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Some of you guys are scaring the heck out of me!

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by CLT Bluesman, Feb 11, 2020.

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  1. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 17,239

    It’s not my job to provide you stats that I have read, heard, known for over twenty years. It’s not obscure knowledge that’s hard to find.google and read. Or like I already pointed out, go to the seminars, classes expos etc.
    Do I need to give instructions to you on how to tie shoes, or is that something you are capable of learning on your own?
  2. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 17,239

    I think you’re confusing SSI (disability) with actual SS retirement.

    with ssi you can work a little , you just can’t engage in what’s called “substantially gainful activity “ (a full time job or owning a business)
    With SS retirement you can collect early (62 I think) and if you work you collect less
    But after full retirement age (65) you get your retirement no matter what
    I think if I recall correctly if you wait to 70 or 72 you get even more than 100%

    either way, past a certain age , you get whatever you earned
    Remember social security retirement is based on money you paid in your whole life , it’s yours

    ssi is a handout
    JLSLLC, Mac-s Lawn & Snow and Cam15 like this.
  3. zlandman

    zlandman LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 962

    He'll be fine. Just don't go around acting like you're all that, you're not trying to impress everyone. The purpose of a truck is to haul as much crap as possible for as cheap as possible. A mower should leave a great cut but not necessary brand new shining in the sunlight. Most don't care about estimates printed on heavy paper in color. Just prove to customers that you can do the work well and success will follow. Keep it simple.

    Put those advertising signs in yards, but not in random public right of ways.
  4. JFGLN

    JFGLN LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,175

    A truck is a tool to get a job done.
  5. Matthews Lawn Care

    Matthews Lawn Care LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,154

    All of that depends on what type of customer you’re trying to attract.

    Show up in a beater, hand scribble a quote and see how many of those lawn signs stay in the back of that truck. I know you’d be laughed out of my neighborhoods, might be able to land some customers on the north end of town, they might not pay tho.

    Professional looking stuff isn’t going to break the bank but it will make a huge difference in what customers you get.
  6. OP
    CLT Bluesman

    CLT Bluesman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 234

    I am 65. I can draw Social Security however I am not old enough for “full retirement” until age 66. Which limits me to making 18K. Once I hit 18K I start to get penalized. I need to wait as long as I can anyway because my wife has not worked outside the home that much and consequently does not have a lot of earnings over the years. The longer I wait the more we both can draw together because hers will increase when I start drawing. Also in the event I die. Which will happen, she will then get my amount, but not hers and mine together. So I’d really like to hold off until I’m 70. I do have my 401 k built up. It’s still growing provided I don’t tap it.

    So for me 70 is the magic number. I’m a real young 65. I feel like I can live to be 100. My genes are good. My Mother is 92 and still drives and gardens. She can still stay up all night and play video poker in the casino. She plays correctly too I might add. My grandmother lived to be about 90. My GreatAunt in Mexico lived to be over 100. About 104 I think. Her daughter(my cousin) also in Mexico lived to over 100. You gotta have good genes to live to be over 100 in Mexico City with their health care and air pollution.

    So there is a good chance I could outlive my money.

    I had my first full day of work today. Learned some lessons.
    My first client was a little lawn. Mow, trim, stick edge, blow and go. I charged 45 which is about right. Postage stamp yard. 4600 sq feet.

    My second was a spring cleanup on Lake Norman if your familiar with Charlotte area. My helper and I worked like dogs for 3 hours straight. Blowing leaves, cleaning out 4 garden boxes, etc. He was using two blowers at the same time. BR600 on his back and Husqvarna HH. I charged this customer $400. Which I thought might be a little high. But he didn’t flinch. Wrote me a check and gave me some more work. He wants me to buy 24 bags of “Black Cow” and topsoil and till them into his 4’ X 6’ garden boxes so he can plant. So that’s great.

    The next job was right next door. I was supposed to use my Ferris 2100Z which still has the mulch kit on and mulch the leaves laying on the grass. No problem. The customer met me and gave me $50 dollars. 30 minute job at most. Started out good until I ran over a tree root. The mower stopped instantly. We looked underneath and the blade was stuck against bent deck baffle. We could not get blade off with impact gun or a breaker bar. So I had to get my 36 WB out. It doesn’t have a mulch kit on it or a deck block and it was not chopping the leaves. So my helper had to get the blower out and a less than 30 minute job turned into and hour and a half. In retrospect I should have charged him $75 or more. I normally charge him $40 per cut. I charged him $50 today. So I lost on him. 4.5 hours total on both jobs for $450.

