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The tale of three lco's...

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Royallawncare, Dec 25, 2005.

  1. Royallawncare

    Royallawncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 73

    I am very close to three companies that really stand out to me which help me to decide my model of business and who i want to be.

    I worked for this company over spring break last year. The man who owns it has been in this business since he was 16 years old and still drives the same truck. He is now somewhere in his upper 40's. His fleet consists of an old chevy 2 ton and a brand new f 350. Each of which pulls a trailer one open and one enclosed which carries all the equipment. This man believe he is successful because he has more equipment than everyone and covers the entire county during a weekly basis. While working for him i noticed he didnt use 3/4 of the equipment on his trailer and left a ton of it sitting in his backyard. His fleet takes up half the block. He owns over a dozen mowers but only runs two at a time...His routes are never organized he drives all over town and keeps himself busy but is in no wise efficient. He mulches when asked otherwise he bags. I found that i was exhausted everyday and the pay was horrible (6.50 an hour) I saw him struggle throughout the rest of the season trying to keep employees but found that he was always running the equipment. He has to work a night job in order to support himself. And does snow removal in the winter.

    Company #2
    The company name is Fast Action Yard Care and they stand by it. His fleet consists of an older Chevy 1 ton, 5 low paid workers sitting in the bed of the truck, an open trailer with 3 mowers, 2 trimmers, 2 edgers, 2 blowers, and a water container. He drives the truck they pull up to a street all 5 of the workers jump out of the bed and unload the equipment 3 mow, 1trims/blows, 1 edges/blows. They mulch everything. He walks to the door and socializes with the owners during the 5-7 minutes it takes them to mow a yard and i assume collects the money. I have seen them do 4 yards at one stop in 20 minutes they are very efficient at what they do. I have no idea what they charge or how many lawns they do other than the ones i have observed.

    Company #3
    I bought one of the mowers they used during the last year (they replace them every year) and have learned a lot of his business model through talking with him and observation. He started his company when he was 16 part time then at 21 went full time by 26 he was out of the truck. He maintains 180 lawns per week and turns many away each year. He hired workers to run his maintanence so he could focus on the landscaping side. His crews only work 4 days a week and i think if i remember right he doesnt run more than 5 trucks. Each truck has one driver, a small open trailer behind it consisting of 2 mowers, 2 trimmers, 2 edgers, 2 blowers, a water container and various hand tools. He bags everything and charges a competitive rate people like him because of his reputation.

    I have learned I in no wise want to be like company 1 riding behind mowers over 45 and working my tail off just to get by. I like company 2's model of efficiency however i want to do it on a smaller scale with 1 or 2 men working for me not 5 and i want them to run like company 3's. I also want to be as successful as company #3 The guy is loaded and is just maintaining his maintenance business while he does what he loves in landscaping. These 3 companies have taught me lot about business and how i want to run my outfit.
  2. CutInEdge Lawn Care

    CutInEdge Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 677

    Your headed in the right direction. Just mold your plan and take a look at every 3 months or so to make sure your still on target, and adjust accordingly. Eventually everything will become 2nd nature. Good Luck!!
  3. LLandscaping

    LLandscaping LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,016

    You can learn a lot by observing other local contractors. There are two local contractors we are friends with that are complete opposites of each other. One company does mainly landscaping with old trucks (1991 International, 1992 chevy pickup, 1995 chevy 1 ton), 1 old skid steer (1990) and 2004 New Holland skidsteer and 1 Mitsubishi cabover and 1 mower, couple blower, trimmers,etc. and about 5 employees. The other contractor has two new Bobcats T300 and S250, 1 2005 International tandem dump (7600) and 2003 (4200) International box truck, 6 scag mower, a lot of blowers and trimmers, 3 walk behind blowers, hydro seeder, 2005 F250 King Ranch, Kawasaki Mule, etc. Contractor two runs one crew grass cutting with 2 or 3 helps and uses dump truck and Bobcats (usually just the T300) about twice a month. The first contractor has very little equipment and relies heavily on labor and the second contractor has enough equipment to run 3 crews or more. I think that a company should have a balance of equipment and workers.
  4. Jpocket

    Jpocket LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,281

    You've gotta find a happy medium between all of these. I think company #1 would be fine if he made his route tighter and more efficeint, and RAISED his prices.

    Company #2 sounds fine to me, sounds like what im trying to do maybe with 3 guys not 5

    Company#3 sounds ideal, the only one in my opinion that has a real problem is company 1, he's gotta make himself more efficient, There is nothing wrong with having more mowers than you need, if you can afford to have them.
    If he raised his prices, and made his route tighter, he would be fine.
  5. nobagger

    nobagger LawnSite Gold Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 3,065

    I have tried to model my company after myself and my thoughts. By this I mean I just try and do the right thing and if it takes me a little more to make the customer happy then so be it. Its such a cut throat business and I see a lot of posts in here that guys are saying screw the customer I'm not doing anything for free period! Well case in point, last season we did a small landscaping job It turned out very nice and all but at the end of the job the customer asked me if it was possible to remove about 6 garbage bags of leaves and tree debris he had collected over the spring, I loaded them into my truck (it took all of 5 minutes) and off we went but since then he has shipped over about 2 or 3 new customers. I guess all I am saying is we try to do the right thing and like I said if it takes a minute or two longer then so be it. I went to a business seminar and one of the questions the guy asked was, "would you be willing to sacrifice $100.00 to make $500.00" and I couldn't believe the amount of people who said no. Thats nuts IMO. I'm not saying there are no good pointers to pick up from other companies, there is always room for improvement but to "model" my company after another, no thanks just do what works for you.
  6. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,341

    Royal, one important piece of advise, You can make it happen, but you can also make it happen a lot easier. Your 19, probably just out of highschool. Continue your education. Start with the basic business 101, you will be suprised how much easier it will be with just a little direction. In B-101, you will learn how to develope a business plan, which will be your roadmap to your goals. You cant go anywhere if you dont know how to get there and the trial and error method will cost you more time, and money, than taking the most direct route. Certainly more time and money than you will invest in your education. Your doing the right thing by compareing the 3 different business models, but do you really know what you are looking for or why one model seems to work better than the others. A little business education will help you answer that last question.
  7. freddyc

    freddyc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 578

    It sounds like the co. with all the new equipment has tremendous costs and the co. using the older stuff just charges out the labor. If a guy has 2 new skids and only uses 1 twice a month, you hit it on the head that theres no balance there. It sounds like #2 might be drowning in debt??

    Its always a choice of when to buy the needed equipment, but it also seems that the choice between a lot of mowing work or a lot of landscaping work also helps you make the decisions on crew size. Everybody's different.
  8. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    So far I like three
  9. lawnworker

    lawnworker LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 897

    company 3 started out as a small scale, one truck and trailer would be the best choice. Then duplicate as growth takes place. The other two models sound confusing.
  10. impactlandscaping

    impactlandscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,332

    Muddstopper gave some excellent advice...let me expound on the analogy a little more...

    Say you live in Maryland, and you want to get to California. Without a map, you will rely on the information of everyone you meet along the way. Some directions may be good, others may lead to dead ends and backtracking. With a sound business plan, it acts as the map to get you where you want to go. Would you drive across the country without a map? I doubt it, and the same applies to a business plan. You need the "map" , and need to check it often to make sure you are on the right road, heading in the right direction.Best of luck.:waving:

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