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Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by GSL 23, Sep 28, 2003.

  1. GSL 23

    GSL 23 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 42


    My boyfriend who is the owner and operator of GSL has been cutting lawns since he was 16 yrs old. He quit his full time job last year to do landscaping full time. He really likes doing it. When he started he had 3 jobs and now I do not know if he is burnt out or what. He does have a hard time with employees. He does not like to work alone all of the time. He feels like he is taking for ever by him self we only have 35 cuts and odd jobs that come with them. He is very picky and I think we do not get enough complaints or top dollar for him to be that way. Our equipment is all paid for so he has low over head and he wants to do this for a while longer. We would like to get our own place soon but he only makes $25,000 a season. Other landscapers that we know make allot more than that and we feel that we have the right equipment and better quality than most of them. Most of our customers we have had for about 8yrs and I do not want him to loose any of them. He hasn't lost any so far but I worry should he lay low and hang in their until he gets his confidence back up or a good employee I am the only good employee he has but I have a full time job and can only help him when I get out of work or on the week ends. Please help me. If anyone can give him a little confidence booster or advice please do do that will help him allot. Thank you for your time.
  2. ElephantNest

    ElephantNest LawnSite Bronze Member
    from La.
    Messages: 1,878

    Finding GOOD help is hard, but priceless. A really good worker can make your day go so much better. We all get burned out at times, but have him remember WHY he is doing this, no boss breathing down your neck, commuting in traffic, low pay, morons at the office, etc. Sounds like he is in a rut. Maybe more/new customers, and try offering new services, to break up the monotony. Take a day off, do something fun for yourselves. The yards will be there tomorrow. When your heart leaves the business, the business will leave you.....behind.

    #1 Find a GOOD helper, reliable, trustworthy, and passionate about his work; and PAY HIM WELL. On his down time, have him pass out flyers, talk to real estate agents, drop cards off at local businesses, etc.

    #2 Take a breather!

    #3 Place goals, short and long term: Reaching them is the challenge, and being serious about reaching them will take away the routines, concentrating only on your goals. Set-backs are common, prepare and be ready for them.

  3. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Messages: 4,205

    Good reply nest,
    We all get to a point where we want to throw in the towel.
    It's like being married,Good along with bad.
    You must keep on trucking and if you like what you are doing the good will always out way the bad.You must look at the fortunate side of things......Good health?....Still eating regularly?....Roof over your head?...The rest is all B.S. I know life is hard at times but you just have to keep on keepin on.Slow down ,take a break (as has been mentioned) and follow goals and dreams.
    I'm working 14 hours a day right now......It will get better.
    Why? because I'll make it better in time. But commitment is the key. (just like marriage) Good quality support is necessary as well...That's where you might come in.
    Best wishes,Hope things turn around.
    P.S. good help is the key.
  4. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,143

    Don't bite off more than you can chew. Take it slow, have patience. Things looked bleak for me more than a few times, but you gotta hang in a see it through.

    Good luck.
  5. maple city

    maple city LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 305

    It sounds like you care about the business and you support him. He's very lucky to have you around.

    Have you considered quitting your job and working with him full time? I work with my husband . It's not so bad (sometimes).

    If he knows he has a good worker that he can count on, he'll be able to bid high end properties with confidence.

    The good accounts aren't going to come to him. You need to get out there and hustle for the better paying properties. We picked up some really good accounts this year. It makes a big difference in how we feel about our business. These new accounts have nicer, larger yards with beautiful landscaping. Get some fliers printed up and scour neighborhoods with better properties.

    Good luck, I hope he sticks with it.

  6. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    I would suggest to take it slow, and grow slowly as well. Provide quality work to your customers and don't take on too many to where you don't have the quality help.
    It took me 3 years before I found a good crew manager. And it has taken me another 2 years to try to find another crew manager for the landscaping area. Take a deep breath and relax, the help will come eventually.
  7. work_it

    work_it LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 976

    One of the hardest things to learn in life is how to deal with the bad times as well as the good times. Each is important, but I've learned more from the bad/hard times than I could ever learn from the easy/good times. You'll find that hard times are nothing more than an opportunity for growth; both personally and professionally. I consider him, and others like him, very fortunate to have someone there who obviously cares for and supports them. Continue to help him count his blessings through these hard times.

