PDA

View Full Version : CT.er may be relocating to N. FL.(Lake City Area)


wildwood 1
02-19-2012, 01:37 PM
Hey all you Floridians, this is a long post but I appreciate your time.

I live in CT. and have been landscaping for several years. I lived in Florida about 18 years ago, but didn't do any landscaping. Anyway to the point, I am debating getting the heck out of CT. before I go broke paying taxes. (can't say that I enjoy freezing 3-4 months out of the year either) I thought that I would simply move my business down south and everything would slowly fall into place. I'm guessing it wont be that simple. Northern and Southern landscaping being completely different, I feel I would have to relearn the business from the ground up.

For starters, I imagine the pay scale is probably different. Here I can charge $60-$80 dollars per man hour. My lawn mowing typically nets about $100 per hour including drive time and loading, unloading at the shop.

Mowing grass up here is usually from mid April to early November, then leaf clean up from early November till done, usually late December or until snow flies. Of course snowplowing until it doesn't snow anymore (late Feb. early March) and then Spring clean up until mowing resumes.

Landscaping jobs that I typically get are design and/or install garden and foundation beds, mulching, brushcutting, roto tilling and pruning/trimming hedges,shrubs and trees.
What is the typical schedule in Florida and what kinds of side work or landscaping work do you do.

Any friendly advice, tips or guidance in caring for Southern grasses, trees, etc...is appreciated. If you don't mind sharing what you charge that information is helpful as well. I know it depends on overhead, expenses, profit etc... and right now I am a one man show. I have done some reading on caring for palms, trying to learn about caring for southern grasses and such. I thought it would be a good idea to ask the guys who are doing it for some feedback.

I feel the best way for me to get started would be to work with an established company for a couple of years to learn the business, meet vendors and suppliers and build a relationship that way. However, having a wife and two kids, I don't think I would be able to afford that. That is another question, What do you guys pay your help?

Thanks for taking the time to read through this post and thanks again if you can take the time to help me out.
Mike.

Florida Gardener
02-19-2012, 02:46 PM
First off, 60-80 peran hour will net you no work down here. However, Connecticut is way more expensive than Florida so that is a big difference. If you are good at design, you can do very well. If you are a quality full service landscape company you can do very well. Florida is different than every other state IMO. We typically have a year round growing season. Def. Keep reading up on palms, plants, turf, etc. I feel with the right attitude, drive, and knowledge you can make it anywhere. There are a lot of lowballers and hacks in this state, so be cautioned. They don't bother me, but a lot of people complain about them. Good luck to you.
Posted via Mobile Device

zturncutter
02-19-2012, 04:55 PM
Here is an interesting bit of info, may or may not make a difference to you.

http://realestate.yahoo.com/promo/states-with-the-most-homes-in-foreclosure.html

zturncutter
02-19-2012, 05:25 PM
Looking at these income figures for Lake City, I am thinking serious culture and income shock. Some parts of Florida are doing just fine, many others are not.



http://www.bestplaces.net/economy/city/florida/lake_city

Ric
02-20-2012, 09:28 AM
Looking at these income figures for Lake City, I am thinking serious culture and income shock. Some parts of Florida are doing just fine, many others are not.



http://www.bestplaces.net/economy/city/florida/lake_city

Zturn

I am seeing a little different statistics about Florida on other websites. But whether Florida is dead last or # 6 from the bottom it all is saying the same thing.

My numbers, 2008 really sucked but 2011 Business has been good. Networking and referrals have been very good this year. (BTW Thanks to some Lawnsite members) But not unlike you, I am well established with a reputation and a following etc. I would hate to be a Newbie because while I am seeing some business I am also seeing a lot of People out of work or trying small service business. Everything from window washing to pool cleaning etc.

Other factor to consider are Local Demographic and while Z turn and myself are in small town America I believe Lake City has even less market. Also Lake City is more like Georgia than Subtropical Florida. It doesn't have the year round growing season

McDonald's does heavy research before selling a franchise. For that reason McDonald's has a huge success rate on new store opening. My point here is if I were planing to move south, I would be heavy into researching the best area. If I had it to do over, I would be in a different town for business reasons.


.

