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. Scagguy

    Scagguy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,522

    Well....after reading some of the threads here, it's painfully obvious to me that most people here don't have a SOLID business plan. Without it, chances are the business is doomed to fail unless you keep it small and simple like 100 acounts or less. Even then, you can have problems. Yes, it's nice to grow your business because it's your very own. But, the mind can and will play tricks on you if you let it. The next thing you know you're out of control and wondering where in the hell did I go wrong. Ah.....maybe it was the business plan I never took the time to draft, recheck and check constantly to see how I'm doing and what changes need to be made to improve.

    My advice is to stay in your element whatever that may be until you're an expert at doing it. Grow with cautious optimism. Double check your numbers at least once a month if not more. Use credit only when it's to your advantage to do so, not because you have to because you just signed 1 large customer and need a 13K Z to service that account. What happens if 2 months into it they become a pita or worse a deadbeat?

    I see all of this equipment for sale here and other places with low hours. You can bet the farm unless the equipment is a POS, somebody got in over their head. For what? They took a gamble and lost. Don't you be that person.
  2. BSDeality

    BSDeality LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,849

    Just heard a good quote on TV that's pretty fitting:

    "In youth your learn, In age you understand."
  3. FYS777

    FYS777 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,305

    thank you PROCUT1 thank for the time you spent typing these words of wisdom that we all need to here, for this industry, and any business, planing, planing,:):)
  4. qualitylandscaping

    qualitylandscaping LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,581

    This is very true. Like I said, there is a fine line between lowballing and charging less because you are able to.

    We usually bid low-middle. Everything is done at such a large volume, it allows us to price very competitively.

    Still doesn't slow my wish that every lawn started at $40 lol.
  5. ein999

    ein999 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 156

    I still think you can try not to have two crews and a shop and keep cutting 100 lawns a week and keep making the very very niceliving. Why grow if growing means going out of business. Keep it small and easy and be happy with the veri veri good living. You said it yourself in the very first post.
  6. PROCUT1

    PROCUT1 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from TN
    Messages: 4,891

    I defiantly made a case for poor management.

    Heres the difference.

    As a small operation.....Profit margins are very high....You can make a lot of mistakes, as most people do, all along the way and that profit margin will hide them.

    There will come a time when you go from counting dollars profit, to counting pennies profit.

    The difference is.....Most people growing the business dont know that time is coming.

    Its definitely poor management. That has been proven. If it was anything else nobody would make it in the business.

    But plenty do.

    Poor management is the point of my entire thread.

    Its still poor management if 99% make the same mistakes and end up the same place.

    You just dont realize what poor management is until you hit that point. Up until then you think your doing everything right and are on a rocket to the moon.
  7. PROCUT1

    PROCUT1 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from TN
    Messages: 4,891

    Its all in where you want to go. Me, im not happy unless im growing the business. Thats what I do in life.

    Im not happy to just sit back and make a nice living. I like the thrill and excitement and the push.

    Its not for everyone.

    Its just knowing what to do with it thats the hard part.

    I knew how to grow...Just didnt know what to do when I got there.

    TJLANDS LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,668

    I edited your post, sounds better like this.

    I think it is great that you spent the time to type this thread.

    You guys should thank Procut for this info. Very, very good read. Very good information.
    You could seriously write a book.

    I need another Martini.
  9. tenderman

    tenderman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    Can anyone tell me what a large lco or a small lco consists of? How big? How many accounts? ETC?
  10. PROCUT1

    PROCUT1 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from TN
    Messages: 4,891

    I dont think there is any set standard.

    Thats why its so hard.

    You dont know that once you hit 200 accounts your expenses are going to triple and you;ll be holding on for your life.

    Its different for different people.

    Different circumstances too.

    For example.

    I used to pay 1500 a month plus utilities for a shop and office. Thats a lot of lawns to pay for that.

    How about the guy...lets say...whos parents own a farm and he can park all his stuff there for free...

    Hes ahead of the game.

    Me...I bought a house that is on 4 acres of commercial property with a barn. I moved my office which is a construction trailer and everything I own here.

    The business still pays rent but it pays rent to me and that goes to a mortgage for something I own.

    Instead of 2 electric bills I have 1. instead of 2 internet bills I have 1. etc etc.

    Instead of my personal salary paying all the mortgage like i did for years, the business now pays most of it in rent.

    So the business saves in rent and utilities and I save personally because of the rent income.

    Before I bought this place I didnt have a choice. I couldnt operate out of my house at the time. So I had a mortgage and on top of that the full boat shop rent and all the extras that come with that.

    I now buy used older trucks. They cost me a fraction of what the newer stuff did.

    My hobby is mechanics. So ill buy a 1995. Pay cash for it. Tune it up. Paint it my colors and down the road it goes. No payments, cheaper insurance.

    If work slows down, I dont have payments over my head. The truck can stay parked and doesnt cost me a thing.

    I dont finance equipment anymore. Same thing. Buy used, make it good as new and no payments, no worries.

    I no longer will carry employees. If work is slow, they go home. I spent way too much money making busy work for them and that comes right off the bottom line.

    That makes me work harder. If I dont have work for the employees....they dont make money....if they dont make money....they wont stay.....

    So I have to make sure I sell enough work for them....And when theyre working im making its all benefit...

    See, all these changes I made were out of necessity. And I would have never made them unless my last business crashed.

    Your mind and the calculator will play tricks on you.

    When you think about buying that new truck or new mower, you will whip out the pen and paper and calculator.

    When you do the numbers and figure in the payment......It will look like a no-brainer....You can buy it and the benefit of the machine will outweigh the cost....

    Oh how many times I did that. And to top it off my major was accounting.

    Its little decisions you make all along the way that come together almost all at once and then you;re sitting there saying "What the hell happened?" "I was on top of the world a couple months ago"
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