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Business is bad! What am I doing wrong?

10037 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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If theres a lesson to be learned in all this, and I truly feel for the OP, dont get into debt to start a business like this. Most of us (well I did anyway) started with a home owner pushy, a trimmer and a broom! Did the hard yards to learn and work up to where we are now. I believe this is the way it should be done! If I failed back then I wouldnt loose anything. Only buy what you can afford etc.

This thread should be made a "sticky" for "How not to start a mowing business!"
All newbies wanting to get into business should read this thread!

From what Ive read, I cant see a way out of this hole. Theres only so many daylight hours and really, "do you want to live to work, or work to live?"
Someone mentioned bankrupt, I would seriously look into that and maybe try again without the debt! Get a job and start mowing part time and build up from there if your still keen.

Best of luck mate, hope you can sort something out!
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