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DFW Area Landscaper
03-03-2004, 09:02 AM
Everyday in my area, I see LCO after LCO driving around town that I've never heard of. Many have no signage at all. I just don't see how they can do this and still get business. Heck, I've got huge lettering on the side of my truck, a yellow pages ad and I still don't have a full route after a year at this. Sometimes, they haul their equipment in the bed of their pick up trucks. The image they project is completely unprofessional. I suspect many of these guys have a very different cost structure than what I am facing because they may not be paying:

Federal Income Tax & Social Security Tax on thier Personal Income
Sales Tax
Social Security Tax and Unemployment Tax on Employee Wages
Overtime
License and Insurance for Pesticide Applications

Typically, the only thing I could turn into a goverment agency would be a license tag number. It just isn't fair if I'm paying all of these costs and a competitor isn't.

Anyone ever try to turn someone in to a government agency? I'd guess you would need some kind of evidence or they wouldn't investigate them.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

bayoulawn
03-03-2004, 09:07 AM
IMO I dont think it would be worth your time.
You probably wouldnt want the properties they do anyway.
They probably go door to door and pick up what they can.
I doubt very seriously they have a set route month to month.

Danimal
03-03-2004, 09:15 AM
I have had the same thought. Yesterday I saw some of the same type fertilizeing lawns. I know they can't be legit because of their prices.Has anyone ever turned in someone spraying without license.

Doster's L & L
03-03-2004, 09:18 AM
Ditto what bayoulawn said. Live and let live. If they dont have insurance, sometime it will catch up with them. I'd concentrate on myself and then after time, will soon payoff.

dishboy
03-03-2004, 09:46 AM
Your telling me that you believe they don't pay their taxes because they don't have a sign on the truck? I think that is a rather large jump in reasoning. If you do good work and show up the same time every week you do not need a sign to stay busy. I have never had a sign on my truck and I personally think it is more professional for a gardner doing upscale residential to be low key.

DJL
03-03-2004, 10:00 AM
I'm someone who in my first year had no signs on the truck and would, on occasion, place the equipment in the back of my pickup truck. I didn't have the sign because it was my first year and I wanted to get a few accounts under my belt. Basically, I wanted to make sure the pool was full of water before I dove in head first. In addition, I sometimes have to travel a toll road, the cost more than triples when you are towing a trailer on this highway.

So let me get this straight, by being cost conscious, I'm not professional? So professionalism has nothing to do with how well I accomplish the job and/or how reliable/dependable I am? tell you what, speak to your customers and ask them this:

"If I show up every-week, provide a solid service, return your phone calls in a timely fashion, and I take the time to say hello whenever I see you, would you care (1) whether or not their was a sign on my truck and (2) whether I brought my equipment in the back of my truck or trailer."

I will guarantee over 90% of the responses would both no to both questions as long as the previous part is met. Someone can find me on the road, turn in my plates, speak to the IRS, or whatever else they have time for. They'll find I'm registered with the state, have a FEID, I pay taxes, and I carry G/L insurance as well as commercial auto insurance. They will find I play by the rules (i.e. the law) and I'm in the business to make a profit, not to pay off my equipment or get "free" auto insurance.

You'll find word of mouth is the best advertisement, not the yellow pages, ads, or signs on your truck. Perform good work and that will take you much farther than formal advertisments.

cush
03-03-2004, 10:03 AM
Since you have only been in business 1 year maybe you just didn't notice everyone before. Have you ever bought car that you thought you hadn't seen many of, only to find out there are tons of them you just never noticed.

bobbygedd
03-03-2004, 10:10 AM
i've had the department of environmental protection ask me if i see anyone or know of anyone who seems illigit, to give them a call. so far, i havn't reported anyone. tempting as it is, don't think i'll ever do it. although, someone did it to me 5 yrs ago.

DLCS
03-03-2004, 10:24 AM
Here is another senerio. Maybe some of these guys you see are mowing their own properties. We have alot of guys here that own multiple properties(apatments, rental houses, etc) and they do all the mowing themselves.

Randy Scott
03-03-2004, 11:41 AM
If you positively know of a cheater, turn them in. If you don't, then carry on with your own business. People sure like to make presumptions about everyone that drives around with a mower.

What would be time better spent? You pursuing other LCO's to check their legitimacy, or time spent filling your own routes?

It may be frustrating some-days with who and what type of people do this work. Just worry about your business and the people you WANT as customers. It was stated before, if customers are looking for the part timer or illegally run business, I certainly am not the business they would pay for anyways.

howie099
03-03-2004, 11:56 AM
I know in Illinois if you are cought with out a comercial license applying fertilizer or herbicide you will get a $500 fine, second $1000, than $2500 each time after. It only cost $45 for the license a year + Contractors Insureance. You do have to pass a few tests that are only in English and have a vaild Company and that. I know becuase I have passed the first part of test I can only apply Ferilizer/Herbicide going under my brother-in-laws Applicators license.

DFW Area Landscaper
03-03-2004, 12:03 PM
Everyone is right about concentrating on filling my own routes. It's important to concentrate on your own business before you start concentrating on whether or not your competition is following the rules.

It struck me the other day that I've been in business for 14 months. And so far, only one customer has asked me if I was insured. I've had a lot of customers call with complaints that I was charging sales tax. I've been advertising chemical apps, even in the yellow pages, and I've never been questioned by anyone about a license.

If a competitor is avoiding just the sales tax, in my area, he's already able to undercut me by 8% right off the bat. I'd guess that it's entirely possible for an LCO to operate for years on end without ever paying sales tax. Customers aren't going to turn them in for this, are they? Ultimately, they're the ones who are benfitting.

I called the state comptroller and I now have the address of the local enforcement division.

When I get a door hanger left at my home, I'll be photo copying that advertisement and sending it to the enforcement office with a little note saying, "Let's make sure this guy is paying sales tax." They say they'll investigate those complaints and actually encouraged me to do this.

I would encourage everyone else to do the same. It only takes a few minutes and a 37 cent stamp. I guarantee you many of our competitors aren't paying this tax. I'm not saying I think I should be allowed to have 100% market share. That's not at all where I'm going with this. But common sense tells me that if the non-taxpayers are forced to become tax payers, it'll makes it a lot harder for them to come in with low ball prices and create pricing decay within the entire market.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

amw
03-03-2004, 12:19 PM
Originally posted by dishboy
Your telling me that you believe they don't pay their taxes because they don't have a sign on the truck? I think that is a rather large jump in reasoning. If you do good work and show up the same time every week you do not need a sign to stay busy. I have never had a sign on my truck and I personally think it is more professional for a gardner doing upscale residential to be low key.

at least in michigan you are suposed to have your company name on your truck, if you are for hire....(per michigan state police motor carrier div.)

this my not be how it is in other states but im sure atleast a few are the same...

CoultersDFW
03-03-2004, 12:48 PM
DFW,
I'm pretty new to the board, but have been in business for 7 years. I'm 19, and most everything thus far has been by verbal agreement and basicly no overhead. Some would call it a "scrub" operation. Sounds to me like you know your stuff so I respect your opinion. In preparation for this season I'm off to a head start with my DBA, signage, trailer, computer programs and contracts.. I'm working on insurance and becoming an LLC.

Am I supposed to be collecting sales tax from my customers? And what IRS form are you guys using? (if thats what you use?) I'm all for preventing price decay in the market. I've already noticed it to an extent with new customers getting sticker shock for my basic service.

dkeisala
03-03-2004, 12:51 PM
Originally posted by dishboy
Your telling me that you believe they don't pay their taxes because they don't have a sign on the truck? I think that is a rather large jump in reasoning. If you do good work and show up the same time every week you do not need a sign to stay busy. I have never had a sign on my truck and I personally think it is more professional for a gardner doing upscale residential to be low key. What???

You be low key and I'll be as visibile as possible. Let's see who has more new customers at the end of the year.

trying 2b organic
03-03-2004, 01:02 PM
Neat to read about the different laws in america. We dont have to charge the provincial sales tax. If we gross more than 30k per yr in our service business we have to charge and submit G.S.T a federal tax of 7%.

I read somewhere (probably in lawnsite) that half of all customers call you cause they "saw you in the neighbourhood". That was more than enough reason for me to get signage on the truck. :cool:

mbricker
03-03-2004, 01:15 PM
You ever talk to any of those guys? I have heard some, in casual conversation, come right out and say the lawn service is so great because it's all cash money. In my area, the biggest culprits are the part-timers who have a job in some factory, where they get the W-2 that covers all the income they're going to report. D*mn right that gives them an advantage when it comes to bidding against you!

