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Business is bad! What am I doing wrong?

10034 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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Eureka guy: As you can tell, we all would like to help you. Give us some clarifications. Being a journalism/english major, I was taught to "think clearly to write clearly." You sound too emotional to lay this out for us.

You said that 90% of your income is from maintenance. Is that separate from your mowing? Or is the mowing part of the maintenance?

As best as I could tell your mowing accounts earn you about $1700 a cut.
Are they all weekly?

You said a phone book ad generated 25-30 calls a year and you close half of them. Are these mowing, or trimming, or mulching, or new installs?

I don't think we understand why these 40 mowing jobs are taking 3 to 3 and half days if most of them are at $35 level. And how you are working 14 hours a day?

Good luck. I've been in business for 26 years and the last two seasons have been the biggest challenge business-wise that I have ever encountered.
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