What a different world we live in!

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by B_gerrits, Nov 24, 2007.

  1. B_gerrits

    B_gerrits LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 297

    I remember when I first started reading this forum thinking why do all these guys use $7000 dollar mowers and how is it they can get paid more than me In Calif where everything is more expensive and how is it that they aren't overrun with Mexi's. Then I saw the size of the lots you guys do, they would put 4 house's on those here. The high cost of equipment would go a long way of keeping the competition down. Here the avg size yard is 1000 sq ft. Everyone and their brother is driving around with lawnmowers in the back of their trucks. The pictures of your guys outfits are quite impressive and I am amazed that you young guys can afford that kind of toolage.
  2. PHS

    PHS LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 724

    Everyone and their brother is cutting grass here too but there is more grass on one street in Louisiana than there is in the whole city of Rodent Park. I know because I used to live in Petaluma :). You don't have to mortgage your childrens future to buy a house so there is a little more $ to buy bigger equipment and there is plenty of grass to make money with it.
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I noticed that too, early on, and thanks for the compliment but here's what I learned:

    - Everybody starts down at the bottom, no offense but that's just how it works, those who think they can skip this step still somehow start at the bottom. So you're really better off accepting this fact than trying to skip it, my attitude.

    Don't feel bad, it took me and I dare say more than a few of us YEARS to get there, 4, 5, 6-8, take your pick.
    I'm ready to start my 7th year and still feel like I'm a few miles short of nirvana, maybe a little further than that even.
    In your case you started with postage stamp lots, in my case I started with the ones hardly have a lawn to speak of, some might think the crap lots are great for upsells but not when the owner doesn't care, so either way we compromise.

    This is why it pays to stay in it for the long haul, all those fair weather warriors and johnny come latelies don't see it, they experience what you do and either throw in the towel or fail to see the upgrade, I dare say a good 90% of them don't stick around long enough.

    A LOT of folks get into this business when they see times are good, but by then it's too late, because by then everybody's doing it.
    If this is your case stick around, the trick is to survive hard times when they come around, that's where most of everybody drops out, but it's a slow process can take a hard year or two, really almost to the point the longer the tough times last the better. Then right when times first improve and the area is deserted of everybody, THAT is when you profit! This lasts anywhere from 3-4 to 6 and 12 months, all depends but sure as soon as folks see you doing well they start to get into it and so it begins the reverse process all over again. It goes back and forth between good times and bad, it really is a lot like playing the stock market, up and down.

    But in time you get into bigger lots, it can easily take a few years, you work your way up and eventually you end up where the rest of the guys are. You should start seeing some improvement by your second year, but beyond that it gets a little better (and a little harder) every year. Grow with it, adapt your style, I think experience helps, and so we work with it.

    Peace out man, you'll be fine.
  4. vadeere

    vadeere LawnSite Member
    Messages: 249

    Differeniate (sp?) yourself from the majority, be able to take on larger jobs, or be able to do a different array of jobs than most in your area. This may and probably will require a greater quanity and more expensive equipment, payroll, vehicles, etc. However this will significantly reduce the amount of competiors you have, and these competiors will most likely be playing on the same level field you are. This is why we do not seek out smaller lots, people only concerned with price, etc. If it comes your way great but trying to make money off of small residentials is like trying to hump a football, ain't going to happen. Hope this helped, I am by no means an expert but these are my observations from being in this business.
  5. B_gerrits

    B_gerrits LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 297

    Here is my plan to differeniate myself from the others. I wanted to provide many more services than my competors. I do lco, landscaping, painting, small home repairs, fence installs, deck staining and repair, dump runs, irrigation gutter clean outs. My overall goal was to offer one stop shopping. I would find qualified contractors and sub out work I couldn't do myself. It turned out subbing work is a real headache. Good contractors were busy and hard to get when I needed them bad ones left me on the hook for their bad work.
  6. Jay Ray

    Jay Ray LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,510

    The handyman stuff might be tempting, especially in winter. I know a guy who did that here and found out you couldn't get paid for standing in line at Lowes or HD. When he quit the handyman stuff some customers were upset and changed to other LCO's.

    The successful handyman types here have large enclosed trailers and keep a fair amount of bench stock to reduce standing in line. They carry a 21 and a trimmer but that's about all.
  7. Grass Happens

    Grass Happens LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 682

    I go back and forth on the "do everything" business philosophy. Sometimes I think that if you dont offer a service, the customer will go to someone who can do everything. But then there is the "Jack of all trades, master of none" Not many people can do all things equally well, and i think i would like to concentrate on a few select services.
  8. B_gerrits

    B_gerrits LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 297

    Pls don't get me wrong here but what is there to master cutting lawns. The thing I am really impressed with in the successful LCO is their marketing plan and their salesmanship. I think the market is what really dictates what you can do. Here the LCO market is overrun by illegals and the yard size is small. I have done both Construction for 10 years and Landscaping for 5. I never take a job that I am not competant to do. I really thought that offering a wide variety of services was the way to go but maybe your right maybe the customer feels that makes you a professional of none.
  9. vadeere

    vadeere LawnSite Member
    Messages: 249

    There is a difference in offering an array of services and becoming a jack of all trades master of none. I know landscaping, I do not know home repair, therefore we landscape and do lawn maintenance. I know my way around grass, plants, rocks and dirt. I am not a carpenter, painter, etc, that's why I do not do any of that stuff. So in summary, I do what I know and do a lot of it to make money.
  10. tjsquickcuts

    tjsquickcuts LawnSite Senior Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 943

    I agree with the above....the more services outside of mtce, ldscpe, etc is a bit much, and a little unprofessional. I would never hire a handyman.....I would just call a experience contractor in that field oppose to depending a Jack of all Trades.....If you plan to be successful in this business, you must focus all of your attention and time and dedicate yourself to just this trade. There is to much learning with this business to be trying to juggle other things on your plate. JMO

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