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View Full Version : teenagers in the business, my version


bobbygedd
10-14-2004, 12:26 PM
not to put anyone down. i see many threads here concerning young guys, pricing, lack of respect. older guys, put yourself in the consumers shoes. personally i wouldn't pay anyone a nickle to cut my lawn, even when i didn't have a lawn service, i'd let it get 2 ft high , and never dreamed of paying to have it cut. BUT, there are people who take thier lawn very serious, as we all know. now, put yourself in that consumers shoes, and tell me how your thinking will work. here i am 40 yrs old. like most men my age, i think teenagers are idiots (not because of them, but because i remember how i acted when i was a teenager.) ok, with this in mind, i am interviewing different services. remember, i am very concerned with quality, reliability, and getting the most bang for my buck. out of 10 guys who show up to give me quotes, 3 are automatically eliminated because they have 5 teeth ( located in the back of thier mouths). out of the remaining 7, 2 more are not considered, one has booze on his breath, the other says, "fk yea, i can get this lawn in shape in like a few weeks man, can i borrow your toilet, i gotta take a p!ss." that leaves 5. out of the 5, i have a 16 yr old, a 21 yr old, and 3 mid aged family men. let me think back....16 yrs old, ok, i remember, too irresponsible to do anything, and could easily get hurt. that leaves 4 contractors. the 21 yr old....let me think back....maybe a hard worker, but does he really have the experience i need to take care of anything on my property? probably not. that leaves 3 men in thier 30's. wife, kids, many yrs experience. i'll choose from the 3. think guys if you were hiring a roofer, a plumber....how bout a doctor. i needed to see a specialist for a rather private condition. the first one i saw was in his 60's. the second one in his mid 40's. the third, right out of school, seemed more knowledgable than the others, but fact is fact, i was terrified at the thought of letting this young kid operate on me.end of discussion

Eric 1
10-14-2004, 12:35 PM
I have that problem all the time. Its a shame, because some of us DO care and are not the average idiot.granted we are not as "seasoned".But if you are 40 and have only been in buis for a year, i probably know as much or more than you do about lawn care. It is hard to get good commercial bids just because of my age even though my work is in the top 5 of the area.

MMLawn
10-14-2004, 12:49 PM
Like you Bobby this is NOT a cut at you young guys at all! Just my response and how I too see it at 46.

It's kinda like when I fly commerically, which I do alot. I personally want my pilot to be the 50 something gray haired guy, not the 20 something guy that just moved up from the stump jumpers. Why? Cause I know that the gray haired guy probably was military flight trained and has thousands of hours of flying experience not the "private local airport training" and the only hundreds of flight hours that the younger guy has.

As you stated it yes with the "serious" lawn customers the older LCO's have a foot up probably on getting the job, where with the "just cut it cheap" crowd the teenagers probably do because that customer just figures that they will be lower being young, whether true or not.

Like it or not and again not to insult anyone here, I gaurantee you that few if any customers "really" think of a teenager being a "business" (They may "tell" you thay do, but they don't) where as they always would with older guys.

Gravely_Man
10-14-2004, 01:41 PM
Excellent topic you have brought up here Bobby. I think it boils down to if you really care about the finished product. As you pointed out if the customer really does care then heck yes they are going to go with the experienced older operator. Now if the customer doesnít really care they are going to go with the younger operator hoping they can talk them down on price and get them to do some additional work for free. Just my thoughts and I didnít mean to offend anyone.


Gravely_Man

Smalltimer1
10-14-2004, 02:56 PM
I usually work out an agreement with my customers, I don't use contracts since I'm in college, its just too hard to handle that along with my studies, I'm 18, and a freshman at NC State University Ag Engineering program. When I am home the agreements range from $35 to $60 for full service yard maintenance through the summer. I mow, trim, blow, and any other related tasks. I also do oddjobs, such as clean out sheds and stuff like that. The largest part of what i do is the repair aspect. I work with the local pawn shops fixing their power equipment over the summers. I do really good at that, and they swear by my work.

Evan528
10-14-2004, 03:20 PM
Bobby, I actually do agree with you on this one. I am 20 and have been doing this line of work for quite a long time....but most 20 yr olds are jackasses I must say. I have close to 100 clients and 2 full time employees and a part timer. 95% percent of my clients have been obtained through word of mouth so people already know about my companys quality of work before even calling me..... Therefore I close on a very high percentage of the jobs I give a proposal for.
You would think because of my situation I would give young guys a chance...but I dont. When I have companys come to my own home to give me an estimate for work I want done, I also feel more comfortable hiring a middle aged "experienced" business owner.

