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Mistakes solo LCOs make . . . and how to avoid them?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Exact Rototilling, Jan 12, 2008.

  1. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    Let me start out an say I have no intentions of hiring anyone outside of my wife and son for my LCO biz.

    So . . . what are the most common boo boos sole proprietors make in light of not having employees vs. having the added manpower that bigger LCOs have?

  2. tjsquickcuts

    tjsquickcuts LawnSite Senior Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 943

    Becoming friends with your customers....that can really affect prices and your bottom line.
  3. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    It depends on how far you want to go, how much you want to make, and what you want to recognize as a business. The most COMMON mistake that solos don't recognize, is that y9ou make ALOT more money by growth. Let's face it...You DON'T make any money when you're carrying a string trimmer. There is a KEY to business.....Any time there is a task that someone besides yourself can be doing it,....someone besides yourself should be doing it. You can hire a monkey to carry a trimmer for you....That is why this society is structured the way it is. Trust me....the guy that owns the Excavating company is NOT out hand digging ditches. He is busy selling the next contract, or taking care of some other business that no one else can take care of.
    Now, I'm not trying to pull a Bobby here, but there is much more in this message than what is written. Take it fr what it's worth. There are those who own businesses in this industry, and there are MANY of those who own jobs.
  4. Evans Lawn Service

    Evans Lawn Service LawnSite Member
    Messages: 74

    amen to that:)
  5. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    Monkeys can be very unreliable, can be hard to find, and raise overhead. You started off pretty good, saying it depends on what one wants, but then began to explain that there is only one "correct" way to run an LCO.

    I want to work outside. I want hands on making things grow. I want to keep my life simple. I want to be a horticulturist. I don't need to become rich. I don't need the headaches that come with employees. I don't want to live with a cell phone permanently attached to the side of my head.

    So, you don't think I have a business. That's fine. I've done the high powered 6 figure corp exec thing. It sucks.... for me. But, if it's what YOU want, that's fine. I'll stick to my grass, shrubs weeds and bugs. I like it that way.
  6. Lynden-Jeff

    Lynden-Jeff LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,405

    I agree with runner 100% however you will always be working in the field atleast a year or two, maybe more before you can find reliable people and trust them to be out in the field. Personally I plan to always be in the field some what, a good friend of mine with 5 crews has not been in the field full time since he went up to 3, however he still has to go out and work every now and then to fill in and what not.

  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Possibly the one disadvantage is not having a second opinion at times.
  8. All Season Lawn Care

    All Season Lawn Care LawnSite Member
    Messages: 161

    just dont let youself get to money happy my biggest thing i do that works best for me is 45% or more depends on the job goes back into an account for mant. equipt....and all the other things that come into play with running a buisness, and it has worked out great for me...good luck
  9. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    A good point. I have two other solo LCO's that are also friends of mine. Should one of us go down, the other two will cover his accounts. We also sub the bigger jobs out amoungst ourselves. One guy is a good plant guy, one has a dump, one is solid on turf. We talk regularly.

    I suppose, in a very loose way, that we aren't true solo LCO's. When one of us needs a hand, the other two are there to help out.

    It just bugs me that some poeple think their way is the only way. There is NO one "right" way to run an LCO. It depends on one's goals ENTIRELY!

    My business plan is VERY geared towards what I want to do. I run tight routes. That means I run ads in church bulletins, not in the too widely distributed Yellow Pages. Local advertising only. No commercial accounts. AppleBees isn't gonna look in a church bulletin for a landscaper. Not in my business plan. They aren't going to spend money on soil amendments for their rhodo's or azelias either, to lower the pH.

    I know a guy that is SO good, he gets $550 an hour as a consultant. I guess he doesn't have a business either. He's a solo. It's this my way or the wrong way attitude that is what is short sited, not running an enterprise the way one sees fit.

    Hey, if someone wants to build a large operation that's great! Go for it! But don't sit there and preach that it's the only answer for everyone.... because it isn't.
  10. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    First of all,....let us recognize the fact that i NEVER said that everyone who is solo does not have a business. There are many many that do. I am sorry that you assumed that's what I was saying, and that I was saying you do not have a business. Take for instance many exterminators, locksmiths, and even people in the lawn care and lawn maintenance industry. I was just illustrating that there comes a time when practicality ways into it, and a LITTLE help can go a long way for the growth and success of the business. An attorney spends hours and hours a day reviewing case studies in books, outlining, and counseling with clients, and appearing in court. But you ca rest assured he has someone to prepare documents, send them out, and preparing briefs for him and putting things in order. This is the position of his paralegal. A dentist has a receptionist AND an assistant (atleast one). A successful and reputable transmission rebuilder will have someone to do the r and r. These are just some examples of solo type operations that end up using help. If they are spending time doing the tedious stuff, they are making FAR less than they would be doing their specialty.
    I'm not saying that paying a little to help to make much more money is the only way.....I am just saying that this is a common thing that happens with start up businesses, and they nd up spending alot of times making an absolute finite income when eventually they realize how much more they can be making (still not "getting rich") with help. These happen to be solo operations when they start up.
    The fact that you did the corporate thing is all good and fine. You may have done rather well financially at it (I sincerely hope you did) and are rather secure in your life with a nice home and all the necessary amenities. However, you also have to understand that there are alot of people who come on this forum, starting or wanting to start a business, and they have alot riding it. It is a make or break situation for them. As a matter of fact, their life depends on it. Some have two incomes (working wife) and that is all good, too. But many do not, but they DO have family to feed. I have seen it all too often where people have failed because they reach their threshold of income, and cannot make any more for fear of growth. I have been in this business for 25 years now (since 1983), and I consider myself rich by no means. There are SEVERAL businesses just around me that started well after I have, and they are doing much better income-wise than I am. One thing though, they have much more income coming in from much more work being performed.......by employees.

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