Going to the next level.......

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Green Pastures, May 25, 2005.

  1. Green Pastures

    Green Pastures LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,457

    I'm at a point in Green Pastures Landscaping where I'm comfortable. I'm paying all my bills, I have a bit of debt but it's manageable. I'm able to pay that debt off at a reasonable rate. I do not have health insurance. I'm single. Not very much in savings as I spent all that to get some equipment, but able to put money away in savings each month.

    I want to get more into managing and growing my business rather than actually doing the "work" of the business.

    I want more grounds maintenance contracts, so I can actually employ crews to do all the maintenance work.

    I want more work from builders, taking properties from the stage where the house is built but has ZERO landscaping, to where it is completely landscaped and irrigated.

    I want to employ crew's to completely take over the new landscape installation division of my business.

    I want to hire competent, experienced people to start an irrigation division for my business.

    I feel like if I had more time to bid and talk to potential customers I could get more work. If I could get more work I could employ more people. If I could employ more people I could get more work. If I could...... ;)

    It's the same old thing though that has concerned me from the day I started this business what comes first, the chicken or the egg? :dizzy:

    Do you grow slowly and continuously to get over the plateaus, or do you get into some debt and jump up to the next level?

    I know this is a completely subjective question and EVERYBODY has a different answer, so please don't state the obvious. I'm not a complete idiot.

    Just discuss how you deal with it and explain what circumstances made you deal with it the way you did.
  2. Popsicle

    Popsicle LawnSite Member
    Posts: 189

    Good questions. I'm in the same position.
  3. tjgray

    tjgray LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 294

    Funny...Donald and I argued about this very thing last night. I personally Do Not care to grow any larger than an employee or two. We are at the same point *paying our bills, a little manageable debt* I love my life and am perfectly happy with it the way it is. Donald told me last night that there was no way he went into business for himself to stay the same. He said exactly what you did Green Pastures he wants to employ crews and do more estimates...gain more accounts.

    I wanted to tell him that if his goal was to grow large, then he better hire someone else to do his administration work. Then I got to thinking if we do end up getting bigger I will personally want to make sure the inside of our company is run as competitively and professional as the outside and Donald not knowing my job would not be good at doing this....so I kept my mouth shut.

    Ughhh....I worked 10 plus years in corporate marketing I have had my share of big business. Plus just from reading the horror stories on here about hiring employees makes me weary. Is it so bad to stay small? Can you not make decent money if you are? Or is the only way to actually make the good living going large?

    Good post Green Pastures :)

    Hope everyones day goes well :waving:
  4. Green Pastures

    Green Pastures LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,457

    Nothing wrong with staying small.

    I'm happy where I am, think I implied that, if I did not, I am happy right here.

    HOWEVER, I just cannot afford things that I want and know God want's me to have. The first is a wife and the eventual, inevitable children that follow getting married. I want children, lot's of children. Health insurance for the wife and all those kids.

    I know there will be headaches with employees, but I have headaches now, so what's the difference.

    The biggest "fear" I have does not relate to money. It's that employees will never be able to provide the same level of quality personal service that I do now. I built this business on the premise of higher quality and reliability than the "other guy". I've managed to deliver.

    The money will come, as long as I get good crew leaders and pay them well. Pay them well to train and supervise the crew to make sure quality/reliability does not deteriorate.

    So again, I'm back to square one. I need more contracts so I have money to hire good people and afford to pay them well. But I can't get more contracts because I'm spending all my time in the field on a mower........
  5. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,913

    Your just at the age I was when I got a fairly good injury (back) realized that I can't do this fore ever n time to run it like a business .... as to having a job

    It's a slow process .... no doubt .... giving people responsibility, trusting em .... lettin em make decisions in the field (cause that what it takes ....can't hold em by the hand)

    Just finding that 1st decent crew leader or foreman is a battle .... I got lucky .... found mine 4 years ago n treat him like a brother .... give em bonuses, company truck, do the dinner thing etc

    Debt is business ... gonna get it .... hopefully being used correct ... I am going thru a business loan process right now (not a credit card or line of credit but a loan based on P/L's n Fed Tax returns) gonna pay off the last of credit debt (paid off 20K of debt last year) be debt free n still have extra to build another crew, advo & have some rainy day money

    It is a process ...slow it may seem ...but must develop a plan .... gotta get that crew leader n sometimes bite the lower lip when they f up ... take em a side have a positive conversation of any given situation .... let em see other ways to perhaps "handle" a decision they may have made on the spot .... hope they grow ....n when they f up again you go thru it again .....gotta have a training program to get em on YOUR program .... find the most safe & efficient way to perform a task or run a route ..... train em on how to handle workers ....set clear expectations & reward both verbal & $$ when met

    Good Luck
  6. Green Pastures

    Green Pastures LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,457

    Awesome post Steve.
  7. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,501

    I agree with Steve. It's ok to have debt...only as long as it is managed properly. I'm at this business now 11 straight full time years and this year was the first that I acquired any significant debt. I bought more equipment and mowers, another trailer (enclosed) and another pickup truck. BUT, I only did that because I got the work beforehand to support it.

