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View Full Version : 2012=Year of the Lowball


Mahoney3223
03-24-2012, 01:23 AM
I stand corrected I thought 2010 was awful. Some of you might remember the thread I started that year that was shut down after 30k views and all sorts of hot issues. Well it must be something about years with gas at 4.00 in the Spring that makes companies bid work for wages instead of profit. Latest example, 40 acre mfg plant. with adjoining building r&d plant goes for .................................................................................................... ......................................$500 (with a half mile creek that needs trimmed weekly on both sides. Let the debates begin. I personally think this company is hilarious. What are you guys seeing in your markets? Here, I have abandoned any hope of landing and big complexes as the giant LCO's have them so dirt cheap it's not worth it. I entered a different market and business is good here. Intelligent discussion encouraged.

Snyder's Lawn Inc
03-24-2012, 01:43 AM
Its not realy lowballing its keeping Employes working
Its like buying a new truck I go to city and I can buy from big dealer and get one cheaper then buying one from a small dealer
Big dealer looks at the numbers per month vs small dealer looks at the number per day

I do a 60 acre school and I can drop 7 mowers and pull out in few hrs compare to others that only has 2 mowers and they are there all day or 2 days

Some LCO makes there money on the extra work the mowing is a way to get a foot in the door

Some say Im a lowballer and sometimes I am on mowing I see alot extra work I'll low ball to get in the door

80% of LCO here only do mowing

I'm a full service Company

weeze
03-24-2012, 03:02 AM
40acres for $500? 1/2 mile of trimming a creek?

when i worked for another company we did a job for a plant that was about 10 acres. we made $1000 a cut on it. this was back in 1998.

themadcutter
03-24-2012, 06:26 AM
I never get involved in anything that large so this is a little out of my field. I stick with residential and small commercial.

I thought low balling was bad in that area. the price you just mentioned seems impossible to make money at.

At first glance.

If you have the right equipment and figure a total of 12 man/machine hours per cut, wether it was one guy spending a long day with 1 72" mower and a 40cc trimmer or a group of men
the gross would be $41 per hour.

At 10 hours it would be $50 (have to be owner operator for this time) and you would still be running equipment to make about 60% of some ac techs billing

Not much money, and I wouldn't do it unless I was loosing my house, but you would at least meet payroll for a while. Off course if you kept it up for more than 2 years you would just be destroying equipment and wouldn't have the money to replace it.

so if one owner had 50 of these accounts and only expected 2% and nothing went wrong he could get $500 a year. and he would be lucky to get that after all the expenses

I don't think thats how mitt romney got rich. It might have worked for scrooge mc duck

shovelracer
03-24-2012, 08:45 AM
There has been an unusually large number of startups this year, but I think the warm weather has helped bring them out early. The part that frustrates me is that we are bound to all sorts of rules and regulations by our licensing boards and such. Meanwhile these guys have no problem littering the area with flyers. We had one guy put up so many plow ad signs on stop signs and poles that it sparked a front page newspaper article. We are talking 100's of signs in a few square miles.

In the real world my customers are not concerned with these types, but there is always a handful that all of a sudden think you are overpriced because someone is willing to work below cost. I am more than happy to let them go. The part that I get upset about is when we get calls from people expecting us to drive over just so they can check that the new guy is giving them a good price. I've been asked to leave more properties in the last two years than all others combined. Much like the class system in our country the difference between start up and established companies keeps getting further apart.

airsoft1779
03-24-2012, 10:01 AM
Just wait till the heat arrives in july or so and a majority of them will be gone.. happens every season.

KrayzKajun
03-24-2012, 10:35 AM
Just wait till the heat arrives in july or so and a majority of them will be gone.. happens every season.
Bingo!!! Most here aren't even starting up becuz we have been in the 80s the past week. I've noticed here people are finally willing to pay a premium price for good service
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Snyder's Lawn Inc
03-24-2012, 10:40 AM
40acres for $500? 1/2 mile of trimming a creek?

when i worked for another company we did a job for a plant that was about 10 acres. we made $1000 a cut on it. this was back in 1998.

Back in the 80s and 90s made good money to but I had slower mowers and didnt have 72'' just 50-60'' ones
Then there was maybe 2-3 LCO here Now in my area there is 19 that I know off
plus in my area there isa company that is a non profit company they bid pennies on the dollar Federal funded they work the mental handicap

People pay taxes pays them to mow

McG_Landscaping
03-24-2012, 11:29 AM
that sucks about how badly that was lowballed but its all part of the business. deal with it. in our area there is a ton of work and there has to be 100+ companies and stuff does get low balled, but there is still good paying work. just this past week i picked up 5 yards. and people say theres no work out there

WHIPPLE5.7
03-24-2012, 12:03 PM
Back when I first got on Lawnsite all the supposed pro's said any LCO has to make $50 hourly minimum. I tried to live by that for a few years and then realized not everyone can be the same. I'm solo with a 36 WB and a 21", no work comp since my state contractor exemption covers it, nothing borrowed from the bank, no huge diesel truck pulling a 26 enclosed full of Walker mowers. Just to come out and say $50 hourly is what any LCO needs to make is BS. We all have differant expenses and operating cost. Here is the way I look at it. If you are covering your cost and making something for yourself too might as well do it. My business suffered greatly from the start because I believed the nonsense on the website and failed to get many jobs because I tried to play the $50 an hour game. Considering everything I own is paid for I could make $38-40 hourly and come out nicely. Don't get me wrong there are total dumbass lowballers out there. I'm seeing guys offering $50 any size yard for powerraking, thats just ******ed. Most yards around here are 2,500,-4,000 sq. ft. so I mow them for $25 or so. Alittle bigger the goes to $30 or $35. Back when I first got one here in 2007 it seemed like everyone was saying don't even drop your gate for less than $40. Why, a 2,500 sq. ft. takes me like 15 minutes to mow, trim, and blow. Seems worth $25 to me.

THIESSENS TLC
03-24-2012, 12:06 PM
might as well jump in here, I saw one ad that says small yard cut for $20.00. bigger yards for $25.00. If you decide to have it cut weekly, it will be $15.00 for a small yard, and $20.00 for a bigger yard. Now with that being said, who knows what size yards the guy is actually talking about. But to drop it $5.00 for weekly service??? come on. maybe all this guy wants is 15-20 bucks, idk.

nickslawnltd
03-24-2012, 12:07 PM
I don't know if it's the year of the lowball here tough there's lots of guys willing to work for air. I'm honest it used to bug me and make wanna:hammerhead: Ive learned though there in every industry though. I have also learned you have to do what works for you to be profitable. For me its doing full service residentials where we do the lawns, fert, beds, cleanups etc, there my bread and butter and most profitable. When I first started I wanted big condos, commercial, and municipal properties thinking that's where the bucks were, don't get me wrong we do service some properties like that, if we get the bid for whats profitable for us. But there is never much loyalty from this type of customer, boards, property managers, lower bids always change things. If someone can do the job for less money so be it, maybe the job is as good maybe it's not. That's the customers choice to make. If there not happy I'm always glad to price them and show them the quality work we can do if not there's always someone willing to pay a fair price for quality work.

Landrus2
03-24-2012, 01:18 PM
I thought you could express your opinion this will self destruct in 5 seconds:nono:

weeze
03-24-2012, 02:02 PM
just avoid the lowball customers and let the lowballers have them. concentrate on the good customers that are willing to pay for quality service.

woodlawnservice
03-24-2012, 03:53 PM
I agree with the two above post but low ballets this year have takin a hit on me as well. By no means am I high nuts they r lowballing so bad it's to the point I couldn't beat them if I tried and I have very very low low overhead. These guys r hauling mowers around in back of there trucks with weedeater brand trimmers! Apparently every guy that's jobless believe he can start his "own" buisness by mowing.. These people only make it a year or two then have to give up. I realize this but thats two more years they I needed them to be trying! Lol it's a bad bad market here. In strictly only commercial and it's overflowing even into commercial accounts now... When they r mowing edging and trimming 4,000sq ft businesses for $30 a week. It's not worth my time dropping the gate. You would think the businesses would get tired of having to find new contractor each year but I really believe they go through there store managers that fast as well now.... Not sure how we can compete against these types of people....
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superdog1
03-24-2012, 04:42 PM
In my area, we have a lot of Amish and Mennonite firms (families) that work for 1/2 of what I need to stay in business. It is not uncommon to see 12 and 13 year olds running full size John Deere 310G hoes and even younger kids running mowers!! They can do this because they use kids as laborers, have no workmans comp insurance and get their GL insurance through the church.

I will give them credit, as they do work very hard. It kills guys like me though, as I have to do everything the expensive way, Lol. When they need materials, they buy from another church member who sells that product. It is a very tight little network. They also have wives who stay home and grow food in gardens and take care of their 10 kids (ready made workers, hehe.) They are VERY self sufficient and buy almost nothing from the local grocery stores.


When you look at CO's like this, do you call them low-ballers or are they just very smart and efficient when it comes to running a business? I must say, I am jealous. I doubt very highly that I could con my kids into working sun up to sun down every day? Heck, they think that if it doesn't pay $20 an hour and you don't get picked up for work in a CO jet, it isn't worth their time, LOl:laugh:

weeze
03-24-2012, 04:50 PM
I agree with the two above post but low ballets this year have takin a hit on me as well. By no means am I high nuts they r lowballing so bad it's to the point I couldn't beat them if I tried and I have very very low low overhead. These guys r hauling mowers around in back of there trucks with weedeater brand trimmers! Apparently every guy that's jobless believe he can start his "own" buisness by mowing.. These people only make it a year or two then have to give up. I realize this but thats two more years they I needed them to be trying! Lol it's a bad bad market here. In strictly only commercial and it's overflowing even into commercial accounts now... When they r mowing edging and trimming 4,000sq ft businesses for $30 a week. It's not worth my time dropping the gate. You would think the businesses would get tired of having to find new contractor each year but I really believe they go through there store managers that fast as well now.... Not sure how we can compete against these types of people....
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i hear you. actually i've found that the lowballers do most of the commercial work around here. they have tractor mowers from lowes or home depot and cheap stuff they use. they cut taco bell for $25 or something. that's why i avoid the commercial crap. i'm not gonna deal with it. i have a couple of commercials but they are people i personally know. i've seen these other guys out there working though. i haven't seen one legit company working on commercials except a few car lots. all of the others have guys out there with lowe's mowers and such. i'm gonna stick with residentials because of this. $25 isn't worth unloading the trailer.

themadcutter
03-24-2012, 05:36 PM
Back when I first got on Lawnsite all the supposed pro's said any LCO has to make $50 hourly minimum. I tried to live by that for a few years and then realized not everyone can be the same. I'm solo with a 36 WB and a 21", no work comp since my state contractor exemption covers it, nothing borrowed from the bank, no huge diesel truck pulling a 26 enclosed full of Walker mowers. Just to come out and say $50 hourly is what any LCO needs to make is BS. We all have differant expenses and operating cost. Here is the way I look at it. If you are covering your cost and making something for yourself too might as well do it. My business suffered greatly from the start because I believed the nonsense on the website and failed to get many jobs because I tried to play the $50 an hour game. Considering everything I own is paid for I could make $38-40 hourly and come out nicely. Don't get me wrong there are total dumbass lowballers out there. I'm seeing guys offering $50 any size yard for powerraking, thats just ******ed. Most yards around here are 2,500,-4,000 sq. ft. so I mow them for $25 or so. Alittle bigger the goes to $30 or $35. Back when I first got one here in 2007 it seemed like everyone was saying don't even drop your gate for less than $40. Why, a 2,500 sq. ft. takes me like 15 minutes to mow, trim, and blow. Seems worth $25 to me.

