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What is your business priority?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by B. Phagan, Aug 2, 2002.

  1. B. Phagan

    B. Phagan LawnSite Member
    Posts: 95

    Since my last post regarding consultants, I've had a ton of e-mails and calls with lots of questions about business issues. To relay some of those thoughts to the rest of you, we discussed the following:

    I find some very common denominators and attributes in our profession:

    1. 99.9% of us are super nice people
    2. We want to satisfy our clients sometimes up to and including kissing some part of their anatomy!
    3. The work ethic is alive and well. No problem working 24-7, 365
    4. We just love the work itself
    5. We take a lot of pride in our work and seeing the finished product
    6. We all tend to be extremely honest

    Just a few reasons why I love this industry!

    These are terrific attributes but there are some downsides as well:

    1. We focus on doing the work. That's job #1. Just take a look at all the posts relative to "the work" versus elements of business. As I speak about business topics at green industry shows, we'll have thousands of folks come but most are there to look at the shiney equipment and a minority will come listen and learn about business topics. While using high tech and fast equipment will produce results, learning how to estimate the job for maximum profits would be my biggest concern. THEN I can make more ROI with the better equipment. Far too many of us base our pricing on some mysterious number we pulled from some "dark place", others will charge the "going rate" while others price the jobs just so they'll get them, profits be damned. And believe me, you can make more money with your brain that you can with your brawn! Why do doctors make more that garbagemen? Education.

    I had 20 employees before I saw the light. Making a whopping $5.16 per hour in my business after one year convinced me I was only worth what I paid my lowest paid employee. That hurt. When I started spending my time working "on" my business rather than "in" my business, I finally prospered with a rewarding 6 figure income.

    2. Some of us pay little attention to our business elements like job estimating, agreements, billing systems, insurances, record keeping, getting that CPA, preserving our assets, having a management information system, marketing/selling and all the other issues. This is like building our businesses on a house of cards, only to see it crumble at some point. All that money, blood, sweat and tears down the drain!

    3. Horticulture knowledge eludes many of us as well......yet this is our product, our service. Scary.

    4. As a result of our work ethic, sometimes our families suffer. I missed my son's first t-ball game and my daughters dance recital......never again! I'm flying to Illinois Sunday to work with a fella with 5 kids who rarely sees them and finally wants to do something about it. His wife's been nagging harder and harder!

    5. Sadly, many of us don't make what we need, deserve or want to make in an industry that produces over $60 BILLION year with projected growth of another $25 Billion in the next 5 years! Getting the work is not the problem. Getting profitable work should be the focus.

    Can you be more prosperous and happy without focusing more on your business issues? Can you nail Jello to a tree?

    "If you keep doin' what you're doin', you'll keep gettin' what you're gettin'."

    So, what's your priority? Give it some thought this weekend.......
  2. Good post Bill, I have been working on most of what you have posted over the last 2 years.
  3. B. Phagan

    B. Phagan LawnSite Member
    Posts: 95

    Thanks for the post and comments LG,

    Just got back from Illinois.......at least one more owner knows what he's doing to get ahead.

    145 views, one post to my comments.....I was hopeful of starting some dialogue...........still getting calls though.
  4. Lawn-Scapes

    Lawn-Scapes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,810

    Good post Bill... I hope all the people that peeked in at it got something from it.

    It took me until this year to start turning my business around.. What a waste the last 8 years have been. I am guilty of all the things you mentioned. I could do the work better than most.. but no business sense or horticulture knowledge what-so-ever. This equated to a lot of hard work with nothing to show for it.

    That was then.. this is now.

    My priority? To make as much money as I can (high profit).. working as little hours as possible.. so I can enjoy the rest of my time with my beautiful wife and kids.

    I have a long way to go.
  5. Bills Lawn Service

    Bills Lawn Service Guest
    Posts: 0

    Great post Bill:

    every thing you mentioned in 99.9% right on. that part about kissing some part of their anatomy,HA-HA, maybe years ago.

