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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. MLI

    MLI LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ma
    Posts: 464

    I think alot of people have such high expectations of this business(as well as any business) Most want the get rich quick scenario. I feel Procut has spoken the truth to a tee. I have lived and faced the same problems in growing a business. This is my 26th yr at it. All things considered....I loved this industry...to me its like not even working. The wealth end of it is not as important to me anymore. Its more important to like what you do,and make a good living at it as life moves forward!
  2. delphied

    delphied LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,067

    Fewer people are asking if they should quit their good jobs that they dont like in order to do what they love (mow grass). Did you notice that? This is a good part time job if you like to work hard for low wages. It takes a strong back and a weak mind.
  3. rm25x

    rm25x LawnSite Member
    Posts: 187

    As for the decline in people asking about getting into lawn care, I think thats because so many of those people are now riding the unemployment train, and with all the extensions they are offering why work when you can live off unemployment for years. I know people who have been on it for years. As soon as they start cutting back on unemployment extensions, then you will see a rush of people looking for easy to enter businesses like lawn mowing. But for now whats the drive to make them go to work when they have so many extensions they can use.
    Unfortunately for me, I am back doing lawn care because of the same reason, it was easy to get back in to, I had most of the equipment and I do have a love for it. I started as a mechanic at the local lawn equipment dealership, and did lawn care part time for extra money. Then I got a job working for a contract company for GM for 4 years making good money so I no longer did the lawn care, but they lost the contract though and moved the operations overseas. So I decided to get back into lawn care instead of riding the unemployment train. I don't like living off of other peoples money.

    My goal is to stay solo for lawn care/snow plowing for a year or two, and save up some money to progress to more of a skilled trade like some others have done on here. I think thats a great way to go, as I see in the next few years a huge upswing in people lowballing with their riding mowers to try to make some money because they no longer collect unemployment. All the wanted ads on craigslist for zero turn and walk behind mowers right now are hinting at that big time...

    I am just not sure what direction I want to take from lawn care. In Michigan, the economy really took a hit, so I am not sure how many people are spending big bucks landscaping,or having sprinkler systems and ponds installed. Landscape lighting is something else that has interested me.

    I read this site on a daily basis and have learned more then I can imagine. If this site was around when I first started lawncare after high school, then I would have probably kept with it and would have advanced to where I want to be in 5 years from now 10 years ago. Oh well, live for the future, don't dwell on the past I guess.
  4. ALC-GregH

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

    I had similar intentions 6 or so years ago. I wanted to get started in lawn maintenance but kept my hole in the wall job. I even scouted out for customers at one point to see if I could get a few and they were there. I just couldn't drop what I was doing to make a go at it. I finally did it a few years later and now I'm loving it. I'm growing slow but steady. I too have read just about all the threads I felt I needed to read to learn and understand the business aspect. I now have a good grasp on everything and things are getting better each year. If only the other guys that want to get started would just read about what it is they are trying to learn and understand, it would make it a lot easier to read threads. I mean, when the same EXACT question is asked 3 times a week because they're to lazy to take the time to go through the threads and actually LOOK for what they need, it gets old fast.
  5. DoetschOutdoor

    DoetschOutdoor LawnSite Bronze Member
    from S. IL
    Posts: 1,818

    Its like anything else. There are right ways to go about it and wrong ways. $10-15K ztrs, brand new trucks, way too big of trailers, bring it all on bc. it only makes me look better. These guys that waste money are everywhere. There are those that have failed and there are those that make very good money working 8.5 months a year around here. I started mowing seriously my first year of college and have stuck with it for several good years now. Taking my last classes now and then I can concentrate on work 100%. I made as much or more than all of my friends at their suit and tie jobs and I was able to take off and hunt every other day during the winter. Call it unskilled or mindless work, whatever ya want. Anyone can mow their own grass but few can do it for MANY other people and run a business. Bank accounts dont say what kinda work you do, they just list your amount.
  6. HBFOXJr

    HBFOXJr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,712

    Ihave written about this several times over the years explaining that even the small operation has overhead that needs to be calculated and recovered. No one should use their home for free. Same goes for the spouse, family member, girlfriend doing books and phone calls for free. And then there is the business of eating up the equity in that payed for equipment. If you are not counting equipment cost, you are throwing moeny out the window. You haven't "made" what you grossed. Your 30k truck that is worth 5k 7 yr down the road is your money down the drain if you haven't included it's depreciation and replacement cost as a cost of providing service. Even a little biz needs to account for costs as if they are big, or the writer's story becomes a bitter truth.
  7. DoetschOutdoor

    DoetschOutdoor LawnSite Bronze Member
    from S. IL
    Posts: 1,818

    Very true and thats what half the lawn guys dont realize. I know several guys that "mow" grass and they have NOOOOOO idea all the other costs that they are incurring. If they had simple business knowledge or ever sat down and crunched numbers, they'd realize that a $10 hour job at Mcdonalds is netting them just as much:hammerhead: Dont even begin to think they have any idea about depreciation nor would their brains be able to comprehend. I love the depreciation! Accountant can write down taxes with depreciation and banks let ya add it back into your net! Win win.

    HANDYHELPERS LawnSite Member
    Posts: 39

    Great thread procuts. Here's what most don't understand, have a business plan, and know your costs. First of all does anyone know there costs? Second if you do, are you sure you can run your business on your costs? Has anyone told you what those costs need to be to make a profit, or are you able to figure that out on your own? For example I run 4 trucks, now I can't.drive all of them so I need employees. What percentage of my business can I afford to pay my employees? Now don't foget to add taxes, unemoyment, and health care into that equasion. This is where I see why most companys fail they don't understand what the costs need to be. For my company to succeed it can only pay 20 percent to wages, 25 percent for materials, 15 percent for overhead, and 10 percent for advertising. That leaves 30 percent. Yes I make a lot of money with my business but that is because I know what I can spend. That is truly what everyone reading this post needs to understand. I am not trying to say I am better just trying to help. Also remember this is a service industry just like prostution, so the better you slob the knob the less chances your customer will notice that other company let alone their lower prices. Stay postive and good luck with your adventures. Sorry for the long post thats my.02.
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  9. HBFOXJr

    HBFOXJr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,712

    I don't know if it was mentioned in this thread but I remember in other posts years back there was mention of customers only wanting to pay or being able to pay x number of dollars for a service.

    We as business owners have no obligation to provide service for a price determined by the client if it is not enough $$$. Some times in some places, a business idea or model simply isn't viable.
  10. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Wow that was awesome!

    I'm not disagreeing and I'm not getting into the long of it,
    but I can tell you that's not the way to go about it.

    All right, I lied, here's the long of it...
    It might be easy to enter but it takes years to build, there's just no two ways about it.
    I'd say anyone entering the business will fight tooth and nail for the first 5-8 years just establishing
    a customer base and building solid relationships, the kind of relationship some Johnny-come-lately
    lowballer can not just take away.

    What did I hear on here recently?
    Oh all these customers I've been contacting tell me they have someone already!
    When someone sticks it out for 5-8 years, it says something about that person but
    here again it's not about running up for that period of time and saying "Well all right
    that was cool I'm done!"

    You know, if you're just getting into this to make a quick buck, as well off working at McD's.
    So do it for life, do it right, and the rewards will come, in time.

    My attitude :p
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2010
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