Growing Pains .....

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Sharp Services, May 7, 2006.

  1. Sharp Services

    Sharp Services LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 268

    I am looking for some advice on this issue ...

    History: About 12 years ago I closed my original lawn company just at the point that I was going to go full time. My wife got pregnant and I got promoted at work and ect ... Anyway two years ago I got promoted again and with this new job I can no longer get overtime. So I started cutting grass again. I am a police officers (12.5 hour shifts) so I get 14 days off a month. The first years things were slow, mostly because I did not start to the end of July. Last year things did much better and this year I have more than I can do. This week I had to turn down two yards that would have been $55 and $35 bi-weekly. Not able to fit them into the schedule.

    I have six kids and have to get at least $750 a month out of the business for my family to add to the PD money just to make ends meet.

    I have upgraded my equipment and purchased a commercial mower and replaced an old worn out Redmax weed-eater with a two new Echo ones ... had to go into debit $6000 to do it ... anyway I am committed to being full time (once retired) and growing my business.

    Problem/Question: I will retire in 8 years form the PD and really enjoy the business. However, I want to grow and have started using day labor but have not been very satisfied with those results. They seem to be able to only do trash jobs and I can't train them because I always seem to get a different one.

    I think the best way to grow would be to hire a full time employee, let him do the yards and me spend my time getting new business. However ... who would come to work when at the present I can only guarantee 20 -25 hours a week. The other way would be for me to enlist the help of one or two of my teenage sons to help and grow the business that way. But they are kids and want to spend time with friends and such. They are willing ... just do not know if it is fair. Several of them have stated they would like to turn the business into a family business that they can help grow and run later on.

    So any advice to help me get to the next level would be great.

  2. MMLawn

    MMLawn LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,569

    Sounds to me like you really don't have any choice given what you stated other than to use your teenage sons.

    Heres why:

    a) You will be hard pressed to find anyone to show up for work and "run" your business when you can only work/pay them for 20-25 hours a week as that is part-time hours AND if you do then you may have to worry about them stealing your accts once their brain starts turning.

    b) If you "must" get $750 a month in your pocket AFTER expenses and based on you only have enough work to keep a fulltime employee busy for 20-25 hours each week you don't have enough business to pay him, the business expenses, the employee taxes you will then generate and still put $750 in your pocket.
  3. BCF

    BCF LawnSite Member
    Messages: 107

    Well two scenarios can come out of having your boys out in the field working. #1: they realize that they enjoy busting their hump outdoors, accomplishing something that they can see the end result, and choose not to go to college, insted focusing on the business. Or #2: After workign in the filed, realize that they do not like physical work, or being outside, and decide to go to college and ust their mental power to make money.

    Neither of these are bad. My dad started working my brother and I when we were teenagers, and he went off to college while I busted my hump and started my own business. At first they (my parents) were dissapointed because college didn't work out for me. But they realized it isn't ta thing for everybody. You have to be open to that possibilty. But I think if they are willing to put in the effort for the business to work, that is your best option.
  4. GrassBustersLawn

    GrassBustersLawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 981

    If your schedule is currently full, CHARGE MORE TO NEW CLIENTS like the $55 & $35 (quote them HIGHER THAN GOING RATE say, $70 & $50) and then REPLACE your LEAST PROFITABLE in your current schedule. If you don't get them, so what, your schedule is full. If you do get them, you are now more PROFITABLE and closer to getting that $750 a month.

  5. Sharp Services

    Sharp Services LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 268

  6. Evergreenpros

    Evergreenpros LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,154

    Child labor laws vary from state to state, you'll have to check with your state department of labor, it should be on the web. It also varies greatly on the type of work being done. I know agriculture work is far less regulated than other types of work, not sure if lawn mowing would qualify as ag work though.

    $750 a month profit is about $1200 a month revenue? 40 cuts a month? 10 a week? If those are accurate numbers I guarantee you will reach them easier by yourself than trying to hire somebody. I've had employees for almost 10 years and I've come to some conclusions:

    1. I can generate more profit working the same hours by myself than having less than 5 employees.
    2. I can break even on what I can earn by myself (profit) having 6-8 employees, working the same hours.
    3. I can make slightly more money with 9-10 employees and it goes up from there.
    4. I can never afford somebody to build my business, ever.
    5. The best I can ever afford/hope for is somebody to maintain current sales levels and even that is expensive.
    6. I can clear 50k a year by myself in my sleep
    7. I have to work my buttocks off to clear 50k a year with employees.

    A basic principle of business and pricing is if you're full, then raise your price. It's supply and demand. At your prices, you have more demand than you can fill. You need to raise your price to decrease demand until you reach your optimal pricing level. That may be double what your charging, or it might be 20% more, you'll have to test your market.
  7. Tharrell

    Tharrell LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,967

    My cousin is a police officer with the city and he has a lawn business. I rarely see him working it though. He has 2 employees that work it for him.
    From what I see, he has good equipment and a new f-450 dump. He has some high end accounts too. He doesn't have 6 kids though!
    I would say, go that route if you can. When he retires, he can step right into a large lawn business.

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