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View Full Version : Feb thru april - the toughest months for a lco


TMlawncare
02-16-2005, 12:23 PM
Over the years I always dread Feb to April. Unless is snow there is no money coming in at all. In april we are starting back to work, but nothing is billed till the first of May. This is very trying for any seasonal company. The past few years we have put together an account for the off-season to help us get through. However, if anything unexpected comes up, it just seems like the credit cards get hammered. If you make it till spring without accumulating a lot of debt chances are you will be fine. Here it is the middle of feb. we are starting to order our yearly supplies, not much money coming in, bank account running low - that seems about right. How about the rest of you. Does this stretch hurt you also? BTW, year long contracts seem to work only with a few select large companies here. Don't work well at all for residential. Must be the short season 23-24 cuts per year.

terracare
02-16-2005, 12:43 PM
We actually try to get our cleanups and mulching taken care of my the end of march. In the past few years it's been more difficult financially, but we budgeted all of our expenses and made sure everything was paid for before the winter even started. Right now we are so busy with organizing the upcoming season its crazy. The website needs re-designed, new estimates, new billing systems, commercial bids going out, meetings with our contractors... Its worse than the beginning of may (ok, now im exaggerating a bit)!

Todd

grass_cuttin_fool
02-16-2005, 12:44 PM
This year the weather has been very warm in Va. I have been trying for the last 2 years to do most of my mulching between Jan 1 and March 15th. I am a solo operator and dont do snow removal. This works good for me to provide some income plus I can get the mulch out of the way before the mowing starts. I offer a small discount of 5-7 % for early mulch. Anything after march 15th will be full price plus I cant schedule it on a certain date because of mowing, I just work it in when I can. I am having more of my customers doing the early mulch now so it is in place when spring arrives

MWHC
02-16-2005, 12:45 PM
Same thing going on here, no snow and the bills seem to keep coming. One year we billed twice in April. Helped a little bit. I know exactly what you are going through.

chevyman1
02-16-2005, 12:45 PM
Do you ever get in trouble for putting mulch down that early since mulch is an insulator, it holds the cold longer and can damage or kill roots, bulbs, etc while the ground around is warming up naturally.

TMlawncare
02-16-2005, 12:50 PM
We also have some cleanups scheduled for March, but the amount will only be a couple hundred dollers. We do however get our first round of pesticides down in march so that should help out.

grass_cuttin_fool
02-16-2005, 12:50 PM
Do you ever get in trouble for putting mulch down that early since mulch is an insulator, it holds the cold longer and can damage or kill roots, bulbs, etc while the ground around is warming up naturally.
No I havent noticed any damage. But almost all of the jobs are just adding a fresh layer of mulch to an exsisting bed, not making a new bed or mulching against new plants. Last year in late feb. I cut back some Lirrope and mulched over it about 2 inches and by April it was back out as usual.

nriddle77
02-16-2005, 12:50 PM
For me, December thru the 2nd week of March are my slow times. If it snows, I have some work, but otherwise nothing. Yesterday I did some snow removal, and it felt great to get out and work. In the middle of March, I start aerating, which brings in some immediate cash flow. Good thing my wife works! :)

alpine692003
02-16-2005, 12:52 PM
I'm doing spring cleanups right now as we speak, my residential services begin March 1st for the full service accounts.. My commercial accounts are year round so I dont have to worry about them..

I advertise that we do aeration/powerrake/fertilization because when the time comes, I can hit it up! I organize so that I have a line of jobs for aeration for a certain day

MTR
02-16-2005, 01:55 PM
I am just about gearing up for new season now which will likely to start earlier this year due to warmer weather. I got phone calls already urging me to come do their yards, I said I will be there starting next week. Normally by March we are in the zone mowing like crazy, but the last week of February is like gearing up your equip/ or purchasing supply, etc.
It won't be long before you all get busy again.

tiedeman
02-16-2005, 02:22 PM
Sometimes I start spring cleans ups the first week of March, but yes I do agree that it is usually slow. Besides, I hate spring clean ups, espeically damage that is done by snow plows

procut
02-16-2005, 02:26 PM
This is obviously a tough time for LCOs considering the deals on E-Bay for lawn equiptment.

Love2Mow
02-16-2005, 02:32 PM
Spring Cleanups and cutting back winter growth will start next week. Also included are any mulching, gutter cleaning or all around maintenance.


