Landscapers in NC & SC states....

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by orangeblossom, May 13, 2007.

  1. orangeblossom

    orangeblossom LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    We are from the mid-west. We had a profitable business.

    To make a long story, short....we decided to relocate to the carolinas. Now, we bought another business, but wanted to remain in doing at least paver work, retaining walls, hardscape, etc. For us, it was quick and easy money. In and OUT!

    When we got to the Carolinas and started asking questions, we found out that these landscapers actually work for about .50cents more than what they purchase the product for.

    Here is an example: Let's just talk about installation of a Palm Tree, a really HUGE one. You buy the tree at about $125.00, and they will install the darn thing for max price of $250.00

    They made a pofit of $125.00. BUT THAT profit has to go back into wear and tear, taxes, employee checks, insurance, equipment, etc.

    BY THE TIME, all proper decductions are made, the landscaper made...what? $5.00 for the work they did?

    Our company would NEVER do a job as such.

    If the square footage for pavers sell at $6.50, then they will ACTUALLY DO THE JOB for $6.50.

    And when we talk to them, they all say they are suffering. WELL, they can't seem to understand why?

    What is the POINT of having a landscaping association there?

    Then we hear of stories of where landscapers install pine mulch, jsut to get the job, because it is cheaper! How stupid, because the ACID from the pine, actually kills the landscaping. Unbeleiveiable. And again, they make no profit; which inturns hurts the suppliers, etc.

    I can go on and on about the plight of Landscapers in the Carolina.

    We took a lot of our equipment with us, on thinking we would do some side jobs. But, now we are considering to sell it all. We don't work for free. 'Ain't no dummy.'

    I mean, here is MY POINT to it all....In ONE carolina city, they got funding for 2007 that is 27,000,000 millon dollars for the jobs we do. But, instead of landscapers realizing that, they go and bid for $5.00!

    Landscapers have to pay for trucks....did their prices go down for us? NO. Landscapers have to pay wages....did their prices go down for us? NO.
    Landscapers have to pay for insurance, etc.....did their prices go down? NO.
    Landscapers have to pay for supplies, etc.....did their prices go down? NO.

    Landscapers can make HUGE money. HUGE money. It is a profession that is NOT only loved, but can take a person/company a long way.

    But, I AM SHOCKED to see these landscapers representing this profession. They act like Migrants working for a $1.00, for 8 hours a day.

    Those who have NO clue on how to place bids, YOU ARE actually distroying our profession. PLEASE, PLEASE become a maintenance worker, for a company, being paid $5.50 or more per hour. It is the SAME pay, you get from taking all these jobs from us.

    Because, US WHO DO know how to PLACE BIDS, YOUR killing us!

    IT is a slaughter.

  2. Albery's Lawn & Tractor

    Albery's Lawn & Tractor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,674

    Is this a joke? No one around here works that cheap. Now a days we all have to aggressive on our pricing but you make it sound like were all idioits. And pinestraw is very popular here and in our 20 years of expierence we have never had it kill a plant and it is a requirment for most city installs. If you can't make it here then go back where you had your "profitable" business.
  3. tjsquickcuts

    tjsquickcuts LawnSite Senior Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 943

    I was always told, if your work is as good as advertised, then it doesnt matter what you charge, most people pay for quality once educated about whats being done and not price. Pine Straw is Very Very popular around the Southeast and if you plan on making it in our region, then you will have to get use to pinestraw. But I think you just need to go back to the drawing board, and rethink your marketing plan because this thread was really uncalled for. I know guys who install pinestraw for $4 bucks a bale, and purchase around $3.25. We charge $6.50 per bale, and purchase for $2.35 per bale. So why do I get some many large jobs? Its because they feel comfortable enough to know that the work will get done right, and add curb appeal. Never a thinly spread, always nice thick, with the bump in the front. But for you to come on here blasting all the NC & SC landscaper is truly a injustice, and with that type of attitude, no wonder you are not having any luck. Us people in the south are different, and dont take kindly to
  4. orangeblossom

    orangeblossom LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    Where we are from, we could make 5,000 in one day, on one job; while at the SAME TIME have a crew working on other projects. In the Carolinas, it isn't happening.

