Any Regrets?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by yardsmith, Jan 26, 2000.

  1. yardsmith

    yardsmith LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 628

    they say hindsight is 20-20; Just wanted to put up a post where guys (or ladies) can voice some things that have happened to them that they'd do differently if they could back up & change the past.<br>For me, one mistake I've made in the past is not being totally clear on certain items in a contract.I did a Lazarus store at our local mega mall 2 yrs. ago, & had a list of things to do for the landscape renovation. They didn't sign a contract 'cause the manager was relocating at the time, but I got a verbal OK from those in charge. I got 1/2 of all the shrubs trimmed in a weekend, & billed them for 1/2, then was going to save the rest for the next weekend. My schedule got unavoidably changed, & by the time I got back to it, the new manager had been 'innaugurated'. Also, they said they wanted overgrown trees trimmed, & i had over 11 loads of the limbs hauled away.Well my mistake I assumed they'd pay for that too. The manager said &quot;no one said anything about hauling-we have a trash compactor.&quot; I explained you can't put brush in a dumpster,& to make a long story short, I didn't get paid. I also had to fight to get the other 1/2 fo the shrub trimming paid for.<br>Moral of the story-get EVERYTHING in writing before you do any work with a business, esp. a chain store that has to answer to corporate, & be sure to bill for the whole item you've started & get paid for it if you're finishing up later. I lost over $400 on that deal. That was my first time dealing with a big company, & I'll definitely be more careful next time.<br>Smitty
  2. Bobby

    Bobby LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 258

    Hey Smitty. We've all heard SAFTY FIRST! I remember a time when I did'nt have time to get off my mower to put the side chute down. When I leaned forward, my foot hit the hydro peddal (backwards) I went forward and my hand landed on the spinning engine. I lost about a quarter inch of my right thumb that day. Mabey that's why I dont like Kohlers. I've also decided to spend more time with my wife and kids. Sometimes we get so caught up into trying to be sucessfull, that we overlook the ones that were working so hard for. Yesteryear L/S
  3. In reference to the spinning kohler I had the<br>same problem with a 18hp v-twin mated to a<br>toro wb.<p>I have used this machine for the last few years as a<br>44&quot; mower and a pesticide application vehicle<br>of my own design.<p>I have a 15 gal 12v tank mounted across the<br>mowing deck frame. When I would stand the sulky and use the spot gun the hose would<br>sometimes come in contact with the spinning<br>debris guard.<p>What I did what to just order and install a<br>shield made by Kohler. I saw that other mowers had this shield installed as OEM.
  4. GrassMaster

    GrassMaster Senior Member
    Messages: 447

    Hello:<p> Yes I have a few regrets & I wish I could have done things different.<p> <br> Mistake No.1<p> When I first got into the business I wanted to do all the work myself & make all the money. Sure enough, I was wide open 7 days a week making money left & right.<p> One day I was cleaning off a roof, I slipped off & hit the corner of the airconditioner with my hip. LOL I laid there in so much pain I thought I broke my hip, I was thinking all kinds of things. Well my sissy butt finally got up & realized that I was just in a lot of pain. I decided then & there I needed help QUICK.<p> I hired somebody that next week, I also decided that if I was going to make the big bucks I was going to have to do like every body else & get me a crew. <p>I've seen other people in the business break arms, legs & etc. One thing they had in common was they lost accounts & I wasn't about to loose even one mine.<p> Later when I started hiring employees Mo Money started comming in. Hey I liked it very much.<p> <br> Mistake No.2<p> I was about 35 years old been in business for about 4 years I think. Had 3 trucks & 3 big trailers making good money. <p>My employees were good as gold Ha Ha. I know the secret to keep good employees & its real simple. With 6 employees I had enough work for about 4 1/2 or 5 but when ever they wanted off it was fine with me. We still got the work done. With 6 employees my payroll was very seldom over the amount of 5 & they got off when ever no hassle. I always asked them to do things & I always thanked them. <p>Not but a couple of times did I actually tell them what to do & when I did they knew I was upset. I gave Christmas & July 4th bonuses. They been working hard I would take them out to eat.<p> Well things were going good then I found another way to make money. Building custom grass catchers for the big Yazoo mowers $1500 to $2000 a pop. I had 2 to 3 guys coming in the afternoon & on weekeends. I was paying my self about double what I needed to live real good on.<p> All of these guys were about 18 to 25 years old & I made it a point to work along side them & I would work them to death. I mean into the ground the hotter it got & the colder it got we all worked harder because thats when the competition slowed down. It put a bad hurting on me I wasn't young as they were. My pride wouldn't let them know it. It's tough putting in a 12 or 13 hour day when it's 98 to 103 degrees outside. <p><br> Well one day we were putting a lathe in my shop & my friend wired it wrong & took out the breaker box. LOL it blew almost off the wall & caught on fire. It was 103 outsde I had no air I mean a fan I could not even breath the air was so thick. <p>I don't remember much of the rest of the day. My 8 month pregnet wife found me hours later. I couldn't even talk she said I was sitting on the floor next to rider. I had a Killer heat stroke, it almost killed me. I busted every blood vessel in my right eye no white at all in right eye. <p> I couldn't do anything for a while, it was almost a month before I could drive. For 2 weeks I couldn't tell you when & where I was born. That greed for money almost killed me, then when I was home I noticed I had a great family but I hadn't been there much.<p> We had very tight schedule to keep. The employees did a good job the first week my wife kept a close eye on them. The second week I was able to ride in truck & do odd jobs. Like fueling, lining trimmers, checking oil & keeping a eye on the work as long as I had shade. <p> By the 3rd week we finished up almost a day early by the forth week a full day. The guys were laughing at me telling me that all I did was hold them up. I got more work to fill in that extra day & my income went straight through the roof. <br> <p> THE MORAL OF THE STORY<p> If you are going to be successful you have got to run your business not let the business run you. It almost wasted me just because of stupidity, greed & pride. If you got more than about 3 or more employees I think you should be a boss instead of a employee. It will payoff big time, I learned the hard way. I got a lot of extra money & found a wonderful family in the deal!<p> Here I go bragging again I got a beautiful wife that I've been married to for 25 years, a mean tall thin 17 year old daughter that has worked as a model & is capable of stomping anything in her path mentally or physically that I love dearly & a 9 year old daughter that is a gifted child scored the highest in the county of 250,000 pop taking the (OLSAT) test. Age 5 she could add 3 two digit numbers in her head. She gets 3 to 5 letters a year wanting her to go to their school. I will not let her go she will live a normal life as god intended her too.<p> I got a bad attitude about work I don't care if I go or not. I'm home every morning when everybody leaves & I leave work after lunch. Sometimes I don't go at all. But i'm there every day when my daughter gets off bus I spend at least a hour a day or more with all three of them seperatley.<p> I could have lost all of that, I just hope I live long enough to make up for all those times that I didn't have the time to spend that extra few minutes that they wanted me too. I have ten times as much now as back then. The winner is not the boy with the most toys. (LOL) It's how many show up at your funeral. You might think I'm crazy & thats OK. I'm happy now, I just wish I could sell my business. I want to cut grass again. Thats why I have web site & spend a lot of time on the net with anything related with Lawn Service Business.<p><p><br> <p>----------<br>GrassMaster - Have a nice day!!!!!<br>
  5. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Messages: 10,857