    I'm new to this site but one of the thing I have seen in looking through it is that most of the users are from the upper states, you'll do business a little different than we do in this part of california, but it's all the same industry. We should all be trying to do the things you mentioned above, sadly some can't see the trees for the forest.
    At this time i'm working with some other landscape/maintenance
    men trying to get an association up and running and would like very much to talk with you about some of the things mentioned above. if you would please e-mail me

  6. ProMo

    ProMo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,468

    you definately opened my eyes Bill. I havnt brought out the contracts yet but just about all of my customers know they are coming.So far no one has a problem with cutting back on winter service,still waiting for spray licsence they cashed the check last friday so hopefully ill know something soon just let another customer that got a 30% price raise and less service visits know ill be charging for that round up and any hand weeding needed and she has no problem,my blower died today and I was talking to a new client and walked out with 5 months advance payment for service after she just got burned doing that for her last lawn service. Thought that was going to do me in until I remembered to work smarter and now i have a shiny new blower. Im still a little confused on my pricing because at 36 visits per year at 25 dollars is coming out to 75 dollars per month and im trying to figure out how many times hedges will need trimming to boost that figure up a little. Im trying to have the service agreements ready by september that will put me near the end of the growing season so far im getting through my financial disaster not a day has gone by that I have not been on this site to learn all I can on the business side since attending your seminar personally I think I would have been history without your help. 10 years in business and another 10 working for other lcos including yours is not enough to keep a biz going you have to know the business end hopefully by this time next year ill be in a better position and I owe it to you thanks again Bryan
  7. grassguy_

    grassguy_ LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Posts: 633

    Bill, you've put it basically in a nutshell so to speak. I've been working "in" my business for 13 years and only the last 3-4 have I started to work "on" my business. I only feel however that many of us have to work "in" it before we can work "on" it, so to speak. Getting employees to follow suit is another big challenge. Even with a business background from college, I can say there have been curves and crossroads that college doesn't necessarily prepare you for. But, as the saying goes learning is a continuos thing, if it isn't you're dead in the water. As for the family part, its a lesson learned as well, its made to be a priority. Great post Bill!
  8. B. Phagan

    B. Phagan LawnSite Member
    Posts: 95

    Bill, Bryan and Grass Guy,

    Thanks for the posts. Just leaving again today so not a lot of time to properly respond. Back on Monday for you Bryan if you want to give me a call.

    Some replies......I have two kids with college degrees, one with a Masters and one BS. Now like I told them when they graduated, they still knew very little about their chosen profession. Very few professors have "been there done that" but have learned from other professors. Scary! I place a huge value on education but it always works better if you not only learn in the class room but also OUT where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.

    And Bill, been in CA several times working with companies...just back from Chicago.......our profession is definitely the same, given seasonality and hort differences. ILL has about an 8 month season versus others with longer or shorter but the same topics of job estimating, scheduling, busines operations, agreements, employees, etc remain the same. Difference is what the owner is trying to accomplish relative to profits, systems, improved quality of life for them and their family. My responsibility is to give options to accomplish those objectives.

    I applaud your efforts to put together an association. I was the first president of an association in FL and stated out great with a ton of folks. Then attendance fell and fell and fell. Their priority once again was doing the work......not working on their business. The work is out there folks. No one ever failed in this profession because there was no work. They failed due to understanding all the business nuances of our profession.

    Talked about extremes...........as I've said many of us work 24-7, 365 with little success financially, not being able to spend time with our families, etc. Had a call from a guy some years back.....saw the potential in the green industry but chose not to take on the grief of employees, equipment, etc. Over the years we've spent about 10 days together putting agreements together, quality control systems, etc.

    The result? He currently has no employees, no equipment, subs out everything, does roughly $500k per year in revenues and nets $85K personally! Spends two days a week on the golf course and the rest bringing up his babies!!! So, lots of ways to skin this cat depending on how you want to do it.

    Well, bye for now. Back on Mon......holler if I can help.
  9. Lawn-Scapes

    Lawn-Scapes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,810

    What.. am I chopped liver Mr. Phagan? :rolleyes: j/k

    Just want to let you know you sent the wrong person (me) an email about association.
  10. Sean Adams

    Sean Adams LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,597

    Good post Bill. Send me an e-mail when you get back in town. We still need to set you up on Green Industry Leaders.

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