My competition calls me for business advice .


LawnSite Fanatic
Every industry everywhere has an issue with finding qualified people and it is super easy to scapegoat "millenials" and all the young people as being lazy. I'm young. I bust my ass. I have multiple people that work for me that are young and also bust their asses. I mean hell at mid 40s, you aren't THAT far removed from the "young people" that you claim don't want to work. The main difference is, as a business owner, you cannot just shotgun approach your hiring and wonder why it doesnt work. You also can't have a trash company culture or no company culture at all, and expect to keep guys motivated unless you pay out the nose. We pay our guys well. We also try to create a healthy culture from top to bottom that gives them a say, opportunity to progress through their careers, training etc. that allow them to grow professionally and as people. We give bonuses, throw parties/celebrations for achievements, give praise when warranted and we have a almost non-existent turnover excluding folks we've let go for not being good fits with our culture or their jobs.

Whats your system for determining fit of an applicant before assuming they wont work out? Do you do any testing? Standardized phone screenings? "Gut feel" typically sucks as a hiring tool. No one wants to work seasonally - especially guys that are any good OR motivated. Why work for <$20/hr for 9-10 months and then have no work for 2 when you could either have steady work all year or make more. Company strategy wise, if you can figure out how to work all year around and hire PURPOSEFULLY it becomes a lot easier. My last job posting got 140 applicants and the guy I hired as ops manager is killing it. Our hiring process has been honed and works very well at getting the right people.

I strongly recommend looking at hiring methods such "Who" and other strategies to find talent, fit etc. It also may take some introspection on your own part to see if maybe there are things about your management style/company that could be improved to draw the talent you want.

I'm not saying that employees are at all easy and if you want to stay solo, thats perfectly acceptable but the "young people just don't want to work" thing is irritating. The main difference is that young people are not OK being disposable labor and they are largely untrusting that companies have their best interests in mind. As far as retirement, you are limited by your own time and health. Hiring people allows you to create a business rather than a job.

i'm not even looking to hire anyone. i just said they call me but they approach it all wrong so that wouldn't make me change my mind into wanting to hire help. i didn't say all millenials don't work or anything like that....but the majority these days don't even work a part time job. they go to high school and then college and they get their first job after college. i'm not super old but when i was young we all worked part time jobs starting at 16 years old and even worked while going to college. we had to buy our own cars and trucks and they weren't brand new ones bought for us by our parents like it is for most kids these days. i didn't say all of them but most of them.

i did it all myself growing up. i worked for another company mowing lawns when i was in my 20's. i was disposable help. they put me trimming all day long. of course i hated it. i never planned to mow lawns for a living. i had "bigger" plans like most everyone does, especially if they are young. i totally get it because i was there myself. i can't blame them for not wanting to do this type of work. i didn't wanna do it either at that age. i went to the university for 3 years after high school. i couldn't decide on what i wanted to major in and my path led me to starting my own lawn business. it was never something i planned on doing. i didn't decide to do it until i was 35 years old. i was tired of the rat race of working for other people.

that's all any labor job is. disposable help. same thing at the auto factory job i worked at. we're all easily replaceable. it's just the facts of life.

actually hiring a young person would be doing more harm than good to them. i want them to have a better life and a better job. we all have different paths to take and never know where we will end up. who knows what the future holds? robots could be mowing all the lawns in the next 10 years so the whole industry could go downhill. everyone will just buy a robot to mow their lawn instead of paying a company to do it. it's certainly a possibility. only time will tell what will happen.

i'm sure kids still mow lawns but around here i never see a single kid mowing a lawn. when i was growing up it was the kids that mowed the lawn for the parents. we had "chores" to do. kids these days sit inside all the time on the computer. it's just a different world now. they aren't gonna get ahead by mowing lawns for someone else so they have adapted to the next thing down the pipe.

heck why would anyone work for any lawn company? they can just start their own. it's super easy to do. work for yourself and make double the money. kids know this these days. they aren't as stupid as we were growing up. even i knew i was disposable help when i was younger. i was smart enough to know that. that's why i quit my job at $25/hr to start my own business and i'm better off for doing so.