The key here is to portray a professional image when meeting with a prospective client. I drive a newer truck, always uniformed and talk properly when meeting with a client. I think that makes more of a diffrence then my age.

I guess I have also been fortunate that people seemed to think Im 7 or 8 years older then I actually am. Quit often I have clients bring up my wife and kids in coversation..... (not anytime soon)

I guess this business has aged me a little to quickly! :dizzy:

olderthandirt
10-14-2004, 03:52 PM
This touches on a whole new subject and that is being in the business. You cannot be an owner in the business unless your an adult over the age of 18. Experience is gained by working for someone in the biz, not cutting the neighbors lawn. Evan I congratulate you on your success but you are the exception. I see to many post giving advice on subjects that younger group can not possibly know about. At 17 you do not know how to properly install a retaining wall that is 8-10 high.That takes an engineer to know the proper way. I'm proud to see all the younger guys have a goal an to work toward it, and I wish you success in making it work out but to succeed you need real experience and that comes from two ways. #1 the school of hard knocks and there are many failure that go that route or #2 work for someone in the biz that does have the experience. Its not a pleasant experience but it beats failure.

Mac

Evan528
10-14-2004, 04:19 PM
Mac, Thank you....

You can be a business owner at 17 LEAGALLY as I was. My business was registerd, I payed taxes and I had insurance from age 14 on. Maybe some states do have an age requirment though.

Ill never forget the day I registerd my business in my accountants office. He was on the phone with a women giving her info over the phone (speakerphone).....when he told her my date of birth 5/28/84 the women says "sir do you know your client is only 14 years old?". Everything went through though.

Another commin misconeption is pesticide license. At least in PA there is no age requirement. I was 16 when I got my pest license and the youngest taking the test by probly 10 years.

Evan528
10-14-2004, 04:21 PM
Also I do not want to come off as bragging as that is my intent. My intent here is to educate you that although rare....it is possible for a teenager to run a sucessful, legit and lucritive business.

A 16 year old dosnt have to be just "mowing lawns" either. I feel I was well educated in most aspects of landscaping. I attended every industry related seminar I could find.....did alot of reading. And has years of trial and error with is the best teacher.

rodfather
10-14-2004, 05:37 PM
This thread gets me wondering if any of my customers are thinking bout ol' rod being able to step up to the plate again next year??? No problemo...that's why I have great guys (5) working for me.

olderthandirt
10-14-2004, 05:56 PM
Evan
I do not want this to turn into a p!ssing match as it was not meant to be one. I know nothing of your business but as a minor who is responsible if an employee or yourself would happen to injure or kill some one? The ins. may pay the claim but there can be no recourse against you. As a minor your parents are responsible for your action at least in OH. and last I heard the whole country, thats why you cant join the service before 18 or by cig. etc. I'm sure you have yrs of trial and error in the biz but at 20 yrs old If you started at 12 you could only have 8 yrs in and I doubt if you were doing much hardscape at 12 so lets for example say you started taking it seriously at age 15 that gives you 5 yrs of trial and error exp. Great its just not the same as working for someone thats been doing it for 20 yrs. learning the easy way from someone else's mistakes is always easier that learning from your own. Which goes back to the original point who would the average customer want to hire?

Mac

oneandonlyjojo
10-14-2004, 06:11 PM
im 20 just remember when we young people are as old as you guys how much more experience and money we will be making. thats why im not dependent on this money im just trying to establish this bizness and have no debts. then when im done with college either do this in full force or hire people and pull in that 1000 a week side money. i hate when older people think all kids are scumbags but the truth is 99% of the time they would rather hire an adult over a kid ( good thing i look like im 27 lol )

Flex-Deck
10-14-2004, 06:41 PM
Like you Bobby this is NOT a cut at you young guys at all! Just my response and how I too see it at 46.

It's kinda like when I fly commerically, which I do alot. I personally want my pilot to be the 50 something gray haired guy, not the 20 something guy that just moved up from the stump jumpers. Why? Cause I know that the gray haired guy probably was military flight trained and has thousands of hours of flying experience not the "private local airport training" and the only hundreds of flight hours that the younger guy has.

As you stated it yes with the "serious" lawn customers the older LCO's have a foot up probably on getting the job, where with the "just cut it cheap" crowd the teenagers probably do because that customer just figures that they will be lower being young, whether true or not.

Like it or not and again not to insult anyone here, I gaurantee you that few if any customers "really" think of a teenager being a "business" (They may "tell" you thay do, but they don't) where as they always would with older guys.

