The Economy are you gaining or losing accounts

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by Ric, Jan 2, 2009.

  1. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,957

    Yo

    Much to my surprise I am actually gaining accounts. On just the 30th of Dec I lost one smaller dollar account and gained 3 high dollar accounts in one day. Since Oct when the market took the big crash I have gain a number of new accounts. I have only lost two accounts during that time period. One to a British customer who's Pound took a big conversion loss and the other to a snowbird customer with 2 airplanes because his new neighbor claims to be an expert from NY. They will be doing their yard together until that expert finds out Florida isn't NY.

    Living and servicing a small retirement town our economy is heavy on retiree services and the Stock Market should be a big factor in disposable income in my area. Because of construction slow down or just plain no construction the working class are losing homes and collecting food stamps. A real situation of haves and have not's. I am in an investment club and pretty much have all my money tied up in that club which has most of their investments in several local bars. The Bar business is way down and starting to be in negative numbers. I have made a point of checking out other bar business to find them extremely slow also. While the Club has a reserve, I am preparing to reinvest to help keep our investment afloat until things turn around. But it does seem I have the reverse King Midas Touch in the fact my gold investments keep turning into pig slop.
     
  2. SpreadNSpray

    SpreadNSpray LawnSite Senior Member
    from MN
    Posts: 363

    Still gaining, Slowly. drop 2..gain 3.... drop 1...gain 1...
    Most of the customers dropping were late payers even during the good times. Remember 2005. The phone rang off the hook. I'm optimistic for 2009. Ok maybe 2012!
     
  3. grassguy_

    grassguy_ LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Posts: 633

    Have been balancing out to this point, have lost a few but mostly ones that have been slow pays prior as well, have also gained a few from referral and competitors. I'm not sure to this point how many of the competitors have mailed renewal letters as most called havent indicated anything to that regard yet. I assume they either are in the process or are going to be holding with the fert prices still in limbo.
     
  4. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,957

    Yo

    Maybe I started this thread wrong. What I am really interested in is now bad is the general economy in your area and how is it effecting you???

    Like I said My area has the haves and the have nots. But in general my area is starting to get very depressed even with this being our high season. Our roads are not the normal winter traffic jam and I don't see the large number of snowbird tourist like in years passed. The Market closed for the year just under $ 8800 about half of last year. Real upscale restaurants and clubs seem to still have customers but working class is hurting. A buddy is have his house remodeled for $ 10 an hour labor and the guy is doing a great professional job. I may have him do some work for me at those prices. Good help is all over the place looking hard and heavy for work at what every they can make. Our county school system reported 3,700 less students enrolled this year because of all the young families leaving to find work else where.
     
  5. tremor

    tremor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,476

    A person's home is usually their largest investment. Since LCOs are in the business of improving that investment it stands to reason that LCOs should grow during a recession. Conversely new home builders, masons & new landscape construction companies take a beating unless they can change the scope of their marketing.

    I watched our customer base change during the last recession (late '90's). As the planting jobs dried up, big landscapers all started offering full service. This stayed constant until 5-6 years ago when most were either subbing LCOs or just walking away from maintenance all together. All throughout the Bush years the larger Landscapers never darkened my door unless they owned a hydro-seeder or needed a bag for a friend's house.

    Now the pendulum has swung again. Those new trucks are for sale (cheap). Low hour excavators area dime a dozen. It's a real buyers market out here.

    Regardless the price of fertilizer, this cycle continues on a recognizable if not predictable pattern. If we all knew how to read the cycles we wouldn't be wasting time posting here. LOL We'd be buying distressed sales like Warren Buffet.
     
  6. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,957

    Tremor

    After my nursery was blown away by Hurricane Charlie I never rebuild and was lucky enough to sell the land at the high of the real estate market. But last week in the Miami Area for Winter Festival with my children. I spend some time driving the Homestead area which is the Nursery Capital of the South, even shipping as far as Calif. They were really hurting and their fields were bare by comparison. Many of the grower I purchased from were in fact gone. When I realized my investment income was not enough to live and went back to work. I looked at the Idea of plant brokering, Buying in Homestead and selling truck lots all over the state. Thank heavens I didn't go that route.

    My main Market is water front homes in the 1/2 to a million range. These people are mostly depended on the market for their income in one way or an other. I believe because I ate margin with the fert price increase I am now picking up business. Many of my competitors cut quality and are now paying for it in lost customers which I am picking up. But maybe because I feel I am doing well right now I am also scared as heck of going down the tubes. I know I can lose it faster than I picked it up.

    Your post about Homes being a big investment and people wanting to keep up appearances may be my(our) salivation. While ego are such that pride goes just before the fall we may be OK. But I do see an awful lot of boats worth more than the house they are docked behind for sale.

    BTW Real Estate people are telling me, house sales are up finally. But it is the foreclosures and short sales that are moving.
     
  7. DUSTYCEDAR

    DUSTYCEDAR LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Posts: 5,137

    ITS SCARY i keep seeing houses go up for sheriff sale in my area.
    as for the bottom line i am still holding on to my ????
     
  8. KACYDS

    KACYDS LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 559

    Everyone remembers Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It did affect my business, because at the time most people were in a daze and didn't know what the future would bring. Since the storm, I am back to were I was pre-Katrina. Last year 2008, started great with new customers, but with the economy the second half of the year was flat (no new customers).

    On my last bill of the year, I send out a card stating if the customer wants to continue the service for 2009, please initial and return. All but one customer has renewed for 2009.

    I do alot of work for 2 major landscape companies in the area. On Tuesday, one of them called to give me 5 address to give estimates. Today, the other company called and gave me 2 address. Both companies do installations and maintenance, but do no spraying and fert. When they complete the install, they give their customer a price for a complete maintenance package. Of all the estimates I have giving in the last few years, for these two companies, I have picked up 80% of them. And have kept them since, with no cancellations.

    Hopefully 2009 will be a better year. :usflag:
     
  9. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,916

    Up North - its too cold for anyone to remotely think about green services right now.
    I got all but one of my renewals back for mow/blow last fall. No chance anyone will contact me about service until March at least. Thats the way it works up here, its cold season now.
     
  10. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,957

    KACYDS

    I worked for the state of La back in the 70's & 80's. In the early 80's a recession felt all over. Somehow this was very delayed hitting the Baton Rouge area. In fact after the rest of the country was coming back up Baton Rouge seemed to get hit. By 1987 it was hit real hard and I moved back to Florida by selling my house on land contract. Interest was high and credit was hard to get. By 1991 credit and interest came down and I got my money in full for my house. But Louisiana has the Gold Coast Chem plants up and down the river as well as oil that kept it alive back then. Hopefully the same Chem plants are keeping you going today. But just like Las Vegas that is a tourist town, New Orleans has got to be feeling the lack of tourist income as we here in Florida are. I try and eat out most nights of the week and I am seeing a slow down in clients at Restaurants as well. I am sure just like my area that was hit by hurricanes (4 in fact) in 2004 N.O. still has a lot of blue tarps and uncleared damage.

    DA

    One thing nice about our weather is year round green service. But we make about the same money for working year round. In fact maybe less because of the competition. But March will bring your wake call depending on the economy at that time. I have a little money in the bank and some breathing room, but at the same time I am not about to spend it. My neighbor was cutting grass and has decided to give it up. So I am now cutting my own grass. Like me, I think you will find many who can afford service will decide to do it themselves. Just like the grass many are not spending money on any thing.
     

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