    My business as grown steadily year after year as well. They are plateaus that you will hit and stay there for sometime. I write a new business plan for my company each year. It's essential IMO. And I review it at the end of each month during the year to see how well I am tracking. Simple, you have to know where you are and where you want to be. It's can't be "in your head" either. It has to be written down.

    Lastly, you gotta train your people properly. Years ago when I was the Director of Training at Hertz, we had a saying in the department..."If ya don't train 'em, you can't blame 'em." Period

    Hope that helps some.
  8. Green Pastures

    Green Pastures LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,457

    I keep hearing people say you have to have a written business plan.

    Guess I should do just that.

    I have it all in my head. Writing it all out would make it more realistic and verifiable.
  9. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Posts: 4,900

    Word of warning, you do not want to be the"in between size" The size where the headaches and the problem empoyees and the complaints from customers are just not worth the trouble. Its usually around 10 employees that the trouble starts. And then at the end of the yr. the net pays not that much more than if you had just 1-2 employees. Either real big or real small, thats where all the money to be made is at.
  10. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    Green Pastures,

    This is the best thread that has been on here in a while. Unfortunately this is also one of the hardest topics to find a way to express your thoughts on also. I have multiple years experience managing one man to multiple man operations in multiple fields. Still it's hard for me to express the ups and downs.

    Ironically, the one thing I can think to say is that regardless of the field, it's not really all that much different in any service oriented field. But all-in-all there is no one right answer.

    So rather that dive into the subjective.... I prefer to dive into the psychological side of this. I feel that is a better way to get into what is personally specific. So consider what I say. You may be surprised.

    As I have said many times here... very often you will answer your own questions with your own words.

    Frankly, I think you are a little tired, bored and impatient. You want to do something different with yourself and your business. But take it from me, you WILL "work" in the business no-matter what you do. You'll just be working on a different job.

    You describe yourself as "comfortable" but you are not content. I also feel you are at a point in your life where you are nesting. In other words, you feel you need to better prepare for the future.

    So I think the end result you really want is more comfort, via more work completed, which yields more income, which provides that comfort. What I think you really want is to be out of debt or more comfortably in debt. You also want the security of health insurance without having to give the premiums a second thought when they go out each month. Plus you'd really like to be saving more for the future.

    You already have a plan and you can see exactly where to extract that additional income from. The problem is that you have arrived at the point in your business where you have come to realize your personal limitations at status quo. I think you find this a bit discouraging. You feel maxed out and see a hurdle up ahead. So at this point you are trying to decide rather to continue to use that as an excuse and fall down right in front of it, happy to have reached that point and came to rest there.... Or rather to figure out a way to propel yourself over it and on to better things.

    But all this is a scary challenge and one you feel you can't accomplish alone. At the same time, I don't think you are personally interested in being personally involved in the physical work of all the aspects. You'd rather hire the turn-key crews to handle the aspects for you and perform the work in a manor that meets your quality standards, while you busy yourself with keeping them busy.

    However, you also realize it takes high-caliber money to create such crews to make high-caliber money. Naturally, I think your main concerns lie in the facts of shouldering such a commitment and risk. You're also leery of what steps to take and when. Plus at the same time you are very concerned about maintaining your elite quality standard.

    Will you be happy going big time all at once? Will you get there fast enough while growing one step at a time? Or will you be better off being patient and looking at other ways to progress and increase?

    God only knows. But in my personal opinion, and being where I have been, I think that you think a lot like I do. I think you also have a similar work ethic when it comes to end result quality. I've been there, and personally speaking, what I think you need more than anything at this point is time. That's right, time. Time to shift and settle a little more on a personal level. Right now I think you are hung in a personal transition between levels in the hierarchy of needs. This is normal of both the personal and business life cycle.

    So I suggest you give yourself some time to settle and I believe your future path will reveal itself to you and become crystal clear. I also suggest you make your steps one at a time and make each one very calculated. Once you are comfortable with your position, make the move to the next.

    I say this because I really do feel that we share the same high quality work ethic. I think if you make to large a step at once, you'll find yourself very unhappy. People like us feel a strong need to be in control to guarantee every aspect is up to our standards. So suddenly we feel out of control and find ourselves pulling multiple job duties in our business.... Management, sales, and marketing, as we intended.... but we also end up finding ourselves juggling those duties along with running around like mad to inspect and supervise multiple jobs going on at once.

    If you question that, ask yourself this one question....
    "In my business, how many 'important' jobs have I 'hired' done and felt comfortable leaving the job totally unattended?"

    If there have been several, which I doubt, ask yourself one more question....
    "How would I feel if this was the norm.... everyday business life.... and several such operations were going on in multiplication.... a full slate every day.... while I was busy performing the management, marketing and sales as intended.... would I be able to let go to concentrate on my job.... how would I feel?"

    The point is, you have to arrive at what is YOUR RIGHT ANSWER.

    My best guess is you need to take a stronger look at what your current capablities are to expand inside what already exists for you without further investment. Then take a strong look at rather or not you can afford an employee to relieve you somewhat in your current duties to make time for you to "work" that expansion. That's probably a good first step.

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