guess I meant a person with nothing can grow very wealthy if they do it intelligently. Starting a large business, especially this kind is bad without money.Not my definition of passive. Always room for improvement! Both are s-corps.

I was under the impression the second friend who makes more, allows the business to run itself. Hence why I called it that.

shooterm
11-14-2010, 11:32 PM
Just me thinking again but I've always thought the lawn industry was out of whack with these large crews. Money just isnt there and most of the time the workers are dragging feet lost in the crowd. It wouldnt surprise me if the industry as a whole goes back for the most part to the solo/duo.

sdk1959
11-17-2010, 08:51 PM
Just me thinking again but I've always thought the lawn industry was out of whack with these large crews. Money just isnt there and most of the time the workers are dragging feet lost in the crowd. It wouldnt surprise me if the industry as a whole goes back for the most part to the solo/duo.

I agree for the most part. The bigger a lawn care operation gets the higher the fixed & variable costs of doing business, so the profit margin keeps on shrinking. It's not like a retail business where more sales volume means paying lower wholesale prices which translate to higher profit margins. The real money with better profit margins is in other work that can be done at a customer's house.

There's a old saying that some people are too busy working to make real money. Mowing lawns is no gravy train to getting rich by any stretch of the imagination, you will earn every penny, whether physically doing the work yourself, or aggravation, anxiety, ulcers & regret by running crews.

Some LCO's schedule lawns to cut every working day of the week,. No buffer day for rain, labor shortage, maintenance of equipment, side work, equipment breakdown (caused no doubt by lack of maintenance), etc. They won't think twice about buying a new $10,000 ZTR with new payments to make or depleting their cash savings to buy it so they can expand their mowing route. Then they have to run a ad to hire another crew member to run the new ZTR, ads to get more lawns, running around doing estimates for those new lawns. But buy a $300 hedge trimmer, talk to their existing customers to line up much more profitable side work , hedge trimming, mulch jobs, brush removal, etc. Nah, no way no how, they gotta have that shiny new ZTR on the trailer so they can brag to their buddies at the bar.

And so it goes, they can have better work with better profit margins, less equipment cost to do it, right under their noses, just have to open their mouth and talk to their existing customers yet they rather build-up a low profit margin mowing empire. Then they complain about low ballers & hacks. They will say... "Why I have invested $1000's in all this new professional commercial equipment, I have lawn crews with company shirts, shiny new trucks pulling new trailers, I can stripe, damn these low ballers, how dare they. Why I rarely talk to my customers, I only cut their lawn, I'm just the lawn company, no side work is ever mentioned unless the customer brings it up and usually I don't have the time, too busy cutting lawns. I have no bond with my customers, I'm just the lawn company, nothing more, but I can't understand how these hacks steal my customers, oh well I'll call the paper tomorrow, run another ad to replace the customers I lost."

And so it goes on every year........

zturncutter
11-17-2010, 09:46 PM
Amen:clapping:

juststartin
11-17-2010, 10:06 PM
I agree for the most part. The bigger a lawn care operation gets the higher the fixed & variable costs of doing business, so the profit margin keeps on shrinking. It's not like a retail business where more sales volume means paying lower wholesale prices which translate to higher profit margins. The real money with better profit margins is in other work that can be done at a customer's house.

There's a old saying that some people are too busy working to make real money. Mowing lawns is no gravy train to getting rich by any stretch of the imagination, you will earn every penny, whether physically doing the work yourself, or aggravation, anxiety, ulcers & regret by running crews.

Some LCO's schedule lawns to cut every working day of the week,. No buffer day for rain, labor shortage, maintenance of equipment, side work, equipment breakdown (caused no doubt by lack of maintenance), etc. They won't think twice about buying a new $10,000 ZTR with new payments to make or depleting their cash savings to buy it so they can expand their mowing route. Then they have to run a ad to hire another crew member to run the new ZTR, ads to get more lawns, running around doing estimates for those new lawns. But buy a $300 hedge trimmer, talk to their existing customers to line up much more profitable side work , hedge trimming, mulch jobs, brush removal, etc. Nah, no way no how, they gotta have that shiny new ZTR on the trailer so they can brag to their buddies at the bar.

