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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. Junior M

    Junior M LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,552

    Even if it is your main line of work, it dont make sense to go out and buy one unless you've got the work for it...
  2. PROCUT1

    PROCUT1 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from TN
    Posts: 4,909


    I dont disagree with you at all. Thats the beauty of being the owner. I was saying that you can buy anything that you want.

    If you have the money and want it, by all means buy it.

    Most guys however do not have the money in the bank. They will sit down with a piece of paper and a calculator and attempt to justify going to the dealer and buying a new one. They will calculate out the payments and figure "i only need to do 300 a month in work with this thing and it will pay for itself"

    Thats where the trouble begins.
  3. capnsac

    capnsac LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 702

    This is a well thought out post, and I can see you have gone through a lot of aggrivation in your time. With that being said, it made me want to quit right now, pack my balls and go home. Thank you for making me want to shoot myself.
  4. PROCUT1

    PROCUT1 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from TN
    Posts: 4,909

    The main reason i made this post is there are so many guys on here who dont have the slightest clue about a larger operation.

    I in no way mean that as an insult. Its just a fact. I didnt either when i started.

    You see posts all the time about how loyal customers are, how their business is growing in the recession while others are struggling. Guys that post that their profit margins are huge.

    I know that all of the guys that post this have a crutch of some kind. They either have a full time job with benefits, or their wife works and has benefits. They either work out of their house or have a small storage place. They are most likely owner operators with a couple of helpers, likely paid cash.

    Im not knocking them at all. If I were to do it again, that would be me. You can make a very comfortable living with a nice lawn route.

    When these guys hear that a large company has a GOAL of a 5% profit margin in this business, they are dumbfounded.

    Its two different worlds. And until you live it and experience it, you wont know for sure.
  5. BSDeality

    BSDeality LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,850

    It wasn't meant to make you want to kill of your business, just rather help you understand why businesses fail at the seemingly 'optimal' point of their business. You can have a successful business at any size, you just need to be prepared for the transitions.
  6. hvphotog

    hvphotog LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 325

    There are many tax advantages to renting and or leasing and before you make any choices you should always talk with your accountant on that. For those who think owning is better than leasing that is not accurate for an across the board statement, Wal-mart owns less then 50% of its buildings while staples owns Zero % of theirs. This trickles down to smaller businesses as well. I was a commercial real estate broker in NY, something that works for one company may not be right for another. Always consult your accountant.
  7. slc12345

    slc12345 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 28

    excellent story, read every page and will take alot away from it.
  8. capnsac

    capnsac LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 702

    You either need to be prepared for the transitions or have researched the jump you are about to make and decipher whether it will be wise or not. I think too may decisions are made with the thought that this is a good decision, and with only one man running the show mistakes are bound to happen.
  9. whoopassonthebluegrass

    whoopassonthebluegrass LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,214

    I'm 30 years old. I've run my own solo operation now for 7 years. My business has a total of $4,000 in debt (all of which will be cleared no later than August - and if spring goes well, they'll be cleared by May)... and I have all the equipment I need to continue my operations as is.

    The paradigm shift I experienced came as I watched that we always were short on money, regardless of how much more I came home with each year. I saw that, because of our behavior, even if I could make a million bucks a year, I'd still be broke.

    I saw the REAL price I was paying for "the nicer things in life" that extended waaaaaaaay beyond the actual price tag of these objects. I was a slave to the job, I never saw my kids during the work season, I was too tired to play and have fun... you name it - we've probably all experienced it.

    I just came to terms with the fact that if we would "settle for less" as far as keeping-up-with-the-Joneses goes, I wouldn't have to kill myself each year.

    And we're still a work in progress. I don't want to set myself up as some shining example by any means, because until the day arrives that I'm debt free, I won't count myself a success... But I WILL say that the biggest and most important change in our lives is the one that's evolved over the past year or two to where my wife and I have actually LOST the desire to impress the neighbors - and, instead, are driven to be under the thumb of NO creditor ever again.

    If the thought of having a monthly cost of living of $1500 appeals to you more than driving a BMW, then you should look into Dave Ramsey.

    Exactly!!! I'm so damned tired of giving up my family life to pay for crap I don't need, that my priorities have shifted. I'd rather drive a beater than miss my kids growing up. I'd rather have to pack a lunch for work than not be able to coach my boys' basketball teams! I'd rather make my sprayer/mower/etc last one more season so I can take my children back to see their great grandparents before their gone from this world.

    We each have our own roses to smell. And I've found that my life is actually MORE fulfilling by not having any of MY roses come in the fragrance "new car".

    I'm not saying that those who don't see it my way are wrong. To each their own. But I am saying that buying stuff won't make any one of you happier than I am right now (without the baubles and trinkets)... and at least one of us will OWN everything in our life and have the freedom to spend as much or as little time as desired with the business while still fairly young...
  10. ALC-GregH

    ALC-GregH LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Posts: 7,053

    This my friend is the exact reason I want to work by myself on a small customer base. For me, I can bill $40 per hour and make a good living after expenses. I don't want 50 customers, all I need is 30 total depending on the size. In my area it's more open with larger lots so I'm billing out $45-75 properties. If I can gross 2K a week, I'll could almost make double payments on my mortgage. My long term goal is to make enough to pay off the house in 5-7 years, again depending on the amount of work I get. I only have a few (one hand full) repeat customers after my first year that said they will stick with me from here on out. They like me personally and said they would rather have me take care of their place for a premium (which I don't charge by the way) then have someone they don't know be on their property. If I can get to 30 of these type, I'll be set. It's finding them that's the hard part. I could care less about puffing my chest saying I have 200+ accounts and the ones that do it are probably the same guys that are a carbon copy of your real life experience that you posted here. Thank you by the way for posting your story, I feel it to be quite true and regardless of what others may say, I totally agree and will continue to reach for my goal of 30 personal customers that want me for life. I'm a shy and polite person around strangers which makes it hard to sell sometimes. It's only after I know them well that I feel comfortable working with them.
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