down size or continue to grow? Where is the sweet spot?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Mow Man, May 30, 2011.

  1. Mow Man

    Mow Man LawnSite Member
    Messages: 106

    With apx. ten years in the business, apx. 115 acts (90% res. Bal. sm. to med. hoa's) myself and 3 employees, 2 trucks on the road.

    Seems like the harder we push the harder it is to make ends meat. I have heard many guys in this industry say that when they were running a small operation they were more profitable.

    I know that there many variables that come into play, so I am mainly looking for general info and experiences that may be an indicator of where the sweet spot is.

    Please share your thoughts!
  2. knox gsl

    knox gsl LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,973

    Stay small or go big is what I'm told and being in the middle will break you.
  3. Mow Man

    Mow Man LawnSite Member
    Messages: 106

    Yeah, I have heard that too and I think that I may be at a cross road. At 49 I am doing the work of a younger man and know that it is catching up with me. Fact is, I do enjoy the business. I feel that I am in the position to pull away a little from the actual grunt work and spend more time "working the business" , but with all of the employee problems I have had this year I am having a hard time with the decision.
  4. ALC-GregH

    ALC-GregH LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Messages: 7,051

    Sounds like you need to work on getting better employees. You already have a fair amount of work load. If you can get the employees to do what needs to be done it can free up your time to work the business. Some of it could be the pricing of your work too. If your prices are too low you'll work your azz of for little return. It's hard to tell what direction you need to take without knowing more about your business.
  5. gebby

    gebby LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 712

    I'm 53. I have had the same thoughts time and time again. I like you have been at it commercially for 16 years and still hold down a full time job. I keep doing this for several reasons. I still enjoy the work, I make money, my wife gets to stay home and enjoy the kids. As I grow older I really don't want to grow my customer base but, still add services to my current base. I know adding employees, trucks, mowers, equipment I may make a little more but, not enough to justify the expences and the headaches. What I have found is the best money I make is the work that I do. I still have a couple of part timers that help me only when I am with them. I am able to maintain and as I grow closer to retirement age, I will go as long and as hard as I can or want. Keep things manageable and make the best money that you can while at a account. Don't borrow money, don't add customers or equipment just to keep guys working. There will always be a fine line between making more and adding more. If I were 30 years younger and had the energy I once had it would be different. Been there done that. Just my .02 cents. Good Luck !!
  6. meets1

    meets1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,845

    I try to keep expanding. Not at your age level but I range from the 1000k yard to 40 acre complex. My thought is I can handle everything in b/t at this point. Now its a struggle to orgainze, keep good ppl, tight route, and keep pushing. I do mow 1-2 days a week. Rest of the time I am landscaping with a 2-3 guys or out spraying/fertilzing. My wife doesn't like me gone all the time, working holidays etc but one more year and all but our 6500 sq ft shop will be paid for.
  7. Frue

    Frue LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,472

    I believe the small guy sweats and the large guy sweats its just how much you want to sweat! The small guy (single opp) is one injury away from losing everything, the big guy (with crews) is one drought away from total destruction. Know one wins. its how much you can take. The small guy probabbly has a budget of a g a month. Heck you can do that in a day. But the big guy has a budget of ten g's a month. I dont think there is a sweet spot its all in what you can handle.

    My sumation is this get out of debt and let your employees do more of the work load...
  8. Ijustwantausername

    Ijustwantausername LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,696

    I agree completely. Make the employees work harder unless they are already at capacity. I have my brother working for me and I let him do all the grunt work while I relax on the mower all day. Make sure you have good workers though, that is key. I'd rather pay a good worker a little more and have no trouble then to pay a bad worker less and have more trouble than I can deal with.

    But, always remember we are still in a recession. Nobody that I know of is doing GREAT. As long as you are making enough that's the main thing. Run your equipment into the ground if you have to to keep new equip. costs to a minimum. Cheers.

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