People may say don't drop your gate for less than $40 because they have a crew. 4 guys can't do 2500sqft much faster than 1 guy. Its not 4 times as fast and 2500 sqft is very small. no one around here gets $25 for a lot that small. They were doing them for 10 to $15 a cut and depending on getting multiple lots on the same street.

Your right. one guy out of his garage doesn't HAVE to get $50 an hour. $38 an hour will run a 1 man operation if you are careful and remember to save for equipment.

I tell people you have to gross a minimum of $35 an hour including all your drive time. I used to be at $50 with driving. now i'm under $40 and hour with driving and refusing to get any less but I (as well as all of you) am having to contend with guys who think if they clear $15 in an hour then thats what they actually made and are happy. They have magic equipment that doesn't wear down. Wish I had some of that equipment. I also doubt they pay taxes.

And yes. the Amish are well known low ballers.

MOW ED
03-24-2012, 06:13 PM
And yes. the Amish are well known low ballers.


Now you should be able to smoke the Amish. I thought they can only use hand tools with no motors. It would be cool to see the Amish "mowing crew" show up. The horse pulling a wagon with 4 bearded guys all in amish uniform with small push reel mowers. A fifth guy would be clipping the trim areas with the hand held clippers and a sixth guy would be pushing the broom. I think I am on to something, I have to see if some of these dudes want to subcontract.

woodlawnservice
03-24-2012, 06:51 PM
We are my on same playin field as amish. That's a fact but luckly i don't have to compete with them. It's these Ho via like stated about with cheap junk equipment that magically don't break. These guys r a joke yet these commercial places pick them up year to year.. Maybe they r the smart ones and gettin there work done for nothing even though it's not quality. I went strictly commercial due to fact I have trouble gettin residentials to pay. Even my own neighbor! Yea... That burned me..
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WHIPPLE5.7
03-24-2012, 07:25 PM
[QUOTE=superdog1;4360246]In my area, we have a lot of Amish and Mennonite firms (families) that work for 1/2 of what I need to stay in business. It is not uncommon to see 12 and 13 year olds running full size John Deere 310G hoes and even younger kids running mowers!! They can do this because they use kids as laborers, have no workmans comp insurance and get their GL insurance through the church.

I will give them credit, as they do work very hard. It kills guys like me though, as I have to do everything the expensive way, Lol. When they need materials, they buy from another church member who sells that product. It is a very tight little network. They also have wives who stay home and grow food in gardens and take care of their 10 kids (ready made workers, hehe.) They are VERY self sufficient and buy almost nothing from the local grocery stores.


Please do what you can to keep them in your area. In the last 5 years we have had them flocking out west by the groves and don't need them. Most that have show up here are home builders, roofers, etc. but there is about 6 of them here that run lawn maintenance operations. They all seem to do good work but yes they lowball and once they have made money from the community they tend to keep it among themselves instead of redistribution back into the community. They rarely shop locally. We also have what is called hutterites that mainly farm and ranch and stay at their operation but many of them now are leaving the colonies to venture out on their own. Many years ago they ran out of fresh bloodlines so incest became a real problem. No joking they have many health problems including down syndrome running rampid. Most of them look very similar and kind of have that Corky Thatcher look. Its easy to pick them out in a crowd even when they try to blend in. They have very distinct accents.

clydebusa
03-24-2012, 07:35 PM
just avoid the lowball customers and let the lowballers have them. concentrate on the good customers that are willing to pay for quality service.

This is soo true..!:waving:

superdog1
03-24-2012, 08:13 PM
Now you should be able to smoke the Amish. I thought they can only use hand tools with no motors. It would be cool to see the Amish "mowing crew" show up. The horse pulling a wagon with 4 bearded guys all in amish uniform with small push reel mowers. A fifth guy would be clipping the trim areas with the hand held clippers and a sixth guy would be pushing the broom. I think I am on to something, I have to see if some of these dudes want to subcontract.

In my area, they are allowed to use motors. They just cant have land line phones or electricity coming into their farms. They may use a horse and buggy when they travel?, BUT, they have vans that they hire with regular people acting as chauffeurs with trailers on the back when they go to work.

I do see them in Walmart once and awhile and it is the same deal, a van in the parking lot waiting for them to come out.

themadcutter
03-24-2012, 08:30 PM
[quote=superdog1;4360246]in my area, we have a lot of amish and mennonite firms (families) that work for 1/2 of what i need to stay in business. It is not uncommon to see 12 and 13 year olds running full size john deere 310g hoes and even younger kids running mowers!! They can do this because they use kids as laborers, have no workmans comp insurance and get their gl insurance through the church.

I will give them credit, as they do work very hard. It kills guys like me though, as i have to do everything the expensive way, lol. When they need materials, they buy from another church member who sells that product. It is a very tight little network. They also have wives who stay home and grow food in gardens and take care of their 10 kids (ready made workers, hehe.) they are very self sufficient and buy almost nothing from the local grocery stores.




please do what you can to keep them in your area. In the last 5 years we have had them flocking out west by the groves and don't need them. Most that have show up here are home builders, roofers, etc. But there is about 6 of them here that run lawn maintenance operations. They all seem to do good work but yes they lowball and once they have made money from the community they tend to keep it among themselves instead of redistribution back into the community. They rarely shop locally. We also have what is called hutterites that mainly farm and ranch and stay at their operation but many of them now are leaving the colonies to venture out on their own. Many years ago they ran out of fresh bloodlines so incest became a real problem. No joking they have many health problems including down syndrome running rampid. Most of them look very similar and kind of have that corky thatcher look. Its easy to pick them out in a crowd even when they try to blend in. They have very distinct accents.


Its hard to get mad at the amish no matter how cheap they do the work. They are just so darn cute with their beards and wide rimmed hats and suspenders. Here i thought the guy who brought them up was competeing with crews of motorless reel mowers and scissors for the custom work and sickles for the tall stuff.

The more industrious ones probably would use one of these

TuffWork
03-24-2012, 08:34 PM
We had a terrible drought last year. So it's not the year of the low baller here. All the "lawn guys" have quit and people are happy to pay what it's worth to have a real LCO. I'm looking forward to a good year.

superdog1
03-24-2012, 10:03 PM
We had a terrible drought last year. So it's not the year of the low baller here. All the "lawn guys" have quit and people are happy to pay what it's worth to have a real LCO. I'm looking forward to a good year.

It does appear that the same thing applies in my area. Every time I check out Craigs list, there seems to be an LCO selling out all of their gear and accounts! I hope that means my competitors are all getting out?

ajslands
03-24-2012, 11:25 PM
If you can't deal with lowballers, you're in the wrong business. Can't think of any business industries that don't lowball actually.

Snyder's Lawn Inc
03-25-2012, 12:12 AM
I agree with the two above post but low ballets this year have takin a hit on me as well. By no means am I high nuts they r lowballing so bad it's to the point I couldn't beat them if I tried and I have very very low low overhead. These guys r hauling mowers around in back of there trucks with weedeater brand trimmers! Apparently every guy that's jobless believe he can start his "own" buisness by mowing.. These people only make it a year or two then have to give up. I realize this but thats two more years they I needed them to be trying! Lol it's a bad bad market here. In strictly only commercial and it's overflowing even into commercial accounts now... When they r mowing edging and trimming 4,000sq ft businesses for $30 a week. It's not worth my time dropping the gate. You would think the businesses would get tired of having to find new contractor each year but I really believe they go through there store managers that fast as well now.... Not sure how we can compete against these types of people....
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4,000 sq ft for $30 I would jump on that Thats a 15 min less job had 4 of them thats 120 bucks a hr

I have 6 close to that size on same street and I can do them in 1hr 15 mins mow/trim edge blow 30 per lawn = 180 thats good money for 1 hr 15min

BOSS LAWN 2343
03-25-2012, 12:26 AM
Bingo!!! Most here aren't even starting up becuz we have been in the 80s the past week. I've noticed here people are finally willing to pay a premium price for good service
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I agree, most companies that I KNOW OF around here dont work in heat (80's).

As far as low balling, I lost one of my res lawns that I have had since I started in the bus. To a guy with a push mower, gas weedeater trimmer and a toyota corolla.. The only difference in my customers eyes was "he was $10 cheaper", what a joke.:hammerhead:

greydog4u2
03-25-2012, 12:56 AM
Does every one mow with a 60'' mower. Takes me approximatley 1 hr to do 4-5k lawn in my area. Also going to bid on 10 city lots in my area. figuring about $20per lawn per cut.should take 6-7 hrs 28-30 per hr. Is this considered lowballing? Also mostly use 22'' personal pace Toro.

Snyder's Lawn Inc
03-25-2012, 01:05 AM
Does every one mow with a 60'' mower. Takes me approximatley 1 hr to do 4-5k lawn in my area. Also going to bid on 10 city lots in my area. figuring about $20per lawn per cut.should take 6-7 hrs 28-30 per hr. Is this considered lowballing? Also mostly use 22'' personal pace Toro.

Well 22'' mower isnt worth 28-30 per hr but if you can get it go for it

I own a push mower but I never take it with me if lawn is fence in I cant get my mower in I dont bid on that and I know and seen people use a push mower to help to trim I dont My trimmer will cut a path 16'' wide bigger areas I can trim it and make it like I mowed it

greydog4u2
03-25-2012, 01:28 AM
Well 22'' mower isnt worth 28-30 per hr but if you can get it go for it

I own a push mower but I never take it with me if lawn is fence in I cant get my mower in I dont bid on that and I know and seen people use a push mower to help to trim I dont My trimmer will cut a path 16'' wide bigger areas I can trim it and make it like I mowed it

Not sure if you mean worth it to me or worth it overall? Also these 10 lawns are a package deal about 10-15 miles round trip. also could not use much bigger mower.

