View Full Version : Temp company got into the lawn biz

soccer coach
10-31-2002, 06:32 PM
I got a letter today. Dear homeowner an extra set of hands are available at your convenience. Leaf raking, lawncare, snow and ice removal and holiday light install.
I about had to scream :angry: ! This same company wants my biz for temp help but yet competes against me for work at a fraction of the price after companies like mine have trained them to do it. We even had an old worker take some accounts to the temp service to save them some money and kiss but to his boss.
This is a big chain temp company all over the country so don't think this will not happen in your area. I called them and asked about contractors permits to do biz and individual bonding. They told me that it didn't apply to them. They have done alot of work for the city and they understand they can save them money so nothing is said. If the industry as a whole stands up and finds other help this will stop. The office here sends out 30-40 guys a day this time of year to do yardwork for homeonwers. That adds up to a lot of work they took out of the professionals pocket. I'm sick of the laws only applying to the few and not all. About ready to sell the whold bang thing and let someone else worry about the next illegal wroker or company that runs illegal cutting this industry down a joke. The lady at the temp service said it is hardly a profession," most guys she finds that do this kind of work are looking for the fix or beer money". I swear my wife and 2 buddies of mine had to follow me around all day to keep me from going down and cutting her throat:angry: . Please support others that sell only to contractors and use only help that don't go behind your back and use the training you helped give them to put you out of biz. She told me they billed out at 10.50 per man hour to a homeowner and I should be able to beat that anyway so she didn't see the deal. That is cheaper than what they charge me!:angry:
Sorry just had to vent abit. We can stop this now or help it along by looking the other way. It is your choice. Ryan

10-31-2002, 09:04 PM
Man that sucks, and is stupid. I don't know how a guy could compete against that sort of s**t. I know the feeling. In my currnet biz I can't compete with the same thing, dealers will hire clowns to drive their cars for them at cut throat pricing. Like $35 for a 100 mile or so distance. Must be they pay em $15 or $18 and the rest goes for fuel. Other wise there is no way I can run the numbers and make it work. I know they are not figuring it right, but you cannot convince them of that. And you can't convince them of the draw backs either.

Break downs, and then they got to pay a tow truck

fuel costs for driving 3 or 4 at a time won't be much less than what mine is to haul that many, then they got to send a bus to pick up all the drivers, this is where I know they are not figuring any thing for pricing

added miles

clowns that hot rod the cars

their insurance exposure, here is another one, from what I understand dealership insurance does not cover the vehicle for an extended trip like, only test drives around town, (that is what I was told)

10-31-2002, 09:31 PM
When you see these people working near where you work go up to the house ring the doorbell and when they answer the door ask them if they did a criminal record check on their new lawn guy.
The other thing you can do is do some research and document all the news stories on break ins by repairmen, pool boys etc then make a flyer and hand it to the home owner.
Or you could just keep plugging away.

Brickman, I cross the Border every week and I go into Customs and there are always a bunch of old guys who drive cars from the Auctions, they do it just for something to do and to get a free dinner.

10-31-2002, 09:53 PM
Originally posted by cantoo

Brickman, I cross the Border every week and I go into Customs and there are always a bunch of old guys who drive cars from the Auctions, they do it just for something to do and to get a free dinner.

I am trying to make a living, pay my house loan, and not have to file bankruptcy. If they want some thing to do, go to the Y and swim.

soccer coach
10-31-2002, 10:24 PM
Last year temp co had a worker rape a girl that was slow while they had been working at the house. How is that for bad P.R.? It was on the tube for awhile and the press. You would think that would slow the biz for them. :angry: I'm convinced after studying this abit that most don't care who does the lawn, nasty lookin bum or not. I wonder how many would let that same nasty lookin bum in the house to work? The temp co told us they do alot of houses by Iron Gate, one of the nicest areas of town. I'm thinking of getting into carpet cleaning and sell off all our stuff. I see a few guys that work cheap but hey I think that is everywhere.
Brinkman, I don't know how you do it as I looked into hauling cars like you know. Guys will run 3.5 hrs. away and drive a car back for 25.00 plus gas money here. 7 hrs. for 25.00??? Last year I had a major chemical co. offer me a job as a foreman for the landscape devision. I have been kicking myself ever since. I could get back to what I love to do and let someone else worry about making money :D .

