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need to charge double to make real money

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by lawnworker, Aug 8, 2006.

  1. lawnworker

    lawnworker LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 899

    Okay, I have been going over the figures, and they don't look good. I have worked pretty darn hard all year and my ex cell spread sheet reveals I have made what wages would pay. I wished years ago, I would have learned technology or accounting or something else besides Lawn care.

    My yards average about $45.00 for up to 1/2 acre. Realistically every thing needs to be doubled to make a decent living, and I don't think my customers will go for it.

    I have been solo for years, and I am getting to think I am either a stupid business man , or else my market just lacks the capacity for easy riches.I always look at what I am making and realize there is no $$ to hire someone else, because it is just enough for me to live on.

    I have contemplated an immediate raise of 10% across the board to test if I am under charging. What are everyones thoughts on this?

    TURF DOCTOR LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,138

    My thoughts in my area are different,double your prices if it take's that seems you are getting good cash on a half acre.
  3. AllanP

    AllanP LawnSite Member
    Posts: 19

    How many lawns do you have?
  4. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    If you are doing the labor yourself, my conclusion is that there is no money in residential lawn care.

    The only way I was able to turn the corner was to sink a bunch of cash into the business and advertise like mad to support several crews. When I was doing the labor myself, I was starving.

    Part time, supplemental income, may be a different story. But as for mowing lawns for a living, and doing the labor yourself, I just don't see it in my market. I know I couldn't make it work.

    Finally starting to make money now that I have others do all the labor.

    DFW Area Landscaper
  5. J Hisch

    J Hisch LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 952

    I would much rather have several employee's netting 10.00 per hour off them after over head and expenses than to provide the labor myself. Volume is the only way.
  6. lawnworker

    lawnworker LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 899

    Allen, this year it was about 22. Some are real big jobs others were not.

    DFW, I can understand where you are coming from. stepping aside and having workers would be nice. However, liability,lack of work force that will hustle in this market is a concern. I doubt that someone would out pace what I do- how do you get them to work hard enough to make you money while they take in much less then the solo owner.

    maybe mowing is just a loss leader for the bigger companies, if so maybe it should be abandoned as soon as other things build up.
  7. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,501

    exactly jason...except you are wrong about the $10 an hour net my friend
  8. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Posts: 4,205

    Ya, you'd fore sure be talking about hiring from south of the border 'cause you would need a corral full.....................:usflag:
  9. PTP

    PTP LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tulsa
    Posts: 1,383

    IMO 22 properties of the size you are talking about is not enough. Off of the top of my head I would guess that most guys could handle twice that many and still be solo. Also, your overhead will not double if you double your accounts. What if the new accounts were next to your existing accounts? Your truck expenses will be the same. Your insurance will also be the same. If it takes 1 hour per property including drive time, you may be able to service twice the amount of properties and have an average of 45 minutes of drive time if your route is tight.

    But like others said, employees are the way to go. They will be your biggest source of headaches but they will also make you money if you handle them right. As far as getting them to produce, I find that my employees work harder than I do. It is not uncommon for them to average under 20 minutes per property including drive time for 1/4 ac lots. But they didn't start that way. I had to train them.

    There are people who are successful in this business, but you are not. Some of this may have to do with the demographics of where you live but most of the problem is with you. How do I know this? Well, I figure that there is at least one successful lawncare businessman in your vicinity. He has the same market that you have but he is successful and you are not. Therefore the difference must be that he himself is different.

    One thing that I have learned recently is that if you want to be successful, you must do what successful people do. My best advice is that you find someone who is successful in business - this business or another business - and ask them to mentor you. It can be done if you are willing to change yourself. It may not be easy but it can be done.

    I know this because I have done it.
  10. dkeisala

    dkeisala LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 911

    I had an employee tell me years ago that I give away more than I should and I don't charge enough for what I do. This wasn't the smartest person in the world but was one of the smartest things anyone has ever said to me.

    When I was working out in the field, I'd always tend to do far more than what we were paid to do. I'd spend way to much time taking care of the smallest detail, things most people would never notice but by God, I did and is was going to be taken care of before I left or it would drive me nuts until the next visit.

    Being an owner/operator, you probably have a very difficult time separating yourself from your business, as I did. After all, I WAS the business, I started it, I ran it and I worked it. I don't work in the field anymore and it's still a difficult transition for me. What's even more interesting to me is that the clients who were used to me being on their properties have become WAY more needy all of the sudden while those clients that have signed on since I've left day-to-day field operations couldn't care less, they don't know any different.

    Having left the field has given me far more time to develop and refine my business practices, something you probably need to do as well. Now, EVERYTHING is charged for, nothing is given away for free. If Mrs. Smith wants an azelea popped in the ground, there's a charge for it. This accomplishes two things, 1) people stop asking you to do stupid little things 2) you make more money.

    I found that working the business caused me to "not be able to see the forest for the trees" and now that I'm running the business, I'm in a far more objective position. Yes, you may need to charge more. Yes, you definately need more clients. Employees may be a headache but it takes people to make money, there's just no way around it. Additionally, with employees, you can offer more services rather than just mowing. As a solo operator, you can only handle so much, there's a glass ceiling you're going to hit. This isn't the case with employees.

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