But report them? I don't think I would, or the guys who do commercial work without the necessary sales tax permit, or the ones who never have bothered to assess their business equipment with the county assessor. All that burns me, but I'm not really into doing some government agency's job for them.

But I am positive it's all those jerks who are keeping rates in this area too low, and that's my wallet that gets hit.

We've talked about it before. The solution is to ORGANIZE and take these concerns to your city, county, or state government. Request licensing, reporting, and other standards for the green industry in your area to make it difficult for the non-legit operators to keep working. That will reduce the competition, and force those who stay to meet the same standards as us.

Or we can just keep grousing about it.

dkeisala
03-03-2004, 01:20 PM
Originally posted by DFW Area Landscaper

If a competitor is avoiding just the sales tax, in my area, he's already able to undercut me by 8% right off the bat. I'd guess that it's entirely possible for an LCO to operate for years on end without ever paying sales tax. Customers aren't going to turn them in for this, are they? Ultimately, they're the ones who are benfitting.

I called the state comptroller and I now have the address of the local enforcement division.

When I get a door hanger left at my home, I'll be photo copying that advertisement and sending it to the enforcement office with a little note saying, "Let's make sure this guy is paying sales tax." They say they'll investigate those complaints and actually encouraged me to do this.

I would encourage everyone else to do the same. It only takes a few minutes and a 37 cent stamp. I guarantee you many of our competitors aren't paying this tax. I'm not saying I think I should be allowed to have 100% market share. That's not at all where I'm going with this. But common sense tells me that if the non-taxpayers are forced to become tax payers, it'll makes it a lot harder for them to come in with low ball prices and create pricing decay within the entire market.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper This is a big deal in states with a sales tax. My price is X but then I have to either tack on 7.7% for sales tax or build it into my price automatically making my prices just that much higher than someone who isn't charging sales tax. Customers just see the bottom line and it's not their job to make sure whoever is providing their services is legit or not. If they can save ten bucks a month by going with a less expensive service, they just might do it.

The state doesn't actively police sales tax collection by lco's (most of their money comes from retail sales tax, not sales tax on services) so who is suppose to insure that our competition doesn't have an unfair, and illegal, advantage in pricing?

coonman
03-03-2004, 01:37 PM
I know a guy that has been in the business for 20 years. He runs a totally legit business, pays taxes etc. He drives an older van that he pulls a trailer with. Has every piece of equipment you can think of from stump grinders, shredders, large wb's and z's, roofing tools and much more. He has paid for all of this by cash over the years. He has more work than he can handle. He has never had a sign and has never advertised. It is all word of mouth and referrals. You are wasting your time worrying about all the other guys you see.

Richard Martin
03-03-2004, 01:47 PM
I like to live and let live.

I am completely insured and legally registered to do the work that I do. I pay my fair share of taxes. My property tax alone was over $2,000 last year and that was only the property I own here in Maryland. My share of income tax was far, far in excess of that.

There is one thing that is for sure though, if I'm going down I'm not going alone. I'm going to sing like a songbird on a May morning and some of my friends will probably become my enemies.

Pecker
03-03-2004, 02:00 PM
You can turn them in if you want to, nobody is going to stop you. Of course, the agency encourages you to do it, that's their job (not yours). But remember, what goes around comes around. "So what if it does", you say. "I'm legit, so bring it on". Right? But there'll be a time when your underbelly is exposed in some way or another and when somebody sticks their nose into your business and you get burnt, you'll wish you'd been a little nicer. Dont' get me wrong, I hate for scrubs to drive the down prices too. But I think that these things eventually work themselves out. Most guys that throw a mower in the back of their truck and mow, aren't back the next year. And it doesn't take a genious or a license to apply fertilizer correctly, so your really not protecting some customer by turning in their their yard guy. Your just making his life miserable for no reason. Also, consider other possiblities. Like someone mentioned maybe their are a landlord over several of their own properties. Maybe they are legit and just starting out. Maybe they are illegit but trying to start up a legit business save up some cash to build their business and get licensed and then you bust them out, and they never get the chance you had to start their own lawn business. Just relax. Once again, what goes around comes around.

Green Gopher
03-03-2004, 02:02 PM
I look at it this way, If a client wants to pay $15 a visit to some knuckle head to mow their lawn more power to them.

The fact is unless your starving, you probably don't want a customer who places more value on the price and not the quality of work. A person who understands why they have to pay our prices, and the better level of service they receive would never go with a scrub. I see scrubs all the time in some of the nicest locations in my city, and the professionally cared for lawns are better looking EVERY time. I find these clients are far better customers after being burned by a scrub.

I have one client who's scrub would leave beer bottles on her porch. I know he was a scrub because most of us don't take the time to even drink a bottle of water on site anymore, and no pro. would drink alcohol at a clients home.

As for signage, I have a new trailer right now that has been in service for two months and no sign yet. I haven't had time to drop it off and let it sit for two days.

just my two cents (maybe worth less than that)

Jeremy

alpine692003
03-03-2004, 03:32 PM
Well, this is my 1st year in business..

I put all my equipment in the back of my truck, I have signage all around and even place them on when I am just cruising around town!

DFW Area Landscaper
03-03-2004, 03:51 PM
Well, you guys can do what you want. But here's what I'm doing:

teamgeo
03-03-2004, 03:55 PM
Your telling me that you believe they don't pay their taxes because they don't have a sign on the truck? I think that is a rather large jump in reasoning. If you do good work and show up the same time every week you do not need a sign to stay busy. I have never had a sign on my truck and I personally think it is more professional for a gardner doing upscale residential to be low key.

I agree with thid comment. no sign needed. wom works best for me

DLCS
03-03-2004, 04:04 PM
"I am reluctant to provide my name, as I fear that the landscaper being investigated may attempt to seek retribution on my self or my property." So, you want to turn somebody in for something that you are unsure if they actually do? But, you don't have the guts to sign your name to your complaint. I'd be willing to bet they will just laugh and throw that letter in the trash. Do yourself a favor and mind your own business.

ztoro
03-03-2004, 04:42 PM
Originally posted by DLCS
" I'd be willing to bet they will just laugh and throw that letter in the trash. Do yourself a favor and mind your own business.

Amen!

Direct your time to clients, not these so called scrubs......

greenback
03-03-2004, 04:45 PM
hey DFW, i think i saw your truck on tv the other night, i was watching COPS, DFW is on there every other day...:D :D

Flipperneck
03-03-2004, 04:56 PM
If you can't make it maybe it just you not the competitor. Maybe they do things you don't. I've never once heard anyone on here say I suck and thats why I can't get any work. One mans idea of quality may be anothers idea of shotty work. I see people proud of work I would put below a homeowner job, but I don't care. As far as the truck I used to work at a place with magnetic signs and we slapped them on when we pull up. He didn't want more work at that time. Don't worry about Jim, Joe, Dick and Jane do your thing and come up with a strategy to further yourself not oh he has pie and I don't I'm gonna put a booger in it.

ztoro
03-03-2004, 10:49 PM
Originally posted by Flipperneck
he has pie and I don't I'm gonna put a booger in it.

well said :D

lawnman_scott
03-03-2004, 11:06 PM
Originally posted by Flipperneck
If you can't make it maybe it just you not the competitor. Maybe they do things you don't. I've never once heard anyone on here say I suck and thats why I can't get any work. One mans idea of quality may be anothers idea of shotty work. I see people proud of work I would put below a homeowner job, but I don't care. As far as the truck I used to work at a place with magnetic signs and we slapped them on when we pull up. He didn't want more work at that time. Don't worry about Jim, Joe, Dick and Jane do your thing and come up with a strategy to further yourself not oh he has pie and I don't I'm gonna put a booger in it. I couldnt agree more

lawnman_scott
03-03-2004, 11:07 PM
Originally posted by DLCS
"I am reluctant to provide my name, as I fear that the landscaper being investigated may attempt to seek retribution on my self or my property." So, you want to turn somebody in for something that you are unsure if they actually do? But, you don't have the guts to sign your name to your complaint. I'd be willing to bet they will just laugh and throw that letter in the trash. Do yourself a favor and mind your own business. does sound like a thing a bitter ex-girlfriend would do to her lawnman boyfriend. And thats what they will think as they throw it out.

