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Scag48
08-17-2000, 12:19 PM
I don't know about you guys but I'm thinking about what to do better or what to do next year. I think I'll raise my minimum from $7.50 to $10.00, yes, I will trim every week Guido, and I will probably aerate and dethatch. I also still have leaves to do and don't have a backpack blower yet. Things could get messy if I don't get one. What are you guys thinking about doing for next year?

geogunn
08-17-2000, 03:01 PM
next year I hope to be even more prosperous than this year. which I couldn't do charging a $10 minimum.

live long and prosper (\\//).

GEO

Kent Lawns
08-17-2000, 03:27 PM
Scag, you're listed as a SENIOR MEMBER?

Please, $10.00 minimum is an insult.

A $25 - $35 minimum is standard. No lawn should ever be done less than $20.

You do yourself, this industry and this forum a disservice.

Guido
08-17-2000, 04:53 PM
SCAG48 ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?????

This is a joke right?? Maybe the dude that wants to be on call 24 hours a day for $40 a month or whatever to pick up dog crap is your boss!!


What you should be worried about next year is scoring that job at McDonalds so you can make more than $4 an hour!


LOL :) :)

SpringValley
08-17-2000, 04:53 PM
I'm new at replying but I have been reading the posts you guys have been sending. I charge $35/hour with a $35 minimum. I work full time 40 hrs/week, cut three residential yards and three cemeteries. I also have a landscape and vinyl fence business. I don't think I am overcharging because people are paying it. I don't work all this 'overtime' for fun, I do it because I want to make money. That sounds okay doesn't it? I don't want to SHOUT like that andrews guy.

jeffyr
08-17-2000, 05:47 PM
Scag,

How many acres is that for $7.50 anyway ?

jeffyr

Scag48
08-17-2000, 06:39 PM
You guys just don't get it do you?! I wish I could have a $25 minimum but I just won't happen in my town. I don't have any overhead. I could go without work for 3 months and wouldn't loose a dime. I just don't have to charge as much as you guys. I wish I could, but I can't. Why do you guys bash on people that aren't like you? If anyone is in Washington sometime, stop by, I'll show you what cheap people are like.

Andrews-Thats about all I can get. I had a lawn for 20 bucks and the lady figured she couldn't afford me and let me go after two weeks. 20 bucks! I mean, that is sad. I want a 25 dollar minimum so bad but it won't happen.

Kentlawns-If I were you, I would watch what I say. I don't know if I've even seen you on here before. Where do you live? I live in cheapville USA.

Jeffyr-HaHaHa. You're funny. I mow an acre for 30 dollars.

Guido-I think McDonalds sucks. I don't even have one in town. The nearest one is 40 miles away.

Guido
08-17-2000, 06:48 PM
I guess your just $hit out of luck man!! Is there any "real" LMO's in your city, or village as you describe it? I wonder if they charge $7 a yard too? If they do let me know, I'll move them all down south and they can work for me while I sit here in Germany and collect checks!! :)

Who are you to tell Kent what to say?? Thats his opinion!! Its a lot of our opinions actually, sorry!! Whats the difference if you've seen him post around here or not?

I think if you raise your prices to $20 and your "customers" and grandma let you go, let your cousin do the damn lawns like you said he was going to.

Man I really feel sorry for you if the conditions where you are are as bad as you say. If that really is the truth (WHICH I HIGHLY DOUGHT) than maybe a LMO does not have a place there.

Charles
08-17-2000, 08:19 PM
We get it Scag. Apparently it is you who doesn't. Or you would get the hell out of that sorry assed town as fast as you can. Go somewhere where you might amount to something.

lawrence stone
08-17-2000, 08:34 PM
Scag48 wrote:

>I don't know about you guys but I'm thinking about what to do better or what to do next year.

Maybe you will go thru puberty next year and that will take you mind from lawn care, then you won't be polluting this board with your infintile messages.

