Old School or New School

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by cgland, Feb 24, 2006.

  1. cgland

    cgland LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,929

    How would you classify your company? Old School - Do your estimates/designs on a napkin, Everything done with a handshake, Use antiquated equipment and techniques because "it worked for this long"......OR........New School - top of the line design software, Signed proposals and contracts, Utilize the latest in technology and forward thinking.

  2. mbella

    mbella LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    New School. We get signatures on our napkins, nothing less.
  3. cgland

    cgland LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,929

    Mike - The only reason you are New school is because you scan your napkins into your computer.:laugh:

  4. mbella

    mbella LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    At least I scan something more than my butt cheeks.
  5. Drafto

    Drafto LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 442

    New school, I have no idea how to do this stuff at all so I definately don't know the old way :rolleyes: . I don't really know anybody that does it "old school", come to think of it, Chris and Mike are the only ones I know that do this stuff anyway...........so that makes 2 out of the 2 people I know that do it "new school".

    Just a hint of advice about the "new school" vs "old school" stuff. I do know people that run businesses extreme OS, they save up and buy equipment with cash, don't carry any debt, never took out a loan, if it rains it does not cost them a dime. I also know people that run it extreme NS, financed to the eyeballs, always owe someone something, keep seeing the payoff but get something else to push it further away.

    I think the best road traveled, and I am speaking from experince, is to understand your business, your overhead, your budget, your goals, and whether you go at it OS or NS you will be successful. I know you were not strictly speaking about finances, but when we are talking business generally that is what it comes down too.

    I have 2 very close friends that are the polar opposite as described above, they go at it all then time. The OS guy, has no idea about business, but has managed to be self-employed for 15 years, has money in the bank, and does whatever the he wants to. He has almost no overhead so when he doesn't want to work he doesn't have to.

    Mr NS guy is a total disaster he has been in business for 2 years. Borrows, borrows, borrows, he makes great money but I don't know when he will ever have a nick to HIS name. Oh, he really doesn't know anything about business either, has no idea how to mark up his products, he thinks you win on some sales and you lose on some sales but in the end it equals out.

    Yo! Total run-on, I am going to bed.

  6. Green-Pro

    Green-Pro LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,420

    I guess for lack of a better category I'd have to say both :D We really just hit the tip of the iceberg at the tail end of last year with regards to expanding into the local hardscape market. We have jobs lined up to begin sometime in March and plan to continue to sell and grow.
    That said I have tried to really pinpoint where to allocate precious resources and not get tight on equipment. We purchased a diamond blade saw (Target), reversible plate compactor, a variety of hand tools, etc. We use QB for accounting, estimating, and billing purposes, but have not purchased a truly worthwhile piece of design software yet. In trying to allocate what money will be used for, the design software has taken a back seat at this stage of the game from a Skid Steer, rotating laser level, etc.
    When this year turns out 2 to 2.5 times better than last year we will likely look at the software end of project design.
  7. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,570

    where's the middle school option???
  8. Green-Pro

    Green-Pro LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,420

    Yep egggzactily!! :)

    UNISCAPER LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,426

    Definitley middle right now.

    I personally feel strongly that too much computer related garbage does nothing but remove focus from things that matter most. It seems to be the in thing to buy this program, that program and think doing so is that silver bullet that will make your business operations run the way computer sales people would love for you to believe. By using the computer as a tool to save time and money blah blah blah. Remember those ploys?
    Our computers save us so much money that I am continually reminded of it any time I have to buy another thing or pay for support. Myth number one is, unless you have 10 employees or more, you can run your business just fine with paper and pencil at a frraction of the cost and never be held hostage. I realize this might be impossible to new high school graduates because they can't add, or perform basic math functions without using a calculator. On the other hand, I used a slide rule to go through calculous.

    Ploy number 2 by the tech world is using the computer will save you all kinds of time. If computers save the amounts of time that computer geek salesman claim, we would all have 40 hours a day of free time that we could use any way we liked. An hour a day would be work time. Myth 2. Computers do not for a minute, save you time. The systems we worked 20 years ago are just as efficient and were computer free.

    Computer geekery is simply like machinery, in a different way. Machinery makes money. Computer geekery takes money and creates problems. Said that, computers also solve certain problems, (never nearly as much as they are claimed to save) and I really beleive the bigger your company is, the more valuable the computer becomes. 10 employees or more, and you will see a saving with the computer. Many companies are fixed on scheduling programs for their maintenance company. Those are completely unecessary regardless of the size company, if you know how to run a white board and set of route books and can use a 2 way radio. I use the example of every garbage hauler in the city of Chicago, UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc, never used computers until the things came available. Yes, they all use them now, and save money and time, my point being, is if a trash hauler who has 100 routes could use index cards and white boards effectively, a lawn maintenance company do also do the same with no hassle of being locked out of your company on a screen. An d lets not forget everytime you are held out of ytour computer, you get the job of inputting all the data you could not do at the time it was scheduled to input it.

    And the way technolgy changes, it is very easy to suck yourself into the buy the best program every month when the next version of whatever you have is released. Then there is the learning curve of the new edition of that program...And the bugs that program carries, because many software manufacturers use you as the test pilot and then charge you for support to fix thier own self created problems.

    I could go on all day about how backwards the computer has made work, life and society, but instead I will admit, I have had to cave in the the geeks false claims myself. I don't like it for a minute, I don't like the THOUSANDS of dollars that could have been spent investing in properties, or employee training, but it is what we had to do in this society.

    I have held back on geekery and our company has reached that point where I feel we can expand our systems. So, I'm pulling 10 gauge wire to our office this weekend to make room for 3 new computers. There will be terminals of 12 electric plugs with 20 amp GFCI breakers on the floor of every desk. I hate freeken cords strewn all over as room. It reminds me of my old stage days. We are having built 3 Dell 120 gig dual drive models, fully equipped with that we need to operate, nothing else. We are going to use Dynascape software and I have 2-36" monitors, one for the designer and one for me, the other will have a 24"and that is going to the new building we are going to put up in a few months after the permits go through. We are connecting the day to day operations to a Zerox professional copy/printer (120 pages per minute) fax machine. And for the designer, a full color 36" wide printer.
    I'm waiting with baited breathe to see for how long our company will be held hostage when all this stuff comes operational. We are going the route we are because it is the new way of the world. It's how you have to present yourself to impress and wooo clients, and, in the marekts we are operating, (very high end residential and commercial) the system should pay for itself in sales we would normally not get. My projection is we will have recovered about 1/2 the cost before some sales person calls and tells us why we need a different add on to enhance what we have. I've already made it very clear for those working on this project not to bother calling until they hear from me.
    Sounds rather anit social, but these people know more than anyone how much I despise spedning this kind of money on something that is non revenue producing. If they call trying to sell something, it had best be free for a year or so.

    Anyhow, that's my story, and that's how I think. You may not agree with it, but it is what it is and it has saved us thousands we could easily have spent on geekery we absolutley do/did not need.
  10. mmacsek

    mmacsek LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 547

    Thank- You Bill. I have minimal high tech "stuff" and hear all the time I'm living in the past. I struggle with all this stuff. If a new tool or piece of equipment can save time I have no problem buying it. I think half the problem is I'm 44 and was raised calculating math with a paper and pencil(big eraser). It almost seemed to easy when we were allowed to use a calculator. I guess to answer the original question , I'm middle schooled most of the time. Matt

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