View Full Version : Hello from Troy NY.

07-08-2012, 10:05 AM
I have been a looker for a few years. Jumped on board today. I'm in my mid 40s started my small mowing biz in 04 and have learned a lot along the way, and have a lot more to learn.

The reason I joined is that as I was reading a few of the threads I found that most of you new guys are going through the same things I did when when I started. Alot of the advice your getting is good but some of the guys on here need a little more experience before you post. Some of what I've read is way off the mark. Sorry. For the most part I've been there and done that and at this point I think I can be helpfull on a number of different topics.

I've only got 3 to 4 guys working for me at any one time and that's the way I like it. I gross about 200k per year. The part that sucks is that it costs about 175k to make 200k. Hope we can help each other figure this thing out. BYOB. Be Your Own Boss.

07-09-2012, 10:52 AM
Welcome to our forum!

Some of what I've read is way off the mark.

What kind of issues have popped up on here in the past that you feel you could shed more light on?

07-09-2012, 11:32 AM
I think the biggest thing that most of the guys that are just getting started don't fully understand is the real cost of doing biz. Untill you get 2 or 3 years worth of running your small biz it's hard to figure out what the true cost per day or hour really is.

I get a chuckel when I read some of the posts concerning how much to charge to do something. Before I got a handle on my expenses I was way under charging for everything. I thought if I was busy I must be doing somthing right. I was busy but not very successfull. To some extent I still fall into that trap. It's something that you need to be on top of all the time.

I do everything by the book and I hope you do to. So I can't speak to the guys that mow under the table, but for the guys that want to be around for a while and want to grow a respectable profitable biz I'll be glad to give my .02 cents when ever I see an oppertunity to help. This is by far the best place for all of us to learn a thing or two about running a small lawn mowing biz.

I've been reading things on here for years and never felt I had anything to say that would help anyone. At some point if you do this long enough you'll be able to help out the new guys, and that's what it's all about.

07-10-2012, 01:54 PM
Before I got a handle on my expenses I was way under charging for everything. I thought if I was busy I must be doing somthing right. I was busy but not very successfull. To some extent I still fall into that trap. It's something that you need to be on top of all the time.

As you look back, do you find you have raised your prices a certain % to make them more profitable since you got started? For other new business owners looking to bid on jobs, should they increase their bid by a certain % because more than likely they will be underbidding?

07-10-2012, 05:13 PM
I think the main reasons you underbid a job is 1. You really want the work. 2. If you're giving a price on the spot you don't want them to tell you that you're out of your mind. 3. You might be looking at a very large place and it's tuff to guess how long it will take to do the job. That gets you back to #1 & 2. First you really need to know how much you need to make each day to stay in business. Then on a big job don't mess around. Will you be there half the day or all day ? Bottom line is you need to know how much you need to make every day. Once you know that setting a price is much easyer. Plus once you know how much you need to make you can blame the price on how much it costs to run your business, and that your not just pulling a price out of thin air. Hope that helps a little.

07-10-2012, 05:18 PM
If you're a one man show. figure you need to make $350 a day to stay in business. That's a good place to start. So if you can only mow 6 or 7 lawns a day you better be getting about $50 bucks a lawn.

07-10-2012, 07:21 PM
It sounds like you need to get a better handle on the bottom line. I run my biz out of my house. I've got two trucks on the road with one man in each truck. I pay them a crummy $12.00 per hour. They work a 10 to 12 hour day. Last week when I checked my expenses per truck it came out to $342.68 per day per truck to break even. Pay roll is a killer. My guys only average about 10 to 12 lawns per day each. My average lawn is $51.41 . My cheapest lawn is free. My mothers. My lowest paying lawn is $45.00 and my highest is $360.00 When I first started I thought there was very little over head. What a joke. If you want your biz to grow. At some point you will need help. That's when the government thinks you're rich. It can't be much different where you are. If I was only pulling in $1750 a week I'd be broke.

07-10-2012, 08:00 PM
I jump in where I'm needed. For the most part I go and do all the trimming jobs, small mulch jobs etc. I run the office handle the calls, good and bad. Take care of quality issues, fix and repair broken stuff. Sales. The thing I like to do best is tell my guys I have a very busy day and they're on their own so don't call me. Then when the leave the shop. I hop on my motorcycle and take off for the day. I call it wind therapy.

07-11-2012, 11:52 AM
Very interesting! Have you found that you needed to develop better sales skills to counter home owners when you give them a higher price and they react negatively to it? Is there any way to pull them back and save the potential job or if a customer reacts negatively to your bid, should you just move on to the next?

07-11-2012, 01:13 PM
Thanks for asking Steve. First I need to say that the price I give to mow a lawn is never high. In fact on average I tend to under charge. when I use the calclulator on here and compare it to some of the lawns I have. I find that I'm charging less than I should. It's a very usefull tool and we should all be useing it as a guide.

For sure you must be somewhat of a salesman, but it's more important that you know how much running your biz really costs. It's not hard to figure it out.

Just take last years expences and divide them into all of your potential working days for the following year. For me. I start mowing on April 15th and stop on Oct 31st. I dont count weekends or hollidays. I figure we must work at least 10 hour days. After you do that you will come up with your break even number. For me that's about $ 350 bucks a day. If I wasn't on top of it I'm sure it would be a lot worse.

With that number in mind and lots of experience looking at jobs and knowing how far you are from your next closest customer and keeping in mind that you don't really set the price. That's important to remember. (you don't really set the price) the price is set by our economy. There is always a minimum price you have to get to stay in business. Don't be afraid to ask for it.

We will always have people that will price shop. Can't do much about that. Most of the time you don't want them anyway. Do a great job every time you mow and you will not have to worry about the price you give. Some of my customers get cards in their door or mail box all the time and have no problem telling me that my compitition will mow for 10 or 15 bucks less. Or more. I have yet to loose one because of that.