    Here is a great little story from a guy who has been in business for 30 years: "They will actually pull landscapers from NC, because they will be cheaper!"

    And for the RECORD....ask your suppliers.....PINE HAS AN ACID that KILLS landscaping. Hey, CALL up the Department of Agriculture. IT IS NO WHERE as good as mulch. It is ugly and cheap looking on top of it.

    And, YOU ARE even hurting the suppliers. I talked to 4 of them. THEY HATE THE GUYS who sell the Pine. They just can't stand you. WHen you walk out the door, they just roll their eyes.

    So, let see, I walk in, put a bid with some nice black mulch, triple shredded. Then the customer meets with YOU, and you must say, "Hey pine is just a good and cheaper."

    Oh, and here is another situation. Say this customer HAD another landscaper install shrubs the previous year. AND that landscaper has a warranty. So, the next year, you put the PINE on top of the landscaping. Well, who is she going to call when they start dying. NOT YOU, but the landscaper who gave her a warranty. And THAT money will come out of HIS pocket. That is probably why you don't care....your not paying for warranty or replacements.

    As for the city wanting it installed, OF COURSE..I have NEVER met a city director who wants the cheapest job done. Even in the north, they are cheap, cheap people.

    But, that is the stated it, "aggressive with prices."

    Here is an example: All landscapers where I worked, did aeration. We charged the customer abotu $100.00 Then there was ONE GUY, who put out flyers and did the job for 40.00. MORE than 1/2. What did the landscapers do? They locked up their aerators to collect dust.

    Is this YOUR example of being aggressive? I am dying to know. Because it is THIS bidding, that actually brought the MARKET value down in the Carolinas. But, you explain your pricing to every here.

    Why don't you give us a sample bid on this:

    I want a grey paver firepit, with a paver patio, kidney shaped around it; and on the edge of that patio, I want a pond/waterfall. Then I want landscaping installed accordingly. On top of it, I want to have you construct a play gym, with a play house 11 feet off the ground. I want rock-climbing, ropes and swings.

    Now, this is a fairly huge job. Just give us a ballpark figure of what you would charge.

    And no, I am not putting DOWN ALL landscapers in the Carolina. Apparantly, I just joined the list of landscapers COMPLAINING!

    It is critque and from what I hear from at least 10 operations, and 4 suppliers, they do not seem to be lying about it. THIS IS A VERY serious problem.
  5. orangeblossom

    orangeblossom LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    "But I think you just need to go back to the drawing board, and rethink your marketing plan because this thread was really uncalled for. I know guys who install pinestraw for $4 bucks a bale, and purchase around $3.25. We charge $6.50 per bale, and purchase for $2.35 per bale."

    First, I would never charge $6.50 for me to send a crew, per bale, to throw on pine. Not worth it at all. I'd rather drop the bales off in the customer's driveway, because that will just about cover my gas getting there.

    Here is the difference. With Mulch, I charge 32.00 per yard. But, I do not EVEN mention the cost of mulch when I go for a landscaping job, unless thy ask for it separate; which is very rare. I simply include it in the cost of the landscaping project.

    IT is all about how you market, caluclate, etc. So, do you see what is the difference here? You are in the 6.50 bracket, and I am in the 32.00 bracket. And I make $15.00 profit on each square yard my workers shovel out. Here is a mulch quote of $350.00 for a yard with small beds needing 11 yards. We got it done in 20 mintues. I walked away wtih $175.00 in 20 minutes moving on to the next job.

    And of course, I also play with the cost...and barter with the customer. If I get 5 other jobs from the same customer, I usually play with the Mulch cost, because it won't hurt me; and they think they are getting a break. But, I got 5 other things to do, that more than makes up for the mulch cost.

