Originally Posted by themadcutter
I have been doing this for 20 years and make a modest living. I do not make 50k a year but I never had a goal to do so. I'm not a go getter and don't want to be.
So my experience is not typical nor helpful to you but what I know may be.
I do know a number of go getters like yourself. And I know the owner of a long term a successful mower shop who knows and has talked to many many people in the business. So I hear a lot of whats going on.
Most do not make it. For every guy on here your talking to that did very well there are probably who knows how many (10,20 50,100?) that had to give up and your not hearing from them here.
I know a man personally who started in 2004. he now has 3 trucks on the road 2 are 4 man crews and one 2 man. Half his guys are pill heads and get laid off at the end of summer. He still works with them. pays his wife to do the books. we don't talk very personal finance but I know he is grossing over 20k a month. HE just told me he is tired of it and wants out. he's sick of his employees and his customers. But he doesn't have a job to go to. He used to be some sort of tech guy but no one is hiring.
A lot of very successful lawn companies had something else going for them. one of the best in my area had almost unlimited outside funds so his business was built from the very best from day one. and he had a lot of connections to get commercial accounts. rich parents.
Another of the most successful already owned a commercial contracting business that his father built for him. His fathers connections and money made him a very nice lawn business to go with his contracting business.
Both those guys tell every one they did it all by themselves. those in the know , know other wise
So after all that. I would say that some of the success you see in the field was not just because " the owner was soooo good". And you are not seeing all the failure in the lawn industry. and you may be falling for a little BS. My friend who started in 2004 does a lot of false bragging but he still drives a lawn mower and gets his hands dirty fixing equipment when ever he can to save a buck.
quit 58k plus benefits to do lawns? I know 5 guys who would and I have met more than 100 lawn guys over the past 20 years who want you job. And there are probably 10 times that many just in my area that started and quit with not much of anything.
I wouldn't want your job but I'm lazy and would rather go fishing and my wife doesn't mind that much. its not always what you make but what you do with it.
Great post BTW.
I have seen this first hand myself. Very few of the most successful companies around started from nothing. I have talked to a lot of business owners in all types of businesses and usually if they are successful and have large businesses they had some sort of edge going for them.
If you are starting a business from scratch with your own money and no connections you will struggle. I have said it before that most owners I have come across in this business will flat out lie about how much they make and how successful they are. I laugh sometimes because they really think you are stupid and believe them.
I think a big part of the reason most fail in this business is the fact that they lowball prices to get work. They don't know how much they need to make in order to be profitable. Then they get to the point of crews and trucks and equipment and realize the money is not there.
Just because you gross 500,000 a year doesn't mean your making money. Some companies are just middle men. They shuffle money from customers to the bank and then to the bill collector. But they look successful.
Then at some point they get tired of the rat race and realize that its not worth the aggravation. I personally think that this industry for the most part has priced itself out of profitability. Its too much like the wild west with no regulations. Too many illegals....too many that don't know what they need to make....too much competition from too many folks without a job desperate to make a living.
Prices are falling instead of rising and the margins get smaller and it makes it really hard to make it all work once you start getting to the point of adding crews and trucks and equipment. You can survive solo, but that is all that you will do. Finding good help is another problem. Anyone with intelligence is not out running a weed wacker all day. Every business owner I talk to say employees are their biggest problem.
Just because you see a company with trucks and crews doesn't mean they are making money and are successful. Ive seen more than a few disappear and when I find out what happened its usually that they were not making enough to be profitable and didn't realize it until it was too late.
I think most make the mistake of...I will price low and make it up in volume. That never works and is the path to failure. Just because you have a couple hundred accounts and are working long days....doesn't mean your making money.
Its hard to get people to pay what you need to make in order to survive. With all of the competition its nearly impossible.