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Thinking about getting out of the business

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by weed wacker 2, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. weed wacker 2

    weed wacker 2 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 207

    Im thinking about calling it quits or selling out within the next year. I don't know if im getting burnt out or what. I have worked hard at since I quit college in 06 and have built up a good business. It seems like it gets harder every year to pick up good clients. The full maintenance customers are just hard to come by. Ive been trying to push the spraying side more than anything now. Everyday I see more and more in this business and discourages me. The city I mostly work in has 200 city licensed lco with a population of 50k. I believe that there is another business to get in with less competition and more profits. I know that each area in this country differs in this industry, I just don't see myself retiring in this business with amount of money that my area will allow you to make.
  2. cut level

    cut level LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 295

    wow that sounds like a ton of competition in the spraying side. That sounds crazy absolutely crazy! How easy is it to get a spray license if you never sprayed under anyone before?

    People think you cant get a license to spray in Tenn unless you have sprayed for 2 years under someone but that is false.
  3. Panhead

    Panhead LawnSite Member
    Messages: 181

    I'm in the same position. Alot of LCO's around cutting grass in my area. Last Thursday, I seen a LCO go up my street to cut my neighbors grass.... I've tried from advertising, etc and it really doesn't help out much or even a little.
  4. ACA L&L

    ACA L&L LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,102

    2 years and college credits industry related here.....NM, try and come up with a plan for your business name to be out there, everywhere, all the time. newspaper, val pak, door hangers, radio ad, website, yellowbook online, search engine maximizer, whatever and however. This year we put 10 grand into advertising and we are still booked up til xmas! Haven't run anything other than a add in a local magazine that comes out monthly, after we did the 3 month campaign of direct mailers, followed by door hangers, and newspaper adds, along with website........it works, focus on one area and hit it hard, yard signs on corners works for usas well. Everytime we put em out on friday we are loaded by sat pm with estimates. every job is not huge but it keeps the steady flow of cash coming in on top of the mowing revenue.........if your gonna do it , do it big.
  5. weed wacker 2

    weed wacker 2 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 207

    The spraying around here is getting like the mowing. Its not that hard to get your license in arkansas. They need to make the test harder and crack down on the illegals. This business is all I know. I have never done anything else The money doesn't seem like its there unless you go big because every year you invest back into the business to make it grow.
  6. coolluv

    coolluv Banned
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 4,514

    Same situation here in Atlanta, tons of LCO's. I was at the bank the other day talking to the manager, she asked me how business was, I said so so, she said yeah I talk to other guys in your business and they say the same thing. She said, you know I talk to a lot of people during the day and every one that is out of work says they are starting their own business, and when I ask them what that business is, they say landscaping. I just laughed,and I started to tell her a little about the reality that is this business. I too wonder if I made a mistake in getting into this business, I have no choice right now as the business I was in is far from coming back. I started this part time as a way to get my feet wet and experience what it was like to run a business.

    I didn't have to worry about making money back then, it was a side gig. Now I have to pay the bills with it, thank god my wife works and I have no children. We barely get by and with winter coming and no rain in weeks, things are going to get tough. Leaf jobs down here are not that popular. I wonder if I'm just taking one step forward just to take two steps back. I know business owner's in other businesses that are doing waaaaaaaaaaay better than I am, with the same amount of time invested. I don't know, It is expensive to run a legit business and with profit margins as low as they are and the amount of people in this business ( and growing all the time) I wonder if I may be throwing good money to bad.

    There are a lot of people on here that Bull$hit and flat out lie about their situations, and the new guys come on here and believe it. I did too for a while, but you get educated real quick if you pay attention. My advice for you new guys, don't believe everything you read on here, its a hard business that demands hard work,deep pockets, with little return. And as long as these boards are full of Bull, there are going to be more guys running out to buy mowers and make the big money like everyone on here. Most on here are young guys with no real financial responsibilities, and have nothing to lose. If you have a house and a wife and kids and all the usual stuff that goes with being an adult, you might want to rethink this line of work.

    Right now I'm doing what I have to do, but we will see if I stay in this or not. I'm thinking not.

  7. Springmeadows

    Springmeadows LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 390

    cooluv said it well. I started in 1991, and all what he said is my story too. Lots of bulls**t on here. This industry is going down further everyday.
  8. weed wacker 2

    weed wacker 2 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 207

    I think there are alot of people on here that do not know the real numbers of their business.
  9. coolluv

    coolluv Banned
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 4,514

    What numbers? I'm cashing checks every week so I must be making money.

  10. BrunoT

    BrunoT LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 741

    You can't try to work with a population of 50K and expect big city profits, especially with a lot of competition. Consider expanding or moving your area of operations. I hear stories here of guys who think it's horrible if they have to drive 45 min to reach an area that might be a rich vein of work. Meanwhile, they fight over customers 10 min from home.

    You can't expect people to continue to use what is a luxury service in the same numbers as before the recession. "Full service" is certainly that. What there is a market for is the basics. Yes, the new startups flock there. But they turn off the solid middle class customer with poor reliability, no know-how, and bad image. I have not seen much price resistance mowing and trimming shrubs (the stuff that can't be ignored by anyone) on a per-mow basis. I know others will do it for less, but a solid citizen understands that she'd rather have a professional, knowledgeable, reliable lawn guy for $40/cut than a succession of losers offering to do it for $25 and butchering it.

    Grass type and lot layout matters. If you live where someone can hop on a lawn tractor and get it to look decent, you'll have a harder time than where the grass is hard to cut and get to look right. Hilly lots scare off do-it-yourselfers. So do lots with tons of edging to do. Here, Bermuda is what makes many toss in the towell and hire a pro. Consider honing your niche'.

    Be sure you are not erecting your own barriers to success. Hitting prospects with a massive MANDATORY plan of fert/squirt, weeding, mowing, mulch, shrub work, leaf cleanup, etc and a 12 mo contract on top of that may not result in as much total income as offering what they WANT on a casual "fire me if I don't do a good job" basis. People are afraid to commit in this economy. They may not mind your price, but the commitment. Or they may not want the works, just the basics.

    Be sure you are as efficient as you think you are. Depending on equipment mix and labor quality some accounts are much better than others for a particular business. All that detail work the full-service boys love to sell requires cheap labor (you can't charge $90/hour for hand weeding).

    I get an avg well over $70/hour on-site just mowing, and I don't even try to raise prices much. Some accounts this week were so easy to mow with dry weather that I was running $100/hour and nobody says a peep about price to me, ever. Because I do what they want, reliably, and don't insist on them having a perfect lawn for me to service it. If they have weeds and don't mind them, I don't either. If they don't need the shrubs pruned every month, I don't insist on doing them. If the lawn is full of weeds I'm happy to have something to mow during the droughts. This "low end" many scoff at returns the most, and is relatively management time free. I get a call in sprign and never speak to them again all year. A pristine high end home you'll be getting requests and questions constantly.

    I would be very scared today if I relied on selling full-service, contract service. Consider a niche' modification if you want to continue.

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