    My biggest regret is hiring this one numscull. I had to go out of town for ONE day. He left alot of equipment on the trailor that he didn't even need. Because he was too lazy to take it off. Had a very careless one truck trailor accident. I think that led to my burnout that I had discussed before.<br>Moral of this story is never hire a guy with the nickname of &quot;SKIP&quot;. Because there is probably a good reason he is named that. His brain skips thinking!!!
  6. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,890

    More regrets than I can count. Mostly with buying the wrong equipment and hiring the wrong people. But those are long stories. <p>The biggest thing I regret is that I chose to build a lawn care company over a painting company. I have a good friend who started a painting company (painting upscale residential houses) about the same time I started my business. And he makes anywhere from $2500 to $8000 a day with him and 2 helpers in the summer. In the winter he does inside painting and his income goes down to about where mine is. But he's one RICH mofo because of the money he makes during the summer. So yah, I have a regret that I didn't learn how to do THAT business. Still considering it. ;-) <br><p>----------<br>Jim Lewis - Lewis Landscape Services<br>
  7. yardsmith

    yardsmith LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 628

    thanks for the replies, guys. Experience is the best teacher- better than any textbook. Anyone else have any woulda-coulda-shoulda's?<br>Smitty
  8. NewellMowingCo

    NewellMowingCo LawnSite Member
    Messages: 11

    Grassmaster,<br> Your post was very inspirational to me. I have a question though, regarding employees and making money. I have tried to have employees in the past, but not with much success. My main problem with paying employees is that I seem to regret having to pay them a quarter of my weekly earnings even though I'm still working as hard as ever. For example, this past season I hired a guy for $8.00 per hour. After paying taxes, it was actually costing me around $12.50 per hour for one employee. One weeks pay was approximately $500 to $600 for him. That is before taxes. I was grossing about $2300 to $2500 per week mowing lawns. To do this we had to mow around 100 lawns a week, mainly residential. Anyways, after paying him I was left with about $1600 to $1800. Not bad money, but....I knew that I could do 90 lawns a week by myself. I had to work a couple hours extra every day, but there were sure a lot less headaches and hassles. Plus, I was taking home all of the money I made for the week, which was around $2000 per week on average. So here is my question, how can I have employees that help me work less and bring in more money? The answer has always evaded me ever since I first started mowing. Another question, am I expecting to much from an employee? <br>Justin<p>
  9. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Messages: 10,857

    Newell, You found out what I came to realize a while back. All of what you said is true. You really need a crew of hiring 3 or more employees to get some of the work load off of you. And to make enough extra money to even make it worth hiring employees. One employee just isn't worth it. Because you still end up doing alot of the work just to pay him or her. But when you hire 3 + employees your job reverts to sales to drum up alot the business to keep them busy and profitable.
  10. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,411

    My big regret was starting out as a jack of all trades, by the time I realized Id have to narrow my scope I had already passed a lot of good jobs that I couldnt handle trying to do too much.<p>I still get calls for odd job stuff which I no longer have time for as lawn maint takes up all of my time.<p>Bill

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