Scag48
08-17-2000, 08:34 PM
Guido-I'm not kidding about the "conditions". I like mowing and I don't have to make a living so I consider myself lucky to have a business at all. Yeah, there are some other guys in town. Only 1 guy with a ZTR. The rest are guys with not much more than I have equipment wise but with a bunch of accounts. Why do you ume I charge 7 dollars? I only have one that low the rest are about at 20 bucks. 7 dollars is just my minimum. I don't care if you believe me or not about my situation. I know that I will rise above everyone else 'cuz I already have a couple people that have told me that they were going to hire me next year because the other guy was terrible. I guess I gotta keep trying.

bucktail
08-17-2000, 09:15 PM
Scag what in the hell are you doing? Why not pay your customers for being so nice and allowing you to cut there apple orchard

Twotoros
08-17-2000, 10:39 PM
Kent Lawns, Scag is from E.Wa.state as am I and very , very few services get a 25-35$ min. I wish I could. Most guys I talk to won't set a min either > I talk to many til I'm blue in the face but they all are afraid of losing business.
I have a 18-20.$ min.(4500 SQFT or less) and I get very few of my bids. I am 20% under the highest prices in town and I have been told to my face " your prices are the highest in town". Wages here are low, jobs are meanial, and everyone and their cousin Moe has a service . I see a new one evryday I swear. Wish things were as good here as politicians say they are.
So when you say ' 25-35$ is the standard' some us are stuck in a time warp. The big boys in my town don't get as good of price as some of you do(mowing) . And one big boy is a multi-million dollar multi-city biz.
As for you Scag , don't sell yourself short . No you can't get 35$ but you can get 15-18$ . Don't settle . 30$ an acre with a 21" . Dump that turkey now and tell the owner to go to hell.

snow
08-17-2000, 11:38 PM
lawrence stone wrote:
Scag48 wrote:

>I don't know about you guys but I'm thinking about what to do better or what to do next year.

>>Maybe you will go thru puberty next year and that will take you mind from lawn care, then you won't be polluting this board with your infintile messages.

Scag48- man, i need a subcontractor for lawns. want to come down here and cut mine for $5 a pop? raise the rates man, don't lo-ball it. you;re bringing down the minimum for other contractors.

:D
:)Bryan:)

KirbysLawn
08-18-2000, 12:23 AM
That was really nice Stone. Make a kid feel welcome.

Scag48
08-18-2000, 12:33 AM
:rolleyes:

Snow-I want my minimum to be as high as others but it just won't happen. "Bringing down the minimum for other contractors". What does that mean? Just because my minimum is low doesn't mean everyone else's has to be too. Do you think that my minimum is gonna go across the country and make you lose money? I don't think so.;)

TGCummings
08-18-2000, 12:45 AM
Well, I'm not a kid but I've felt much the same way about the 'minimum pricing' thing in my area as Scag48 has about his. I'm 32 and have had my business for 6 years. In that time I've used my earnings to buy a house, support myself and my wife and upgrade my equipment on a near-constant basis. I haven't sucked.

However, I haven't been the model of success, either. It's been a struggle, at times, working 70-80 hour weeks early on to bring home enough to pay the bills and eat our meals. Tax season nearly put me out of business many times. There's room for improvement; great room. If I had it to do all over again I would have done it differently, but I certainly don't feel I've done it 'wrong' or should be shouted down for the road I've traveled. I've made some mistakes.

I plan to fix them now, and bring up my minimums (or, really, begin to use them ;) ), but I can't do it overnight. I still cut some lawns for 7.50 a cut, so to speak. $30/month for an average of four cuts. Total time spent = 30 minutes a month. Total gross made = $60/hour at that stop. Hell, those little lawns have helped me pay my bills through the hard times and there's a lot of them in my area. And, someone has to mow them.

Truth to tell, if I cut out every lawn I make less than $20/cut on right now, I'm out of business. I have to find a way to fill in three days a week. I could take a $15/hour job somewhere to fill in the time, but that won't cover all my bills. So, I'm better off not dumping these jobs at present.

