I decided to bump this because it truely is a great read. It's also helps the small time guys get put into perspective how the big time game is not all peachy and perfect.
I used to look at these big companys who have all these trucks and all these mowers, even a full-time mechanic on board in their own shop and think, wow, this is where I want to be. The owner must be rich, and sure, he probably makes out pretty good.
It's easy to imagine having 500 accounts and multiplying it by an average $40 lawn. ($20,000) but what about those F-250 trucks, 5 lazer Z's, 5 walk behinds, countless trimmers blowers and everything else even before I think about how much you'd be paying in labor to get 500 done in a week. WOW.
The overhead to me, is unimaginable. My goal is to eventually be "hands off" even though I LOVE cutting grass. Ok, so I'll probably stay out there on a ZTR all day, cuz I love it and I would never feel like the quality of work would be there unless I was. BUT my goal is to maximize one crew of guys (2-3 guys, myself included) that can do a max number of residentials each week consistantly. The number in my head would be 50-60, maybe more.
I never want to get bigger than one crew. One work truck. My personal truck. a 16ft trailer and my small 5x12. A good ZTR, walk behind and push mower. I want to maximize one crew with as minimal overhead as possible. This way I can pay out labor without blinking and have enough money to buy another ZTR or similar piece of equipment in cash.
I am embarking on a new career as an EMT after I finish school and pursuing becoming a fireman. Once I start either career I want my landscaping business to be able to run itself and me come in when I get the itch to ride the ZTR and knock out 10-15 yards a day. I don't think any of it is unrealistic. I know what I have to do. I know what I need to invest in and what I don't need. The best part is I am in no rush. I realize that the quality customers and employees will not come overnight anyway.
I run just my 36" exmark wb, and have a guy weedeat and edge right now. We do between 25-30 lawns a week easy. I will continue to max this scenario out until I really NEED that ZTR and by that time I will have the cash saved to buy outright.
I think that a HUGE key to success is maximizing what you already have working for you. Don't rush to increase your overhead and have $6000 in mower debt when you are doing 30 with a walkbehind and one guy easy. Sometimes I get the urge to make payments on a shiny new mower. I have to fight them off and realize I don't need that mower until I have 50-60. PROCUT, let me know what you think of all this. I like to discuss the details of business, and what really makes a business thrive. Let me know what you think of what all I have said and more importantly, thanks for takin the time to post all of this. It's always great to hear good information from an experienced fellow instead of the typical guy behind his computer screen talking out of his ace, so thanks!