THIESSENS TLC
03-25-2012, 01:29 AM
4,000 sq ft for $30 I would jump on that Thats a 15 min less job had 4 of them thats 120 bucks a hr

I have 6 close to that size on same street and I can do them in 1hr 15 mins mow/trim edge blow 30 per lawn = 180 thats good money for 1 hr 15min

Yup! That's very good money. Not sure what the problem is.
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woodlawnservice
03-25-2012, 08:25 AM
4,000 sq ft for $30 I would jump on that Thats a 15 min less job had 4 of them thats 120 bucks a hr

I have 6 close to that size on same street and I can do them in 1hr 15 mins mow/trim edge blow 30 per lawn = 180 thats good money for 1 hr 15min

that was just an exampleon on the low side. typically its more around the 8,000 sq ft side... anf being those sizes in commercial its typically not 1 piece of grass. its broken up into several small section which is mainly trimming.. no way its a 15 min job. with me and my helper is 30 min job by time you unload and load. i understand if you have multiple back to back ones it helps offset cost but when your market is flooded like ours, i can promise you there will not be more than 2 in a row you can win. if im not makin a dollar a min, im not makin money... by time i pay taxes, insurance, helper, gas, and take a little out for machine maintenance, im not dropping my gate for less than $30.00. its usually more like $40.00 where im gettin at with this is there r more low ballers now than ever before. its never been like this but anyone thats been out of a job or what not think they can pick up a trimmer and be a lco. these people not only hurt our business and image, they are takin away from the ones that support there community and give back. half of these people so not pay taxes and carry there own insurance. if that was inforced better i can promise you we would not see these people cutting anything for less than $30-40 bucks no matter what size...

woodlawnservice
03-25-2012, 08:30 AM
i have seen two people here that ride there ridermower down the freakin road pullin a lil pull behind utility tarer with a curved shaft weedeater brand trimmer and not even a blower. ive seen him all over town. there are two different ive personally seen and they mow for $15 bucks! run a legitimate buisness and pay your taxes and insurance and lets how long anyone can survive. they are running the market here. this is why i primary focus has been landscaping now and not just a mower.. ive deversified my buisness and ive done fine but these people drop like flies and i know they have really the industry.

BOSS LAWN 2343
03-25-2012, 08:47 AM
i have seen two people here that ride there ridermower down the freakin road pullin a lil pull behind utility tarer with a curved shaft weedeater brand trimmer and not even a blower. ive seen him all over town. there are two different ive personally seen and they mow for $15 bucks! run a legitimate buisness and pay your taxes and insurance and lets how long anyone can survive. they are running the market here. this is why i primary focus has been landscaping now and not just a mower.. ive deversified my buisness and ive done fine but these people drop like flies and i know they have really the industry.

I've got to level with you, that's how I started. Only charging so little. Since then I got licensed, insured.

Also why I started offering other services other than lawn mowing.

clydebusa
03-25-2012, 09:20 AM
Been cutting lawns since 1982 and there has been low-ballers every year. I guess I don't have to look far to of see one at one time. When I started I was a low-baller. I was in college and taking business. Once I was educated and had a couple years I understood more of what it takes to run a business.

woodlawnservice
03-25-2012, 09:31 AM
I understand, you had good intentions all along. Now that you look back I'm sure u wouldn't now touch what u had done then. These people don't last. You can't survive. Them not win on the same playing field and paying insurances, taxes and so fourth but alot of us on a whole different playing field and makes hard to compete. That's why I no longer focus on mowing.
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woodlawnservice
03-25-2012, 09:35 AM
Lowballs isn't really my main concern or problem to be honest. Like stated above we have them every year. They come and go. It's taxes that eat up more of my profit than anything. Claiming 100% of everything I bring in and the govt taking a little over 30% of it. I really have to consider that when bidding. A lot of these lowballs through a number out there and do not take into consideration all these factors and at the end of the year they receive a w9, they get put in there place real quick.
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superdog1
03-25-2012, 09:38 AM
i have seen two people here that ride there ridermower down the freakin road pullin a lil pull behind utility tarer with a curved shaft weedeater brand trimmer and not even a blower. ive seen him all over town.

It is funny! If nothing else?, you have to give them credit for trying. Look at it this way, would you rather have him/her trying to earn a buck or sitting at home collecting welfare? (For all we know, they could be doing both and probably are, hehe). I do know there are quite a few people who collect un-employment AND work under the table. This isn't fair to the rest of us who are legitimate and trying to earn a living.

I guess what amazes me the most is that people hire these goof balls. We all know that if it were any other type of service like a plumber or carpenter and the contractor showed up on a garden tractor pulling a wagon with a few junk tools on the back, they would be told to "Hit the road!" in short order.

This all boils down to the public's perception that any idiot can cut grass and trim. Morons like the one's we are discussing only add to this misconception! This is one of the main reasons that I always do my best to show up in a clean vehicle, clean shaven and a clean shirt with a collar on it to do bidding and even do the work in most cases.

The other negative is that since the economy is doing poorly, people tend to try anything to save a $$. This includes (but isn't limited to) overlooking important items like insurance and licensing, education, attention to detail etc. To save $5 measly dollars, people will allow 2nd class work, as it is "good enough" for them.

As much as I hate to say it, I am totally on-board with cities and states requiring a business license. This does help to weed out (pun intended, Lol) a lot of the fly by nighters who try and operate under the radar. It will never eliminate all of them, but I think it puts a slight dent in the problem?

IMHO, we should band together like some of the other industries have done and create an agency that does nothing but educate the public on how important it is to have a true professional working on your property. Look at the real estate industry. They have a current ad running that say Realtors are out to save the American dream by promoting home ownership and it's benefits. Perhaps they are to some extent, but when you look at the big picture, lets face it, if people do not buy homes?, Realtors starve!!!

What better way to boost your business than to promote yourself as a public advocate that gets people what they want, when in fact you are just getting what you want, MORE SALES!!!!!

woodlawnservice
03-25-2012, 09:45 AM
I 100% agree! And like you stated in yes we r paying for there welfare while they are working under the table. Just my opinion . A licenses would be great! Just like in spraying.... That weeds out so many of these "lowballers" and makes it that much harder for anyone who is not educated or following the laws harder to be in this industry.
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MOW ED
03-25-2012, 10:36 AM
Folks this discussion is one for which the legal business owner as well as the fly by nighter is passionate about. If you go way back in the Hall of Forums and Lawnicure archives (probably not possible but check out Lawnsite circa 2K)you will see that there have been lowballers forever and there will forever be lowballers. Our chosen work of lawn mowing is not something that one can "specialize" in so there will never be a licensing component to the business. Who would enforce such a license? States are already overburdened with rules and regs (which some are definately needed). I have dirt ball applicators that get away with all kinds of violations in the spraying and applications world and there aren't enough enforcement agents to catch them. I have also lost good paying jobs to lowball cash under the table scumbags.
It is a sad but cold fact that anyone can mow lawn and we have seen that anyone competes with us trying to be legal.
I have learned in the 17 years I have been in business is that there are all types of customers. There are the ones who appreciate a legal and professional business and there are the ones who will only go for price regardless of who delivers. I have decided to go after the first group and leave the others to the lowballer.
Its the homeowners choice to either eat steak or have a hot dog off the cart. You will pay more for the steak but you will usually enjoy the steak much more than the grindings from what fell on the floor when they trimmed the steak. I try and find the steak eaters.
OK enough sage analogies and advice. We are always gonna have lowballers, it does make you a better business person weather you like it or not.

SECTLANDSCAPING
03-25-2012, 10:51 AM
I seen some hilarious ads $65 pressure washing, $20 a hour work, $30 a acre, $50 a tree, etc. I like to call these guys and bust their balls. Seems like more then usual this year.

woodlawnservice
03-25-2012, 10:54 AM
I agree, but comparing them with hot dogs sold from carts is givin them credit :) but a perfect world wouldn't be a challenge right... I know these people will always exists and they do in every field . I just believe this market has More than most. I can deal with them as I stick and find the better customers but wouldn't it b nice if a legit business could only compete against others just like you... Let the lowballers compete against themselves and at the end of the year let's see how many on each side has done well. The legits will always come out ahead...
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JLSLLC
03-25-2012, 11:31 AM
I see more and more every season where i am... There's about a dozen guys who scrap metal who also do this work. I pay no mind to them , they all fade when you start sweating like crazy mid summer. Seem to get a lot of horror stories as well from these guys....

Edit: there is one guy on Craigslist that i see and his ad's say something like lawn service only $10-15 for homes within 3 miles of him, or something close to that!

themadcutter
03-25-2012, 11:35 AM
Does every one mow with a 60'' mower. Takes me approximatley 1 hr to do 4-5k lawn in my area. Also going to bid on 10 city lots in my area. figuring about $20per lawn per cut.should take 6-7 hrs 28-30 per hr. Is this considered lowballing? Also mostly use 22'' personal pace Toro.

at least you'll stay in good shape.
I don't know how long a pp toro will last under those conditions, Its made to be used 30 or 40 times a year. not 30 or 40 times a week.

So with figuring in new equipment costs and transportation and maintenance at probably 25% of your income and then self employment taxes (if you pay them) and I won't say insurance because I doubt you carry it. and your only billing $28 per hour on site unless all of your accounts are adjoined so your actually getting less than $28 per hour throughout the day. Won't mention risks involved with owning a lawn business because its an unknown factor but there are risks big and small.

The final number is up to you. It doesn't seem like much benefit to be running your own business. Expenses can be over looked on a hand full of accounts but once you start to multiple the numbers things start to get real. There must be some reason why no one lasts very long doing it this way but your earning money and not being a mooch so good for you.

Kiril
03-25-2012, 02:01 PM
That weeds out so many of these "lowballers" and makes it that much harder for anyone who is not educated or following the laws harder to be in this industry.

Amusing. And what of the "licensed" ones who aren't "educated", which FYI comprises the bulk of this industry. If you think license = educated, you are sorely mistaken.

woodlawnservice
03-25-2012, 02:05 PM
No but it greatly reduces the amount of wanna b in the field right from the get go...
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hi_speedreed
03-25-2012, 04:15 PM
I find it hard to believe people in this forum would advocate more government involvement in our business. People out to save a buck are going to find a way to do it. People looking for value are going to find it. People who like it to be known they pay top dollar for everything are still gonna be here too. The worst sentence you can ever hear is "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." ask the people from CT and NJ and NY and CA how they like all the hoops. More government is never the answer.
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woodlawnservice
03-25-2012, 04:35 PM
I can agree with that as well. It's never the answer and like you said they will always be around. They will always fail and people that are legit will always find ways to deal with people like them. It's just a head ake that i don't care for. Lol with that being said my wife just called me.. I did there landscaping and mowing last year and because we know the owners I did it for cheap! I lost money so this year I wasn't going to. I raised the price $25 a week... Maybe to break even.. Total of $300 a month. Mowed and id maintenance 1
Time a week. It's 20k sq ft, commercial lot with hedges, shrubs, and mulch. All included for that price. They said they wanted to accept new bids this year to see if "I was in line with the
market" come to find out I didn't get it! They got a guy for doing it cheaper and
Mowin every other week... Not even same playin field as I bid it for weekly! Anyways she just called and said the jokers are out there with one old guy, one crack head, piece of junk mower and a push mower... They walke into the store an informed my wife they ran over one of the electrical outlets outside and cut it off. ! Lol now that's hat the owner gets for being a cheap ass! Now he's prob out more money to fix the outlet than he would have been paying me the difference to do a better job! Perfect example...
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themadcutter
03-25-2012, 06:37 PM
I find it hard to believe people in this forum would advocate more government involvement in our business. People out to save a buck are going to find a way to do it. People looking for value are going to find it. People who like it to be known they pay top dollar for everything are still gonna be here too. The worst sentence you can ever hear is "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." ask the people from CT and NJ and NY and CA how they like all the hoops. More government is never the answer.
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:usflag::drinkup:

Government is not the answer. I may get pissed off about guys who bid to cheap but I get more pissed at the thought of them not being able to do it. You can't consider yourself free if you can't work as you please and set your own prices. I like to put the occasional roof on for a friend or lawn customer during the winter. It gets me a couple of thousand extra just for one house. Florida has tried to make it harder and harder for non licensed workers who work for friends and family. Thats what over regulation leads too.

