I'm losing my A$$ in this business!!

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by iamthelawnbarber, Sep 16, 2008.

  1. iamthelawnbarber

    iamthelawnbarber LawnSite Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 99

    I'm in PA and I started my side business about 3 years ago to get extra money for family needs. Now it's come to the end of the line where I'm actually paying to mow people's properties. The gas prices are outrageous! My mower keeps breaking down, my truck blew a tranny! I work a full-time job that just barely pays the bills. I have nothing extra. Do I charge customers higher prices? The problem is that my customers don't have the money to pay me what they owe me now! Also, I feel that I am doing these jobs for cheap enough-I may be walking away w/$5 in my pocket when my expenses are paid for. It doesn't even pay for my beer anymore!!! Anyone else in this situation? I don't know if I should just cut my losses and quit the business or hold out and see if next year is better. I am a sole proprietor and my son helps me part time during the summer. I don't know if I can handle picking up more clients. I don't have enough time to do what I have now-since my son is back to school. I'm getting maybe 4-5 hrs. sleep a day.
    I'm sure my wife is tired of hearing me complain, so I'll complain to you guys!
  2. lawnwizards

    lawnwizards LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,439

    a quick question. how much do you make at your fulltime job if you dont care to share?
  3. Scagguy

    Scagguy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,522

    Equipment breaks down at times and that is part of the game. Make sure that you're doing preventitive maint on your equipment to help eliminate some problems. The customers that aren't paying you....that's a huge problem. Collect from them or cut them off right now. File leins on their property if you have to. If you have several deadbeat customers, I would be finding new ones that can pay their bills on time to take their place. Everyone in this business has gone through a rough period at one time, and it's happening to you for a number of reasons. Step back, look at the positives and focus on those things. Work on loosing the things that impact your business from a negative standpoint.
  4. FDuce

    FDuce LawnSite Member
    Messages: 178

    Since your part time and mow after work, I would eliminate any customers that are not in the immediate vinicity/town of your work and on the way home. This will eliminate any extra travel and since you would already be traveling that rout for your full time job it is not adding any additional expense. I guess this really only works if you don't live right by your full time job.

    Another way to look at it is this....
    If your weren't mowing, would your transmission have gone out? How would you have paid for it if your full time pay already goes to bills? It seems like you are paying for unforseen expenses that would have normally come out of your full time pay. You may be better off by sticking with the mowing.
  5. saylorsdad

    saylorsdad LawnSite Member
    Messages: 114

    As a part timer you should be bidding jobs pretty high. Remember that you're providing a service to fewer people, and you "in theory" can provide more personalized better service. That's my theory as I carry 5 customers if I have a customer that is slow or gives me crap then I look for another customer. Read better paying better attitude, although I haven't dropped anyone yet for attitude.
    My advice go out and bid on some jobs and bid them for what you want to make. If you get them then drop the accounts that don't pay or tell them the new price. Either way you add more revenue, and possibly more jobs.
  6. fastpitcher

    fastpitcher LawnSite Member
    from PA
    Messages: 91

    The biggest problem we face is scabs! You think you are doing it for cheap what about us that have to pay employees? People like you maybe you are not one but none the less. We can not charge enough because someone is willing do do it for $5. A guy gets laid off on Friday and on Monday he owns a landscape company. Cutting lawns for $5 profit if that. Most of these guys do not even know what it costs to cut grass. All they know is how! Gas is up, equipment is up not to mention complaints are up because my customers are getting 10 fliers a day. We have put the power of pricing on the customers! Until we price are service as it should be we will all lose money!
  7. Phil G

    Phil G LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 843

    Hang in there, it's nearly the end of the cutting season. Start talking to your customers now about extra work in the coming months. Pruning , trimming and reshaping.
    I figure this, the hours you put into grass cutting are not your work hours, that's covered by your day job. The hours you are putting in are 'your' hours and I'll be darned if I'd work cheap in 'my' time. Don't cut price the job, go slightly higher. If you only get one job in five at least you know you'll be getting paid a good rate for it.
    Good luck Phil
  8. coolluv

    coolluv LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 4,377

    Well it sounds like you lowballed from the beginning and now after 3 years you are realizing what most realize at about that time. Getting a bunch of work means nothing if you are not making money. You have run your course and now you will fade away with the other lowballers that started in and about the same time you did.

    But, don't worry more will follow you and will be my and others competition. But the last guy only charged me $25. Where is he now. I don't know he just quit showing up. That my friend is you. Your the $25 guy that should have been charging $40. Your the guy that quit showing up. Your the guy that ruins the market for the rest of us.

    I say pack it in and cut your losses. If you build your business (and I use that term loosely in your case) on cheap,nonpaying, drop you for the next guy who bids it $1 cheaper customers, then thats what you get. What you lowballers need to learn is, its much better to cut 10 lawns for $40, than 20 yards for $20. Less work, less wear and tear, less cost, less everything. Do you have tons of work? Yes. Are you making money? No.

    Don't worry though. 1000 more will be geared up an ready to go come spring.

  9. ricky86

    ricky86 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,058

    Coolluv, cruel, very cruel but who can argue. The truth hurts. I don't feel sorry for these guys. Hacks. nothing more.
  10. P.Services

    P.Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,319

    wow you and me think a lot alike, thanks for writing that im not really in the mood.

    i could not agree with what you said more!! 100% well said

    personally i would have added one more sentence to the end.... sell your shat cut your loses and go back to your real job!!

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