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Hell on Blades
06-08-2011, 12:11 AM
FYI - I'm going to be long winded and vent...

Four years ago, I started with a plan to work my full time job (which is WAY too good to consider letting go), mow 15-20 yards (or the equivalent commercial properties) and fully maintain about half of 15-20. I was sure I could handle those with just myself and my oldest son.

Now I'm mowing 25, three every other week, maintaining 15 and have so much other work coming is it is absolutely ridiculous. I know I don't have anyone I can really trust to run a crew, at least not yet - even my closest friend who has helped me out from time to time, from time to time skips steps that I consider crucial.

Now I have bids is for the residence of a local city manager, who has already referred a commercial job (245ft french drain @ $3.5k) in his city. I also have his neighbor on a LARGE ($3776) tree trimming and felling job. I have a $4k tear out and install (start over) that is pending (99% sure) approval and more calls every day (3 today for one time mows). I also get corporate referrals from a local realty.

I am absolutely upfront with EVERY customer. I tell them that, while it is full time, it is not my primary income. I also let them know that right now, I am at least 3 weeks out on STARTING any work.

Admittedly, and I am ashamed to admit it, I have paid one guy under the table for a few days work. I needed the help to meet deadlines.

I'm at the crossroads of either saying "no", hiring a crew, or trying to go full time.

Not really a question, but I'd welcome your comments / advice. Please be more detailed than just, "Do it!". I'd like to hear some reasoning why or why not.

topsites
06-08-2011, 12:28 AM
Raise your dang prices, end of the problem.

LHS Lawns
06-08-2011, 08:43 AM
I work my 25 client Lawn Care part-time because like you I'm not giving up my full time job. Health Care and Pension ae just too valuable to give up. I know what my limits are as far as work load and I stick with it. Weather permitting I'm always on schedule for the work that day. My clients appreciate me doing a job when I say I'm going to do it. I might advertise a little in the Spring every now and then just to see if I can land a new client that fits my schedule. Anybody that doesn't I refer them to some of my LCO buddies and they appreciate the gesture. I don't advertise on my truck because like I said I can only handle so much. That will change here in a little while because DOT and Pest App numbers have to be posted so we'll see what comes of that. I think you have created a monster thats gotten out of control. I go thru the same thing at the beginning of the season every year, thinking of ways I could get more clients. Then the workload starts and I'm content in what I'm doing. Setting a limit works for me. I have a dream job so I'm working both. Best of luck on what you decide to do.

XLS
06-08-2011, 01:27 PM
on top of the ideas posted here i will say business is a monster as long as you feed it , it will grow if you stop your business will die . you say you have a helper you trust but he leaves outr steps .... consider developing a detailed work system for him to follow (so he does this before this and he does not forget step 3 it will allow you to track his times and skill growth . if nothing else consider getting help on jobs of little importance. let him do things that is low skill level so you can do things your capable of doing best.
no one can tell you to grow or not but if you do let your guy do the work then in the evening hold him accountable and make suggestions not demands ,you dont want tenssion just be like , that job looked good but next time if you dont edge so deep i think it will look better , will you try it and stay calm good luck

JB1
06-08-2011, 09:05 PM
you will know when it's time, maybe a dumb answer, but you;ll know.

BellaLC
06-08-2011, 09:21 PM
i am at the same cross roads right now. I have 25 customers and know i can pick up a lot more if i put effort into getting them. Right now if i have a potential customer that is more valuable than a existing customer, i'll dump someone that may be slow paying or owe money. I have a corporate job and do real estate on the side also. I would love to go fulltime with the landscaping but need the benefits from my 9-5 until my wife goes back to work full time and use her benefits. in the meantime i looing to upgrade my 1 ton and purchase a walker or navigator.

jsslawncare
06-08-2011, 09:24 PM
Do what ever makes you happy.

PROCUT1
06-08-2011, 09:33 PM
Going full time changes the game drastically.

Right now your full time job subsidizes your lawn business and your life.

Many guys make the switch and are completely taken by surprise how hard it really is when this "great money" youre making turns out to be nothing when the business has to stand on its own feet.

Search for my thread on here titled "how to fail in the lawn business by someone who did it"

That thread talks about the experience of going from a small to a much larger operation. The points in that thread can be applied also going from part time to full time.

gebby
06-08-2011, 10:16 PM
I too have this problem. I don't want to grow any more. I have reached my limits between my real job and this lawn thing. Just be honest with people and your self. I am too busy and can't keep this up forever. Something has to give. You are not saying no I am lazy you are saying no because I am too busy. You will be doing you, your family and your customers a greater service. If at some point in time you find the right person to take over you are still in a position to do that. I know it is hard to say no. My biggest fear is to someday run out of money. Many times in the past I said YES just to get a littlle more put back. I have hit that wall. I am still busier than I would like to be but, I have backed off from where I was several years ago. Age takes care of a lot of things for me. Good luck with your decision and your future !!

Ijustwantausername
06-08-2011, 10:35 PM
On the new ones I would inch your prices up and see what happens. If they go for it then you are out like a bandit, and if they don't, well it doesn't matter. Would you rather be your own boss or continue doing your corporate job? Would it supplement your income or would you fall short? Can you leverage the time you need to gain more customers and work corporate simultaneously? What goal are you trying to reach with your lawn business? If it were me and I were receiving the influx of calls/work that you are, I'd quit my regular job.

Hell on Blades
06-08-2011, 11:42 PM
I appreciate the insights. Some of your ideas, like inching up prices, I've already started.

I guess I'm inspired by a couple of guys here who used this way of life to generate tens of thousands and pay for private high schools and college for their kids.

Thanks again ...

dvaughn
06-09-2011, 08:40 AM
I am in the same situation you are. I have a full time job I cannot give up and I am maxed out on customers as well. I do not advertise anymore but I am still getting calls because of word of mouth referrals. I recommend raising your prices.

Something I have been considering is subcontracting out any additional calls. I am thinking this could be a win – win for everyone involved. Just make sure you pick someone that does good work. I just have not figured out the legality issue with it yet so I have not done this myself. If a sub-contractor breaks a window or throws a rock at a person could anyone legally come after me for their negligence?

Hell on Blades
06-10-2011, 05:18 AM
If you sub it out. Make sure you're named ON THEIR POLICY as a "named insured". To the best of my understanding that should automatically put it thru their insurance first, until theirs is maxxed.

I don't trust much to subs...