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Landscapers Play With Equipment, Business Owners Play With Calculators

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by Sean Adams, Mar 1, 2013.

  1. Sean Adams

    Sean Adams LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,597

    Tough love.

    Some parents believe in it, others feel like it might be the wrong approach.

    For me, tough love usually delivers results, or at least wakes people up.

    This is going to be a very short post - so think about what I am saying here.

    If you want to play with your equipment, take it apart, put it back together, shine it up and practice playing around with it, go ahead. But if you are doing these kinds of things before knowing the numbers of your business, understanding how to estimate and whether or not you are charging the right amount of money for your services, it's probably time to start looking on Craigslist for a job, because that is where you are headed eventually.

    Put down the wrench and the grease gun, pick up a piece of paper, a pen and a calculator and get to work. Real work.
  2. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,347

    I can do both. If I put down the wrenches that means I have to hire someone else to pick them up. Dealer downtime would put a serious dent in productivity and send OT through the roof. I feel my abilities in mechanics and fabrication are a valuable asset.

    Kind of a broad brush statement was painted there.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. Sean Adams

    Sean Adams LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,597

    I think you need to read my post again...I said "if"...
  4. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,683

    It kind of sounds like Sean is flexing his office abilities in search of new employment. I like you so I will bite. How much are you thinking of to become an office manager for us there by solving one of our weaknesses? My guess you'll pay for your self inside of 12 months and I will let you keep blogging in your spare time:)
  5. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,454

    Got ya now I misread it also.

    If lawncare is not your passion I would figure out how much your really worth working for someone else, if its 30$ an hour or better Id just work the regular job.

    The expenese of running a Lawncare Co. is extremely high and it after 5 years sometimes it still scares me.
  6. weeze

    weeze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,537

    i worked making $25 per hr at an auto plant for 6 years. it was the worst 6 years of my life. :laugh:

    i'd rather do lawncare and live in a dumpy house if i had to. right now i make half as much money as i did but i'm still growing. eventually i'll get to where i make more than i did at my old job. that's the thing about lawncare. it's not overnight instant success. most people don't have the patience to wait it out. if you can hang in there it will be well worth it in the long term.

    there's a guy in my town who is 80 and is still mowing strong. he easily makes over 100k a year all profit after expenses which is 4-5x the normal rate of pay for jobs around this area. normal job here pays roughly 20-25k per year before taxes. the one i had was the highest paying job in the area unless you are a doctor and i was only making 50k per year before taxes. hang in there. it's best for the long term if you can make it. sure there is more risk but life is risky no matter what you do.

    another thing i wanted to point out is you hear alot on here about you need to price to cover your expenses and all which is a good thing. i don't just go by that though. i shoot to charge the highest amount i can within reason. if my expenses for a yard were $10 and i charge $25 that is ok. i'm making profit. what if the going rate was $35? you'd be crazy not to charge $35 and make extra profit.

    as for mower maintenance i do it all myself unless it is something heavily involved. save a lot of money in labor costs that way.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2013
  7. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,347

    Okay, I reread it. True enough. Being solo and new is rough. If your new to the industry as a whole, good luck. You have to wear a lot of hats and wear them well.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  8. Armsden&Son

    Armsden&Son LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,358

    Thanks Sean, I always enjoy reading your posts.... Very thought provoking and inspirational to say the least. I hope you see this and can respond because I think numerous people could benefit from a small amount of elaboration in one aspect of your post. I am a new owner, but long time in the business guy. I feel that my 15 plus years of experience has set me up with a bit of an advantage compared to the next guy because I obviously have seen what can work and what cannot, how to do this and how not to do that.... With all of the excitement involved in getting started I find myself getting caught up not only with tinkering with equipment, but spending immense amounts of time with many aspects of the business. So, i guess my question for you is.... As a new owner, is my overall excitement and passion for my business going to be detrimental? Of course I do bookkeeping and have been trained on estimates but I am definitely not spending as much time on them as I should because I just can't stop fiddling with everything else! It's just too much fun! I figure this "bug" will relax as at my first couple years go by but i also know the first couple years are the most important... Is there a happy medium? P.S I know you do consulting and as I stated before, I have a lot of respect for you... But, any chance we could get a little old school L.S freebie? Thanks a lot....
  9. Toro 455

    Toro 455 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 238

    When I first started what I heard was "GET BIG OR GET OUT!" As if there was no room for the individual craftsman that takes pride in his work and is appreciated by the customers he services. Like you either had to be labor or management. That was over thirty years ago.

    Sean's right in that you can't bury yourself in one aspect of the operaton and ignore everything else. This is especially true for the solo operator. But as far as "real work" for me it is all real. I have to be salesman, mechanic, purchasing, pesticide applicator, and when I'm not doing anything else I have to mow the grass. My wife does the books.
    I can't believe management is any more important than maintenance. If I screw up and undercharge a customer a little, I can chalk it up to building customer loyalty. If I miss changing the timing belt on a diesel engine, it's a complete loss.
  10. yardguy28

    yardguy28 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,463

    well as of seans thread, to all those out there who have my posts and know how I feel. I OFFICIAL change my title from business owner to landscaper.

    I know my numbers to a degree but I'm not a numbers guru. I run my business quite different than most do or ever will.

    my prices come from the budget I make every year for what I need to make a living and how much extra I want on top that. so I'm looking more at the end result, what I'm grossing each year or month vs each individual job.

    for example we'll use easy numbers. say I NEED $10,000 to cover all living and business expenses. When I first started in the business I figured out roughly how many lawns a day I can do and what do I need to charge to get me that $10,000 to cover living expenses and business expenses. then I figured out how much money on top of that would I like to make. BINGO I have my per cut price.

    now I just tweak that price if needed based on my yearly budget.

    so to some of those who say you have a job not own a business, well according to this post your either a landscaper or you own a business.

    fair enough I will gladly give up business owner for landscaper. because I've been very happy and very successful by my terms, need and wants running things the way I do.

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