Time to decide what I will do!!!!

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by DDAF, Dec 8, 2005.

  1. DDAF

    DDAF LawnSite Member
    Posts: 12

    Time to decide what I will do!!!!

    Help me decide if you can without any BS.

    I have been doing the field maintenance at a local High School Baseball field for the last Nine years. I have learned a lot the hard way, but trial and error will work if you have the time. Everything was done just to help the program and was done without any pay. I did have Two athletes that were in the program. My kids have graduated but I still give a helping hand when I can.
    At the same school I have a yearly contract on the football field for fertilization that does pay.

    I also have a yearly fertilize contract at a college baseball field that is 1hr. Away from my location

    I have for the last year been working at another local high school that contracted me to assist with the construction of a new baseball & softball fields, most of my job was the infield dirt & all the turf (Bermuda). Now that completion is near, I have talked with them about all their field maintenance needs, baseball, softball, football, soccer, and a practice field. Mowing, fertilization and game prep not to mention many other task to be performed on a athletic field

    I meet with a local college next week in hopes of doing a contract with them on all their athletic field needs, baseball, softball, football, soccer, practice football and a practice soccer field

    I have most of the equipment I will need, the problem I have is.
    I have a 40 hr.+ job that I have had for Thirty years, the pay isn’t that bad but 30 years is enough.

    The fields started as a hobby at first, then a extra part time income. Now it is time to go full time or say I’m sorry I just can’t do anymore.

    SOMEONE HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Forget the 40+ job and do athletic fields and lawns or stay with the regular job. The evenings & weekends are gone anyway.

    I also mow nine ½ acre lawns

    I can use the spouses health insurance and already have a business licenses

    Thank you in advance


    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    Can you get by on a reduced income for the first year or so? If you can, that makes the decision to go for it much easier.
  3. DLS1

    DLS1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,619

    Sit down and write on a sheet a paper the pluses on one side and negatives on one side of quitting your job. Then do a grading weighted scale how important each of the pluses and minuses are to you and your wife. Add up the score.

    It is good to have all or most the equipment already paid for. Create a household budget to see how it would work out with quitting your old job.

    A big factor is your wife with you or against the idea of quitting your full time job.

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,535

    Does the Full Time gig have any pay off at the end? Retirement? Bonus?
    Any 401K that they are matching?

    Even if your equipment is "payed for" you still have to cover it as working it full time will need replacement soon.
    You can finance and pay for it as you use it or save for it and pay cash when you buy but you will that be paying before. There is no such thing as "payed for equipment" only equipment that you pay for, from the business it generates.

    Make a business plan. Bring it to your accountant, have a little laugh and rewrite it with everything included. Now go home and sit with wife, go over it and be sure she is willing to support you for two years or more. (support financially)

    Oh yea! read some Bobby Gedd about giving work away free:D

    Good luck with it----(What I just wrote is not BS, it is to help you decide, and it is truthful)
  5. DDAF

    DDAF LawnSite Member
    Posts: 12

    Thanks for the comments.
    I do have a 401k plan with a company match of 50% but I can’t get to it for another 10 years.
    The wife does support me, in retiring from the full time job, but her income will not support us by it self.
    The contracts, if I get them, will be more income than I receive now so there are no problems with trying to live on a less income. They are both three-year deals, which I think will make my decision a little easer. Hopefully after the three years they will renew the contracts and by then I hope to have built more of a business with lawns.

    The evenings and weekends have been gone fore a long time working 4 10hr days and around 4 to 5 hrs on Friday at the regular job then athletic fields and lawns all the other day light hours.

    Just thinking this could be a way to do what I want and maybe get a weekend free sometime.

    I am at a company that when I started working here there were 25 employees. I’m in a supervisory role now with more than 500 employees. It seems that no one in today’s work force cares whether they have a job or not and don’t care if they do the job correct or not.

    The income from the part time business has been extra; it has paid for most of the equipment.
    The hard part of my decision is walking away from the security of a thirty-year job and giving up 5 weeks vacation but most of it was used to maintain the fields.

    Something everyone should think about.

    I didn’t understand what he had told me till just a few years ago.
    Think about it!!!!!

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,535

    Just thinking a little-- You say the income you get from these jobs is more than what you make now. Are you talking NET or GROSS. Contract price is not what you make. How many people will you have to hire to do the work you are selling. High school and college sports fields will take a lot of attention
    Will you have to train people. Do you have equipment for two people, or more, to work at the same time.
    Did you bid right as any school that opens up to bids will need to get at least 3 to satisfy the board.

