My city is 50,000 so its not large or tiny...just seems like everything is online..must be cheaper,,I dont know:
I'm feeling a lot better than I did a month ago. I have a hard time getting an answer from most of my customers this time of year, but so far it's looking good, comparable to last year at this time. I've even had 4 customers pay in full for the season so far. I'm trying some new advertising methods and already had 2 calls this week...considering how cold it's been here this winter, that's a good sign.
Hoolie, You offer a discount if they pay up front for there Lawn maintenance service contracts. We are offering a 5% discount if you pay up front before April 30 09. I hope its going to work. This is the first year we are doing that.
The jobs that are out there are just not paying that much. There has been a lot of layoffs in our area. Micron just announced another 2,000 gone by August. They estimate their labor saving at 150 mil. People think oh well at least I have my job ect ect but in the end that is 2,000 people trying to find jobs that are not there.
My wife left her job in the banking industry a year and a half ago. Keep in mind when she left her job in August of 07' she had 3-4 people calling her a week, asking her to come work for them. Her boss told her the company was fine and that she was crazy for leaving and cashing out her 401k and pension. Her boss, also a friend of ours, calls in December of 07' while we were on vacation. She begins to tell my wife how she was ordered to fire a handful of under preforming people the week before. Today she went in to the office and there was a security guard with a letter from corprate telling them their home loan center was closing and to box up all the files remove personal items from their desk and be out by 5:00pm.
What many people do not know is that any company that has stock or share holders are limited in what they can tell their employees. If they tell them things are slowing down and your job may be at risk in xx months the upper management can be accused of giving out insider info. All large companies will tell their employees don't worry about your job, heck they may even hire employees days before doing massive layoffs.
My business was going great last year we were on track to have near 100% growth. That was until November. We were down 500 sprinkler blowouts which we were counting on for the winter months. The company I had done snow removal for the previous year filed bankruptcy. The crazy thing is that I expected my business to just slow down if the economy was really bad.
All last summer I was talking with others in the trade and they were telling me how bad it was. One guy had a crew of 6 in the summer of 07' and was down to just himself last summer. The whole time I was hearing this I was thinking oh they must just suck at what they do, be over extended ect ect but I am telling you things are getting bad around here. Now more than ever you must know your cost of doing business.
I got a call from a customer last week, a doctor no less, telling me how he was trying to save money blah blah. Well he called this week to cancel. I guess his practice is suffering right now. He told me 1 out of 5 of his appointments are no shows. He is a kidney doctor so its not like people are holding off on shoulder surgery or something elective. Talked to my health insurance agent this week about canceling our health insurance after my wife's kicks in. He was doing awesome last year. Boom this year he says people are canceling left and right from large companies to the self employed to retired folks for supleamental.
The point I am trying to make is we as Americans are eternal optimists. We tell ourselves, hey we are the most inovative, hard working people on planet earth, things will be just fine. All i'm saying is what if things really go south. Are you prepared. This winter has given me time to come up with plans for if my business takes a huge hit.
I run two crews. This year everyone will be scheduled for 30 hours/week. Last year I had employees working 50+ hours a week. If we start getting behind they can work one more day. Instead of having three employees I will have 6. If someone has an attitude problem there will be 5 other people to help fill their spot. If I were to loose 50% or more of my business I have a plan for that. The second crew gone. The truck trailer mower z-spray gone.
I know this all sounds bad but its kind of like having engine trouble in a airplane that has parachutes for everyone on board. True it would not be the ideal situation but if you have planed and prepared for it at least when you reach the bottom you will be in one piece. All that being said I thing business may be a little soft this spring but as those that have no plan B crash and burn, I will be in a position to keep going.
I have one employee that I told last fall about the recent turn for the worse in business. I told him you may want to find a full time non seasonal job. Well he keeps calling me asking when are we going to start back up. I told him I am keeping up with the work right now, as soon as things pick up mid March or Mid April he will be the first one back. He tells me how hard the winter has been and I asked him if he tried to get a job. He told me there are no jobs out there and he stopped looking.
I told him if I don't keep my overhead low I will not have money to make payments on equipment. If I don't have equipment neither of us would work this summer. I just don't know if the average worker understand that if the business's in this country don't make the hard decisions to lower their overhead up front it is only a matter of time before the whole company fails.
Well seeing the writing on the wall my wife realized we no longer be able to live on my income. Even though we had built our business up the first 3 quarters of 2008 the last quarters projected sales of 55,000 were just not happening. I told my wife just wait till December to start looking for a job. To this point we were still not all that worried. Business had dropped off a cliff but we would be fine with my wife's new income.
My wife started applying for jobs in December 08', she began calling all her contacts, you know the ones begging her to come work for her in August of 07', their response was either we are not hiring or I got down sized and am now looking for a job too. The few companies she herd back from said they had hundreds of applicants and were trying to sort through them all. She got a good job two weeks ago (Thank god) but we have several friends that have been out of work for months. Some found jobs only to get calls the day before their start date to tell them they decided to not bring any new employees on.
For everyone on lawnsite that is doing great and are planning on more growth this season I wish you the best. Just take one day and plan. Plan for if business is flat this year, plan for the best case, but also plan for the worst case. For my area I think things will get worse before they get better as a whole. But I also see a real posability of another banner year.
For those of you that say you have no belief in God you can stop reading here. Just remember the tag for this thread. "Who is expecting good sales for 2009" If you are humbled this year and are wondering about the whole god thing you can return here later
For everyone else still reading this out there take a moment to count your blessings. Two weeks ago were pretty bleak for me and my family I did not know how I was going to pay my bills. My parents had offered my wife and I money but being 31 years old I did not feel right about taking money without the confidence I could repay them in a timely manner. My wife and I had become accustomed to a six figure income and bought all the nice things to go with it. Like I said earlier my wife had started looking the first part of December. She finally interviewed for this job in January and was one of the final canidates. They made here do all those online profiles checked all her refrences, pulled credit, criminal background and even made her do a business plan. We had no Money to pay our mortgage and were counting off the remaining days of the grace period. We let my 4 year old daughter come to bed with us that night and I opened up the bible. Just flipped it open and it opened to Psalms 37 which reads.
1 [a] Do not fret because of evil men
or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.
10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy great peace.
12 The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.
14 The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.
15 But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.
16 Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;
17 for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.
18 The days of the blameless are known to the LORD,
and their inheritance will endure forever.
19 In times of disaster they will not wither;
in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.
20 But the wicked will perish:
The LORD's enemies will be like the beauty of the fields,
they will vanish—vanish like smoke.
21 The wicked borrow and do not repay,
but the righteous give generously;
22 those the LORD blesses will inherit the land,
but those he curses will be cut off.
23 If the LORD delights in a man's way,
he makes his steps firm;
24 though he stumble, he will not fall,
for the LORD upholds him with his hand.
25 I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
26 They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be blessed.
27 Turn from evil and do good;
then you will dwell in the land forever.
28 For the LORD loves the just
and will not forsake his faithful ones.
They will be protected forever,
but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off;
29 the righteous will inherit the land
and dwell in it forever.
30 The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks what is just.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
his feet do not slip.
32 The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
seeking their very lives;
33 but the LORD will not leave them in their power
or let them be condemned when brought to trial.
34 Wait for the LORD
and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.
35 I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
flourishing like a green tree in its native soil,
36 but he soon passed away and was no more;
though I looked for him, he could not be found.
37 Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
there is a future [b] for the man of peace.
38 But all sinners will be destroyed;
the future [c] of the wicked will be cut off.
39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
40 The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.
That night I prayed for god to help me let go. I grew up in a christian family and became a christian myself in my early teens. I felt all my life I had lived a christian life, we tithed went to church payed ......... But not this night, this night I was thinking of all the material things I had built around my life and how I had justified in my mind how I could afford them, how they would help me build my business, my investments to secure my future, how all of it really did not mean anything to me bla bla bla. Well this night I saw for the first time how greedy and selfish the last 10 years of my life had become. I prayed for god to let me keep one thing. Out of everything, the house ,the furniture, the cars, the business I had put my blood sweat and tears into, I wanted only one thing. The one thing that can not be bought for any price my family.
The very next morning I woke up. I had actually slept very well but but woke up uneasy. This was the financial D-day I had been dreading for the last two months. I ate breakfast thinking that would make me feel better. It didn't. My wife and daughter gave me a big hug and I knew everything was going to be ok. Life would not be as we had known it but life would go on and be ok.
Then the phone rang.
It was the recruiter my wife had been working with for the past two weeks calling to tell her she got the job. My wife got off the phone and we began to cry. We just held each other and cried and cried, our tears turned to laughter and we began to see the humor in our situation. We had thought our whole lives that our lifestyle was the product of our had work, our goals and our good financial decisions. Well like many in America we had the mindset that you must spend money to make money and over a short two year period our assets have become liabilities.
We have now dedicated our lives to paying off all debts even our house. We have also rededicated our lives to the Lord and his will for our lives. We realize none of the things of this earth are ours. All this stuff in our lives can easily be taken away. Heck it might still go south for us this year.
For those of you going through hard times right now, turn to God. Ask him for direction in your life. Wait for the Lord. That is the hardest part, waiting and trusting. Do not think that everything will be great, that all you have worked for will still be yours, but trust that God has a purpose for your life.
Some of you may be thinking, easy for you to say things worked out ok for you. But I have a real understanding now for how quickly things can go bad. How they can go from bad to good again, and how few things in life are certain. I hope all of you still reading this realize 2009 will be good for some, and some will crash and burn. For those of you that crash try to make something of the carnage. For those that have a great year please be the light at the end of the tunnel for those less fortunate.
May God bless America in these trying times.
I rarely have a new customer want to pay upfront, I probably wouldn't do it myself unless I was comfortable with the LCO first.
Landscape & Lawn Service
Not your ordinary pain in the gr@ss lawn service...
here is what I'm gettin'.....
3 calls this week from Flyers.....
"Hi, ok I like your price and I will keep you in mind, and right now I'm going to call my current LCO and see if he'll match your price.... ok? Thanks..."
wtf??? of course your dude is gonna lower his price!!!
Hmmph, at least I know they're loyal...
Landscape & Lawn Service
Not your ordinary pain in the gr@ss lawn service...