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Old 08-10-2013, 01:24 AM
bwanderson79 bwanderson79 is offline
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Location: Humble, TX
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Getting into the big leagues

I'm not even sure there's a specific question here, just a random thought that I have from time to time. I have a small part-time business that's done well for the past year. But I often wonder when I see other lawn crews with big trucks, four or five crew members and name recognition within the community how they got there and how they've stayed there. These guys can knock out 30 residential customers a day if necessary, and many of these companies have several trucks, not just one. I often feel that its a real business where the owner could break his foot and the money would still come in. If I was injured or couldn't work for several weeks, the business would cease to exist.

So my question for the guys running 2 to 3 crews is how did you get there? Commercial accounts? Loans? What did it take to get there and was there a moment or a year where you broke the barrier and finally realized that you were big time?
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Old 08-10-2013, 02:33 AM
Southern Heritage Southern Heritage is offline
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Location: Birmingham Al
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I can answer all these. I started cutting grass when I was 15. I have a high school diploma and collage degree. I started my company at age 18. I had a full time mowing crew when I went to school which barley paid for my schooling but did pay for it. I now have 6 trucks running and 16 employees. I pay cash for a lot of things but as of right now it takes approx $36,000.00 a month to operate so what I've learned now is cash flow is everything. So if I can take a loan for 0% I will with pleasure. As of right now 4 trucks are financed 3 at 0%
Skidsteer,Dingo, Z turn, and 2 Johndeere compact tractors. The only truck with interest is my big dump and its 3% interest. My payment is somewhere around $600.00. I pay $2500.00 during our growing season so I will have it paid it off in 1.5 years and pay a minimum on it if I have unexpected cost come up. I also stay ahead on my 0% interest if we do really good one month so all my loans are ahead. Also every thing is financed for 3 years except my 2 diesels are 5 years. Next year ill have no mower, skidsteer and one compact tractor payment. But also next year it will be time to replace 1 truck and possibly add another. So it keeps rolling over and over. My business plan is to pay cash for everything one day but I'm not sure if that will be a realistic plan I may have a better return with my money then a interest loan on a truck.
Things I do always pay cash for is 'push' mowers, 2 stroke Equitment, trailers, and stuff of that nature. Now saying All that. My first loan ever I was 18. I paid 12k for a ford F250 with a million miles and had to get a unsecured loan. My interest was 13%. I paid it off in 2 years. My second loan was a dingo with 6% when I was 19 It took a few years to pay off but I felt like it was my only way to grow I deal like it was a succefull move because the dingo even though 19k opened up a lot of doors. I also purchased in hopes it would bring buisness. I wouldn't do anything like that now. Thats what rental houses are for. I have established my business name with the bank and in the community. I also have established credit with the banks. We've NEVER been late on a payment or ran interest on a credit card.
As for breaking your foot.
I had back surgery this this morning. I want be back to work until Wednesday. I'm not worried at all. I also take a entire week to go hunting in North Dakota. I never truly worry while I'm gone because my crew guys can handle it. Best part is I'm masking the same amount of money whether I'm there it not. Now I can take off all the time because I sale 90% of our work. I have office, work payroll, and I feel it shows the guys that you
care. I still get dirty everyday. Not to the extent my guys do but I'm not a "watcher" so if I can kill a few hrs on a job between meetings ill lay some sod or place some stones etc. I do think I forgot how a weedeater works
: )
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Old 08-10-2013, 07:40 AM
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Sprinkler Buddy Sprinkler Buddy is offline
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"I do think I forgot how a weedeater works"

LOL You never forget!
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Old 08-10-2013, 12:27 PM
dllawson dllawson is offline
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Location: Southeast, GA
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Plan on working hard and staying small for a while, save some cash, start budgeting, review your profit and loss every month, save some more cash, work a little harder, pay off all of your equipment, save some cash, develop a great website, put a great logo on your truck, start building relationships with influential people in your town, and finally save a little more cash. Then develop a great marketing strategy and you will be ready to run when the right opportunity comes.

My point is donít be in too much of a hurry. You can make good money as an owner operator, so use it wisely to position yourself for growth. You want be in a strong financial position to pay for the new employees and equipment it takes to make it to the big leagues.
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Old 08-10-2013, 03:51 PM
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94gt331 94gt331 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dllawson View Post
Plan on working hard and staying small for a while, save some cash, start budgeting, review your profit and loss every month, save some more cash, work a little harder, pay off all of your equipment, save some cash, develop a great website, put a great logo on your truck, start building relationships with influential people in your town, and finally save a little more cash. Then develop a great marketing strategy and you will be ready to run when the right opportunity comes.

My point is donít be in too much of a hurry. You can make good money as an owner operator, so use it wisely to position yourself for growth. You want be in a strong financial position to pay for the new employees and equipment it takes to make it to the big leagues.
Great advice here
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Old 08-10-2013, 04:12 PM
ArtLikeLandscapes ArtLikeLandscapes is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: South GA / North FL
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If you can afford to since this is a part time business dump every penny back in the business if you see yourself doing this work for long term. I built mine while working a good paying full time job. I also believe in doing it legal and paying taxes. I had a good Friend of mine that is a CPA sit me down and explain how much more money I can make running legal with all the deductions and depreciation. I now have a business manager, Marketing manager and a operations manager that make twice what I did when I started.
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Old 08-10-2013, 05:30 PM
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123hotdog 123hotdog is offline
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Location: Bristol TN
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I am an owner operator with one employee. I have a long list of temporary people to come on for big projects. 95% of my business is mow+go and property management. I make an excellent living. I even bout my first new mower this year and paid cash for it. Just remember this, slow and steady wins the race. And cashflow is king.
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Old 08-11-2013, 10:26 PM
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steveiiturf steveiiturf is offline
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Location: Cleveland, Ohio
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Those are great questions, and some very good advice from the other people who posted so far. I run a commercial landscape maintenance business in the Cleveland market and we have been in business a little over 20 years now. The company started out of my fathers garage and we have grown substantially over the years. We now employ over 20 people including an office manager, account manager and field super. I think the most important thing you can do is to get involved with your state landscape association, go to the meetings, get on a committee and meet as many other owners as you can to network with. In addition I highly recommend joining PLANET and attending the Green Industry Conference this October. It is in Kentucky, and you will learn a lot about the industry, be able to network with other owners from all over the country, attend seminars specific to our industry, see all the newest equipment and technology and get a great overview of our industry. It is possible to make a good living in this industry if you are willing to take some time to develop yourself and are open to learning everything you can about it. Good luck!
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