I try to get going early so when the full time mowing is started I dont have to worry about doing anything else.

toddtt
02-16-2005, 02:38 PM
I am 2 years new in the lawn biz, and I am looking for a larger mower, a 32 or 36 inch, I ran across a Toro Pro line, re-conditioned, T- Bar handles, and 12.5 kohler engine, They want $1,795.00 for this, it is about 4 years old, looks great and has the 37 inch deck with mulch package and side shoot.
Can anyone give me advise on wether this is an alright deal?
Thanks
Todd

Love2Mow
02-16-2005, 03:00 PM
I am 2 years new in the lawn biz, and I am looking for a larger mower, a 32 or 36 inch, I ran across a Toro Pro line, re-conditioned, T- Bar handles, and 12.5 kohler engine, They want $1,795.00 for this, it is about 4 years old, looks great and has the 37 inch deck with mulch package and side shoot.
Can anyone give me advise on wether this is an alright deal?
Thanks
Todd




You could buy something brand new for another 1200 or so.

aries
02-16-2005, 03:32 PM
This year has been pretty crappy as far as plowing goes that usually keeps me going till spring but this year has been bad! same thing every year but we get through one way or another!

SOMM
02-16-2005, 04:07 PM
Sharing just a few pre-Spring money ideas, friend.

Core areration is great when grounds get juicy Jan-Mar(sign 'em up while the ground is still frozen, negotiate with equip-rental for good price to keep them in income this pre-season, if you'll be needing to rent from them). This timespan is also great for lawn fortification of your customers' hillsides. If the turf is sparse on the hillsides, their rooftop's or paved lot's drainage can be assessed and corrected, otherwise seedbeds can get mulched in ahead of March 20th. These hillside seedbeds can be stiff-raked, dragged or power-raked horizontally if especially needy - otherwise seeded with hearty fescue blend that will work well on hillsides (we like a K-31 blend), topped with soil/ ammendments/fert(if necessary, most times not), and then put down an inch to inch and a half seasoned hickory/oak hardwood bark mulch (not new chips) that has no pine or cedar content in it. This makes for good turf footing and good erosion control (before having to rock, gravel or claydirt into bigtime erosion, or install trees to help retain topsoil in a stressed turf hillside fairway or rough). Our December seedbeds are about 1+1/2 in. high right now. If the customers had municipal utilities stressing their turf this winter, good time to seedbed!

This might be a better time of year to install retaining walls or rock. Great time of year to get seasonal color beds tilled in with compost, add bulbs, and mulched over ready to plant when perennials arrive March-April and annuals arrive in April-May.

How are their trees? Can you prevent/limit icestorm/high wind damage of limbs sheading into their houses, garages, driveways or entryways by selective pruning? Does shade need to be managed for better exchange of sunlight and rainwater by selective prunings or limb-ups? Are branches all swaying in unison to the central trunk, or are they orbiting on independent axis' that can be strengthened with insulated steel cable and u-bolt cable fasteners (on small trees the trunk may need a few wraps and cables staked in). Are there cracks in leaders and upper trunks warranting their removal?
While you're inspecting the trees, you might notice that its a good time to offer cleaning and cabling of the gutters.

Portions of this work could even be subbed-out as passive income for you, when it gets that busy.
If you're really in a crunch, you can always offer net 7 or 10 day prompt payment discounts, or even 1/3 season discounted prepayments.
Called all the new construction projects' Project Managers to offer your new install, maintenance, or recovery services to their respective new or ongoing projects?

Get Jim Paluch "dirt fever", friend, you can do it !! :)

procut
02-16-2005, 04:15 PM
I am 2 years new in the lawn biz, and I am looking for a larger mower, a 32 or 36 inch, I ran across a Toro Pro line, re-conditioned, T- Bar handles, and 12.5 kohler engine, They want $1,795.00 for this, it is about 4 years old, looks great and has the 37 inch deck with mulch package and side shoot.
Can anyone give me advise on wether this is an alright deal?
Thanks
Todd
http://ebaumsworld.com/forumfun/misc5.jpg

tiedeman
02-16-2005, 04:16 PM
oh yeah I start pruning the end of this month SOMM, but very few people ever sign up for it

SOMM
02-16-2005, 04:17 PM
cultivating & edging

SOMM
02-16-2005, 04:19 PM
more of the same

SOMM
02-16-2005, 04:20 PM
more cultivating and edging

SOMM
02-16-2005, 04:21 PM
getting there eventually

SOMM
02-16-2005, 04:24 PM
one of these days yet

SOMM
02-16-2005, 04:26 PM
finally we can get paid

tiedeman
02-16-2005, 04:30 PM
where at in the midwest are you located at SOMM?