Hmm - MMLawn - do you realize that some of those "Military pilots flying your commercial aircraft are Navy pilots that have spent years landing diriectly into the wind on an aircraft carrier, and probably do not have as much cross wind landing experience as your local flight instructor at your local airport. I have a good friend that flies for airlines, and his biggest stress factor is "retraining the into the wind guys"

skmodmsl
10-14-2004, 07:59 PM
I had to laugh when I read Bobby's post. I'm 35 and in my first year of "business". I ran an add in the local paper. Got a relpy and met with the lady. Ended up doing work for her ( older lady in her early 80's). The work was before the mowing season. She asked me to mow her lawn. I quoted her a price and she insisted on paying me more. I said o.k. Once the season was to begin this lady calls and says that she found an "older man" to do her lawn. I said no problem and thankyou for calling to let me know. Later in the season I get a call from the lady saying that she wasn't happy with her "young guy" who was servicing her lawn. She asked me to come mow it. I go to cut the lawn and it is done (lady had fallen and broke her leg and was laid up - said sister made arrangements). I went home and called the lady to say that I stopped by and that it was done. The lady replies that her sister had made arrangements. I replied that I felt that the person who did the job performed it quite adequitely and that I couldn't perform any better service.

I was not happy with the lady's saying " I found an older man" later to say "My young man is not doing a good job". Reminds me of the tune "Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind" by the Lovin Spoonful.

Just recently the lady called again wanting work done. Needless to say that I didn't return the call.

Juist goes to show that us middleaged guys feel like teenagers.

Bolts Indus.
10-14-2004, 08:04 PM
Isn't everything relative?

If the customer is 30 then 18 is a kid?
If the customer is 40 then 30 is a kid?
If the customer is 75-80 then everyone is a kid.

green with envy
10-14-2004, 08:07 PM
How can anyone under 18 get business insurance??

I know with My policy the guys have to be at least 18 to operate my equipment and over 21 to drive or I am not covered.

I see that as huge set back for the youngsters.

Mike

stxkyboy
10-14-2004, 08:25 PM
But at the end of the day your all lawn boys not doctors...u ride a mower not operate...people dont pay you becuase of your skill but rather because they feel their time is worth more than yours. Not to be mean but its the truth.

qualitylandscaping
10-14-2004, 08:31 PM
How can anyone under 18 get business insurance??

I know with My policy the guys have to be at least 18 to operate my equipment and over 21 to drive or I am not covered.

I see that as huge set back for the youngsters.

Mike

yes, anyone with a DBA can get business insurance. Doesn't matter how old you are. I got liability at age 15 b/c I had a DBA in the business name with my dad listed as the owner.

Now I'm 18 and everything has been transfered to me, but I had it for the last three years.

Now to be under 18 and get insurance with no DBA. I don't know of anyone that would do it. Since there really is no "business" to insure..

green with envy
10-14-2004, 08:39 PM
Okay I'm confused.... You had insurance at 15 with your DBA using your dad as the owner!!! Wouldn't that make him the insured party??? I think the insurance agent would think so.

Mike

Evan528
10-14-2004, 08:41 PM
Wasnt easy. I called 5 or 6 companies before I found one who would insure me. The agent I worked with explained that she had to "put in a good word" and do some persuation to get it for me.

I just looked in my files. The name of the company who I was insure under was Providance Washington Insurance. As soon as I turned 18 I switched al my policies over to Erie insurance as there rates are some of the ebst around.

qualitylandscaping
10-14-2004, 08:44 PM
Okay I'm confused.... You had insurance at 15 with your DBA using your dad as the owner!!! Wouldn't that make him the insured party??? I think the insurance agent would think so.

Mike


Yes he was the insured party, but since I'm his son and I'm working in the "family" business I was covered. When working for a family business there is no limit to hours worked, no minimum wages, and no workmans comp needed since its covered under the family health policy.

mowfun
10-14-2004, 08:47 PM
All i know is that when i graduate, i am going to find an industry where 18 year olds can't compete with me.

Bolts Indus.
10-14-2004, 08:49 PM
Should you fear competition and seek to avoid it, you shall search forever.

stevesmowing
10-14-2004, 08:57 PM
I am only 16 and have gotten many of my jobs because of the quality that I do. I have even had people lay off other lco's and hire me.

