Solo Operators-What's the best way to lower operating costs?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by smitty's lawncare, Mar 27, 2013.

  1. weeze

    weeze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,510

    i buy gatorade and i drink a little bit out of the bottle and then freeze the rest. that way i don't need ice. the gatorade is frozen and gradually thaws out during the day and keeps it cold all day long. :laugh:
  2. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,014

    Thats a good idea, I just drink water, I guess Im the ultimate elcheepo.

    You getting any work? Tommarrow will be 4 day in a row for me, not much for next week and its supposed to rain mon and tue.
  3. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,008

    This is going to sound bad, but the way to be successful at solo is not to own everything outright, pay cash for everything, etc. The way to do it is to actually increase spending. Let me explain:

    Owning your equipment does nothing for you except tie up cash flow. As a solo guy you can not possibly compete pricing with a larger company, you must be more expensive because you have less opportunity for recovery. As a solo guy you will find lots of people that like that, but you must also be able to avoid the bastards that prey on solos as well.

    So you buy new trucks and sell them frequently. You buy new machines and turn them over every 2-3 years. This is expensive yes, but this is how you do it.

    Equipment is part of your cost of doing business. If you turn them at the right time your equipment will have warranties, breakdowns will be minimal, and you will have to spend minimal time doing repairs and extra maintenance.
    Your equipment cost to an extent becomes a fixed number. This makes it a lot easier to figure these expenses. This is not silly, this is your cost to do the work.

    Now consider that with this better equipment and fixed monthly costs you get the biggest benefit. You get to minimize your downtime, and maximize your efficiency. Being solo this is the most important part, because if you are not making the money than no one is.

    You know your expense, you can then easily figure how to charge appropriately, then you can maximize your income. This does not take into account overspending which is why most solo's fail, but that is not because they bought new mowers, it is because of $3000 rims on King Ranch trim pickups, overdrawing, not working enough hours, and too many nights at the pub,etc.
  4. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,014

    With all due respect because your a good poster, I disagree. The thred was started on reducing overhead not going into debt. Most long term solo operators are debt free. this used to be a hot topic 5 or 6 years ago when I joined Lawnsite, I was bashed in everyway possible and call some unkind names because I build my business debt free. Im still cutting grass and posting on LS, dont know what happened to the fellers with 50 trucks and 15k ztr payments, cuz they aint posting no more.
  5. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,008

    It can be made to work both ways. A large company can just as easily have the same financial problems as a small company times 20. It all comes down to proper management. Debt is not a bad thing. Good business debt can be an asset if managed properly. In the end the money will be spent either way. With my theory the costs become more fixed and easier to manage than someone that has adjusted to owning equipment and then has to eat a $8000 mower purchase.

    If the sole question of how to reduce costs can be tricky. For example a few years ago we purchased a 50K diesel to replace a 30K gasser. Well the end result was that the diesel actually costs us $3000 less a year after everything is factored. In that example we spent more to spend less if that makes sense.
  6. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,014

    Ive posted on this subject too many times to count.

    Two point the "pro debt" guys miss.

    1. Debt increases RISK. Ill bet a whole lot of midwest companies that had high overheads last year in the droubt wont be cutting this year.

    2. Its a myth that all us debt free fellers use junk. Any moderately successful solo operator should be able to pay cash for a 8000$ mower every 5 to 6 years if they need or want to.

    To add another point a 50k truck <in my opinion> to cut grass is a huge waiste of money and is not in anyway necessary nor will it make a solo operator any money whatsoever.

    THIESSENS TLC LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 813

    STAY SOLO!!! Keep a tight route. keep your equipment well maintained. Depending on the size of your mower and properties you do, you may be able to work out of the bed of your pick up truck. This will save a lot on fuel because your not towing a trailer. Be efficient as much as you possibly can. Purchase equipment as needed & only if you have the cash. Keep your shop or garage organized (cleanliness is next to Godliness) at all times, there's nothing worse than looking for a part for 30mins or moving 10 pieces of equipment to get 1. Keep the tires on your truck and trailer properly inflated (lots of people don't take the time) because rubber and fuel is not cheap. All the little things do add up!
    Posted via Mobile Device
  8. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,008

    You are correct in that a solo does not need that type of truck every time. I never said that ours was to cut grass. I was merely trying to point out that sometimes spending more sometimes results in actually saving money. Another difference is that down south you might be able to mow 10-12 months a year or what ever you guys do. Up here you get 25 weeks, but also some might use the same vehicle to push snow in the winter.

    I raise the question about the original topic. Is the issue that the known overhead needs to be lowered or that not knowing what the actual overhead could be because of unknowns is not working? The answer to each is different.
  9. pseudosun

    pseudosun LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,739

    I understand the point on getting good equipment if you don't have the cash. With the cash route, you may spend it anyway with repairs and replacing equipment.
  10. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Yup, I need a minimum of a 3/4 ton truck to pull my dump/heavy equipment trailer and for hanging a V plow on. I use an old Honda station wagon for errands to save on fuel, but I can't do with any less truck.

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