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  #1  
Old 07-04-2011, 10:22 AM
guitarman2420 guitarman2420 is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Midlothian, VA
Posts: 239
Help! Is there anyone making money out there as they grow?

I've been in business @ 4 years. I've grown from first year sales of $40k to 400k; yet I'm working harder and making less money than when I had only myself and one helper. Have many of you hit the same "bump in the road"? The economies of scale have not "kicked in" yet. The more business I get, the more insurance I pay, the more taxes, the more headaches from employees, etc. I'm about ready to blow the whole thing up and go back to doing mainly landscape design and installation work, where we make the greatest profit. My niche is upscale residential and small - mid size townhome associations. I have 5 full time people and 3 trucks. I believe I need to sell one truck. I work in the field doing production or maintenance work@ 60% - the rest of my time goes towards sales and quality, etc. Finding good employees that care about anything but getting to the weekend has been my greatest frustration. I've tried hiring the "experienced guys"; but they seem to be retreads who have been fired or laid off by other companies. We all know we don't let our best people go, so it's a never ending vicious cycle. So we're trying to find good hard working people who know nothing about our business and training them; but they tear up equipment and break windows, doors, etc., even with training. Any suggestions or lessons learned? I'm tired of hitting my "nose against the brick wall". Also, I do have a reliable operations manager, who runs the day to day maintenance (mowing) operations. I pay him 36k a year, without benefits. I manage the overall business and run the landscaping/project end of things. Our ratio is 70% maintenance and 30% landscaping. Profits are less than 0 for maintenance and 30% for landscaping.

Thanks for any help I can get!
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  #2  
Old 07-04-2011, 10:56 AM
Daily Lawn/Landscape Daily Lawn/Landscape is offline
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Location: 6 Evansville, IN
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Wow! I just read what I have went through. I made the decision to downsize and go for the more profitable landscape, fert. and irrigation projects. Running 2 mowing crews 6 days a week was costing me money. At my peak I we cutting 143 accounts. Now I'm down to 49, enough for 2 guys to complete in 4 days. And I focus on sales and installs. I got tired of taking a pay cut every year. Things are getting better now, but still have employee issues in the maintenance side.

Good luck,
James
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  #3  
Old 07-04-2011, 11:17 AM
guitarman2420 guitarman2420 is offline
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What do you do on your 5th day? Do you take that off, or do your sales or side work? I'm willing to give it 60-70 hours a week or more; but not just to give a bunch of ungrateful employees a check to use on beer and porn! (Sorry, you can tell I'm a bit frustrated with employees). The employees don't realize some weeks they get a check and all I get are bills!
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  #4  
Old 07-04-2011, 12:15 PM
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Kelly's Landscaping Kelly's Landscaping is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarman2420 View Post
I'm willing to give it 60-70 hours a week or more; but not just to give a bunch of ungrateful employees a check to use on beer and porn!
There are a million free porn sites that might help make your employees happier Sorry had to comment on that.

I am curious as to why you make less then 0 on the mowing. Could be so many reasons bad accounts the drive time could be to far. My second crew went through the trouble of clocking their mileage this week and they drive 81 miles a week on their cutting list of 107 lawns.


I have lawns that I question why I bother and perhaps if you were in the field on the cutting crew you would see what I'm talking about. I guarantee not all your lawns lose money some may even give you real decent profits and are carrying some real dogs. If your not going to be with the guys id have them write a log next week 9:10 left shop 9:17 reached Smith's yard 9:42 left Smith's yard. What you want is to see where your losing the money hey I made 120 dollars from 2 pm to 3 pm but made only 85 dollars from 3pm to 5 pm. That might be an problem you'd want to look into and see if you can fix it.


Rule out the accounts the equipment and the trucks then the routs and finally your going to need to look at the employees. Some may be great some so so and others suck. You may either need daily list you expect weather its lawn cuts or actual dollars. With us a 2 man crew should see 800 dollars a day anything under 500 and I am losing money. So I got a newbie 2 weeks ago with me very weak set of skills and so I'm seeing 700s a day not happy since most of that is my doing and that's going to be the hard part for you. Some guys are so good even if the guy they are with sucks they can still bring in a profit. Your problem is going to be figuring out if the guys are both so so or if you got a real gem and hes being pulled down by dead weight. If that's the case getting him a real crew member is an easy fix.

It also sounds like you grew way to fast and that definitely means you have some debt which you are paying on. And that could be the reason your seeing so little profits 2-5k a month in truck and equipment loans can serious hit the bottom line especially in the off season which no one ever seems to think of when they say they are making a profit in summer.
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  #5  
Old 07-04-2011, 11:45 AM
Get Some...'s Avatar
Get Some... Get Some... is offline
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Location: Kansas
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Profits are less than 0 for maintenance.......


That's a no-brainer......I imagine you mean mowing (maintenance).


Why run crew's and make no money or lose some?

Personally I am happy with a solo buisness and some part time help.
I control my schedule, rather than my schedule controling me....

As far as regular mowing account's, I take only one's that are profitable.
Good steady mowing season income.

Then alot of one time job's that pay well. About 10% of those turn into about regular account's.
Hopefully that will build up into a better base of well paying maintenance jobs.

All my client's get a snow removal buisness card, and that I do with a snowblower and shovel.
Pretty good off season income.

Alot of the guy's mowing around here are making $60.00 an hour for a three man crew.......there is just not enough profit margin in that.

Good luck.
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  #6  
Old 07-04-2011, 11:48 AM
guitarman2420 guitarman2420 is offline
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  #7  
Old 07-04-2011, 11:52 AM
guitarman2420 guitarman2420 is offline
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I agree - my cost per employee is 23.11 per manhour. 3 emnployees for an hour, even w/costsavings on site, is at least 60+ an hour
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  #8  
Old 07-04-2011, 11:50 AM
Precislawn Precislawn is offline
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Location: Tulsa, OK
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I've heard many stories similar to yours from others in the business. This is the reason why after 15 years I'm still solo, with part time help as needed.

I focus on high end clients that will pay top dollar for high quality work and let the other companies take care of the mow and go type work. It's worked out fairly well for me and keeps my profits high.
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  #9  
Old 07-04-2011, 12:05 PM
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Get Some... Get Some... is offline
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The minimum I will mow for, by myself, is $35.00 an hour.......less than that and I am going to do something else.....
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  #10  
Old 07-04-2011, 12:09 PM
guitarman2420 guitarman2420 is offline
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Originally Posted by Get Some... View Post
The minimum I will mow for, by myself, is $35.00 an hour.......less than that and I am going to do something else.....
My labor rate is 50 an hour for billable work. I try and get 40 for contracts
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