Mdirrigation
10-14-2004, 09:01 PM
The main reason you have to be 18 is that a minor can not legally enter into a contract , verbal or written. Unless a court has emancapated the minor . Basic contract law . There are exceptions depending on what state you live in.

oneandonlyjojo
10-14-2004, 10:02 PM
The main reason you have to be 18 is that a minor can not legally enter into a contract , verbal or written. Unless a court has emancapated the minor . Basic contract law . There are exceptions depending on what state you live in.

yea he is right and i guarantee most of the 15 year olds arent licensed or insured.
to be honest ive never heard of any stories of anyone getting in trouble i see it being real hard. wat are you going to do call up someone and say " i just saw a landscaper without proper licensing he was driving a truck with a trailer and had some mowers on it" or whats the most u can get a phone # " hi this is the dept of watever is this xyz landscaping? um no sorry wrong number"

i dont think anyone would fine a 15 year old working his ass off regardless

BMFD92
10-15-2004, 09:10 AM
I understand what you guys are saying on how a 16 year old can own his own business but there are some exceptions like Evan528 and Quality Landscaping. My dad ran a landscaping company until I was 10. I have been going around with him since I was three. I would sit there and watch his every move and then when I was 8 I ran my first push blower and I gradually learned how to operate and was getting pretty good. Then he sold it except for a few. Then I worked for another LCO that my dad worked with until I was 14 and my dad gave me what was left and I started up. I only do lawn maintenance and landscaping because that is what I can do legally. My business is under my dad's name and I give my expenses to him to pay for the insurance which is under his name. I have a deep pashion for landscaping and it is paying for my college so I take it seriously so I ask the you guys also try to look at it from our perspective.

GRT
10-15-2004, 01:23 PM
I think a lot of people on this site are embarrassed that a 16 year old can start a similar business to a 40 year old. Frankly, at the startup level, this is not a sophisticated business; it's manual labor. Anyone with a couple grand and a can-do attitude can be an LCO...that's probably why everyone on here started the business; due to its low barrier of entry. That being said, if you're 40 years old and a 16 year old is stealing your business to a point that you can't operate or it's killing your profits, this isn't for you.

I live in Baltimore where anyone with half a brain can start a pizza business, and they have. Let me tell you, I've ordered from all of them and they are mostly terrible. I have one or two go-to pizza spots (local, not chain). They advertise the same as everyone else, but always deliver what I expect. Frankly, it doesn't matter how many services they offer (subs, wings, rotisserie chicken, gyros), I want good pizza at a decent price.

The same can be correllated to an LCO. I know guys that offer landscape installation to decking and everything in between. The don't do anything extremely well and never know how to price their work. And then they wonder why they have customers that choose to use the 16 year old down the street. Do your self a favor and keep to your core competency.

You don't put your life on the line when you hire lawn care service. That's why people are apt to hire someone with a lower price and less experience. The fact of the matter is that 40 year olds have more of an advantage in the business. They have the opportunity of having established credit and credibility with the customer - they can start out on a much bigger scale. If you can't figure out a way to capitalize on that to grow your business, then you should be embarrassed that a 16 year old in stealing your clients. Instead of finding every loophole of why a 16 year old should compete against you, concentrate that energy on improving yourself.

I am very proud of the young people on this website that have taken it upon themselves to pay for college by starting their own business. Kudos.

MMLawn
10-15-2004, 01:35 PM
GRT, I'm kinda lost here. I have seen you post quite a few opinions and advise on the Lawn Care Industry lately on this site, BUT your Profile say's that you are only 22 years old with 0 years of lawn care??

Your Age:
22
Years in business:
0
Location:
Baltimore Maryland
How did you find LawnSite.com?:
Friend

GRT
10-15-2004, 01:48 PM
The truth is, someone else signed me up when I registered for this site. I'm 29 with plenty of experience. I am in Baltimore. I should probably change that!!

bobbygedd
10-15-2004, 01:57 PM
grt, you're a funny man. 16 yr olds have no effect on my business whatsoever, they aren't smart enough. read my original post over, very carefully, and u shall see that i said nothing about 16 yr olds steaLING my business. in fact, my real belief, is that it is the veterans, the "pioneers" of the lawn industry that have destroyed it.

GRT
10-15-2004, 01:59 PM
never attacked you personally...I don't think you'd let that happen. I was addressing the flood of posts that DO say that teenagers steal business...

olderthandirt
10-15-2004, 02:11 PM
The truth is, someone else signed me up when I registered for this site. I'm 29 with plenty of experience. I am in Baltimore. I should probably change that!!
You let someone else sign you up with a differnt age, number of yrs in business and a totally differnt state. So who's offering this advise you or the person that signed you up? :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

Mac

GRT
10-15-2004, 02:12 PM
You let someone else sign you up with a differnt age, number of yrs in business and a totally differnt state. So who's offering this advise you or the person that signed you up? :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

Mac

Different state? Read a bit closer :laugh: