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View Full Version : Lawn care, really a career?


Robert James Fischer
05-25-2004, 05:36 PM
Hi, there, folks. I've been considering getting into this business by going to work for a spray co. I like the idea of having greater independence, working outside( well, most of the time!) and find it gratifying to work with lawns, trees, shrubs and the like.

At any rate

- What are the real dangers of handling pesticides over long periods of time? Be honest. I'm a big boy.

- What sort of work schedule do most spray techs follow? 9-5 M-F? Or is there any degree of flexibility in what days and hours employees are allowed to work?

- Why such a high turn over rate?

- How much would an average tech make the 1st year? 2nd, and so on?

- Are there really advancement oppurtunities in this field, and if so what are they?

Thanks, in advance

lawnservice
05-25-2004, 08:01 PM
first let me say you got a good plan by starting out working for a spray company first. get onboard with a reputabale company that takes training very seriuosly, you will learn a lot. I'd also say that you will need 5 years before you can strt to consider yourself experienced.

dangers of handling pesticides...not a problem if you respect them. follow label recommendations, this goes for personal protection equipment/clothing

work schedule 9-5....ummm no! more like 7-6 (at least in new england where it is a seasonal business, I assume your on the MA/NH line?

High turnover....it aint as easy as it may look...lots of stress. folks can be very anal about their lawns, not to mention weather conditions and schedules to keep.

First year tech...figure around 30-40grand. depending on how much you are willing to do. most companies will have insentives in place where you can add to your weekly salary...if your willing that is.

Advancement opportunities...you betcha....but again only for those willing to sacrifice. If you want a 9-5 work schedule, forget about lawncare! If you are willing to go the extra mile (or put in an extra hour) you will succeed, just like anyother business.

Once you know your agronomics pretty well and get a good handle on how to market, you'll be starting your own business where the sky is the limit. I've been in the industry for over 20 years, have owned my own business for about 10. I am at a point whre i come and go as I please (got a good group of guys working here so I dont sweat not being here) and my salary...well i dont give that info but it has at least 5 zeros in it. And it is a seasonal business, my wife and I are now doing lots of traveling in the off season (our kids are now old enough where we can leave and not worry)

Lawncare has been very good to me

Tscape
05-25-2004, 09:47 PM
30-40K in your first year? I would be skeptical about that. Its seasonal. You'll get laid off. Factor $10 an hour x 60 hours a week for 30 weeks. I get 21,000 with overtime. After a season expect a big raise to $12-$13 an hour. After 5 seasons you might have a position of responsibility and MAYBE earn $40k.

lawnservice
05-26-2004, 07:19 AM
Turfscape, we pay a year round salary of $30k for a qualified beginner. Quailified means someone we feel is 'teachable', has a positive attitude, freindly personality and a 'caring heart'. Tough to determine these things during an interview (we do interview 3 times before hiring anyone) but within the first 30 days of employment the persons true colors will surface. At that point we either keep them or drop them. We do not layoff in winter. We have plenty of things that need doing. Trucks are maintained (our trucks look in showroom like condition at the beginning of every season) we also keep in phone contact with every customer plus we do our in house telemarketing/direct mailing...these things all require a full time effort.
Salary will vary from market to market. Some areas of the country I'm sure pay less, we have a pretty high cost of living here.

hickory
05-26-2004, 06:18 PM
How much do owners of landscape companies make?

Garden Panzer
05-26-2004, 10:49 PM
Lawn Care can be lucrative! I do about 80k after 10 years in biz, not bad for a HS drop-out! Where I live though, wages like that barely will get you a house.

James Cormier
05-27-2004, 08:03 AM
Lawnservice, that was a great post, sounds like your a class act.

I got a question for you, would you rather hire someone that seems like a great person, great track record with other jobs and perfect refferalls but no green back ground,

Or

someone with many years of green back ground but with less glowing refferalls?

As far as salaries go , in the 80ís I was middle management making mid 40ís, as a spray tech I was in mid 30ís, As a owner yeh I doing much better, My Dad who worked all his life for 1 company and grew up during the 30'-40's is amazed at how much a "lawn guy " makes in a year.

Currently budgeting for employees for next seasons growth and I am budgeting for mid 30ís for spray techs but I would like to offer better benefits with company vehicleís to keep salaries down for the first few years

lawnservice
05-27-2004, 02:38 PM
Originally posted by James Cormier
Lawnservice, that was a great post, sounds like your a class act.

I got a question for you, would you rather hire someone that seems like a great person, great track record with other jobs and perfect refferalls but no green back ground,

Or

someone with many years of green back ground but with less glowing refferalls?



Thanks for the compliment, but I aint all that special :o

No doubt I'd rather hire the great referrals, great track record guy over the experienced 'know it all'!

We have hired experienced guys before...none last. They ALL bring baggage from their fomer employer. They all think the way they used to do things is best. Even when we have tryed to retrain them to do things our way we find them going back to their old way we no one is looking!