And so it goes, they can have better work with better profit margins, less equipment cost to do it, right under their noses, just have to open their mouth and talk to their existing customers yet they rather build-up a low profit margin mowing empire. Then they complain about low ballers & hacks. They will say... "Why I have invested $1000's in all this new professional commercial equipment, I have lawn crews with company shirts, shiny new trucks pulling new trailers, I can stripe, damn these low ballers, how dare they. Why I rarely talk to my customers, I only cut their lawn, I'm just the lawn company, no side work is ever mentioned unless the customer brings it up and usually I don't have the time, too busy cutting lawns. I have no bond with my customers, I'm just the lawn company, nothing more, but I can't understand how these hacks steal my customers, oh well I'll call the paper tomorrow, run another ad to replace the customers I lost."

And so it goes on every year........

Your probably right for the most part. Low margin sucks.

But so does weedeating dog doo for 50k a year 365 days out of the year.

I think there is a medium where profits can be high yet you can run multiple crews. You mention fixed and variable costs, but do you really understand what you are saying? To me the variable cost per crew are the same per crew. Your wages, fuel, initial crew equipment is the same per crew. If you have a formula and hourly rate that works for one crew, why would it not work for 20? The larger your company is the fixed cost go down. The rent/mortgage on the shop is much less when it is divided by 20 crews, the mower supply house will reduce its rate by 10% if you do volume, the tire company will sell you tires at cost if you are a retail supplier, the nursery will give an additional 30% of your materials if you spend over 50k with them.

I think to just blindly say that running a large company is impossible, stupid, unprofitable is just naive and immature.

The truth is... it can be done. If you cannot figure out how to do it, there is no one to blame but yourself.

juststartin
11-17-2010, 10:10 PM
Amen:clapping:

Why no answer to my question ealier?

How many owners and how much were there salaries?

MDLawn
11-18-2010, 11:20 AM
I agree for the most part. The bigger a lawn care operation gets the higher the fixed & variable costs of doing business, so the profit margin keeps on shrinking. It's not like a retail business where more sales volume means paying lower wholesale prices which translate to higher profit margins. The real money with better profit margins is in other work that can be done at a customer's house.

There's a old saying that some people are too busy working to make real money. Mowing lawns is no gravy train to getting rich by any stretch of the imagination, you will earn every penny, whether physically doing the work yourself, or aggravation, anxiety, ulcers & regret by running crews.

Some LCO's schedule lawns to cut every working day of the week,. No buffer day for rain, labor shortage, maintenance of equipment, side work, equipment breakdown (caused no doubt by lack of maintenance), etc. They won't think twice about buying a new $10,000 ZTR with new payments to make or depleting their cash savings to buy it so they can expand their mowing route. Then they have to run a ad to hire another crew member to run the new ZTR, ads to get more lawns, running around doing estimates for those new lawns. But buy a $300 hedge trimmer, talk to their existing customers to line up much more profitable side work , hedge trimming, mulch jobs, brush removal, etc. Nah, no way no how, they gotta have that shiny new ZTR on the trailer so they can brag to their buddies at the bar.

And so it goes, they can have better work with better profit margins, less equipment cost to do it, right under their noses, just have to open their mouth and talk to their existing customers yet they rather build-up a low profit margin mowing empire. Then they complain about low ballers & hacks. They will say... "Why I have invested $1000's in all this new professional commercial equipment, I have lawn crews with company shirts, shiny new trucks pulling new trailers, I can stripe, damn these low ballers, how dare they. Why I rarely talk to my customers, I only cut their lawn, I'm just the lawn company, no side work is ever mentioned unless the customer brings it up and usually I don't have the time, too busy cutting lawns. I have no bond with my customers, I'm just the lawn company, nothing more, but I can't understand how these hacks steal my customers, oh well I'll call the paper tomorrow, run another ad to replace the customers I lost."

And so it goes on every year........



