Why they say to stay solo...

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by 205mx, Mar 31, 2013.

  1. SRT8

    SRT8 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CA
    Posts: 1,293

    Yea if you only had 3 employees its better to stay solo.
    Employees are only worth it if you have over 10 or so.
    That's where things get hard, if you want to have a big company you have to grow fast to pass that 10 employee part or else its not worth it. We have over 20 and should be closing in on 30 within the next couple months.
     
  2. J & D Greens

    J & D Greens LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 763

    I don't have much to add to all this. Except I read a letter from a guy on about the things that happened to him while running a very large and profitable Biz. When the banks literally turned on him (they adjusted his line of credit which he would buy materials with and pay up when the job was finished). and pushed him out of Biz. (I think he just had to let go and figured to fight another day, been there done that).

    It was a very interesting read, but at the end he said if he was to do it again he would stay away from the expensive standers and ztrs. Instead he would keep his overhead as low as possible. He would run all his crews with low maintenance belt drive walk behinds. 32",48" deck mowers. and just train employees to run them all day long. Makes a lot of sense to me each employee would be just about as productive and the machines are half the cost of the others with half the cost to repair them.

    His advice is also what I follow while I am solo. I try to keep my cost down as much as possible.
     
  3. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    from Maine
    Posts: 2,716

    So how do you go from solo to 10 employees without hitting the #'s in between?
     
  4. McFarland_Lawn_Care

    McFarland_Lawn_Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,387

    Thank you....my question exactly. I don't think I'd want too many more than that, but between here and there it could be tough. Hardest part is saving anything while expanding - hard thin line.
     
  5. SRT8

    SRT8 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CA
    Posts: 1,293

    In landscaping/hardscaping there is always a better profit to be made. I was refering to maintenance.

    You will always make a profit, but you have to build up the amount of work to cover the growing overhead (bigger shop,more taxes, workers comp/insurance) equipment costs grow. And if you are out there selling jobs you have to cover the salary of a supervisor who technically isnt bringing in any profit.
    Thats why you have to grow fast to pass that bump, because with say 6 employees you really arent making that much more than solo.
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  6. Landscraper1

    Landscraper1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Southeastern Ma.
    Posts: 755

    I currently have 6 crews. The only good thing I can see about being solo, is not having the employees to deal with. If you are ambitious and able to handle employees, your golden. Don't let solo operators knock down the idea of growing. They are happy with their lifestyle and that's fine. If you want more, then go for it.

    I have a good business and am able to afford many luxuries because of that. I live in a 4300 sq ft house, with an inground pool, playground, on over 2 acres. I am also able to go on great vacations, afford to put my kids through college, and have something to retire on. If I had stayed a solo, I would not have this lifestyle for my family.

    Again, I am not knocking the solos, it's just not for me anymore.
     
    aotriple7 likes this.
  7. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,920

    On the first point, your statement is only true if you are offering something unique in the marketplace and can demand good money for the services provided. If you are just doing menial tasks of mowing, mulching, bush trimming, etc, you have nothing unique to offer. You are just one in a long list of others doing the same thing, and in most cases, doing tasks that a home owner could do for themselves. These menial tasks cannot provide a basis for much revenue.

    On the last paragraph, I do not agree. We read on LS thread after thread of solos doing some really stupid things, because they don't understand much about business and finance. How many threads are started over the course of a year, "What can I use to make invoices ....?" When asked about using financial management software, the thread goes dark. In other words, these folks are running their operation (not to be confused with business) our of a shoebox. They don't know the source of their revenues, they don't know the streams of money for expenses, and probably aren't even balancing their bank account.

    No, this is not the stuff of "guru" but it is the substance of what makes or breaks a business. The primary reason for any business failure is lack of financial management. That could be lack of capitalization, lack of meeting financial obligations, overextending themselves with regard to credit, or other. But, the bottom line is managing the operation as a business, complete with full management of finances. After all, why are we doing this? For the fun, for an altruistic exercise, or for a profit?

    Being able to make straight lines, lay down nice stripes, having shiny wheels on your truck, and nice uniforms is not the stuff of what is ultimately important. Managing the operation as a business, regardless of solo, or not, is more important.
     
    aotriple7 likes this.
  8. Landscraper1

    Landscraper1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Southeastern Ma.
    Posts: 755

    I love to see posts on many of the solo's profits. Like: Grossed $90k and profited $70K. That's one hell of a profit margin. The only solos I see making that much profit are solo drug dealers. lol.
     
  9. 205mx

    205mx LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,346

    Thank you. I appreciate the encouragement. I'm trying to do this. I'd like to have 2 employees full time by 2015. I know for a fact I could land more Jobs if I had more time. I hate that in late spring I'm turning away work because everyone says "stay solo"

    I think you being as large as you are--- it's a rare thing for guys like you to be active members here. It's most of us small timers. <100 accounts.
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  10. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    from Maine
    Posts: 2,716

    This does make sense, it is a tough hurdle being at that stage. It's also a balancing act controlling growth while trying to maintain profit margins.
     

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