WE have our system of getting things done, much easier to train the inexperienced guy this system, then try to break old habits with the experienced guys.

Robert James Fischer
05-27-2004, 09:31 PM
Originally posted by Turfscape LLC
30-40K in your first year? I would be skeptical about that. Its seasonal. You'll get laid off. Factor $10 an hour x 60 hours a week for 30 weeks. I get 21,000 with overtime. After a season expect a big raise to $12-$13 an hour. After 5 seasons you might have a position of responsibility and MAYBE earn $40k.

Who do you work for? Most of the big companies around here (Trugreen etc..) claim their spray techs work full time, year yound.

Anybody know what these guys are doing in the middle of winter, without a lawn in sight?

Robert James Fischer
05-27-2004, 09:32 PM
Originally posted by Garden Panzer
Lawn Care can be lucrative! I do about 80k after 10 years in biz, not bad for a HS drop-out! Where I live though, wages like that barely will get you a house.

80k gross, or net?

Garden Panzer
05-27-2004, 10:57 PM
I paid taxes on 80k last year.:)

Robert James Fischer
05-28-2004, 07:42 PM
Originally posted by Garden Panzer
I paid taxes on 80k last year.:)


Are you solo?

James Cormier
05-28-2004, 08:00 PM
You cant look at your business as seasonal, when you budget you gotta plan on slow times.

Right now my business grosses a little over 175k a year, I dont care what time of the year it comes in, 75% is pre pay that comes in feb and march.

The trick is budget So when no income is coming in jan you can still stay a float.

I see so many landscapers that are living high off the hog in june and july with cash flowing everywhere, but starve all winter and complain about a seasonal business.

As a small solo fert guy( 325 customers ), I am making just the same as when I owned a large landscaping ( mowing ) business and alot less headaches

hickory
05-29-2004, 09:19 AM
Is it fair to say that most of you guys have at least 2 employees?

Garden Panzer
05-29-2004, 04:50 PM
I have 2 people who work for me on a regular basis.

Etlawn
06-03-2004, 01:02 AM
Where I am from average first year tech will make 25,000. Like someone stated before...it all depends on what you put into it. Some companies pay a salary plus commission for the work completed.
The high turn over rate is due to the fact that the job can involve long hours and it can be stressful at times. I think many people think it is an easy job until they get out and actually pull hose or push a spreader over a thatchy lawn..lol...
The company I work for most techs will top out at 30-33 a year and that is for 9 months. then whatever they make on unemployment.
If you are a hard worker there is def room to move up. I was a tech for 3 years and then moved into management. Its a great field to be in and after you learn the ropes of the business you have a great back ground to go on your own..
Far as hiring..I definitely prefer guys who are new to it....as stated before guys from other companies can bring in bad habits and totally go against your training. That is not to say that you wont find a good one once in a while but as with any employee you need to follow up with them and make sure they are doing the applications the way YOU want them done.
Good luck...any questions Id be glad to help

Doster's L & L
06-03-2004, 07:50 PM
Robert,
you asked what the True Green spray techs do during the winter. I'm not postitive, but confident that they are busy passing out brochures and making calls trying to pick up business. They also try to do alot of upsells during the winter months.

Robert James Fischer
06-03-2004, 09:40 PM
Originally posted by Etlawn
The high turn over rate is due to the fact that the job can involve long hours and it can be stressful at times. I think many people think it is an easy job until they get out and actually pull hose or push a spreader over a thatchy lawn..lol...


Pff! Wimps!



The company I work for most techs will top out at 30-33 a year and that is for 9 months. then whatever they make on unemployment.



Mass gives out half pay for unemployment, which would be like an additional 5-6k. Not bad for 9 months work.




Good luck...any questions Id be glad to help



Who's hiring?:)

Etlawn
06-04-2004, 12:10 AM
Actually there is good money to be made but we are almost constantly hiring people. I think the main problem we have is in the initial start up. It can take a new guy a little while to get used to routes and get into a routine so it can be tough to make decent money right off jump. If a guy can stick out the wait period he can do pretty well in 9 months,\.

boonhogganbeck
06-04-2004, 04:15 PM
It really shouldn't be that surprising. One of the best books I've read was "The Millionaire Next Door". The authors of this book found that millionaires often share similar traits. Most are self-employed, frugal, and operate what would normally be considered mundane or unsophisticated businesses. The typical LCO fits this characterization to a Tee. :D [QUOTE]

boonhogganbeck
06-04-2004, 04:17 PM
OK, my quote didn't go into the message. Someone stated that their dad was surprised at how much money someone could make as just a "lawn guy". That was what I was repsonding to in my message above.

James Cormier
06-04-2004, 04:46 PM
Originally posted by Robert James Fischer


Pff! Wimps!

[/B]

Mass gives out half pay for unemployment, which would be like an additional 5-6k. Not bad for 9 months work.


[/B]

Who's hiring?:) [/B]

We are, here in West Boylston Mass