In the long run, I hope to cut them all out. I hope to look at the little jobs and laugh, as many of you do, but I'm not there yet. I want to be and, thanks to so many of you, I now have a direction and a plan to get there, but it isn't going to happen overnight.

So, my advice to folks just starting out would be: Take the small jobs if that's what's there. D'ONT ACCEPT LESS THAN A MINIMUM RATE, but don't get caught up on a minimum/cut. If someone else won't take a job that takes less than a half hour to cut so they can get their minimum $20, but you can cut four $5 lawns next to each other in that same half hour, what are you losing? Seems to add up to $40/hour in my eyes either way.

In a year, when I'm done with my $30/month lawns and are taking on only $150/month lawns or more, you can have all mine. ;)

Okay, I'm ready for the counterpunches, guys. Let me have it!

-TGC

lawndog
08-18-2000, 01:28 AM
Come down to the Oregon coast and make some real money.
Going rate is 30-35 a hour.Mow on man.

pottstim
08-18-2000, 01:29 AM
Lawrence Stone wrote:

"Maybe you will go thru puberty next year and that will take you mind from lawn care, then you won't be polluting this board with your infintile messages."

Tim Wrote:

"Maybe your hard drive will crash someday soon, then you
won't be polluting this board with YOUR pompus a$$ed posts."

The boy has as much right to post in here as you do. Stone, you don't know him personally, and you don't know his situation. If you don't like what the boy posts, then why in the hell do you read them or respond? Same goes for some of the others above. I look at it this way, if you don't have anything nice to say or anything useful to contribute, DON'T RESPOND! Why can't we at least be respectful of each other in here? Scag is young, just like we all were at one time in our lives. He's trying to learn this business and is here to learn something, just like we all are. I give him a lot of credit. Lots of kids his age don't like to work these days. Keep up the hard work Scag, good things come to those that do that!

Tim

yardsmith
08-18-2000, 01:40 AM
Scag48
were you grasboy in a former life? Just kidding; if things are that bad in your neck of the woods, you need to convince mom & pop to get outta dodge & go here the jobs are more plentiful. In a town like that, there can't be too great of a job market period for your dad. Anyways, do the best you can, & when you get a license, maybe you can mow in a better town nearby. Keep your chin (& your prices!) up!

KirbysLawn
08-18-2000, 01:51 AM
TGC, your right and that seems to be how it works. When I first got started I had no minimums, and I also had no clue! I've watched and learned from others, I've asked questions, and done a lot of reading. Yes, I do have a few small lawns that were my first and I charge them $25.00, but my minimum for any new lawn is $35.

I realized early that anyone can cut grass, well almost anyone. Here in NC you can't even spray Round-Up in a lawn without a license. I asked myself, "how can I be a legitimate lawn maintenance business if I can't even kill weeds?" On top of that, to maintain a weed free lawn, that takes even more! For one species of grass to grow separately from all others is not natural! I took the first pesticide class I could find, started having better results, and soon I was getting a little more attention. Once at a comfortable $$$ level, I started targeting neighborhoods that were close to me with flyers, I then raised my prices to what the "finer" lawn companies were charging. Once I felt comfortable with the newer customers and how I was growing I gave the smaller accounts to a few people I know.

One of the best things I did was to get my licenses, learn about weed and pest control, and broaden my services, it takes time though. You can make very good money with "add-on" services, on Tuesday I sprayed Iron on a few lawns and applied Talstar on a lawn and the surrounding trees. My total expenses for product was around $23.00 and my charges were $190.00 for a little over 2 hours work. Heck, the Talstar is great! I used a total of 50 gallons upon completion and charged the customer $87.50. My expenses were $8.76 for 4 ounces of Talstar, you figure the profit and it took me around 35 minutes!

My point is, look at the competition and ask yourself a few questions:

1. Can I do what they do?
2. Can I do it better?
3. Can I look more professional?
4. Where can I expand?
5. What is my "nitch" (spelling?) going to be?
6. What else can I learn?

Be different. I had a customer the other day tell my son why he picked me, he drove up behind my trailer, saw I had a web site, then saw the rig and said "he must be doing something right". I'm not nearly as big nor do I know as much as many on this board, but I'm learning. :)

Scag, I know you can't do some of these things but you sure can be getting ready, when you turn 18 you could change your market. As for the - post here, please say nothing if you have nothing to say, what were some of us doing at 14? I know I wasn't worrying about any business or my future!

Ray

Tim, well said.

Acute Cut
08-18-2000, 02:49 AM
Dito on what pottstin said. Good call.

EarthWorks
08-18-2000, 07:42 AM
I DONT cut grass anymore but when I did 7.50 wouldn't even get my trailer loaded. I'll bet if those accounts aren't right next to some other account then you are actually losing money on it. Come on think about expenses incurred just to get to one of those tiny jobs.
As for next year, I am buttoning my hatches getting ready for rough seas. Things have been running to smoothly the last couple of years. This has got to end some day. I have seen excellent growth in my company. Currently I am watching my debt carefully just in case the economy does take a down turn. This is very hard to do since we always need something new and I have been eyeing a new F250.

bucktail
08-18-2000, 09:18 AM
Can someone please! explain to me how you can earn a penny on cutting a lawn for $7.50,$10.00 or whatever. Do they give gas,insurance,equipement,materials,and rent away on the west coast? I am not trying to criticize the low minimum I just dont get it. I could not load a mower on a trailer fill everything up with gas and travel anywhere even if it was only a mile for less than $35.00. This is not because I am aloof or incredibily succesfull it is simply plain economics. The list is staggering:wear and tear,depreciation,employeee payroll,insurance,GAS,rent,proffesional fees,ect.....

TGCummings
08-18-2000, 10:28 AM
Buck,

I don't mow all lawns at that price, and I'm not making $7.50/hour on those lawns, I'm making in the range of $60/hour if you project it out...

I have one lawn in one neighborhood that takes 5 minutes to mow, it's right around the corner from a larger threesome I cut, and I get $32.00/month for the lawn. In this same neighborhood is a block of some 40 lawns exactly the same size mowed by another company (changes hands every few years, actually).

Now, if I get my hands on that track of lawns I can make some $1200/month doing, what, three hours of work a day once a week? However, I can't do that charging $20/cut/lawn in that track. Would you say that's bad business, cutting 40-some lawns in three hours at $100/hour?

In your way of thinking, I should never consider something like that because each lawn there is under minimum, only being cut for $8 each.

Do the rest of you feel that would be bad for me, my company, and the industry as well?

-TGC

Kent Lawns
08-18-2000, 11:21 AM
TGC,

That's anecdotal.

Most guys can't cut 13 lawns/hour by themselves.

bucktail
08-18-2000, 11:25 AM
TGC,
I would say that is an unusual situation for residential work 40 lawns all small right next to each other that can be completed in 3 hours, not impossible just unusual. is this a condo situation? do you have to collect from each individual owner if so which is what it sounds like I must stick to my guns. Generally speaking 3 hours of work equates to 3 average lawns for us we will collect between $120 to $150 for this work this is half of your $300 billing for the same amount of time however I collect from 3 people not 40. I will say that if you collect from one source for all these lawns it does sound profitiable. I have just never encountered 40 individual lawns that could be completed in 3 hours without a crew of 12.

TGCummings
08-18-2000, 11:32 AM
Kent,

That's my point, most guys could cut these lawns in that time, because they're that small. In fact, one guy cuts them right now. Takes him a half day with his 21" mower, so I know I can get 'em in 2-3 hours with a 36". There are a lot of lawns out this way that size, and someone wants 'em cut! I don't know the owner or manager of those properties yet, but I know I'd like to write a proposal for 'em next time their up for quote.

