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  #151  
Old 01-01-2013, 04:02 PM
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LandFakers LandFakers is offline
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Originally Posted by LDH View Post
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!
Wow... That must be a hard pill to swallow everytime you think about it... Glad you have learned and glad you can share it for the rest of us to learn from
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  #152  
Old 01-01-2013, 04:18 PM
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YardBoss Lawncare YardBoss Lawncare is offline
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Originally Posted by LandFakers View Post
Wow... That must be a hard pill to swallow everytime you think about it... Glad you have learned and glad you can share it for the rest of us to learn from
It is, but I only have myself to thank. I was young and irresponsible with my spending and saving habits. Things are finally starting to turn around. I've got my spraying license back, got myself another sprayer, a line on a few mowing accounts, and finally talked my banker into helping me again. I'm basically starting from scratch again, but I have the past experience on my side now. I hate to see anyone make the same mistakes I did. I know and understand fully how the larger higher paying accounts can be luring and seductive. I'm not discouraging against taking on these jobs by any means. They're probably the fastest way to build a business. I'm just saying don't tie up all of your time and base your equipment purchases on 1 or 2 large accounts. Even if they pay really good. They help out big time on building, but they also swing a big chain at your business if and when you do actually lose the account/s.
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  #153  
Old 01-01-2013, 04:19 PM
orangemower orangemower is offline
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Originally Posted by LandFakers View Post
Wow... That must be a hard pill to swallow everytime you think about it... Glad you have learned and glad you can share it for the rest of us to learn from
No doubt it sucks. What he did was what everyone in a service type business should know, is to not put all of it in one basket UNLESS you have a signed contract for a handful of years. At least then you can manage that and take on more work so you can cover everything if you lose the big one. If you go big, you have to go big on a bunch of places to cover your bases.
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  #154  
Old 01-01-2013, 04:34 PM
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YardBoss Lawncare YardBoss Lawncare is offline
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No doubt it sucks. What he did was what everyone in a service type business should know, is to not put all of it in one basket UNLESS you have a signed contract for a handful of years. At least then you can manage that and take on more work so you can cover everything if you lose the big one. If you go big, you have to go big on a bunch of places to cover your bases.
I agree with this statement.
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  #155  
Old 01-01-2013, 04:39 PM
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YardBoss Lawncare YardBoss Lawncare is offline
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And watch the contracts that state "this contract may be cancelled at anytime without reason upon the city manager's decision, etc. etc. etc." I forgot the wording in mine, but it was something along those lines in 07 and 08. Sometimes knowing that it's a $30,000+ contract will make a man ignore that clause and take the gamble. And unfortunately when working with a city, they write up the contracts the way they want them to read. You can accept it or let the next lowest bidder on the sheet take it. It's their way or the highway in other words.
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  #156  
Old 01-01-2013, 05:59 PM
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Pietro Pietro is offline
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In my opinion 1 good account doesn't justify buying a new machine.
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  #157  
Old 01-01-2013, 06:45 PM
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jrs.landscaping jrs.landscaping is offline
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In my opinion 1 good account doesn't justify buying a new machine.
I think it depends on the situation.
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  #158  
Old 01-02-2013, 04:58 PM
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Maybe if there was a long term contract, then you can justify it.
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  #159  
Old 01-02-2013, 05:15 PM
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Mickhippy Mickhippy is offline
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What comes first? The job or the tool?
How do you get the (future) jobs if you dont have the tool (other than continually renting or subbing)

No, I wouldnt buy an expensive machine for one job, but I'd certainly buy one if mowing etc was what I wanted to do long term.

The OP already has a Walker, why not invest in a mid mount? He'd probably end up using the MM more than the Walker due to speed, less maintenance, possibly more rougher work etc.
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  #160  
Old 01-02-2013, 07:07 PM
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YardBoss Lawncare YardBoss Lawncare is offline
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Originally Posted by Mickhippy View Post
What comes first? The job or the tool?
How do you get the (future) jobs if you dont have the tool (other than continually renting or subbing)

No, I wouldnt buy an expensive machine for one job, but I'd certainly buy one if mowing etc was what I wanted to do long term.

The OP already has a Walker, why not invest in a mid mount? He'd probably end up using the MM more than the Walker due to speed, less maintenance, possibly more rougher work etc.
I agree, if you plan on mowing long term and have this business in your heart (and can afford to make the payments no matter how many contracts you lose or don't acquire) buying a mower is an investment that should be made. That's the position I'm in now. I have my full time job driving a truck which enables me to make the payments on a mower even without having any customers acquired yet. I drive local, so I'm home at night and off every weekend. I work 12-13 hours a day. My plan is to get a mower and trailer (still have my hand helds and sprayer) and start securing clientele. Once my weekends are booked with mowing customers I will turn loose of the 65 hour a week trucking job and switch to a regular 40 hour a week job. At that point I will move the weekend customers to evenings. When I get off work I will go do 2 or 3 yards, Monday through Friday. This will open up my weekends again, enabling me to book more mowing customers. Once I have the evenings filled and the weekends filled again, I will be able to turn loose of the 40 hour a week job and go full time in the green industry once again.
This is my plan. Although I would be happy just to get to the point where I have a 40 hour a week job and 2-3 mowing customers to go take care of each evening after work. 10 to 15 residentials maybe. Then have my weekends to go play
Moral of the story, I agree about buying the equipment you need or will need. Just be smart about it. My situation is a little different because I have a 65 hour a week driving job that brings me about $50,000 a year, so I'm able to make the payments on a mower even not having any clientele yet. And like you said.... it's hard to go around giving quotes and turning in bid proposals when you don't have the equipment already on hand to full fill those agreements if and when you do secure the jobs.
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