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How are things looking?

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by DVS Hardscaper, Mar 25, 2009.

  1. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,601

    How are things looking for you guys??

    I think things are looking promising for us. We kept busy for 50% of Jan, had work every week in Feb, and worked every week in March. Not bad, considering we have winter here and considering our suppliers tell us no one else has anything going on.

    On the other hand, we're having slight delays in getting our Techo material. Our supplier used to have 2 trucks come in a week. Now, when we place an order they're telling me we're the only ones placing orders and we gotta wait till some other orders come in. On one hand that makes me feel good, and on the other hand thats very scary.

    How bout you guys? keep in mind, spring is usually a busy time for even the drunks. How was your winter? How do you think things will be come July / August?

    I hear one dude hung up the 'ol diamond blade and is now pushin a spreader for a livin, makin lawns in PA look all so beautiful. If that doesn't pan out, the poor guy will either be spraying Raid around foundations or saying "welcome to Sheetz, pump 7 you're on, please pay inside when you're done". I'm hopin everyone here will survive, with great forums like this we have pleanty of support.

    You guys makin any new purchases this year? I know we're NOT. We're going to make due with what we have and continue to ride out the storm.

    You won't know your limits if you don't push and venture beyond them.

    Last edited: Mar 25, 2009
  2. Bru75

    Bru75 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 582

    Stayed busy most of the winter, as weather would allow.
    I have been getting calls (down a little from last year), but I notice that the people I meet with are more hesitant to make decisions involving money. I think the never ending stream of bad news (real or not) has scared the crap out of them.
    Anyway, I really can't complain. I talk with a lot of guys who depend on new construction for work, and they say that they have nothing to do.
    Got the same story from my Techo supplier, may take longer to get material for a while.
    No big purchases for me, my equipment is in good shape and should last me until things improve. Concentrating on paying down debt and becoming more efficient.
    Best wishes to everybody.
  3. stuvecorp

    stuvecorp LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,246

    Got bids out, not feeling panicked right now as It likely will be 3-4 weeks yet up here. It sounds like there may have been some thinning of the herd this winter so that may help some. Am trying to target certain projects as my block supplier is trying to unload some overstock and has some monster deals.

    As for buying stuff, I am always in a buying mood. There is some smokin deals on stuff out there as long as you are smart about it. My big goal is to snag a big dump and 20 ton tilt and upgrade the skid.
  4. Rex Mann

    Rex Mann LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 621

    It has been slow here. So much, that Belgard and Pavestone have both lowered their prices.Dublin Modular used to be $3.20 SF now it's $2.15 SF. Crazy! Good for the installers and consumers. I think 4 or 5 paver only companies have either gone away or morphed into something else. Last year was the first year my business has not grown by double digits. Last year are revenues were down double digits.

    This year we are on track to beat our 2007 numbers. We have pretty low overhead, but we cut where we could. You have to, when you have guys advertising on Craigslist for $3.50 a square foot.

    A major savings for us has been how I pay my guys. Used to be by the hour. Those 4 day jobs turned into 4.5-5 day jobs. They knew it was slow and were dragging out the jobs. Now, they are on piece rate. I have never seen them work with such urgency. The last 2 quarters of 2008 my labor was 28% of my revenue. The highest it had ever been. Now we are at a svelte 18% using the piece rate program.

    Two years ago I did not touch anything under 3K square feet. Saturday I did a condo patio of 136 square feet. We used to have more waste on a job then that, but we doing what we have to. We will start pursuing cleaning and sealing jobs instead of sending them to an independent company.



  5. wrtenterprises

    wrtenterprises LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 331

    Work has been steady here in Happy Valley. Great snow removal in January, a typical February for sales, and so far a great March. We have completed (3) projects this month with warm weather. First time in 10 years the weather has been this nice and dry for hardscaping.

    However, even in " one of the 27 depression proof cities in the USA " guys who reply on new construction are hurting. Plenty of add-on's and such, and projects under 5K. People seem to be very cautious spending the 5 digit numbers now, not they were giving those projects away before.