    You talk about liking your job--you have been doing this part time as a hobby. People did not expect anything out of you. anything they got was OK-
    Now you are contract and they are paying- they expect and will demand. You have to get the work done no matter what. You have dead lines to meet.
    Weather comes but the game will go on Friday night. It's up to you to get it done. This is not a hobby any more. It is work. It is HARD work. If your employees don't show up you still have to get the work done. Are you still liking this. You still will be a supervisor

    Again I am just throwing thoughts out there. Good luck with the decision.

    By the way look up Marc Smith on this site. He works as Landscape Manager at Georgetown. He will have some good incite
  7. DDAF

    DDAF LawnSite Member
    Posts: 12

    Thanks for your thoughts

    Yes, it was just a hobby and at first and people didn’t expect much but as improvements were made My own expectations were very high and the demands came from myself. Like you said “the game will go on Friday night” so I know how HARD the work is. I know a lot of the problems that can and will arise.

    This is just a job that I enjoy doing and I just can’t continue to work the regular 40 and then spend another 35 to 40 on the fields every week. I have invested in some equipment but it’s to a point now where I need to get all the way in or all the way out.

    The HARD work has paid off, just not in $$$$$
    The one field was named Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association Field of the Year in 2004

    Link http://tbca.org/2005%20AWARDS.htm#SUMMERTOWN%20RENOVATION%20PICTURES

  8. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,157


    You are doing the right thing and considering your options before making a life changing decision..

    I would sit down with your wife(since this will affect her) and discuss and write down the pro's and con's of each option

    Stay full time with your job and only do fields as supplementary income but accepting no more clients

    Quit full time and Go full time field guy....

    The biggest hurdle you face is the transition. from quitting your full time job of 30 years and going full time field guy....There will be lag in income, as you will not be fully employed by your current amount of fields....it will still be a part time job, while you spend more time trying to drum up more work. This is often the most stressful point...Other than finding good employee's

    Many years prior to me coming to Georgetown, I had the opportunity to work for Valleycrest in orlando Florida.....I was a one man team that maintained three baseball fields for the local ymca.

    It was nice in that the fields were off limits except on weekends, when all the games would be played. Of course during playoffs all bets were off.

    So I had all week to work on the edges fix the divots, apply chems and cut the grass, and work the clay and add supplemental irrigation.

    Now at Georgetown We used to have two natural fields and one astroturf we have recently changed over one of the filed to sports turf (fake) http://guhoyas.collegesports.com/facilities/gu-multi-sport-photos.html

    The fields were Bermuda on a sand base. adnthey saw action daily. We have no practice facilities so the game fields were the practice fields. That was one of the reasons for the switch to sport turf on the main football, LAX, Sooccer field.

    Soccer still prefers to use the remain natural grass bermuda over the artificial and field hockey uses the astro turf, which is also open for students as well.

    One of the important aspects, is limiting the use of the field. The more it gets (ab)used the harder your job. We were constantly fighting with coaches to allow us to maintain the field. Unscheduled practices, practices changed as a result of the weather, ect. Thankfully, the athletic department did their own striping. I had to deal with all horticulture aspects, plus trash removal and moving the goals/benches/practice stuff out of the way so we could mow

    Our situation by not having practice field is pretty unique and very frustrating. The coaches wanted perfect playing surfaces, but were not willing to sacrifice practice to get it....and i was not willing to bring my guys in on unbudgeted overtime...we got along real well..:)

    I had about one and a half guys who were responsible for the two fields if the they had not gotten so much use i could have gotten buy with probably 1/2 a person (hort only)

    as you negotiate your contracts, try to put yourself in a position that you help with the schedule of games/practices. You'd hate to end up having to mow or prep all your fields on the same day... Be adamant about limiting the field use...a healthy field in good shape will help keep the players healthy as well. Feel free to call or PM if you have any other questions...

    202 687 0153
  9. DDAF

    DDAF LawnSite Member
    Posts: 12

    Thanks for your comments and phone # I'm sure I will give you a call later.

  10. thill

    thill LawnSite Member
    Posts: 245


    I suspect that you have already made your decision and you are looking for folks to convince you that it is the right one.

    There are a lot of good responses and I also suspect that they have helped bolster your choice.

    I would like to only add my best wishes to you and your wife as you make the change to full time.

    If I am totally wrong, tell me ..... then I will have a bite or two of crow.


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