Pecker
03-03-2004, 11:20 PM
Flipperneck, that is a great statement you made about the booger. Mind if I use that sometime!?:laugh:

mtdman
03-03-2004, 11:27 PM
I think you are best off not playing those games. You never know when it will come back at you and bite you in the ass. I know lots of lcos operating below the radar, without the right licenses etc. I just live and let live. You've only been in business 14 months. I was in business for 5 years before I felt confident enough to not let other lcos and their business bother me. And it took 3 years for me to solidify my business enough to go full time. Chill out, be patient.

As far as signage, I tend to agree that anyone who is legit and in business should have some kind of signs or lettering on their vehicle. But that's just me. Even if it's a small bit of lettering with the company name, no phone. Identifies you as a professional. I've said this before, I wouldn't hire any kind of professional contractor of any kind that couldn't sign or letter his vehicle. As LCOs we should all identify ourselves. Whether or not we are taking customers.

Flipperneck
03-03-2004, 11:32 PM
What if that is the only vehicle he owns and uses it for personal use?

Flipperneck
03-03-2004, 11:33 PM
Go ahead mainstream it ******

mtdman
03-03-2004, 11:34 PM
Originally posted by Flipperneck
What if that is the only vehicle he owns and uses it for personal use?

Magnetic signs is what I use for those exact same circumstances.

Expert Lawns
03-03-2004, 11:42 PM
I was turned in to the Dept of Agriculture because someone thought I was doing fert and weed n feed without a license. If you read my advertisement, it says "weed control in paved and mulched areas". This could be manually pulling weeds, they don't know. It was a convelesant home, and they took the time to see if I was licensed, then they took the next step to fax my ad to the dept of agriculture.
(at the time of the ad I thought it was legal to apply roundup, but I fixed the ad)
point is, for some reason these people went to great lengths to try to damage me and my reputation some how. I highly doubt they are THAT worried about the environment or worried about me spraying weeds and harming someone.

GrassBustersLawn
03-03-2004, 11:50 PM
Doesn't seem right that we have to be "hall monitors". However, I'm starting to get pissed!

We have state sales tax here that is supposed to be collected on jobs which we provide MATERIAL (mulching, fertilizing, plants, etc). It is supposed to be charged on the ENTIRE AMOUNT OF THE JOB (material & labor). I had to pay $25 for the honor of filing monthly PITA forms and submitting the proper payment to the State. I asked at the mulch store one time and was told I was the ONLY ONE that they knew of doing it (they knew what I was doing because I present a "tax exempt" form at time of purchase).

In addition I am insured for LIABILITY & WORKER'S COMP as required (but never enforced) by the State.

Also I have paid considerable money for FIRE EXTINGUISHER, TRIANGLES, MEDICAL CARD, TRAILER BRAKE UPGRADES & SIGNAGE to comply with USDOT & State DOT requirements (if you are running a full sized pickup and a trailer you are likely required to be DOT compliant too - DID YOU KNOW THAT???)

THESE ARE ALL COSTS THE "SCRUB" doesn't have to factor into his "LOW BALL" bid!

I just got a flier at my house today. 1/4 acre for $19; 1/3 acre for $24; and 1/2 acre for $29. My turf area is 1/4 acre - I wouldn't touch my yard for less than $30, but someone is dying to cut it for $19!!!! I am going to call and get details from him, such as: Is he insured, what kind of mowers does he use, is he registered to do business in the state, etc. I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I CAN'T MAKE A LIVING, DOING EVERYTHING ABOVE THE TABLE AT $19 A YARD!!!

So, MAYBE WE DO need to be "snitches" to RAISE THE BAR in our INDUSTRY!


MIKE

GrassBustersLawn
03-04-2004, 12:01 AM
PS - If you are putting down pesticides (Roundup or whatever)without the proper license, then you ought to be stopped! IGNORANCE OF THE LAW IS NOT AN EXCUSE!!!! Call it "jealous girlfriend" or whatever. However, I spent about $1000 in time and money to get the proper license to be able to apply fert/pesticide to turf in Indiana, PLUS about $600 extra in insurance per year. DAMN STRAIGHT I'm going to turn in someone doing it without the license! (You can look up all LICENSED IN applicators from a web site.) I don't care about what they are doing to the environment, I care about the unlevel playing field for all LICENSED & INSURED LCO's! Just another way for them to cut corners and low ball us.


Mike

DFW Area Landscaper
03-04-2004, 12:28 AM
Look guys. What's the harm in doing this? It's three minutes out of my day and a 37 cent stamp.

If the comptroller doesn't investigate it, they don't investigate it. Honestly, I'll be surprised if they don't. All it would take is a phone call. "Hello, is this XYZ Lawn Care? This is so and so with the Texas State Comptroller. An anonymous tax payer sent us a copy of your advertisement that you left at his home. However, I'm not able to find your business name in our system. Are you paying sales tax on your landscaping revenues? Oh, Ok, fine. Under what name is your business registered with our office. Oh. Ok. I see you in our system here. Sorry for the inconvenience."

I explained to the guy at the comptrollers office today that I suspect many of my competitors are not paying the sales tax. He agreed that sales tax avoidance is common within the landscaping industry. That ought to be a wake up call to all those who "live and let live".

When Billy Bob goes down to Lowes and buys a 21" mower and a line trimmer, Lowe's doesn't tell the state that there's a new business in town. When he goes down to Kinkos and prints up some business cards, Kinko's doesn't notify the state either. When he passes out those business cards to residential propects, those prospects don't notify the state. When he gets a customer to sign up for service, the customer isn't going to notify the state. The system is set up such that it's Billy Bob's responsibility to apply with the state for a sales tax account.

So if Billy Bob doesn't realize that he's supposed to collect the sales tax, or intentionally avoids it, how does he ever get caught? The most logical answer would be a competitor turns him in.

If all the other LCO's in the area decide to "live and let live", how does this guy ever get caught? Or is he allowed to just continue on for years and years with an immediate 8% pricing advantage over the rest of us?

As for my anonymous complaint, you can insinuate that I'm a coward if you like. I'm not bothered by it. If the comptroller calls an LCO who is paying the sales tax, no one's gonna get bent out of shape. No harm, no foul. But I certainly don't want some LCO who has to pay stiff fines and back taxes finding out that I was the one who caused their grief. It's not that I feel bad about what I'm doing or that I don't fell right in doing it. It's just that anonymity seems like the common sense approach to this.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

DFW Area Landscaper
03-04-2004, 12:36 AM
++++So, MAYBE WE DO need to be "snitches" to RAISE THE BAR in our INDUSTRY!++++

I think we do. Who else is going to do it?

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

mtdman
03-04-2004, 12:37 AM
Just remember. What goes around, comes around. Sounds like a whole lotta bad karma if you ask me. And do you really want to spend your time, 3 minutes or not, turing other people in?

DLCS
03-04-2004, 12:38 AM
Originally posted by DFW Area Landscaper
If the comptroller doesn't investigate it, they don't investigate it. Honestly, I'll be surprised if they don't. All it would take is a phone call. "Hello, is this XYZ Lawn Care? This is so and so with the Texas State Comptroller. An anonymous tax payer sent us a copy of your advertisement that you left at his home. However, I'm not able to find your business name in our system. Are you paying sales tax on your landscaping revenues? Oh, Ok, fine. Under what name is your business registered with our office. Oh. Ok. I see you in our system here. Sorry for the inconvenience."



Do you really think it is that easy? Just a quick phone call? lol

Also, if you are making false claims thats called slander.

DFW Area Landscaper
03-04-2004, 12:41 AM
++++Do you really think it is that easy? Just a quick phone call?++++

Yup. I do.

Do you not think the state has the ability to call up tax payer records from within their database by name???

++++And do you really want to spend your time, 3 minutes or not, turing other people in?++++

In light of the fact that the comptroller has told me that tax avoidance within the landscaping industry is common?

Yup. I do.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

lawnman_scott
03-04-2004, 12:45 AM
It would be more credible if you would give your name. Or maybe you wont give your name because YOU dont pay taxes..... I dont doubt you do, but dont you see how they might see it? I would do it, just give your name.

