Growing the business or no. Advice needed!

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by cjonesy32, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. cjonesy32

    cjonesy32 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    Hey guys!

    So we are now into September and this has been my first "official" year of landscaping. I gotta tell ya which I'm sure a lot of y'all have experienced, it is great when things are great Anyway. I am posting in search of advice of or some type of guidance.

    My main career is in law enforcement. I've been doing it now for a little over 3 years. I have always been the one who said "why make someone else rich? Find a way to make something out of yourself". I have always done lawn care for friends and family but nothing on the scale I'm at now. I started my business this past March and as predicted, I only had about 3 yards for the first two or three months. Maybe one or two landscaping jobs. Also! Keep in mind I chose to go full force with my business while also being a cop because of the schedule I had. I work 4 days on ..4 days off every week and I could tell you what shift I'm working 5 years from now. So on those 4 days off I would plan and schedule jobs. I have made sure every customer knew prior to hiring me that I am in law enforcement and with that and the weather the cuttings could be pushed back. ( I haven't had a yard go past more than 3 days it was originally scheduled)

    So everything had been going great. I was working my normal shifts with my agency and then on my 4 days off I'd hustle and go work. I bought a nice trailer, practically new zero turn paid in full, found two trimmers, two back pack blowers on line for sale and fixed them up to run like champs. I had a good start. Now, here we are in September I am making a little over $2,000 a month. REMEMBER! this is on the side. I know you ballers out there are killing it and this is less than a weeks pay for ya. But, $2,000 on top of my normal salary isn't bad and as I'm sure you all are I come home and go right to work now. I have about 15 yards a week and have just been working as hard as I can and it's paid off definitely.

    Here is my problem... I am now transferring to a different agency. Certain things have led me to have no choice but to make this change and I will no longer have the 4 on 4 off schedule. There is no way I can complete the yards I have now in two days. They go from small homes to 3+ acre homes. It just won't work by myself. I should make just over $20,000 this year in the business. And sure! I would love to grow and get bigger for next year but how I will I be able to manage that on a new schedule with 2 days off is what's keeping me up at night. I see the money in this business. I love hustling and the fact that I get to start from nothing and make it into something awesome. I don't want to throw it away after year one. I also don't want to quit law enforcement after 3 years to do this... (the Acadamy wasn't that easy just to throw away so soon into the career lol)

    So like I said I'll make just over $20,000 this year. I can only hope that business will continue to grow like it is come next year but I only have so many do I hire someone? I use my new 2016 Ram 1500 to haul everything... and that is my only vehicle. I do not want or trust to hire some stranger and let them drive it... and if I put an ad up, how do I say I'm looking to hire someone but they need to have a truck?.... how that sounds in my head can only sound worse in yalls.

    If anyone has tips on how to go about this please! Share! If I can't find a solution I'll have to try selling what I have... but I' know how successful this can be for my family and I and don't want to let a good opportunity go so soon. I am open to any suggestions!

    And please I am just looking for advice... no harsh comments or Monday morning quarter backing... I see a lot of ppl asking for advice on here and they somehow get grilled by a lot of ppl instead.

    Thanks guys!!
  2. ltdlawn

    ltdlawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,228

    Your gonna have to cough up some wages to get someone to drive their truck to haul your equipment and mow your lawns. Also people get grilled on here because of the side money attitude towards what is our livelihood and profession. Just saying this it is possible to do what you want but it requires a key employee that is kinda hard to find. You seem to enjoy the work and you need to find someone that feels the same.
  3. cjonesy32

    cjonesy32 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    I totally understand what you mean by that. I'm not trying to just make a few bucks and roll so I don't want my post to come off as that. I definitely enjoy the work and I am posting because I want to make this into a full time business and see how well I can do in the long run... after a year of doing it sure I am grateful I've made what I have only being able to work 4 days a week, but I'm just not at the point to where I can switch to it full time and drop my career now.

