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. letsplay

    letsplay LawnSite Member
    Messages: 95

    I think that contractors also undervalue their "time" especially owners...........Not just that you have to fill up a truck with gas or go get the payroll for the week but the time inbetween to do those tasks and its value or loss in profit etc. I know the guys that just say they are making a killing cause "my overhead is low" and all I have to worry about is filling up my gas tank/machinery and their payments and the rest is "all profit".
    They don't save any money for when that bededger breaks down or it rains for two weeks and you have no money come in etc. All they want to do is run out and buy a shiney new truck that they think will make them more attractive to potential clients and they get into dept over their head and it goes on and on. There are a lot of nice shiney trucks here for sale right now!
  2. BSDeality

    BSDeality LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,849

    Not sure if you're asking me? but I'll answer, this May will be my/our 5th year as a legitimate operation.
  3. PROCUT1

    PROCUT1 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from TN
    Messages: 4,891

    I look at business like the war on terror.

    Its a lot easier to fight the enemy and be prepared if you know who the enemy is.

    Our troops are the best in the business with that.

    What nobody expected, was the enemy would be a 12 year old with a suitcase of dynamite.

    Nobody considered that until it happened.

    The best trained, most prepared, most dedicated soldiers in the world who can handle anything that theyre faced with are getting killed by exploding trashcans.

    Who expected exploding trashcans?
  4. lawnboy2068

    lawnboy2068 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 104

    New member here.

    I have seen this for over 20 years. I have seen some very nice companies come and go. My business model was nothing to cheer about either when I started but I worked at it overtime and we became a good little company. I worked long and hard to unburied myself a few times. My company does more construction than mowing so we fared better over time than lawn guys but at one point we did have around 90 lawns and now we have 1/3 of that and are trying to re-grow that part of the business because of the economic downturn. But even with a good plan there are still pitfalls that show up unannounced. We were very viable last year until October. We own everything and owed the banks nothing. We have 13 pieces of heavy equipment and trucks along with a trailer full of lawn equipment. Our 2 big jobs went belly up in October as the banks pulled the financing from them. One day we were working, the next I'm sitting home playing switch and wondering how I am going to pay the men as I have to finish our maintenance contracts for the year. Needless to say, we are over 60K in the hole now. All within 1 month.
    I personally know 16 guys that went out since last September. Some had good plans others didn't't.
    This business is not what it used to be. I guess the moral of my story is to all of you, stay in control of your business. Stay small and profitable and you will do fine and don't grow too fast. Meaning, don't let the business control you and don't get illusions of grandeur and you will be fine. Because you never know what is going to happen down the road. Unless you have a large bank account that can handle the downturn, then most likely you will be out.

    Take care to all and have a profitable year.
  5. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,220

    Thanks for sharing:

    Reminds me of a story I herd, a guy goes in to business for himself, falls flat on his face. so goes back to 9 to 5,,,, saves his money, goes back in to business. fails again. goes back to 9 to 5, goes back into business again fails again.....goes back to 9 to 5.

    finley someone says WOW your not very good at this are you..
    he says. What are you Crazy, I have never made the same mistake twice.

    Best of luck
  6. PROCUT1

    PROCUT1 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from TN
    Messages: 4,891

    Ill expand on what youre saying here.

    Most owners have the wrong mindset once they have crews.

    Once I had crews on the road doing "all the work" that freed me up to do

    Run the dumptruck to supply material
    pay bills
    collect money
    run around when the crews needed somthing
    swap out broken machines
    post office

    And all those other things that us bigtime owners do.

    Any job that needed to be filled I would fill it.

    If a crew was short a driver, I took the crew out.
    I fixed the broken machines.
    I ran to the parts store.
    I bought the supplies.

    Look at how much I was getting done and how much money I was saving by doing that all myself.

    Hmm....Still broke....Work pretty stagnant...

    Who was running the business while i was running topsoil?

    There is one thing that Im better at than anyone in my company and any of my competitors and that is sales.

    I can sell the job better than anyone. Getting it done back then was a different story. But I did sell my socks off.

    Wait a minute?

    I have the ability to sell high dollar, high profit work better than anyone.......

    And Im playing office clerk?
    Im playing truck driver?
    Im playing mechanic?
    Im playing mower operator?

    I have the ability to sell projects in the tens of thousands of dollars and Im spending my time trying to save $10 an hour in payroll.

    I took on a $10 an hour job in my company...

    How stupid was that?

    And none of those jobs was I great at or i really liked like I like sales.

    Well, I woke up.

    I hired someone for the office. Hired someone for the misc. crap outside and hired people to do anything that interferes with what I do best. SELL

    And the numbers speak for themselves.

    I promoted someone to take over operations and I do nothing but sell all day everyday.

    I sell the work, and she coordinates and gets done everything that I throw at her.

    I cant hire someone to sell like I can. But I had no problem hiring someone that can put stamps on an envelope like I can.
  7. letsplay

    letsplay LawnSite Member
    Messages: 95

    Exactly Procut..........that $10hr you were trying to save cost you hundreds in what you were best at. I compare it to contrators that talk about all the hours they work in one week and make it sound like they are making alot of money.........Then I ask do you really know how much money you were making in just one hour?

    Thanks for the feedback to all. Lets all have a great year.
  8. humble1

    humble1 LawnSite Silver Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,519

    thats the best time to raise the price. Marty Grunder seminar I went to: If you are closing more than 10% of your bids, you are too low in price.
  9. PROCUT1

    PROCUT1 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from TN
    Messages: 4,891

    I cant count how many times Ive been accused of bashing or "talking down" on this site.
    Or how I come across as "arrogant" or I think Im better than anyone else.

    I made this post to clear that up.

    When someone makes a post about how they are quitting their job in a recession with benefits and a family.....And in the same post is asking how to bid a job......That to me is scary.

    He will get 2 pages of congratulations and "charge a dollar a minute and you be fine"

    Then that arrogant bastard Procut throws his negative attitude in there and pees on everyone party. Usually posting a link to a thread like this that dies within an hour of me posting it.

    Most of you see a guy thats going for the dream. Hes heading out on his own. Hes doing what youre dreaming of doing while youre at your regular job dealing with a boss.

    Thats what many of you see.

    I see a guy that has no idea that in 6 months he wont be able to pay his mortgage, bills through the roof, no health insurance, and a wife that is ready to leave him for quitting a steady job for some "be your own boss" dream.

    I see a guy that will be wondering what went wrong. He used to make great money cutting grass.

    A guy thats going to be floored when he sees that health insurance for his family costs as much per month as his mortgage. It only cost him a few bucks a week in a payroll deduction before.

    A guy that sees just how much his regular job hid and supplemented the expenses of owning your own business.

    A guy that quits his job, takes his retirement money, buys equipment, then a month later the grass is all burnt out for the rest of the summer.

    He never cared about that before. Burnt grass just meant he stayed home after work and made less money that week.

    Now that burnt grass means he makes NO money. The mortgage is still there. His family still needs to eat. The bills keep coming.

    Thats what I see when I see those posts. I see guys that have so little knowledge about business that are about to make a drastic decision that will almost certainly lead to failure.
    hort101 likes this.
  10. BSDeality

    BSDeality LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,849

    Some of the best advice ever given on LS is right here in this thread.
    hort101 likes this.
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