    And why do they call me back, even though they realize I am expensive? Because they want the job done right the first time.

    I do not like to work paycheck to paycheck. Never did. Hate those 80 accounts, and slaving till midnight. I like to get in and out, and get home.

    I really do not think you understand the bidding problem here.
  6. mcclureandson

    mcclureandson LawnSite Member
    Messages: 242

    This post is full of quick assumptions and ignorance...I am a S.C landscaper and have great margins on my work. You've obviously rolled into the area, spoke with a few 'marginal' operators/suppliers...whatever, and decided you understand the area completely. I'll bet I could go to YOUR old area and find plenty of 'low-ballers' and 'incompetents' working for less than acceptable wages...why don't you seek out the experienced and knowledgeable members of landscape industry in this area and LEARN how to run a business down here...pine straw mulch kills plants because it's acidic? Ever heard of an Azalea? That statement alone discredits you in my opinion. Oh, and you wanted a quote on that job as an example...give ME a hypothetical example of your current equipement, labor available, material/supply costs, overhead costs, desired profit margin, how many days, weeks or months you're booked out on similar work, production rates for each portion of the project and how much you expect to make over and above all these costs...not to mention specific material selections, site access, dimensions etc...and THEN I'll give you a very, very good number. Until then, what's the point? You've jumped to alot of conclusions and IMO made yourself look foolish and ignorant...and by the way, welcome to the south and good luck with your new business.
  7. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,570

    first off the whole pine straw kills plants shows your ignorance...
    yes pine STRAW acidifies the soil.. Have you even bothered to check soil pH here??? our pH ranges from 7.5-9. We have very alkiline soils, and they need acidifying agents.

    here is the next stupid statement...
    "IT is all about how you market, caluclate, etc. So, do you see what is the difference here? You are in the 6.50 bracket, and I am in the 32.00 bracket. And I make $15.00 profit on each square yard my workers shovel out. Here is a mulch quote of $350.00 for a yard with small beds needing 11 yards. We got it done in 20 mintues. I walked away wtih $175.00 in 20 minutes moving on to the next job."

    first off there is no way you can spread 11 yards of mulch in 20 minutes... you're full of it with that number....

    the other thing you seem to not understand is that one yard of mulch is not equivalent to one bale of pine straw in regards to the area covered....

    we lay well over 5K bales every spring, and spread 400-500 yards in the spring alone.... and i will say that you make more profit per bale than with mulch.

    We charge $9/bale, and pay $3.50. one guy can lay 15-18 bales per hour ( this includes pickup, spreading, and cleanup).
    this means we generate $82-$99/hr with pine straw....

    as for mulch we charge $65.00/yard to spread.
    we pay $15.00/yard when we buy in bulk... which means we get $40.00/yard to spread.

    one guy can only spread 1.5 yards per hour ( loaded, delivered, spread, and cleaned up)...

    this generates only $60.00/hour for mulch.... HUMM?? what is more profitable??

    as for your palm tree example..

    we pay $140.00 delivered and charge $300 to install...
    it takes 2 guys 1/2 hour to install the tree. (one labor hour)...

    this means we have a total of $165.00 in the tree (our overhead recovery is built into our labor costs).

    so you are trying to say that a NET profit of $135.00/hr is not good???
  8. orangeblossom

    orangeblossom LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    Why? When I tell you the truth. YOU ARE CHARGING WAY BELOW COSTS!

    First of all, I HATE pine. Looks crappy. Cheap job and crappy. Second, IT DOES HAVE ACID. Prove me wrong. So far, all I got was azaleas.

    My husband and I both agree....the last post was BS, in the landscaping field. I read him your post, and HE called BS.

    And we would NEVER install a PALM tree below $500.00. Most ppl who WANT IT, are fairly well off to begin with.

    I mean, I just can't get this forum.

    We have one guy who wants to get 100 mowing accounts before august, because his wife is pregant. He needs a reality PILL! And there are 100 replies to it!

