You're just in the wrong business! The tipping point for lawn mowing has been years past.
Face it...in 2010 a Walker rider cost 13k+ tax and a truck cost 30k+ ..............Just those 2 items out of a WHOLE bunch of other fixed and flexy cost involved in running a lawn care business really puts a damper on $35.00 accounts. IMO we've reached the tipping point. Ask yourself...How much has the average lawn account service fee increased over the past 20 yrs? NOT MUCH! Everything else has increased plenty.
Back in the late 80's you could buy trucks new or almost new for around 20k and Walkers for well under 7k when they first came out. Can you raise your rates to keep up? I was charging $35/lawn then.
Could you raise your rates by even a small amount of say 3-7% on an account year after year and still keep that client? Over 5- 10 or even 15 yrs? In lawn mowing...... there's no way. Too much competition and constantly rising cost of overhead will keep this industry where it's at!
That has been my conclusion. Everybody and their mother is a landscaper these days, and prices are going lower and lower. The profit margins in maintenance are just not enough to make it work. Now not everywhere in the country is it like this, but you are now seeing threads that prove this point. Its not just in the Atlanta area, its all over the place. Its especially bad in the south where the illegals are running rampant. Not to mention Georgia is one of the hardest hit areas of the country.
Lowballers, Illegals, the economy, and people desperate to make some money have ruined this business. Its not just maintenance either, concrete work, carpentry work, you name it. Prices are going lower and equipment, gas, insurance etc, are going higher and higher. I said it before, this business just doesn't make sense anymore, the new guys have yet to figure this out. The idea that these guys wont be here long is wrong, their are more every year and most don't just get out after the first year. It takes a while before they figure it out, and when they do, 100 more take their place. The past few weeks I had a card or flier on my mailbox every day from Billy Bob to Paco the Taco.
If the price of a service continues to drop, and more people are fighting for the same pool of customers, which in turn continues to lower the prices and profits that you can make. I don't care what business that this happens in, its just common sense that eventually you get to the point where you just cant make money doing that sort of business.
That is where we are at right now. Most of us anyways. Some of you guys live and work in areas of the country that are different and are free of illegals and Bubba's etc. so you can still make it work. That is not the case here in Ga. At least not my area of Ga. Commercial, high end residential it doesn't matter, everyone wants cheap work, and they don't really care what it looks like. I have seen this for myself so I know it is true in my case, your experience may be different. The other thing is this, most people that could afford the services are now doing it themselves, if they are capable. The old widows, the lazy, or the wannabees still want the service but don't want to pay. Not to mention the fact that the customer pool is shrinking because of lost jobs, foreclosures, people cutting back because of fear etc. So less potential customers and more LCO's fighting for less and less customers. What is the only outcome in this type of environment? Lower prices, more competition, lower profit= doesn't make sense any longer.
I had to fight every month last year just to get paid, bad checks, late payments are common these days. Trying to keep the money flowing in (actually getting paid) has been a big problem also. Sure you could do the work, but getting paid is another story, and when you do its usually weeks late or the check bounces like a rubber ball. Low pay, late payments, keeping cash flowing, its not easy in today's economy. But yet those mowers keep going up, and that gas keeps going up, and your cost of living keeps going up. You new guys and new start ups have no idea what your about to get yourself into.
Just because you do the work doesn't always mean your getting paid. Another round of foreclosures is just around the corner,things are not getting better like they want you to believe. There is no way in hell I would get into this business right now. I'm in because I have no other choice right now, I would not be investing in more equipment or debt,nor would I be looking to start a lawn or landscape business in this economy. It just doesn't make sense right now. But hey, to each his own. All I can say is good luck, your going to need it.