Why Now????

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by Tn Lawn Man, Apr 19, 2005.

  1. pagefault

    pagefault LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 492

    I don't know about anyone else, but here is why I am in it.

    I spent the last 6 years working for a mid-sized company that became more like an episode of survivor than anything else. Everything was politics. Nobody fixed much of anything, because nobody wanted to be associated with anything that was broken when the next round of layoffs hit. The more people we laid off, the worse the politics got. If you were one of the people who did the work, you were doing it ALL the time.

    A coworker of mine volunteered to go to Europe to help with a sale and he got stuck there for 6 WEEKS! That was through Thanksgiving and Christmas and the sale never went through! He spent all of his time over there trying to fix whatever problem the salesperson dreamed up, when the reality was that there would be no sale because the customer did not have the money they claimed to have. They were never qualified properly, but the sales team was not going to admit that.

    Every day was a nightmare. You spent all of your time covering your ass and trying not to piss the wrong people off. There were times when I spent the entire day printing old emails to prove that everyone was doing what they were told to do.

    On top of this, there were no raises for 3 years and if you weren't there from 7 to 7, killing yourself to try to turn things around, you were dirt. Sadly, even those of us who were there from 7 to 7 were still dirt, because we were the ones touching the broken stuff.

    It was horrible. I talk to people who are still there and it makes be sad. The stories I hear are the same stories that have been told for the last 3 years. The company had tons of potential and was going strong for a while, but management ran it into the ground.

    I'm doing this for two reasons: 1) I know I can run a business better than the people I worked for and I want a chance to do it and 2) I love working outside. I spent several summers working on a tobacco farm and I spend all of my weekends working outside.

    It's not just the people who are being laid off, it is the people who are tired of getting jerked around by their employers and are tired of working 80 hours a week for someone else and getting paid for 40. It's not just landscaping, either. I researched a number of other businesses before making a decision and they all had discussion boards like this and they all complained about new guys, lowballers and scrubs.
  2. David Grass

    David Grass LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 485

    maybe there, but not in most of the country, 17 years ago, the local dealer sold 2 Toro T bars, I was one of them, now they sell 50 a season, that should open some eyes!
  3. steve122

    steve122 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 208

    See next post, I screwed this one up when I tried to quote pagefault. Sorry.

    So, pagefault, how's it going? Is this your first year in the biz? just curious if it's working like you hoped. Good luck, I love the work, can't imagine going back to work for someone else.
  4. steve122

    steve122 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 208

    So, how is it going? Is it what you expected? Would love to hear. Is this your first year in the biz? I love the work and can't imagine going back to work for someone else, ever.
  5. Tn Lawn Man

    Tn Lawn Man LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 479

    This is a good response.

    However, this only addresses why you left your other job. Why did you pick Lawn Maintenance? You could have picked a number of different businesses.

    What zeroed you into this one? It appears that the internet had a lot to do with it.

    Then how did you go about setting prices, picking machinery etc... Was that from the internet too?

    As for me, I had a "mentor" so to speak that got me interested in it and then showed me the ropes. After that I hit the library and read everything I could about grass and plants.
  6. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Messages: 8,731

    Yea alot of corporations have set up satelite operations(warehouses, production etc facilities in China, Mexico etc. China has large areas of nothing but US companies storing Chinese made goods/American brand. Nothing at work here but corporate greed to squeeze out every cent to the detriment of the American worker.
    But thats just the way it is.
    I have seen just about everything imagineable pulling lawn care equipment this year. People trying to feed their families and pay their bills anyway they can.
  7. pagefault

    pagefault LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 492

    I picked lawn care because it was what I enjoyed the most. I've always enjoyed working outdoors and getting dirty. I used to work on a tobacco farm, but I knew I wasn't going to start that business. My wife has an Agriculture degree and eventually we would like to have a cattle ranch. Her family had a ranch when she was young. This keeps me outside and keeps me active. The toys are a nice bonus.

    As for setting the prices, I searched these threads to see what people nearby seemed to be charging and I had a few friends call to get quotes on their properties. Then I picked a spot toward the middle. If I don't get enough calls, I may go down a little. If I get tons of calls, I may go up a little. I have said it before and I will say it again now, most of the temptation to lowball comes from the other guys refusing to tell you what they charge. I don't want to be the highest bidder on the block my first year in business, so I choose a safe number. Luckily, I got some bids, so I know what is a fair price (I think). If someone asks you what to bid, give them a real answer. Give them a range. They might end up bidding at the bottom of the range, or maybe even a little outside the range, but they will be much less likely to underbid you by 50%. Those bids come from people who have no idea what the market will bear.

    The equipment choice was based on these threads as well. I chose equipment that would allow me to efficiently handle small residential lots, which is what I am targeting, but will allow me to take larger jobs if they come along. The small investment gives me room to buy more equipment if I end up moving in a different direction (larger commercial lots, etc), but all of the equipment should be useful for 90% of the properties I might handle.
  8. pagefault

    pagefault LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 492

    Yes, there are some of those. I have already run into one and boy did I feel sorry for her.

    Not all of us are in that boat, though. Before I left my last job, there were always guys leaving to start something on their own. Sometimes they bought the equipment we were selling and used it to start a business (similar to a guy at a landscape supply company getting the itch to start a landscaping business), other times, they started IT consulting businesses. Sometimes it was completely unrelated to what they had been doing, like in my case.

    Over the last three years, there have been about two dozen employees who have gone on to start their own business and the reason was always the same: they are fed up with working for a**holes. Some of these guys are going to be very scary competitors, in their industries. Imagine someone who has been in Product Management or Sales for Scag for 20 years and knows all the ins and outs of the industry, knows how all the successful businesses are run, knows where the hot markets are, etc, and has a few hundred grand (or more) burning a hole in his pocket. Imagine if this guy decides that he is tired of the BS at Scag and he figures that the other companies are just as bad, and he has been jealous of his customers for 20 years. So, one day he picks a hot market and hits it like a freight train. He's well connected and he gets tons of business referred by a few of his old customers and he proceeds to run everyone else out of business.

    That's what some of my old coworkers did. They are in a different industry, but I am sure there are people like that in lawn care too. There are also people like me, who just want to run a good business and treat their customers and employees well. It's like kids who say that they're going to do everything different when they have their own kids.

    Do you want to know my primary motivation? It's not putting food on the table. I've got that covered (rather, my wife does). My primary motivation is to get big enough to hire three of the guys I left behind. These are guys that have been killing themselves for that company and get screwed over and over because they are too classy to play politics. These are guys who have worked 15 hour days to help me out, even though they were not in my department. I want to get big enough to bring them on board and I'll work 15+ hours a day to do it, because they did the same for me.

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