I'm not being anecdotal, I'm being actual. This is what I'm witnessing in my market right now!

Should I turn my back on lawns I make money at, that are on my route, because they don't meet my minimum/cut even if they do meet my minimum rate?

The answer might be yes, but I would need to be convinced that my reasons are false. I don't think an arbitrary minimum/cut is realistic at this point because lawn sizes vary! So then, should our minimum/cut, as long as we're making an arbitrary minimum rate/hour.

Do I make sense?

-TGC

TGCummings
08-18-2000, 11:40 AM
Buck,

Yes, they're all owned (or managed) by the same person. It's a track I've known about for years but haven't gotten my hands on or into yet. They're all small townhouse types, track houses. Front yards only, as most of the houses have adjoining walls therefore backyards are only accesible through garages. There are many, many tracks like that in the area, though I don't know if there are as many owned or managed by a single entity.

Still, we can agree that that row of lawns is worth the lower minimum at least.

However, I don't cut 'em. I cut one next to 'em that's the same size. Five minutes to cut, maybe two to load and unload. It's on my route between two different sets of lawns and I cut it for around $8 per cut (flat monthly rate of $32). Most time spent is 40 minutes/month. Wear and tear and fuel is minimal. Should I just dump yards like that w/o replacements because I can't get $80/month for a 10 x 15 lawn?

To tell the truth, I clear less money on some of the larger properties I cut for $15-$20 per cut than I appear to be clearing on that tiny one.

I'd sooner cut out the big ones and replace them with a row of tiny ones. Better profit at this point.

However, this could all be an optical illusion, as I am still learning... ;)

-TGC

bucktail
08-18-2000, 11:59 AM
TGC We are all still learning I know I learn something new everyday. My primary intrest is the business aspect not the mower discussions ect.. I should clarify my position it is not so much the minimum yard charge as the minimum man hour charge if you can gross $100 an hour cutting by yourself you need to teach me!

TGCummings
08-18-2000, 02:18 PM
Originally posted by bucktail
if you can gross $100 an hour cutting by yourself you need to teach me!

Well, I think I could if I can get my hands on those properties. ;)

However, that's exactly what I'm shooting for at this point is a minimum per man hour type of thing. I'm getting that more on my smaller properties than my larger ones at this point and that's a problem I'm working to correct. The trick is moving all my customers up the rate chart slowly w/o losing too many at once and putting myself in a bigger hole.

I just dumped off a dozen customers who were paying less than $21/manhour and it hurt my monthly gross. However, it's way worth it because now I'm filling that time with $40/hour trimming jobs. If those keep coming in, or I fill my time with more higher profit lawns, I can target the next crop of below-minimum lawns for increase or drop.

I think, knowing what I know now, I can turn this ship around in a year, but I've gotta stay in business long enough to do so. ;)

And that means I have to take on some of those tiny lawns at $32/month to keep my gross ahead of my bills. For now...

-TGC

TGCummings
08-18-2000, 02:26 PM
Originally posted by KirbysLawn
One of the best things I did was to get my licenses, learn about weed and pest control, and broaden my services, it takes time though

I take my test on September 19th, at 8 AM, and am currently in the process of studying my you-know-what off. I still have ten chapters of the basic rules and guidelines to pound into memory over the next month, plus the info packets on the Lawn Maintenance Applicator's license. I hope I'm ready. I intend to be.

I've also enrolled in a home course on the Landscape Industry through Harcourt, and intend to increase my knowledge in all aspects of the business. I expect to have all these things done in a year, while making changes to the basic financial structure of the business in the meantime.

And guess what, it's your fault. ;)

Yours and everyone else's here at Lawnsite that have "shown me the light". I may not be convinced of minimum pricing per cut just yet (because lawn sizes vary so dramatically), but I'm utterly convinced of minimum rate/manhour pricing. A simple concept I completely overlooked before.

I'm learning. I'm growing.

I'm trying. ;)

Thanks again!

-TGC