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Getting Old

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Tower Rat 95B, Dec 10, 2007.

  1. Tower Rat 95B

    Tower Rat 95B LawnSite Member
    Posts: 120

    I am 48 and 16 years mostly solo, how long can this go on? Got to hire help but really like the independence and low over head that comes with solo operation. Also I think as a solo in the end I will make more money............ How about you?
  2. Frue

    Frue LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,472

    do you invest? Whats your retirement plan?
  3. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,922

    Tower ... I am 66, pushing 67 the next time around. I didn't start lawn work until mid-50s. I intend to work 10 hour days, six days, when weather permits. For most of this season, I did so, some weeks doing 12 hour days.

    No, I too won't enter into the employee domain, not at this age. After seeing what happens with other LCOs and employees in my area, and reading the horror stories on LS, no way am I about to enter that world. I do what I can, and leave the rest alone. The overhead of employees is one thing, but the troubles of finding employees I could work with is all time wasted and headaches gained! I have "been there, done that" elsewhere.

    Every year, I could expand significantly, just from requests for work that get turned down. I spent $18 on advertising 11 years ago (my only direct costs), but "advertise" every time I finish a task. The "brochure" I leave behind after finishing a job is the best advertising for me.

    I don't have all the accounting work done for this season, but I think I will be significantly ahead in gross, and net, for the year -- over any other year. I didn't have any significant expenses, but many small repair expenses that I didn't expect. I believe I did work smarter this year, made better use of my equipment and time. However, I also did work more hours too.

    If one was to be in this for the "long haul," then expansion is the only way to grow net income. Leveraging the labor of others is the way to grow profits. Obviously, it must be done smartly. Continuing to work solo means reaching some plateau that cannot be lifted, without changes in work. If one remains solo, but is able to extend work into areas that are worth more in the marketplace, then revenues can grow. But, sticking with the basics of mowing, trimming, mulching, etc, there is little hope of ever making a significant income. I know others will disagree with me on this point. But, I have voiced my opinions about pricing for these menial tasks too many other places to repeat them here.
  4. Groomer

    Groomer LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,421

    Just got off the treadmill after doing 7 miles, and reading this got me thinking, how long can I keep going? I'll be 50 next year,(I think?). But look at the guys who sit at a desk, or do some other sedentary work. I walk everything, don't have a rider. I'm a residential niche outfit, and like it that way. Ain't no safety net or retirement guarantees, and I'll never be rich, but like I told my wife, I vacation a little bit 365 days a year!
  5. troblandscape

    troblandscape Guest
    Posts: 0

    You don't pay for overhead, your customer does. The best thing I did was to put trust in other people to perform my services, while I sit home and call customers and talk on Lawnsite while making $95 per hour. I havent touched a leaf blower in two years and my numbers are up over 35% from last year. There is no way I could be as good with customer service and reliability if I was out doing manual labor for 10-12 hours a day. I believe the reason people stay solo is because of fear,.. I got over it because I know I didn't want to be weedwacking and mowing anymore. Overhead is all a part of it, but it is reflected in your price. I am landing about 70% of my estimates, so my prices must be attractive and fair but yet I am still very profitable.
  6. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,922

    troblandscape ... I'm glad your plan works for you. I wish it could work for me. I could NEVER sit at home talking on the phone to customers. Rather, I need to be out doing the physical work, doing the kind of job I want to be done, and then taking pride in the accomplishment.

    I know I have asked this question before in other threads about talking on the phone. With only about 45 customer, I think the number of phone calls made to/from customers all season could be counted on one hand. What is there to talk about? Yes, I have taken other calls from odd job requests, many of which were fulfilled. But, the routine day-to-day, week-to-week customers -- never talk with them on the phone. And, rarely talk to them on their property. The only reason somebody might call is to tell me of some upcoming event that might need a schedule change. But, that happened only a couple of times all season.

    I would feel cheated if I didn't get my hands on my blower, wasn't there to make the repairs as needed, install a new short-block, etc. These tasks are important to me. I know I cannot be in this business much longer, therefore have no reason to attempt to make any significant changes, or to build an empire -- I know it isn't going to happen.

    Sometimes, I wish I was operating like you, but not typically.

    Groomer -- good for you! Winter is the drudges for me because of lack of physical work. I'm not done with all my work for the season, but am in "rain delay." I hope to get 5-7 more days of work before the season ends, but the weather may make that intention impossible. However, I have begun my Winter daily walking routine. Last Winter, I usually walked 7-8 miles per day, about 50 miles per week. I sat for a couple of days last week, but had to get out, get started again.
  7. meets1

    meets1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,775

    I am half your age but I agree with being sole and topping out. I have a 4 degree in biz adminstration and financing. Worked in a bank one winter, intership with a 500 employee company - always mowed since grade school and guess what - I am still mowing.

    But I have had to expand. I went from mowing myself and a 21 JD to branching out and getting lic. for fert/spray. Now I have a hard time getting this done b/c it is myself and my father who have lic. and he works at a local grain elevator and helps with chemicals in the spring - so that works for me but could use another spray tech guy. Then I starting sweeping parking lot after snow removal sandings and that lead to striping the lots as well. Now I am runnen from 1-2 in the morning till early evening in the spring time - spring clean ups, sweeping and striping, mowing, spraying needed to be done. Then 4 years ago I bought out another LCO and instantly took my biz x's 3.

    Now I have invested in a nice shop, newer trucks + 2 new ones, bigger and brand new skid. I also bigger payments to the gover't, more headaches (did i say that) for finding good people, keeping my better people and dealing with clients as well as low ball bidders who mow for $12- $15 and do snow for $15 a driveway when they use a 24 inch snow blower.

    So looking back right now - I have invested a large amount of money into the biz - where as 10 years ago when it was myself - life was alot easier then - but I have also added 2 helpers to the mix (2 little boys=))

    So enjoy what your doing now, grass is not always greener, and I assume so - but be satisified!

    If your turning down work - then use that work for extra income. Sub it out, find a friendly LCO that can give you some sort of kick back in regards to the work you gave them.
  8. Groomer

    Groomer LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,421

    Yeah, I'm in a rain delay as well, still have some unfinished leaf action, but after one brutally dry summer the rain has returned in full force, even had our first snow.
  9. bigtex

    bigtex LawnSite Member
    from ma
    Posts: 151

    good thread, i've been dealing with this topic (with myself) since spring. expansion is there for my takin, have been expanding since i started 10 years ago. i'm established with a good reputation. now, i've been turning down work for the past few years. i briefly ventured into a (second crew) working and it was nothing but headaches. unfortunatley with that i realized, its not for me. so i've accepted my biz won't be a furtune 500 company. i've slowly downsized it to the point where i can make a modest living ($), and have to think about my future in this biz. i'm 37 and don't think this is what i want to do now. so for the next year or so its small biz management with a career change in mind.
  10. wildstarblazer

    wildstarblazer LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 984

    same for me. I would like to find some way to make money but hasn't happened "yet" .I love perfecting a lawn and leaving proud of a job. And hiring people just had me going over their work all the time to keep to my statndards. If you want to expand, expect to lose a few customers and add the less picky type customers who are happy if the grass is low when they come home.

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