I like what you have said about companies not using existing customers for extra business. On a side note I really could care less if someone wants to be solo or a large business, or which one is better, blah blah blah. Do whatever works for the particular business you want to set up. But back to using existing customers. Part time for me and will probably keep it that way but I'd like to accumulate 30 customers who have multiple services on top of mowing (trimming, mulching, etc..) Lets say each of these customers can give you extra business each year that can have you making in total near 2-3 times their yearly mowing bill.

Example:/ (this is hypothetical people so dont jump on the numbers)
Mowing - $1000
Trim/Clean Up/mulch - $500-$1000
Fall leaf mulching/Clean Up - $300-$1000
Second Mulching (i have em) - $350-$500

$2150-$3500

Isnt that so much better than chasing 90 lawns around each week? Mow 1-2 times per week and do all these other jobs the other days rather than have to mow 4-5 times every single week (talk about boring and monotonous). If it rains, no biggie, just move it back or bust your hump one day to get back on track. Also there are people who mow their own lawns but hate the grunt work of landscaping. I'd rather earn that landscaping only business then lawn only business as you get paid right there and then and are done or who knows what other business they may give you. Again the numbers can be whatever you like its just a hypothetical situation. Most of my current customers get pretty close to 2-2.5 times what they pay for mowing in side work. Plus a one day, in and out, mulch/trim job to make the same as their yearly mowing....I'll take those all day rather than extra mowing only clients. Plus you build a relationship with these customers that you can do everything for their landscape and they pass this on to others. People dump the mowing only guys for a difference in $1 in price.

As always this is just how I see things and I'm not here to argue that this is the best way for everyone just what I see and have had happen.

sdk1959
11-18-2010, 07:07 PM
I like what you have said about companies not using existing customers for extra business. On a side note I really could care less if someone wants to be solo or a large business, or which one is better, blah blah blah. Do whatever works for the particular business you want to set up. But back to using existing customers. Part time for me and will probably keep it that way but I'd like to accumulate 30 customers who have multiple services on top of mowing (trimming, mulching, etc..) Lets say each of these customers can give you extra business each year that can have you making in total near 2-3 times their yearly mowing bill.

Example:/ (this is hypothetical people so dont jump on the numbers)
Mowing - $1000
Trim/Clean Up/mulch - $500-$1000
Fall leaf mulching/Clean Up - $300-$1000
Second Mulching (i have em) - $350-$500

$2150-$3500

Isnt that so much better than chasing 90 lawns around each week? Mow 1-2 times per week and do all these other jobs the other days rather than have to mow 4-5 times every single week (talk about boring and monotonous). If it rains, no biggie, just move it back or bust your hump one day to get back on track. Also there are people who mow their own lawns but hate the grunt work of landscaping. I'd rather earn that landscaping only business then lawn only business as you get paid right there and then and are done or who knows what other business they may give you. Again the numbers can be whatever you like its just a hypothetical situation. Most of my current customers get pretty close to 2-2.5 times what they pay for mowing in side work. Plus a one day, in and out, mulch/trim job to make the same as their yearly mowing....I'll take those all day rather than extra mowing only clients. Plus you build a relationship with these customers that you can do everything for their landscape and they pass this on to others. People dump the mowing only guys for a difference in $1 in price.

As always this is just how I see things and I'm not here to argue that this is the best way for everyone just what I see and have had happen.

I agree too. This summer in my area we had a dry spell, some of my customers I didn't cut for over a month, grass was dying all over the place.

I made up for it in side work and really pushed for it this year, last year we had a lot of rain but I still did a fair amount of side work. A lot of posters from around my area posted pretty negative posts, laying off crew members, selling equipment, all their revenue coming from mowing, no business foresight.

The big companies that are successful & really do have good profit margins to them mowing is just a small piece of the total revenue pie. They do so much more, hardscaping, landscaping, irrigation, seed & sod, mulching, fert & weed control, hedge trimming, aerating, excavating, etc.

A low margin mowing only empire with the same total revenue wouldn't even begin to compare profit-wise.

