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David Haggerty
10-27-2011, 06:07 AM
This year I lost my biggest account, Sugarcreek Packing in Dayton Ohio. Plus two of the board member's homes one in Beavercreek, the other in Springfield. I also had to stop mowing a little daycare across the street from Sugarcreek.
All together it was about $25,000. I had tears in my eyes! I laid of my Son. And worked solo at what I had left.
So now it's the end of the year. My wife who is an accredited accountant/bookkeeper/tax preparer, says I profited MORE this year than before! And I'm doing less work!
Eliminating payroll was the biggest savings, but that was less than $10k. It was putting an extra 100 miles a week on my truck. And it's a bit of a fuel hog at 10 MPG.
I thought maybe my wife was just trying to make me feel better, because I couldn't figure out where the savings was. But taxable income is UP! And the figures don't lie. The truck is now paid off, so I actually have fewer deductables.

The lesson I learned was LISTEN TO YOUR ACCOUNTANT. She'd been complaining about overhead for years. Now I'm working less, less wear $ tear on the equipment, and the life expectancy on the truck is about doubled!

Any comments or experiences along this line?

zak406
10-27-2011, 09:22 AM
I'm curious ofwhat your making now vs before and also how many hours / jobs you do a day? Also any winter work?
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Exact Rototilling
10-27-2011, 10:40 AM
Not surprised one bit.

Do you mainly mow with some landscape maintenance?
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ralph02813
10-27-2011, 12:05 PM
Every once in a while I argue with myself about getting a trailer - right now I put everything in the back of my truck - well not everything, I have organized my work week to nimimize gear on the truck, thus saving gas and having to buy that trailer. My argument against the trailer is I have got to get a good one with brakes otherwise I'd burn through brakes on the truck - and you know they aren't cheap.
I hate the thought of having to unload my stuff daily - the lazy side of me I guess - so I can see myself like so many guys having everything I own in the trailer - what next buy a gas station - so that's my thoughts on upsizing.

zak406
10-27-2011, 03:34 PM
Every once in a while I argue with myself about getting a trailer - right now I put everything in the back of my truck - well not everything, I have organized my work week to nimimize gear on the truck, thus saving gas and having to buy that trailer. My argument against the trailer is I have got to get a good one with brakes otherwise I'd burn through brakes on the truck - and you know they aren't cheap.
I hate the thought of having to unload my stuff daily - the lazy side of me I guess - so I can see myself like so many guys having everything I own in the trailer - what next buy a gas station - so that's my thoughts on upsizing.

I used to do what you did, just the truck thing. Ill never go back what a pain in hte ass putting the stuff in the back of a truck is. It got to the point were we almost lost our first cub walk behidn because it was getting to close to being dropped off. As for brakes, pads are cheap and even at taht with my 6x12 I dont go through them any faster than normal. I was also able to shave 10 mins off a stop with out using the back of my truck, between unloading and reloading and throwing grass in my bed instead of garbage cans it was one of the best investments i have ever made. Next year im going to an enclosed 7x16

ralph02813
10-27-2011, 03:55 PM
okay, I gotta think Again!

Exact Rototilling
10-27-2011, 04:39 PM
The debate on just a truck or truck and trailer is debatable depends on what size.accounts you run on solo or.crew and equipment. A properly set up truck can.be faster than a.trailer ....just.need.to.have it rigged up so your not wasting.time with.load and.unload.drill.

...anyhow the evidence has always been a solo can most always make more per.hour.than a.crew especially on smaller properties.

Problem with solo is it can.be.a near.death.March during peak.load. And one is in a.serious pickle when you get sick.or.injured. taking.any real.off.time.is a major pita.
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ralph02813
10-27-2011, 05:44 PM
@axact, I tend to agree, on my truck I always carry my 36 ferris wb, redmax blower and whacker- chain saw and hedger. And, gas of course.

zak406
10-27-2011, 06:38 PM
@axact, I tend to agree, on my truck I always carry my 36 ferris wb, redmax blower and whacker- chain saw and hedger. And, gas of course.