Plantculture
02-20-2012, 09:51 AM
I think if you stuck closer to Gainesville than lake City for your customer base you would be a little better off. Also a market to consider is the growing equestrian market in Ocala.
In South florida, what I have seen for installation labor for like $30-35/hr billable or about $25 ish for estimating maintenance labor.

jvanvliet
02-20-2012, 04:43 PM
I think if you stuck closer to Gainesville than lake City for your customer base you would be a little better off. Also a market to consider is the growing equestrian market in Ocala.
In South florida, what I have seen for installation labor for like $30-35/hr billable or about $25 ish for estimating maintenance labor.

We bill out @ $85.00 an hour minimum. I don't know how you can stay in business billing @ $25.00 to $35.00 and pay salary and overhead.

Florida Gardener
02-20-2012, 04:53 PM
We bill out @ $85.00 an hour minimum. I don't know how you can stay in business billing @ $25.00 to $35.00 and pay salary and overhead.

I highly doubt your billing at $85/MH.....

wildwood 1
02-21-2012, 07:46 PM
Thanks for all of the advice and information so far. All very helpful. I first learned of Florida's foreclosure situation a couple of years ago when I read an article about the market in Cape Coral. I read that the economy was not suffering as much as the housing market. The reason that I was considering Lake City is because my uncle lives there and I like the idea of having some property. I see that I can buy several acres with a house or mobile home for what I think is a reasonable price. My wife is into horses and I understand that there are horse facilities and such in the area. I don't have my heart set on Lake City, but I was looking at the surrounding area.

I know what you mean by being established and I imagine I would struggle for a while to try to establish myself, especially not knowing the native/local plants and how to properly care for them. It would be pretty tough to compete with a good company, while trying to learn the business and establishing relationships with locals and suppliers.

If I do end up moving south, I will be facing a challenge for sure, but it's nice to know that most of the guys on Lawnsite are so willing to help.

Thanks for the replies and keep them coming.

unkownfl
02-21-2012, 07:57 PM
Thanks for all of the advice and information so far. All very helpful. I first learned of Florida's foreclosure situation a couple of years ago when I read an article about the market in Cape Coral. I read that the economy was not suffering as much as the housing market. The reason that I was considering Lake City is because my uncle lives there and I like the idea of having some property. I see that I can buy several acres with a house or mobile home for what I think is a reasonable price. My wife is into horses and I understand that there are horse facilities and such in the area. I don't have my heart set on Lake City, but I was looking at the surrounding area.

I know what you mean by being established and I imagine I would struggle for a while to try to establish myself, especially not knowing the native/local plants and how to properly care for them. It would be pretty tough to compete with a good company, while trying to learn the business and establishing relationships with locals and suppliers.

If I do end up moving south, I will be facing a challenge for sure, but it's nice to know that most of the guys on Lawnsite are so willing to help.

Thanks for the replies and keep them coming.


Since you're still considering where to live I would highly consider Ocala. You could get cheap housing with land. It is known for horses and you can easily pick up a lot of accounts there and towards Leesburg, Lady Lake, and The Villages. Those are prime retirement communities.

keithslawnc
02-21-2012, 08:19 PM
Since you're still considering where to live I would highly consider Ocala. You could get cheap housing with land. It is known for horses and you can easily pick up a lot of accounts there and towards Leesburg, Lady Lake, and The Villages. Those are prime retirement communities.

I have lived in Ocala for 30 years and have been in business since 1998. This is a tuff area to be in business! My yearly gross has only grown 30% combined in the last 4 years and then lost that gain with the loss of one big job last August. Thats is with a lot of money spent on advertising and knowing a lot of people. The problem is everyone knows a couple of people in the business in this county. The only oppurtunity here is in the retirement communities but the pay is ridiculous! Average lawn is $ 45-60 per month in those communities. ValleyCrest and Brinkman have moved in the past few years and really started taking big chunk of the commerical work! Brinkman alone out bid me on $ 150 K a/year worth of bids last year. The unemployment rate is the second highest in the state. If I was going to start fresh it would be here!

unkownfl
02-21-2012, 09:13 PM
I have lived in Ocala for 30 years and have been in business since 1998. This is a tuff area to be in business! My yearly gross has only grown 30% combined in the last 4 years and then lost that gain with the loss of one big job last August. Thats is with a lot of money spent on advertising and knowing a lot of people. The problem is everyone knows a couple of people in the business in this county. The only oppurtunity here is in the retirement communities but the pay is ridiculous! Average lawn is $ 45-60 per month in those communities. ValleyCrest and Brinkman have moved in the past few years and really started taking big chunk of the commerical work! Brinkman alone out bid me on $ 150 K a/year worth of bids last year. The unemployment rate is the second highest in the state. If I was going to start fresh it would be here!

