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Teetering on the Brink

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Mrs. H, Apr 25, 2008.

  1. Mrs. H

    Mrs. H LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 708

    I hope this is a temporary hiccup.

    Yesterday, David had to fill the tank on one peice of equipment by siphering fuel from another.

    He's going to start losing that Pepsi belly soon, because he can't afford to buy soda.

    We're down to one employee. One truck looks like it's heading toward voluntary repo, and maybe a mower. Two mowers in the shop and out of commission.

    Customers are going the way of the cheap new competition flooding in because two or three plants did major lay-offs. And the customers we are hanging on to...well, I had to finally hire a collection agency to bully them into paying because no one takes me seriously when I try to collect.

    The cycle is spiraling: David works, doesn't get paid, can't pay the bills, things break down, David misses out on more work.

    I know it's not just us. David says that the tension can be cut with a knife. He can't wave to or even look at another lawn care without feeling it. He says it's like everyone is just waiting for someone else to go under so they can pounce on the accounts.

    Anyway...just thought I'd bring the discussion up. If your like us, your not alone.

    For the last few weeks I have felt less like a manager and more like the one being managed. :(
  2. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 17,002

    I alaways thought ya'll had a good thing going, Im sure you will be able to work through it. Going solo is not a bad idea, to me employees are a headach anyway
  3. dcgreenspro

    dcgreenspro LawnSite Senior Member
    from PA
    Posts: 688

    yeah, if David can punch through this rough period, I think you guys should be alright. Does he do any other services other than mowing? Might be time to expand into something else to pull into some extra money.
  4. Mrs. H

    Mrs. H LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 708

    Well, it has been a pretty good thing. And David's whole heart and soul is invested. But, I can see it's ugly underbelly and I can't shake the stress headache!

    David does mowing and OTPS. He's had problems in the area of spraying lately because the "New" lawn care competion are applying illegally. He knows if he was illegal, someone would bust him in a heartbeat...I don't know if he's just hoping they'll get busted on their own or not. Everytime I offer to make a call he stops me.

    Normally, too, the weed control treatments would bring in a good amount, however, we are seeing a lot more customers wanting to pass on the extras.

    Personally, I think we will come out on the other side of this with our heads above water. Most of our equipment, one truck and the trailers are all paid for, but, keeping them running is a whole different story. Gosh, they all need gas.

    If nothing else, the kiddie's are all getting a real good lesson in family economics.
  5. landscaper22

    landscaper22 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 829

    Mrs. H, I feel for you guys. It is a really tough season. It hit me like a ton of bricks a few weeks ago. I am still doing well. However, I was at the point were I was extremely picky about new accounts and other extra jobs I would tackle. Now, I am having to move backwards and continue to service some properties I would rather not be. I could drop a few accounts, but I am about to break the bad news to many customers that I am going to increase their price. So, I think 3-4 may drop me anyway. I do have one employee working 25-30 hours per week. So, I can lose a few accounts and go back to being solo if I have to.
    It is really tough on us and our customers. We are all paying much more for fuel, food, and other goods. Many people have lost big money with investments too. We are being forced to increase the prices for our services on top of all the other stuff.
    You guys will pull through. I Wish you and everyone else here the best. I hope and pray we will see some relief soon.
  6. hickslawns

    hickslawns LawnSite Member
    Posts: 131

    I am sorry to hear about your tough times. You sound like a truly good person that is fearing the worst. We have all been there. We are currently at 50% reduced income from my wife as she changed jobs from sales to hospital nurses tech. She is also going to school full-time to become an RN. Very scary step for us (especially with a 4 and 6 year old) in today's world and in our unpredictable line of work. You never know about fuel costs, weather worries (ex. drought summer of last year), and breakdowns are inevitable. You just don't want all these to occur at once. My advice would be to immediately drop the customers that are not paying, or be stern about payment expectations and stick to your word. Hard thing for us to do, but we are the only ones looking out for ourselves. They will just stiff someone else if you drop them. Good long-term customers will not like fuel surcharges or increases because of fuel costs, but they will understand. The bottom line is the bottom line. If you cannot be profitable then get out or change. I am too stubborn (or dumb) to throw in the towel. My wife now has 3 quarters complete in her schooling. We had a great winter. We have hired some great workers this year. We are spending money and growing even with the supposed economic slump. We too are fighting dirt cheap competition. Just walked away from a 3 acre lawn because the guy already had 2 bids for $60. We did however get a one time $200 job out of him, and now he wants a quote for total landscaping re-design. I guess my point is have faith, don't be afraid to expend into other areas if they are more profitable, and know you will never be dealt something you cannot handle. You might be tested, but you will not be handed more than you can chew. You don't always have to know how it will work out, simply that it will work out. Best of luck and keep your chin up!:clapping:
  7. ACA L&L

    ACA L&L LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,108

    Mrs H, hang in there work will come and bills will get paid. Our famiy will say a prayer for yours. Good luck from New Mexico.
  8. Mrs. H

    Mrs. H LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 708

    That's the story of our life too. Which is why I am sure that in the end we will still be in the business. What kind of shape its going to be in is still to be determined.

    If he has to go get another Ford Escort to throw the equipment in...well, er, I guess that'll work! :dizzy:

    Thanks for all the encouragement.

    I've even started a project in my "Free" time :eek: that I hope will help within the next few months. I have a lot of work to put into it before its ready for potential income. Call me superstitious...but I've been keeping it under wraps from nearly everyone. I don't want to screw it up and then :eek:. But, I've got my families welfare in mind.

    It's amazing the work we can/will/and do accomplish when we've got others relying on us.

    I hope all ya'll are doing better than we are...or that your tunnel is showing light...or that you just have perpetually optimistic attitudes. :) Thanks again.

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