My story....and a crossroads...ugh!

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by SprinklerGuy, Sep 15, 2004.

  1. SprinklerGuy

    SprinklerGuy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    After a nasty divorce in 1990 I moved from a small town to a big city (phoenix, arizona). I went to work for an irrigation supplier as a parts counterman. Eventually I was the manager of that store and made decent money. I was doing some repair work on the side for many of the landscapers and landscape maintenance companies that came in to buy parts. I got tired of working for the company, wanted some freedom, and in 1993 I quit and went out on my own repairing and installing lawn sprinklers.

    In 1994 I met my wife. My best friend moved to Seattle and sold me his phone number of 7 years and some wire locating equipment. My phone began to ring off the hook. I hired my first repairman so I could do installs while he did repairs. Money finally started to flow into my account without flowing out so darn fast.

    In 1997 I hired another repairman to help us keep up. Then I hired some laborers to help with the installations. I had a landscape contractors license and I was installing minor landscapes, mostly turf areas and brick borders. Money was pretty good, but I was working 80+ hours per week. I was tired of it.

    In 1999 I decided to go into the office and work ON my business rather than IN my business. Yes, I read the E-Myth! I spent all day in the office with my baby daughter and the phone. My wife still had a job and things were great. The repair and renovation of sprinklers was my bread and butter and I was running 3 repair techs year round. In winter time, things really slowed down but I used credit lines to keep everyone working at doing something. Big projects came along in winter, and there wasn't a lot of down time, but profits would definitely change in the winter, for the worse.

    In 2001 I decided that as long as I was sitting in the office, not doing any bids or any sort of service at my clients homes, why not sit in an office in a better state. I had been living in the Phoenix area for 11 years, in hot sunny Arizona for about 25 years....and I was tired of the hot summers and especially the congestion of the big city. We decided to look into moving to Colorado. What a great idea, within 4 months we were living in the mountains of Colorado near Colorado Springs.

    My thoughts were to start a small sprinkler company in Colorado as well...I could do te repairs myself and make a little extra. The company in Arizona wouldn't need to make as much money because I would make up the difference.

    By 2003, my company in Arizona had shrunk. I decided to shrink it due to the distance between me and Arizona. I figured I didn't need to do the larger jobs...I could get by on just repairs. That was fine for awhile except the repairs were smaller $ amounts and the cash flow really began to suffer. The slow payers really started to make a difference and there weren't any 10k dollar jobs to make up the slack. Soon I was right back in the same situation I had been back in the early 90's. Not enough money coming in to pay all the bills.

    To make matters worse, I had gotten into a ton of debt upon moving to Colorado...I had to have some things right? The house payment is larger...I have some quads...some other outdoor truck. You know the story.

    I bought a pay pond in 2002. This is a pond where people pay for the fish they catch, by the inch. I love this place. I have a temporary office down here at the pond where I answer the Arizona phone and dispatch my repair calls. The pay pond pays for itself, but doesn't make us any money yet. I hope to pay this pond off someday and then it will provide approximately20k per year to my household in its 4 month tourist run. But in the meantime, I am struggling.

    Fast forward to September 2004.

    I have to do something to make some extra money. I am down to 1 repair truck in Arizona and one sub. The revenue is good for what we are doing and my phone still rings off the hook. isn't enough to keep up with my bills and my lifestyle. I have outfitted a van here in Colorado to do repairs out of. But, I am finding that it is tougher to start out in a new town than I thought it would be. I don't have the luxury of a job at a parts house to gain new customers. I haven't done any advertising because the extra money isn't available to me.

    I am at a crossroads. I am not sure what to do.

    Here is what I am considering:

    Mowing lawns. I keep hearing how it is easy to get into that part of the business. I have always wanted to be a part of the landscape maintenance business. I have always wanted some regular clients.

    I am also considering trying to build the sprinkler repair business. There is more profit per hour in sprinkler repair. I know how to do the sprinkler repair, I am good at it. No learning curve.


    I feel very scatterbrained right now. I can't decide which direction to go...but I need to get started immediately. Lawn sprinkler winterization is about to begin here...I need to get some clients. But I'm not sure that is the direction I should go.

    As you can tell, indecision is a powerful emotion. It makes it easy to procrastinate. Procrastination kills. I need a kick in the ass.

  2. Team Gopher

    Team Gopher LawnSite Platinum Member
    from -
    Messages: 4,040

    Hi SprinklerGuy,

    Thank you for posting. I just wanted to say, you can make it happen. What ever it is your are dreaming of next, do it and tell us about more of your success :)
  3. johnnyaqua

    johnnyaqua LawnSite Member
    Messages: 34

    Sprinkler Guy,Have a plan and keep focused on it. You know irrigation shouldn't that be your focus? It put you on top before and it can again. Some times familiarity with a subject breeds contempt. I've been in the Florida irrigation industry 23 years and believe me there are times I get tired of it, but, it puts food on the table. Focus,focus,focus
  4. Island Lawn

    Island Lawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 632

    That's a pretty impressive story.

    I like the pay pond thing. What's biting?

    As for your crossroads, I do both / full service landscape maint. (no installs)

    ...Familiarity does indeed breed contempt...

    From my limited perspective, the guys that focus are more effecient.

    But some clients find it more convienent to have one business do it all / most.

    I give the client the option.

    I know indecision.
    I often review / revise my business plan.
    I almost have myself convinced that it helps make some decisions easier, but...

    Either way, you'll be fine.
    In the end, just do what you want.
    It yours.

    Hope this helps

    Good luck

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