MDLawn
11-18-2010, 08:31 PM
I couldnt imagine a mowing only operation. I"m sure some do it and it works and every industry is competitive, however, mowing seems by far the most competitive. I met a local landscaper who sold his entire mowing side of his business to one of his employees because the mowing was just too rediculous to keep running. He told me it was the worst he has ever seen.

I'm sure a lot people who start a mowing only business probably have the mentality of, "If I get 10 more lawns, then 20 more, then 30 more, etc.... I'll be making 'X' dollars!!" All this turns out to be is too much work that all you do is work 6-7 days a week 10-12hrs a day for such little return. I know running a business takes a lot of one's time and hard work but what about billing, estimating, maintenance, etc..? After working 60-80 hrs per week in the field where is the time for that? I mean you could work a regular job, make less money, and then have a life. Again only what I see and it may work for some, just not what I would want.

sdk1959
11-18-2010, 09:39 PM
Your probably right for the most part. Low margin sucks.

But so does weedeating dog doo for 50k a year 365 days out of the year.

I think there is a medium where profits can be high yet you can run multiple crews. You mention fixed and variable costs, but do you really understand what you are saying? To me the variable cost per crew are the same per crew. Your wages, fuel, initial crew equipment is the same per crew. If you have a formula and hourly rate that works for one crew, why would it not work for 20? The larger your company is the fixed cost go down. The rent/mortgage on the shop is much less when it is divided by 20 crews, the mower supply house will reduce its rate by 10% if you do volume, the tire company will sell you tires at cost if you are a retail supplier, the nursery will give an additional 30% of your materials if you spend over 50k with them.

I think to just blindly say that running a large company is impossible, stupid, unprofitable is just naive and immature.

The truth is... it can be done. If you cannot figure out how to do it, there is no one to blame but yourself.

Accounting terms:

Fixed costs are expenses that are independent of any change in business activity — they remain the same whether the business has $10 or $10 million in revenues. Fixed costs include rent, utilities, and insurance. Payroll salaries, most forms of depreciation, and capital assets are typically considered to be fixed costs, too.

If you have a dry spell during the season and your storage rent is $1000 a month and you barely cut any lawns, tough, landlord still wants his rent, a fixed cost. The dealers you financed your ztr's and other equipment still want their payments. So does the truck dealer you financed your truck from. The insurance company wants their premiums too. More fixed costs. No sob stories, the landlord, the dealers, insurance company don't want to hear it. You put all your eggs in the mowing basket as your sole source of revenue and dismissed all the side work revenue that could have kept your business afloat. Now you may lose your business and ruin your credit too.

Variable costs are expenses that are directly proportional to the level of business activity such as production volume or sales — they increase or decrease as a direct result of increases or decreases in sales or production.

As you do more lawns, you use more gas for both vehicles and equipment, more vehicle & equipment maintenance, supplies such as trimmer line, billing expenses- variable costs.

Service diversification is King, do it and survive and thrive. To do otherwise, well....... don't have to tell you how that will end up.

Chilehead
11-19-2010, 09:20 AM
I feel all this talk about diversification is spot on. I started my business 8 years ago doing leaf cleanups. The following spring I started to mow and trim hedges. Later, I got my commercial pesticide applicator's license and started applying chemicals/fertilizer. I learned early on that full-service grounds care was the way to go which is what I still do to this day. From October through April I do landscaping, hardscape, and irrigation installs. If we had snow I'd be ready to plow (as I originally came from Northeast Ohio). To live comfortably year round, you have to work year round (at least I do).

MDLawn
11-19-2010, 09:52 AM
I feel all this talk about diversification is spot on. I started my business 8 years ago doing leaf cleanups. The following spring I started to mow and trim hedges. Later, I got my commercial pesticide applicator's license and started applying chemicals/fertilizer. I learned early on that full-service grounds care was the way to go which is what I still do to this day. From October through April I do landscaping, hardscape, and irrigation installs. If we had snow I'd be ready to plow (as I originally came from Northeast Ohio). To live comfortably year round, you have to work year round (at least I do).


