Guys it is getting bad in this industry

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by ProStreetCamaro, Jul 9, 2012.

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  1. ProStreetCamaro

    ProStreetCamaro LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,289

    By bad I am talking about the low ballers. We have lost at least 6 this year to guys coming in and doing lawns we were charging $25 for and under cutting us and doing them for $20.

    Everybody here says "Oh those guys will stop showing up and wont be in business long". Well I have news for you. These guys doing lawns for $20 have large fancy rigs with new equipment and a truck load of hispanics. They are doing a good job and have been reliable just like we always have been.

    Now you tell me how they make enough money at $20 a lawn to survive in one of THE MOST EXPENSIVE areas in the entire country to live? One bedroom apartment? You are looking at a cool $1000+ a month for a quick example.

    Well I can tell you how they survive. They are illegals working from 7 to 7 knocking out 30 to 50 lawns a day. Then they go home to a rented house with 3 to 4 families living and splitting the rent in that house. They are not paying tax's etc etc.

    Here is a perfect example of what happened today. Customer of about 18 years comes out and says this will be the last cut because she got the guys that did some seeding under the trees she has in the front yard this spring because they were going to do it for $20 a cut. My father asked if she was unhappy and she said no not at all we have always done a good job and been very reliable. He then asked why she wanted to get some illegal crooks to do her work. She asked what he meant by that. He said "did I not tell you last year that we could reseed those areas but it would be a waste of your money because it is too shady for the grass to survive?" and she said yes I remember that. He pointed at all the dead grass under the tree's and said "you did not listen to me and instead got some illegals that lied to you and wasted your money when I already knew what would happen if we tried to seed those areas and here after all these years and you admitting you have been happy you are going to go and quit and get some lying illegal thieves to do your work? At $20,000+ for a truck, $3000+ for trailer, $10,000+ for each zero turn, $60+ daily in gas, plus maintenance, insurance and tax's, just how do you think these guys can make a living at $20 a lawn if they are not doing shady tax evading work?" He then shook his head and said good luck and walked away before she could say anything.

    Guys I got news for you. Those of you that claim you wont drop your gate for less than $35 to $40 better be prepared. It is heading your way.
  2. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,699

    I'm not seeing any price depression here but this area never paid as much as Maryland to begin with. I have a buddy up in Edgewater (just south of Annapolis) and he is constantly pressuring me to raise prices. I am very aware that the economy isn't getting better. Best Buy and JC Penney both just laid off thousands in total. I know gasoline and everything else has gone up but I'm holding the line of prices. I know the real employment situation out there and the last thing I want to do is start pissing off customers over 5 bucks.
  3. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    That is sad. I just can't imagine anyone dropping you after almost 2 decades for a lousy $5 a week. Around here, it isn't illegals, but rather guys who don't have a clue what it costs to operate a business. Eventually, natural selection will weed them out, but in the case of cheap, illegal labor, I'm not sure what the answer is, but I do think that as long as Obama and the democrats are in control, the answer will never be forthcoming. Until there is some teeth in laws against hiring illegals, it is going to continue to happen.

    I'm not a bigot in any sense. I have no problem with immigrants coming to this country legally, paying taxes, and going by the same rules we have to abide by, but I do have a problem with situations like the one you describe.
  4. leon2245

    leon2245 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 158

    Of course. If only there was a way to know when you're about to get undercut, assuming you'd be willing to preemptively lower your rate. Apparently it's easier to switch completely than try to renegotiate.
  5. ProStreetCamaro

    ProStreetCamaro LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,289

    I hear you on that man. We still have our first customer that my dad picked up almost 30 years ago. We have seen many of our customers kids grow up and graduate college. In all these years we have never once raised prices. The only thing we did when gas started to go crazy is ask for a voluntary $1 extra per cut just to off set the big fuel increase and most people went for it. Our biggest problem right here where we are is the fact we are dead center between D.C. and Baltimore and the hispanic population here is HUGE. I don't have a problem with them wanting to work and I am not racist but for the love of god honest people have to make a living.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2012
  6. Puddle of Oil

    Puddle of Oil LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,203

    Life sucks then you die.

    Honestly, the big boys around here have been knocking down prices for years just to keep their guys busy. People around here just don't have the budget. It's that simple. Yes you have those garbage customers thrown into the mix, but over the years it seems like they wanna afford it but can't or don't.
  7. Bunton Guy

    Bunton Guy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,924

    I was once worried about what you mention. Then I restructured my company and im playing in a whole different field now.

    I no longer worry about price because the clients and the homes I visit are people who appreciate; american workers, owners that will have a onsite presence, quality work, referrals etc...
    Sadly enought my clients won't hire someone driving a F-150 or Ranger because of image. They are worried about what their neighbors would think...the keeping up with the Jones theme.
  8. ProStreetCamaro

    ProStreetCamaro LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,289

    I will give you guys another example of illegals. My wife is from chicago and I am from maryland. In both areas you will see 99% hispanics working in hotels and bussing at restaurants. When my wife was younger she worked in both industries and got to know some of these people. They are all illegals! ICE just did a raid on a bunch of restaurants last year in Baltimore and busted a TON of illegals and the restaurants that hired them. I even talk to an ICE agent on our local maryland hunting forum and have asked him to please start pulling these trucks over and checking these guys out but he said some mumbo jumbo about the situation has to be right and they need proof before they can do it yada yada yada.
  9. ProStreetCamaro

    ProStreetCamaro LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,289

    What is funny about that is the fact that most houses here probably cost 3X or more what a house would go for in the carolinas. We paid $575,000 for our 2700 sq/ft house on 3 acres a little over a year ago. We can go down to the carolinas and buy the same place for $100,000 pretty easily. Thank god my wife makes 150K+ a year because what I make wont even pay our mortgage let alone everything else.
  10. Keith

    Keith LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,979

    It's not just the bigger companies here. I don't see them loaded up with illegals either. It's the guys with two or three employees. They seem to do a pretty good job. Not flawless, but average or above.

    A few examples:

    Condo I was doing for $240/mo for five years. Another company came in and chopped the price to $190. No illegals, just and owner and two employees. I was considering increasing the price to $275 at the end of the year. I talked to the guy who had managed the condo. Bid was lower than the one they got in 1997.

    Home next to one I do in a nice subdivision on a lake. I started out at $200 a month in 2006. I get paid considerably more now simply because the guy wants it perfect every week. Lawn next door is the same size. Large slope in the front, mild slope in the back. Three guys...$85 a month. I did lawns this size for more in 1987.

    A gentleman asks for a price on a medium-sized corner lot. Mature hedges. Hillside. I tell him I can do it for $200/mo. He says, "I just can't do that. I have another guy that gave me a price considerably lower." I couldn't help myself and asked how much. "$100 less," he replied.

    Race you to the bottom!
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