Some will argue this point but in my opinion I own a job right now and not a business. I know Yardguy will argue this point and that's fine. This is my opinion only.
When I'm able to concentrate on running the business and growing the business then In my opinion I will own a business. But that takes time and Paying my dues. Which I don't mind because Ive been paying them my whole life. I know that if I do things right it will pay off in the end.
If you can't build the business to work for you then whats the point? Again my opinion only. My goal only. Maybe some others share that goal and some don't. That is my goal.
I don't want to be throwing pine straw and laying mulch and doing fert and weed control apps. I want to manage the business and have the business work for me. Not the other way around. It takes time to build a good business and I know that.
You will always be in the field and working your @$$ off if you concentrate on the wrong type of customers. By- weekly customers are not what I want to build my business on. Cheap crappy customers are not in my business model.
You cannot grow or hire good help with those types of customers. If I can't find enough of those types that fit my business model then there is no point for me to continue on. I will move on to better things.
So far its a slow process but it is improving every year. I do less accounts than I did before and make more money with way less headaches.
You can fill a route rather quickly by being cheap and paying others to work for them. Or by making very little profit. You will grow much more slowly but be able to handle and plan for the growth and afford the growth when needed.
That is the point and that is why I responded to this thread in the first place. I wish everyone would evaluate their business and get the " I got to get more accounts mentality" out of their heads and price work to make money.
The last customer I picked up told me the last guy quit showing up and he had the neighbor boy finish out last year. His landscape was a mess and I not only charged him to clean it up but I signed him up on a yearly maintenance agreement with fert and squirt. He was using TG at the time. I also got his aeration.
He complimented me on my service agreement and how detailed it was and easy to understand and he appreciated the time I spent working on it. He also said it was the main reason I got the job. He told me he had everything from hand written quotes on napkins to scribbled on pieces of paper.
He is a very profitable account. He also requested seasonal flowers which will also be a good extra that is very profitable. Why? Professional image...Professional paperwork...uniforms and on and on.
That is the type of customer I want. Not the guy looking to have his grass cut for as cheap as he can find from the next Dumb@$$ with a mower. I don't advertise on craigslist or Service Magic because those are the places that the scumbags love. Easy pickings to find the next lowballer that doesn't know whether he is losing money or making money because he is too lazy or stupid to figure it out.
The OP was paying others to work for them and then coming on here acting like things were fine and looking for advice to expand. He would be like the thousands that think this is a easy business. Gone after he realized he was paying people to work for them.
At least he learned now... and $35 per man hour is a good start but you should be closer to $40 or $50.