    You are right tho and that is a huge part to this If I decide to hire someone... finding the RIGHT guy ...
  4. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,119

    Be the boss/owner/estimator
    Hire other guys do do the actual work

    Be a cop and and owner
    Not a cop and a lawn mower driver

    Make sense?
  5. cjonesy32

    cjonesy32 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    Makes perfect sense. I feel as if I do hire a guy I'd be paying him everything I make for a while until business grows more and I do anticipate it close to doubling next year. I'm getting calls almost every other day still.
  6. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,119

    You might go backwards for a minute
    But you've got a day job
    If you invest in anything it will reduce cash flow from your day job until it starts paying dividends.
    In this case it will pay dividends quickly
    If you can get say 2/3 of a list filled by mid season next year, you won't be backwards anymore, even paying a guy.
    It will be easier to do, than when you are "solo" because when you're solo you can't play full time owner, because you're the worker, in this case you have all your free time to grow the business and do quality control.
    Your initial growth will go faster if you dedicate yourself to growth and quality.
    Do your blade sharpening and equipment maintenance yourself in the beginning, paying the employee only to run the route.
    Eventually it will be important for him to maintain his own equipment or he will take it for granted.
    But it's a good way to control too much payroll you can't afford in the beginning.

    A guy might cost you $2000 a month in payroll in the beginning, but you will catch up and then some, in my opinion.
    sehitchman likes this.
  7. Enjoi829

    Enjoi829 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 419

    This is similar to my position. I work 45+ hours a week at a full time job M-F and every other saturady in busy season. I have a trusty crew leader for truck driving and mowing with the 61" and another crew member for 36" walk behind and trimmers. Im in my first year and were set to do right around 60K on the side. Now granted with employees comes alot more than the average joe wants to deal with, especially when margins are so low you do pay them most of your cashflow, but you do reap the benefits of upgrading your equipment, buying more, expanding etc. Just gives you more time to manage your business and customers rather than cut grass.

    1st 3 months this season i have worked 7 days a week. PERIOD. I could work more if i had time and our pricing is not the lowest by any means. we dont take on anything that doesn't have our profit in it, which i think i set at somewhere in 20-35% (its been hectic lately lol) At some point you will probably have to decide what you want to do but i dont plan to leave my full time job until 5 years from now, and i have a few other streams of income and plans/goals also so that plays a big factor.

    One thing i for see for you is have you priced these 15 yards you have correctly in order to be able to pay a decent wage to employees? Also if they are not close together you may lose money at first with employees before you tighten your route.

    My opinion if you want to move forward your next step is to hire someone that can drive a truck and trailer and lead a crew. That also means your nice pickup truck is now a commercial vehicle and you better be ready for everything that comes with that, especially DOT, Commercial insurance for truck & GL (if you dont have already) which costs money also, which will raise your prices immediately if you dont have all this in place already. A good 10k in cash & a very nice credit line has helped us immensely in our start up, as i have found our customers dont always pay when you think so. We have 40 yards, do roughly 5 landscape jobs a month and carry a 6k balance on average for invoices.

    You either need to dive in or go back to your chair, dont keep feeling the water temps IMO. People and businesses that grow, make decisive action and move on it which it sounds like your more than capable to do. Let me know if i can help with anything, im always available
    Bcoogan23 and cjonesy32 like this.
  8. jc1

    jc1 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,338

    Also remember 20K isnt 20K after taxes.
    cjonesy32 likes this.
  9. Enjoi829

    Enjoi829 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 419

    Might i add, Your lead man you hire (might take a few to try out first....) will be your biggest asset in your business. You must invest in the best possible candidate and pay them a fair wage. They will hold your businesses image and livelihood on a daily basis. Do not overpay them either.
    cjonesy32 likes this.
  10. wbw

    wbw LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,312

    But another truck. Hire a guy. Expect to LOSE money next year.

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