If lawn care licensing goes the way of roofing and other contracted work you will have lawn guys who will have no choice but to work for someone who never even sees a mower because they failed some test on enviromental regulations or forgot that st augustine is to be mowed at 3 and 3/4" and not 3 and 1/2.

I could go on and on about that subject. protectionism will drive us into surfdom some day.

Kiril
03-25-2012, 11:03 PM
No but it greatly reduces the amount of wanna b in the field right from the get go...

It does? My experience tells me most all licensed contractors are wannabes and hacks, particularly in the landscape industry .

JLSLLC
03-25-2012, 11:48 PM
I saw this in the services on craigslist , had to post the title.... How do you make a living:hammerhead: The title of the post is below, sucks to see this

**Cheap Lawn Cutting!!! Cuts as low as $12 (Camden Glou. Burl Counties)

Greyst1
03-26-2012, 12:54 AM
Mahoney, is this property you speak of Timken?

taterbug
03-26-2012, 12:58 AM
I have to jump in on this as my first post, I mowed a few years in the early 90's when i got out of the Army. The need for insurance for my son as a single dad prompted me to get a job with insurance. My last job sent 1300 jobs to Mexico and China. Married now and kids are gone and wife has great insurance. Being unemployed has made it a must to do what I have to do to not lose my house. I am licensed and insured and will do a yard for a decent profit regardless of what the other guy charges. I have 2 Toros, 48" and 44" and Husqvarna weed eaters and an old backpack blower that runs like new. I pride myself in a job well done. BUT, I don't have the biggest and newest trucks and mowers. What will keep me in my house and eating may be less than you, but I will put my mowers on the yard next to yours and they will have the same quality and lookwhen finished. One guy can have a brand new mower and do crap work with it, or like me, have older mowers that cut as good as the man behind the T-Bars This is not to anger anyone, just to let you know the equipment you started out with is keeping me in my home and I don't need $50 an hour, but will make as much as my market will allow me to. If anyone read this far sorry for the length of it. Thanks

BOSS LAWN 2343
03-26-2012, 01:49 AM
Who mows for $12? Sounds like slave labor, even if it's down the street.. we're in America! :usflag:

milkie62
03-26-2012, 03:33 AM
[It is a sad but cold fact that anyone can mow lawn and we have seen that anyone competes with us trying to be legal.
I have learned in the 17 years I have been in business is that there are all types of customers. There are the ones who appreciate a legal and professional business and there are the ones who will only go for price regardless of who delivers. I have decided to go after the first group and leave the others to the lowballer.




All so true.Guys out there just mowing and complaining should not be out there since anybody can do it.Its the other aspects such as spraying,determining what a problem is with a lawn,hardscaping,etc that seperates the men from the boys.A strictly "mower guy" who thinks he is going to have great $8/hr help and going to make it big is only kidding himself.The guys that are not complaining and making a go of it will not have to worry about the lo-baller.I am only a part-timer and get anywhere from $40-50/hr depending on the customer.I make approx $72k/yr at my real job.Working for yourself and grossing only around $38/hr is nothing to brag about.How are you paying for medical and retirement at that hourly wage.It may seem good now but everybody gets old and if you think you are going to love mowing when you are 62 think again.You had better love it until you die since the mowing only business will takes its toll on you.

32vld
03-26-2012, 09:59 AM
I have to jump in on this as my first post, I mowed a few years in the early 90's when i got out of the Army. The need for insurance for my son as a single dad prompted me to get a job with insurance. My last job sent 1300 jobs to Mexico and China. Married now and kids are gone and wife has great insurance. Being unemployed has made it a must to do what I have to do to not lose my house. I am licensed and insured and will do a yard for a decent profit regardless of what the other guy charges. I have 2 Toros, 48" and 44" and Husqvarna weed eaters and an old backpack blower that runs like new. I pride myself in a job well done. BUT, I don't have the biggest and newest trucks and mowers. What will keep me in my house and eating may be less than you, but I will put my mowers on the yard next to yours and they will have the same quality and lookwhen finished. One guy can have a brand new mower and do crap work with it, or like me, have older mowers that cut as good as the man behind the T-Bars This is not to anger anyone, just to let you know the equipment you started out with is keeping me in my home and I don't need $50 an hour, but will make as much as my market will allow me to. If anyone read this far sorry for the length of it. Thanks

Many people start out in this business with just a 20" push mower.

Many new LCO's come to lawnsite don't know the going rates. Many don't want to low ball but do so because they don't know how to figure their costs and the prevailing rates for their area.

And a response of know your costs is what many a LCO response back to these new LCO which is not much help. Hence more low balling.

You may not need $50 hr.

The wages, expenses, ins, fuel, etc, vary from region to region. So it's possible that some areas need to charge $40 to $60 hr.

Thing is it does not matter what you need to live own unless you live in an area that the top rate is $40 and you need $50. You'll have a tough time getting customers.

The flip side is if you need $40 to live on and everyone else is getting $60 you are lowballing and hurting the region by pulling everyone elses price down.

And your leaving money on the table which would hurt you in the end.

So it's not just I need $XX to get by on. It is also what the local pricing structure range that is in place. Not that everyone much charge the same but to way under price is harmful to all.

SECTLANDSCAPING
03-26-2012, 06:42 PM
I have to jump in on this as my first post, I mowed a few years in the early 90's when i got out of the Army. The need for insurance for my son as a single dad prompted me to get a job with insurance. My last job sent 1300 jobs to Mexico and China. Married now and kids are gone and wife has great insurance. Being unemployed has made it a must to do what I have to do to not lose my house. I am licensed and insured and will do a yard for a decent profit regardless of what the other guy charges. I have 2 Toros, 48" and 44" and Husqvarna weed eaters and an old backpack blower that runs like new. I pride myself in a job well done. BUT, I don't have the biggest and newest trucks and mowers. What will keep me in my house and eating may be less than you, but I will put my mowers on the yard next to yours and they will have the same quality and lookwhen finished. One guy can have a brand new mower and do crap work with it, or like me, have older mowers that cut as good as the man behind the T-Bars This is not to anger anyone, just to let you know the equipment you started out with is keeping me in my home and I don't need $50 an hour, but will make as much as my market will allow me to. If anyone read this far sorry for the length of it. Thanks

I have been in business for 3 years and have never bought a new piece of equipment or truck. I started with the same 44" proline mower. I was able to just buy a kubota for $7600 cash by charging $50-$150 per man hour. I already own a dixie! The best part I only have to work 1 hour a day to get paid the same as I would on any other job. Charging this way I get to spend more time with my family which was part of my goal. I still am cheaper then the large companies but even I am undercut by half by lowballers. If people are willing to pay $100 to the big boys why charge $30. You can still succeed at $80.

One of my trucks is in the shop they want $87 a hour for 6 hours for something I can do in 2 hours with the same equipment. Now I checked a few other auto repair places they all wanted $80-$95 a hour and 5-7 hours of work. I wish I couldve found a garage that decided they would be different and charge half. It just doesnt happen because the industry sticks together.

Whats worst is theres no loyalty. I did a apartment complex for 3 years in a row and they were always happy. I lost a $16000 a year contract because someone bidded it $500 less. Now that has nothing to do with lowballers. He price is virtually the same. Its just how cutthrought it is out here.

woodlawnservice
03-26-2012, 07:16 PM
It does? My experience tells me most all licensed contractors are wannabes and hacks, particularly in the landscape industry .

yea id say it does. for example... imagine if you didnt have to get a licenses to spray.. how many just " mow and go" guys would try to be puttin down chemicals they have no idea about... A lot!

Weekend cut easymoney
03-26-2012, 07:50 PM
I've noticed all the big companies moved more of their operations toward maintenance to make up for losses in their install business-they seem to be bidding to just get by or to just acquire accounts...my theory is to grow the business as quickly as possible and then to sell it=-

So far, we have been pretty lucky...they only got one of our smaller accounts...no amount of kicking and screaming saved it--
residential, we lost a couple of accounts this last year to guys that will only last until it gets 100 here-

On mowing and what it takes....
33 years ago, I started mowing grass when I was 10...sears push mower-
today we run several crews and do HOA properties, hotels and restaurants I don't think it is particularly tough to mow grass...heck, I did it when I was 10..bagged 20 bags of grass over 2 days...got $15
However, to do it year after year and to commit to a schedule and actually keep your word of when you will be there is tough- and where most people fail-plus there is a market for people who want their grass just 'knocked down' when it gets tall (as opposed to doing a nice job).

Set your company apart and do something the low baller can't do--Irrigation repair, weed spraying, xeriscaping
-complaining about lowballers is not where any of us need to be...we need to innovate, evolve and overcome...Be the conqueror-

The thread that goes hand and hand with this one discusses the difficulty in getting help...IMHO -for the most part, most people that might want to do this work have already figured out that they can go and mow for themselves rather than make $12/hr working for someone else...what they don't count on is paying taxes, insurance and commitment that is necessary...sure, they will mow for a season or two...but eventually they will run out of steam and see how tough it is to actually grow a company from a one man operation -

themadcutter
03-26-2012, 08:36 PM
yea id say it does. for example... imagine if you didnt have to get a licenses to spray.. how many just " mow and go" guys would try to be puttin down chemicals they have no idea about... A lot!

What makes you think the guy spraying the chemical knows or cares about what he is doing? I do not know of one spray company that the license holder is the one doing the work. the guys may get training but that doesn't mean they care one way or the other and the training amounts to what i would know from reading a label.

I was pulled over by the dept. of agriculture when I stopped for lunch. all because he had just busted some guy who had a pump sprayer on his trailer and checked him for round up and I was in the same parking lot. The discussion ended rather quickly and amounted too

"Would you mind opening your tool box so I could check for chemicals?"

"Yes I would mind. I'm gonna make you get a warrant because I think this is a BS waste of time and tax payer money!"

"I don't need a warrant. I'm with the DOA so you have to open the box."

"I would like to see you prove that theory of not needing a warrant. I'll wait here in my air conditioned truck while you figure out how your gonna do that."

"Ok I'm gonna right you a warning"


Thats what we need more of. If it wasn't for the fact that it was 92 that day and he was sweating like crazy there is no telling how long I could have been there.

milkie62
03-26-2012, 08:42 PM
:cry:With the economy the way it is if you need to pay your bills or feed your family,I see no problem with somebody throwing their lawnmower in the back of their truck and making some money to pay the bills.
In my job as an electronic tech,I have no problem with someone jumping in at my company and taking away some of my weekly hrs to feed their family.Am I worried---not in the least since my skill is specialized to the equipment I work on.But...... it is not the same in the mowing (notice I said mowing) industry.It is not specialized and requires no real skill or talent.So the whiners should SPECIALIZE so a low-baller cannot easily take work away from them.
I bought top-of-the-line equipment to mow my lawn. My son,while he is in college is making himself oodles of CASH to help cover his schooling and social life.If he underbids someone because my son drives a rustfree classic truck with no payments vs somebody who needs to have an XLT Lariat Ford F350 with $700/month payment----well too bad.. :waving::waving::waving:

Kiril
03-26-2012, 09:30 PM
yea id say it does. for example... imagine if you didnt have to get a licenses to spray.. how many just " mow and go" guys would try to be puttin down chemicals they have no idea about... A lot!

