Going solo

CapeMay609

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Cape May, NJ
Hey everyone, so with this post I’m really looking for input. Right now we run two mowing crews Monday-Thursday and then we do landscaping on fridays/Saturday’s.

I know everyone is having issues but this year we have had horrible luck with help. I mean we brought guys in from anywhere at $18 up to $25 an hour. Where I’m located is also very very seasonal living wise.

I also plan on raising prices significantly. I know I will be able to maintain a good four day a week mowing with 1-2 days of landscape jobs.

I’m mainly looking for input. I’m looking for any advice or things like that from guys that have maybe stepped back and went solo. Any input would be great thank you
 

gardiner

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
MASSILLON OHIO
I have always stayed solo.
Being solo. I have only been able to do 3 days of mowing & get other jobs done. During the heavier growth.
That I have lost jobs. That I couldn't get to the job quickly enough.


Being you plan to raise prices.
Is that the same as admitting that you under bid mowing. As busy work for your crews ?
 
OP
CapeMay609

CapeMay609

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Cape May, NJ
I have always stayed solo.
Being solo. I have only been able to do 3 days of mowing & get other jobs done. During the heavier growth.
That I have lost jobs. That I couldn't get to the job quickly enough.


Being you plan to raise prices.
Is that the same as admitting that you under bid mowing. As busy work for your crews ?

our mowing prices are much higher then a lot of companies around me. We have a price increase every year but this year we actually dropped about 20 and picked up 12 that were priced significantly higher but full service.
Our issue is workers. I know I’m beating a dead horse here.
 

andersman02

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
Snowy MN
Only thing to think about, is what are you going to do when you want to retire? You have to be out in the field to earn $$$ if your solo, and theres really minimal selling points as well if your looking to go that route.

Not saying its the worst thing, you could definately make some really good money solo if you bust your butt. But theres really no "retirement"plan for the company if you go that route.
 

Wanito05

LawnSite Member
Location
Cincinnati, OH
I went solo about 3 years ago after having the same issue with labor. Best decision I've made for myself. Went down to two days of mowing and fill the rest in with fertilizing and landscaping. I haven't worked a weekend in 2 years. I have two small kids that I want to enjoy my time with them. We go camping often and I never miss a game. As for my retirement, I invest heavily into my Roth IRA, SEP and dabble a little in day trading (that usually doesn't end well lol) My wife has a very nice job that she works from home and brings nice benefits.
If I get hurt or need a vacation I am close friends with several other small solo guys and they handle my customers. It's not for everyone. I do have days I feel like my killing myself but gone are the late nights catching from employees or weather working weekends to keep the machine running.
This year I will do around $150k and that is plenty for me to have two brand new f250s and new mowers. I has worked well for me but I cherry picked my top clients and have a nice mix of high end commercial with high end homes

Best of luck feel free to ask more questions!
 

grass4gas

LawnSite Bronze Member
Been solo for 16 years. Only do lawn apps now, but did do mowing, pruning, mulching, etc. for 4 years after I had to let my last employee go in 2004. ABSOLUTELY NO REGRETS…. Closing in on finishing year 31 in business.

As mentioned already, it’s not for everyone. Yes, you do have to have a plan in place for if/when you get hurt or sick for an extended period of time. I did and needed it for about 3 months while recovering from a MC accident in 2015.

As for retirement, don‘t save money, invest your money in vehicles mentioned above. And you will know when the right time to retire comes around.

I plan on reducing my work load and only work 2-3 days a week down the road after the house is paid for in 3 years. Just had a house built down the beach and this will be my retirement home. I plan on selling everything I can when the time comes. What clients I have at the time-which shouldn’t be all that many- will be notified the year before when I plan to call it quits.

Like a lyric in one of def leopard’s song…it‘s better to burn out than fade away; I will prefer to do the opposite.
 

knoxJRM

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Knoxville
I had 4-5 guys for a few years and got tired of the grind. Went solo for 3-4 seasons having a helper occasionally. Now I am back into the employee game. I have 2 I wouldn’t trade for anyone and a few that it wouldn’t bother me if they quit tomorrow. The headaches and issues seem to really take a toll by this time of the year. I am contemplating all types of scenarios..
 

sjessen

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Knoxville, Tn
Been solo for 16 years. Only do lawn apps now, but did do mowing, pruning, mulching, etc. for 4 years after I had to let my last employee go in 2004. ABSOLUTELY NO REGRETS…. Closing in on finishing year 31 in business.

As mentioned already, it’s not for everyone. Yes, you do have to have a plan in place for if/when you get hurt or sick for an extended period of time. I did and needed it for about 3 months while recovering from a MC accident in 2015.

As for retirement, don‘t save money, invest your money in vehicles mentioned above. And you will know when the right time to retire comes around.

I plan on reducing my work load and only work 2-3 days a week down the road after the house is paid for in 3 years. Just had a house built down the beach and this will be my retirement home. I plan on selling everything I can when the time comes. What clients I have at the time-which shouldn’t be all that many- will be notified the year before when I plan to call it quits.

Like a lyric in one of def leopard’s song…it‘s better to burn out than fade away; I will prefer to do the opposite.
Interesting. I turned 70 last year, am solo and am cutting back a bit each year. Still full time though.

Sometimes, the idea of retiring completely is very appealing.
 

sjessen

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Knoxville, Tn
I had 4-5 guys for a few years and got tired of the grind. Went solo for 3-4 seasons having a helper occasionally. Now I am back into the employee game. I have 2 I wouldn’t trade for anyone and a few that it wouldn’t bother me if they quit tomorrow. The headaches and issues seem to really take a toll by this time of the year. I am contemplating all types of scenarios..
I've always wondered if an owner/operator scenario with 2 really good employees could be an ideal situation for all involved.
 

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