Do you guys really make any money?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by DiscoveryLawn, Dec 8, 2005.

  1. DiscoveryLawn

    DiscoveryLawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 408

    Hi guys. I am visiting from the Pesticide forum here on LS. I left the mowing and landscaping biz a couple of years ago to concentrate on fert. applications only. I started mowing in 1993 and gave up in 2003. The prices are pretty much the same as they were back when I started but all of the expenses are up. The profit margins got so thin, I finally walked away. My last year mowing I did $300,000.00 in mowing and landscaping revenue and barely made it.

    In my area, I have seen so many companies come and go big and small. How many of you guys have been mowing for more than 5 years and have more than 1 crew? It seems like the only ones that stick it out in mowing are the guys that are a small (1 or 2 man operation) or the guys that concentrate on high end and are always the high bidder.

    The reason I mention this is, there seems to be a lot of companies on here that claim not to low-ball to get the job. But really, how many are charging enough to stay in business for the long haul? This year there was a drought in my town and non-irrigated lawns did not need to be mowed for a month this summer. Then cold weather came very early and there were at least 3 cuts not needed in the fall that they usually get. I don't know how any of these guys stayed in business. Many did not. I received calls from 3 companies asking me if I know anyone interested in buying them out. Many more just shut the doors.

    Just something to think about if you are considering not raising your prices for next year. Is it worth it to have more accounts with lower profit margins or fewer accounts and still have money to carry you through the bad times?

    By the way, I am pretty much talking about the guys that are primarily mowing contractors.

    Dave
     
  2. daveyo

    daveyo LawnSite Senior Member
    from N.J.
    Posts: 907

    In my experience you have to do more than just mow. The mowing is what gets it going!! Seriously though, through all the mowing comes lots of work. That said do a search on justmowit, I'm pretty sure he's found a mowing niche. I did it backwards though, I used to just do landscape design, of course we did the install. I came into maintence through my design customers not happy with there current maintenance service, from there I grew. To do 300,000 in total revenue and barely make it tells me you were over extended, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. I did 3.5 times the revenue I did last year and my bottom line was 3.5 times higher, that is good news for me. To answer your question I woldn't make it with my current system just mowing, no way.

    O'Donnell Landscape Design
     
  3. lawnboy dan

    lawnboy dan LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,712

    mowing only! the rest is too much like work. i relocated my biz from cape cod to florida 16 yrs ago. best move i ever made . work is year round here.whats not to like? volume is where it s at $ wise.
     
  4. AintNoFun

    AintNoFun LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,807


    thats the only way we make it.... we run about 4 crews mowing...
     
  5. Jpocket

    Jpocket LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,278

    It's all about keeping your overhead low, you can't be out there mowing with a 50,000 c4500 diesel, top notch enclosed trailer with 3 brand new z's employees making $12.00 perhour all legit, everything insured to the hilt, lettered up, big yellow page add. Then go out and try to cut $25.00 lawns. It won't work you'll end up beating that equipment to death trying to do more and more lawns only to barely make it.

    Guys don't realize this everything has to be 2years old and newer. The key is to cut your overhead so you can compete, instead of having to get $35 per cut, cut your costs so you only have to get $27.00 per cut

    Smaller operations seem to always survive doing tis type of thing.
     
  6. daveyo

    daveyo LawnSite Senior Member
    from N.J.
    Posts: 907

    In my experience you have to do more than just mow. The mowing is what gets it going!! Seriously though, through all the mowing comes lots of work. That said do a search on justmowit, I'm pretty sure he's found a mowing niche. I did it back wards though, I used to just do landscape design, of course we did the install. I came into maintenance through my design customers not happy with there current maintenance service, from there I grew. To do 300,000 in total revenue and barely make it tells me you were over extended, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. I did 3.5 times the revenue I did last year and my bottom line was 3.5 times higher, that is good news for me. To answer your question I wouldn't make it with my current system just mowing, no way.

    O'Donnell Landscape Design[/QUOTE]
     
  7. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    Hey Dave, thanks for coming over... very good post.

    I think if we can get past those who will come in here and try to "pick this apart" that this will be a very very good thread.

    By the way... the bold portion would describe me.
    But the real challenge is always the question "is it sustainable?"
     
  8. Mountain Peak

    Mountain Peak LawnSite Member
    Posts: 203

    This is my second year in business and I've come to the conclusion that if I want to mow only I have to have volume as well as a good mix of high end properties. I've noticed that this year the mowing gave me the cash flow to be able to take on the landscaping jobs. I really get into landscape design and love it, so that's where I focus and let the crews do the mowing.

    I live in a small town and didn't really know how many other lawn guys were out there until I got in the business. Now I see tons of trucks with mowers on them and the ones I know didn't grow as much as I did in the last two years. I am able to sell my work over the low end guys and I know I will never be the cheapest guy out there, and I tell customers I don't want to be the cheapest.
     
  9. mbricker

    mbricker LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 505

    Quote "I tell customers I don't want to be the cheapest."

    That is not only an excellent attitude, it is a good selling point for those customers who are more focused on receiving quality, than on getting the cheapest price.
     
  10. lwcmattlifter

    lwcmattlifter LawnSite Senior Member
    from NC
    Posts: 859

    I market specifically to two markets. 1. Small lawns under 4,000 sq ft. 2.High end full service accounts under 2 acres. We make the most dollars per hour mowing and fert. on the small accounts because you can be in and out in a matter of minutes and in most cases we service at least 4 or 5 little lawns without moving the truck. I think it would be hard to make a living doing just mowing because many want to do business with just one company because it's less of a hassle.
     

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