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How to fail in the lawn business by someone who did it.

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by PROCUT1, Feb 18, 2009.

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  1. Southern Elegance

    Southern Elegance LawnSite Member
    Messages: 241

    ive been there done that too. at one time we had to do 40k per month to break even and was doing it. competitors and most people thought we were making a fortune, but could hardly afford to pay my bills, been down sizing for 3 years now. finally starting to b profitable again, but it has been a real battle,. next time im that big it will b debt free. its all about knowing ur numbers, customer service, and operating debt free.
    pay yourself the truck, eq payments each month, then when something needs to b replaced u have the cash on hand. NO LOANS, NO BANKERS.

    hort101 likes this.
  2. DieselLandscaping

    DieselLandscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 86

    A good friend of mine always says:

    "I've made how much doing it with my used mowers?"
  3. Landscraper1

    Landscraper1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Southeastern Ma.
    Messages: 753

    Wow Procut, you have created quite the thread here. I know exactly where you are coming from. There was a time that I pondered about what to do with this business.
    I and my partner wanted to become huge. Be the best and largest company around my area. It was a dream I had since I was 10 yrs old. Well, that dream came true unfortunately. We had the greatest reputation, over 30 employees, and grossed close to 3 mil. But, we had alot of debt and no money in the bank. It came to a point that me and my partner would constantly argue. I also started hating to go to work. It felt like I was pouring gas into a machine that never got filled.
    Finally, we split the business 5 yrs ago. I ended up making the business much simpler and became much more efficient. Right now, I love coming to work. Now, I did get smaller but, I am steadily increasing business every year. The difference is that I have a "business plan" in place and I am following certain set goals for the company.
    I think the most important thing to look at in any business is the money. We grew so fast that what was important to us, at the time, was getting the job and getting it done right. We really did not keep track of our expenses and man hours as we should have.
    Things are different now. I'm actually making a great living and a good profit. :weightlifter:
    hort101 likes this.
  4. TheC-Master

    TheC-Master LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 819

    Well yea you have to borrow properly and know how to pay yourself first.
  5. kylecal91

    kylecal91 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 188

    Thanks for the posts, kept my mind focused on the most important thing, debt free and making a profit. I'm going into my second year of business and have a good bit of debt. I don't believe I'm in the hole for a bad reason, starting a business is risky and it has made me 10x what I put into it initially but it has also taken that money and more for me to get all the things I need (truck, trailer, 2 reliable mowers, and whatever else.) My main goal this year is to expand my size (not so much to where I need to purchase more things or hire more people, at least not initially) to help pay for equipment and make some money, after that, save money for when things start to break and/or need replaced.
  6. KeystoneLawn&Landscaping

    KeystoneLawn&Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 774

    I started debt free and still am , in my 5th year. I'm a HUGE Dave Ramsey fan. Thankfully I listened to him for many years before starting my business. Another important thing that helped me is I was 35 when I started my business. I know if I started this 10 years sooner I would of had debt. Now I am growing VERY slow doing things debt free, but I'm in a good financial position doing it this way. My plan is SLOW growth, build my "war chest", and NO DEBT!
  7. kylecal91

    kylecal91 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 188

    Yeah I'm 18, first "real" job and loving it. Hard to start out your life being self employed without any debt. Although I can say I didn't go into this head first without any customers, I had an ok customer basis 8 lawns and growing so I decided to grow when I got my license...
  8. TheC-Master

    TheC-Master LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 819

    Well there is good debt and bad debt, good debt makes you rich and bad debt makes you poor. You have to manage debt wisely to become wealthy (if that is your goal), the alternative is slower and not as reliable.

    It is good that you are doing financially well though.
  9. torotorotoro

    torotorotoro LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 510

    this is the best thread i have ever read on hear.i might disagree with procuts take on lowballers, but this should be manditory reading. it really got me thinking. the reason this buisness is so great is because it does not have all the overhead that other buisnesses have.you dont need a store front with rent. you dont need the headache and expence of employees.but the first things some people do is hire their friends and rent a shop to service their 50 to 100 accounts.then they wonder why they go broke
    hort101 likes this.
  10. DoetschOutdoor

    DoetschOutdoor LawnSite Bronze Member
    from S. IL
    Messages: 1,818

    Ummmmmm, No I disagree. The low start up costs are called "low barriers to entry" and they are bad for people already in business. This is why everyone and their brother mows grass, taking money away from the legit businesses. This business has just as many expenses as any other and with low barriers to entry, its worse.
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