DLCS
03-04-2004, 12:46 AM
Well, then if they already know about it, why don't they do something. Seeing how all they have to do is pull up your records on their data base. Your aynomous letter will not do a thing.

mtdman
03-04-2004, 12:51 AM
I am, quite honestly, doing fine in my business. That is based on what I do to make that business work. Not on what I do to try to put other's out of business. All the competition I have, and my success this far isn't based on beating up on competitors. Spend all your time worrying about everyone else's affairs, and your business will suffer. Plain and simple.

DFW Area Landscaper
03-04-2004, 12:51 AM
++++Well, then if they already know about it, why don't they do something++++

Because they don't know about it. That's the whole point!!!

Again, cut & paste from my last post:

"When Billy Bob goes down to Lowes and buys a 21" mower and a line trimmer, Lowe's doesn't tell the state that there's a new business in town. When he goes down to Kinkos and prints up some business cards, Kinko's doesn't notify the state either. When he passes out those business cards to residential propects, those prospects don't notify the state. When he gets a customer to sign up for service, the customer isn't going to notify the state. The system is set up such that it's Billy Bob's responsibility to apply with the state for a sales tax account.

So if Billy Bob doesn't realize that he's supposed to collect the sales tax, or intentionally avoids it, how does he ever get caught?"

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

mtdman
03-04-2004, 12:53 AM
Originally posted by DFW Area Landscaper
So if Billy Bob doesn't realize that he's supposed to collect the sales tax, or intentionally avoids it, how does he ever get caught?"

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Why is that your problem or responsibility? Are you really competing with scrubs, or aiming at the higher legitimate competition?

DFW, I have a lot of respect for you and enjoy your threads usually. I just think you're wasting your time on this one. Good luck, either way.

:D

DLCS
03-04-2004, 12:55 AM
He agreed that sales tax avoidance is common within the landscaping industry.

Looks like they are aware of the problem to me.

Soupy
03-04-2004, 12:56 AM
I would feel real low if I was new to a profession and went in and started having everyone investigated in hopes of narrowing down the competition. Especially since that competition was there before I started.

Thats just me, if you can sleep at night, then you do whatever makes you happy. It might get pretty harry if the guys in town find out what you are doing. And believe me, when you post something on the internet it isn't that hard to figure out.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

DLCS
03-04-2004, 01:02 AM
Originally posted by Soupy
I would feel real low if I was new to a profession and went in and started having everyone investigated in hopes of narrowing down the competition. Especially since that competition was there before I started.

Thats just me, if you can sleep at night, then you do whatever makes you happy. It might get pretty harry if the guys in town find out what you are doing. And believe me, when you post something on the internet it isn't that hard to figure out.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.


If I did something like that i would have hard time sleeping at night. I would rather mind my own business and let the proper people deal with them.

Expert Lawns
03-04-2004, 01:16 AM
Karma. I hate that word, but it's true. Bad Karma sucks.

Also as someone else mentioned, be careful about making false claims. We are learning about that right now in my law class. It is especially bad when you're in the same industry as them. The 3 minutes and 37 cent stamp might not be worth it.

Doster's L & L
03-04-2004, 01:28 AM
DWF, i too, enjoy reading your posts now and again, and i applaud your efforts in becoming a totally legit business, but i have the same views as soupy does. You're still pretty much known as the new guy in your area. If the established guys there, who you call scrubs, get wind of what's going on with you turning them in, the tables could very well turn on you. If the guys that have been there 10-15 yrs doing excellent work are turned in by you, guess what's gonna happen. They'll pursue your accounts and lowball like you haven't seen before and run you totally out of business! I tell you, brother, i think i would lay low for a few more years and have alot more experience under my belt before i go off turning in guys that have been there WAY longer than i have. Just concentrate on you for now and let the chips fall where they will. People respect a professional image and if you have that along with good service, you WILL get calls. Trust me on this.

EagleLandscape
03-04-2004, 01:43 AM
If they don't have signs on their trucks or yellow page ads, maybe they put their money in other places. I don't know why we judge so many people on whats the right thing to do or not. This site does not dictate the only possible way out there. Just let them be, and stick to yourself and everything will work out fine. Don't fuss over other people, just do your own thing.


Originally posted by DFW Area Landscaper
Everyday in my area, I see LCO after LCO driving around town that I've never heard of. Many have no signage at all. I just don't see how they can do this and still get business. Heck, I've got huge lettering on the side of my truck, a yellow pages ad and I still don't have a full route after a year at this. Sometimes, they haul their equipment in the bed of their pick up trucks. The image they project is completely unprofessional. I suspect many of these guys have a very different cost structure than what I am facing because they may not be paying:

Federal Income Tax & Social Security Tax on thier Personal Income
Sales Tax
Social Security Tax and Unemployment Tax on Employee Wages
Overtime
License and Insurance for Pesticide Applications

Typically, the only thing I could turn into a goverment agency would be a license tag number. It just isn't fair if I'm paying all of these costs and a competitor isn't.

Anyone ever try to turn someone in to a government agency? I'd guess you would need some kind of evidence or they wouldn't investigate them.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

ztoro
03-04-2004, 08:21 AM
Here is a another post from DFW.......... Turning in the comp and has law suits against his clients.. can we get a pool on how long he will stay in business.... :)

http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=63811

dishboy
03-04-2004, 08:57 AM
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by dishboy
Your telling me that you believe they don't pay their taxes because they don't have a sign on the truck? I think that is a rather large jump in reasoning. If you do good work and show up the same time every week you do not need a sign to stay busy. I have never had a sign on my truck and I personally think it is more professional for a gardner doing upscale residential to be low key.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What???

You be low key and I'll be as visibile as possible. Let's see who has more new customers at the end of the year.


__________________
Gardener On-The-Go



dkeisala;
What from my post led you you to believe I wanted any new customers?

GrassBustersLawn
03-04-2004, 09:09 AM
I see DFW's point. It is NOT ABOUT TURNING THEM IN TO WEED OUT THE COMPETITION, it is about having a LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. If all have insurance, paying the required taxes (sales, income, etc), meeting DOT requirements, paid for required licenses & training, etc., then I say BRING ON THE COMPETITION. It is not the legal guy that (generally) gives us (LCO's) a bad name, it is the guys running below radar!

We are always going to have 12 year old Billy with Dad's push mower as competition. (As ridiculous as that sounds, because how often would someone hire a 12 yr old plumber or electrician?) It is when Billy is 18 or 20 or 40 and still is running the business like a 12 year old that I have a problem with.

Mike

terracare
03-04-2004, 09:11 AM
Grassbusters, I think we've seen you at the Indiana applicators exams..

Todd

Hamons
03-04-2004, 09:46 AM
Sometimes.... more important that if you are a scrub is if you do good work. . You will only get more money if your quality is better..... if you know how to grow the plants you plant in your customers landscapes. Spend more time learning to grow pansies and less time writing letters to turn in your competition.

DFW Area Landscaper
03-04-2004, 10:16 AM
Ok guys. I'm not that hard headed. I've got several LCO's from all over the country telling me they think it's a huge mistake to attempt to police up the industry.

The letter to the comproller is going in the trash. I can always change my mind later, but if I send it, I can't undo it.

I've only been in this business for 14 months. I've still got a lot to learn. I'll be the first to admit that. I don't know everything. But when I've got a 10:1 ratio of folks recommending that I not do something, I guess it makes sense to listen. Even if it doesn't make immediate sense to me at this time. Admitedly, I don't understand your reasoning, but I'm not going to do something when I've got so many others telling me "don't do it".

I'm confident my business model will work just fine even with all the non-tax paying competition that I face. I've never questioned that. I'm certain that if I quote reasonable prices, invest in advertising, pay my taxes and maintain a professional image, I will succeed.

Guys, I'm respecting your opinions so much that I'm altering my own behavior. Some on this sight have taught me a lot more about this industry than I would have ever figured out on my own.

The only question I'd like to ask to all of you guys who so strongly recommend not making the state comptroller aware of competitors is this: Does it ever make sense for a professional industry to police itself?

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

crawdad
03-04-2004, 10:37 AM
Originally posted by Hamons
Sometimes.... more important that if you are a scrub is if you do good work. . You will only get more money if your quality is better..... if you know how to grow the plants you plant in your customers landscapes. Spend more time learning to grow pansies and less time writing letters to turn in your competition.
So, you've changed your policy since last August? Oh, yeah, that wasn't a letter, it was a phone call.
Crawdad

Randy Scott
03-04-2004, 11:03 AM
Originally posted by DFW Area Landscaper
Ok guys. I'm not that hard headed. I've got several LCO's from all over the country telling me they think it's a huge mistake to attempt to police up the industry.

