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What will you do when your expenses start to go up as you grow, and you are not charging enough?
I've factored that in already as best as I can. I'm not sure what expense will go up considerably without my profit margin also going up as well. I currently have most of the equipment to start a second crew minus the vehicle and a couple trimmers. It is currently my backup equipment. If I had enough work for a second crew, the added expenses should in theory pay for itself. If there are any specifics of what to look out for, I'd be interested in hearing.
 

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I’m hoping to go from ~15 accounts last year to 40+ this year.

What was your strategy for getting that many accounts in one season?
A good website and google ads are all you need to grow. Though make sure you learn a lot about google ads, or hire someone to do it for you, before exploring that route. You can throw away a lot of money if your ads and website aren't put together properly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #63 ·
I've factored that in already as best as I can. I'm not sure what expense will go up considerably without my profit margin also going up as well. I currently have most of the equipment to start a second crew minus the vehicle and a couple trimmers. It is currently my backup equipment. If I had enough work for a second crew, the added expenses should in theory pay for itself. If there are any specifics of what to look out for, I'd be interested in hearing.

Honestly

The rising cost of everything from gas to insurance to belts to filters. All that stuff and more have gone up exponentially in the last year.
 

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After 26 years of mowing lawns on weekends as a side hustle, I'm looking to get out. I still enjoy the work very much even though it's been a little harder the last few years as I've gotten older and run into some health issues with age. A 60 plus hour work week at my regular job doesn't help either. However, the biggest problem is cheapskate customers who still think the prices of the 1990s should still be the norm. This past year, I barely made minimum wage. Most of my clients are rich stockbrokers, lawyers etc. who take a lot of joy in watching people make their properties look like gold while they pay nothing for it. One guy, who is a retired bank exec., took $25 off my bill for a fall clean up because he claimed that he picked up a bag of leaves himself. He buys himself $100 000 SUV each year but he has zero money for my services. I'm just really tired of these arrogant and snobby people. True you can find new clients but I find in my area, at least, they're all the same. They don't value lawn care and want it done for the cheapest price and only when the lawn needs cutting. With expenses where they are now, you can't really make a decent amount of money doing that. If I could find someone that would take me on to work on Saturdays, I would take it but it's hard to do as companies want a longer term commitment.
I'd bump up your prices significantly, you may find the accounts that remain with you allow you to make the same but with way less hours of labor. If you have nothing to lose so to speak.
 

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Honestly

The rising cost of everything from gas to insurance to belts to filters. All that stuff and more have gone up exponentially in the last year.
Rising costs are one thing - I did have enough wiggle room built in that even with gas prices getting stupid over the last year, I didn't have to raise my rates to cover it. I'm currently running at $90+ gross per budgeted hour, and a little over $50 per clocked hour. I have a few properties that are not in dense routes, if I can increase density in those areas, that delta will close quite a bit. That along with better estimating (which has improved over the year) would put me in a better place, but I don't see too many increasing costs caused strictly by growth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #66 ·
Rising costs are one thing - I did have enough wiggle room built in that even with gas prices getting stupid over the last year, I didn't have to raise my rates to cover it. I'm currently running at $90+ gross per budgeted hour, and a little over $50 per clocked hour. I have a few properties that are not in dense routes, if I can increase density in those areas, that delta will close quite a bit. That along with better estimating (which has improved over the year) would put me in a better place, but I don't see too many increasing costs caused strictly by growth.


Thats fine but you might be in a for rude awakening. The more properties you have the more hours you put on the mowers, the more mileage you put on the trucks, the more wear and tear you put on the handheld equipment and the more you will need to repair things.

Then you get into a spot where you find yourself having too much to do so you decide to hire some help. Then you have work comp, payroll taxes, and all the fun stuff that goes along with employees.

Thats real growth.

Im not trying to tear you down or tell you what youre doing wrong. Just giving you some advice from a place I used to be.
 

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Thats fine but you might be in a for rude awakening. The more properties you have the more hours you put on the mowers, the more mileage you put on the trucks, the more wear and tear you put on the handheld equipment and the more you will need to repair things.

Then you get into a spot where you find yourself having too much to do so you decide to hire some help. Then you have work comp, payroll taxes, and all the fun stuff that goes along with employees.

Thats real growth.

Im not trying to tear you down or tell you what youre doing wrong. Just giving you some advice from a place I used to be.
Absolutely - I appreciate it, and that's why I asked. I always try to plan for the unexpected, but since this is my first rodeo, I can't possibly know everything to expect. If I can learn from someone else's success (or mistakes), I'll do that everyday before figuring it out on my own.

Although I'm not at a point where I NEED an employee, with much more growth, I will be. Like I originally said, one goal for this year is to hire someone. It may all fall into place, or I may have a hell of a time with that endeavor. Time will tell ;)
 

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Absolutely - I appreciate it, and that's why I asked. I always try to plan for the unexpected, but since this is my first rodeo, I can't possibly know everything to expect. If I can learn from someone else's success (or mistakes), I'll do that everyday before figuring it out on my own.

