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Solo operator what ifs????

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by eggy, Feb 11, 2002.

  1. eggy

    eggy LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 947

    This is for the solo operators, here of late it seems after review of the books that I might go back to being a solo operator instead of having a helper, it seems that the bottom line will be better andover all I think I will be happy not worring over finding a good helper. However I am very worried about all the what ifs? What kind of plans do you have in case of a emergency lets say you have a surgery or get hurt during the peak of the season? What your plan? Also what kind of back up equipment are Solo ops keeping none or do you tend to have two ztrs as a solo op or ? The core of my buisness is propertys where a walk behind as a back up would not be fesiable. Thanks
  2. awm

    awm LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,354

    hey eggy. good question. im solo and will stay that way a while longer. u pointed out some of the problems . no plan except give the buisiness away if i got hurt ,heart attack etc.my back up is a 42 lt. i use cheap but effective hand equipment to avoid theft.
    ill have to work forever ,as i have no adequate retirement.
    so thats the rub. one thing tho . i ve had a chance to get to know many retired folk. very few live a life i believe i could handle.
    so i work hard as i can ,with certain grd given to bro arthur.
    excersize 5-6 times a wk . these are heart lung type things.
    and hope if somethin gets me. itll be fast or just give me a few days to say good bye.my thinking is colored by the fact i just watched dad take several yrs to die w alzhiemers. now mommas in the last stages. i also know folks with artritus that never gives them any peace. watching this . makes me less afraid of dieing than living to long.i my self once told my doctor if we couldnt do better than this,w the pain ,i wasnt sticking around for the last act.
    hence an excercize plan that is for life,that moved time back 20 yrs . dont know how long it will last.
    i may put another truck out as a experiment soon . u never know the future,so try to be ready for anything.
    sorry for the ramblin. just my thoughts
    i use stihl saws etc but nobody sees that on the truck ,to avoid theft.
  3. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,412

    Disability insurance is a must. As well as good relationships with other LCO's who would be willing to service your accounts on a short-term basis at least. As far as spare equipment I can rent a 48 WB for $40 a day so thats what I do if the equipment is down more than a day or so. ZTR riders go for $75 per day.
  4. eggy

    eggy LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 947

    Hmm you have a rental stor renting ZTRS? I do have disability insurance but I guess I am thinking mire along the lines of a three day ilness or being out a week.....What do you do? There is not one other LCO in the area I would trust this is a dog eat dog market here.
  5. TGCummings

    TGCummings LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 773

    For short term illness, I just delay my route until I'm better. I might call some of my better customers to explain the problem, briefly, or have my wife do it. There isn't anything that can be done about that, and it's no different than being rained out for a week. If I lose a couple under those circumstances, I'll replace them on my route.

    I do need to get disability insurance, and that's on my list.

    awm, prepare for your own retirement with an IRA. If you can't afford to start one up, raise your rates. It should be included in your 'cost of doing business', same as disability insurance, health coverage, etc. When figuring out how much you need to run a business, those factors need to be included along with equipment, fuel, and all the other 'overhead' that folks outside our industry don't think we have.

    LAWNS AND MOWER LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,129

    My backup plan is dropping my mower off @ my mechanics shop, go to the liquor store and buy him a large bottle of Canadian Mist, return to his shop and pick up my repaired mower. I keep alot of parts for my Toro that tend to go out on me. I'm like Cummings. Disabiltiy Ins. is next on my list. It took me 6 years to finally get liability ins.

  7. wrtenterprises

    wrtenterprises LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 312

    Luckily, I have (2) LCO's that would be willing to pick up the slack if something happened --short term. Both are very good friends, and I feel very lucky to have such a luxury. Long term lets face it, you are out of business. Your core customer base can not and will not wait for an entire season or longer to see if you will be back. If long term problems persist, and you can come back, plan on starting all over again. As for equipment, I have (1) ZTR, (2) walkbehinds, (2) push mowers, (4) string trimmers, (2) stick edgers, (1) chain saw, (3) pack blowers, (1) hand blower, (1) walk-behind blower, (1) fert. spreader, (1) landscape trailer, (1) dump trailer, (2) hedge trimmers, (1) extended hedge trimmer, (1) snow plow, (2) snow blowers, and many hand tools. I only have (1) truck, but trading every two years has stemmed any problems so far. Still need a skid-steer, but not until next year.

    Next year, I will be a hiring a full-time helper. Business requires it, and for the long haul, IMHO it's the best insurance policy regardless of the headaches it will cause....
  8. gogetter

    gogetter Banned
    Posts: 3,256

    At my last job I knew all too well how easy it is to get a simple injury (usually strained muscles) and be laid up for a week or two, or even three.

    So my goal is to grow the business to a size where I can take on at least one good helper to cover my butt if need be. I know it's easier said then done to get a GOOD helper, but if it means paying him more then other LCO's are and as a result my bottom line is lower, it would still be worth it to me. For peace of mind. Kinda like paying insurance, you hate paying that much, but it's good to know it's there when you need it.

    As far as equipment, I do have backup pieces for all handheld stuff, am getting larger mower for this season so my 36" exmark will be backup to that. And 21" trim mower is back up to the 36".

    I would be afraid to work solo in the long term. Too many possibilities.
  9. Guardian

    Guardian LawnSite Senior Member
    from Florida
    Posts: 269

    During this off-season, I have considered becoming solo. NOT because of a lack of business, but because:

    1. I quit my night job 6 months ago and now can dedicate more time.
    2. Though I have a good, dependable helper now, You just never know when you'll be stuck with too much work -and he calls in sick. (I've had several bad days because of poor helpers)
    3. Just seems simpler

    The drawbacks scare me, like eggy said. If I get sick now, My helper gets me through. On those HOT HOT days, I like sharing the work. (Its easy this time of year, but the hot days are coming - Florida sees many of these days).

    I have 2 trucks - for my own piece of mind. I like knowing that a broken truck doesn't put me out of business for a day or more. I have back up handhelds, but no back up mower. Like others, I count on renting one from dealer (48 eXmark ztr, $75/day) He'll rent a 72" for $125. I did that one day last season when rain/bad helpers put me so far behind.

    I have disability insurance in case of the worst.
  10. VLM

    VLM LawnSite Member
    Posts: 189

    I've worked solo for over ten years and dont want to change. I've tried using help but found it too much trouble. I have a "what if" list for you.

    1) What if, you take on so much work that you couldn't possibly handle it by yourself and then your helper quits on you (this happened to me)

    2) What if, your helper wrecks your truck.

    3) What if, your helper shows up late....is unreliable, loses/brakes equipment, drinks or uses on the job, is rude to customers, has bad work habits, gets hurt on the job, annoys you, steals your accounts, steals anything from you........

    The list goes on endlessly. My point is, I worry MUCH more about relying on someone else than on myself. I know me and what I can do. If I had to miss some work I have several friends in the bus. who can cover for me. If you feel you dont know someone like this, make a point to stop and talk to every LCO you can and get to know them. Some of them are jerks, but many are in the same boat you are and would like to have your friendship.

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