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Why the hate???

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by golfnpreacher, Sep 9, 2009.

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  1. golfnpreacher

    golfnpreacher LawnSite Member
    Messages: 123

    In the thread about the guy hiring someone to cut take care of his lawn the Firefighter took a lot of grief. It was assumed because he was taking cash he was not declaring it on taxes. It was also assumed that because he had decent full time job, he offered something less that quality service on the lawns.

    So, my question is why the hard feelings to those that do lawn care less than full time?

    I am licensed and insured for everything I do within my state. I have business insurance on my vehicle and liability insurance for my business. I declare every penny that I make, be it cash or check. I invoice and give receipts for every transaction, even to the guy that stops me and asks if I'll do his yard for him "just this one time".

    Now, because I've got another job which provides retirement and health care, I don't need my lawn business to provide that. Since I've got another job, I don't worry about my house payments, etc. But none of this means I don't offer the same quality of service that any other company offers.

    Lawn care is the best part time job I could ask for. I bill $400-500 a week for 10-12 hours of work. Now, roughly 20% of what I make is set aside for expenses (insurance, taxes, future purchases, etc) and it covers those very well. So I am making $320-400 a week after expenses. But that is not the best part.

    I'm also able to deduct certain expenses on my taxes. A percentage of my truck, my cell phone, a percentage of my home mortgage (for office use and trailer storage) etc. Something I can't do with most other part time jobs.

    Providing lawn care is the best part time job I can imagine, but I can't see it working as a full time job. Because even though I can project out a decent billing for 45 hours of work, I'd have to increase expenses that are now covered elsewhere, which would increase my overhead tremendously and I would have to raise my rates accordingly.

    Therefore, don't get upset with me (or any other part timer in this business) because I can do the same job as the full timer for less, because my overhead is less. BTW - this is why I target upper end townhomes. This is a market that the full time LCO's in our area find difficult to target because it their cost is so high it prices them out of the market, but since I don't have their overhead, my cost are considered "reasonable"
  2. Uranus

    Uranus LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 1,624

    I did some quick math to see what the weekly price was for the first company for mowing. It worked out to around $50 per cut if there are 25-27 cuts per year in the section on NY that I think he's in. Now the firefighter comes in and tells the guy $25 per cut. I dont give a rats a$$ what his overhead is, he is bringing down the market for everyone. I cant tell you how many times I get the crazy eye from people when I give them my price and find out that "some guy", or " I dont remember his name" did it for 25% less than what I just quoted.

    Bottom line is know what the market value is for your service.
    The math may be off but I'm not going back, you can if you want to.
  3. it's the fact that he is lowballing and most likely not paying taxes. I have heard plenty of stories on here of firefighters lowballing the hell out of an lco account and getting the job b/c of that. like uranus said, i dont care what his overhead is, he is bringing down the market for everyone. i bid a job about a month ago on a referral for $250/month(about right bid) and the current company was doing it for $150/month. I asked the woman how many guys show up at her property and she told me 5-6:dizzy:. I don't care if they get that place done is 20 minutes, do the math......
  4. golfnpreacher

    golfnpreacher LawnSite Member
    Messages: 123

    you don't have to go back...

    My overhead is roughly 20% of what I bill, but I know of companies that have 50% overhead. So the job they want $80 for I can do for $50 and we both would make the same profit.

    Now I'd be willing to take the odds that the majority of LCO's don't have a clue what their profit margin is. They think they are making money because they have money left over at the end of the month. They may or may not be setting aside money for replacement equipments (most likely not) They probably don't have health insurance or retirement and haven't even thought of it. And too many of them are not setting aside money to pay for the lean winter months that are about to hit us, so they will be selling their equipment because they can't afford it. But don't hate me because they fail to put together a proper business plan.

    I've you've made the leap to full time, then I'm not taking business from you because you've already got your clients. If you're not full time yet, then you're no different from me, except that I've got another job that might be better than yours. But that is just life, there are people with jobs better than than mine and I'm not complaining about them.
  5. Mike Blevins

    Mike Blevins LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,390

    I am a fulltime Firefighter/Emt. I also own and run a lawncare company solo. I have a business license,business insurance,work-comp, and everything else that makes my business "legit". Another thing that I do is work very long hours each week taking care of my customers. I might not be considered "fulltime" but I do log in the hours as I have a condo complex that takes me 6 hours to complete along with now 26 more residential and commercial accounts to get weekly. I have found that in my area the guy that isn't legit is the guy out there with his shirt off and flip flops mowing out of an older truck with a "buddy" doing the trimming. And believe me there are many of these outfits out there. I have cash accounts but most pay by check. I leave it up to them on how they want to pay. At the end of the year my totals are added up along with my reciepts and taken to my tax lady for processing. I have nothing to hide and have been doing this "part time" for 5 years now. With the Good Lord willng I will be doing it for many years to come. :usflag::usflag::usflag::usflag::usflag::usflag::usflag:
  6. AmGreen

    AmGreen LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 319

    the exact reason everyone didn't go for the fire fighter. don't get me wrong, i've great respect for them, but just b/c they have all the extra days off during the month, doesn't mean they have to spend it cutting grass. I can appreciate the desire to work from anyone, but when it affects my ability to get what i'm worth b/c some ****** bag can do it cheaper just b/c he wants a little extra spending money...that ish pisses me off. I'm glad to hear that you do have all your ducks in a row preach, but I know plenty of fire fighters around here that don't and it just ain't right.

    as bad as it sounds, sometimes I wish/hope that something will happen that screws 'em and they don't have the necessary documents to CYOB - maybe it'll teach the others a leason. (without anyone getting hurt of course)
    Posted via Mobile Device
  7. THC

    THC LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,020

    That fire fighter offered to do the job for $35 but if he paid cash, he'd do it for $25. He OBVIOUSLY DOESN"T PAY TAX. If he doesn't pay tax.. what about insurance?

    I accept cash, but I still charge tax.. if I don't charge tax then I have to pay it. And I sure don't give an additional $10 discount on top of that if they don't pay tax. That sounds to me like a sales pitch to get EVERYONE of his customers to pay cash. That fire fighter is no better then a Mexican. I could understand if it was a kid saving for a first car or something. Don't hate the guy but it's still not right.. what happens if he breaks a window or shoots a rock at a pedestrian and the FF has no insurance?
  8. Uranus

    Uranus LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 1,624

    So if you know the job is worth $80 then why the hell would you do if for $50.

    If you think the job is worth $80 then charge $80. That's our point. Stop bringing the market down because you (not you personally) have another job that gives you beni's and pays well.

    Also, if your overhead is about 20% then you would need to charge $64 for that job. No harm, no foul, but I hope you were just blurting out numbers and not serious about that example.
  9. mjealey

    mjealey LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 475

    I completely agree with all the posters above as you can see both sides of the story.

    I will tell you my story real quick. I am very proud of the fact that I graduated from college with an Accounting degree and work at a local bank working with businesses. My wife Just got out of school and she spent 7 years getting her credentials to become an Occupational Therapist. We did it to provide for our family and hopefully our kids won't struggle like our parents have growing up with no education.

    Do we make good money? Yes!!!
    Do we have a ton of student debt? Yes!!! In oreder to get where we are we had to take out student loans.

    I can do one of two things, I can sit around on my rear and complain about it, or I can get off my rear and do something about it. Go to work 8 - 5. Mow from 6 - 7:30 and on the weekend.

    Wife has a second job on the weekend doing therapy on Sunday's at a different hospital and teaches cheerleading and gymnastics on Saturday's to make extra money so we can knock out the student loans in less than 10 years.

    With all that being said, I do this part time because I love it!!! Everyting I own is paid for! I am as legal as anybody with licensing and insurance. Going to start studying to get my charter to spray. I can charge less and make more on some properties than other people. However, if I am going to do something I am going to make sure it is worth my time. I will never do anything less than $30, and it has to be a pretty small yard for me to take time out of a full day at work to go mow something. I am not out there low-balling by any means.

    I work with many businesses every day for the past couple of years at the bank, and from dealing with the successful ones I see what it takes to succeed. These owners know exactly where every penny goes and they do finance from time to time, but it is very minimal and their returns on that financing far outways their cost.


    I could care less if a guy in an old beat down truck with a push mower is mowing 2 acres for $25. I have a good customer base of 15 and they are happy and love what I do and all pay on time or ahead. I do not have to worry about one of those guys taking somebody from me.

    Just my thoughts.
  10. fastlane

    fastlane LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 347

    If you are legit your bottom line should be the same- cash or check. Why would you give a discount for cash. You would be losing money!
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