Landscapers Play With Equipment, Business Owners Play With Calculators

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

  1. GreenUtah

    GreenUtah LawnSite Senior Member
    from SLC, UT
    Messages: 866

    ok, I'll bite.

    I see it as imperative to knowing your true costs to getting out into the field to do some of the work, repairing items here and there, etc. Without knowing how long things actually take, you are the mercy of sandbaggers, shady mechanical plays, etc. and that's true whether you are a solo operator or have a thousand employees. That is a part of accountability.

    That being said, knowing your costs, your market, your equipment and all the various aspects to keeping production going is completely useless if you aren't selling and selling to maximize everything at your disposal. That's how you grow, that's how everything gets paid for and THAT has to be priority number one for any owner, whether you think of sales in a leisure-suit-wearing-used-car-guy kind of way or not. No selling equals no customer equals no revenue equals no company. If you are a sell first priority maker, you may not even do production (think subcontracting where you still are being paid a percentage).

    There are no magic numbers that make it all happen. You cover your costs (all of them..and they WILL be different than every single other LCO) and charge more to make a profit, regardless of service. Customers will be looking for the value in your offering and only selling will make that happen.

    Working in the office with spreadsheets endlessly isn't going to get you there.
  2. cpllawncare

    cpllawncare LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,659

    That's exactly where it came from, LOL, I know my cost and what I "Want to make" but what the market will bear is a very different thing. Go ahead! figure up your cost and what you need to make, it's essential to know I agree but when you start losing every bid you make cause "That's what you HAVE to have to survive" reality will set in! I've had a huge increase thus far this year in volume which I complained about I didn't have last year, problem is I'm bidding jobs based on MY cost not what the market will bear, boy am I having a reality check thus far! We're getting our fair share of work but I'm being called "expensive" more than I would like.
  3. me!

    me! LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    I find this thread intriguing. It is how I have felt for years towards the industry in general. This industry is made of mostly landscapers and not business owners/professionals which is why I think we have such a bad name.

    I think we all agree there are 2 types, The landscaper who does this as a job that gives them flexibility and allows themselves to play with so cool toys for a living. The other being a professional (aka business owner). I think I disagree with most on here though. I do think there is a problem with just being a landscaper.

    Sean has used the analogy of knowing your numbers vs drooling over your equipment. I would take it a step further.

    A few years ago I was in a pesticide license class. For a day and a half we were being taught by some of the best and brightest in the country. For a day and a half, 80% of the people were unengaged, half asleep and distracted. Then the last 1/2 of the second day we got to go out a play with equipment. The same people who just spend the last day and a 1/2 sleeping through one of the best crash course educations on the industry all of a sudden woke up and were tripping over each other to drool over the latest and hottest equipment. Are these guys who now have licenses (assuming they passed the test) going to go out into the real world and provide the best care possible for their customers, are they going to succeed in the end and provide well for their families?

    Although everyone has different passions and drive levels, this industry, us and our customers are much better served if we have a passion for the business of landscaping and not the toys. Sean's analogy on numbers is far more reaching then knowing your numbers, its knowing the industry, its knowing how to plant a tree RIGHT or mulch the CORRECT way or putting down the right chemicals. Our industry has a bad name and we should get our pride from leaning and providing good service not get our pride from the hp of our new mower.

    In short, is they guy who does this full time but does not run his company in an educated and responsible manor any better then the guy doing this on the side for beer money?
  4. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2,764

    On the other side learning about the latest equipment advances is almost as important as learning the latest techniques...... You have to understand both sides as an owner/manager. Now I'll return to machinery trader to look at wheel loaders :waving:
  5. yardguy28

    yardguy28 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,463

    i disagree that anyone who is a landscaper has a passion for equipment and not the work they are actually doing.

    as i said in a previous post. i consider myself a landscaper by seans words. but does that mean i'm in this business to play with cool toys all day, nope. i have my own business because i love the work in general. sure i love using the trimmers, mowers, blowers, edgers, etc. but i also love pulling away seeing that manicured lawn. i love packing up and looking back at those trimmed shrubs, that fresh mulch job. i love knowing the people who hired me are gonna come home, see the work i did and smile. it's not all about the equipment.

    there are many other cool toys i'd rather play with than mowers and trimmers. so if i were in it for the toys, i really wouldn't be in it at all. i'd go start a different business with the toys i really have a passion for.
  6. clydebusa

    clydebusa Inactive
    Messages: 1,660

    ^^^^ so true^^^^^^^

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