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View Full Version : Right time to make the jump?


Drafto
03-03-2004, 11:36 AM
This subject was a little tough to do a search for so I figured I would start a new thread. I have been working a full-time job, steady pay, benefits for my wife and child since I got out of school 8 years ago. During that time I have maintained about 10 other lawns each year, for old neighbors and family friends, I have been doing them since I was a kid. These 10 lawns are great extra money but 10 is about the most I can handle with my other job. I love doing the lawns and have been wanting to make the jump for years now to do them, and more, full-time. I know I could get another 15 lawns with no problem, through prior turned down work and referrals. I would need at the minimum 50 lawns to sustain my income the way it is now, so where and when do I do this? I can't find another 25 customers overnight (10 already + the 15 I know I can get - minus the 50 I need to have = 25), and I definitely can't get them working for the man all day. Did anyone ever have this problem? Is fear my problem? I am 28, and married with an 11 month old daughter, my wife works part-time and my benefits from my current employer are the only ones we have. Making my wife work more hours in my eyes in not an option, if anything I would want her to work less. I know i can make this business more profitable in the long run but this season seems to be my hump, and this fall and winter. Any advice or encouragement anyone can offer would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Dan

lawnboy51
03-03-2004, 12:51 PM
I am almost in the same boat. But I don't have any accounts yet and my wife is the one with the benifits. We have a 3 yr old, and one due in May. I was in IT for 8 years before getting laid off 2 years ago. In that time I finally completed my degree in business but have not found the job market to be very open in my area yet. I have a job as a loan officer for a small broker but the pay is not good nor is it steady. I have all the equipment to make the jump this spring and have put together a pretty good business plan. I have yet to pull the trigger yet. I want to run an ad in the paper to see what kind of response I get before paying $500 for insurance, and $1000 for a trailer. Thats all I need (i think) at this point to get going but I sure would like to know before if I'll have enough customers to make it. Hell even if I had 10 it'd probably be more than I'm making now. So if there is anyone out there who had a similar situation and took the plunge fill us in on what made you decide and how it worked out for you.

Thanks!

jajwrigh
03-03-2004, 12:56 PM
Drafto-

I think you should be scared for the sake of the family you have to support! Try and find a way to add maybe 5 more yards to what you have and add a few at a time. At least this will help narrow the gap of 25 that you are shooting for now. Good Luck!

swim
03-03-2004, 04:32 PM
When I started it was part time after my regular job. After the 1st season I was making more in the afternoon than I was all day at my regular job.

It will never be easy especially with family to support. That is why I started to keep my family fed. It was never easy and never will it be. Not to discourage anyone but few things in life are free.

There will always be reasons to stay where you are, we are creatures of habbit and it feels right for things to stay the same without fear.

I will not tell you that you will make it or that you won't, but if you never try to better your situation in life I will tell you that it will not get better.

There are many rewards if you do and many headaches if you don't. There will be many headaches if you do to. All that I can say is that I think you should try part time and work your way up. Do as much as you can till you can support your family before the switch.

If you didn't have the family responsibility it would not be as bad, but you would more than likely not have the same drive to succeed either.

Good luck whatever you decide.

CNE
03-03-2004, 07:36 PM
If you wait until you can afford it, you never will. I run my business part time right now and work 40 hours a week at my full time job. As soon as my wife finishes school and gets a job, I'm going full time. You can always work a part time job to supplement income until your business picks up. You just gotta take the plung.

JKOOPERS
03-03-2004, 07:38 PM
just quit my job in dec that i had for 9 years with a lco . all of my equipment is paid for except the truck. I have an ad in the yellow pages , sent out post cards and I am getting my truck lettered. I have been handing out business cards all winter and leaving them at gas stations in the high end neighborhoods. I think the calls will start to increase in a few weeks , iI have been getting a few in the last couple of days. What i am also doing is getting a part-time job at ups jsut for the benefits.

billc
03-04-2004, 06:39 AM
I'm just staring this year. I have work in the winter that really slows down come early spring, so I'm looking at doing mowing April - November.

I would suggest looking into a good part-time job with benefits and flexible hours - Starbucks comes to mind. They have bennies for part-time employees.

And/or, try to find a winter job - delivering heating oil maybe? Substitute teaching?

Sadly, I'm able to begin because my mother passed away last year and left me some money. Perhaps your parents, if they're able to, could advance you money against your inheritance. (I have no idea if this is a good idea or not! I'm just throwing it out.)