10-31-2002, 10:33 PM
Originally posted by Brickman
I am trying to make a living, pay my house loan, and not have to file bankruptcy. If they want some thing to do, go to the Y and swim.

Yeah, that's right. Same here. Then some people refer to us as "yard boys", like we are just some unprofessional, low-life guys just trying to make beer money, because they are "scrubs" out there that are doing just that, making this industry look unprofessional.

The Lawn Choupique
10-31-2002, 11:18 PM
That is what is so great about this business, anyone can do it and everyone can make some spare cash. Hopefully the day labour service guys will see the light and get there own equipment. They are most likely only seeing about $6.50 per hour out of what the agency bills. If they get their own equipment they could make $25 per hour on a reguler basis. I use a agency where I am at and they have allways treated me well.

11-01-2002, 12:27 AM
You know, I have never had anyone question the professionalism of what I do. Many customers will ask a question about thier lawn, and are impressed with how much there is to know, (and what they didn't). Do you guys get alot of disrespect?

11-01-2002, 12:28 AM
Wow! I love this blazing fast new Lawnsite! The page loads as soon as I hit the submit button.

11-01-2002, 12:37 AM
Originally posted by Mow&Snow
You know, I have never had anyone question the professionalism of what I do. Many customers will ask a question about thier lawn, and are impressed with how much there is to know, (and what they didn't). Do you guys get alot of disrespect?

Only the PITA ones that think they know it all. They seem to think they know more about lawn care than I do. Thats also the ones that I'll pass on and leave it to the ones that will put up with their BS.

11-01-2002, 01:00 AM
Most people take one look at my equipment, then tell me to do what I see fit to the yard and give them the bill. Others look at me, see I am still pretty young, and then they assume they know more than I do. I procede to point out thier errors in the kindest way possible, then they get mad at me. When I corrected this one redneck fellow about the best method to bag leaves, he took a swing at me, so I clipped him in the right ear with a fist, then planted my foot in his kidneys. (I do like Tai Kwon Do!) He shutup. I left. But that is a rarity, most people realize they dont know what to do, and they also realize they really dont care either, so they just ask me what to do. I like those people!


soccer coach
11-01-2002, 03:35 AM
Mow and snow, You just had someone question the entire industry today with comments like this from the biggest temp co in the US. You might have nice equipment and I'm sure you do but remember this, big companies like I'm talking about could up and but a warehouse full on the stuff you have burn it to the ground and laugh about it. The corp. headquarters told me they have looked into purchasing a few trucks and trailers to expand on what they can do for the homeowner as well as the contractor. You can bet it is for the homeowner :mad: . I doubt very many will take it to heart and still use them but to each his own.
Lawn Choup, now is not the time to run your mouth. Extra cash?? I have soem extra cash here in Webb City,MO just waiting for you to come and get it :angry:

11-01-2002, 05:08 AM
The large temp co. might just go out and buy a warehouse full of new Dixie Choppers...but as long as they have some poor schlep (or schlepette) out there sweating their buns off for $6.00 an hour...well, I just don't think that the 'quality' will be there.

Heck, if we are lucky, the hirees will soon figure out what the job is really worth and then skip town with the equipment after the first week or two. :)

Or the first time the company (or their client) gets sued by "toeless" Tommy, or "fingerless" Fran they will see that this ain't no game.

Two years ago you would have thought that Chem-Lawn was going to take over our business.......I have seen them out there ocassionally...but they haven't even put a scratch in any one of the LCOs I know businesses. Actually, I have snatched a few former Chem-Lawn customers. Because? They don't pay their guys squat, and the training is even less than desirable, so they either fob off and chap a client...or just split for greener pastures.