when you are in your 20s you are just uninformed about how life works. i was the same way. i could have bought the company i worked for..... for $15k.... equipment, customers, and all. even had a friend that worked with me that could have gone into it with me. that would have been the best thing i could have done...but back then mowing lawns was the last thing i ever wanted to do. your mindset just changes as you get older. you live and learn and adjust.

it's just the nature of the beast. i never had a single boss that i liked working for. it's not because they were bad people. they were great men. it's just them being the boss they have to make you do the hard work and pay you less than you feel you deserve so the business can thrive. it's just economics. the people that do most of the work get paid the least. that's the way america's economy works. sad but true.

so the solution is work for yourself, by yourself. you are the boss and the worker all in one. no one gets screwed that way. everything is fair across the board.
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LawnSite Fanatic
There is an old saying . You dont plan to fail , you fail to plan .

yeah life is easy if you have a plan but most people don't have a clue about what they wanna do with their life. i surely didn't. there's just too many options to choose from. how can you know if you like any job until you actually do the job firsthand to figure out if it's something you wanna do for the rest of your life? we don't get to do that. we are forced to pick our job before actually knowing anything about it or how it is from day to day. you go to school and spend all this money and graduate and then uh oh....turns out you don't like your job....but you've already put so much time, effort, money, etc. etc. into learning and training for have bought a house, car, and you have a family to provide for so you can't just start over from scratch. that's the american way of life. many people get trapped into doing jobs they hate this way. it's kind of stupid if you ask me.

anyways working for someone else lacks any motivation. you get paid the same wage regardless if you are the best worker or the worst. you can bust your hump and you get the same pay, you can do the bare minimum and you get the same pay....and guess who gets promoted? most of the time it's the slacker guy because he kisses the azz of the boss all of the time and the guy that is basically "carrying" the company on his back never gets promoted. they can't promote him. he is doing all the work and keeping the company afloat. if they promote him then nothing will ever get done. it's kinda funny if you sit back and think about it. basically the corporate world is a big joke. that's why i left it. i'm on my own. if i work harder/smarter then i make more money. i get rewarded for my efforts. i can make as much money as i want. the more i put in the more i get out. if i slack then my company goes it teaches responsibility and gives you character. it's the only way to roll.
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LawnSite Silver Member
He thought he was there , he was paying someone to run the day to day . But he neglected to check the day to day .

Retirement , now thats something the young guys in this business dont think of enough . They want cool equipment , pretty trucks etc . What they dont realize is when they are 35 , they are just 15 years away from 50 . Once they reach 50 its 15 years to 65 . You need to be thinking of retirement in your 20's .

I got some great advice at a young age . I didnt listen to it right away . I didnt start on my retirement until my late 20's . But I did . And I sit here at 57 , and can retire anytime I want . But I havent . I can still work , bring in cash , and I still like working . To have a larger retirement .

Thats one section that should be added to this forum

"The road to retirement "

What advice would you give to someone like my wife and I who are in business together, haven't saved a dime but just bought our first home. How did you start planning


LawnSite Fanatic
Grand Rapids, MN
so the solution is work for yourself, by yourself. you are the boss and the worker all in one. no one gets screwed that way. everything is fair across the board.

Hundred percent on board about being your own boss. I've been my whole life.
I'm 56 so it's been many yrs.
But I disagree with being solo.
It's a dangerous gamble unless you've got some back-up plan.
Get sick for a month, break a leg, car accident , family member sick etc.
It won't take more than about 2 weeks and your customers have to find a new lawn service. You lose everything you've work for if your a 1 man show.
When I quit building contracting 9 yrs ago and started lawncare, I was solo for my 1st season until I built up a base of customers. 2nd season I hired a part time worker knowing he could at least keep things rolling if something were to take me out for any length of time.
Same as having a backup mower.
Last thing customers want to hear is excuses why your not there. And rightly so !
You can stay small and have only 1-4 workers. That few worker's is not a hassle, but it can be a life saver in an emergency. Also if your pricing correctly they are making you money every day.
It's a win for everyone.
Yes, you lose a little independence because you've got some more responsibility, but you've also regained your life.
I can take a day off if I choose, any day.
Crews still get jobs done. Customer's are still happy. Company is still earning money.
Plus. I look at 5-10-15 years from now.
Can I back away from daily grind and still have a viable running business earning me a nice cash flow until I hit the box ? Indeed.