MOturkey
03-04-2004, 03:58 PM
I'm not in this business full time, and am just getting started in order to build my business before I retire in four years. I have no knowledge of your personal situation (salary, pension plan, health insurance, etc), and I'm sure there are guys by the dozen on this board who could buy and sell me tenfold, but I'd personally be reluctant to quit my regular job, if, by benefits, you are talking health insurance which is any good at all. You mentioned a child less than a year old, and one trip to the hospital with her could wipe you out. True, you are young, and probably can get health insuranc privately, but check out the rates and include that in what you are going to have to earn to make a living. I talked to a friend of mine the other day who is self-employed, and he was telling me he keeps $10,000 deductible medical insurance on himself, wife, and son, just in case of a major medical problem. Even with this high deductible, it is costing him close to $300 a month.

Retirement is something else to look at. Have you been at the present job all 8 years since school? If so, is there a company pension plan? Of course, this is not as sure a thing as it once was, but if it is a large company you feel is solvent, that might be something to consider also. I'm almost 53, and could have retired twice, if I had stayed with my first two jobs following high school. The first I quit for better pay, the second to buy my own business. The second was a milkman as well, for a company that is no longer in business. However, our pension is through the Teamsters, so I could have retired last year with almost as much as I now earn working full time. The way it is, I lost those 3 years by not being vested, and have 4 more to go until 25 years, when I can retire with a decent pension, though not as much as if I had worked 30 years.

I'm not trying to rain on your parade, I'm just saying that going into business full time is a mighty big leap, and one you shouldn't take lightly. I can tell by your post that you don't. I have one suggestion. Why don't you see if you can hire someone to do part of the work? Pay them a decent wage, or even work out a percentage deal, which will give them more incentive to work. See how far you can build the business while still having the security of your day job. Then, when you know the time is right, perhaps go full time. Just a thought. Whatever your decision, good luck and I hope it all works out for you. Neill

promower
03-06-2004, 01:47 PM
Hey Drafto, I think someone in relation to you or a friend of yours called me a week or so ago saying that he was trying to help someone in wilmington deleware market themself to get more accounts. Just wondering if that was you or not, I mentioned to them about this website. Welcome to LS.

Drafto
03-06-2004, 03:17 PM
I have no idea? I don't really have any local friends in the area that would even be on this site? Most of the accounts I have are just over the line in PA, I wonder who you are talking about, and I wonder why they would call you in Wisconsin to market them here in Wilmington? Interesting. Thanks for the welcome, plowsite led me here, this site and plow site are unbelievable tools for all aspects of business. Let me know if you get any more info on who it could have been. What makes you think they were a relative or friend of mine? Just curious.

promower
03-06-2004, 06:00 PM
this guy called me (WI resident) and said that he had brother/ or some other relative that lives in wilmington DE and he was trying to help him gain more work/accounts in DE. Called me up ask me a few questions as to how advertise, what I felt worked good, general questions about how I ran things. Just thought it might have been you, I have no idea what the company name was he didnt say but sounded like average lawn comp. about 35 accounts.

alpine692003
03-06-2004, 07:27 PM
I just landed 2 accounts for mowing, bi-weekly so its a guaranteed $150 a month!

I work part time at Brinks as an armoured car personnel, I'm in the union so I can work whenever I want.

I plan on becoming a police officer in about 5yrs.

I would like my landscaping/lawn care company to take off, so presently I am concenrating on it!

I make more in my landscaping/lawncare company in 3 days of work then I do with 5 days of work and overtime at Brink's Canada.

I am only 23, so I dont have much debt a family to support yet.

I would like my company to take off 1st, then I can start going after family and all that goodie stuff!

All I can suggest is, never give up!

Drafto
03-06-2004, 08:09 PM
Thanks promower, if he calls you back, let him know the best way to advertise is........not to advertise. I have found that referrals are the only way to drum up GOOD business, aside from chasing commercial accounts. I think advertising hard makes most companies seem unaffordable, I am not knocking advertising it works for some. Most of my accounts, all 10 of them, are older retired couples and single older ladies, and all of them call me every year and ask me to do a friend of theirs for the season. Ican't do it and they company jump each year, never happy. My prices are just as high as the other guys, we all have insurance and licenses but they just LOOK more expensive then me with my Scag. Am I making any sense here?

Lawn Services Plus
03-07-2004, 11:15 PM
last year i worked 8-6m-f as an auto mechanic and took on 6 regular accounts for mowing as well as some small landscaping
work(borders, retaining walls,etc) I live about 50 miles one way to the garage-would mow yards close to there and drive home
in the dark.eat dinner at 10-10;30 at night.This year i want to
find a evening or night job and do lawns in the morn-closer to
home.. no more auto repair-tired of it..married with3 kids.. like
to see them more .wife stays home w/2 year old..I feel i must make this work or go insane trying-did good last year but I need
to make a change to take on more lawn work-sugestions? Im all ears