The largest temp service didn't get that way because they cannot crunch numbers. Either they will have to get with the program price-wise in order to turn a profit...our they will ditch the idea in favor of a lower overhead venture...like window washing.

Much less pain in writing off a few squeegies and buckets. They will figure it out.

Until then, keep up the good work and maintain a friendly, positive attitude, and you will grow, GROW, GROW! :D

Let's face it...not only are we selling our services-we are selling ourselves. Potential clients who appreciate us, and our work, are happy to pay a premium to retain our services.

And for those who just want to save a buck??? They can call this guy:


They deserve each other. :laugh:

11-01-2002, 09:23 AM
Most temp. services make there money sending workers to big industry, where they peform mindless meanial tasks, like putting widgets into boxes. I know first hand from winter work i have done. To think they are going to send the average uneducated temp worker out to mow grass with a ztr or a walk behind is--well laughable. Many temp workers can hardly tie their shoe laces, much less stripe yards at precise angles. Imagine all that torn up equipment and grass blown every where. This is not a industry that can be learned over night.

soccer coach
11-01-2002, 11:30 AM
Lawnworker, I do understand this is not an overnight deal. One of the guys they use worked for us for 4 months and knows alot of our customers. They know him as well and liked him. Most not all temp workers are worthless. Worthless drunks are how big industry sees out industry and for a part they are right. The biggest law co in town offers 25.00 aeration. How do they make money on that? Weel the customers thinks that, weel president of the co John sends sends out Juan and pays him say 5.00 under the table and puts the rest in his pocket. I can't help it but think this is the way they think. Even my insurance man mentioned he would get us some cash instead of writing a check. I said a check would be fine, he said I just thought you just took cash to save on taxes. :angry: When I went to see him about payment I was wearing a nice uniform as always I guess a nice uniform and equipment still doesn't make a guy any different than the drunk bum with chew hanging out his mouth is his eyes.

11-01-2002, 12:33 PM
I am sorry to say that has been going on for quite some time and will only get worse. Most people think of this as if some kid can mow a lawn with a 22" push mower why do I need the "professional." Unless the government gets involved either state or federal to try and regulate the unlicensed and uninsured then it is up to you to sell yourself to the potential customer on why your level of knowledge will benefit them over the lawn kid. Sucks but that is the way it is!


11-01-2002, 03:08 PM
Yep,we got a lot of work to do to change the image if lawn care. Sometimes, I just dont know if it really is doable. I've posted this so many times I am starting to sound like a skipping CD player,there are to many people cutting grass. Customers know they can get ten different estimates each new season, five of which the 'contractor' will have know frikken idea what his real cost are to stay in bussiness for ten years. Then there is all the extra cash contractors who have better equipment then me becouse they have the good paying 'real job' to subsidize their business. I can't blame them; I would do the same thing in their shoes. Then, you have the drunks out cutting for beer money.Hmmm, sounds depressing

soccer coach
11-01-2002, 04:09 PM
I think the members of this site should start a group or assoc.or something. I'm not talking about a send in your check and you're in deal like the rest of the. I mean something that looks into claims against the company, backs up yrs of service, makes sure of proper insurance, reference check and such. This would be the only one of it's kind that doesn't just take a check and your in. We could use this membership for buying power,creadibility, and help improve the overall image.
If you could say you are a member of the only org. that really checks into companies instead of just drawing in some pay. When you say your a member of xxxx that really doesn't mean anything to the homeowner as they don't know them. If you could tell them the D.A. office, local government, and members of your org. have approved of your company. You could also provide them with a membership number for them to look into how when approve of companies. I think a big selling point agaisnt your competition for not being a part of it. Kind of like I don't know why they aren't a member??? Maybe insurance or past history is an issue. What does everyone think of something along this line?

