Help! Is there anyone making money out there as they grow?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by guitarman2420, Jul 4, 2011.

  1. guitarman2420

    guitarman2420 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 284

    I've been in business @ 4 years. I've grown from first year sales of $40k to 400k; yet I'm working harder and making less money than when I had only myself and one helper. Have many of you hit the same "bump in the road"? The economies of scale have not "kicked in" yet. The more business I get, the more insurance I pay, the more taxes, the more headaches from employees, etc. I'm about ready to blow the whole thing up and go back to doing mainly landscape design and installation work, where we make the greatest profit. My niche is upscale residential and small - mid size townhome associations. I have 5 full time people and 3 trucks. I believe I need to sell one truck. I work in the field doing production or maintenance work@ 60% - the rest of my time goes towards sales and quality, etc. Finding good employees that care about anything but getting to the weekend has been my greatest frustration. I've tried hiring the "experienced guys"; but they seem to be retreads who have been fired or laid off by other companies. We all know we don't let our best people go, so it's a never ending vicious cycle. So we're trying to find good hard working people who know nothing about our business and training them; but they tear up equipment and break windows, doors, etc., even with training. Any suggestions or lessons learned? I'm tired of hitting my "nose against the brick wall". Also, I do have a reliable operations manager, who runs the day to day maintenance (mowing) operations. I pay him 36k a year, without benefits. I manage the overall business and run the landscaping/project end of things. Our ratio is 70% maintenance and 30% landscaping. Profits are less than 0 for maintenance and 30% for landscaping.

    Thanks for any help I can get!
     
  2. Daily Lawn/Landscape

    Daily Lawn/Landscape LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 694

    Wow! I just read what I have went through. I made the decision to downsize and go for the more profitable landscape, fert. and irrigation projects. Running 2 mowing crews 6 days a week was costing me money. At my peak I we cutting 143 accounts. Now I'm down to 49, enough for 2 guys to complete in 4 days. And I focus on sales and installs. I got tired of taking a pay cut every year. Things are getting better now, but still have employee issues in the maintenance side.

    Good luck,
    James
     
  3. guitarman2420

    guitarman2420 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 284

    What do you do on your 5th day? Do you take that off, or do your sales or side work? I'm willing to give it 60-70 hours a week or more; but not just to give a bunch of ungrateful employees a check to use on beer and porn! (Sorry, you can tell I'm a bit frustrated with employees). The employees don't realize some weeks they get a check and all I get are bills!
     
  4. Get Some...

    Get Some... LawnSite Senior Member
    from Kansas
    Posts: 651

    Profits are less than 0 for maintenance.......


    That's a no-brainer......I imagine you mean mowing (maintenance).


    Why run crew's and make no money or lose some? :nono:

    Personally I am happy with a solo buisness and some part time help.
    I control my schedule, rather than my schedule controling me....

    As far as regular mowing account's, I take only one's that are profitable.
    Good steady mowing season income.

    Then alot of one time job's that pay well. About 10% of those turn into about regular account's.
    Hopefully that will build up into a better base of well paying maintenance jobs.

    All my client's get a snow removal buisness card, and that I do with a snowblower and shovel.
    Pretty good off season income.

    Alot of the guy's mowing around here are making $60.00 an hour for a three man crew.......there is just not enough profit margin in that.

    Good luck.
     
  5. guitarman2420

    guitarman2420 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 284

    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  6. Precislawn

    Precislawn LawnSite Member
    Posts: 26

    I've heard many stories similar to yours from others in the business. This is the reason why after 15 years I'm still solo, with part time help as needed.

    I focus on high end clients that will pay top dollar for high quality work and let the other companies take care of the mow and go type work. It's worked out fairly well for me and keeps my profits high.
     
  7. guitarman2420

    guitarman2420 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 284

    I agree - my cost per employee is 23.11 per manhour. 3 emnployees for an hour, even w/costsavings on site, is at least 60+ an hour
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  8. Get Some...

    Get Some... LawnSite Senior Member
    from Kansas
    Posts: 651

    The minimum I will mow for, by myself, is $35.00 an hour.......less than that and I am going to do something else.....
     
  9. guitarman2420

    guitarman2420 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 284

    My labor rate is 50 an hour for billable work. I try and get 40 for contracts
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  10. Get Some...

    Get Some... LawnSite Senior Member
    from Kansas
    Posts: 651

    Then how are the profit's zero?
     

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