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Old 07-31-2011, 12:35 AM
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PROCUT1 PROCUT1 is offline
LawnSite Platinum Member
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: TN
Posts: 4,909

I hope you dont take my posts the wrong way. I just like to write about the lightbulbs that went off in my head over the years. All these things that to some are common sense, many people will learn the hard way, as I did. Reading posts every day on here its so evident why the lawn business has "gone downhill"

It starts with the "what do I charge?"
They throw in a bid not having a clue where that number came from.
Then theyre on here whining about lowballers a couple years later.

That was me years ago. Before lawnsite.

Like I wrote about in my how to fail threads. This business looks sooo easy in the beginning. It seems fail-proof. You mow a lawn, pay your expenses, which are peanuts, and have way more cash left over than that 15 an hour you make at your day job. Just keep adding lawns, start another crew, keep expanding, and life will be good.
Thats what I thought.

Its so easy to make little mistakes along the way that go unnoticed. I made every single one of them.

I wanted the condo complexes like the big guys had.
I wanted the big trucks and enclosed trailers.

I ended up with all of that.

Every couple of years you had a guy that was just growing like crazy. Had a fleet of trucks, got all the condo complex work...he was bigtime.

Then a couple years later, someone else. And the first guy is still there, but doesnt seem to have as many trucks out there anymore.

A couple years later....You see a couple of used trucks with his name on them and they look like anyone else out there. Then you dont see him at all anymore.

I cant count on 2 hands the number of guys that followed that path. One year they are the king of the industry, and a few years later theyre driving an oil truck, or working for another contractor.

Of all the "big boys" I associated and competed with. Only a couple are still self employed, and theyre not nearly the size they were. Theyre back to sitting on mowers.
Ive been one stubborn bastard. If I followed gods should have been out of business many times over the years. I just wont give up.

As far as bidding. It doesnt matter the system. I make fun of the "dollar a minute" because most dont have a clue where that comes from. They charge a dollar a minute because thats what they were told on lawnsite.

If you calculated your costs, and that formula shows that $60 an hour is your number, there is nothing wrong with that whatsoever. My point to others is, dont just go by what you hear.

When I was in the business, it cost me over 10,000 a month just to cover overhead.
The guy doing the same work as me, from his home garage, with 2 helpers, had a lot more flexibility in his pricing than I did.

He maybe could profit 25 off that $30 lawn.
I could have lost money cutting a lawn for $30.
Same lawn. Huge difference.

When I did the time tracking, after I realized the weak points in my business. It opened my eyes to my competitors too. When I knew what they were charging for a job, I could take 2 minutes and calculate that they were losing their butts on it.

I have friends who are property managers and now that Im not in the busines anymore and not even in the same state, they consult with me when they take bids. I help them choose the contractors.

When they send me the bids....Every single time....The bid spread is HUGE....

A property that I would have priced at $35,000 for the year will have bids from $9,000 to 125,000.

How in the hell can one property, that everyone bid on the same specs, that everyone is running similar equipment, and going to have similar expenses, have a spread of over 100,000?

How many of those guys have a real system of bidding or how many drive in circles around the place a bunch of times and pull a number out of their behinds?

My way is not the only way. Its the way that I found worked. Any system that takes all of that information into account will work too.
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