The Lawn Choupique
11-01-2002, 04:38 PM
Originally posted by soccer coach
I If you could tell them the D.A. office, local government, and members of your org. have approved of your company. What does everyone think of something along this line?

I have heard it all now. The District Attorney's office and the local goverment agencies, approving of a for profit enterprise. I don't think they will have a job for very long if they go around endorsing one company over another. What you need to do is call the president and tell him you want some of that protectionism that he gave the steel and timber industries.

That is why I love this business. It is open competition. The strong not only survive but will prosper. The weak will faulter and soon be out of the business. And guess what. That only means more business and more profits for the business that are smart enough and tough enough to survive.

11-01-2002, 07:19 PM
Great. We can call ScrubPower or Kellyscrubs.:dizzy: :D

soccer coach
11-01-2002, 08:36 PM
In the Kansas City area Johnson and Jackson county are starting this background check for all contractors. I'm very disappointed to see very few of the folks on this board practicing what they preach. S.M., O.P. Olathe,L.S. all have a fee and regs to follow before you can work in these towns. Alot of senior members seem to be side stepping this so when one of them mentions the word scrub they might be looking in the mirror.

11-01-2002, 10:19 PM
"S.M., O.P. Olathe,L.S. all have a fee and regs to follow before you can work in these towns."

This sounds kinda like what a 'Union' does. Either "pay up and toe the line"...or "get out".

I'm sure that I'm not the only person here who feels that the less government intrusion into, and regulations forced upon, our businesses...the better. All we need is more paperwork to fill out..and fees to pay. And it would not solve the 'scrub syndrome' either. People will still work under the table for those who want the cheapest services... regardless of rules and regulations. Never has a homeowner inquired about "my background"...all they want is a good job and a fair price. And who's out there riding around and checking the credentials of anyone they see mowing a lawn? The "Scrub Police"??? No one is...that's who. And little Timmy down the street will keep on using dads mower to pick up running money................as long as Granny Jones is looking for a $10 cut.

I would not let lowballers, scrubs, or some temporary agencies scheme force me deeper into the goverment's clutches. Sorry.

I believe in 'Free Enterprise'....completely. Either you can make it...or you cannot. All of the governmental protection rackets in the world won't make a person a sucessful entrepreneur.

I just run my business the best that I can, and do not give a second thought to the new crop of illegal scrubs that perpetually come and go. My client retention is very high, my net and profits have increased nicely each year...heck, the season is about over and I've signed on 4 new, good paying, accounts in the last 10 days. I can't spend a bunch of time and effort trying to stamp out the endless stream of scrubs....I'm to busy growing my own business to worry about theirs. They die off quick enough without my help anyway....just in time for a whole new crop to hatch. That's just the nature of this business. Either a person can deal with it, and grow in spite of it,...or they can't.

Gravely_Man said it most succinctly:

" Unless the government gets involved either state or federal to try and regulate the unlicensed and uninsured then it is up to you to sell yourself to the potential customer on why your level of knowledge will benefit them over the lawn kid. Sucks but that is the way it is!

11-01-2002, 11:01 PM
Put a Flex-Deck on your machines and you will compete with anybody - you will lower # of machines and employees needed - And that is where it is at - lower over head - increase profits - you need no benefits or Workmans Comp with the Flex-Deck


11-02-2002, 12:49 AM
well, after ole flex's comment, I believe that everthing that needs to be said about this subject, has been.:sleeping:

11-02-2002, 07:57 AM
I think we need to take a few lessons from Swampbeast in customer relations!

People get into automobile accidents all the time, reason is they take their eyes off the road. If your constantly looking at your competitors then your eyes are not on YOUR ROAD .

Remember, a dead end street is just a place to turn around.

Stay focused.

