Solo Operators-What's the best way to lower operating costs?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by smitty's lawncare, Mar 27, 2013.

  1. stevo7896

    stevo7896 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 13

    I'm now looking at my wifes Prius a little different . It does have a hatchback . Just want to add ,while I support my local dealer for mowers and service, I always look online for certain items I need , usually no tax on those items ,I also do this for all my purchases non business related. Its amazing how many of my friends/colleagues aren't careful shoppers . Also learn how to shop online .Many people just click on sponsored links ,rarely the cheapest option. Someone mentioned the 7 day wait earlier ,maybe use that time to price the item ,if it is something that can wait. If you have items that fail/wear always know where and best/affordable place to purchase . I use my iphone notes app to keep records of prices and contacts so I don't forget. If making a big purchase I always ask for a deal. Its amazing how much that has saved me.
     
  2. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 14,700

    Being an LLC won't stop an entity from suing you. The other side's lawyers will pick over all of your financial and legal documents, looking for evidence that you have not been running your LLC in a strict manner. If they find any evidence that points to this, then the protections of the LLC are moot. Even if they don't find anything (after listening for years to the ways some guys run their businesses here at Lawnsite, it's likely they will find something) you still have to pony up a lot of cash to defend yourself and your LLC.

    Being an LLC is an excellent way to protect yourself. But you must run your LLC by the book. There are no exceptions. Before everyone runs out and forms an LLC, they must do a real financial analysis of their net worth and determine if they have anything worth protecting.
     
  3. JDGlandscape

    JDGlandscape LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 506

    I havent read every post here, only the first few pages.

    I think that there are benefits to staying solo and also having employees. I like the simplicity and profit margins of being solo, but I HATE working alone and doing everything alone all day, some times it is definitely nice to have that extra person when it is so hot out and you can be in and out of each lawn twice as fast and back in the AC truck.

    But I found the biggest advantage of having employees is the security of having someone else there. When you have a personal injury or get really sick and cant work that day, what the hell do you do as a solo operation? you are completely SCREWED. Last spring I had just started spring cleanups and I had a lot of work to do and I got pretty sick, like laying in bed puking and high fever for about 4 days. All those jobs that I said I would be there I wouldnt have been able to go to, thank god I had an employee to go and work while I couldnt.

    My uncle is a solo operation and he has a bad knee problem that he dealt with all last summer because he couldnt take any time off of work because he was a solo operation. Now its almost spring time and he possibly has to have surgery and he doesnt know what hes going to do.

    I usually run with one full timer and then usually another guy during cleanups and mulching. I considered going back to solo with a parttimer but hearing about my uncle is really scares me
     
  4. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,033

    Personal injury is definitely a concern when solo. I have been injured a few times and had to work when I shouldn't have been. Last summer I dropped the ladder ramp from my dump trailer on my big toe while wearing sneakers...yeah I know, I should have had my boots on. I smashed and broke my toe and had no choice but to keep working on the job for another 6 hours and then thereafter due to a full schedule. Thankfully I had my son to do the trimming and blowing but the first couple of weeks were still pretty tough. I've also had a badly sprained ankle, a separated shoulder, cellulitis, lyme disease, strep throat and numerous more minor injuries. Thankfully my business survived and I now have my 19 and 16 year old sons who could take over for me in a pinch.
     
  5. jones68

    jones68 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 453

    I prowl on craigslist for equipment. there are a million guys out there that say "hey i mowed my yard as a kid i can do it for a living" then go out and buy 50,000 in equipment and and up failing and selling everything off. its a dangerous game of looking at a piece and figuring out if it was beat up and maintained or not luckily i have done pretty well this way. and cash is king. also some of the big guys run equipment and turn it over quickly to keep the newest and best equipment possible. I picked up a 09 exmark 60" with a 34 kawi with 3 bag ultra vac 268 hours for 8500 thats a little more than 1/2 price. the machine was like new and they guy i got it from was top notch. I perform all maintenance myself and order parts online. preventative maintenance is key to keeping everything running smooth. i spend my sundays washing and going over every little thing on my stuff. I havnt made payments on anything that i have got for the business paid cash up front. minimize down time and stay organized. I am by far not the best run business in the world but i do ok. but i will say this... The minute you stop asking yourself, "how can i do better?, how can i reduce cost?, how can i improve?, ect." will be the minute you start to fail.
     
  6. clydebusa

    clydebusa LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,660

    Jones68 U are right about "
    The minute you stop asking yourself, "how can i do better?, how can i reduce cost?, how can i improve?, ect." will be the minute you start to fail.



    This is why some industry has had issues and why foreign competition has succeed and the list goes on and on.

    I have this above the door to my shop

    The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.
     
  7. smallstripesnc

    smallstripesnc LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 707

    Personally one of the best ways to cut operating cost is to be smart how you use your equipment. A lot of people run their trimmers wide open constantly when they don't need to be used wide open. Also when blowing off sidewalks/driveway/etc...No need to run the blower wide open. Also this time of the year grass retains a lot of moisture and kind of "sticks" to everything. If you make sure to not blow it onto the driveways/walkways it'll cut down blowing time. Of course when you edge some will get there but no where near as much.

    I believe driving time between lawns is the biggest part of the fuel consumption expense. The tighter route the better "I'm still working on this myself". Also the way you drive. Instead of going 60MPH in a 55MPH zone go 55MPH. When you take off from stop lights or stop signs try not to take off too fast and gradually get up to speed.

    Just a few things that I do to try to keep costs down.
     
  8. Tom-N-Texas

    Tom-N-Texas LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 370

    this is my best tip for anyone new to the lawn service: Don't get caught in the trap of wanting to expertly manicure the finest lawns in the finest neighborhoods; the finest neighborhoods often have larger lots and take much more time (especially w/clean-up) due to the fact that the owner has higher expectations. The people on here who are obsessed with making pretty stripes on their customers' lawns crack me up. really?

    I have over 200 accounts, and my best customers often have the ugliest lawns. But I can get in and out in 5 minutes with a crew of 3. I get much more joy making $30 in 5 minutes than I ever could trying to please some rich guy who's trying to win yard-of-the-month. Yea, I might be able to charge the rich guy $5 more...but over the course of a day/week/month, it almost never pays.

    bonus tip: be ok with an ugly truck.
     
  9. Tom-N-Texas

    Tom-N-Texas LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 370

    that's a great tip...thanks.
     
  10. smallstripesnc

    smallstripesnc LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 707

    Of course our goal is to make money but I have to agree that its a fast in and out cutting a "ugly" lawn. The homeowner knows the lawn isn't going to look amazing and doesn't care usually how quick your in and out as long as its cut. BUT I personally enjoy cutting the high end lawns. There's nothing like laying down some beautiful stripes and getting to show off your amazing work.
     

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