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  #1  
Old 10-11-2012, 12:29 PM
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Tinkerer Tinkerer is offline
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Location: St.Paul suburb
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What mistakes have you learned from?

While having a lawn service, what mistakes have you made that you have learned from? Me: 1. Missing or being late on credit card payments. That effected my ability to get loans and I had to keep buying older trucks and had to fix them often. 2. Blowing money on small stuff instead of saving so I could buy mowers or attachments that I wanted.
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  #2  
Old 10-11-2012, 12:41 PM
Jimslawncareservice Jimslawncareservice is online now
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Location: mn
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Under pricing. Pricing correctly on properties that o wanted vs not wanting. At one time I bought way to much stuff. It sucks scrambling for money to make payments.
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  #3  
Old 10-11-2012, 12:57 PM
CITY PARK CUTTER CITY PARK CUTTER is offline
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Location: Kansas City, MO
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Great topic, one of my favorites because it's so true and gritty

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tinkerer View Post
While having a lawn service, what mistakes have you made that you have learned from? Me: 1. Missing or being late on credit card payments. That effected my ability to get loans and I had to keep buying older trucks and had to fix them often. 2. Blowing money on small stuff instead of saving so I could buy mowers or attachments that I wanted.
I'll talk about anything, good or bad, just don't care. And I've made a ton of mistakes starting out in this lawn business of mine and survived to tell the tale...

1.) NEVER OVERPAY FOR LABOR. I had family members that were farm folk mow for me in the beginning and they were outstanding performers. Then, I kept winning city contracts and kept bumping up wages. WRONG! You do that and your'e begging for others on the crew to whine that their wage be raised. Once the dust settles, you've got some guys doing the same work for higher wages than others and the **** hits the fan. My policy now and it works like a charm: $75/day take it or leave it. I've made a ton of money with that policy. No raises, this is the work, that's the wage paid. Thanks, Obama.

2.) DON'T ASSUME ANYTHING. Landscapers are notorious for telling you one thing and doing another in order to stay on schedule. Inspect everything. If they tell you they mowed and trimmed that half of the city park, you go over there and look with your own two eyes. Sometimes they lie, sometimes they just overlook. Your paycheck depends on completed jobs, don't assume anything even with some of your best people.

3.) NEVER HIRE FRIENDS OF WORKERS. You're begging for lazy workers. Everybody needs to not know each other prior to working for you. Keep the team lean, and unrelated. Lunches will be shorter, workers more attentive, and a healthy competition within for quality and speed will develop. Hire a bunch of friends to work together is a recipe for schedules overlapping into the next day to be competed.

4.) DON'T ASSUME THAT ALL MEXICANS ARE THE SAME. Had to learn this one the hard way. Just because a guy is Mexican does not, I REPEAT...DOES NOT MEAN HE'S A DAMNED HARD WORKER THAT WILL DO ANYTHING FOR CHEAP PESOS. Odds are in your favor, but I've seen some lazyass Mexican labor types, I think they are becoming Americanized to some degree. Try them out on a test run beforehand.

5.) YOU'RE NOT AN ATM MACHINE, DON'T LEND EMPLOYEES MONEY. If I heard this one 100 times, I've heard it 1000 times...and the answer is NO. Low level labor will ask you, it's coming. A guy who trims grass foro $75 per day usually has money woes and don't let him transfer those woes to you via an advance in pay or loan. Stay far away from that. I never lend money to anybody that works for me, policy. I don't need any more dependents, especially 52 yr olds living in a studio apt because of bad life choices. Not my problem, I want the grass trimmed. Harsh, but harsh owners make money and outlast everybody else. Pricks are the very best business owners I've worked for and now...I'm one of 'em.

6.) DO NOT BID ON A PROPERTY BEFORE YOU SEE IT. This one's tough because busy operators can't seem to find time to view every property beforehand. I try my hardest not to quote before seeing or I'll do it with a caveat that if it is something more than the homeowner states, I'll change my bid accordingly. Especially larger properties, go see it in person.

7.) KEEP YOUR CREW LEAN. DO NOT OVERHIRE. Back in the beginning, I hired everybody to do everything. Never again. Hire only what absolutely needs to be and make them do it all, bust ass is what you need to do. A couple guys should be able to handle $450 worth of residential lawns a day...two guys, not three. I currently mow a 33 acre park with myself and one trimmer guy. Yes, it can be done. Hire more than is what's needed and you're getting work done, but not making the kind of money that gets me out of bed.

8.) EXCUSES ARE FOR SOMEBODY ELSE. If a guy shows up late, then again...fire his ass. Do not allow employees to dictate the pace of your operation or you will be a slave to them. Low level types love to power play you, it's all they have in life. Every owner has had one, good employee but just can't make it to work each day on time. Fire him, get rid of losers fast, I'm tell'in ya. I'd rather have a crew of "B" performers who show up each day on time and never complain than a collection of "A" and "B+" guys with excuses why and never quite put together two weeks of perfect attendance.
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  #4  
Old 10-11-2012, 01:28 PM
ncnurseryman ncnurseryman is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Durham, NC
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Well said city park cutter. I just had a kid borrow 20.00 and yes I stupidly gave it to him, but no more. Has he offered to pay it back? Heck no. He's avoid worker but always trying to get something free or extra. No wonder he has no phone, no car, lives with friends and is one food stamps. Believe it or not some of these kids today are down right proud to get handouts.
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  #5  
Old 10-11-2012, 01:46 PM
CITY PARK CUTTER CITY PARK CUTTER is offline
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Location: Kansas City, MO
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This generation has no shame

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Originally Posted by ncnurseryman View Post
Well said city park cutter. I just had a kid borrow 20.00 and yes I stupidly gave it to him, but no more. Has he offered to pay it back? Heck no. He's avoid worker but always trying to get something free or extra. No wonder he has no phone, no car, lives with friends and is one food stamps. Believe it or not some of these kids today are down right proud to get handouts.

They are PROUD of the fact that they get hand outs from gov'ment. Food stamps back in my day were something a housewife would hide, go to the store at night when nobody was around, and shop as quick as possible. Now, you should see the amounts and quality of food losers buy on our dole and parade around the PriceChopper like they are carting gold bullion.

You'll love this story...I have a Mexican worker right now on food stamps, he has a family of 8 brothers and sisters...7 are on food stamps. ONe sister still has some pride left. One gets $800 dollars per month in free food because of her kid situation. The others get varying amounts from $500 to $200 for a single. All of them go to the store in the busiest times of the day, don't hide it for nothing, and ring up their freebies like they earned every last corn tortilla.

And here's another story...one of the Salvation Army higher ups was buying $800 worth of food stamps for cash money each month from their acquaintances. That's right, a Salvation Army official of note here in town to feed his large family. It's everywhere, out of control this generation.
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  #6  
Old 10-11-2012, 02:56 PM
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DA Quality Lawn & YS DA Quality Lawn & YS is offline
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I would say for me, taking on every tom-dick-harry job that someone wants done. Its ok to do that at first, but eventually, you get stuck with some dirty ol projects you would rather not be working on and for a slim margin.

Now when I visit someones home and it is a dog poop infested mess (for example), I say sorry I am booked
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  #7  
Old 10-11-2012, 03:10 PM
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Blades Lawn Maintenance Blades Lawn Maintenance is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DA Quality Lawn & YS View Post
I would say for me, taking on every tom-dick-harry job that someone wants done. Its ok to do that at first, but eventually, you get stuck with some dirty ol projects you would rather not be working on and for a slim margin.

Now when I visit someones home and it is a dog poop infested mess (for example), I say sorry I am booked
Yeah I agree...

For me I would say NEVER and I mean NEVER EVER do work for family or friends. Ya Mom or grandma is ok but everybody else. No thanks you. I'll pass.
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Enough Said...
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  #8  
Old 10-11-2012, 05:13 PM
StanWilhite StanWilhite is offline
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Each and every one of them!!!
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  #9  
Old 10-11-2012, 05:19 PM
corey4671 corey4671 is offline
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Location: Somewhere in TN
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Don't haggle with tightwads over a price. If they aren't willing to pay MY price, they can't afford ME. Don't have time to waste with ya. My phone rings everyday. Don't think that you have to land EVERY job that calls you.
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  #10  
Old 10-11-2012, 05:29 PM
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Mickhippy Mickhippy is offline
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Location: Queensland, Australia.
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Having trust in a particular brand and not demoing it in all my typical mowing conditions.

I agree about working for friend and family. I have one "friend" who owns me quite a bit of money ($600) for mowing. If it was anyone else I would take him straight to small claims court or debt collectors. As it stands now, Im not really sure what to do!
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