    We have ppl who show landscaping with 1/2 pine and 1/2 mulch. NASTY! We have this and that here. Oh, we have teenagers TO UNDER BID US! And where they WORK and live for FREE, we have to pay for mortgages and Health Insurance.

    YOu guys just can't see the big picture.

    A HOME price raised from $150,000 to $210,000 in 2 years in Coastal Carolina. BUt you defend YOUR prices! Land increase in areas from $22,000 to $63,000! But you defend YOUR prices! Seek a realtor and find out.

    I LOVE this BUSINESS! BUT, you guys are clearly way off, trying to TEACH US! heheheeheh.

    YOu are in the BIGGEST BOOMING STATES of the USA....and you are figuring our $6.50 per bale. WHO IS THE DOPE? $60.00 per hour? are Donald Trump.

    WHy did I left MY area? Because Ford is closing, Business are closing. I LEFT, because if I DO NOT leave NOW, then I SEE a huge ecomonic travsty. SO, I head to STATES open, Booming, and this is what I see. NO ONE jumping at it, in MY profession?

    All I have stated, is that YOU are WAY below market price, and if you learn how to really play it, you can even GO WAY beyond that. BUt, I AM "stupidville" for saying that. You don;t want to learn. YOu attack!

    I mean, here is a person, stating, YOU CAN MAKE HUGE MONEY! BUT YOU ARE TOOO dumb to see that.

    We have to MAKE THE MARKET of LANDSCAPING a NECESSITY! When you stop acting as the dummy and START acting as THEY NEED US, then YOU get the money! IT IS CALLED 'DEMAND."

    Ok, dudes.....

    IF this is landscpaing of the south...may you good, old-boys love it; and I am origionally from Greenville, SC! Saw what the NORTH makes; came home, and saw what YOU make. Can I have a tissue?

    Believe me, I am catching on quick! I AM 5 STEPS ahead of YOU!

    Sit with your landscaping, ph levels, cheap bales of pinestraw & your far, nothing HAS IMPRESSED ME! Cuuuuuudos from me. Good luck. In honsty, I really wish you good luck.

    Personally, I think we need to RE-VAMP the Carolinas on pricing. MY WHOLE OBJECTIVE was on THAT...I posted this THREAD to get you angry and UPSET! I DID IT ON PURPOSE! GEt you motivated! BUT, if there is NOT ONE who agrees on this, then I WILL GO another way!

    From what I have seen, it is about TIME a new association of Landscapers started. And LET"S MOVE IN on the BOOMING business of the SOUTH!

    If you don't want that...then let me know. Because like I said, I have other cards under MY sleeves. And women like me, always find a great way of landing on our legs.

    I SUGGEST! BARE IN MIND...THat perhaps ONE Night....we all show UP at MY place of business and talk. REALLY TALK! GET EVERYONE! I have a great person YOU would LOVE TO HEAR! Or MY rental HOME. JUST TO PASS THE word on. I am NOT talking About UNion...I hate UNIONS! But, we contractors in this business in the CAROLINAS need to get together! Re-address the money and growth in the area.

    It is about time YOUR take control OF YOUR industry!
    I will be in South Carolina in June; my husband is already there. I will set something up BY July! In fact, I will make a HUGE contact with a large supplier and I am sure that they will help me host it.

    Get what YOU deserve! IF I can not revitalize this business, then I will move on. Plain and simple. I will consider construction. IF YOU LOVE this business, then simply email me. Come July 31st, I move on.

    Cordially yours,

  9. mountain man

    mountain man LawnSite Member
    Messages: 141

    Welcome to the Carolina's. I think it is safe to say that with that attitude you wont be around very long.
  10. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,570

    your whole issue with pine straw only emphasizes your poor understanding of horticulture and soil science...and even the most basic of agronomic principals...

    you are not making anybody angry.. you only succeeded in making yourself look stupid....

    and pine is a type of tree... pine STRAW is what is laid in beds.....

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