LawnSite Platinum Member
What advice would you give to someone like my wife and I who are in business together, haven't saved a dime but just bought our first home. How did you start planning

I lived way below my means , still do to a good degree . The greens industry has been good to me , But for me it was a way to raise capitol for investments . Using my peer group for the last 30 years as an example . one guy had to have a bad a$$ jeep , (we enjoyed off roading ) so he dropped $20K into his jeep to go 4 wheeling . So did another friend , and a 3 rd did also . I would ride with them . At the time I put about $20K in stocks that same year . After 4 years the 4 wheeling got old and the jeeps were money pits , But my stocks more than doubled . Living , my group , we all have had a minimum of 3 homes , allways moving up . Sell your house use profits to buy bigger and better . All but me , I have never sold a house , I have kept them all and bought some more . ( the rent money rolls in once a month ) I can retire on this alone .
Now we all have rv's , they bought new , $20K plus with a nice high $$$$ truck to pull it . Monthly payments . I found a deal on a used trailer for $7000. Paid cash and I use my work truck to pull it .

I enjoy solo , I didnt start a business I created a job for myself . Ever read the posts " How much can I sell my business for ? " And the truth is you get the value of the equipment at best and nothing for the customers , unless you are a MAJOR player . I was never concerned about building my business , I was concerned about building my wealth . I make my payments years in advance and rarely buy new equipment . I save money and pay cash . No interest payments , let the first person take the hit on depreciation .

The guy who is scaling down , He had a 35 HP Deere tractor he bought new for over $40K and a landpride slit seeder that was $8500 new . I have a older New Holland 35 hp tractor and the same slit seeder , I bought both used , My seeder was from an auction for less than $200 and the tractor was 7 grand . And we both made the same per sq ft for seeding .

It isnt how much you make , or even how much you keep , its how you make what you keep work for you .

Mike Leary

LawnSite Fanatic
My lead was just out of high school when he came to work for us. First at our plant nursery and then gradually got into irrigation. Nice kid, I knew his folks and he learned fast. What was so impressive about him, is he had a natural need to excel, to be the best, and he became that. Fast forward to twenty years later: he came to me and said he was leaving, yikes! He had been offered a job with a company that did fire sprinklers, and since he was backflow certified, was offered a high paying position in a Union shop.I had, in back of my mind, thinking of him taking over. He was a big, quiet guy, sorta like John Wayne, no bad habits and he got the work done, but his self-admitted 'faults' were that he was shy, had no people skills and, as he told me, "I've installed some of the finest irrigation systems in the world, but I don't have some of the skills you have and I've watched you work seven days a week during the season: it's not for me." I could not argue with him, gave him a hug and sent him down the road. A sad day for me, I never found another even close to him and a few years later, after dealing with lazy dishonest employees, I sold the biz. My story...........


LawnSite Silver Member
I lived way below my means , still do to a good degree . The greens industry has been good to me , But for me it was a way to raise capitol for investments . Using my

It isnt how much you make , or even how much you keep , its how you make what you keep work for you .

Thank you. I am very good with money when I want to be, I don't buy anything and my wife is very good other than some face cream, she doesn't shop.

I wish my area was good for real estate investing, but prices have almost doubled in 4 years. We just bought a house, in this market it only made sense because commercial space is so expensive and running 2 trucks and 2 employees out of a basement suite wasn't an option anymore.

I'm sure we will find a way to smartly invest what we can so we can actually retire one day.

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