Stay Focused - Don't Accept Every Job

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by Sean Adams, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. Sean Adams

    Sean Adams LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,597

    When you are starting out or your business is starting to grow I know it can be difficult to turn work down. It can cause a significant amount of anxiety because you sit there and think "what if". But I am here to tell you right now that you should be turning work down.

    If you have decided that your business is going to be a lawn and landscape maintenance business, then that is what you should be. Those are the services you should offer. That is the work you should be seeking and all other work is what you should be turning down or referring to someone else.

    Someone calls and tells you they want some pavers installed, or some trees planted or a new lawn put in or a pond built. Why would you say yes?

    I know the answers... "It's good money." or "I need the work." or "It will help me get more work."

    No, No, No

    You are spreading yourself thin. You would be doing things you are not accustomed to doing. It will take you longer than it should. You might not do a very good job.

    Instead of bouncing from job to job and taking whatever is presented to you, stand firm. Define what your business is and the services it provides. Then relentlessly go out and get more work that you know you can do well, that you are equipped to handle and will lead to more opportunities.
  2. ToddH

    ToddH LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,192

    I agree and disagree.

    To be a full service maintenance company then you do have to take on a lot of different kind of jobs. There are limits to this and sometimes it means subcontractors.
  3. weeze

    weeze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,746

    i actually agree with sean on this one. i took on alot of things i shouldn't have my first year in business just because i had the time and needed more money etc. also that may not be such a bad thing because you learn what you wanna do as a business and learn what to stay away from. if you are a full service company then yeah you should accept everything almost but if you are solo like me then you have to focus on what you can do and want to do and then pass on all the rest. most of the time all the rest is the stuff that pays more money but it's far more inconsistent. for example a large landscaping job will pay very well but it's a one time deal for that customer for the most part. it will require many days if you are solo but if you have a crew and are full service then you can handle it faster. mowing their yard for example pays less but it's steady work and lasts for years and years to come. it is also easy for a solo person to handle by themselves.

    you can look in my picture thread on here. look at some of those crazy cleanup jobs i took on all by myself. one took me about 3-8hr days. then look at my 2nd year. i didn't do any of those type jobs yet i made more money the 2nd year. you just gotta focus on what you wanna do and know when to let things go and let the bigger companies handle those jobs. once you get a full mowing schedule you don't have 3 days to spend on a cleanup job.

    alot of this boils down to if you are solo or not. if you have more workers you can handle bigger jobs and have more variation in what services you offer. if you are solo you have to stay more focused on one or two areas.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2013
  4. cpllawncare

    cpllawncare LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,659

    As a full service company we use a lot of subs, IE: Specialty contractors, there are a ton of guys out there that only want to do one thing and they do it well, why not use that to your companies advantage, it's additional revenue! People like the idea that they don't have to shop around for every little thing they need done, they just call you!
  5. branchoutshrub

    branchoutshrub LawnSite Member
    Messages: 118

    We stick to what we do best and pass the other jobs to companies that we know in the area.
  6. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Messages: 5,956

    Huge ditto with Sean.

    A very large local LCO here just went bankrupt this winter. They tried to offer too many services. They also went through several owners/mergers since they started. They ran a crooked outfit from the git go. Falsifying their credentials, business start date, copying competitors' forms, etc, etc.

    Most LCO's in my area know who these guys are. Every one considers these guys as crooks. The head of their lawn care was recently "let go" after many years of loyal service. A good friend of mine since 1985.

    Easy way to check this out >> click on your Secretary of State. Then search for "corporations". You will find who/what/where.

    Sean -- you know me. Do a Secretary of State search for my "corporation". You will see ONE name only (my name). And it's the ONLY name yiou will see. No crooked business. No mergers. No bankrupts. Same name since 1990 when I incorporated.

    Nice post. Thanks. :usflag::canadaflag:
  7. cpllawncare

    cpllawncare LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,659

    They didn't go bankrupt because they offered too many services they went bankrupt because they were running an shoddy operation, if you run your business right there's no reason not to offer as many services as you can, unless that's just your business model, your choice, no problem. I wanted to have a full service company from the beginning, but like most guys I started out as a solo doing only mow and go, but have since evolved into full service, only after finding the "Right Subs" we hold a very high standard of work ethic and expect the same from our subs, I don't hire just anybody. they go through a interview process like anybody else.
  8. weeze

    weeze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,746

    subs are great if that works for you but i'd have a hard time getting larger companies that have been around much longer interview to sub for me a solo person. the full service companies where i live are large, well established companies with 25 workers or more that have been in business for over 25 years.

    if i run across a big job that's not for me i just advise my customer to call one of them. their numbers are in the yellow pages.

    in all honestly though this rarely even happens. it's happened maybe 1-2 times in 3 years for me. most people here don't go for all the bells and whistles. i'd say 99% just want mow and go. very few want anything else done. most people here do things like landscaping or shrub trimming themselves and i've never had anyone ask about redoing their entire landscape or anything big like that. the only things i've been asked to do are small mulch jobs. i'm talking about 5 bags of mulch. i've trimmed shrubs once or twice. they were small jobs though that took less than 1 hr. i did do one large shrub job once that took 3hrs. it's just when you get into that it's rediculous. it's too much work for one person and also what i charge is gonna be more than they want to pay. i'm gonna charge them $150 for 3hrs being solo. a larger company can come in with 3-4 guys and be done in 30min in and out and charge like half as much. in a way the market is gonna force you into doing the right jobs to fit your business.
  9. cpllawncare

    cpllawncare LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,659

    I agree Jason we're obviously in two completely different markets, the market here is very large and we have a LOT of people with A LOT of money, we have a huge business sector here so that brings tons of high paid executive/engineering types to the area, we get a LOT of calls for complete renovations and hardscaping type work, I just can't see myself letting all that revenue go to someone else. I don't hire from the large companies they can afford to pay their really good guys well and they should in order to keep companies like me from stealing them. There are plenty of guys around that are solos that will sub themselves out. I totally agree with Sean, if your just starting out and have no sub hiring experience don't do it, I'm in my fifth season and am just now getting comfortable enough to have a good network of subs, I wouldn't have dared tried doing what I do now three or four years ago.
  10. weeze

    weeze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,746

    yeah you gotta aim your business for the market in your area. people where i live aren't rich by any means. it's mostly just middle class people with only a few rich neighborhoods here or there. of course the big companies pretty much have the monopoly on the rich neighborhoods since they've been around so long although many of the rich people service their own property.

    really i'm ok with it though. things like shrub trimming, landscaping, hardscaping, irrigation, etc. aren't things i enjoy doing or wanna get involved with anyways. those things you can't really do alone anyways. you need a crew to do those types of jobs. staying solo is what i wanna do. also doing those things would be like doing work lol. mow and go doesn't feel like work to me since i enjoy doing it. i think the only way i would have a crew is if i had people i knew working with me like friends or whatever but then that can get messy if things were to ever go sour lol. i'm just not the bossy type of person that wants to be telling other people what to do all day long.

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