Diversification, I think, is key. Just like sdk1959 said too many eggs in one basket. But who am I to say much, I do this part time right now. Its like getting the one huge contract that is 80% of your business. Thats just a ticking time bomb. If you look at most business they are diverse. The big 3 auto makers dont just sell trucks, they sell cars, suv's, crossovers. Gas stations don't just sell gas they sell all sorts of stuff. Especially when the lawn mowing business is saturated there is a need to seperate oneself from the pack to get quality customers.
The list can go on about diversification. I also think that too many baskets can be problematic. Maybe someday if the full time position has drained me (although I love what I do) I"ll get enough stones to go out full time. I just need to get more hands on training with the hardscaping/irrigation end of things although I hear that market is hurting too.

Chilehead
11-19-2010, 02:01 PM
Diversification, I think, is key. Just like sdk1959 said too many eggs in one basket. But who am I to say much, I do this part time right now. Its like getting the one huge contract that is 80% of your business. Thats just a ticking time bomb. If you look at most business they are diverse. The big 3 auto makers dont just sell trucks, they sell cars, suv's, crossovers. Gas stations don't just sell gas they sell all sorts of stuff. Especially when the lawn mowing business is saturated there is a need to seperate oneself from the pack to get quality customers.
The list can go on about diversification. I also think that too many baskets can be problematic. Maybe someday if the full time position has drained me (although I love what I do) I"ll get enough stones to go out full time. I just need to get more hands on training with the hardscaping/irrigation end of things although I hear that market is hurting too.

It was really hurting a couple years back. I had not installed an irrigation system since 2007, but generally knock out 1-3 decent hardscape projects a year (for a solo guy like me, a $5K project is decent). I have a major project booked for next March for over $12K--my biggest one yet, and several $850-$1000 ones between now and Christmas. Hopefully the customer won't change his mind between now and then.
The NOAA long-range weather forecast for the southeast is a milder, warmer, and drier than usual winter. That's fine by me especially since we had a quite cold and damp one last year. The nice weather will make for more-than-usual weed control.

TheC-Master
11-19-2010, 11:52 PM
Yea too many eggs in one basket is bad, especially when you expand greatly because of one job. But you don't need to over-market as well either where you can't focus on your market.

topsites
11-20-2010, 03:18 AM
I think to each their own, not only does it depend on what floats your boat but
I can tell you it's also in what fits you, what becomes you...

And I think the mistake we tend to make is we tend to assume the model that fits you or me also would fit anyone else.

If such were the case...
You want to take over my momentum trades?
You'll need 1,500 cash and I expect a minimum $100 gain every 2 weeks.
These are volatile stocks capable of gains and losses such as 50% in 3-4 hours,
I've seen 10% in 6 minutes and 100% in 1 day.
Don't cry if you lose it, you have to start over, at least one trade every two weeks, chop chop.

I just pulled this one off:
Bought it late'ish Wednesday at $14.64
http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=CDTI+Interactive#chart1:symbol=cdti;range=5d;indicator=volume;charttype=line;crosshair=on; ohlcvalues=0;logscale=on;
Sold it Friday at $18 (actually sold at 19 when the stock suddenly reversed,
so I re-purchased and promptly lost another dollar / share lol)
35 shares, invested $500, gained $100.
Total time spent on this one stock, about 3-4 hours.
You think you can do better, hop right in.

The reason you need $1,500 is because it takes 3-5 days for funds to "settle" and you're throwing $500's around,
every time a sale goes through $500 gets frozen so you need a little buffer so you can keep trading in case things
go south, 3x $500 in this case.

Now, do you believe I have absolutely no inclination to want to manage some multi-employee company?

wbw
11-20-2010, 11:11 AM
I think to each their own, not only does it depend on what floats your boat but
I can tell you it's also in what fits you, what becomes you...

And I think the mistake we tend to make is we tend to assume the model that fits you or me also would fit anyone else.