It would be a hell of a lot less than the number of home owners doing the same.

I'm betting even the "licensed" spray and pray LCO doesn't have a clue what they are putting down beyond a name and what it might control. How about practicing proper protocols, say for example, like monitoring real time environmental conditions while applying. How many applicators do that?

lukemelo216
03-26-2012, 09:54 PM
Bidding on the same playing field I have noticed this year is a huge problem. i do strictly commercial maintenance and when I talk to the property manager I ask a list of detailed questions to ensure that I am bidding the property correctly, asking about extras such as flowers, aeration, mulching etc. When we bid our work we do more than most other companies do, but we are not really out of line with our pricing. For example most landscape companies will do the following for a spring cleanup: cut back dead flowers, re-edge beds, pre-em, leaves and go.

My spring cleanup includes the following: cutting back perennials, re-edge, pre-em, collection of leaves and trash from the entire property (beds, grass, parking lot, dumpster area, loading docks, etc), fertilize plant beds, and cultivate the mulch (even if we are putting new mulch down in a few weeks.)

For the same property one company was in at $350.00 for a cleanup and we were at $360.00 for the same property and we were doing twice as much as they were. Our price isnt low, but we have tightened our operation and we are efficient with our work. Were averaging anywhere from $40-$54 per man hour for our crews.

I had one company tell me that we were going to get the job but the msome other company came in and gave them some incentives to choose them becasue they are going to beautify their property more. And I said well when we talked you didnt want any flowers etc. If your taking that its good business ethics to talk to the others and get numbers to see what everyone else can do at least.

All they look at is the bottom number regardless. We strive to get those big accounts that want their properties to look good, you just have to be equiped to do them and know your numbers.

elitelawnteam1
03-26-2012, 10:06 PM
I wouldn't really care as much about lowballers if they didn't annoy me as much, like today, got a call to do an estimate (conveniently on the other side of town) pack up my work and head out.

I get to the house... the grass is over a foot tall (already) it was going to take me over an hour to get this rather small lawn back in control. I would have to bag the grass, and dispose of it.

I told him my minimum price was $30 (i say 30 because he wanted to be on a weekly basis), instantly asked "what more do i get than just the mowing for that price?" I then took the opportunity to educate him about the insurance and taxes that I pay in order to operate a LEGITIMATE business, and go on about being professional, uniformed, always will show up, etc. He wasn't interested at all, and that he'd go back and get little johnny the college kid to mow it for $20 like he had been doing last year.

What would be a good news segment should be about landscapers, educating the public about all the laws involved, and the people who disobey the law, and lowball. It would be a real positive turn for this industry.

Mahoney3223
03-26-2012, 10:09 PM
Mahoney, is this property you speak of Timken?


No it wasn't. But along the same lines. And it wasn't him who has it. It was a nobody firm that just started out that won the bid.

Flex-Deck
03-26-2012, 11:04 PM
Back when I first got on Lawnsite all the supposed pro's said any LCO has to make $50 hourly minimum. I tried to live by that for a few years and then realized not everyone can be the same. I'm solo with a 36 WB and a 21", no work comp since my state contractor exemption covers it, nothing borrowed from the bank, no huge diesel truck pulling a 26 enclosed full of Walker mowers. Just to come out and say $50 hourly is what any LCO needs to make is BS. We all have differant expenses and operating cost. Here is the way I look at it. If you are covering your cost and making something for yourself too might as well do it. My business suffered greatly from the start because I believed the nonsense on the website and failed to get many jobs because I tried to play the $50 an hour game. Considering everything I own is paid for I could make $38-40 hourly and come out nicely. Don't get me wrong there are total dumbass lowballers out there. I'm seeing guys offering $50 any size yard for powerraking, thats just ******ed. Most yards around here are 2,500,-4,000 sq. ft. so I mow them for $25 or so. Alittle bigger the goes to $30 or $35. Back when I first got one here in 2007 it seemed like everyone was saying don't even drop your gate for less than $40. Why, a 2,500 sq. ft. takes me like 15 minutes to mow, trim, and blow. Seems worth $25 to me.

You are right on - I have always said that people on this site do not consider the equipment used. If one has a 21" push mower, and makes $22 per hr., and has $500 invested in the mower, he is probably doing as good or better than the $10,000 60" Z pulling in 50/Hr.

BestImpressions99
03-27-2012, 12:57 PM
Man... 3 days of this thread and 6 pages already?!?! Great. Well it's the age of multitasking and asking you to do more for the same amount of money. It's like the reasoning behind some people thinking they're too good to work for less than 50k a year. My F/T gig we lost 4 people (doesn't sound like much but it was). We were "able" to do the work and when they started giving people back to us we only got 1 person able to hire. Do more with less and you get less out of pocket expense as the business.

johntx14
03-27-2012, 05:02 PM
Your absolutley right everyones numbers are different when i figure in my expenses gas, insurance, advertising, etc there's no way i could go around doing yards for 25 bucks but someone with lower expenses probably could. Thats what i charge if some one wants just the front yard done.

GMLC
03-27-2012, 08:00 PM
I just got hit with a lowballer today. I bid $68 per week on a beautiful 35000 sq ft lawn with 700 ft of trimming. Lots of trees and flower beds. And they want it bagged. They got another bid at $45 per week and took it.
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JohnnyRocker
03-27-2012, 08:16 PM
I saw this in the services on craigslist , had to post the title.... How do you make a living:hammerhead: The title of the post is below, sucks to see this

**Cheap Lawn Cutting!!! Cuts as low as $12 (Camden Glou. Burl Counties)

Sub them out for all of your lawns. Let them sweat for you.

Weekend cut easymoney
03-27-2012, 08:32 PM
Man... 3 days of this thread and 6 pages already?!?! Great. Well it's the age of multitasking and asking you to do more for the same amount of money. It's like the reasoning behind some people thinking they're too good to work for less than 50k a year. My F/T gig we lost 4 people (doesn't sound like much but it was). We were "able" to do the work and when they started giving people back to us we only got 1 person able to hire. Do more with less and you get less out of pocket expense as the business.

What many companies have noticed with all the belt tightening...after they cut out some of the payroll, productive employees could actually do more than was being expected of them...the net, net is that companies are more efficient and profitable (employees are being worked harder)...more profit=more taxes.

I had a buddy who almost lost his house several times over the last 3 years-he sold decks etc...estimator --I told him I would set him up with a mower, trimmer, blower adn he could go mow a few yards each week and make money to save his home (I told him I would show him how)....he declined saying that he had "too much pride"....WTH! I asked him how his pride was gonna feel if he lost his home (which has a pool).

Sad...

Mahoney3223
03-27-2012, 09:06 PM
I just got hit with a lowballer today. I bid $68 per week on a beautiful 35000 sq ft lawn with 700 ft of trimming. Lots of trees and flower beds. And they want it bagged. They got another bid at $45 per week and took it.
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in my area that would go for 35

GMLC
03-27-2012, 09:09 PM
in my area that would go for 35

Funny thing is I bid lower than normal because I already have two in the area and really wanted to add another.
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GMLC
03-27-2012, 09:12 PM
Around here $35 would be for a small city lot.

SECTLANDSCAPING
03-27-2012, 10:38 PM
Its your choice. I made $675 for 5 man hours today. If you want to do the same job for $150 have fun. Ill be happy all the way to the bank.

milkie62
03-27-2012, 11:26 PM
Its your choice. I made $675 for 5 man hours today. If you want to do the same job for $150 have fun. Ill be happy all the way to the bank.


I am not knocking what you made for 5 man hrs,but I also know your area gets almost $75-$100 more for a cord of firewood than my area.There is no way I could charge Ct. prices for firewood in my town and ever sell any.Simple mow,trim and blow is not going to get over $50/hr here.More likely less if the person calls for enough estimates.

clydebusa
03-28-2012, 10:14 AM
Around here $35 would be for a small city lot.

Ditto, 5k not 35k, that is insane to mow 35k for that little money. WOW

clydebusa
03-28-2012, 10:24 AM
I find it hard to believe people in this forum would advocate more government involvement in our business. People out to save a buck are going to find a way to do it. People looking for value are going to find it. People who like it to be known they pay top dollar for everything are still gonna be here too. The worst sentence you can ever hear is "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." ask the people from CT and NJ and NY and CA how they like all the hoops. More government is never the answer.
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:clapping::clapping::clapping::clapping:

Mahoney3223
03-28-2012, 06:24 PM
.Simple mow,trim and blow is not going to get over $50/hr here.More likely less if the person calls for enough estimates.


Oh man your so right. I got one today that guy didn't even say where he lived or anything, just says how much to mow 2 acres simple mow and go. I tell him it varies etc. He's like ok I just wanted a ballpark. I'll keep calling around. Someone will tell him 60 I guarantee it.

milkie62
03-28-2012, 10:34 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by milkie62
.Simple mow,trim and blow is not going to get over $50/hr here.More likely less if the person calls for enough estimates.


Oh man your so right. I got one today that guy didn't even say where he lived or anything, just says how much to mow 2 acres simple mow and go. I tell him it varies etc. He's like ok I just wanted a ballpark. I'll keep calling around. Someone will tell him 60 I guarantee it.



In a perfect world LCO's can charge what they want.In reality alot of people just want mow,trim,blow and go and nothing more.And once they start paying the big money the lawnmower guy will be the first expense to cut (no pun intended).Contract or no contract.

Snyder's Lawn Inc
03-28-2012, 11:12 PM
Oh man your so right. I got one today that guy didn't even say where he lived or anything, just says how much to mow 2 acres simple mow and go. I tell him it varies etc. He's like ok I just wanted a ballpark. I'll keep calling around. Someone will tell him 60 I guarantee it.

New one pop around here and bid on a YMCA 10 acres of lawn he bid 160 and funny part I know a board member and he said he was there 3 different days after school
is dad is a doctor so no big deal if he making profit

Mahoney3223
03-29-2012, 09:03 AM
guys are working for wages. it's sad.

PROCUT1
03-29-2012, 10:29 AM
The more skill and training required for an occupation, the more that occupation commands, and the less competition.

Plain and simple.

Youre selling a service that anyone can do. The homeowner can do themselves. The neighborhood kid can do. Its a service that most people only have done because they have to.

Most people see it as cutting grass. When I had 500 houses, a dozen trucks and a huge crew. My customers just knew me as "Joe the guy who mows my lawn"

Your competition is anyone with legs.

We tend to over analyze this business. We think things like uniforms, invoices, ZTRs, insurance, big lettered trucks, and such makes a difference to a customer. It doesnt. Not to the majority.

We brag about things like insurance and licensing and such. Insurance for a lawn business is dirt cheap. So is everything else needed to be legal. Thats not a big separator. $1500 a year and I can have mowing insurance.

I dont care how big or professional you are in the mowing business you will still be the guy that your customer is using as an example to their kids why they need to stay in school.

This is the cold hard reality. After owning a big operation for years....At my own house I have a guy that comes once a week and mows my lawn. My wife leaves an envelope with $25 cash under the mat and every week he shows up and the lawn looks fine. Ive never seen him, dont know what he drives, and dont care.