Although I'm not at a point where I NEED an employee, with much more growth, I will be. Like I originally said, one goal for this year is to hire someone. It may all fall into place, or I may have a hell of a time with that endeavor. Time will tell ;)
What kind of hourly rate are you planning to offer and what's your overall labor burden cost? Biggest problem I would see is say you've got enough maintenance clients to run 80 hours between you and new employee. If hes not reliable or quits after first week you are going to be struggling to get all the work done.
 

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Back in 2012 I started downsizing from 7 full timers and 6 seasonal to just 6 full timers a year later. (It became too stressful at the time)

Now that I'm approaching my 50th bday and looking at working less or none at all in the field I may have to grow my business again to afford my same meager lifestyle.

This time around focus solely on larger properties that require over 5 man hours per session per week.

The only thing holding me back is having someone I can trust that has full access to everything that makes a business run including customer cc #, business bank accounts and the ability to hire and fire.
 

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That’s the main reason I get from people.
“Oh that’s 10 dollars more a mow than what I was paying the last guy”
My normal response is “well what happened to him?”
Yeah, pricing too low makes a lot of guys quit and pricing too high can lose you the job. I’m going to guess with the state of the economy, a lot more homeowners will be apt to do it themselves. It won’t be “my last guy was $10 cheaper”. It’ll be “I’ll do it myself for that kind of $”. Going to be a finer line to walk than in the past couple years. Without a solid reputation, it’s going to be hard to command top dollar. The next few years are going to be pretty interesting for the lawn industry.
 

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Yeah, pricing too low makes a lot of guys quit and pricing too high can lose you the job. I’m going to guess with the state of the economy, a lot more homeowners will be apt to do it themselves. It won’t be “my last guy was $10 cheaper”. It’ll be “I’ll do it myself for that kind of $”. Going to be a finer line to walk than in the past couple years. Without a solid reputation, it’s going to be hard to command top dollar. The next few years are going to be pretty interesting for the lawn industry.
When I first started keeping track of my bid wins versus loss in 2010 it was 3/10. 3 wins per 10 bids. The only change during the last 12 years was in 2020 when i averaged 4/10.

I know the economy is worse but I haven't noticed any drop in the amount of bids or or wins.

We raised prices last year on new customers by 10% and as contracts come to an end we are raising those by 5%.
 

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When I first started keeping track of my bid wins versus loss in 2010 it was 3/10. 3 wins per 10 bids. The only change during the last 12 years was in 2020 when i averaged 4/10.

I know the economy is worse but I haven't noticed any drop in the amount of bids or or wins.

We raised prices last year on new customers by 10% and as contracts come to an end we are raising those by 5%.
The difference is you have a reputation built and the newer guys don’t. I rarely lose a bid. Most would say I’m not charging enough when in reality my current customers don’t even ask for a bid and new customers are calling because of my reputation. It’s not about cost to them, it’s about results. A lot of variables to consider when using estimates vs landed jobs.
 

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Here's a good article on managing your company, customers and employees.
It’s being proactive about communication. My wife has some level of phone dread that I haven’t been able to help her shake. She often puts emails and phone calls off, sometimes to the point of crisis. Hard for me to wrap my brain around because it doesn’t bother me in the least and she has to build herself up to do it.
No joke, she recently used that Chat GPT to write an email addressing the recent freeze, barely modified it and sent it. Probably saved her an hour of work.
 

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Anyone using the entrepreneurial operating system (EOS) and building out goals using the vision/traction organizer document they have? Total game changer on taking the owners long term vision and turning it into actionable/timely to do’s broken into daily, weekly, quarterly and yearly “rocks”.

In my experience, the best tool we have ever used to hold employees accountable.
 

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Anyone using the entrepreneurial operating system (EOS) and building out goals using the vision/traction organizer document they have? Total game changer on taking the owners long term vision and turning it into actionable/timely to do’s broken into daily, weekly, quarterly and yearly “rocks”.

In my experience, the best tool we have ever used to hold employees accountable.
At a glance it sounds like a rehashing of the Scaling Up/Rockefeller Habits dogma. Am I wrong?
 

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Used to use Rockefeller Habits 15 years ago - yes, definitely some similarities. I found EOS easier to implement with my team and the person who runs our weekly, quarterly and annual meeting prefers EOS.

I take it you’re not a fan?
 

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Anyone using the entrepreneurial operating system (EOS) and building out goals using the vision/traction organizer document they have? Total game changer on taking the owners long term vision and turning it into actionable/timely to do’s broken into daily, weekly, quarterly and yearly “rocks”.

In my experience, the best tool we have ever used to hold employees accountable.
You had mentioned this to me a while back and I'm now working on this with a business coach.
 
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