How to fail in the lawn business by someone who did it.

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by PROCUT1, Feb 18, 2009.

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  1. tcalb2

    tcalb2 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 231

    I just sat and read through this entire thread, something I haven't done often. I'm going to check out your other thread about overhead later. I'd like to say that everything I've read has been very informative. Like most I guess I'm naive. This is my 3rd season and I made the mistake of buying alot of things on credit. But more so I started with the goal to do just hardscapes, not lawn maintenance. However, most people I consulted with told me lawn maintenance was a need. That you needed it to have a constant income. I think I've spent more money or, (taken loans) on more maintenance equipment then I have on my hardscapes equipment. I think now that the construction field is slow I have to dive harder into maintenance to make up the difference. hopefully I'll take alittle bit from this thread this season . Thanks
     
  2. delphied

    delphied LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,067

     
  3. Fife Lawn&Lane

    Fife Lawn&Lane LawnSite Member
    Posts: 97

    Alpha Property you need to go back over your numbers. Your cutting season is not 27 weeks and I ??? 20 workable snow events a year. Your customers are more likely to sign for 20 cuts and 10-15 snow events depending on your lake effect. That being said raise your per cut prices, minimum 35 unless really small, and snow removal to at least 30. You said your average was 25 and 25, my average for cutting residential is 60 and average for residential snow is 40.
    You said 40 accounts in 4 days= 10/day if your only charging 25 a piece your really slow, only work 6 hours a day or are selling yourself short.
     
  4. Alpha Property

    Alpha Property LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 409

    My apologies, i did miss a number there, 32 weekly lawn cuts and 20 snow visits. April 12 to November 23 is 33 weeks if you count it out on a calender for 2009? and as far as snow goes rite now i have 24 "plow-able events" on the books and we still have a week of February and all of march, might get 2 or 3 more?
    I have talked with a few of my better customers that help me out getting more accounts, that i bounce advertising ideas off of, that are generally a big help in the growth of this business and they seamed to think that a fee of $25 a week year round was fair and manageable for both party's.
    And my apologies again, i mean to say starting price, not average is 25, and around here no ones paying $35 to get a lawn cut for 15-20 min worth of work, same thing goes for the snow, these are appropriate pricing in my area. and yes this summer wasn't as busy as i wanted it to be but starting with 18-20 lawns in April and by June to be in the 40-45 range was quite an increase. I'm looking to double again if not more. and yes, 6 hours was an average day last summer.

    trever's lawn care- i'm sending you an e-mail, thanks
     
  5. Fife Lawn&Lane

    Fife Lawn&Lane LawnSite Member
    Posts: 97

    Thanks more info has made your numbers look better, for 15-20 min/yard $25 is great.
    The year round contract is a great idea but I would make the cutting on an as needed bases not just every week from April 12-Nov 23, there has to weeks you could skip the cut in your area you will make up the difference in snow visits.

    How do you like the Toro recylers?
     
  6. Alpha Property

    Alpha Property LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 409

    thanks, yes, i don't want to say that there going to get 32 lawn visits for that price, just that this will cover them for the entire year for snow and grass, any extras are extra's, no trade off's like "don't cut it this week but trim that hedge instead" kinda thing.
    and as far as the toro 21's go there from the mid 90's and work great, the only problem is i go through alot of wheels, i like the idea of the new style steel wheels on the new commercial toro 21's.... i have box's of broken plastic wheels laying around
     
  7. whoopassonthebluegrass

    whoopassonthebluegrass LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,205

    Good thread. A few years back I had pie-in-the-sky visions. Then I realized that the dream I was chasing (the keep-up-wht-the-Joneses-dream) was a complete waste and totally a lie. As Dave Ramsey so eloquently puts it:

    [People stupid with money] buy things [they] don't need, with money [they] don't have, to impress people [they] don't like.

    This applies every bit as much to business life as personal. Somehow we think there's a prestige involved with driving a truck that has a $600 payment. Somehow we think that if our skidsteer or mower is bigger or more powerful, that somehow we're the superior business. Somehow we think that spending money like we don't have to think twice about it will somehow magically make the act become a reality.

    "Living the American Dream" is most folks' kryptonite. Flashing nice stuff equals success? Give me a break. Hell, on this very forum, I had a guy try to claim his superiority over me because he drove a fancy car... which he did not yet own. WTH???

    Just recently my truck died. I had folks encouraging me to replace my dead truck with a brand new one. What a waste of money! Instead I bought a F350 crew cab long bed with 58k on it for $5,000 cash! I own it - it doesn't own me. And my ROI on that truck will be better than any new truck could ever do.

    It's been said already, but I'll add my voice to the list: not understanding your operating costs will lead to failure. It may not put you out of business (if you stay small), but you'll still be a failure.
     
  8. creatived

    creatived LawnSite Member
    Posts: 69

    This post is a sob story for cutting grass, real money in this game comes from everything else besides cutting lawns. The equipment to cut lawns is expensive couple 10k mowers trailer truck etc. This site is called lawnsite and if all ya wanna do is cut grass the sob story applies but if you wanna maintain design build landscapes then landscaping and property management is extremly lucrative.
     
  9. lawnjocky

    lawnjocky LawnSite Member
    Posts: 184

    My take on debt.

    I treat debt as a tool. If used improperly it's a dangerous tool. Same as a credit card. Pay your credit card off every month and it's a good thing. Carry a balance and you're looking for trouble.

    Normally I will borrow if one of three condition's exist.

    1. Even if I have the money in the bank I will take out loans when the interest rates are for less than I'm earning.
    2. For a purchase that will pay for itself quickly, or I will pay off quickly, but that I don't have ready cash for.
    3. For big ticket items that my cash flow can handle without a problem. By without a problem I mean if I lost half my work the payment's would be met.

    Credit is a good thing for growth and taking advantage of opportunities. Where people seem to get into the most trouble is using it as leverage or overextending themselves.
     
  10. Sammy

    Sammy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,734

    I think that having a F-350, fully loaded 4 door p/u w/diesel motor is a little over kill.
    A lot of the young guys want this type of truck. Does it make them Kool ?
    It sure puts most of them in debt !
     
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