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  #111  
Old 04-08-2013, 10:41 PM
Armsden&Son Armsden&Son is offline
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Well said for sure.... And hey there Bassman.... Isn't that the great thing about the industry in general though? I am one of the guys that you described(fire in the belly) for sure. Currently a single op but just keeping my head down and being patient, observing, watching, waiting, learning, all while honing my craft and learning new things. I absolutely have plans to expand but here I am solo for now... And here you are, solo in the green industry, after many years of obviously not being solo(you said you ran businesses) It's just great that there can be that endless variety of people and backgrounds in our industry. Let me ask you a question.... Knowing what you now know about the landscaping industry, when you were younger and running other businesses would have gotten into the industry then? In other words, being a "business man," Do you think that there is profitability in our industry?
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  #112  
Old 04-08-2013, 10:51 PM
TFLE TFLE is offline
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I will say that the current business I have I bought from my dad about 6 years ago. When we worked together we ran a Landscape/Excavating crew and a lawn crew. At the height was about 5 employees including him and I. He found if difficult to make the jump to expand because the next jump was a BIG jump and in order to justify serious expansion it required adding 3 employees instead of just one and major capital purchases, and our luck with employees was less than stellar (good workers sometimes just high turnover) and he just didn't trust running a third crew (mowing) to anyone else, especially when that meant adding at least 30k in equipment. I guess you just take the leap one day and don't look back. Sink or swim and if you sink well I guess you can load up one of the mowers the bank didn't take on the back of a truck and start over... but you miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
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  #113  
Old 04-08-2013, 11:21 PM
205mx 205mx is offline
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Originally Posted by Frue View Post
205mx. Here's the deal. Going from single to crews is tough but way worth it. The reason it's tough on here is because there are so many single op guys who think they know. The truth is being a single op is cool. But when you are trying to give advice to guys who are three times there size. That's when the problems arise. So go ahead and grow. I have been a single op and I now have guys that work for me. Having guys is the best.
I remember when I was real active on hear a few years ago. A guy private message me. He asked some questions about business. He only had nine accounts. Within a few months he was on every post giving advice about every aspect of business. That's when I split. Nine accounts that's like half a day for me and your going to give me advice. So be careful who you take advice from on here. Go for it. Last year I took four vacations in the summer. A single op generally can't do that. Good luck myfriend
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  #114  
Old 04-09-2013, 08:10 AM
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Landscraper1 Landscraper1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frue View Post
205mx. Here's the deal. Going from single to crews is tough but way worth it. The reason it's tough on here is because there are so many single op guys who think they know. The truth is being a single op is cool. But when you are trying to give advice to guys who are three times there size. That's when the problems arise. So go ahead and grow. I have been a single op and I now have guys that work for me. Having guys is the best.
I remember when I was real active on hear a few years ago. A guy private message me. He asked some questions about business. He only had nine accounts. Within a few months he was on every post giving advice about every aspect of business. That's when I split. Nine accounts that's like half a day for me and your going to give me advice. So be careful who you take advice from on here. Go for it. Last year I took four vacations in the summer. A single op generally can't do that. Good luck myfriend
Well said and sooooo True!!!!
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  #115  
Old 04-09-2013, 03:17 PM
ralph02813 ralph02813 is offline
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Originally Posted by whiffyspark View Post
Don't be. If you want to be big time all the power to you. Alot of people on this site are solo. They are landscapers, not businessmen. You should work ON your business, not IN your business.


There is a huge difference.
could not agree more, I gave up several customer this year to concentrate on the really great ones.
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  #116  
Old 04-09-2013, 05:26 PM
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JimLewis JimLewis is online now
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This is a topic we've discussed at great length over the 14 years I've been on this forum.

It comes down what you want to do and how much reward you're willing to work for. There are big trade-offs either way.

With a Solo Op. - you are limited on how much money you will make. One person can only do so much work. Some people are happy and comfortable at that limit. I found that threshold to be too low for me to live on comfortably and provide the things I wanted to provide for my kids, wife, family, lifestyle. But there are many who are totally happy with the lifestyle they are able to provide on a solo op. income. To each his own.

Another big disadvantage of being solo is you're probably never going to be able to sell your company for very much when it comes time to retire. You're not really building a company that is worth much. You just have a nice job.