The letter to the comproller is going in the trash. I can always change my mind later, but if I send it, I can't undo it.

I've only been in this business for 14 months. I've still got a lot to learn. I'll be the first to admit that. I don't know everything. But when I've got a 10:1 ratio of folks recommending that I not do something, I guess it makes sense to listen. Even if it doesn't make immediate sense to me at this time. Admitedly, I don't understand your reasoning, but I'm not going to do something when I've got so many others telling me "don't do it".

I'm confident my business model will work just fine even with all the non-tax paying competition that I face. I've never questioned that. I'm certain that if I quote reasonable prices, invest in advertising, pay my taxes and maintain a professional image, I will succeed.

Guys, I'm respecting your opinions so much that I'm altering my own behavior. Some on this sight have taught me a lot more about this industry than I would have ever figured out on my own.

The only question I'd like to ask to all of you guys who so strongly recommend not making the state comptroller aware of competitors is this: Does it ever make sense for a professional industry to police itself?

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper


It probably took a lot to swallow your pride on this one, huh?

Hard to do sometimes. I think if you just let it go for now you will be better off. As I stated before, if you POSITIVELY know of a tax evader, definitely turn them in, that's BS. To generalize a letter like you have will definitely piss off the wrong people most likely. You just can't make an assumption like that about non-lettered and new guys doing lawns. That would definitely come back on you.

Just focus on yourself for now. We have been in business for three years starting our fourth this spring. I have gone from a one man (myself) operation to a five man show this season. We have been growing at a good pace and do excellent work and the money is being generated all along the way. Were buying a lot of new equipment and establishing our name. It's exciting to talk among people and to realize how word of mouth travels about our company and it's service reputation. It hasn't been easy by any means, but it's getting done. All alongside the tax cheaters and (I'm ashamed to use the beaten to death term) "scrubs". You just gotta shut them out and sell to the people who know the real ways of life. Most people appreciate an honest and hard working individual. People know darn well who pays taxes and who doesn't. They can separate between a company who is legit and who isn't. Don't underestimate the intelligence of the customer. The customers you want to build your customer base from will understand the legitimacy of your company and the difference in pricing because of it. Although the low-ballers and tax cheaters do hurt the industry to an extent, it would be hard pressed to eliminate them completely.
Again, if you, or any of us, are 100% sure we know of someone running illegally, it probably wouldn't hurt to make a phone call. All I know is, that the three seasons I've been doing this, there is know way in h e l l I could be 100% sure of who is or who isn't cheating the system. First off, there is so much for me to do, I don't have time to follow up on others and what they're doing legally or not. Secondly, how does one really know for sure if they are legit or not. Just because word of mouth may carry rumors, that is not just cause for someone being illegal. That's the problem with our society, truth-less gossip!

Do your own thing, the cheaters will become irrelevant to you!! :)

DLCS
03-04-2004, 11:04 AM
Originally posted by crawdad
So, you've changed your policy since last August? Oh, yeah, that wasn't a letter, it was a phone call.
Crawdad



LOL, I bet he thought we all forgot, good one Crawdad.

Hamons
03-04-2004, 11:11 AM
Nope views haven't changed.

When someone is asking for your help and you expect them to be licensed before you help them -- and they lie and tell you they are.

That is a little different.

mtdman
03-04-2004, 11:20 AM
Originally posted by Randy Scott
Do your own thing, the cheaters will become irrelevant to you!! :)

This is exactly what I've been trying to say. Nice post, Randy Scott.

Does it make sense for a professional industry to police itself? I am sure, for certain industries. Professional services that are more organized, more regulated, and more uniform are probably easier to police. Problem with our industry is, there is no real uniformity or regulation. It's not exactly a highly skilled trade, in that anyone could start a lco. There are no regulating boards or tests or requirements necessary to own a lawn mower and make money by cutting lawns. And few lcos talk to one another, there's very little communication and a whole lot of mistrust. Most local lcos around here are too jealous and won't talk to one another. Although there is more than enough work to go around. If we all got along a lot better on the local level, weren't consumed with jealousy, and were able to establish a network between lcos, it would be a lot harder to break into an area if a company wasn't legitimate and didn't have the necessary licenses, etc.

Everyone should have the right insurance, pay the right taxes, have the necessary licenses, etc. But not everyone does. That's life, it's unfair but it happens. I don't think it's my job to turn people in or ferret out the bad guys in this business. Policing is the government's job, not mine. And I don't have time to worry about what everyone else is doing.

The problem I see in your case is, you don't know for sure what someone else is doing. You don't know that they don't have insurance, or aren't paying sales tax, etc. To just start turning everyone in that comes across your doorstep is irresponsible, and can cause a lot of problems if other lcos find out it's you. It's just not worth it to start a war with everyone in town, especially when you are the new kid on the block.

bassfisher
03-04-2004, 11:39 AM
:mad:

tell me who is distributing pesticide without a license. i will report them.
that stuff is bad enough, used improperly or escessively (which i would have to imagine someone doing this without a license would be doing) goes straight into the storm sewer system and into our lakes and rivers.
having direct experience with the epa and tceq, this person doing this, if it can be proved that they know they need a license, jumps into the criminal category by willfully and knowingly breaking the law. this all falls under the clean water act of 1972, and let me tell you that region 6 of the epa headquartered in dallas fines more than all of the other regions in the us combined, that is a fact. by the way, there are people in jail right now for way less than this by this law.
one other note, you or i can file a citizens suit against someone breaking this law, bring charges in court for whatever amount, and if i or you win, we get the money. if we lose, we have to pay that amount. if you've got proof that this person is doing this without a license, and improperly, you can make some money and send this person to jail. just go to www.epa.gov region 6 court actions. there's even a page with just numbers to call, and you can do it anonymously.
most important, these people are destroying our lakes little by little, and now the big stick of the epa is busting heads. watch out.

P&C Lawn Care
03-04-2004, 11:49 AM
Signs on the truck. I do not have signs on my truck (and I do not advertise)so I don't get those tire kickers calling me. I m a solo operator and have plenty of business by referrals (and mostly referral only). I pick and choose my clients, if I see something I want to do like a commercial property I focus on them and them alone. Does it mean I don't pay taxes because I don't have a sign or am not a legitimate business because I do not advertise? The IRS doesn't care what kind of mower you own, how you transport it or if you have friggin sign. They want their cut. When it comes to advertising, I just don't waste a lot of my money on things that can create more problems. Its selective marketing I guess. I will not just take any work that I can get. Many will say "You can' t grow like that"...Yeah maybe so, but I don't have to pay workman's comp, worry about tools mysteriously disappearing, if something gets tore up (it's because I did it), wonder why something didn't get locked and gets stolen. Is it realy about "How Many" customers you have or is it really "How Much" green is in your pocket? I take pride in what I do and have not found many workers who can keep that standard.

I say focus on your own business and clients and don't worry about anyone else, if your worried about a scrub (or lowballer) taking your work, then what kind of work are you doing? Fly by night landscapers and lawn Co's come and go. Only the ones who do quality work and are dedicated to service will survive. I like having Joe Lowballer doing crappy work at a low rate, it makes me look good. If a customer only wants a cheap mow or work then let them have the other guy do it. Don't worry about the other guy, what goes around comes around, they will get there's in the end. Most people view cutting the grass something that they can do for themselves or they can hire the neighbor kid down the street to do, nothing that LCO's do will change this view. Most people are just lazy, do not have the time to do it, or think the work is above them to do. In landscaping jobs a lot of the people don't have the knowledge or equipment to do the work. I think the general public does not have an idea of what goes on in the green industry.

ztoro
03-04-2004, 11:49 AM
pesticides is a different beast... I can see people getting reported for that. You can do damage to the earth....

But reporting guys for regular illegal landscaping is laim.. I hope the people who report them get boogers in their pie( quote flipperneck)....

Green Gopher
03-04-2004, 01:15 PM
How would you even know for sure that someone doesn't have a pesticide license? It is not like we wear them as badges.

IndyPropertyCare
03-04-2004, 01:18 PM
Commonsense says..... if your worring about the little jobs they are busting butt doing 200 a week to make a few hundred dollars... then you need to re-think your approach to the type of business you want to have.

