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Stay in or get Out?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Jeff777, Jul 12, 2008.

  1. Jeff777

    Jeff777 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 13

    It's been a long time since I posted or even visited.

    I've been doing this part time since 1985. Moved to rural Wisconsin in 1999 and decided to go full time as we were in a completely new area and didn't want to commute to do what I had been doing full time. Sure ... likely foolish. I'd studied Organics for many years as well as hydroseeding and pulled the trigger hard. Skidsteer, hydroseeder, commercial mowers, sprayers, et al to tune of near 70K. Market turned out to be worse than pathetic in this area. Tourists and locals with no expendable income. Local Politics have virtually all business accounts tied up with 5th generation locals. I've ended up having to travel a 5 county area to make a semi decent customer base and I'm mowing lawns I wouldn't have even considered doing when I lived in the City. These people don't even know what a final grade is. I'm far too educated in Industry for my customers, all they want is mow and blow.

    As Economy has worsened locals have run out in the droves to buy 'hardware store' mowers and start their own businesses to cater to tourist trade hoping to make a few hundred a month . Needless to say as I'm not telling any of you anything new, there is little loyalty in the business - for $10 less per mow you'll lose the account.

    I'm in now only because it's what I do, I'm 58 with failing health and can't get by on my Wifes income alone. I do like lawn maintainence, simply don't like it here.

    Thinking about re-locating yet again but Realtor tells me housing market is way down or other possibility of commuting north or south 50 miles where commercial market is more viable but wondering if not being 'local' will hurt my opportunities despite my willingness to travel distance.

    I'm here just a couple days now again and don't see much griping, am I the only one suffering in this marketplace?

    Input appreciated.

  2. joetate

    joetate LawnSite Member
    Posts: 7

    Don't want to sound too mean, however, I'm thinking a little market research would have been wise before the initial investment. My feeling on that large of investment is thats its easy to start small and build up as your business grows, its a lot harder to start large and go smaller with out the depreciation killing you. Just my opinion

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    I would think trying to build a full-time lawn business in any rural area would be tough. You have to go where the money is most of the time to make money.

    Commuting 100 miles roundtrip a day would be a killer on gas, and on your truck. As far as moving, if you're buying and selling a home within the same area of the country, doesn't really matter what the market is. It'll just take a little longer to sell your current house than you may like.
  4. dura to the max

    dura to the max LawnSite Silver Member
    from georgia
    Posts: 2,246

    imo a rural area is not one to start such a large business in, you didnt mention where you were before, but ive lived in rural wisconsin and the loyalties lie w/ the guys that have lived in that city all their lives. 100 miles a day is a looooooooong commute, so if i were to have this i would get a shop in the town 50 miles away and get a little honda, however this puts you in a hard spot to meet w/ existing customers and potential clients. also in the winter it is very difficult to get to your service area to plow, unless you plow 50 miles to town, i knw that the snow is a way of life, but when a large storm snows in customers they're going to want you to dig them out asap, not very practical if you're 50 miles away and in the same condition they are.

    i have to agree w/ the previous poster that suggested that you jumped the gun, i started small and get the equipment that i NEED as i need it, if its a one time deal and you cant afford to buy, rent or sub.

    your location does not appear to be one that will support an LCO w/ 70k in equipment, although i would say that most areas in rural wisconsin cannot. in your shoes i would relocate, or find a non lco job, but again this is hard for a non-native in rural wisconsin, and to commute to a city that had a job worth having would be almost as killer as trying to be an LCO 50 miles from your service area.

    just my .02 as a former resident of wisconsin (and yes Dunbar is VERY rural)
  5. phlandscaping

    phlandscaping LawnSite Member
    Posts: 92

    I would say move and rent your house until it sells (if possible). Sooner or later you're going to have to make a move to provide for your family! Good Luck
  6. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,220

    your story is not unlike millions of Americans all over the country.
    it's NOT just the area your in or the profession, Myself, I'm a displaced worker from computer engineering, I jsut herd that GM is fileing for bankruptcy, My sister was working for Western airlines, untill Delta took them over, Now NorthWest is taking over Delta, and her and her husband is out in the cold.....

    It seems were having to travel futher than ever before and pay more to do so, Just to chase the all mighty buck,,

    I cant give you any Finacial advice, simply Because I'm not trained in that area, and I pray that you dont take any from this site,

    With US aging Americians facing longer terms to work before retirement, it's getting hard on us and the younger ones, with more of a cash flow.

    I will pray for you and wish you the BEST luck I can.
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Hell no you ain't the only one hurting thou I will say your story makes me feel like I got it made in the shade... And believe you me, I'm also full time and I grossed $300 this last week and that's not unusual so lets not get me started, things are tough all over, the reason you don't see me griping lots is because I am sure others got it just as bad and maybe worse and maybe not but I don't want to always bestow down upon Lawnsite my bs of doom and gloom lol

    But I got the same story as yours, basically, yeah...
    In my neck of the woods this is the second year in a row we're in a drought.
    Halfway through the season and cost has been over 100% meaning the income isn't making ends meet and this has been going on since last year and I still haven't figured out how I'm going to pay this BIG float I got sitting at 0% yet...

    Then these folks come around act like they're doing you and me a favor, how do you like that? :p

    Peace out man
  8. Two Seasons

    Two Seasons LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 791


    Here is how I see your situation. If you can do it, move the equipment that you still owe money on to a more profitable location, say Madison or metro Milwaukee area, and lease it out to a new company starting out that doesn't have the wherewithal to purchase it themselves. Or maybe you yourself could move with the equipment and become an operator for a new startup as well as lease the equipment to them.

    It is not uncommon that you have got this far and realized that it's not making sense anymore. I've been in business a very short time, but this isn't my first business venture and it probably won't be yours either. To continue hanging on to a failing business model will eventually drain the lifeblood out of your current operations. Weigh your options with your wife and get a couple of close friends over to discuss your options. Then pray for guidance. At least that is what I did.

    Best wishes to you and your new business venture.
  9. MowHouston

    MowHouston LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,012

    I drive 45 miles into town to get to my service area. And 45+ miles to get back home. It is hard on the finances and when i figure it up I am spending about 20% of my costs in fuel.

    I am scheduled to move back into Houston next year, we just decided to stay in Galveston this summer because we buried our newborn son here and it kind of feels like we would be leaving him behind.

    Otherwise, I would be X-ing out the 100 mile drive instantly and move back to Houston now instead of next spring. For now I'm just sticking it out and working mowing from 7am to dark :D

    Your realtor needs to get a new job. All I've heard is that this is a buyer's market for real estate. Home building is down, all those lovely foreclosures, you would be likely to get a steal on a home.
  10. Two Seasons

    Two Seasons LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 791

    Sorry to hear that MH.


    Here is another thought. I would think the best move from Baraboo would be south, unless you know the markets to your north extremely well. If you could store securely with a family member or friend or maybe even locked public storage with card only access, then you wouldn't be pulling heavy to get to a better market/set up in a better market/work in a better market.

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