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View Full Version : Anyone have regrets/joys leaving a decent full time job for starting a business?


MDLawn
09-26-2012, 12:49 PM
The title says it all. Just looking for other peoples experiences and decisions on the who what where when why & how of it. Were you kicking yourself for leaving, jumping for joy, making less or "rolling" in it, less stress to more stress or vice versa. I am however not making this into a judging thread but just curious to others experiences. I guess if I had to make it more specific I'd say that I would like to hear from more of the guys with the 30 week cutting season and not so much the year round southerners. But anyone feel free to comment.

And yes, it's on my mind regarding the title.....

slave2lawns
09-26-2012, 02:45 PM
I've been in this business going almost 15yrs now. I can honestly say that I have no regrets. I used to be an operations mngr for a paper company in the bronx for 8yrs before I quit and started doing this full time. I did however have to them a 2 month notice. They were good to me and made it clear that I could go back. I never did. Doing this full time was 1 of the greatest things that I could have done.

lawnkingforever
09-26-2012, 03:33 PM
Mixed feelings since going fulltime into lawncare a few years ago. It was a calculated decision that was planned a couple years in advance.

Pros:
1. Flexibility in making my own schedule
2. Being able to turn down jobs that I simply don't want to do
3. winters off, except for a small amount of part-time work
4. Being able to spend more time with my kids

Cons
1. The money, very hard to replace my income at my previous job, then again I am not trying to mow the world.
2. Rain outs.
3. Having so much equipment taking up space in my garage
4. Droughts

There are many more pros and cons. When the kids get older I would entertain job offers in my previous industry if it was a good fit. The nice thing about mowing is just when I am getting burned out, the end of the season is closing in to save me.
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MDLawn
09-26-2012, 05:01 PM
Those pro's and con's are spot on, especially Pro #4. Really I want to keep the fulltime and just have people doing the landscape/lawn work for me, even if it's less money to start. Not working and making money is better looking to me than working my tail off for a little more. Tough part is finding someone fulltime (that can be reliable) and providing enough work to make them stick around and use part time help come spring/summer. I'd still help out when I can but have that go to person. Tough one though....

Toro 455
09-26-2012, 05:37 PM
I was mowing part time when they closed the local telephone engineering office. That was in 1983 when I started mowing full time.
I tried crews and handled a lot of other people's money. I'm solo now and making more real profit.
I figure getting out of that office saved my life. I've lost 50# and I'm healthier & happier.
I've sifted thru the clients over the years, keeping the best. I've kept one with a 26 acre lawn since I was part time.
I work more or less like a groundskeeper now. If something needs done I do it and bill them.
There's less stress than engineering for the phone company. Though my daughter told me it took her three years to tell her friends at school that her dad is now "the lawnmower man."

MDLawn
09-27-2012, 10:10 AM
There's less stress............that her dad is now "the lawnmower man."

Stress thing is the major one for me with the full time. A lot of unecessary stress too.

Nothing wrong with the "lawn mower man".

Chilehead
09-27-2012, 10:29 AM
No regrets whatsoever. October marks 10 years in business (for myself), and I look forward to another 20 at least. The thing is, I love what I do. No amount of money can change that.

PTP
09-27-2012, 10:43 AM
As long as your bills are paid, being satisfied and enjoying your work is of primary importance. I am not saying that all lawn guys are happy and broke. Some of us do very well for ourselves. However, I would very much rather have a lower income, a lower standard of living, and be satisfied by my work then have a high-paying job that stressed me out.

Enjoy your word, excel at it, and very likely you'll find that you make enough money to meet your needs.
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MDLawn
09-27-2012, 10:57 AM
My current full time is a fantastic career. I'm just at a place that is about $20,000-$30,000 off in pay compared to the rest in my area/field. The problems for me are

A.) Not moving for this career. Family is here and my wife has another fantastic job and pays her well.

B.) My benefits are unreal. I don't pay a dime for family health care and have an incredible retirement plan.

C.) Can I make enough to have at least the amount of pay I currently have. I believe I can but with a family its hard to screw around with your money.

Lots to think about plus I'm getting a new boss so maybe things will change. The plan is still to pursue getting more work and see where it goes. Maybe I'll get a huge raise and do well in landscaping and just have it all :laugh:

Exact Rototilling
09-27-2012, 11:45 AM
I think the answer from those who will say keep your regular job forget this biz....in general are not on this site much. The ones that have done well and are doing okay are on here.

There are trade offs and Pros and Cons to it all.

slave2lawns
09-27-2012, 12:10 PM
It sounds to me like you just need to figure where you want to be in life and what it is you want to do in general. I started with a 6 x 12 open trailer pulling it with an 88' cougar yrs ago. And now, we have 3 crews of 4 that go out 6 days a week. I'm now looking into opening a seperate shop to not only become a dealer for lawn equipment and snow plowing and repairs but to also offer 24hr service during snow storms for everything and anything to do with snow plowing in my area. The possibilities in life are enless. It's the direction of the journey that you need to choose. Then again that's just my opinon, lol.

MDLawn
09-27-2012, 12:14 PM
I feel I am in somewhat of an adventageous position as I own most of my equipment from being part time for so long. I can still have an income while trying to "test the waters" this spring to see if the market is still there in my price range. If I see that things are not as good as I hoped I can go back to work. So we shall see..... The part that stings the most is the 7 years of college (bachelors & masters), 2 years of internships (unpaid!) only to watch my wife with only her bachelors make double what I do, seems right :hammerhead:

ncnurseryman
09-28-2012, 10:17 AM
Ditto, mdlawn

MDLawn
09-28-2012, 02:56 PM
Ditto, mdlawn

ncnurseryman, ditto as in my last statement?

Thanks for the replies everyone, hopefully more people will chime in.
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cpllawncare
09-28-2012, 10:43 PM
I feel I am in somewhat of an adventageous position as I own most of my equipment from being part time for so long. I can still have an income while trying to "test the waters" this spring to see if the market is still there in my price range. If I see that things are not as good as I hoped I can go back to work. So we shall see..... The part that stings the most is the 7 years of college (bachelors & masters), 2 years of internships (unpaid!) only to watch my wife with only her bachelors make double what I do, seems right :hammerhead:

I do believe in higher education as I have a degree in electronics, but I also have come to realize that higher education doesn't equate to higher pay in most cases, it's just higher education and that's about it. I've told my story on here several times, and I'm having the best year I've ever had, FINALLY after struggling for the past three years something finally clicked and I'm extremely happy about my choice to become self employed, the work is out there you just have to go get it and keep going to get it.

MDLawn
10-02-2012, 11:46 AM
The more days I'm at my current job the more time I'm spending on getting things ready for next year, rather than doing my job, well not really but a lot of downtime is spent reading, reading, reading, oh yea and reading about what I need to do.

yardguy28
10-02-2012, 04:32 PM
I've been in business a short 6 years so far.

at first I was absolutely loving it and jumping with joy. but there are days, weeks, sometimes even months where I'm kicking myself for leaving that other job.

on a whole though I still love it for the most part. the only thing I miss from my last job was it stayed at work. once my shift was over the rest of my day was mine. no invoicing, maintenance, phone calls, estimates, etc to tie me down.

it's funny I came across this thread because it just so happens I've been going through a month of kicking myself for getting into this business.

MDLawn
10-02-2012, 05:40 PM
I've been in business a short 6 years so far.

at first I was absolutely loving it and jumping with joy. but there are days, weeks, sometimes even months where I'm kicking myself for leaving that other job.

on a whole though I still love it for the most part. the only thing I miss from my last job was it stayed at work. once my shift was over the rest of my day was mine. no invoicing, maintenance, phone calls, estimates, etc to tie me down.

it's funny I came across this thread because it just so happens I've been going through a month of kicking myself for getting into this business.

Well for me I look at it two different ways. One is that it would be a self employed job making just enough as my wife has a great job too. The other would be making it into a business and having employees. That doesn't happen overnight and has its own headaches. Truthfully I'd really love to find someone or two people to do the majority of the work and just take the cut of it as extra income and still have a full time career. Again not easy to do but it's how a friend of mine has it. I worked for him for years and now he's 15 years into having a full time job and part time biz where he still works but not nearly as much. Perfect scenario.

Roger
10-02-2012, 09:04 PM
I would take back my previous job in a heartbeat, if that were possible. I would put all my equipment at the curb for trash pickup, and be off the mark at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow.

MDLawn
10-03-2012, 05:16 AM
I would take back my previous job in a heartbeat, if that were possible. I would put all my equipment at the curb for trash pickup, and be off the mark at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow.

Care to elaborate?
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cpllawncare
10-03-2012, 07:54 AM
There are times when I want to just go get a job working for the other guy but then I stop and really think about it and NAH!

MDLawn
10-03-2012, 09:44 AM
I should have included this and mind you it is NOT directed at anyone, just a thought that came to my head. I'm more curious for those who are far over the "partying" age, not living in mommy and daddy's basement, have a family, mortgage, and true monthly bills like utilities, life insurance, grocery, etc.... Basically someone who has more obligations than to just themselves. If you're single or just in a relationship it's easy to jump ship at whatever you do as there are only consequences against yourself. Also really looking for career people who left their career, not a meat packing plant packer or general laborer. I know it sounds harsh but puts it into more perspective. Leaving fast food to cut lawns really isn't what I was asking....

MDLawn
10-03-2012, 09:47 AM
There are times when I want to just go get a job working for the other guy but then I stop and really think about it and NAH!

Working for the other guy can be a real pain, a REAL pain. Making your own income can also be.

yardguy28
10-03-2012, 05:16 PM
I should have included this and mind you it is NOT directed at anyone, just a thought that came to my head. I'm more curious for those who are far over the "partying" age, not living in mommy and daddy's basement, have a family, mortgage, and true monthly bills like utilities, life insurance, grocery, etc.... Basically someone who has more obligations than to just themselves. If you're single or just in a relationship it's easy to jump ship at whatever you do as there are only consequences against yourself. Also really looking for career people who left their career, not a meat packing plant packer or general laborer. I know it sounds harsh but puts it into more perspective. Leaving fast food to cut lawns really isn't what I was asking....

well i did leave a career to do this.

i worked for a local carwash chain. i was at the level of manager trainee just about ready to be promoted to assistant manager when i made the decision to leave.

this carwash has like 40+ locations. 6 in my city and the rest are in other citys.

as far as your comments about not living at home and having real bills. i know you weren't directing it towards anyone personally but i can't help but notice the comment as most know i live with my parents. but they should also know i've said time and time again i split most everything with my parents 50/50. i pay all home utilities, electrical, water, gas, cable, phone, internet, food. i also split the mortgage 50/50. plus i have my own bills like car insurance, health insurance.

so yes i don't have a wife and kids to support or a girlfriend to spend money on but i do have all the other stuff you talk about and i did 6 years ago when i left the carwash as well.

plus i've lived on my own before. it's not like i've been living with my parents all my life. i spent a good 4 years away from home. so i do know what its like.

but like you said, it wasn't directed towards a specific person.

MDLawn
10-03-2012, 07:14 PM
It's just odd to see guys such as yourself living at home with mom and dad and others who in 5+ years are running a $500,000 to $1 million dollar business (although few). This is the question to seek the answer to before any decisions get made. What makes that person better than you or anyone else that they have a live and viable business and you and others need to live with their parents? Business is booming for them and your struggling to make ends meet that it's keeping you at home. Unless you're there for other reasons. Are they better business people? Was it luck? Was it their passion? Better advertising? Better people skills. I mean my friend who is part time does $60k+ each year, mainly lawn and maintenance work.. Are you not making that full time??? I just wonder what the actual business sense is on this site. Are the majority sick of minimum wage so $2 above minimum is better? Or is it just that complicated to make money in this industry? I have to say its not based on my friends business and his part time income. YardGuy, I'm not pointing at you but your situation makes me wonder how many people don't find success and why is it they don't when others flourish?
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MDLawn
10-03-2012, 07:20 PM
Also 50/50 isn't 100%. I can't pay 50% of my mortgage or bills or mr repo will be by.
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larryinalabama
10-03-2012, 08:02 PM
yardguy sounds llike hes doing good, he lives with his parents not "under" his parents.

Im debt free, or its unlikley I could survive in this business.

I have never met in person anyone making 500k in this business. Ive met a few who gross 500k and make around 70 to 80k, but it seems to be a lot of risk and hassle.

MDLawn
10-03-2012, 08:19 PM
That's what I mean. Gross income. Not personally making that. But I think you could make more with $500k in sales. Like I said my friend does $60k and I hardly think he's doing $250k in sales, not even close to that. I think too many in this business just want a self employed job vs owning a business. One person can only do so much and talk about risk. If you get hurt or sick no one is there to help. That's risky as you could lose everything because you cant work.

All these opinions and such are great. Keep em coming.
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RussellB
10-03-2012, 08:37 PM
I seriously doubt your buddy is making $60,000 part time.

yardguy28
10-03-2012, 08:41 PM
Also 50/50 isn't 100%. I can't pay 50% of my mortgage or bills or mr repo will be by.
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well my point was I have real bills as you call.

I don't live with my parents because I have to. my business is providing for me just fine. I live with them because I have no reason not to. I'm single without kids, wife or girl friend. and right now I'm perfectly happy with where I am in life.

why buy a house or rent an apartment at this stage in my life. for me there just isn't enough of a good reason to move out.

MDLawn
10-03-2012, 09:13 PM
I seriously doubt your buddy is making $60,000 part time.

Sorry man he does. You don't build a new house on 5 acres, have new dirt bikes every year, toy hauler, new cummins dodge every few, equipment up the wazoo on a workers state salary and wife not working with two kids. Oh yea he's cheap too so he is not over extending himself.
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yardguy28
10-04-2012, 05:28 PM
and he needs all that stuff why?

yet another reason I still live with my parents. I don't have all those extra none essential toys that would require me to have my own place to store them at.

I live very simply. saving as many pennies as I possibly can.

DEPENDABLE LANDSCAPING
10-04-2012, 06:37 PM
I may be the guy your looking for to comment.
8 years ago I gave up my career in the restaurant industry . I was a general manager of a well known restaurant chain in the northeast . i managed a few different locations for them before I had the opportunity to manage one of they're best performing stores and I must say they were great to work with and I was always well compensated and normall appreciated . Great pay, good benefits, 401k , company trips for me and the wife. Etc.

I know what your thinking...................... But wait

1) my wife is a nurse who at the time was, not working. But was willing to do so. 3 little girls at home and the wife had not worked since the first was born.

2) my view on any service industry was just that. Provide a great service at a reasonable rate I would be successful.

3) I have my bachelors degree and how hard can it be to landscape right?

4) in the restaurant industry I worked all the nights and weekends that my kids had activities or family parties etc. I truly felt as if I was missing out on they're growing up.

So that's it!
My wife went back to work part time nursing for our medical and dental benefits and I quite my career to begin fresh.

The first few years were no fun at all, learning the trade and consistently increasing my knowledge base to become more proficient and better at my new career.

Now I worry about consistently increasing our customer base, retaining clients as we grow, payroll costs, operating costs in general, paying for the mortgage for my shop on top of my mortgage etc, etc, etc, .

I still work hard and long each and every day I can. The money is coming but you have to remember each time you take on an employee or purchase a new piece of equipment or a truck takes a dump that is directly effecting your pocket.

Am I making the money I used to when you include the total package?
No..
Am I a happier person for the move and do we live comfortably?
Yes..

I am now and if I want to continue to increase our company will continue chasing the bone.

Hope you make the right decision for yourself and your family. Good luck and feel to pm me if you have any direct questions.

Good luck to all finishing up this season.

zak406
10-04-2012, 11:50 PM
and he needs all that stuff why?

yet another reason I still live with my parents. I don't have all those extra none essential toys that would require me to have my own place to store them at.

I live very simply. saving as many pennies as I possibly can.

I'll bite, I own a jet ski granted I bought it used off a friend for a good price. I enjoy it. Do I need it ? No, however I don't get to take vacations because of school and my business. I don't get days off often however when I do I use the jet ski as my vacation. Most people spend 2-3 grand a YEAR on vacation so I figured spending 2 grand and using that as my vacation for a few years is cheaper and I have a asset that I can liquidate if need be...... People who spend cash on vacation lose there money you can't liquidate a vacation. I'm not saying vacations are wrong or bad but that is my view on my toy. Eventually I'd like a boat but that's down the road

Roger
10-05-2012, 06:48 AM
Sorry man he does. You don't build a new house on 5 acres, have new dirt bikes every year, toy hauler, new cummins dodge every few, equipment up the wazoo on a workers state salary and wife not working with two kids. Oh yea he's cheap too so he is not over extending himself.
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He with the most toys wins!!! Right? NOT...

coolluv
10-05-2012, 08:08 AM
It's just odd to see guys such as yourself living at home with mom and dad and others who in 5+ years are running a $500,000 to $1 million dollar business (although few). This is the question to seek the answer to before any decisions get made. What makes that person better than you or anyone else that they have a live and viable business and you and others need to live with their parents? Business is booming for them and your struggling to make ends meet that it's keeping you at home. Unless you're there for other reasons. Are they better business people? Was it luck? Was it their passion? Better advertising? Better people skills. I mean my friend who is part time does $60k+ each year, mainly lawn and maintenance work.. Are you not making that full time??? I just wonder what the actual business sense is on this site. Are the majority sick of minimum wage so $2 above minimum is better? Or is it just that complicated to make money in this industry? I have to say its not based on my friends business and his part time income. YardGuy, I'm not pointing at you but your situation makes me wonder how many people don't find success and why is it they don't when others flourish?
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There are lots of reasons why some businesses flourish and some just get by.

Money and connections are a big part of being successful. If you start this business with little money and your family is not connected...then its going to take a few years just to break even.

I've talked to a lot of small business owners over the years. In every type of service business. There are a lot of things that look like one thing on the surface but when you dig deeper you see the reality.

I see larger companies around me and I think...man I would like to get to that level someday. But if you look behind the scenes you find out that they are barely making ends meet and can barely pay the guys.

I've talked to guys that in 4 or 5 years grew to a million dollar company. Your thinking...wow that's impressive. But..what you don't know is...they have parents with money and connections. When I worked in construction I would see all the subs performing their work. I would talk to the owners of the companies.

After doing some digging you find out that the guy that has all the fence work is somehow related to the developer. The concrete guys are connected somehow. Point is....if your just a Joe Blow its going to take you a lot longer to grow your business.

Money also plays a big part. How much you are able to spend on advertising. Advertising is not cheap. You also have to look at how much competition is in your area. What types of customers are in your area. If you live in Bum **** are those customers going to be able to pay the wages you need to make a living...or will you be struggling just to make ends meet.

Location plays a big part of your success. This business is a never ending money eating monster...that needs to be fed constantly. Every time you turn around you need more equipment as you grow. What most don't realize is the true cost to running a business like this.

They get the counting lawns syndrome. If I have 10 $30 lawns I can make $300...so if I get 20 I can make $600. What they fail to realize is that with growth in income comes growth in expenses. Your not filling up that gas can once a week and that truck once a week...your filling it up daily.

The shooting star syndrome. What's that? That's the guy that thinks if I lowball I can get accounts....and they will....and you will see them grow really fast in a short few years. Then that nasty thing called overhead rears its ugly head. See from the beginning they were making money...cashing checks..life is good.

They really didn't know how much they were making but they were paying the bills and had some left over so life was good. See that's the thing...you don't really have to pay attention to money in the beginning and you can get away with that for a while.

Its the frightening realization that hits when you get to the point you realize you have more going out then you have coming in......then poof...your @$$ is gone....and the next fool comes along to take your place. I know of a few companies right now that are on thin ice....can't make payroll and tell the guys they can't pay them today but will pay them next week.

But on the surface you would never know that. You see the trucks and you see them on those big commercial properties and you see all the residentials that they do and you think....Man those suckers have it going on...I want to be them when I grow up. Then Poof...their gone. When you look in the sky you see that shooting star that is bright as hell and then the light dims out and poof its gone.

Back in the little town I grew up in I remember they had a Young entrepreneur section in the local paper highlighting these young successful business men. I would laugh when I read the names...it was a who's who of the local rich kids.

Not hard to start and run a successful business when your parents are wealthy and have political connections and Daddy funds your operation and insures your success. These guys don't bid work...they get work because of connections.

Its no different in any part of the country. Those sweet contracts just don't go to any Joe Blow. I'm sure there are guys on this site that have commercial accounts because they know someone and if they didn't they wouldn't have those jobs. The bigger guys get big because they grease the wheels....have the connections.

Its possible to start out as Joe Blow and make the big time....but its going to be a lot harder and take a longer time. Commercial accounts are not the Holy Grail either. Like most know..the industry in general has been on a downward slope for years. But some guys will trip on their Dick just to say they do those commercials...even when they may not be making any money or very little money.


Then of course you have the illegals that are bringing down wages to match Third World wages. Around here its like Cockroaches. You drive into a Subdivision and you have to drive around the other 30 LCO's in there to get to your job. Most of which are illegals or rednecks that don't have a clue.


I got into this business part time as an experiment of sorts. I wanted to learn the ins and outs of running a business. I had a good career making $75 thousand a year...company truck...good benefits..and so on. I was forced into full time when the economy crashed and I lost my job.

Its funny how you don't realize how many other guys are in this business until you start your own and then you start to pay attention and realize...Wow how many guys are doing this? Are there enough customers to go around? Most customers want a low price and just mow, blow and go. You can't make enough on those types and building a business on those types is hard.

Finding good paying and loyal customers is hard....and it takes a long time to build a business on those customers...but it is possible. But you can't be just a mow,blow and go business. So that means you have to be able to do it all...and that means more equipment and more knowledge...and more money.

Then there is the employee aspect of this business. Its hard to find guys that are willing to work in the heat and bust their @SS for the money you are willing to pay.

I could go on but that is enough for now. Remember most people will lie about their business and how successful they really are. This is an easy business to start and run in the beginning...but you will soon find out that its not as easy as you think it is...and that job you hate now...may look like paradise once you've been in this business for a while.

BTW... ask your buddy to see his tax returns. He may be *********** you.


Dave...

32vld
10-05-2012, 09:26 AM
I did landscaping when I was young.

In 07 the economy took a dump and so did my job. Lucky I had a 42" and 20" mowers and a small 4'x8' trailer. Pulled by a 05 jeep wrangler unlimited. That's the one with the lengthen rear body section and longer wheel base. During mowing season I take out the carpets and keep all the side curtains off so the rear is used as a pick up bed.

Wish I had a pick up truck but other things are needed of more importance.

I consider myself happy now and wish I started this back when I could of went to a local college and gotten a AAS degree in Horticulture/Landscaping 30+ years ago.

At this point I no longer want to work for any one else but myself.

As Coolluv said many people walk around with their chests all puffed out because of their success. But hide the fact their success has nothing to do with themselves but due to family connections and wealth.

Though those with out connections can make it as well in this country though it will take longer.

As to what Coolluv says about the guys not realizing costs working to cheap hurts not just them but the whole industry depressing prices.

This is why I can't understand why people post here saying they sub out to the nationals. Their being low ballers. They will be the first one's to complain about the Mexican's low balling and ruining the industry. Then as soon as they stop complaining about the Mexican's their off out low balling just like the Mexican's.

The thing is when starting out we only get stuck with the problem customers.
The reason is the Good customers are being taken care of and have no need to change. Who knows how many low balling LCO's they had to go through before they found a good one. So they want to keep him.

New LCO's get the cheap ass that is always price shopping.
Or Mr Cheap ass's LCO from last year is out of business from selling their services to cheap.
Or the Mr Free Bee that always say's while you're here can you do this.
Or Mrs Bee Itch that is simply pure pain to deal with.

You see once a LCO gets his schedule filled he starts to drop Mrs Ball Buster, Mr Pain In Ass, Mrs Later Payer, etc.

My schedule is not full so I will take Mr Pain In Ass, Mrs Bee Itch, and Mrs Ball Buster as customers.

I refuse to be a low baller. If I don't get my price I walk away from Mr Cheap Ass.

I will take on Mr Free Bee but I won't do extra work for free. So he will probably drop me. That's ok I got my rate while it lasted.

Mrs Later Payer will be dropped. To many LCO's, I will not be one of the many LCO's that post here that what are they to do their two weeks away from one of their customers being 90 past due. I guess because they are to desperate grow their customer list are afraid to drop customers.

MDLawn
10-05-2012, 09:35 AM
Dave, thanks for the response and the thoughts you say are already in my head, whether anyone wants to believe it or not. I'm not some po dunk moron who thinks there is a golden chalice at the end of this. Far from it. Part of me was thinking about just making enough to have a self employed job.

Have I used a spread sheet to estimate incomes, yes. But my spread sheet includes proper amount of things like:

Appropriate amount of equipment needed to complete the work
Appropirate amount of man power needed & wages
Insurace costs (auto, business liability, workers comp, eqiupment, etc...)
Fuel costs per day based on the number of accounts
Equipment turnover (the stuff doesn't last forever)
Advertising costs that as you say are astronomical
40% taxes taken from my income (remember I live in NY)

I can go on but don't really want to have a list a page long. Basically I started this thread because everytime I pump numbers into the spreadsheet (which have formula's to increase the costs per job) that end result is just a low number for a full time job, because of those costs. And like you said the more jobs you take the more equipment and manpower you need which neither are cheap. So again I'm no dummy. Have I done it full time, no. But I have a bunch of paid off eqiupment from being part time. That's why I'm starting this and made the statements about living in mommy and daddy's basement.

Connections, you bet, doesn't any successful business have connections? And for those that are still ragging on my friend, he has too many connections. Friends and family owning large commmercial properties and $500,000+ homes. When I started with him we mowed his uncles place in one of those neighborhoods and in 2 years he had 20 properties in that place and honestly I think he has them all now except the people that mow themselves. He basically kicked every other contractor out because of his quality. For years all the neighbors would come to me or him asking how much and they'd all roll their eyes and walk away. Finally after years of Joe Mow they sucked up and went with him. So drop the trailer tailgate and mow for 6 hrs straight. Making more just by doing that and not driving everywhere. Then each of those wealthy doctors, lawyers, etc... referred him to more wealthy doctors, lawyers, etc.... So for sure he has had inside help. Also he hasn't advertised one day in his life, go figure. I think we had one dumpy house on his route. Then on top of the lawns we were doing everyones landscape maintenace. We only did a few install things when I was with him but now he does much more of that too, along with picking up more mowing, more landscape maintenance, more snow plowing. So his connections definitely helped him and I don't need to see his tax records. I've seen enough checks, know what he charges (we talk every year), know how many accounts he has, etc... Again anyone can point the finger and say "Yeah right", mainly the ones who are struggling. He's been at it 15+years and he tells me ALL the time, "If you want to make money doing this stuff you have to be in it for the long haul" Did he make a ton of money year 1-10, probably not. But now he is soo much more established so what is there to doubt?? He gives people a price and if they don't like it he walks away, funny thing is like I said above they all eventually sign on.

Dave, you had a job that paid well (eventhough it ended), this career I have pays like garbage (because of the place I'm at is super cheap) and there are not many positions available in the career field but some pay well into the 6 figure range. But again even these need connections or being part of the "Good Ol Boys" club. I sit at my job for no other reason than top people in the field making reccomendations for me, not because my resume was typed correctly. I do live in and right next to one of the wealthiest communities in the western half of NY state so that isn't a problem in terms of having poor people wanting services. Getting the wealthy to part with their money is tough with po dunk larry thinking the thoughts you have posted. I'm sure I'll continue to plug away part time. Like I said I've got the equipment paid for and both my wife and I can support our family on our to two paychecks. The landscaping is just the gravy on top I guess, just like my friend. Yes I pay taxes on my income, have business insurace, and any other documentation I need. Heck, I even have a website, most full time guys on here do not.... So please people don't give me the part timer rant.

Again I like the thoughts being tossed around, critical thinking at it's best even if we all don't agree. We don't learn anything by always being nice to each other and saying everything is gold.

MDLawn
10-05-2012, 09:37 AM
I may be the guy your looking for to comment.
8 years ago I gave up my career in the restaurant industry . I was a general manager of a well known restaurant chain in the northeast . i managed a few different locations for them before I had the opportunity to manage one of they're best performing stores and I must say they were great to work with and I was always well compensated and normall appreciated . Great pay, good benefits, 401k , company trips for me and the wife. Etc.

I know what your thinking...................... But wait

1) my wife is a nurse who at the time was, not working. But was willing to do so. 3 little girls at home and the wife had not worked since the first was born.

2) my view on any service industry was just that. Provide a great service at a reasonable rate I would be successful.

3) I have my bachelors degree and how hard can it be to landscape right?

4) in the restaurant industry I worked all the nights and weekends that my kids had activities or family parties etc. I truly felt as if I was missing out on they're growing up.

So that's it!
My wife went back to work part time nursing for our medical and dental benefits and I quite my career to begin fresh.

The first few years were no fun at all, learning the trade and consistently increasing my knowledge base to become more proficient and better at my new career.

Now I worry about consistently increasing our customer base, retaining clients as we grow, payroll costs, operating costs in general, paying for the mortgage for my shop on top of my mortgage etc, etc, etc, .

I still work hard and long each and every day I can. The money is coming but you have to remember each time you take on an employee or purchase a new piece of equipment or a truck takes a dump that is directly effecting your pocket.

Am I making the money I used to when you include the total package?
No..
Am I a happier person for the move and do we live comfortably?
Yes..

I am now and if I want to continue to increase our company will continue chasing the bone.

Hope you make the right decision for yourself and your family. Good luck and feel to pm me if you have any direct questions.

Good luck to all finishing up this season.

Thanks for the response, your thought process is exactly mine, but at least I've been at this 10 years so learning work isn't the issue. Business ins and outs is more the learning curve. Sometime I'm sure I'll hit you up with a PM.

MDLawn
10-05-2012, 09:39 AM
and he needs all that stuff why?

yet another reason I still live with my parents. I don't have all those extra none essential toys that would require me to have my own place to store them at.

I live very simply. saving as many pennies as I possibly can.

You two live different lives, and thats fine. You're simple and he wants as much as he can out of life. Nothing wrong with each but thats why you and I would probably argue more than agree, because we are different, not better than one another, just different.

MDLawn
10-05-2012, 09:41 AM
He with the most toys wins!!! Right? NOT...

Adult response....thanks. I'm trying to say he could not afford those on his state salary alone with his wife not working and having 2 kids. All those things add up big time and $20 extra grand isn't buying those things.

MDLawn
10-05-2012, 09:44 AM
I did landscaping when I was young.

In 07 the economy took a dump and so did my job. Lucky I had a 42" and 20" mowers and a small 4'x8' trailer. Pulled by a 05 jeep wrangler unlimited. That's the one with the lengthen rear body section and longer wheel base. During mowing season I take out the carpets and keep all the side curtains off so the rear is used as a pick up bed.

Wish I had a pick up truck but other things are needed of more importance.

I consider myself happy now and wish I started this back when I could of went to a local college and gotten a AAS degree in Horticulture/Landscaping 30+ years ago.

At this point I no longer want to work for any one else but myself.

As Coolluv said many people walk around with their chests all puffed out because of their success. But hide the fact their success has nothing to do with themselves but due to family connections and wealth.

Though those with out connections can make it as well in this country though it will take longer.

As to what Coolluv says about the guys not realizing costs working to cheap hurts not just them but the whole industry depressing prices.

This is why I can't understand why people post here saying they sub out to the nationals. Their being low ballers. They will be the first one's to complain about the Mexican's low balling and ruining the industry. Then as soon as they stop complaining about the Mexican's their off out low balling just like the Mexican's.

The thing is when starting out we only get stuck with the problem customers.
The reason is the Good customers are being taken care of and have no need to change. Who knows how many low balling LCO's they had to go through before they found a good one. So they want to keep him.

New LCO's get the cheap ass that is always price shopping.
Or Mr Cheap ass's LCO from last year is out of business from selling their services to cheap.
Or the Mr Free Bee that always say's while you're here can you do this.
Or Mrs Bee Itch that is simply pure pain to deal with.

You see once a LCO gets his schedule filled he starts to drop Mrs Ball Buster, Mr Pain In Ass, Mrs Later Payer, etc.

My schedule is not full so I will take Mr Pain In Ass, Mrs Bee Itch, and Mrs Ball Buster as customers.

I refuse to be a low baller. If I don't get my price I walk away from Mr Cheap Ass.

I will take on Mr Free Bee but I won't do extra work for free. So he will probably drop me. That's ok I got my rate while it lasted.

Mrs Later Payer will be dropped. To many LCO's, I will not be one of the many LCO's that post here that what are they to do their two weeks away from one of their customers being 90 past due. I guess because they are to desperate grow their customer list are afraid to drop customers.



Great response, thanks... I agree with many points and the comical customer stereotype made me chuckle a bit.

Chilehead
10-05-2012, 09:55 AM
Its possible to start out as Joe Blow and make the big time....but its going to be a lot harder and take a longer time.

Finding good paying and loyal customers is hard....and it takes a long time to build a business on those customers...but it is possible.


Dave...

You have an interesting post, Dave. It was quite long, so I would like to comment on two key points that you quoted above. Both of them go hand-in-hand, and are how I got started in this business ten years ago. Coincidentally, you and I both service the same market. I have found that being a one-man show has more perks than pits, but one has to develop systems to enable a business to run itself.....well, almost. I have spent much of my downtime marketing my business, and surprisingly it cost me very little financially. Today, online marketing is the way to go. I have a $200.00 web-building program and about $50.00 in signage on my truck. Whenever I mow, I usually leave a couple door hangers on the neighbor's front door. I get calls from 10% of these, and close on about half of them. I print the door hangers myself on card stock from a free online template I downloaded. I treat my customers like gold, and run monthly promos that go in with their monthly invoice. This generates plenty of extra revenue. I also don't lowball bid.
All of these practices equate to a marketing system, a.k.a. my revenue building machine.

MDLawn
10-05-2012, 10:00 AM
You have an interesting post, Dave. It was quite long, so I would like to comment on two key points that you quoted above. Both of them go hand-in-hand, and are how I got started in this business ten years ago. Coincidentally, you and I both service the same market. I have found that being a one-man show has more perks than pits, but one has to develop systems to enable a business to run itself.....well, almost. I have spent much of my downtime marketing my business, and surprisingly it cost me very little financially. Today, online marketing is the way to go. I have a $200.00 web-building program and about $50.00 in signage on my truck. Whenever I mow, I usually leave a couple door hangers on the neighbor's front door. I get calls from 10% of these, and close on about half of them. I print the door hangers myself on card stock from a free online template I downloaded. I treat my customers like gold, and run monthly promos that go in with their monthly invoice. This generates plenty of extra revenue. I also don't lowball bid.
All of these practices equate to a marketing system, a.k.a. my revenue building machine.

Is your ultimate plan to stay solo? If so I'm just curious on a couple things. Can you keep this up in your 50-60's? Do you have a retirement plan in place? These are things that would be on my mind being solo.

MDLawn
10-05-2012, 10:08 AM
I think the hardest things to give up are the guaranteed paychecks with annual raise (unless I for some reason get let go), the VERY cheap full cadillac of plans family coverage health care package with a $1200 debit card to cover all the copays, and the retirement plan which is I give 3+% of my income and they put in 8% extra. Yes you read that right, I put in 3% of my salary and they "match" it with 8% of my salary.... I mean thats like free gambling money for me in the market with my average rate of return being 9.6% so far. Free money to make money. This is what keeps my planted at this career not to mention I'll have EVERY holiday off and very light summers, hence the part time landscaping. I guess maybe I've answered this for myself and will most likely stick to part time and maybe even part time with summer employees. Make extra side money and delegate all the back breaking work to summer help..

Chilehead
10-05-2012, 10:51 AM
Is your ultimate plan to stay solo? If so I'm just curious on a couple things. Can you keep this up in your 50-60's? Do you have a retirement plan in place? These are things that would be on my mind being solo.

I will always be open to hiring people (just see my Employment link on my website), but am willing to wait indefinitely for the right candidate. The Roth IRA is maxed out annually. I have been a competitive cyclist for 15 years, so my stamina is pretty much conditioned for the future.

MDLawn
10-05-2012, 11:21 AM
I will always be open to hiring people (just see my Employment link on my website), but am willing to wait indefinitely for the right candidate. The Roth IRA is maxed out annually. I have been a competitive cyclist for 15 years, so my stamina is pretty much conditioned for the future.

Sounds good!

cpllawncare
10-05-2012, 08:37 PM
I should have included this and mind you it is NOT directed at anyone, just a thought that came to my head. I'm more curious for those who are far over the "partying" age, not living in mommy and daddy's basement, have a family, mortgage, and true monthly bills like utilities, life insurance, grocery, etc.... Basically someone who has more obligations than to just themselves. If you're single or just in a relationship it's easy to jump ship at whatever you do as there are only consequences against yourself. Also really looking for career people who left their career, not a meat packing plant packer or general laborer. I know it sounds harsh but puts it into more perspective. Leaving fast food to cut lawns really isn't what I was asking....

Well I was downsized from a $70,000/year job as a electronics tech from the number one luxury automaker, does that count? I'm 47 single have my own place and pay my own way. After realizing I was never going to get back to that kind of salary working for the other guy I set out to do it on my own, it's slow and very challenging, but I enjoy it most everyday.

DEPENDABLE LANDSCAPING
10-05-2012, 08:46 PM
Well I was downsized from a $70,000/year job as a electronics tech from the number one luxury automaker, does that count? I'm 47 single have my own place and pay my own way. After realizing I was never going to get back to that kind of salary working for the other guy I set out to do it on my own, it's slow and very challenging, but I enjoy it most everyday.

GOOD FOR YOU.
I LIKE THE ATTITUDE, and with that attitude you will make it just fine.
Good luck to all

cpllawncare
10-05-2012, 09:11 PM
GOOD FOR YOU.
I LIKE THE ATTITUDE, and with that attitude you will make it just fine.
Good luck to all

Thx, I've always said Attitude will make you or break you, I learn everyday and that's really what keeps me going, I don't worry about what the other guy is doing I just do what I have to do to be the best I can everyday. Unfortunaly Corporate America could care less about how good you are, you're just a number and when that number comes up your gone, I figure as long as I get up and give my very best everyday I will have work, and make money, seems there is always someone needing a GOOD LANDSCAPER because heaven knows there are plenty of BAD ones out there, and that's what makes my job easy, I seem to get a lot of WOW when we're done with a job, I figure I must be doing something right.

32vld
10-05-2012, 10:31 PM
I think the hardest things to give up are the guaranteed paychecks with annual raise (unless I for some reason get let go), the VERY cheap full cadillac of plans family coverage health care package with a $1200 debit card to cover all the copays, and the retirement plan which is I give 3+% of my income and they put in 8% extra. Yes you read that right, I put in 3% of my salary and they "match" it with 8% of my salary.... I mean thats like free gambling money for me in the market with my average rate of return being 9.6% so far. Free money to make money. This is what keeps my planted at this career not to mention I'll have EVERY holiday off and very light summers, hence the part time landscaping. I guess maybe I've answered this for myself and will most likely stick to part time and maybe even part time with summer employees. Make extra side money and delegate all the back breaking work to summer help..

Anyone that has a well paying job, great health benefits that you retire with, you have to be crazy to walk away from that. You can always retire then expand your part time route.

cpllawncare
10-05-2012, 11:14 PM
Anyone that has a well paying job, great health benefits that you retire with, you have to be crazy to walk away from that. You can always retire then expand your part time route.

To most people it would seem that way but all that high pay and great benefits usually comes with a price, as was my case, if I could have stayed in my last job I would not been able to retire with any kind of "Life" it was just too stressfull I knew it was coming as usually the case and I had mentally and finacially prepared myself for the inevitable, and just as I suspected when my number came up I was out the door with not so much as a thank you for your service, and there were umpteen more right behind me. Some took huge pay cuts and went elsewhere and continued the grind, some like me "Woke up" and took control of their futures.

cpllawncare
10-05-2012, 11:48 PM
well my point was I have real bills as you call.

I don't live with my parents because I have to. my business is providing for me just fine. I live with them because I have no reason not to. I'm single without kids, wife or girl friend. and right now I'm perfectly happy with where I am in life.

why buy a house or rent an apartment at this stage in my life. for me there just isn't enough of a good reason to move out.

I'd like to hear the parents side of the story? I wouldn't advocate nor condone my kid with a reasonably successful business living with me. I can think of ONE VERY GOOD REASON TO MOVE OUT! It's called ADULTHOOD!

MDLawn
10-06-2012, 06:18 AM
Well I was downsized from a $70,000/year job as a electronics tech from the number one luxury automaker, does that count? I'm 47 single have my own place and pay my own way. After realizing I was never going to get back to that kind of salary working for the other guy I set out to do it on my own, it's slow and very challenging, but I enjoy it most everyday.

See for me my salary is no where near that, not even remotely close even adding in the benefits. So I could possibly make more than my current career and take on my wife's health benefits. It's tough too when you really enjoy the career AND enjoy landscaping. Not easy to choose. But your input is appreciated.
Posted via Mobile Device

MDLawn
10-06-2012, 06:20 AM
I'd like to hear the parents side of the story? I wouldn't advocate nor condone my kid with a reasonably successful business living with me. I can think of ONE VERY GOOD REASON TO MOVE OUT! It's called ADULTHOOD!

My thoughts exactly just didn't want to say it.
Posted via Mobile Device

cpllawncare
10-06-2012, 07:09 AM
My thoughts exactly just didn't want to say it.
Posted via Mobile Device

I have a hard time understanding these parents that don't want to let their kids grow up, anyway that's for another thread another day.

coolluv
10-06-2012, 08:03 AM
You have an interesting post, Dave. It was quite long, so I would like to comment on two key points that you quoted above. Both of them go hand-in-hand, and are how I got started in this business ten years ago. Coincidentally, you and I both service the same market. I have found that being a one-man show has more perks than pits, but one has to develop systems to enable a business to run itself.....well, almost. I have spent much of my downtime marketing my business, and surprisingly it cost me very little financially. Today, online marketing is the way to go. I have a $200.00 web-building program and about $50.00 in signage on my truck. Whenever I mow, I usually leave a couple door hangers on the neighbor's front door. I get calls from 10% of these, and close on about half of them. I print the door hangers myself on card stock from a free online template I downloaded. I treat my customers like gold, and run monthly promos that go in with their monthly invoice. This generates plenty of extra revenue. I also don't lowball bid.
All of these practices equate to a marketing system, a.k.a. my revenue building machine.

but one has to develop systems to enable a business to run itself.....well, almost.


Can you explain what systems you use?


Dave...

yardguy28
10-06-2012, 08:09 PM
I'll bite, I own a jet ski granted I bought it used off a friend for a good price. I enjoy it. Do I need it ? No, however I don't get to take vacations because of school and my business. I don't get days off often however when I do I use the jet ski as my vacation. Most people spend 2-3 grand a YEAR on vacation so I figured spending 2 grand and using that as my vacation for a few years is cheaper and I have a asset that I can liquidate if need be...... People who spend cash on vacation lose there money you can't liquidate a vacation. I'm not saying vacations are wrong or bad but that is my view on my toy. Eventually I'd like a boat but that's down the road

I'll bite back.

I take no vacations ever and work 5-6 days a week each and every year. I don't own a jet ski or a boat or even know anyone with a lake to use those things.

I spend my days off sleeping, playing video games and catching up on paper work and house chores.

I'm the happiest I've ever been.

Spring Valley Lawn Service
10-11-2012, 07:30 PM
What can I man and a helper gross in 4 days 8 hours a day

Roger
10-11-2012, 07:48 PM
What can I man and a helper gross in 4 days 8 hours a day

Waaaaay too many variables to get any kind of useful answer.

zak406
10-12-2012, 08:52 AM
I'll bite back.

I take no vacations ever and work 5-6 days a week each and every year. I don't own a jet ski or a boat or even know anyone with a lake to use those things.

I spend my days off sleeping, playing video games and catching up on paper work and house chores.

I'm the happiest I've ever been.

In that case your vacation is video games. Much like mine is a jet ski. Your video games are like my jet ski... I'm no good at video games so I don't play them

macgyver_GA
10-12-2012, 09:33 AM
What can I man and a helper gross in 4 days 8 hours a day

What's your average price per lawn?
How many lawns do you have?
Average # lawns per hour (Production)?
Drive time?
Are you actually working all 8 hours?
Fixed costs (shop, insurance, vehicle, licenses, etc)?
Average fuel consumption per hour per piece of equipment?
Vehicle fuel consumption?
Average cost per employee per hour (Wage, UE benefits, work comp ins, etc)?
Both running a mower? or one running trimmer, blower, etc and one mowing?
More mowers running = higher expense
Equipment depreciation?
Equipment maintenance cost per hour?
Saving for new equipment in future (figure this into hourly cost of equipment based on avg life span of equipment)
Don't forget about the law of diminishing returns ("Too many cooks in the kitchen" & fatigue. This basically means the adding each employee doesn't double your production, each additional employee reduces the potential production increase by X %)

As someone else said... WAYYY too many variables. I've built spreadsheet with a lot of these variables in formulas to ESTIMATE this but it's different for everyone and not always the same as real life.