If such were the case...
You want to take over my momentum trades?
You'll need 1,500 cash and I expect a minimum $100 gain every 2 weeks.
These are volatile stocks capable of gains and losses such as 50% in 3-4 hours,
I've seen 10% in 6 minutes and 100% in 1 day.
Don't cry if you lose it, you have to start over, at least one trade every two weeks, chop chop.

I just pulled this one off:
Bought it late'ish Wednesday at $14.64
http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=CDTI+Interactive#chart1:symbol=cdti;range=5d;indicator=volume;charttype=line;crosshair=on; ohlcvalues=0;logscale=on;
Sold it Friday at $18 (actually sold at 19 when the stock suddenly reversed,
so I re-purchased and promptly lost another dollar / share lol)
35 shares, invested $500, gained $100.
Total time spent on this one stock, about 3-4 hours.
You think you can do better, hop right in.

The reason you need $1,500 is because it takes 3-5 days for funds to "settle" and you're throwing $500's around,
every time a sale goes through $500 gets frozen so you need a little buffer so you can keep trading in case things
go south, 3x $500 in this case.

Now, do you believe I have absolutely no inclination to want to manage some multi-employee company?

No offense intended but you are working for $25-30 per hour with great potential to lose. For $30 per hour why would you want to incur risk?

juststartin
11-20-2010, 11:27 AM
I think to each their own, not only does it depend on what floats your boat but
I can tell you it's also in what fits you, what becomes you...

And I think the mistake we tend to make is we tend to assume the model that fits you or me also would fit anyone else.

If such were the case...
You want to take over my momentum trades?
You'll need 1,500 cash and I expect a minimum $100 gain every 2 weeks.
These are volatile stocks capable of gains and losses such as 50% in 3-4 hours,
I've seen 10% in 6 minutes and 100% in 1 day.
Don't cry if you lose it, you have to start over, at least one trade every two weeks, chop chop.

I just pulled this one off:
Bought it late'ish Wednesday at $14.64
http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=CDTI+Interactive#chart1:symbol=cdti;range=5d;indicator=volume;charttype=line;crosshair=on; ohlcvalues=0;logscale=on;
Sold it Friday at $18 (actually sold at 19 when the stock suddenly reversed,
so I re-purchased and promptly lost another dollar / share lol)
35 shares, invested $500, gained $100.
Total time spent on this one stock, about 3-4 hours.
You think you can do better, hop right in.

The reason you need $1,500 is because it takes 3-5 days for funds to "settle" and you're throwing $500's around,
every time a sale goes through $500 gets frozen so you need a little buffer so you can keep trading in case things
go south, 3x $500 in this case.

Now, do you believe I have absolutely no inclination to want to manage some multi-employee company?

You can't make any money in the stock market investing $1500!

sdk1959
11-21-2010, 01:35 AM
I think to each their own, not only does it depend on what floats your boat but
I can tell you it's also in what fits you, what becomes you...

And I think the mistake we tend to make is we tend to assume the model that fits you or me also would fit anyone else.

If such were the case...
You want to take over my momentum trades?
You'll need 1,500 cash and I expect a minimum $100 gain every 2 weeks.
These are volatile stocks capable of gains and losses such as 50% in 3-4 hours,
I've seen 10% in 6 minutes and 100% in 1 day.
Don't cry if you lose it, you have to start over, at least one trade every two weeks, chop chop.

I just pulled this one off:
Bought it late'ish Wednesday at $14.64
http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=CDTI+Interactive#chart1:symbol=cdti;range=5d;indicator=volume;charttype=line;crosshair=on; ohlcvalues=0;logscale=on;
Sold it Friday at $18 (actually sold at 19 when the stock suddenly reversed,
so I re-purchased and promptly lost another dollar / share lol)
35 shares, invested $500, gained $100.
Total time spent on this one stock, about 3-4 hours.
You think you can do better, hop right in.

The reason you need $1,500 is because it takes 3-5 days for funds to "settle" and you're throwing $500's around,
every time a sale goes through $500 gets frozen so you need a little buffer so you can keep trading in case things
go south, 3x $500 in this case.

Now, do you believe I have absolutely no inclination to want to manage some multi-employee company?

