Is it really that bad?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Something D, May 10, 2005.

  1. Something D

    Something D LawnSite Member
    from East TN
    Posts: 133

    I have read several posts here lately from LCO who are thinking about getting out of the business because business is bad. I have been in business now part time for two seasons with the hope of leaving my full time job to work for myself. I do understand that it depends on the area however most of the discouraging post are from all over. Is it really that bad? Is it going to get worse? Should I even consider leaving my full time job with the hopes of doing this full time? Honestly, I thought I knew the answer but now I often wonder if the risk is to high after reading your all thoughts. I respect your honest opinions especially those who have been doing this for years and years. Ultimately I know the answer will come from me but I do look to you all as advisors just like any other business venture. No BS please, just honest opinions.
  2. pagefault

    pagefault LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 492

    I think it is always that bad for any business, in any part of the country. I know struggling attorneys, dentists, plumbers, builders, not to mention 100 year old auto manufacturers, long distance telephone companies, airlines, microchip manufacturers, etc.

    Even the larger local businesses in my little town (100 to 500 employees) can go through extended difficult times when high-level employees will swear to you that this is probably their last year in business.

    That being said, there are a lot of successful businesses out there too. I think that you need to really enjoy the marketing aspect of the business and you should have a little in savings to weather the bad times.

    You also need to know that it is a numbers game. You need to reach a lot of people to get a few good customers. Once you have them, you need to work just as hard to keep them and that goes way beyond just giving them a good mow and trim. That's the way it is with all of the above businesses too.

    I can't drive through town without seeing a handful of LCOs. Of course, I see a lot of attorneys and doctors and plumbers and electricians and...

    I think now is always a good time to start something new if you have the right attitude. Part of that attitude is knowing that there are going to be tough times and being prepared to work through them.
  3. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,758

    Something D, any biz can be bad, and if you read my post you know my area is one of the bad ones. However, everytime I about hit rock bottom it has usually turned around. However, this season has been not so good at all. As far as quitting your job, it depends on your market. You may live in an area that has a big demand for you. Also, there is NOTHING like working for yourself!! It feels so good being out of that backstabbing BS working for someone else. I would like to find a good paying part time job and keep the accounts I have now. If I could get about 15 more good ones I would be ok. You would think getting 15 more accounts would not be that hard but its like finding a 25 year old virgin here. Dont let the negative post discourage you though, this is a good biz and very enjoyable, Im just saying if I had a decent job I would be hesitant about quitting just yet. Now if your job sux then I say go for it!!
  4. Toy2

    Toy2 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,924

    It is pretty tough, I didn't expect to land a bunch of accounts, I thought I had the upper hand, I speak English for God's sake....several local LCO can't answer the phone in English//but they are cheap....word of month has helped in this town..its a town where who you know will carry you.....I'm from N.M., so this is out, I add one or two here and there from word of mouth and do the best I can to keep them.....Quailtylawn hit it on the head, no more backstabbing BS, its all yours....this is a plus, I'm in the best shape ever, I go and come as I wish, and aiming for no more than 30 accounts.....will I be here next year???Not sure if i will live to see tomorrow....but I'm enjoying life right now!!! :)
  5. lawnworker

    lawnworker LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 899

    I would look at your present job. specifiacally, How stable and how enjoyable it is. in my honost opinion, the lawn care industry is slowly headed deep south.It takes to much effort for dollars returned.However, if money is not an issue and you wanna just work 40 per week with low to moderate stress you can get by but that is about it. In my town the majority of the lawn care workers live in homes a step down from accountants- real estate agents- doctors -plumbers- teachers, ext. I am not saying they are poverty level. Just not the real nice two stories we are mowing.It is the massive amount of hidden cost and time that effect both you personally and your bottom line in this business. Those that grow very big are going non stop just trying to over see lower level society types that don't fit in elsewhere( workers) and keep big customers happy, and the solo owner is working his ass of breathing fumes and dust all day in the hot sun wrinkling your skin prematurely and working on the equipment in the evening, and theres always the excitement of watching a few long term customers have a complete personality change from year to year, to the point they freak out on you for something stupid. Others might see things differently then me., but this is my take on it. I am smart enough to know that an owner would have to do a lot more then mowing to acquire great wealth around here. Mowing has become the bottom of the landscaping industry level work.

    On the flip side it is not all bad-the freedom is nice- fall is fun when it cools off and you can work hard and not sweat-and a real good song on the headset can bring back a lot of memories. :)
  6. Triple R

    Triple R LawnSite Member
    Posts: 244

    Sometimes a wonder why I'm in bussiness. I left a $40k/year job as a spray tech. Used to work about 45 hrs./5 days a week with paid vacation, medical, and profit sharing, plus sizable annual bonus. Now I work 7 days a week more hours than I can count, the net pay is terrible, and forget any fringe benefits. Worst of all is dealing with employees. If I could find the right job I would seriously consider shutting down. But most likely I will scale back and go solo again, cut down on the maintenance and concentrate on the pesticide biz, It's a no brainer for me maintenance= $40/hr. pesticides=$100/hr.
  7. Something D

    Something D LawnSite Member
    from East TN
    Posts: 133

    Its good to hear personal experience with this biz. The fact is my full time job is OK, Salary sux but all in all OK. The truth is I have always been a leader not a follower. It sux working for someone else. I like that possibility of freedom, decision making and taking something from nothing and watching it grow. I don't want to live in a million dollar house but I am tired of living paycheck to paycheck. The market is saturated where I live but there are only a few companies that I know of that are class acts. A lot are scrubs and I know when the Temp rises they will be on the lake screwing their customers over while I am working my tail off in the heat on their old properties.

    I know there is no crystal ball to see the future of the lawn care/landscaping industry......its just nice to hear what you all see & hear everyday as well as been through over the years. Thanks again for your stories....Keep them comin
  8. lawnworker

    lawnworker LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 899

  9. wacamaster

    wacamaster LawnSite Member
    from MI
    Posts: 198

    I am good friends with 4 other guys in the business in my are. Our ages range from 23-25... we all own our own house. They aren't dumps either.. mine's not the best but it's on 4 acres. I wouldn't say we live below the other people. I mow a dentists yard and he said he was 35 before he got his first house. I'm sure he makes way more then me but that fact that I started building equity and real estate value at 23.. I can prolly have a nice 750k house like his by the time I'm 35. And when do plumbers live in nice houses?
  10. Expert Lawns

    Expert Lawns LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,660

    I'm getting out at the end of this year

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