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Business is bad! What am I doing wrong?

10036 Views 53 Replies 29 Participants Last post by  thomaslawn
Ok, so I bought this business two years ago. I have stayed at about the same size, until this winter. I lost 20% of my clients, which is 10. Problem is, I have been losing my larger, more profitable clients over the last year as well. In turn, I have been acquiring smaller accounts. Also, all small landscape jobs (read: under 500$), have pretty much disappeared into thin air. I have lost 3 out of the 4 commercial accounts I had. When I lose work, its because someone moved, or they found a guy for cheaper, but no one ever lets me go because of the quality of my work. Most of my clientele/demographic is over 50, retired, and owns their own home.
I have a large business loan(2k a month), credit cards up the ying yang and a baby on the way. I get most of my business from word of mouth, people seeing my work, and my double-size phone book ad. My work is among the best in the county, my yards are almost all green, weed free, and trimmed. I charge a rate that is in the middle for my area, 37.50, an uninsured mow and blow guy charges 30 an hour, and the large guys here charge 50.00 an hour. I am fully insured and all that, have my spray license, but no contractors license(not doing large jobs). I had to let go my part timer and I am picking up the work load with one guy that is part to full time depending on the work load. I am getting exhausted working 10-14 hour days, sometimes 7 days a week. 90% of my money has come from maintenance, I spend 3-3.5 days a week mowing. I have been just scraping by to pay my monthly expenses, but I have been having to pay some bills with credit cards. They are NOT going down. I have amassed 16,000 dollars in credit card/line of credit bills to my business side. I have absolutely zero money saved for when I owe money on my taxes this year. I am still paying off my gas bills from a year ago's winter, 3k dollars in 4 months, my income hit the ground, and gas went through the roof. My draw is just over 2500$ a month and a lot of that goes to cover expenses that are partial business related (rent at my house(1275$), electricity, cell phone,etc..)I just do not know where to go but stay where I am. Can someone give me some advice?
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Trying to find out what to change is a great step. In my opinion, when we feel like we are burning out it isn't because we are out of energy, it is because we don't know where to spend our energy and thus is just vanishes. As soon as we develope a plan of attack our energy returns. Instantly.

Having said that you need to develope a plan. Only you know your exact situation but I would suggest, like Kickin said, get on Dave Ramsey's program. It takes commitment and discipline but it is worth it in the end.

I don't know how vulnerable you want to get publically, but a detailed list of expenses and income would help you get better cashflow advice. But remember you get what you pay for.

Maybe the answer is working 2 more hours a day for a year, but at the end of the year you have no debt. Maybe it is selling all of your extra equipment and running on just what you need to. (like the equipe you need for the $500 jobs). Maybe it is letting go of your employee's. Maybe it is promoting them so you can get a job... Maybe... Maybe...

What you do NOT need to do is get into more debt. Do NOT use that credit card.

DO buy Dave Ramsay's book "The Total Money Makeover" and read it twice. Then start on baby step 1. If I were you I would buy it and start reading it today. Go to your local bookstore, they will have it. It may guide you to a path that empowers you. You can do it! You just have to do what you are doing here in this thread... figure out how. Good job!
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