TMI for a lawn care thread
1. I was thinking about something while working yesterday. People complaining about how every hack in town with a Craftsman mower is cutting into their business, etc. That's never really bothered me for a couple of reasons. Primarily because that's probably how we all start at one point. But I also like the fact that some people are industrious and are willing to work. I've never thought of it as taking business away from me because my schedule is already full and if I want to expand there's all the business I could possibly want available.
2. There are a couple of guys who just started 1-man shops a couple of years ago and they have several lawns right around my house. I've learned from them both. One started out with a sputtering 21" pusher and now has a nice enclosed trailer and some equipment I'm envious of. This guy is slower than watching paint dry. I have no idea how he turns a profit, he's that slow. But man he does quality work. I've never seen one, not one, stray blade of grass remaining as he pulls away. I got rained out the other day and as I was backing my trailer into the garage this guy was half way into the lawn. It was pouring - so I figured he'd give up and finish another day. He just kept working....at a snail's pace.
The other guy went into business like a whirlwind. He picked up enough accounts in just a few months to keep him busy. He does very good work and at a much faster pace than I could keep up with. Friendly enough, always waves. I've been meaning to walk over some time and introduce myself but by the time I see him blowing and blink he's already in his truck and headed to his next lawn.
I'm glad these guys are doing so well.
3. I was joking with my 14 YO daughter yesterday that if she didn't turn off the lights that she'd have to help me mow. Her 12 YO brother jumped up and turned the lights off. He really loves his sister so I thought he was helping her out. "HA! Emily, now you have to go help dad mow since YOU didn't turn out the lights!"
I almost fell over when they both came out to help me load up to do some mowing. I haven't worked with anyone else in years other than my son helping me out a few hours a week. With the three of us we knocked out the first 8 lawns in 2 hours. The absolute best part was watching my son show his sister some tips on mowing and making sure her lines were perfect. It was 85 and HUMID and the kids were soaked so we called it quits for a while and jumped in the pool, a luxury I'm not used to at that time of day. After a while I changed into a new set of clothes and headed back out solo, feeling better about life than a man should be allowed to.
4. When the kids were first old enough to help me out for a few hours I was concerned with the reaction I would get from customers. It's amazing how many would come out and say something akin to "I see you have a new employee." I'd stiffen, prepared to explain that I'd work on my own if they'd prefer....but always started with the truth, that I want to instill a work ethic in him (or her). Every single customer has grinned and complimented whichever kid I had with me at the time. It helps that my customers are also friends and neighbors and over the years most of them have bought girl scout cookies or boy scout popcorn from Emily and Erich and have watched them grow.
5. Until I discovered this forum I sometimes wondered if other LCOs had the same concerns as me. For example, I came home from my final lawn last night and saw my next door neighbor's lawn was overgrown. They're an older couple and came in handy last week when I'd grilled some burgers and only then realized I was out of ketchup. And they let me put a few things in their garage sale. What would take them two hours took me only about fifteen minutes, and when I was putting the equipment away she walked over with her two dogs to say thanks and try and pay me. It's good to know that I'm not the only one here who has neighbors like that.
6. I try to look presentable when I'm working, but tshirts get stained easily so I've found myself with over a hundred tshirts, all too good to throw away but most of them with grass, sweat and sun lotion stains.
7. I confess to not wearing sun lotion enough. I try to wear it as often as possible but it really stings my eyes. I'm sure someone out there has a solution for that. The spray on lotion is so easy, but it ruins tshirts with the first mowing, turning them orange. I'm always in such a hurry to get going though that I don't take the time to put the rub-on lotion on often enough.
8. In all these years I've only had one customer's check bounce. That must have been 10-12 years ago. I never had to mention it to her. She just sent a replacement check a few days later and apologized.
9. I pulled up to Mrs. C's lawn the other day. She's the one who is really, really late paying right now. She's a stay at home mother with two kids and I've had them for well over a decade. She was watering some flowers outside when she saw me pull up. I yelled hello and waved and she said hi back, but then quickly ducked inside. I know that she doesn't have the money to pay, or she would. And I know she will pay, so I'm not worried about it. I just wish she didn't feel awkward about it.
10. I like to end on a light note, so here's one that's sure to garner a chuckle. Who knows, I may not be the only one who does this, and I'm always surprised at how much I have in common with other folks here. I don't like chaffing when I'm hot and sweating profusely....so any time the temperature is above 80 I mow commando.