Don't wreck the truck!:sleeping:

soccer coach
11-02-2002, 03:39 PM
Homer, That is good advice. I don't normally give the comp a second look but this deal went to every household in my county,mine included. While I had my head buried in the sand thinking everything was fine it looks that things are getting out of hand. We are talking about big biz getting a free ride around all the regs. that are in place. That allows them to work for less and profit the same amount as a company that complies with the regulations. The only guys that think this is ok are most likely running the same way. :angry: One of these guys this Spring spread pre-emerg. all over a sand box at a daycare down the street. We got a call to take a look and document the event. After several calls a guy came out and took samples. End result: The man in charge of the co that did the work(big outfit) and the inspector went to lunch. End of deal. We removed all the sand cleaned around it best we could and brought in new sand. The scum bags didn't even have to buy the sand. Don't misunderstand me I don't like government running me but if laws are made ALL should follow. Several parents tried to get this company suspended before they did it again, but it fell on deaf ears. Don't want to bring anyone down I hope everyone grows this next year and the economy turns around. I'm semi-retired and moved to an area that affords me to retire earlier but also is feeling the economy badly. I can tell you this. Price is the ONLY thing asked about here. Service means nothing and it is common to see a 21" mower in the back of a Honda sitting in front of a 500,000.00 home. I told a buddy this morning I was thinking of sellfing of my stuff and getting out. He about fell over when I told him we aren't making more than what I could working an average job and not having to worry about a thing. I enjoy do lawnwork or I wouldn't do it. My wife makes good money everything is pd for. I just get bored doing nothing. But I refuse to work for cheap just because I can. You guys talk about 35.00 per man hour?? I was making that 8 yrs ago. Are you going to be charging the same on another 8 yrs? :angry: Take your 35.00 per man hour and be fair, subtract maintaining the trucks, saving money for a new one someday, payroll, pay increases, equipment maint. and purchases, insurance and everything else that is part of the deal and take a look at that number. Now run down to McDonalds and make more money for less headaches.

Turf Cutters
11-02-2002, 07:01 PM
What is the temp company's name? I use temps when I get behind and the companies that I have used have not back stabed me yet. I live and work in Johnson County. So far the cities we do business in have not required any type of licenses. Building contractors are the only ones that need to have a license. You do need to have a state pesticide business licence and have it on your truck. I have had no problem with my customers because they know that I'm dependalable, do good work, and charge a fair price.

soccer coach
11-02-2002, 07:13 PM
JUst because they don't bust down your door and take your money doesn't mean they don't have permits that need pd. Olathe, O.P., Mission al have permits and require seperate bonds for each town. If you e-mail me your name and address I can put right proper folks into with you. I believe O.P. cost around 1000.00 before you can legally even advetise doing biz in that town let alone take a check. If you are over 18 and do anything for hire in Johnson County you need these permits to be legal. The name of the temp. co I will hold off on but I will tell you they are always Ready.

11-02-2002, 07:31 PM
I have to take issue with you if you honestly believe that more regulation and governmental intrusion is going to be the answer to your problem. In our FREE MARKET economy do you really think they are going to be able to put any kind of dent in your business? If you do think that "always ready" could put a dent in your business with what everyone knows for the most part is a "high quality of employee" (there are a few exceptions) then your business may be focused on attaining the wrong type of business.
In reality what type of customer would call them to do the work? Is that the type of customer you market towards?

Keep in mind too that the temp service is running all temps on a MINIMUM BILL RATE OF FOUR HOURS.

Rather than the immediate push for additional regulation, sit back and watch....I would bet either they don't last long with the new venture or end up catering to one time users of the PITA variety (which would be a blessing....you now have someone to refer the PITA's to.)

