Originally Posted by LDH
Looks good. Congrats. I had a contract with the city where I lived in 2007. There were 10 properties on the bid packet they put out that year. It was my first "big money" year in the business. I was inexperienced with equipment purchases and bid proposals. I won 7 out of the 10 bids. A 29 acre roadway, a 4 acre lot, the museum, library, senior citizens center, associated charities building, and nutrition center. I charged $650 per mowing to do the roadway. They let me do it every week. With a 72" front mount Grasshopper that had a 22hp Kubota diesel I was able to do the roadway in about 12 hours. Everyone in the area thought I had lowballed my bid, but I ended up making great money that year. $650 for one full day of work was pretty good money to me at the age of 24, even after fuel and a set of blades. The following day I went around and did the smaller accounts (library, museum, etc.) If I stayed after it, I could get everything done in 2 days. They paid me every Friday. All together I collected about $1,300 each week from the city. On top of that I had Sonic, an auto dealership, a foundry, and a handful of residentials that. I was averaging about $1,800 each week with everything I had to mow. That year was a good year for me. It rained alot and I probably had 30 cuttings in that season. 30 x $1,800 = $54,000 gross for 7 months of work. I thought I was on top of the world. I was 24, working for myself, drove a new 3/4 ton diesel pickup, bought some workers comp insurance in order to hire a college girl who was out for the Summer to help me, etc. Alot of times I would go to the lake with my girlfriend who also owned her own business (laundry mat, Conoco gas station) and wouldn't even work. I would just let the college girl take the pickup, trailer and mower and go mow everything for me. All I had to do was collect every Friday, pay her $400, check all the properties and politic with the owners. A few years later the city administration changed over and a new city manager with new money saving ideas came in, stopped putting everything up for bid, bought 2 big ztrs and hired kids in the newspaper each Summer to do their own mowing. I ended up getting my CDL and started driving a truck. I went through a divorce, my credit took a below the belt punch, and I let it all slip out of my hands. Since then, I have been driving a truck full time for about $50,000 a year. I'm a W-2 employee and work about 65 hours a week. It's a hard pill to swallow, considering I used to work 2 days a week, 7 months out of the year to make what I make now, 5 days a week, 12 months a year. I deal with a boss, 45 co-workers who are always stabbing one another in the back, company politics, etc.
I learned a valuable lesson the hardest way..... Never have all of your eggs in one basket. That city contract was 70% of my income. When it was gone, I still had some other accounts but not enough to stay in the business full-time. I didn't want to lose my pickup or go totally under so I was forced to go back to being a W-2 employee.
I look back now (older and more mature) and realize the bad business decisions I made. Buying brand new mowers vs used, having too much income tied up in one customer, having a new pickup when a used one would've been more economical, not saving money the way I should've, hiring the college girl to do the work that I could've easily done myself, etc. Like I said... I learned the hard way. Congrats on your new account. Just always keep my story in mind when you're out there bidding and filling up your work schedule slots. Always bid what YOU are happy with. Only YOU know what it takes to profit and please yourself because only YOU know your personal finances and debt situation. If others feel it is lowballed or too high, so be it. It is YOUR business. Just smile and show your teeth when they verbally slam you because you'll always know in your mind that regaurdless of what is said you are working for yourself and you are turning a profit that you are happy with, and that's all that counts. I do think learning from other people's mistakes is a wise thing though. Good luck!