Nursery -- Made decision to close it.

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Mountain Gardener, Aug 24, 2003.

  1. Mountain Gardener

    Mountain Gardener LawnSite Member
    Messages: 79

    I don't post but very seldom - but please indulge and allow me to ramble a little.

    We have been in the nursery and landscape contracting business for over 16 years. At some point next year we will sell out and close the nursery. My wife and I are very comfortable with our decision to close our nursery. For the last 3 years we have tracked, almost to the penny where our profit and loss centers are. The box stores and labor (or lack thereof) have really changed the the way small business must operate. Operating our nursery has become break even at best because of the intensive labor needed along with all the mandated and other expenses of operating a fixed base business as unique as this business is. This is not a sad song though. We haven't seen our grandkids in 4 years, my Ranger boat hasn't floated in 6 years, I haven't had 2 days off in a row in - I can't remember when, we haven't traveled for pleasure since 1995. We are going to change all of that and more. I might even chase wife around the house and see if she giggles when I catch her.

    We began last year to concentrate and convert to a landscape design, build, service contractor only. It seems at this time to be a very good decision. We have moved nursery employees to install and service work or eliminated positions. For most of this season we have only been staffed at the nursery in the A.M. for maintenance about 3-4 hrs each day. Total sales are up double digit, profit is way up, expenses are down dramatically and continue down. We have not laid anyone off but have less people due to attrition.

    Now I'm a gonna preach a dab. Remember - I did ask you to indulge me.

    I learned a long time ago that many people will allow you believe they are doing you a favor by letting you deliver goods and/or services for free or at least less than you can deliver them for at a profit. I, long ago got tired of the box store shopper that invaded (yes invaded) my space looking for something - anything free that did nothing but waste my time. Time is money and I consider mine and my employees to be valuable. I don't do "bids" unless there is a bid sheet and specs. Anything else is at least bordering on design work or else is. I charge for that - period! I charge for my time. I have never responded to phone calls that come into the nursery for "free estimates". If they won't come in and have never been in our nursery they are probably calling every listing in the yellow pages, classified ads, and every business card on the bulletin boards around the area. They are shopping for prices and those that have little else to offer.

    There have been no less than seven nurseries in the last 10 years that have gone out of business, 4 by way of bankruptcy in this area. There have been more landscapers come and go than I can count. I've had a few even tell me over the years that they were going to put me out of business because my prices were too high.

    We just bought a Kubota ZD21 Pro and other mowing equipment to take care of (6) 12 month total landscape gardening contracts. Every one of these properties are HIGH END !!! In the case of these 6 properties we either installed them or have done work on them over the years. These properties will generate a minimum of over $88,000 annually with lots of other billable time and materials. The largest is 62,400s.f and the smallest is 38,100 s.f. All have over 4000 s.f of bedding areas and some have water features. All of these properties can be done in less than 25 hrs each week on average throughout the year. (9 month season) We will take on as many as 10-12 of these type of contracts due to other types of work. I was not after and should have never gotten this type of work except that the contractors that were working on these properties were as one owner described them "good mow, blow, and go services". He wanted more than they could or would offer. It was simply that the mowing service owners didn't have the mountain oysters to look the client in the eye and quote a fair and quality price for the service they were asked to deliver. These 6 people are all neighbors and live either next door or across the street from each other. By not listening to these 6 customers and refusing to learn, license, and expand with a fairly small investment in training and equipment, 2 contractors lost about $600. worth of mowing each week and handed me over $88,000.00 worth of work each year they could have had. Again - they lost these accounts because they were afraid to charge a good price for good and quality service.

    That's about enough of my ramblings. Thanks for letting me spout off. Listen to your clients and never be afraid to learn.

    Mountain Gardener
  2. GLAN

    GLAN Banned
    Messages: 1,647

    Thanks Mountain Gardener

    Best of luck to you with your change in operation. Enjoy some extra free time.

    Thanks for the words of wisdom.....

  3. pokemon

    pokemon LawnSite Member
    Messages: 98

    I feel your pain & frustrations. I am also in a very similar situation and after watching my declining profits go to labor , Taxes, etc.

    I started to really listen closely to contractors and customers to find a solution to their problems. I end up buying a Kubota ZD28 Pro and other pieces of equipment.

    In my area of Florida just like the rest of the country competition is fierce for mow, blow and go type contractors. In fact some of these contractors are the ones too busy to do other jobs for the customer beyond the usual task.

    So I started a one man operation doing what others are too busy to do and I am really cleaning up on Landscaping, Irrigation and maintenance. Good luck on your reorganization

  4. Mountain Gardener

    Mountain Gardener LawnSite Member
    Messages: 79


    I stated that 7 nurseries had closed in the last 10 years or so. Make that 9 with 5 in bankruptcy and liquidated.


    No pain in our decision. The pain is not having a life.

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