Don't be a short term or day trader, not only can you lose a lot of $$ but it's a accounting nightmare at the end of the year when you do your taxes. I had a lot of trades in 2007 with some stocks I shorted. It took almost 2 years to straighten out my 2007 tax return with the IRS even though it was correctly filed by my accountant.

Had to have a cost basis for every stock transaction that was bought and sold. Even though I lost money in the market that year the IRS had me making money and owing them over $7000.00 in taxes on that money. My accountant had to re-file twice to get it straighted out, was not happy about having to itemize the cost basis for every single trade. Spent hours on it listing each stock itemized on a cost basis for every single stock transaction.

They must have some brain dead tax auditors at the IRS, one of the big mistakes they made was they had me making money on the stocks I shorted that went up in price I bought to cover. :laugh: They don't know what a short sale is.:hammerhead:

abraham
12-07-2010, 10:55 PM
i disagree.this is my first year in business and i make way more money by myself than when i have a helper.

mslawn
12-08-2010, 06:42 AM
Being solo is fine, but there are some very big negatives.

1. If you get hurt or sick... you are screwed
2. You can only bill out for a certain amount of man hours per week
3. You have to actually work... which gets pretty damn old after 15yrs

You forgot to add you can also take a vacation whenever you feel you need one, even in the busiest time of the year.

Solo operations are fine in my book if that is what you want out of this. But I'll keep my lower profit margin anyday of the week. Employees can be a hassle and frustrating at times, but they are worth it.

i disagree.this is my first year in business and i make way more money by myself than when i have a helper.

Dont just have a helper. The trick is get that helper trained, promote him and give him a helper and then you work on other aspects of the business such as promoting sales or building another crew.

MDLawn
12-08-2010, 11:32 AM
You forgot to add you can also take a vacation whenever you feel you need one, even in the busiest time of the year.

Solo operations are fine in my book if that is what you want out of this. But I'll keep my lower profit margin anyday of the week. Employees can be a hassle and frustrating at times, but they are worth it.



Dont just have a helper. The trick is get that helper trained, promote him and give him a helper and then you work on other aspects of the business such as promoting sales or building another crew.


I really like what you have said. I am just a solo part time guy but would love to get some good help and train them well to do the work. This way I can get the estimates and sales done while they can work. It would also allow me to acquire more work and keep building up. The only problem is finding someone willing to work a part time job to start. I like vacations, hanging with family, and just doing other things. Right now I can't skip mowing weeks or push too many jobs back as I am the one doing the work. Employees can free up that time. They can also call in or quit and create those frustrations too. I like my full time job too much to quit, unless things got much better in the business, and the workload is ever increasing each year. So I want to find the good help soon enough. I'll take the hit to free up some of my time. I mean even good full time jobs give you vacations.

jswalden77
01-01-2011, 10:38 PM
I'm at a lost for words.... I worked for the "Big Guy" for five years after finishing college, and it really opened my eyes to what it actually takes to "Make" a certain amount of money while "Generating" alot too... (Profit / Revenue)

The "bottom line" is that we are not in the world to kill ourselves to generate alot of money and "brag" about it. We are here to make (maximize profits) money, with as little effort as possible..... Thus will give you more time to run a smarter, more efficient business --- of making even more profit...

I have chosen to stay "solo" for my sake of having low overhead, and higher profits. I don't even understand how some people speak of "Generating" the amounts of "monies" let alone profit some have discussed on this forum...

$200,000 yr. divided by (workable weeks in a year varies by location) say 45 weeks a year avg. = $4444.00 a wk. divided by an average of 50 hrs. a wk. year round = $89.00 per hr. ------ That "one" is making to generate $200,000 a year. Not making....

And if your solo "generating" this kind of money by yourself, you must be working in Southern California, All Irrigated Lawns, 8 - 10 lbs. of Nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft. per yr. fertilization contracts, on less than half acre lawns with half of that acre being of landscaped areas on each ---- in the "Lifestyles of the Rich and In-famous"

You guys must be holding the secret of creating longer days, perfect seasons, and magical equipment.... :weightlifter:

I am greatly interested in your labor rate per hr. you sell to your clients, and how you manage to get all the work done solely on your own.....

Reality is $200,000 yr minus profit margin $90,000 - $110,000 yr minus overhead and "Uncle Sam" ----- Your making $17,000 - $25,000 to deposit in the bank for "growing your business" after paying yourself an honest salary...:usflag:

juststartin
01-02-2011, 08:15 AM
I'm at a lost for words.... I worked for the "Big Guy" for five years after finishing college, and it really opened my eyes to what it actually takes to "Make" a certain amount of money while "Generating" alot too... (Profit / Revenue)

The "bottom line" is that we are not in the world to kill ourselves to generate alot of money and "brag" about it. We are here to make (maximize profits) money, with as little effort as possible..... Thus will give you more time to run a smarter, more efficient business --- of making even more profit...

I have chosen to stay "solo" for my sake of having low overhead, and higher profits. I don't even understand how some people speak of "Generating" the amounts of "monies" let alone profit some have discussed on this forum...

$200,000 yr. divided by (workable weeks in a year varies by location) say 45 weeks a year avg. = $4444.00 a wk. divided by an average of 50 hrs. a wk. year round = $89.00 per hr. ------ That "one" is making to generate $200,000 a year. Not making....

And if your solo "generating" this kind of money by yourself, you must be working in Southern California, All Irrigated Lawns, 8 - 10 lbs. of Nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft. per yr. fertilization contracts, on less than half acre lawns with half of that acre being of landscaped areas on each ---- in the "Lifestyles of the Rich and In-famous"

You guys must be holding the secret of creating longer days, perfect seasons, and magical equipment.... :weightlifter:

I am greatly interested in your labor rate per hr. you sell to your clients, and how you manage to get all the work done solely on your own.....

Reality is $200,000 yr minus profit margin $90,000 - $110,000 yr minus overhead and "Uncle Sam" ----- Your making $17,000 - $25,000 to deposit in the bank for "growing your business" after paying yourself an honest salary...:usflag:

Exactly, there is no way to gross 200k solo much less net 200k. That is why you are limited being a solo operator. You can only bill out for a certain amount of man hours like you said.

superbee
09-27-2011, 06:08 PM
I did the same thing this summer for the same reasons you listed. I couldn't be happier.

PlantscapeSolutions
09-27-2011, 07:29 PM
Heck, this post is back from the dead so I'll add some more info. I think us folks in places like CA, and TX have a huge labor advantage. Once you get away from the border states the pool of reliable labor is very shallow. When I was making the move from solo, to part time help, to full time help, to foremen running a three man crew for me it was challenging.

We had to try out about 200 people to find just one that would work for a few months before flaking out. Every f'n day you never knew who would show up. The stress level was insane. I spent $4000 to do work visas and of course this was the year the government totally f'd up the visa process and lot of people like myself got screwed.

I hired two temp guys who lacked the crappy American work ethic to hold me over until my work visa guys showed up. Four seasons later the temp guys still work for me and I gave up on the visa process. I can't afford to throw $4k away every year and hope the government doesn't leave me hanging.

Just like in the 1800's when the Irish, and eastern Europeans were a disadvantaged group that worked the hardest today we still have hard working immigrants you can actually depend on. If you hire laborers who are not hungry for work then your your setting yourself up for failure. I'm not saying there are no Americans who are content to be hard working laborers but they are a microscopic minority of the labor force.

Most Americans aspire to to do bettering paying less difficult work and there is nothing wrong with that. But it leaves a labor void that must be filled if you want produce to eat, homes built, and a multitude of other trades to exist.

jsslawncare
09-27-2011, 07:53 PM
Don't mean to sound sarcastic but if you cant handle a business with only 4 employees then maybe running a business is not something you were meant to do.
I think guys that run solo operations as their only source of income are nuts.
Why dont you try to get a job with a large company?

I guess I'm nuts!

TJLANDS
09-27-2011, 08:36 PM
Good luck to you!
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