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Is this business worth the effort? please read

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by ZaK18, Feb 24, 2006.

  1. ZaK18

    ZaK18 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 188

    A little about me I'm 20...been the owner of my lawncare business for 4 years now...I have (in most peoples opinion a successful business) I have 150 weekly accounts...gross $140,000 a year....Net $60,000...
    I only mow and do hedges...I sub out landscaping and fert...etc...Have one crew that has a very tight route and does between 30-35 accounts a day... all residential within 5 mile radius...

    Here's the problem...I'm still not happy with this business...Its seasonal, very much dependant upon the weather ( In north TX were in a severe drought) Finding and training dependable workers...and keeping them for more than 1 year is near impossible...They have to get a job during 4 months of winter...and in my case never return...Oh yeah, I pay $12 for the worker $15 crew leader which is over twice to going rate...The work sucks we have to use 21" mowers on all property's, Its a service oriented business, I get no respect...Everyone looks/talks down to me, this business is considered a joke to the public, they view it at right above ditch digging...Its like pulling teeth to get paid...lawncare is the last bill to be paid, its been especially difficult this year with the economy, I have thousands in outstanding bills...There is no barrier of entry to get started...no certification, or license required, so anyone with a cheap mower, wead-eater and broom is now in business...The new advertised price in my area is $18...My bare minimum I charge is $25 which is VERY difficult to get thanks to the lowballers...The price has been going down over the 4 years I've been in business. When I first started I was geting $30 for a now $25 lawn... If this isn't bad enough the grass here is a hybrid bermuda...Which has to be the worst grass to cut...It scalps SOOOO easy, It's always trying to go dormant...It only looks good a few weeks a year...we start cutting at 1 in. in the spring and have to raise the blades once a month to keep from scalping :cry:

    Ive put off going to college, so I could build my business...It seemed to be the right thing to do after highschool but now I'm having second thoughts...It seems there are better ways to make a living...Maybe I should be directing my energy into something with a higher payoff...I want to spend my life building something up that I'm proud of...I want to be able to look back at my life and realize I made a difference, or have something spectacular, that I can show for all my years of work...This business just doesn't seem to be right for me, but I dont know what I want to do...Its very frustrating. :hammerhead:

    My question is should I continue with what I have, or go to college...Also why do you guys continue with this business, when there are so many variables against you?
  2. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Messages: 4,739

    I do it for the challenge :weightlifter:

    And I love the seasons, just wish that winter were a better one here.

    I've been in your shoes just so very recently...

    I think part of your problem has to do with your area, part of it is your personality/who you are, just takes certain people, but me, I love to work outside and enjoy every season, so, this business is good for me in that aspect :) and I love to help people so I'm pretty good at interacting with them there...

    I think this one will take a lot of soul searching to find your answer, and listen to others' advice, but take it only under careful consideration. Do not rely soley on what others may tell you, but do consider their words. I have spent all winter searching myself looking for the answers. I think right now I have finally found them (see my recent thread in this forum called "Can't get away from it, so......" )

    Thanks for reading, and I hope you find the answers you are looking for, spend some time thinking about it now during the winter, find a mentor maybe someone in this business maybe someone off of LawnSite, maybe a close friend or family member, and talk to them about it too. No one knows you like your family and closest friends, they know how you are and see things about you that you don't know.

    Good luck, keep us posted.
  3. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,116

    It sounds your largest problem is you've bills to pay and your customers still owe you money...cash flow problems.

    I have solved my cash flow problems 100%.


    Switching to next day credit cards have solved all of my collections headaches.

    As for the low balling prices, I have been talking to several competitors in my area and it looks like the $20 pricing craze is hopefully going away. When I jumped in to this business $25 was the minimum and then when Justmowit showed up with $19.95 door hangers everyone quickly dropped prices to $20. Justmowit is going to $26 this season and I have made sure a few of the larger LCO's know about it before they print stuff with $20.