    To address the "problem" of him being too picky about the quality of work he performs; it's not a problem. There is no such thing (in my book) as being too picky. Quality work always speaks highly of the person performing it. I would be more worried if I noticed the quality slipping. Instead of prompting him to sacrifice quality help him to become more organized so that he may become more efficient.

    Last of all, take a break. The world isn't going to stop turning on its' axis if he plays hookie once in a while. As far as a house and material possesions..........all in time. You two are young which means time is on your side. He may be feeling extra pressure trying to please everyone around him and trying to meet their deadlines. Don't be one of those people.
  8. yardmonkey

    yardmonkey LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 341

    Excellent replies from everyone. Kind of surprised though that no one is mentioning price rates. If working full time and staying busy he should probably be able to make quite a bit more money. The phrase "$25,00 per season" implies not working year round. I guess things are a bit colder up there than in some parts of the country, but I find there is work for me here year round. Of course things slow down and the days are shorter, but there is always work to do. Lots of leaves to clean up. All kinds of things can be done in the winter such as gutter cleaning, junk hauling, garage cleanout, hauling in compost, fence repair, bed prep, tree trimming, snow/ice removal, etc. So it could be helpful to think in terms of working year round - though also nice to have some time off in the winter. And then there is the issue of prices, which is discussed quite a bit on lawnsite, with most people recommending to charge some pretty high prices. It seems like people are getting as much as $60/hour for mowing. Around here that is a bit high. I charge $30 for a one-hour job, which I do get, but even that is considered high around here. But as I gain experience I have more confidence in charging higher prices. It seems to be a problem with me that I don't want to price myself out of reach of my customers. Others would rather raise their prices and move on to wealthier clients. But there is always a middle ground. Anyway - that may be something to consider - are his prices too low? Should some jobs be by the hour? What hourly rate are you shooting for? On fixed-price jobs, are the bids too low? Have you raised prices recently or ever? Maybe you deserve a raise.

    Also, it sometimes seems like mowing is where the money is, but if you are into doing landscaping, it could be better to move more in that direction - more variety, more opportunity to be creative and learn new things.

    Shoot yeah, good help is hard to find. That's one reason I work alone. I have done plenty of personel management and had enough of that. But the key there is to really be careful who you hire (interview 100 people if you have to) and if you like them and want to keep them - pay them well.

    Hang in there.......
  9. twins_lawn_care

    twins_lawn_care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 932

    It does sound like he is in a rut, but you are a key to his success. Having someone there to pick you up when you get down on yourself is helpful. Don't let him give up on himself.
    Stick it out, and try to explore what to do next.
    If he cannot handle the 35 lawns you have, you need to get some help. This is really only 7 lawns a day, so I am not sure where the hold up is, but if it is in the odd jobs you are getting, decide which one is making you more money. Then you can try to concentrate on expanding that area.
    On another note, how much money you make is not the only gauge of wealth. Hopefully you guys will start to realize the extra time you get with the family in the off season, etc. Also, try to look at your spending habits. The old saying is so true, "a penny saved is a penny earned"
    Good luck with the business, and don't give up.
    Try to work smarter, not harder. Do some research on 5-S training, being better organized sometimes can cut your workload in half!
    Hope some of this advice helps. ALways remember though, the most important thing is you guys have each other. Money comes and goes!

    Good luck!
  10. battags

    battags LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 607

    I just think it's great that you took the time to write us about his problems. Probably the most important aspect in any career is to have someone supportive of what you do. Obviously you support him and are concerned. You have put your faith in Lawnsite! Good move!

    As for him......the others are right, we all get into a slump. Good, reliable, experienced employees are hard to find. If you do find one, plan on paying top dollar. That may not seem affordable right now, but a great worker will raise that $25K per year by a surprising amount.


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