    Then it was off to the supply house to buy 4 bags of pre-emergent fertilizer to apply to my favorite customers yard and also mow his grass. But first I had to swap mowers for my spare JD 737. So around here we charge double the price of the bag to spread fertilizer. The fertilizer was $19 a bag. I charged him $160 plus a $70 mow and go. I have an old Lesco spreader and a new Chapin spreader. Whew, pushing a spreader around is a workout! But I liked it. The exertion felt good.

    So I grossed $725 in 9 hours. It was 9 hours because the travel time and lunch and having to go home and swap mowers. I put 34 miles on the truck. I paid my helper for 10 hours. $140. I am not quite set up for official payroll yet and he’s broke so I gave him cash and also bought him some flowers to take to his wife who is in the hospital attending to their daughter with childbirth issues. Plus I paid for lunch. He’s a great worker and deserves everything I can do for him. Plus life is kicking his butt right now. Anyway I netted $505 not counting gas.

    So I now have to fix my mower and fuss with that today. That’s for free. Hopefully I didn’t tear up a spindle.

    All in all though I enjoyed the day. I worked harder than I ever worked at the airline, but I didn’t have to manage 50 people, or have to answer why that flight went out late. But when I got home I was off. Not now. When I’m home, I still have to work, but I’m my own boss. I like it!
  7. zlandman

    zlandman LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 962

    That right there is the kind of hard working man with the right spirit that is sadly vanishing from America.

    GRANTSKI LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,033

    Going forward you really have to look at what you gross per MAN hour. You grossed $725 for 18 hours. Not 9.
    Cam15 and zlandman like this.
  9. Mac-s Lawn & Snow

    Mac-s Lawn & Snow LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 462

    Thank you Bluesman for addressing my questions about SS(TP as well). Thanks for the rundown on your first day too. It sounds like a your on your way and have the equipment to get you started. Take the negatives of your day and learn from that-extra blades and carry the tools to fix the problems that popup.
    At some point I'd start looking for a accountant/CPA and start figuring out a way to limit your income so you can draw your SS as expected. Maybe bring the wife into the business to help disburse some income. It should not be that difficult and good luck.
    JFGLN and CLT Bluesman like this.
  10. OP
    CLT Bluesman

    CLT Bluesman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 234

    Regarding business failure rates. TP makes sense to me with his info. We all see restaurants come and go. It makes me sad for the owners when they fail because you know the owners had a dream and you know they probably sunk their life savings and their heart and soul into it. Just anecdotally one can see it’s a tough business.

    Legitimate landscaping has a low entry price comparatively speaking. Especially with the used equipment available. However if he wants to be legit, there are lots of costs. Like paying FICA for his employees. Or quarterly taxes along the way. Plus the stress of keeping an employee afloat when you don’t have enough work yet. That’s my primary problem right now. I have a great employee who in a past life was a manager n when of the largest landscaping company’s in my area. Since he put in Facebook he works for me, other companies are trying to steal him from me. I predict I’ll lose him, but I’m going down fighting. I’m going to see if my son in law can work him until I have enough work. He has a big farm across the street. So the LEGIT startup has a tough road.

    There is so much competition from the illegitimate LCO. I know a couple who only accept cash and fly totally under the radar. They don’t pay any taxes whatsoever. Their pricing is hard to compete against on routine lawns. Then there is the above board part-timer like I was. He works a full time job and mows a couple days a week or so. I grossed 33k in 2018 and paid taxes on 16k after expenses. So it was a great part-time gig. But taxes took a big chunk of the 16k. The illegitimate guy keeps that money. I’m sufficiently fearful of the IRS that I am not taking that chance. I have a friend that got caught by them and he paid for years. Mowing grass is good easy money for the illegitimate guy, or even the part-time legit guy. I can already see that ain’t gonna cut it now and I need to focus on different work.

    I thought of TP’s advice when I proposed to the guy yesterday that I weed and refresh his garden boxes. Now i got to buy 24 bags and we are also going to plant some shrubs. I think mowing can be an entry to finding other work to do for the customer if you look.

    My truck and trailer looks sharp. I have a 2017 ZTR, and a 2018 WB and a nice 2017 16’ trailer with 18” high sides meshed in sides. I do think appearance means a lot when the neighbors of a property you are on see you. Just like uniforms make a difference. A ship shape operation conveys attention to detail to the customer and prospective customer.

    This has been a great thread and I’m learning lots from you veterans. Thank you so much for both your reality checks and your encouragement.
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