    DFW Area Landscaper
  4. grassyfras

    grassyfras LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,475

    Netting 60k at 20 is damn good. Im staying in just to make an extra 40k or so over the next two years and going back to college. No one said this was an easy job, but what do you care if your making money and our happy with building a business. America was built on that work ethic, if people around you put that down tell them to screw off. You are who you are. Im turning 20 next week and wish I was where you are.
  5. freddyc

    freddyc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 578

    you don't do ferts or landscaping....you've singled out mowing ...there's obviously a ton of room for growth....so everybodys in it without a license ---you too!

    At 20 yrs old you have a long way to go.... If you're really at 100K at that time period and after 4 years (mostly as a minor) then maybe you should go to college, sit on your butt and hide in an office waiting for your next paycheck hoping to evade the layoff list. Right out of college you're worth $40-60K/yr. But that includes benefits too. Make sure you learn how to say... "yes sir" to the same guy you can't stand every day!

    If you like what you're doing, make it work...if not get a cubicle.
  6. milo

    milo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,308

    i feel like you do. there is really no future in this business. plus a ton of problems that come with it. if i was your age and had a chance to go a different route i would. dont get me wrong, i love working outside and being my own boss but when you sit down and look at everything it is not a good business.
  7. Remsen1

    Remsen1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,020

    Only you can really decide that. Many of us do this cause we actually enjoy the work. I know that is what keeps me going through the difficult times like you're going through. I think basically you have to ask yourself which aspects must change in order for you to be at peace with yourself in this industry. Then when you determine what must change then you have to determine the degree of change that is needed and whether obtaining these objectives is possible. Some of the items you listed are completely out of your control. If these are on the list of things that must change for you, then you might be better off pursuing other carreers.

    Now, If I were in your shoes, net income would be a big issue for me especially considering the volume that you service. I would try addressing this by raising my prices a little, this will accomplish two things it would cut down on my volume and it would make the ones I retain more profitable. Next I would start enforcing late penalties thereby decreasing my volume even more. Now I might be able to let go of an employee for a year and act as crew leader, or if I didn't want to chase a mower all day, then cut their hours back. Lastly any new hires would be paid less than what you're paying, (since you said it's twice the going rate, but you still aren't retaining them), and would be offered an incentive to return the following year.
  8. dr.lawn21

    dr.lawn21 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 65

    I agree totally with teddyc. I am 25, and went to college right after high school. I have been in the bus since I was about 15 (you know, high school kid cutting grass). Although I continued working through college, I look back and wish I could have spent all of my time devoted to my business. Sure, I got my degree in Horticulture, but in the end it's just a piece of paper.
    There is nothing that I learned in college (classes that is ) that I coudn't have learned on my own.
    As far as the late paying customers, well that's just one of the trade-offs that you have to make by working for yourself. I would much rather have a few late paying customers, be able to set my own hours, and be my own boss, than have to listen to someone else tell me what to do every week until it's time to retire.
    Good luck making your decision. It's worth it in the end. payup
  9. ZaK18

    ZaK18 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 188

    I have my account set up on Quickbooks to take Creditcards...and will be making that transition this year...Ive followed your threads....thanks for help on that, and other issues pertaining to this area :) Actually getting my money that ive busted my ass for is #1 problem...Its gotten so bad, that its like im receiving a gift when I get a check in the mail, If there is any enjoyment in this business, Not getting paid completely ruins that...I will require ALL my customers to be on next day CC this year.

    The competitors that charge $20 and under are not taking business away from me...Im not to concerned with them...They will soon be out of business...What they do is lower the perceived value of mowing...and thats what hurts not only me, but every other legitimate business.

  10. gslawncare

    gslawncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 134

    I find it really hard to stay motivated in the corporate field. Luckily I'm a part-time supervisor, but I can't stand having to go to the same damn building and deal with the same lazy Union f's. Just a little example," I've got a guy who shows up to the beloved UPS about 6 times a month. there's 20 working days in a month. Since he calls in just about every day, we can't fire him. He makes 26 per hour. The rocks must be doing him good.

    But as a landscaper I'm motivated every day because I'm really in charge. Scheduling jobs, selling, admin. I think us entreprenuers just think differently. Get the work, do the work, get paid and love what you do.

    Oh yeah, F waiting for the 15th and 25th. I love getting my payments in the mail.

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