    The $3.50 per square guys are in abundance here also, but I have made quite a nice chunk of change over the years fixing their mistakes. It amazes me how little research some customers do in regard to hiring hardscape contractors. It seems most folks do more research when buying a new refrigerator than spending 5k on a new outdoor living space.....

    Good Luck all, and no offense but stay out of my recession proof hamlet:laugh:
  6. ford550

    ford550 LawnSite Member
    from PA
    Messages: 221

    I have seen a couple of competitors trucks on dealers lots either repo'ed or sold back. So I think the weak are finally getting weeded out.

    We went from being up 40% through June '08 to down officially 19% by '08 years end. What a swing. It sucked.

    In winter we don't do any installs, only snow. The snow this year was better than the last 4 years, but nothing more than good bill paying money....which now-a-days is fine by me for winter. We never start until mid-March anyway. Calls have been slow, but steady. About 1 per day for design/installs. That is down from last year, but expected. I have trimmed some overhead and leaned out payroll, which are the 2 things that will bleed us dry. I am actually very optimistic and I think consumers are tired of being told that everything is terrible and the world is going to end monday. Most of our clients are high end and we don't do work less than 5 digits anyway, but even they are having a tough time pulling the trigger, not b/c they don't have the money, they are just watching too much CNBC. Of the 15 bids in March so far, not one was less than 5 digits and everyones budgets were over $15K and as high as $60K, which is where are average is anyway. We have our home show the weekend of April 3,4,5......I will definately have a better gauge on things that weekend as to how the rest of the year is going to go. For us it's a consumer confidence thing, not the actual money. I hope everyone does well this year and no giving away services!!
  7. forestfireguy

    forestfireguy LawnSite Senior Member
    from nj
    Messages: 601

    We're OK but I'd say just......

    Calls are down but the phone is ringing. I notice closing one call sales are way down, people are definitely thinking harder about spending money. I have a bunch of proposals out and I don't see other contractors doing these jobs, I've spoken to some of the local guys at the stone yard, some are barely scraping by, one guy who was a big local player who outgrew lawn maintainence and turned to landscape construction and septic has sold off a tandem and an excavator and got back into cutting grass. He has seen his construction division drop business by 50%, we had a decent winter with snow but we still have lots of money hanging out there for the work we did. We went into the light construction and handyman business too, in this move we hope to "lock up" some more of our clientele, by not giving them a reason to call anyone else. What have you guys done to adapt to the times?
  8. Bru75

    Bru75 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 582

    I've been cutting overhead where possible, and selling some pieces of equipment that I don't use anymore.
    Personally, we have been looking into refinancing our mortgage. Looks like we might get under 5% for 30 year fixed. Unbelievable.
  9. mrusk

    mrusk LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,260

    Its slowwww here in north jersey. My sales job in 08 was 12.5k. All the stuff we have been doing so far in 09 has been under that number.

    I just have one guy now and we are just taking it week by week. No one wants to spend six figures any more.
  10. ford550

    ford550 LawnSite Member
    from PA
    Messages: 221

    We slimmed some of our overhead and payroll. I think most imortantly, we actually increased our advertising budget by about 40%. You have to be in front of people's faces constantly in tough times. Most of my competition is trying to save money by not advertising as much. IMO, it's the bad times that you need to pound advertising. When times are good, any monkey can get work. It will definately be survival of the fittest and most effecient this year.

    I would agree with that statment. Usually we do 3-4 six figure jobs a season. But those have gone away. With that said, I am working on 2-$50K plus, 2-$30K and 3-$15K designs right now. It will be interesting to see in the next couple weeks, if they will actually pull the triggers though. I will keep you all updated. I think there is work out there, the pie is just really really small and if you are not in front of these type clients with your name and advertising, they aren't going to find you.

    Be good everyone and I hope you all can get work. Let's keep our heads up.

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