Brickman and Valley Crest wouldn't be doing it if they weren't making money.

keithslawnc
02-21-2012, 09:48 PM
Brickman and Valley Crest wouldn't be doing it if they weren't making money.

What they can make money at and what the average company can make money at are to different things! Can you survive of there net %? Also offering multi city contracts at discounts! Can you or I service properties for the same company state or nationwide?

unkownfl
02-21-2012, 10:08 PM
What they can make money at and what the average company can make money at are to different things! Can you survive of there net %? Also offering multi city contracts at discounts! Can you or I service properties for the same company state or nationwide?

I wasn't going to get in depth with my response, but I will since you asked. Valley Crest and Brickman are way larger companies. Just because they're large doesn't mean they can conduct business at a lower rate than you or I. They may only net 2-4% of their gross but when its 200million a year or whatever it's still good money. If you can't compete then you have no business bidding on those properties. If you want to net 20-70% like on residential properties then you have no business bidding on commercial because it's apples to oranges. I use to make 8% profit on the local Walmarts I had with USM. I was undercut by a bunch I could have still broke even but I decided I wanted out of commercial as I was just growing to fast and trading off to much net. I rather grow my business slower as I'm still pretty young and trade off less net for growth as I have a ton of personal bills. By saying breaking even this would be after paying myself a salary to conduct the work just nothing going towards my companies profit. I wasn't setup for the work and could have cut my cost a ton with different equipment and another employee. Those companies have shops, offices, storage yards, office employees, HR, managers, board of directors, brand new equipment, benefits, and tons of other employees. Most of that the common LCO isn't going to have. If you can't do the volume you won't make any money. The difference is businessmen run those companies and yard guys run most of the LCO that complain about the bigger companies.

keithslawnc
02-21-2012, 10:48 PM
I wasn't going to get in depth with my response, but I will since you asked. Valley Crest and Brickman are way larger companies. Just because they're large doesn't mean they can conduct business at a lower rate than you or I. They may only net 2-4% of their gross but when its 200million a year or whatever it's still good money. If you can't compete then you have no business bidding on those properties. If you want to net 20-70% like on residential properties then you have no business bidding on commercial because it's apples to oranges. I use to make 8% profit on the local Walmarts I had with USM. I was undercut by a bunch I could have still broke even but I decided I wanted out of commercial as I was just growing to fast and trading off to much net. I rather grow my business slower as I'm still pretty young and trade off less net for growth as I have a ton of personal bills. By saying breaking even this would be after paying myself a salary to conduct the work just nothing going towards my companies profit. I wasn't setup for the work and could have cut my cost a ton with different equipment and another employee. Those companies have shops, offices, storage yards, office employees, HR, managers, board of directors, brand new equipment, benefits, and tons of other employees. Most of that the common LCO isn't going to have. If you can't do the volume you won't make any money. The difference is businessmen run those companies and yard guys run most of the LCO that complain about the bigger companies.

I understand where you are coming from but these were bids that were local hoa's or businesses that 4 out of 5 I had some type of personal relationship with someone involved with bid. Two of the bids had very specific bid outline that is not being followed by the bigger companies. I have no intentions of trying to operate at a very low profit, for a business my size it would be to tuff to manage cash flow. I guess why they bother me is because the small and medium companies that are ran by the " yard guys" had my service area to ourselves until a few years ago. Point is the market in my area is not that great and continues to get worse as like many other areas in Florida.

Ric
02-22-2012, 09:38 AM
.

Keith

I would think the the Horsey set might be a hard CLICK to crack as a newbie or out sider?????




.

keithslawnc
02-22-2012, 05:09 PM
.

Keith

I would think the the Horsey set might be a hard CLICK to crack as a newbie or out sider?????




.

Your right Ric it is a pretty tuff nut to crack. Also the horse business has taken a hit the past few years as well. Lot of farms for sale

Ric
02-22-2012, 07:42 PM
Your right Ric it is a pretty tuff nut to crack. Also the horse business has taken a hit the past few years as well. Lot of farms for sale

Keith

In my younger days I fooled with horses a lot. Yes the horsey set can be very snobbish. Judged Events are won by Politic not Skill.



.