Think BIG... and go for it, then the little ones are all but forgotten about.........and left behind for those who only want the small piece of the pie.

ztoro
03-04-2004, 01:23 PM
Originally posted by Green Gopher
How would you even know for sure that someone doesn't have a pesticide license? It is not like we wear them as badges.

wouldnt know, i really dont pay attention

crawdad
03-04-2004, 02:38 PM
Originally posted by Hamons
Nope views haven't changed.

When someone is asking for your help and you expect them to be licensed before you help them -- and they lie and tell you they are.

That is a little different.

That was a funny thread, I was there, too. I did a search and re-read it this morning. He was asking for it, and you obliged him. :laugh:
Crawdad

culand
03-04-2004, 03:07 PM
I have been in business for a long enough time not to worry about if any LawnCare or Landscaper has or pay there taxes.

We install plants ,cobblestone walkways,borders and do a very good mowing. There are company's that start in busines all the time , and never last . We compeat for the new and old jobs. If you offer your customers the service at a good price and pay your taxes,,ect. who cares if your competitor owes the IRS. When they catch them,,You Get There Business.
:cool:

Fantasy Lawns
03-04-2004, 03:38 PM
What needs to happen is state & local authorities too take accountability fore what they represent

In other words

When you go to get a business license you have to show proof of insurance not only for liability but for any vehicles you will use or at least sign a sworn affidavit that you will not use your personal vehicle for business related work

When you go to deposit your 941 or any payroll tax form they have copy of your workmanís comp

That ANY business in the yellow pages, papers & etc. have on file copies of their OC license or pertinent paper work related to the service in the advo

I am one whom does NOT want more government in my life BUT I do want my government to perform the same things they require of me

lawnman_scott
03-04-2004, 04:10 PM
Originally posted by ztoro
Here is a another post from DFW.......... Turning in the comp and has law suits against his clients.. can we get a pool on how long he will stay in business.... :)

http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=63811

Explain to me how sueing people that owe you money will run you out of business? Because you will have the reputation that you want to get paid?????? Customers hate that, having to pay for something they said they would pay for!!! You dont make any sence.

CoachLinz
03-04-2004, 04:18 PM
I haul all of my equipment in the bed of my truck and have no sign on it. I am only part-time, but I am insured, licensed, and pay my taxes. I get enough work byb referral that I have to turn some down and pass them on to others in the area that I know. I operate the way I do because I have no place to store a trailer and I can get in and out quick with my setup. My truck and equipment are all top notch and I do excellent work. You shouldn't judge someone without knowing the details.

sheppard
03-04-2004, 04:31 PM
Dear DWF,

Just concentrate on building your business- not sabotaging someone else's buisness.

Even if you 'know' they are scum bags- they will be out of the buisness in a short time. My first year was touch and go. Now I have all I can handle. Never had yellow page ad; sm considering taking sighn off my truck. Every phone call I've gotten from people that have seen my phone number have been a waste of time.

My best cutomers are the ones I approached and asked for the buisness.

Cordially,
S.

ztoro
03-04-2004, 04:39 PM
Originally posted by lawnman_scott
Explain to me how sueing people that owe you money will run you out of business? Because you will have the reputation that you want to get paid?????? Customers hate that, having to pay for something they said they would pay for!!! You dont make any sence.

what did you waste a half day or a full day to go get 100 bucks in court? move on drop the customer..... You want your lawn mowed you pay! you dont pay, I dont show up and mow an account in default!..... manage your business...... not deliquents

bobbygedd
03-04-2004, 05:51 PM
i'm goin to court in 3 weeks for $104. i can't wait.

ztoro
03-04-2004, 06:34 PM
i hope they award you court fees as well.... :) maybe pain and suffering for the sleepless nights...

DFW Area Landscaper
03-04-2004, 07:17 PM
Bobbygedd,

Be sure and find out for sure if the person you're suing is in the military. See this thread for more information:

http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=63811&highlight=military

Chances are, the deadbeat you're suing won't show up for the hearing. The way the justice of the peace in my precinct has decided to handle it is to have the plaintiff sign an affidavit under penalty of perjury that the defendent is not serving overseas in the military. If the plaintiff can't sign the affidavit, the hearing is rescheduled.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Doster's L & L
03-04-2004, 07:17 PM
I'm sure it was hard to swallow that pride, DWF. You were really determined to scrub out the "scrubs". I think you made the right decision to drop the issue with "the other guys". It'll work out for the best.

gusbuster
03-04-2004, 10:42 PM
I didn't read ever single post, but I feel for DFW Area Landscaper
and I agree that we should take the time ONCE we know for a fact that a person is not following the rules.

Why I say this, If this industry doesn't police itself, at some point and time government will with draconian measures.

DFW lives in a area that is prone to people crossing the border looking for work.(I'm assuming the initials stand for DALLAS FT. WORTH) I know people are trying to turn a buck just to survive, but 2 points:
We as part of a society do agree to abide by laws that we as a society have created through local government, state or Federal level.
These are the same people that have destroyed the maintenance only side of Landscaping.

I live in an area where rents for a 1 bed run on average $1300 a month, an area were the median cost of a house is around $600,000 for a 3 bed 2 bth home. At this moment, services by all government agencies are being cut. Laying off policemen,firemen, basically essential personal to run a county or city.

One of the problems that I see is lack of enforcement in regards to things such as contractor lic, pest ctrl lic. even a small thing as a business license.

I know of a city that did a crack down 4 years ago. No big deal, they say you working, hey, what's the name of your company. Checked to see if you had at least the local business license. After 3 warnings, you were issued a citation if you didn't get one. That city, after that crack down, brought in over $50,000 in license fees and fines. Hence, every other year, they have always been doing a crack down and word is out not to do business in the city without a $75 license.

On the other hand, government agencies need to make the permit\license process a lot easier to fill out.

Let me say that if we don't watch ourselves, somebody will get a dumb idea... look at the California gas situation... require M.T.B to be added to reduce smog. It worked, but it also poisoned our water supply. Nice Job.
JOHN

bastalker
03-05-2004, 03:49 AM
Originally posted by bassfisher
:mad:

tell me who is distributing pesticide without a license. i will report them.
that stuff is bad enough, used improperly or escessively (which i would have to imagine someone doing this without a license would be doing) goes straight into the storm sewer system and into our lakes and rivers.

Homeowners do it everyday.........I think if you are worrying about others, you are simply insecure about your own buisness.

Get your buisness in line, an there wont be any scrubs that can touch you.....It will not matter what the scrubs do...They will take care of the PITA's, an you can take care of the rest...

A scrub is someone who cant find a job, but has to feed his family...Put yourself in there shoes.......

DFW Area Landscaper
03-05-2004, 08:55 AM
A lot of people have recommended that I only turn in someone if I know for certain that they are in violation of our tax laws.

Guys, I know of a dozen or so landscapers who have told me personally during a face to face conversation that they are paying their employees as subcontractors and issuing 1099's at the end of the year. These people told me this because they were trying to help me. There existed an unstated mutual understanding of trust during all of these conversations. They were showing me how to do things in this industry out of kindness. I have a certain level of rapport with these guys.

Are you guys saying I should now turn them in to the IRS for failure to withold employee taxes and pay social security taxes? Are you guys saying I should now turn them in to the Texas Workforce Commission for failure to pay the unemployment taxes?

Whew! This is getting more and more complicated the more I think about it. Ethics aren't so easy, are they?

It's one thing to turn in someone you don't know. But to turn someone in after you've spoken with them face to face and they trusted you enough to tell you these secrets is another.

So, what's the advice? And please don't spew forth advice unless you plan on doing the same thing. I think we all know at least one other LCO on this planet who is paying employees via 1099. And again, I'll remind you, these landscapers have an ENORMOUS cost advantage over the landscapers who are paying via W2/W4. My suspicion is that this is a lot more rampant within our industry than sales tax avoidance.

What's the advice?

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

ztoro
03-05-2004, 09:03 AM
people are telling you to worry about your own business..... Imagine if you put all this energy into furthering your company what it would do for you.........

DFW Area Landscaper
03-05-2004, 09:17 AM
Ztoro,

I appreciate your feed back.

I've put so much energy and capital into my business it isn't even funny. The time I've invested in this "policing" of the industry thread is very miniscule by comparison.

I know my time is valuable and I wouldn't be investing it on this thread if I didn't want other people's input.

By saying "Invest your time elsewhere" or "Concentrate on your business, not your competition's" I think what I'm interpreting you to have said is that I should not turn in people who have admitted to me that they're avoiding employment taxes.

Thanks,
DFW Area Landscaper

gusbuster
03-05-2004, 09:48 AM
Originally posted by DFW Area Landscaper
A lot of people have recommended that I only turn in someone if I know for certain that they are in violation of our tax laws.

Guys, I know of a dozen or so landscapers who have told me personally during a face to face conversation that they are paying their employees as subcontractors and issuing 1099's at the end of the year.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

I find this hard to beleive.

As stated, they will eventually get black flagged by the I.r.s. audit machine since they are issuing many 1099's and they are calling themselves Landscapers or maintenance gardeners?

Now if your saying friends, friends don't give bad advise. So yes, turn them in. The I.r.s. allows you to do this without signing the letter, however, if you want any money out of this, you have to sign the form.

By the way, I personally think that your so called friends are blowing smoke.

John

bassfisher
03-05-2004, 12:13 PM
Originally posted by bastalker
Homeowners do it everyday.........I think if you are worrying about others, you are simply insecure about your own buisness.

Get your buisness in line, an there wont be any scrubs that can touch you.....It will not matter what the scrubs do...They will take care of the PITA's, an you can take care of the rest...

A scrub is someone who cant find a job, but has to feed his family...Put yourself in there shoes.......

hey guys, i'm not in the lawn care business, i'm a service manager for an outdoor power equipment company. but foremost, i'm an outdoors fanatic, and protecting our waters is not only something that us fishermen are concerned with, it's federal law. here in tyler, federal law (tpdes, npdes, clean water act of 1972) is being inforced, fyi, it's against the law to blow your grass clippings, wood chippings and any other organic matter into the street. all of y'all need to watch this. dfw's mssss (municipal seperate storm sewer system) or ms4 as it's called, is enforcing. there are some car wash owners facing prison terms for their wash water going into the storm sewer system.

here are some links, i'm not just rambling or trying to scare anyone, this is the truth, protect yourselves. the biggest number of people who turn in others are disgruntled employees, ex wives, and competition.

http://www.tnrcc.state.tx.us/enforcement/complaints.html

ttp://www.epa.gov/region6/6en/02enf/tx-enf.htm

you in the dfw are now under local, state and federal authority on these issues. just do the right thing and the rest will take care of it's self.

Tvov
03-05-2004, 12:21 PM
Originally posted by bassfisher
just do the right thing and the rest will take care of it's self.

I think a good part of this thread is... What is "the right thing"?

dkeisala
03-05-2004, 12:22 PM
I had mentioned sales tax avoidance as just one segment of those not adhering to the same guidelines and principles that others of us do. To be honest, when I first started out I wasn't all above board but now I am. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do unless you have limited amounts of money, which I didn't when I first started out.

I've put a lot of thought into this subject. On one hand I think "if I have to do it, everyone else should as well", but then another, more reasonable side says "these things I do to make me and my company more professional are what sets us apart from those lesser forms of competition. It separates the men from the boys".

I just attended a turfgrass seminar yesterday put on by Simplot Partners (Lebanon Turf, BASF, BEST, PBI/Gordon, Syngenta, Dow Agroscience and Bayer). This isn't the kind of event you would find a scrub at and the vast amount of quality information presented just makes me that much better and puts the scrub at a further disadvantage, which brings me to my point.

Don't think of the kinds of advantages an unlicensed, illegal operator may have over you. It's a waste of energy. Put that energy into doing everything you can do to gain knowledge and information that isn't available to the lower form of lco, put them at an even further disadvantage, widen the gap between you and them. There is plenty of work for the both of you and in the end, you don't want the kind of work they are doing and they won't have the necessary skills required to do the kind of work you are doing.

Finally, no, I would not report anybody else. I've never really thought of them as competition and I've got better things to do with my time. Eventually, most of these people get weeded out anyhow. The few that remain or insignificant.

chevyman1
03-05-2004, 12:56 PM
why not mind your own business?

DFW Area Landscaper
03-05-2004, 02:47 PM
++++why not mind your own business?++++

That's probably what I'll end up doing in the end.

But think of it like this:

Two contractors are bidding on the same property. Both have similar equipment and figure on 5 minutes of drive time and 25 minutes of work time for a two man crew.

Contractor A is paying his employees as sub-contractors and isn't paying sales tax. Contractor B is paying his employees as employees and is paying sales tax. Both contractors are working their two man crews an average of 55 hours per week.

Contractor A and contractor B both want their employees to take home $9.00 per hour in a 40 hour work week.

Contractor A pays his employee $9.00 per hour. Since his employees are illegally classified as sub-contractors, they aren't entitled to over time pay. His total cost is $9.00 per hour.

Contractor B's employee is single with no dependents. Because Contractor B is classifying his employees as employees, he also must withold income and social security taxes. In order for that single employee to realize $9.00 per hour on his paycheck on a 40 hour work week, Contractor B must pay this employee $11.00 per hour. But contractor B must also pay time and one half the hourly rate for hours worked in excess of 40 in a week. That brings his average hourly rate of pay, using a 55 hour work week, to $12.50. He must also pay another 7.6% in social security taxes on those wages. So add another 95 cents to contractor B's costs. Contractor B will also have to pay unemployement taxes on his employee. Since our work is seasonal, we have to lay people off every winter. They're eligible for unemployment benefits. It's easy to end up paying the maximum in unemployment taxes, which is currently 8.4% in Texas. So contractor B has to pay another $1.05 per hour. Contractor B's total hourly cost for employee labor is $14.50 per hour. Since workman's comp insurance is not required in Texas, I'll leave that out of the equation.

As you can see, Contractor B's biggest expense is 61% higher than Contractor A's biggest expense.

If both contractors assume 30 minutes for a two man crew, Contractor A is looking at a variable cost of $9.00 for this job. Contractor B is looking at a variable cost of $14.50 for this job.

If both contractors want to make a variable profit of $40.00 per hour on a two man crew, Contractor A can bid this at $29.00 and Contractor B can bid this at $34.50.

Now for the sales tax part. Here in my community, the sales tax is another 8%. If contractor A doesn't charge sales tax, his bid is $29.00 per cut, while contractor B, who does charge sales tax, has an actual bid of $37.26.

Contractor B's bid would be 28.4% higher than Contractor A's bid.

And if you add workman's comp into the equation, it's even worse.

I think that what typically ends up happening is, Contractor B is forced to the market prices, which would be $26.85 plus sales tax. He simply goes from making a variable profit of $40.00 per hour on that two man crew to $24.70 per hour.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

mh1314
03-05-2004, 02:49 PM
DFW

I agree with many of the earlier posts. If you are stressing over other operators which you believe to be illegally taking jobs, then redirect your efforts. Try advertising in many different ways, try different neighborhoods with different incomes and find your niche. If you let this consume you then you'll become very bitter and appear that way to potential customers. If the jobs are coming slow, then slow down your expenses which will allow you to keep up and stay afloat.

Unless you're a saint, try not to start a war. There is probably not a day that goes by that some "legal" is violating some rules or law, whether it's allowing employees to run equipment without guards or flaps up, spark arrestor screen removed from 2-cycle equipment, employees without eye or hearing protection, parking on wrong side of the road etc.. In Texas you can't spray one drop of Round-up or put out an ounce of fire ant bait unless you're licensed by the state.

And if there hasn't been a day that you've pocketed a cash payment from a one time customer for pocket money, then my hat is off to you...

dkeisala
03-05-2004, 03:05 PM
Originally posted by mh1314
DFW

I agree with many of the earlier posts. If you are stressing over other operators which you believe to be illegally taking jobs, then redirect your efforts. Try advertising in many different ways, try different neighborhoods with different incomes and find your niche. If you let this consume you then you'll become very bitter and appear that way to potential customers. If the jobs are coming slow, then slow down your expenses which will allow you to keep up and stay afloat.

Unless you're a saint, try not to start a war. There is probably not a day that goes by that some "legal" is violating some rules or law, whether it's allowing employees to run equipment without guards or flaps up, spark arrestor screen removed from 2-cycle equipment, employees without eye or hearing protection, parking on wrong side of the road etc.. In Texas you can't spray one drop of Round-up or put out an ounce of fire ant bait unless you're licensed by the state.

And if there hasn't been a day that you've pocketed a cash payment from a one time customer for pocket money, then my hat is off to you... Well said.

bobbygedd
03-05-2004, 03:11 PM
the $104 is the money owed for service. i've also added a 3% late fee, for jan, feb, and march 1st, as well as the cost of the 2 certified mailings(4 bucks a piece) as well as $40 for the trip to the post office, $40 for the initial filing of the complaint in court(it was filed as a complaint of theft) and also $40 for my court appearence. my attorney says add anything i can possibly think of to get the bill up to $500-$600. the judge will decide what i get.

ztoro
03-05-2004, 03:19 PM
Originally posted by bobbygedd
as well as $40 for the trip to the post office......... my attorney says add anything i can possibly think of to get the bill up to $500-$600. the judge will decide what i get.

which post office did you go to? conn.

the only thing beneath scrubs are lawyers....... :) and I come from a family of them who are the first to admit that lawyers are ruining this world with frivilous lawsuits....

the judge will be amused on how a 104 dollar lawn service fee has become 500-600 dollars

maybe I will see you on judge judy on my lunch break..... be nice, first impressions are everything to her....................

bobbygedd
03-05-2004, 03:38 PM
i had a credit card. i charged $250 worth of merchandise. didn't make a payment by the due date, they charged me a $50 late fee. laughed when i got the bill, i'm like, "yea, i'm really gonna pay that." i let it go, and go, and each month they added $50 more for a late fee. when it got up to $800, i called, told them i'd send the $250. nope, $800, they said, period. we were set to go to court. my lawyer said i didn't have a prayer, he said the judge will rule i pay the $800 plus fees. he talked to the credit card place, they settled for $700. i'm still cleaning up my lawyers leaves to cover his fee. why should i be any different? why am i not entitled to late fees and compensation for collection expenses?

ztoro
03-05-2004, 03:46 PM
your 3% lates fees you should get. Compounded monthly is 113.64... you should get that.....500-600 is a long shot.... but if this is how you make money more power to ya...........

ztoro
03-05-2004, 03:49 PM
Originally posted by bobbygedd
they charged me a $50 late fee. laughed when i got the bill, i'm like, "yea, i'm really gonna pay that." i let it go, and go....

50 is high..

besides you dont pay your bills but expect your clients to pay theirs?

bobbygedd
03-05-2004, 03:54 PM
toro, $50 is definitely high. my missed payment was an oversight, my continued missed payments were to make a statement, that being, "i'm not paying these late fees, and you can't make me. " boy was i wrong. charging late fees aint how i make money, but it is how i don't lose money. events like this are primarily why little by little i'm getting pre pay from all my clients. pretty bad feeling when someone tries to jerk u around

BULLGRAZER
03-05-2004, 11:40 PM
DFW,

You and I are in the same neck of the woods - and I understand exactly what you're communicating and feeling here. However, with ALL due respect, do not spend another ounce of energy on this. I let this crap eat at me for a long time until one day I realized the bottom line...I choose to focus on operating a business the right way daily (all the requirements and then some) and I finally understand the simple fact that I am slowly but surely putting those type operations (as you have described) out of business (if they donít bounce by themselves Ė what goes around comes around)..

In short - the more I focus on operating a professional business - the more difficult it is for non-professional groups to succeed. YOU, ME and OTHERS set the example - and together we PRO's raise the bar in the 'green industry' one day at a time!

Focus on your specific business at hand and more you will have at your finger tips.

BULL GRAZERS LAW

Look like a pro
Act like a pro
Work like a pro

GET PAID LIKE A PRO!

GO GET'EM (the customers that is)!!!

-=KC=-

DFW Area Landscaper
03-06-2004, 12:12 AM
Thanks BullGrazer. I think that's what I'll do.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Doster's L & L
03-06-2004, 12:30 AM
Bull Grazer, you were the missing link to this whole thread. :) Good post!

GrassFearsMe
03-06-2004, 04:04 PM
If we shouldn't worry about non-licenced ppl then why should anyone get licenced?

GrassBustersLawn
03-06-2004, 06:40 PM
I 2nd what Steve of FANTASY LAWNS said back on page 4.

Mike

trying 2b organic
03-06-2004, 08:19 PM
That paying emplyees as subcontracter is a cute ploy a collegue of mine introduced me too early on. I decided as with most attempts to bend the rules to save a buck that it just wasnt worth it for me. Maybe cause it really is more work to cover your butt or maybe cause I have the type of personality that I would be uneasy about it.

I havent bothered therefore to go over the rules here in Canada but I know for a start to legally pay them as sub-contractors they have to use thier own vehicles and own equipment. When I was 18 I worked for a moving company with 6 employees and 3 trucks where all the employees got paid cash because the owner of the company couldnt read and wouldnt pay someone to help him be legit. How on earth did he run a 200 k buisness without ever being audited. He was 65, did he tell Revenue Canada that he did 1000 moves per yr himself.

Anyway I sympathize.

Soupy
03-06-2004, 09:58 PM
DFW, you shouldn't be putting your sales tax in the bid. Just add it to the invoice and when they ask why you added sales tax. Just direct them to your state Governor and tell them to ask him/her.

Maybe that is why your bids are coming out a little high. you shouldn't have to hide the sales tax in the over-all price. I really don't see a customer changing companies because they get charged sales tax on their invoice. If they do, then you don't want them anyway.

No two companies are going to be exactly the same. So you are always going to find somebody with lower/higher overhead then you. It's just part of business.

It seems like your biggest beef is with sales tax. I just don't see how someone would receive their invoice and say, wait a minute he is charging me sales tax. I'm quiting him. They know it is not your fault tax has to be charged. They pay it everywhere else. Why are they concerned about paying it to you.

Just bid the work at whatever and don't even mention tax. When you go to the store it doesn't say $0.99 + tax next to the can of soup, but when you go to pay for it, you get charged more. I think you get the point.

Good Luck in the future..

Darryl G
03-06-2004, 11:04 PM
DFW - Sorry to say, but you come across as some sort of elitist who thinks your way is the only way.

You can't tell squat about a company just because they don't have signs on their trucks or carry equipment in the bed of their truck etc.

There's no signs on either of my trucks right now and I've been know to haul equipment in the bed too, when the situation calls for it. I've also never paid Fed. income or SS tax after 2 years in business (none owed), don't pay SS tax or unemployement or workers comp or overtime (none owed) and I don't have a pesticide license or insurance (not needed). By your definition I'm a scrub, by mine I'm running a smart business.

Yes, my business is 100% legit and those you are considering turning in may be as well.

I suggest you concentrate on your own business and stop trying to blame your problems on others.

bastalker
03-07-2004, 12:58 AM
How ya doin Darryl??? Long time no hear from... You are wastin your time postin to this thread...This guy thinks he's high an mighty after 14 months in the biz.....

I would just ignore him, an let him turn in everyone down there in Texas......

It wasn't worth your time to reply to this thread........

Darryl G
03-07-2004, 01:14 AM
Doin' alright here but having a hard time gettig motivated to do my taxes.

No biggie, I do a lot of things that aren't worth my time.

Maybe we'll get a little plowable snow next week. "If I can't mow, at least give me some snow."

Tvov
03-07-2004, 08:48 AM
Originally posted by darryl gesner
"If I can't mow, at least give me some snow."

LoL

:laugh:

GrassBustersLawn
03-08-2004, 08:40 PM
Daryl & bastalker - Just because DFW is trying to do stuff the RIGHT WAY, you call him "elitist" and offer putdowns!

If businesses are 100% legit, as you claim yours is, then there is no problem should some Texas Govt. Employee get off their butt and check into it. They would have no problem in prooving they are legit. If everyone were legit then we would all be making more $.


Mike

Darryl G
03-08-2004, 08:51 PM
Grassbusters - Not trying to cause troble here, but the fact is that I am ligit. I felt insulted because other than collecting State sales tax, I don't pay any of the other fees or taxes he mentioned or do any of the things he says a professional does...and I'm about as professional as they come.

BTW - Tax avoidance isn't against the law, tax evasion is. For instance, after careful research, my wife and I decided to be an LLC and not list ourselves as employees. That way we don't have to pay unemployment insurance, workmens comp. or even comply with OSHA. Does that make me unprofessional? I don't think so.