A properly set up truck can be effiecent no doubt. But when your using a pick up truck and homemade ramps or tractor supply ramps it will never be quicker. At ralph with what you have you could get away with a 5x8 5x10 trailer and it would be a load easier. THe over head is not that much, my trailer was 1600 dollars for a 6x12 and its 6 dollars a year to register if you divide that into one year of work its 133 dollars a month and its all paid off! But lets say you cut 20 yards a week and you save lets just say for the sake of discussion 7 mins per yard, thats 20x7= 140 mins per week. Lets say it takes you 45 mins to cut a yard. you could cut three more yards a week with that 140 mins saved, which easily pays off your inital investment, brakes, and any extra fuel you burn. Thats all within a year!

ralph02813
10-28-2011, 06:40 AM
@zak406 thanks for the additional thoughts - I picked up an old cox 5x8, it is in great shape, it has been on block in a garage for 10 years - no dry on the tires at all for $200 I was going to maybe put it on the road next spring for mulching and fertilizer stff to see how it worked out, but giving me an extra 140 mins a week sounds better the good - I love saving time I just bought a new hedger - redmax 40" single blade, it should knock a lot of time of my hedge and bush trimmer - you are right time saved is money earned.

David Haggerty
10-28-2011, 06:51 AM
I'm curious ofwhat your making now vs before and also how many hours / jobs you do a day? Also any winter work?
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Me too! I won't know for sure until the wife does the taxes next April. It's all tangled up with depreciation & deductibles. All I know is she said at the end of the season that we've done "better".

I have 9 customers now. Everything from the little-ole-lady on a postage stamp lot to an industrial installation with about 29 acres of turf cut up into about twenty different parcels. That one takes me all day. 7 hours in the mower seat plus trimming. Probably 50 hours per week average.

I'm just south of the snow belt. I've seen people loose their awrse around here buying snow equipment. I havn't found anything else that would pay some old man anything near what I make mowing so no, I don't do anything in the winter. I go to Florida.

David Haggerty
10-28-2011, 06:54 AM
Not surprised one bit.

Do you mainly mow with some landscape maintenance?
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Yup, exactly. Plus a pesticide license.

David Haggerty
10-28-2011, 07:15 AM
Every once in a while I argue with myself about getting a trailer - right now I put everything in the back of my truck - well not everything, I have organized my work week to nimimize gear on the truck, thus saving gas and having to buy that trailer. My argument against the trailer is I have got to get a good one with brakes otherwise I'd burn through brakes on the truck - and you know they aren't cheap.
I hate the thought of having to unload my stuff daily - the lazy side of me I guess - so I can see myself like so many guys having everything I own in the trailer - what next buy a gas station - so that's my thoughts on upsizing.

I could have written that when I was your age! Did we ALL start out the same way?

Looking back I'd have to say the first thing you need to do is to ask yourself, "Do I really LIKE doing this?" If you do commit yourself to it. Get the very best equipment. If you try to get by on the cheap, you'll think of yourself as cheap and that's the way customers will pay you.

I should have gone the route of getting an Isuzu NPR with a landscaper's bed.
I never bought one piece of equipment that I actually NEEDED at the time. But nothing gives you incentive to hunt for customers like knowing that payment is coming due.
Picture your future. Don't try to just "get by". The only plan you're guranteed to meet is if you plan to fail.

And get a pesticide license.

ralph02813
10-28-2011, 07:33 AM
@Dave Haggerty - when you were my age huh!!! I am doing this because I find walking behiind my Ferris almost therapy, I often say to my friends I wish I found this 40 years ago - but I cannot complain, my first two careers never seemed like real work , by last one, which last for 30 years always made me feel like I was nearly stealing my pay check, I was my own boss and loved it - but this is better.
I am trying to make sure I pick up what I need and forgo the toys - well most of the toys!

JimmyTheGlove
10-28-2011, 11:56 AM
It's an interesting concept. I'll have to crunch the numbers and see if I can figure out how much I'll be making if I cancel my most long-distant client. The cost of gas and wear on the truck are a little bit more difficult to put on paper but I'll think of someway of formulating it and see if I'd be making more by downsizing.

You've certainly got me thinking.. :confused:

zak406
10-28-2011, 01:53 PM
I think what alot of guys do (and take this with a grain of salt) is they hire another crew or another person to help when they dont really need the help. I would say if your cutting grass and landscaping, anything over 60 lawns a week and a landscape job a week you obviously need to hire somebody. Im a small operation my self and I do ok (im just a college kid) i deffiantly make more than working a full time job for somebody else. But I try to get a landscape job a week this past year I was so busy from the beggining of april till the end of july and then things slowed down which was ok. When I need help I get a helper

ralph02813
10-28-2011, 04:54 PM
@zak - I have a couple of guys I can call when I get behind half a day or a day they love it, I pay them good and it keeps me smiling!

Turf Commando
10-29-2011, 12:02 AM
Bigger isn't better... sometimes being a small scale solo operation is best. When you sit back and think you realize the more you make the more they take (taxes) then figure in employees wages, workmans comp etc.
With the current economy keeping overhead low is business smart period..!
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White Gardens
10-29-2011, 12:37 AM
Goes to show too that the larger commercial accounts may look good on paper, but with volume usually comes a discount.

Other companies/LCO's almost laugh at me when I tell them I generally don't do commercial work. Too bad I hear those companies are down 20% this season while I'm up 20%.

...

lawnpro724
10-29-2011, 09:47 AM
Every once in a while I argue with myself about getting a trailer - right now I put everything in the back of my truck - well not everything, I have organized my work week to nimimize gear on the truck, thus saving gas and having to buy that trailer. My argument against the trailer is I have got to get a good one with brakes otherwise I'd burn through brakes on the truck - and you know they aren't cheap.
I hate the thought of having to unload my stuff daily - the lazy side of me I guess - so I can see myself like so many guys having everything I own in the trailer - what next buy a gas station - so that's my thoughts on upsizing.

With that attitude you'll never make any money in this business. Maybe this line of work isnt for you.

lawnpro724
10-29-2011, 09:50 AM
Goes to show too that the larger commercial accounts may look good on paper, but with volume usually comes a discount.

Other companies/LCO's almost laugh at me when I tell them I generally don't do commercial work. Too bad I hear those companies are down 20% this season while I'm up 20%.

...

Good payng commercial accounts have gone the way of the Model T and are worthless. High end residential accounts is where the money is and its mostly what we do.

ralph02813
10-29-2011, 12:11 PM
@lawnpro724 don't understand you comment as I seem to be doing fine, just cautious about the way I spent money!

PlantscapeSolutions
10-29-2011, 10:10 PM
It sounds like your just didn't know what your true costs were versus what you were charging. Something is wrong when you lose huge accounts like that and make more money. I think there are a lot of guys out there who use no GPS, don't really keep track of time spent on properties versus what was budgeted, and don't always really know how long that 30 minute lunch brake really was. I was this way not too long ago.

Another problem that often occurs is that a $25,000 position held by a family member is is costing you $40K. Your servicing several huge accounts just to fund an over paid position. I'm not saying this is what happened to you but it happens way too often.

Over the years I fine tuned my accounts and have given ones away that just didn't make me enough money because they were too far away from our target market. In 2010 I suspected the sales numbers my guys were generating were too low. I have a great crew but they had become complacent and were traveling out of the way to eat lunch and were not including travel time on there time card. There should have been zero travel time since I don't operate a Taxi service.

I GPS'd my crews truck and said nothing for a month. If I had told my crew about the GPS from the start they would have stopped cheating and I would have been in the dark as to the true waste that was occurring. Once I documented the waste I told my crew I knew exactly what they had been doing. I did not enlighten them to the fact that I only had the GPS for a month. Everybody was embarrassed and did not complain one bit when they were docked a day of vacation pay. The foremen actually lost two days of vacation.

Especially in a small business with just a few employee's the savings from taking on some of the labor load can be substantial when required. In July 2009 the drought and economy nuked the landscape market here in central Texas. I fired the prick foremen I had. My crew hated the guy and he was bad for morale. My position as owner was supported by landscape jobs that now were no where to be found. I couldn't just sit home and watch my bank account tank paying my foremen over $3K a month for a job I could do myself.

It was a lot of hard work but I actually made just as much money in 2009 as I did the other years. But the downside was I was working 50+ hours a week in 100F or greater heat. I also had zero time to meet with clients or run around and do PR work when required. I was glad when I was able to hire another foremen in March of 2010. Some times you just have to roll with the punches and adjust to market conditions to survive and flourish.

Being able to readily adapt your small company to the changing work load is a plus of staying small. A lot of big companies like Vila & Son were SOL when the economy tanked. How do you adjust when you have a million dollars worth of construction equipment your paying for collecting dust. I'm sure that helicopter wasn't cheap.

PlantscapeSolutions
10-29-2011, 10:21 PM
Good payng commercial accounts have gone the way of the Model T and are worthless. High end residential accounts is where the money is and its mostly what we do.

Ditto. The million dollar market has been good to me as well.

JimmyTheGlove
10-31-2011, 12:39 PM
If you do commit yourself to it. Get the very best equipment. If you try to get by on the cheap, you'll think of yourself as cheap and that's the way customers will pay you..

Great advice! Thumbs Up

It's a harsh reality but I believe there is a lot of truth in that statement. Getting a trailer would be a worthwhile investment.
Putting your heart and head into your work would also be a worthwhile investment. I don't know how I'd wake up in the morning if I didn't love my job.

Turf Commando
10-31-2011, 10:14 PM
Also in this business one needs to decide how big you want to be. Some are happy as solo operation others find their comfortable have 30 employees. It's all depends on preference.
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weeze
10-31-2011, 11:03 PM
i will never take on a huge contract...first of all i'm solo so it would take forever to do it and second of all if you lose it you are screwed...don't put all of your eggs in one basket so to speak...if i lose a residential customer paying me $40 a cut it's not a big deal...but to lose an account that pays $25k would be a huge deal...in your case it seems all the extra money you were making you were just spending so it wasn't doing you any good as far as making profit.

ralph02813
11-01-2011, 05:36 AM
I cannot remember if I have got this right or not, but eons ago in my college economic course we talked about the law of deminising returns, the example given was the farmer working by himself when he hired a farm hand he almost doubled his production - over joyed he hired a second hand and his production increased by about 25% or 2-1/2 times the amount when he was alone wanting to get to 3 times his production he hired another farm hand figuring if they knew only one of them would have the permenant job that at least for a short time he would have 4 times the production, pick the better worker and be where he wanted to be a 3 times his original. At the end of the season - yeah you guess it, he was barely at 3 never mind 4 times production.
I think of this often when I see a hired crew show up, three guys get out of the truck one jumps on the zero turn, one grabs the whacker and the third the blower. A whirlwind of activity they are back on the truck and headed up the road in 15 minutes about 15 minutes later I do the same. I know that get the same as I do, the properties are almost identical in size, but there are no skid marks on the property that I cut and there is grass growing right up to the edge of the finally edged gardens.

ringahding
11-01-2011, 06:33 AM
This year I lost my biggest account, Sugarcreek Packing in Dayton Ohio. Plus two of the board member's homes one in Beavercreek, the other in Springfield. I also had to stop mowing a little daycare across the street from Sugarcreek.
All together it was about $25,000. I had tears in my eyes! I laid of my Son. And worked solo at what I had left.
So now it's the end of the year. My wife who is an accredited accountant/bookkeeper/tax preparer, says I profited MORE this year than before! And I'm doing less work!
Eliminating payroll was the biggest savings, but that was less than $10k. It was putting an extra 100 miles a week on my truck. And it's a bit of a fuel hog at 10 MPG.
I thought maybe my wife was just trying to make me feel better, because I couldn't figure out where the savings was. But taxable income is UP! And the figures don't lie. The truck is now paid off, so I actually have fewer deductables.

The lesson I learned was LISTEN TO YOUR ACCOUNTANT. She'd been complaining about overhead for years. Now I'm working less, less wear $ tear on the equipment, and the life expectancy on the truck is about doubled!

Any comments or experiences along this line?

Great stuff here!
We service all phases of properties, just not all the service areas on our website. Do you have a website?

We partner with 4 other companies and throw jobs @ each other weekly!

Down-sizing?, I'm on the fence with this one, servicing our direct area could be considered as such.

Dave..Let your son go? I suppose when you start getting up there in age, fear of the un-known starts to creep in, (no offense, I know how that last sentence sounds) surely you could've picked up some accounts & mower to keep your son bizzzzy!

Your wife is an accountant? She must've told you you could simply add your son as "Part-owner"(minimum 10%) and minimize SOME over-head, right? Shoot you don't even need to tell him.

I'm 41 & yes fear of the future is always there. One thing I can honestly say is FAMILY is the reason I started this ( FIVE Kids' & my wife is an ACCOUNTANT) My oldest son has been working side by side since 5th grade ( he turns 21 this year) with me & passed up a real oppt. to College and follow his real true love of basketball, no WAY could I kick him to the curb for my own reasons.

Finally: I think what has happened is that you put all your eggs into one basket & now some of those eggs have cracked. "life expectancy on the truck is about doubled!" What's the expectancy with your son now?

David Haggerty
11-01-2011, 07:51 AM
Another problem that often occurs is that a $25,000 position held by a family member is is costing you $40K. Your servicing several huge accounts just to fund an over paid position. I'm not saying this is what happened to you but it happens way too often.

That's got to be it. Though I wasn't paying him near that for part time seasonal work. But with travel time, buying him lunch,etc. all must have added up.

Downsizing wasn't my idea. I'm feeling like I survived a car crash. Nothing's too bad if you live thru it.
There is no other work in Wilmington Ohio after DHL pulled out taking 9,000 jobs with it. At the factories I mow the employee parking lots are half empty. I'm lucky to keep working.
Thru a job he worked at American Showa one winter my son's still drawing unemployment. Besides I have 5 other kids too.

Sorry if I talked like I thought you were a newbie. I don't know you. Plus I assume everyone here is younger than me at 65. But you talk like a newbie.