By all means share your experiences regarding this service with the network of business owners that you know. This will carry more weight than any series of regulations you could dream of implementing. A regulation requires enforcement and the enforcement requires money. Where's the money going to come from? Of course! Lets create another new government beaucracy; Lawn Care Legitimacy Task Force aka LCLTF. THANKS FOR ANOTHER BRILLIANT PROPOSAL FOR A TAX INCREASE!

soccer coach
11-02-2002, 08:17 PM
Bug eater, take a pill. I just tossed out an idea. You are right. Regulations are in place already and seem to have no effect on the industry as it is so more is pointless I guess. My Grandfather ran a taxi biz for years in a small community until the government brought in government subsidized elderly transit buses that operated off tax dollars and put him out of biz. I understand the bad side of government.
I just thought other might take interest to a development in the industry in my area. I market high end res. and see scrubs doing well in the high end market as well. I was told a funny thing from a director at a hospital near by. She told us she wanted to go with us but she had a bid from a guy just starting out that was alot less.She made it sound like around 500.00 less than my 800.00 bid. she told me if the plants died she could have it done again and still be less. I just had to laugh. I know the guy was just trying to make a buck but at least don't work for free. My materials would have been about that.

11-02-2002, 11:10 PM
I love this place, mostly, for this thread...
Lawnsite saved me from the worst fate, and our nitemare: SCRUB AND LOWBALLER!!!!! It's an awesome education of business ethics, pricing guides, advice on equipment, etc. If I had not found lawnsite and spent most of my free time on here reading and learning, I would be out there with dads push mower hacking down yards for $5 without knowing what a weedeater is and what is a blower???? But thanks to Lawnsite, I have been saved from that and my prices are inline or (sometimes) higher than local pros (who have high overhead and new expensive machines) and I am extremely quality minded. I didn't take time to read all of the long posts to this thread but I read quite a bit of it and Swampbeasts post really stuck out as well as Homer's. Although I have had to scrape by with homeowner equipment for the last couple years I have purchased some commercial 2 cycle stuff and am soon purchasing a 2000 eXmark TTHP 48" w/b and 17 accounts with it. I have a new Stihl FS80 trimmer, less than 2 y.o. Echo HCR1500 hedge trimmer and Echo SRM2400SB power unit with extended hedge clippers (Pro Edge attachment comin' soon) and also comin' soon a Stihl BR340 or Echo equivalent back pack blower. Sold my Toro 21" rear bagger self propelled (wish I hadn't) cause I didn't use it at the time now I realize that it might be handy so I bought 3 used LawnBoys cheap and will sell 2 and keep the best one. I'm moving up and love the feeling! And it's all because of Lawnsite, because thats where I met the current owner of the biz I'm buying!
There are prospects for several other lawns next year as well, and a local landlord might be interested in having me do 17 of his rental houses for him.
Not too shabby for a 15 year old IMO...

so here's a shout-out to all of you who advised and educated me over the past year or so! Including all of you who criticized me repeatedly, cause that probably made me realize that even smart people can still be jerks! haha...besides, you also made me realize things or look at it in another perspective. So THANKS everyone!

11-02-2002, 11:48 PM
For 15 you have a good head on your shoulders and you'll do fine. You may make mistakes but at 15 there is no other opportune time to do so; they are not as costly as if you were 30, married, and with children. Keep it up!

11-03-2002, 07:33 AM
There is a company around me that uses rehab folks. He's in another town but they do have the local hospital contract. As I understand it he has his City wrapped up with good accounts and I think he is paid by the Government to use these people. I understand what your talking about to an extent. Everybody needs a helping hand but this guy I'm referring to has taken away work from hard working, self employed individuals and is profiting off the Government by using those that we wouldn't hire.

I guess the Gov. is already involved in the lawncare biz huh?

But I'm watching the road!!!!!!!!!!

soccer coach
11-03-2002, 10:45 PM
Homer, Sounds like you are dealing with the same thing in your area. Sorry to hear that. Trying to get things back on track for next year. I do get excited abit now and then:D . Trying to hold firm on my price has been hard as most charge a fraction for the same work. I hear it all the time," we want you to do the work but at this guys price". The economy here is just not very good right now and price is king. Looking for ways to reduce costs some to be more competitive next year. Thanks for the advice. :drinkup: