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No spark

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by jaclawn, Apr 15, 2001.

  1. jaclawn

    jaclawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 490

    I sit here reading posts by newbies, and am amazed at the enthusiam that they have. They are excited because their customer told them that "the neighbor wants some work done as well", or they are excited that they "got the job".

    I've been doing this for about 13 or so years, and after reading these posts, feel that I have lost the spark. I don't have the enthusiam that I once had. I can bid a job, and not really care if I get it or not. I rarely go out and look at a job, and come home hoping that I get it. THey are all the same to me anymore.

    I can remember the day when a blinking voice mail incicator had butterflies in my stomache, hoping that it would be a customer calling, or the call saying that I "won the bid". Now, when I see that same blinking light, I am actually hoping that it is not someone wanting something.

    I can remember the day that I would go out extra early, and wash the trucks; I didn't want to be on the road with a dirty rig, but now, it really doesn't matter what the trucks look like.

    I can remember the days of purchasing a new piece of equipment, and awating delivery of it. Those were exciting times. I'd lay awake at night, thinking of what, and how I could use it. I can remember trying the thing out on my own lawn first, just for fun. Now, it is like buying a loaf of bread.

    I've covered many aspects of the business as well, from strictly residential mowing, to large commercial contracts, maintenance and installation. I've also been from a part time one man show, up to a multi vechile, employeed operation.

    I guess what I am asking is how can I get that spark back? I've thought of leaving the trade all together, and going the 9 to 5 route, as well as starting up something on my own, totally different from the green thing. There does not seem to be a clear answer.

    Any ideas, thoughts, comments...

    P.S. This didn't just come on all of a sudden, I have had these feelings for some time now.
  2. Randy Scott

    Randy Scott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,915

    Sounds like it's time for you to move on to the next adventure. I wouldn't waste time contemplating because none of us are getting any younger. I know how you feel. 13 must be the "lucky" or "unlucky" number. I painted cars for 13 years and came to the point that I could no longer stand it. I hate the industry, the people in it, and everything about it. I knew it was time to get out. No sense doing something you don't like. Good luck with your decision! I know it is a big decision. Funny huh,I'm going into this lawn business and you're getting out. :)
  3. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    It sounds like a classic case of burnout. First of all, you have been in this business long enough that you are established, therefore a new account ISn't that big of a deal You have smaller holes in your route to fill. I'm in the same boat. With the new guys however, they don't have that many new accounts, let alone numerous ones wrapped into a tight area. So, to THESE guys, a new account is a much greater percentage of the "void" to fill. It really makes me wonder; where are you at? Do you do it year round? As far as getting the "spark" back, you asked if maybe you should take a 9 to 5. Well, it's very simply like this. If you take a 9 to 5, I'll bet you'd be SURE to get that spark back, all too soon. You'd be WISHing you were out there blasting grass for yourself instead of stuck inside somewhere. One good thing, however. If you did take another job, (make sure you get good benefits and such) you could always do both. Perhaps, if you did it less, you'd miss it more, and wouldn't be as bored. Plus, you MUST enjoy the work to SOME extent, otherwise you wouldn't have gotten in it at all. This COULD become a form of recreation for you while you are away from your other job. Then, you'd REALLY appreciate it-maybe even want to go back to it full time. If you don't, oh well, you still have a side gig that you enjoy. This is the crossroads that I'm at right now in my life. I just acquired a job that has excellent health care among other benefits, great retirement, and with a year round REGULAR income, my credit will be alot better off. So now, I'm back to part time. I've got a rig that some companies drool over, but I'M out doin' it by myself, and enjoying the life out of it. Some guys have a past time that costs them money. i.e. a boat, fishing, golf, etc.. Mine MAKES me money and I get piece of mind, gratification, and stress relief from it all in one package. 17 years in the business now, and I'll keep it going. Good luck with it, and take care with whatever you decide.
  4. Eric ELM

    Eric ELM Husband, Father, Friend, Angel
    Messages: 4,830

    I have been doing this longer than you and I could not go to a 9 to 5 job. I have been offered a good inside job being over the Estimating Dept. at a carpentry place and at a nice starting salary. Didn't do it though. I grew up running machinery on the farm and this is as close to farming as it gets, but on a small scale with a lot less invested.

    I know the feeling of not being excited over getting a job, but we don't need any more, so it's not a big deal. I still get excited over a new Chopper or truck and I can still relate to the excitement that these new members have when they get theirs.

    I think the best way to get the spark back is try a 9 to 5 job for a week and you will be glad to get back to the lawn biz. :)
  5. eslawns

    eslawns LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 712

    IMO, if you're unhappy and have realistic options, you might be happier doing something else. On the other hand, you might be miserable. I've only been doing this since '95, and I like what I do. I would be miserable in a regular job.

    I have a friend who said he can get me a job at Ford making twice what I do mowing. I just said thanks, but no thanks. You've got to do what's right for you and your own family.

    Good luck.
  6. Evan528

    Evan528 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,144

    Some days when im out working in the heat or rain (miserable consitions) I think...."wouldnt it be nice to be working inside a nice dry office working from 9-5.... i could go home and be done working till 9 the next day instead of doing office work and dealing with customers, estimates and billing at night". But then I think about how much I love being my own boss and running my own business instead of making someone else rich. I get really burned out a few times a year.... taking a 2 day weekend just relaxing ussually does the trick for me and gets me re motivated! The strange thing is how even when I trying to relax and get away from the stresses from work im day dreaming about new equipment and possible new accounts!
  7. cajuncutter

    cajuncutter LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 626

    I have similar feelings about the answering machine at times. My spark comes and goes. I still look forward to getting that new piece of equip..although the wife doesn't hehehe...I would say the one thing that keeps my spark going is my freedom. I love the fact that if I want to go fishing on a friday I do not have to call in sick.(never cut residential yards on friday..you do one you have to do them all..customers are like children) I like not having to answer to any one person. Also like the fact that I can sleep in late if I want and I won't get fired( especially on those rainy days when a good storm hits). These and many other things are what keep my fire burning....I bet with in 1 year of sitting behind a desk with 4 bare walls around you and a window with no view you will be wishing you were comming home to a blinking lite on your answering machine
  8. UrbanEarth

    UrbanEarth LawnSite Member
    Messages: 142

    If you are established and in a rut, maybe what you need is to add something new into your list of services. Maybe tree work, fertilizing, landscaping. Something related but still different. Something that you would have to go out and learn and hustle for customers again. Maybe? Maybe not.

  9. John from OH

    John from OH LawnSite Member
    Messages: 144

    I've been doing this since I was 10, entering my 30th year and I've felt the same as you for about 2 years. Its definitely burnout. It is curable. I'm working at delegating and developing employees and ENJOYING the business. I have gone from employees working 6 days a week 10+ hours a day, to 5 days a week, 8-9 hour a day. All of sudden many of the things I began to hate about the business faded. I love to see my competiton working til dark and on weekends. My employees worked 5 Saturdays in 2000, 3 of them plowing snow. I paid a grand total of $1653 in overtime last year on almost $200,000 in payroll. Our bottom line has taken on a new life and I have most weekends free. My employees aren't near as grumpy as they used to be, and neither am I. The most amazing thing I found was how upset I used to get at the little things. Now I'm not as worn out, the little things are easy to handle. I'll still put 3-4 hours a night M-TH in the office, but not much more. The challenges now become how to run the business better, not how much work we can take on. Targeting customers that want to work with us has been very rewarding. Most Green Industry businesses spend so much time working that the business itself doesn't get worked on. My solution was to get a life outside the industry and work more stable, normal hours. Its been good for my family and my business.

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