The biggest disadvantage to staying solo forever, IMO, is the risk. YOU are the only thing keeping the business alive - keeping it running from day to day. So if you ever break a leg, end up with major back problems, come down with cancer or some other debilitating disease, your company is either going to take a major hit or you're going to be out of business. You have no other workers in your company to keep it running.

The advantages of a Solo Op are obvious. No employees. No worker's comp. No employment taxes. No big shop to rent. Very little equipment. Not much overhead. You can keep your prices low/affordable.

Now if you want to build the business and become a larger company, there are advantages and disadvantages to that as well. We're in our 17th year now and I now have 32 workers, 16 trucks, a big shop, a ton of overhead, and doing $2.5Mil a year in sales. I just explain this because a lot of the guys on Lawnsite don't know me or our company well. I'm just saying this part of the business (building it up) is something I know quite a bit about.

The advantage is I've been able to provide myself with a lot higher income than I ever would have been able to as a solo op. My kids get to go to a private school, the wife doesn't have to work outside the home, we live in a little nicer home and community than most people do, etc. Plus we get some nice incentive trips every year or two from various manufacturers and distributors. Hawaii, Bahamas, Cruises, Mexico, Costa Rica, etc - Some nicer perks that you can only get if your company does a lot of volume.

I guess there are other advantages like not having to do the physical work anymore. Less stress on my body. But at the same time, inactivity takes its own toll on your health too. The ability to set my own hours, put other people in charge when I leave for a vacation, and do all sorts of landscape design/hardscape/outdoor living sort of work with our teams (that I could never do on my own if I was solo - at least not on a timely matter) is also nice.

But there are plenty of downsides to having a larger business as well. We've been growing at a rate of 25%-45% the last 3 years in a row and at this growth rate you use up almost all of your profit in providing for that growth. More trucks, more trailers, more equipment, more workers, bigger shop, etc. So that's one big disadvantage.

Then there's the constant headaches that having employees creates. Even if you have really good, strong, hardworking crews like we do, there are always issues. Guys who don't get along with one another, someone who isn't pulling their weight and has to be let go, doing tons of interviews when it's time to hire new guys, accommodating day-off requests, and a hundred other problems that come up regularly. It seems like every week we're dealing with some sort of issue with at least one employee.

There is a lot more risk with employees too. They could damage someone or something with your equipment or vehicles. It's easy to not account for all of the overhead that employees create and get behind on tax bills, insurance bills, etc. if you're not careful. All sorts of risk due to increased expenses that employees create.

Most of these challenges you figure out how to over time. Our biggest challenge is controlling overtime. We've had to implement some pretty strict rules lately in regards to overtime because it's been siphoning our profits.

One nice thing I like about having a larger company is the security it provides. If you have a company with 32 employees and the economy goes into a huge recession or even worse (depression) at least there's a good chance the company and your income survives. If the sh|t really hit the fan, I may have to lay off 75% of my workers, but I'll still have an income and revenue stream. My company may shrink by 75%, but my income wouldn't. But if a solo op. goes through the same thing, they're going to be hit a lot harder.

Anyway, it's a tough go either way. This isn't an easy business to be in. Especially if you live in an area that is very seasonal. There are always lots of challenges either way you go. I applaud anyone who's created a nice stable long-term business in this industry. Because it's very difficult to do so.
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  #117  
Old 04-09-2013, 05:34 PM
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Greg78 Greg78 is online now
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Great post as always Jim!!!
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  #118  
Old 04-09-2013, 05:55 PM
larryinalabama larryinalabama is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg78 View Post
Great post as always Jim!!!
Ditto!

I still prefer to be solo, I have some rental properties which are a headach enought for me.
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  #119  
Old 04-09-2013, 08:44 PM
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mkwl mkwl is offline
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I had been solo for several years in high school, college, and part of last year. Now I have 2 fulltime employees- we are able to get a LOT more done now- I'm able to continue to grow my business and not be unable to function after a day at work... I'm still in the field every day but able to run the business now as opposed to being the entire business. Do employees bring headaches? Absolutely- but for me at least, I want to see my business grow- only way to do that is to hire employees.... good ones!
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  #120  
Old 04-12-2013, 12:00 AM
dirtyoldman1 dirtyoldman1 is offline
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How do you guys with multiple crews handle turning down work? Do you still go out and give estimates for all the calls that come in, or do you pick and choose? I am selling more work than I can handle. Does anyone have a system for sorting the good jobs from the bad?
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