She called a couple of places and chose this over the company that wanted to invoice us, higher price, sales tax and wanted us to sign an "agreement"

She didnt want all that crap just to have the lawn mowed. She saw a guy mowing a couple houses down and flagged him over. $25 cash. Mows when it needs it. And she or I dont have to go out and do it.

Now. If youre going to do a $10,000 project for me. Ill pay more attention. Check references, look at what you drive, check insurance, and I wouldnt mind seeing a company shirt.

For mowing the lawn......I could do it myself but I dont want to. To me the guy that mows across the street with the 3 man crew, enclosed lettered trailer full of ZTRs and monthly invoices is not worth a penny more than whoever the heck mows my lawn now.

BOSS LAWN 2343
03-29-2012, 11:38 AM
Good points, I like how you said "the customers kid(s) will still be their motivation to stay in school". Because you are right either way, whether you have 1 truck and a zturn or 15 trucks 3 crews and tons of equipment.

cpmai
03-29-2012, 12:50 PM
The more skill and training required for an occupation, the more that occupation commands, and the less competition.

Plain and simple.

Youre selling a service that anyone can do. The homeowner can do themselves. The neighborhood kid can do. Its a service that most people only have done because they have to.

Most people see it as cutting grass. When I had 500 houses, a dozen trucks and a huge crew. My customers just knew me as "Joe the guy who mows my lawn"

Your competition is anyone with legs.

We tend to over analyze this business. We think things like uniforms, invoices, ZTRs, insurance, big lettered trucks, and such makes a difference to a customer. It doesnt. Not to the majority.

We brag about things like insurance and licensing and such. Insurance for a lawn business is dirt cheap. So is everything else needed to be legal. Thats not a big separator. $1500 a year and I can have mowing insurance.

I dont care how big or professional you are in the mowing business you will still be the guy that your customer is using as an example to their kids why they need to stay in school.

This is the cold hard reality. After owning a big operation for years....At my own house I have a guy that comes once a week and mows my lawn. My wife leaves an envelope with $25 cash under the mat and every week he shows up and the lawn looks fine. Ive never seen him, dont know what he drives, and dont care.

She called a couple of places and chose this over the company that wanted to invoice us, higher price, sales tax and wanted us to sign an "agreement"

She didnt want all that crap just to have the lawn mowed. She saw a guy mowing a couple houses down and flagged him over. $25 cash. Mows when it needs it. And she or I dont have to go out and do it.

Now. If youre going to do a $10,000 project for me. Ill pay more attention. Check references, look at what you drive, check insurance, and I wouldnt mind seeing a company shirt.

For mowing the lawn......I could do it myself but I dont want to. To me the guy that mows across the street with the 3 man crew, enclosed lettered trailer full of ZTRs and monthly invoices is not worth a penny more than whoever the heck mows my lawn now.

You hit the nail right on the head-basically took the words right out of my mouth.

Weekend cut easymoney
03-29-2012, 06:17 PM
You hit the nail right on the head-basically took the words right out of my mouth.

Ditto above--my dad taught me to mow at age 8--for many people, they want the grass to be cut, and look relatively nice--end of story-I'd prefer that they never saw my guys so they don't slow em up-trying to get them to do free work!

milkie62
03-29-2012, 06:51 PM
:clapping::clapping::clapping: This is what i have been saying all along.The mower guy is just that----somebody that could be replaced tomorrow by a 12 yr old with a craftsman push mower if need be.The more you invest,the more you have to charge.A good job done is a good job done whether it is the big white new Ford with matching trailer or the kid across the street.I do not want the few customers I have to up and get somebody else because I am trying to sell "services" that they do not want.I want to be the mow and blow guy and make my $40-$50/hr.:dancing::dancing::dancing:

Snapper Jack
03-29-2012, 06:59 PM
The more skill and training required for an occupation, the more that occupation commands, and the less competition.

Plain and simple.

Youre selling a service that anyone can do. The homeowner can do themselves. The neighborhood kid can do. Its a service that most people only have done because they have to.

Most people see it as cutting grass. When I had 500 houses, a dozen trucks and a huge crew. My customers just knew me as "Joe the guy who mows my lawn"

Your competition is anyone with legs.

We tend to over analyze this business. We think things like uniforms, invoices, ZTRs, insurance, big lettered trucks, and such makes a difference to a customer. It doesnt. Not to the majority.

We brag about things like insurance and licensing and such. Insurance for a lawn business is dirt cheap. So is everything else needed to be legal. Thats not a big separator. $1500 a year and I can have mowing insurance.

I dont care how big or professional you are in the mowing business you will still be the guy that your customer is using as an example to their kids why they need to stay in school.

This is the cold hard reality. After owning a big operation for years....At my own house I have a guy that comes once a week and mows my lawn. My wife leaves an envelope with $25 cash under the mat and every week he shows up and the lawn looks fine. Ive never seen him, dont know what he drives, and dont care.

She called a couple of places and chose this over the company that wanted to invoice us, higher price, sales tax and wanted us to sign an "agreement"

She didnt want all that crap just to have the lawn mowed. She saw a guy mowing a couple houses down and flagged him over. $25 cash. Mows when it needs it. And she or I dont have to go out and do it.

Now. If youre going to do a $10,000 project for me. Ill pay more attention. Check references, look at what you drive, check insurance, and I wouldnt mind seeing a company shirt.

For mowing the lawn......I could do it myself but I dont want to. To me the guy that mows across the street with the 3 man crew, enclosed lettered trailer full of ZTRs and monthly invoices is not worth a penny more than whoever the heck mows my lawn now.
There are some are who make a pretty darn good living with this physically rough mowing occupation but overall I agree with what you've stated

Snapper Jack
03-29-2012, 07:15 PM
:clapping::clapping::clapping: This is what i have been saying all along.The mower guy is just that----somebody that could be replaced tomorrow by a 12 yr old with a craftsman push mower if need be.The more you invest,the more you have to charge.A good job done is a good job done whether it is the big white new Ford with matching trailer or the kid across the street.I do not want the few customers I have to up and get somebody else because I am trying to sell "services" that they do not want.I want to be the mow and blow guy and make my $40-$50/hr.:dancing::dancing::dancing:
True, but that little 12 YO with the Crapsman will never lay down the clean cut of a commercial mower and I just love it when I can land account where I'm sandwiched amongst HO with their Lowe's John Deere's ,Cub Cadets,etc and when I leave, I grin from ear to ear cuz I know who's lawn is looking top notch and hopefully the HO who does care takes notice of my work when driving by:)

lukemelo216
03-29-2012, 11:20 PM
True, but that little 12 YO with the Crapsman will never lay down the clean cut of a commercial mower and I just love it when I can land account where I'm sandwiched amongst HO with their Lowe's John Deere's ,Cub Cadets,etc and when I leave, I grin from ear to ear cuz I know who's lawn is looking top notch and hopefully the HO who does care takes notice of my work when driving by:)

You are one of the few people that cares about that. 95% of homeowners could give two craps about the strips. As other have said, they just want their lawn cut and it to look decent.

I will say too someone said it earlier. The whole bringing 4 or 5 guys to a job. I am getting my crews routes ready right now. Last year my maintenance crew had 4 guys. I was reading through their daily reports and a few times they would be at the same site back to back weeks, do the same thing and the 3 guys would be in and out just as fast as the 4 guys would be. So this year first thing we did was not hire a 4th guy. The 4th guy actually didnt come back, so we didnt replace him. Got enough work this year, and put a 2 man crew on. I am still saving money. We do mainly big sites (minimum of 2 hours on site with 3 guys.) Even if a 2 hour site takes the 3 guys 2.5 hours were stilll making more money compared to 4 guys in and out in 2 hours.

205mx
03-30-2012, 10:05 AM
I 100% agree! And like you stated in yes we r paying for there welfare while they are working under the table. Just my opinion . A licenses would be great! Just like in spraying.... That weeds out so many of these "lowballers" and makes it that much harder for anyone who is not educated or following the laws harder to be in this industry.
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I have to disagree with you to some extent. I do not think the government creating rules and laws is good for business in any way. I know this industry is relatively low start up and
i knew going in that there would be lowballers, illegals, etc...

It is hard enough out there and more regulations is not the answer. The answer is doing the best work that you can do and living up to a higher reputation. The lowballers have to exist. someone has to finish last in every marathon.

It should be made easier to get in to any industry. This one has a high turnover rate and stiff competition with lots of people starting a "Lawn Company" on a daily basis. But i say... what is really so wrong with that?

The best revenge is living well. Your quality of work is surely quite high, and that should speak for itself. If they are doing an ok job for a lower rate, well thats mighty swell. *trucewhiteflag**trucewhiteflag*

elitelawnteam1
03-30-2012, 11:08 AM
I have to disagree with you to some extent. I do not think the government creating rules and laws is good for business in any way. I know this industry is relatively low start up and
i knew going in that there would be lowballers, illegals, etc...

It is hard enough out there and more regulations is not the answer. The answer is doing the best work that you can do and living up to a higher reputation. The lowballers have to exist. someone has to finish last in every marathon.

It should be made easier to get in to any industry. This one has a high turnover rate and stiff competition with lots of people starting a "Lawn Company" on a daily basis. But i say... what is really so wrong with that?

The best revenge is living well. Your quality of work is surely quite high, and that should speak for itself. If they are doing an ok job for a lower rate, well thats mighty swell. *trucewhiteflag**trucewhiteflag*

And in reality, even if the government is going to lay down laws, how are they gonna enforce them? They'll probably have a small, understaffed group of fed. agents, to cover the entire country! It's plain and simple, if people are going to go hungry because they can't find a job, they'll create one for themselves and go out to mow lawns, you can't really stop them, they have to figure it out for themselves the hard way.

milkie62
03-30-2012, 12:17 PM
True, but that little 12 YO with the Crapsman will never lay down the clean cut of a commercial mower and I just love it when I can land account where I'm sandwiched amongst HO with their Lowe's John Deere's ,Cub Cadets,etc and when I leave, I grin from ear to ear cuz I know who's lawn is looking top notch and hopefully the HO who does care takes notice of my work when driving by:)

I stripe my lawn and my wife hates the stripes.She says if she wants to go to a baseball game she will go to a baseball game.I also have a very shaly area of lawn.If it were not for the lush clover on it there would be no lawn.A "pro" would come in and spray my lawn,kill the clover and try to get Kentucky blue to grow.And when that would not grow,try to sell me a sprinkler system that in places I have shale sticking out of the grround.Then what----try to sell me 3" of top soil to cover up the shale and "hope" grass will grow ? I will keep my country lawn with the lush clover area and the johnny jump-ups around the shale.:walking:

GMLC
03-30-2012, 12:33 PM
I stripe my lawn and my wife hates the stripes.She says if she wants to go to a baseball game she will go to a baseball game.I also have a very shaly area of lawn.If it were not for the lush clover on it there would be no lawn.A "pro" would come in and spray my lawn,kill the clover and try to get Kentucky blue to grow.And when that would not grow,try to sell me a sprinkler system that in places I have shale sticking out of the grround.Then what----try to sell me 3" of top soil to cover up the shale and "hope" grass will grow ? I will keep my country lawn with the lush clover area and the johnny jump-ups around the shale.:walking:

Thank god my customers do care how their lawns look and pay me well to take care of them! I honestly don't know if I would want a customer that doesn't care because I take pride in my work and consider myself professional. There is so much competition in this industry, you have to stand out to do well. My niche is professionalism. I'm not going to lowball to get work. There are plenty of people who will pay more.
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Mahoney3223
03-30-2012, 10:15 PM
The more skill and training required for an occupation, the more that occupation commands, and the less competition.

Plain and simple.

Youre selling a service that anyone can do. The homeowner can do themselves. The neighborhood kid can do. Its a service that most people only have done because they have to.

Most people see it as cutting grass. When I had 500 houses, a dozen trucks and a huge crew. My customers just knew me as "Joe the guy who mows my lawn"

Your competition is anyone with legs.

We tend to over analyze this business. We think things like uniforms, invoices, ZTRs, insurance, big lettered trucks, and such makes a difference to a customer. It doesnt. Not to the majority.

We brag about things like insurance and licensing and such. Insurance for a lawn business is dirt cheap. So is everything else needed to be legal. Thats not a big separator. $1500 a year and I can have mowing insurance.

I dont care how big or professional you are in the mowing business you will still be the guy that your customer is using as an example to their kids why they need to stay in school.

This is the cold hard reality. After owning a big operation for years....At my own house I have a guy that comes once a week and mows my lawn. My wife leaves an envelope with $25 cash under the mat and every week he shows up and the lawn looks fine. Ive never seen him, dont know what he drives, and dont care.

She called a couple of places and chose this over the company that wanted to invoice us, higher price, sales tax and wanted us to sign an "agreement"

She didnt want all that crap just to have the lawn mowed. She saw a guy mowing a couple houses down and flagged him over. $25 cash. Mows when it needs it. And she or I dont have to go out and do it.

Now. If youre going to do a $10,000 project for me. Ill pay more attention. Check references, look at what you drive, check insurance, and I wouldnt mind seeing a company shirt.

For mowing the lawn......I could do it myself but I dont want to. To me the guy that mows across the street with the 3 man crew, enclosed lettered trailer full of ZTRs and monthly invoices is not worth a penny more than whoever the heck mows my lawn now.


I agree with you to an extent...most do not care. But some do. Many do. You can't generalize all people based your specific experience.

coolluv
03-31-2012, 07:51 AM
The more skill and training required for an occupation, the more that occupation commands, and the less competition.

Plain and simple.

Youre selling a service that anyone can do. The homeowner can do themselves. The neighborhood kid can do. Its a service that most people only have done because they have to.

Most people see it as cutting grass. When I had 500 houses, a dozen trucks and a huge crew. My customers just knew me as "Joe the guy who mows my lawn"

Your competition is anyone with legs.

We tend to over analyze this business. We think things like uniforms, invoices, ZTRs, insurance, big lettered trucks, and such makes a difference to a customer. It doesnt. Not to the majority. For the Cheap A$$ customer that could care less what their lawn and landscape looks like.....your absolutely right. But for the good customer that wants a nice lawn and landscape and wants a professional that is knowledgeable on the turf and knows each plant in their landscape and the proper pruning techniques and what time of year to prune etc.....They expect you to be able to answer questions and they expect you to have a service agreement and uniforms and good professional equipment. They are not hiring a mow,blow and go outfit or if they have in the past they learned their lesson.

We brag about things like insurance and licensing and such. Insurance for a lawn business is dirt cheap. So is everything else needed to be legal. Thats not a big separator. $1500 a year and I can have mowing insurance.

I dont care how big or professional you are in the mowing business you will still be the guy that your customer is using as an example to their kids why they need to stay in school. Not true... if your a lawn turd yes. If your a professional no. I noticed that customers will respect you more the more you act professional and present yourself as a professional. When you can walk around the lawn and landscape and answer questions and point out problems they soon realize you know what your talking about and you go from lawn turd to professional.

This is the cold hard reality. After owning a big operation for years....At my own house I have a guy that comes once a week and mows my lawn. My wife leaves an envelope with $25 cash under the mat and every week he shows up and the lawn looks fine. Ive never seen him, dont know what he drives, and dont care.

She called a couple of places and chose this over the company that wanted to invoice us, higher price, sales tax and wanted us to sign an "agreement"

She didnt want all that crap just to have the lawn mowed. She saw a guy mowing a couple houses down and flagged him over. $25 cash. Mows when it needs it. And she or I dont have to go out and do it.

Now. If youre going to do a $10,000 project for me. Ill pay more attention. Check references, look at what you drive, check insurance, and I wouldnt mind seeing a company shirt.

For mowing the lawn......I could do it myself but I dont want to. To me the guy that mows across the street with the 3 man crew, enclosed lettered trailer full of ZTRs and monthly invoices is not worth a penny more than whoever the heck mows my lawn now.

You are exactly the customer that I do not want and I do not pursue. I leave customers like you for the lawn turds.

No offense.... just the facts. Professionalism matters with every aspect of your business and the more you present yourself as a professional the more people are willing to pay and are willing to treat you with respect.

Just my own 2 cents from my own experience.

Dave...

PROCUT1
03-31-2012, 01:11 PM
And I agree. To an extent being "a professional" will give you an edge. There is certainly nothing wrong with it.

When I did condo complexes it was my way of selling and my professionalism that got me the job over others. But not at a much higher price.

Professionalism sells to an extent. Absolutely.

But you have to be realistic at the same time. Most everyone on this board brags about only servicing "high end" accounts who DEMAND a professional and wont settle for less.

So if thats the case. Where are all the people who just mow lawns for a weekly price? Since they make up 95% of the business. Yet theyre not on lawnsite?

My lawn guy does a fine job. Shows up every week. The lawn looks good. Ive never seen him. As long as he keeps showing up, we'll keep him. I think thats the way most customers are.

I was in the business over 10 years. I think I know how to mow a lawn. I just dont want to.
I dont need a professional horticultural expert trained in turf diseases to provide me a full service turf management program.

How many average homeowners DO care about their lawn THAT much that they seek out expert turf managers and pay a premium price?

The MAJORITY of lawn cutters, be it small, or large operations do a good job. Yes, you have guys who dont show up. yes you have guys who make a mess. But they are not the majority.

Face it. Most everyone on this board is in this business for the same reason as the "lowballers' we complain about.

Compared to most other types of businesses, this is a cakewalk. Youre born with the ability. You need some equipment and a truck. To form the business and be legit requires filling out a couple forms. A basic insurance policy is cheap. For a few grand, youre in business.

Now you just need customers. Everyone has a lawn. They all need mowing. And its very easy to get customers for mowing.
Now you grow. More lawns, more equipment. Things are great. This is easy.

Then you come on here and complain about other people doing the same dam thing you did for the same reasons.

Then whine.....Dealerships charge $95 an hour. Why cant we?

99% of people dont have the training, schooling, or equipment to fix their wire filled computer controlled vehicle. People went to school, invested time and money to learn how to do that. They now have a skill others cant do. Thats worth more money.

Same with electricians, plumbers, and other SKILLED TRADES.

They got trained. They went to school. They learned skills that others dont have. You bought a lawnmower, that everyone in the world has in their garage.

This is reality people.

With that said. Many people run successful, profitable, businesses large and small doing just this.

But you have to realize the business for what it is. Then develop your business to adapt and profit.

"The going rate is X" Well as a businessman, if you are going to mow lawns in a saturated market with a price ceiling, then you have to figure out how to profit from that.

If you want to target high end full service accounts. A tiny niche market. Then go for it, you wont be in this thread complaining.

If youre like 99% of the mowing operations. You target homeowners and businesses who want their grass cut once a week.

Its up to you to make a business to compete.

Most people shop at walmart. They can buy the same thing much cheaper than a mom and pop store. I dont care how nice the mom and pop is. How friendly they are. How much customer service they give. If their TV is $249 and the same dam TV at walmart is $189, Im going to walmart.

Same concept.

Either find a niche market that wants a "professional horticultural technician"
Go to school to learn how to do something everyone else cant
or
Adapt your business to make a profit knowing your competition, knowing your market, and knowing its not going to change.

Youre complaining about people that went out and bought a truck and trailer and mower.
A few years ago, there were people just like you complaining when you went out and bought your setup.

Puddle of Oil
03-31-2012, 01:29 PM
^^^^ yep, well put.^^^^

coolluv
03-31-2012, 03:34 PM
And I agree. To an extent being "a professional" will give you an edge. There is certainly nothing wrong with it.

When I did condo complexes it was my way of selling and my professionalism that got me the job over others. But not at a much higher price.

Professionalism sells to an extent. Absolutely.

But you have to be realistic at the same time. Most everyone on this board brags about only servicing "high end" accounts who DEMAND a professional and wont settle for less.

So if thats the case. Where are all the people who just mow lawns for a weekly price? Since they make up 95% of the business. Yet theyre not on lawnsite?

My lawn guy does a fine job. Shows up every week. The lawn looks good. Ive never seen him. As long as he keeps showing up, we'll keep him. I think thats the way most customers are.

I was in the business over 10 years. I think I know how to mow a lawn. I just dont want to.
I dont need a professional horticultural expert trained in turf diseases to provide me a full service turf management program. That is until your lawn has a problem and your mow, blow and go guy has no clue. Do you have a fertilization and weed control company that does that for you?

How many average homeowners DO care about their lawn THAT much that they seek out expert turf managers and pay a premium price? Plenty. HOAs expect lawns to be relatively weed free and in good condition and they expect adequate mulch in beds and trimmed and pruned landscapes.

The MAJORITY of lawn cutters, be it small, or large operations do a good job. Yes, you have guys who dont show up. yes you have guys who make a mess. But they are not the majority.

Face it. Most everyone on this board is in this business for the same reason as the "lowballers' we complain about.

Compared to most other types of businesses, this is a cakewalk. Youre born with the ability. You need some equipment and a truck. To form the business and be legit requires filling out a couple forms. A basic insurance policy is cheap. For a few grand, youre in business. That is not true. Ive seen guys who couldn't even edge or weedwack properly no matter how much you tried to teach them. Seems easy to most but some just don't have the knack. The customers that only want that service on not my customers.

Now you just need customers. Everyone has a lawn. They all need mowing. And its very easy to get customers for mowing.
Now you grow. More lawns, more equipment. Things are great. This is easy. Thats what everybody thinks. You see all those lawns and neighborhoods and think... man I will be a cutting fool in no time. But unless you are a lowballer getting lawns is not that easy.

Then you come on here and complain about other people doing the same dam thing you did for the same reasons.

Then whine.....Dealerships charge $95 an hour. Why cant we?

99% of people dont have the training, schooling, or equipment to fix their wire filled computer controlled vehicle. People went to school, invested time and money to learn how to do that. They now have a skill others cant do. Thats worth more money. I agreee, thats why a company that can cut your lawn properly and treat it for weeds and disease and do the same for your landscape is worth more money.

Same with electricians, plumbers, and other SKILLED TRADES.

They got trained. They went to school. They learned skills that others dont have. You bought a lawnmower, that everyone in the world has in their garage.

This is reality people.

With that said. Many people run successful, profitable, businesses large and small doing just this.

But you have to realize the business for what it is. Then develop your business to adapt and profit.

"The going rate is X" Well as a businessman, if you are going to mow lawns in a saturated market with a price ceiling, then you have to figure out how to profit from that.

If you want to target high end full service accounts. A tiny niche market. Then go for it, you wont be in this thread complaining.

If youre like 99% of the mowing operations. You target homeowners and businesses who want their grass cut once a week.

Its up to you to make a business to compete.

Most people shop at walmart. They can buy the same thing much cheaper than a mom and pop store. I dont care how nice the mom and pop is. How friendly they are. How much customer service they give. If their TV is $249 and the same dam TV at walmart is $189, Im going to walmart.

Same concept.

Either find a niche market that wants a "professional horticultural technician"
Go to school to learn how to do something everyone else cant
or
Adapt your business to make a profit knowing your competition, knowing your market, and knowing its not going to change.

Youre complaining about people that went out and bought a truck and trailer and mower.
A few years ago, there were people just like you complaining when you went out and bought your setup.



I agree. But I'm not the one complaining about lowballers. I used to let it bother me but now I could care less. I don't chase high end accounts because in reality most don't want to pay for the level of service required to keep their property looking good and the time it takes to provide that level of service tends to be not as profitable as the middle to high end accounts.

I don't want to spend 2 to 3 hours on someones property. The educated upper middle class customers are the ones I tend to go after. The usually know what it cost to run a business or they at least know that good service isn't cheap. The every other week customers with weed filled lawns and beds that only do something when the HOA forces them to... are not my customers.

I don't have a degree in hort nor do I think I need one. But I spend countless hours studying landscape plants and proper pruning techniques, identifying diseases etc. I also got my fert and squirt license and I always read as much as I can to be better at that part of the business. Good customers want someone who is knowledgeable about the turf and landscape.

Usually they don't think about that stuff until there is a problem or sometimes before they sign up with me they will ask about turf issues or plant issues etc. I like to be able to answer those questions. I also know that I had some customers play dumb with me just to see if I knew what I was talking about.

My business has grown very slowly over the past few years and that is due in part that I pick and choose the customers that I want. Its not only up to them as to if they like me or want to do business with me or not. I have to like them and see that they are not afraid to spend money to keep the lawn and landscape looking good. I turn down jobs almost every week.

Sure when I was desperate I would take whatever I could. But know that I have enough work to keep me busy and to pay my bills, I have become much more choosy, and thats nice when you reach that point. I'm still not making what I want to, but I'm making enough now that I don't have to advertise on craigslist or drive around putting fliers on doors.

The problem with most guys on here and elsewhere is they just want to be the mow,blow and go guy. They don't want to learn and educate themselves and take the business to the next level. You have to act like a professional business before people will treat you like one.

Its not about how many accounts you have, its about how many good accounts you have. I would rather have 50 good accounts then 100 cheap @$$ accounts. I'm still learning but I'm miles ahead of where I was 2 or 3 years ago. I see the mow, blow and go guys all around me everyday, most are gone the next season or the following season. I could care less.

I was one of those guys too. But I had all my ducks in a row and was legal from the get go. Every year you survive in this business you learn more...If you want to! Mow, blow and go is a dog eat dog business model where (like you said) Anyone with legs can do the same thing. Its the guys who continue to learn and grow are the ones that survive. The others just fade away.

You yourself made the mistake of growing too large too quickly with mow, blow and go accounts. How many times do you see on here, How many accounts do I need etc.


Here is the typical life of the mow,blow and go business. Start off lowballing to get accounts. Make a little money and think, now if I get 10 more accounts I will make more money, and 10 more I will make more. So when the accounts are not rolling in they get desperate and lowball to gain market share. Sure they still make a little money but now its less because expenses start to rise. (they didn't see that one coming).

But they continue on doing the same thing and now we are getting in the big time. Maybe 100 or 200 hundred accounts and employees and more tools and trucks and on and on. Well here comes the end. When they finally do figure out that what they are making is just a little more than enough to pay the bills..... Pooooffffff their gone.

Dave...

milkie62
03-31-2012, 03:42 PM
Some LCO''s on here complain about customers price shopping..Is there or is there not room for negotiating ?
How many of you just go in to the best looking truck or mower dealership and pay sticker price ? They are professionals selling equipment but I am sure you all say I will price shop for MY best deal.The sharp looking dealership has more overhead than the need painting,and broken up pavement dealer.Some complain about a dealer hourly repair rate,yet some on here feel that they are above other types of service companies.It boils down to in some instances what the market will bear plain and simple..And if you command a higher price you better have something more than just fancy uniforms or say you can cut a lawn more "professionally" than my 19 yr old who has many satisfied customers.:):)

Snapper Jack
03-31-2012, 03:56 PM
I stripe my lawn and my wife hates the stripes.She says if she wants to go to a baseball game she will go to a baseball game.I also have a very shaly area of lawn.If it were not for the lush clover on it there would be no lawn.A "pro" would come in and spray my lawn,kill the clover and try to get Kentucky blue to grow.And when that would not grow,try to sell me a sprinkler system that in places I have shale sticking out of the grround.Then what----try to sell me 3" of top soil to cover up the shale and "hope" grass will grow ? I will keep my country lawn with the lush clover area and the johnny jump-ups around the shale.:walking:

Who said anything about laying stripes down:confused: but if you want that clover yard to have a traditional cut or semi or defined stripes,then I'll try my best to accommodate the HO request,it's just a matter of switching blades or adjusting the deck pitch or both.

Snapper Jack
03-31-2012, 04:10 PM
Some LCO''s on here complain about customers price shopping..Is there or is there not room for negotiating ?
How many of you just go in to the best looking truck or mower dealership and pay sticker price ? They are professionals selling equipment but I am sure you all say I will price shop for MY best deal.The sharp looking dealership has more overhead than the need painting,and broken up pavement dealer.Some complain about a dealer hourly repair rate,yet some on here feel that they are above other types of service companies.It boils down to in some instances what the market will bear plain and simple..And if you command a higher price you better have something more than just fancy uniforms or say you can cut a lawn more "professionally" than my 19 yr old who has many satisfied customers.:):)
What's your problem?????? you obviously don't make a living running a LCO company. You need to take your residential bit$hing somewhere else and leave this forum open to those who can actually benefit from the advice giving of the LCO professionals who've made this forum what it is today

milkie62
04-01-2012, 12:07 AM
What's your problem?????? you obviously don't make a living running a LCO company. You need to take your residential bit$hing somewhere else and leave this forum open to those who can actually benefit from the advice giving of the LCO professionals who've made this forum what it is today

:confused::confused:I have no problem but seems like I may have hit a nerve.I have picked up many pointers here on equipment.I also have picked up many tips from the posters on here.I am only a part-timer to help pay for my equipment purchases.My son who at 19 pays his own way while going to school.Makes a ton of money and has many satisfied customers as I have stated.And another thing I will repeat is I am sure the LCO's price check equipment---- am I right ? I try to price my residentials at $50/hr but also have a minimum price I will do a lawn for should I get countered by the customer.If I have 2 side by side I will definitely give a break to get the jobs.My uniform consists of Tractor Supply John Deere T-shirts and Carhart shorts.Cheap enough and I can wear them at working at my home.:):):)

Set Apart Lawn Care
04-01-2012, 01:17 AM
Not to get to far off the original topic, but I buy from the same dealer no matter what because they take care of me. Honestly, I dont want to negotiate them out of their profit, those guys aren't rich and their success is my success because it enables them to better take care of me when I need them.

I had a client I do for $35 tell me they got a flyer for $30 and asked if I'd drop my price. I said I couldn't and she said she was going to stay with me because I've been reliable.

From my experience low-ballers dont effect my business. People who have owned houses for awhile know you get what you pay for and would rather pay someone that is loyal and reliable than save a little money and sacrifice service. In fact I think low-ballers work to my advantage, they teach people who haven't learned that you get what you pay for and they dont tend to stay around leaving their customers needing someone new every year, until one a legitimate LCO grabs them.

With commercial, I have found I just cant compete with the big guys. That seems to be a different type of business with different thinking about profit margins than residential mowing.

ccibball50
04-05-2012, 06:09 PM
I just started a lawn company..... This is my first year, I have 8 years of experience though. I so far have 35 recurring customers, one commercial property and 2 realitors, one with over 40 homes.

FredJones
10-20-2014, 12:21 PM
Back when I first got on Lawnsite all the supposed pro's said any LCO has to make $50 hourly minimum. I tried to live by that for a few years and then realized not everyone can be the same. I'm solo with a 36 WB and a 21", no work comp since my state contractor exemption covers it, nothing borrowed from the bank, no huge diesel truck pulling a 26 enclosed full of Walker mowers. Just to come out and say $50 hourly is what any LCO needs to make is BS. We all have differant expenses and operating cost. Here is the way I look at it. If you are covering your cost and making something for yourself too might as well do it. My business suffered greatly from the start because I believed the nonsense on the website and failed to get many jobs because I tried to play the $50 an hour game. Considering everything I own is paid for I could make $38-40 hourly and come out nicely. Don't get me wrong there are total dumbass lowballers out there. I'm seeing guys offering $50 any size yard for powerraking, thats just ******ed. Most yards around here are 2,500,-4,000 sq. ft. so I mow them for $25 or so. Alittle bigger the goes to $30 or $35. Back when I first got one here in 2007 it seemed like everyone was saying don't even drop your gate for less than $40. Why, a 2,500 sq. ft. takes me like 15 minutes to mow, trim, and blow. Seems worth $25 to me.

I want to keep this quote on my desk, figuratively speaking, my mantra, my, my. My competition.my whatever. My manifesto?

PROCUT1
10-21-2014, 09:10 AM
There is one thing and one thing only that matters. Profit. Im in the commercial sealcoating business now and have been for a number of years. I know exactly how much my crew has to generate every month, every week, every day, every hour, to make a profit. Just like lawn companies, there are sealcoating companies big and small. Companies who do a good job right to spec, and others who cut corners on everything to be cheap. I had to figure out "what kind of company did I want to be" and then find the market I can best serve. I cant price residential work low enough to compete with smaller operations who do tons of it. Im not mad at them, if I was set up different and wanted to work that market, I could do it. I choose to apply material to the exact manufacturer specs, which means that Im typically applying more material, with more things added to it than most companies. Again, that doesnt make them bad either, except the ones who are flat out dishonest. I choose to pay my crew more than typical, legal, on the books, with taxes, with time and a half overtime. That again makes it so I cant compete with a guy with 2 helpers he throws some cash at the end of the day. And there are tons of guys out there like that, and many that do a good job too. I cant compete on jobs where price is the primary deciding factor and the customer is taking numerous "bids" My costs are simply higher than most others. I found a niche market that I serve, where there is not much competition, where the work is complicated and a pain in the azz for most contractors. Factors such as quality, responsiveness, management, warranty, and personal attention do offset the additional cost. Its a small market that I dominate. I cant be everything to everyone. Most calls for estimates we turn down unless they are in our type of market, simply because I know its a waste of time. Again, like I said 2 years ago, you have to adapt to the market you serve.

weeze
10-21-2014, 11:07 PM
charge what you charge. a good customer will never replace you just because a cheaper price comes along. if they do then it's not a good customer to begin with.

good customers stick with you for life.