Love2Mow
02-16-2005, 04:42 PM
Great looking patio/deck. Did you do that?

SOMM
02-16-2005, 04:51 PM
Not too far from first post, tied. Where the mulch blower truck companies want us to order a full truck of 50 yards of hickory oak bark mulch when we only need 21 yards. So there you see our 2 street piles and one driveway pile of 7 yards each, lol. That mulch forking laborer quit after half the driveway pile, i wonder why? Sucker owes me for the pair of gloves he walked off with, but i'd probably owe him a coat in that case- I thank God every day that our snowplow & snow equip is paid for - past 3 years woulda went broke and in the soupline if we had to make payments on it, with as many snows as we can count on 2 hands.

SOMM
02-16-2005, 04:58 PM
thanks, yes our deck indeed.
fences and decks are another good money idea, even this time of year.

bobbygedd
02-16-2005, 05:04 PM
Over the years I always dread Feb to April. Unless is snow there is no money coming in at all. In april we are starting back to work, but nothing is billed till the first of May. This is very trying for any seasonal company. The past few years we have put together an account for the off-season to help us get through. However, if anything unexpected comes up, it just seems like the credit cards get hammered. If you make it till spring without accumulating a lot of debt chances are you will be fine. Here it is the middle of feb. we are starting to order our yearly supplies, not much money coming in, bank account running low - that seems about right. How about the rest of you. Does this stretch hurt you also? BTW, year long contracts seem to work only with a few select large companies here. Don't work well at all for residential. Must be the short season 23-24 cuts per year.
why are you extending credit, when you are not in a position to do so?

Love2Mow
02-16-2005, 05:25 PM
thanks, yes our deck indeed.
fences and decks are another good money idea, even this time of year.


IVe done a few decks but i dont like messing with the permits so i only do ones for people i know.

WildLake
02-16-2005, 05:26 PM
why are you extending credit, when you are not in a position to do so?


What kind of question is that? You do what you have to do.

SOMM
02-16-2005, 05:47 PM
nice chopper wild!

Thanks for the hard question bobby put out there, i think we all ask ourselves that late nite or early am, when in a position like that. I think he's read Danko & Stanleys: "The Millionaire Next Door", which Brian Tracy cites alot.

A revolving line / home equity line on a debit card can be nicer with interest rates than the major cards can.

AL Inc
02-16-2005, 05:58 PM
Don't wait until May to start billing. In the spring, I bill out that day's work when I get home that night. No sense in waiting until the end of the month. Is there any way for you to sell pre-pays? Even a few would help.

bobbygedd
02-16-2005, 06:36 PM
What kind of question is that? You do what you have to do.
to extend credit, means to perform work for a client, and not be paid for it at that time. i simply was pointing out that if he is hurting for cash in april, he should not work during the month of april on a credit basis, he should get advance payments, or at the very least, payment at time of service.

rodfather
02-16-2005, 06:49 PM
Revolving line of credit works for us...talk with your bank...prime + a few points.

TMlawncare
02-16-2005, 07:06 PM
We always bill all of our accounts on the first of the month, like the cable company. Yes, I agree that during the off season, money on the spot would be nice but we just are not set up for it. We have a revolving line of credit that help get us through. I hate to do it, but I can't click my heals and automatically be issued a envolope with $6000 in it. Sometimes we all have to get a loan. If you don't, congratulations.

Kelly's Landscaping
02-16-2005, 07:13 PM
If I had to pick a month I hated it would be May yes the money shortage can be hard early on but that has gotten better for us each year. But May the lawns grow at such rates keeping up becomes near impossible at times. Lawns that normally should take 25 mins can stretch to 90-120 mins and not only are you not going to get to charge them 4 times as much but it also puts you behind schedule. So why doing clean ups is dreadful to me the lawns plus all the other jobs they all seem to want in May are worse. I got to finally see what a 90-hour week was last year and none of that was office time.

rodfather
02-16-2005, 07:24 PM
I got to finally see what a 90-hour week was last year and none of that was office time.

Try doing that at my age my friend...lol :D

cantoo
02-16-2005, 07:55 PM
We actually like this time of year better than the rest. We are part time so steady money isn't really an issue either though.
Anyway we buy equipment all Fall and work on it or just clean it in the winter then put it up for sale to catch the newest crop of upstart lawn warriors. They are looking for clean, slightly "use" equipment and I am their new best friend. We do try to buy stuff out of season and sell it in season for a good price.