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baglady
04-22-2008, 05:15 PM
Hello all, just need some encouragement. My husband and I have a landscaping company that just the two of are employed really just my husband. We both work full time jobs but my husband loves doing the landscaping on the side. We have 25 residential customers. Our invoices range from $35-$125. My husband does all the work by himself using his buddies when they are available. He does cutting, edging, weeding, flowerbeds, mulching, cutting down trees etc. We have been unable to find reliable help so that we can expand. Both of our credit is tarnished. I have tried to get credit in our business and have only been able to secure Office Depot and Staples. We have a walk behind, several smaller mowers, and he has recently acquired through one of our customers a tractor. We really need one we live on 5 acres here in Maryland. One of our customers he can use this in his yard as well. The issue is all the money that we make we are buying more material or using it to catch up on bills. We are making a profit but everything we get we have to use it and at the end of the season we are no better off then we were at the beginning. Last year we made an additional $15,000.00. We would like to get one good commerical property that would generate at least $5-10,000.00 monthly. The hope would be if we could secure a commercial account we could advertise and hire help. Getting customers is not the issue all of our customers from last year have returned. My husband works really hard and is a good guy it just appears it is hard to really get a break. We need a zero turn but not able to afford it. I am encourgaged that this business will work but agin just need some encouragement and any advice would be welcome. Thanks

Steve
04-22-2008, 06:50 PM
Quote[/b] ] We are making a profit but everything we get we have to use it and at the end of the season we are no better off then we were at the beginning.

This is a very good point you bring up and when I talked with lawn care business author Ken LaVoie last week, he was talking about this exact topic.

In the podcast which you can download and listen to here http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/15950

Ken talks about growing your business at 20% max a year. He says if you grow too fast, you eat up your current year's profit and you won't see any fruits of your labor because it goes back into the business to feed the growth.

My view is that you are growing pretty quickly now and you are doing this part time so you have those two factors to deal with.

I don't think much of this will change until you are able to go fulltime with your business and be able to spend more time on it, making more money but trying to keep an eye on your growth rate.

Does this help?

Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?

gmoney55
04-22-2008, 10:27 PM
I know exactly what you are talking about. I have a similar problem. I have my own lawncare operation and work a fulltime job also. I just started out and have picked up a couple of accounts and just started on a major general clean up job. I work by myself because my wife is pregnant and due any day now. In the past 2 years we have had several medical issues i have had 9 surgeries alone in the last years. my credit was perfect before this but now it is not too good due to about $60,000 in medical bills now on my credit. I only have a john deere lawn tractor, blower, a little self propelled mower, and a echo weedeater. i really need to get a zero turn also but i cannot afford it right now nor can i finance one. All i can tell you is just hang in there and things will work themselves out for the better. I think if you really try to focus on that one big comercial account you can land it. And when you do just set some of that money on the side each month and don't touch it if possible. In a few months you will have saved enough cash to go out and pay cash for a good zero turn. just remenber to keep your head up and things will hopefully get better. good luck hope it all works out for ya'll

baglady
04-22-2008, 10:56 PM
Thanks guys for your response. I just listend to the pod cast and thought it was excellent. I am certain we will come out on top just have to keep plugging away.

Steve
04-23-2008, 07:50 AM
Have you thought about if your business will be a side business for both of you or if you will ultimately be doing this fulltime?

If fulltime, have you thought about how and when you will make the jump?

musician/lawnman
04-23-2008, 07:52 AM
Baglady,

It's tough when you start out, I know. Start up costs & equipment costs mount up, Repairs, fuel & everything is so expensive and on top of that there are so many lco's out there that it's more competitive than ever. Or you could just attribute it to - times are tough & customers are being more thrifty. Lawn care as in industry is certainly not in it's money making hay-day right now so getting a new company up & running is a little harder, but it's do able. Like it was stated trying to grow to fast can make it hard on your company financially & I think I'm boardering on some of the same problems but I'm looing at it like this. I'm making enough to survive & feed the family from the business now. The extra money I pump back into the company will come out as increased profits later. So it's worth it to me. Watch your bottom line, know your expenses Keeps tabs on your business. When trying to grow you tend to want to bid a ltle low to get the job, it's dangerous. You can be busy, have cash flow & still not be making any money. If you don't know your figures you may not catch this little epidemic until you run yourself out of business or burn out. Keep your head up!

Steve
04-23-2008, 08:02 PM
Chuck,

What advice do you have for the newer start up businesses? What should they be buying and what should they hold off on?

When you reflect back on your start up phase, what do you wish you had done more of or less of?

musician/lawnman
04-23-2008, 11:22 PM
I would say growing the business a little smarter & slower is important. I started with a tractor & when it was time to upgrade.... If I had it to do again I might have bought a 36" or 48" wright stander or century rather than a full blown 52" zero turn. I had to turn potential customers away because I can't get in gates & stuff. I cant fit a smaller zt or wright stander on my trailer with my zt so to upgrade now I'd need a 2nd mower & a new larger trailer. If I had a smaller mower to start with adding a 2nd slightly larger model wouldn't be a problem. But as far as equipment needed that can vary by your market & the target clientel your going for.

I would say not tracking where my clients were coming from close enough was a mistake I made. I ran an add for a month or 2 in one publication, spent the next 6 months running adds eslewhere then realized about 70% growth came from an add I hadn't bothered to run in 6 months.

Watch your books! Be a business owner who happens to own a lawn care business, not a guy who cuts grass & happens to own the company.

baglady
04-24-2008, 11:12 PM
We are at some point looking to do this full time. We have not yet decided when. We really have to be financially ready. We actually probably have all the equipment we need for now. The problem is having to turn away business because we can not find any good help. We will as you guys say continue to plug ahead and hopefully the right think will come at the right time.

baglady
06-18-2008, 08:56 PM
Well gang just dropping by to share some news. We have actually given up all of our customers. We had 25 really good customers but we were doing them a dis-service. My husband is a correctional officer during the day. He days off use to be Friday and Saturday. His days off changed he is now off on Sunday's and Monday's. We could not find good help and every lawn mower we have broke down around the same time. It has been an awful season. Our customers were really upset because we do excellent work we just found ourselves in situations where we were not giving our customers the customer service they deserved.
It was a very difficult decision but it has been 3 weeks and I think it was the right decision. We are not giving up all together we are just going back to the drawing board and revamp our business plan. Hopefully we will be ready to dive back in within the next two years. If anyone has any suggestions or advice just let me know. This is really a great place to get some good insight.

Steve
06-18-2008, 09:05 PM
Hi,

I am glad to see you are back, sharing with us, your insights.

What would you do differently next attempt?

One of our newer forum members shared with us that he quit his job in the police department and ultimately started up a lawn care business and he is very happy now because of his decision. Let me see if I can get him on here.

baglady
06-18-2008, 09:16 PM
We are struggling financially right now we have two mortgages one in Florida and one here in Maryland where we live. The bottom line is we have really crappy credit, cant get far enough ahead of the ball game to save extra money to purchase equipment and we need good help that we can pay minimum wage. My husband has 4 more years before he can retire and really put the energy and time into that is needed.

In your opinion what could we do different?

baglady
06-18-2008, 09:22 PM
Last season we made and extra $10,000.00 but we were not able to save that as we had to keep other things current. We did have a partner that purchased brand new equipment but that partnership did not work out so of course there went the equipment. I have in the past invested in real estate and did pretty well. I am now trying to find a couple of deals that are good enough to flip in order to get some cash quickly. I inherited the house in Florida with a mortgage. The neighborhood is terrible and can't get a buyer. Had a renter had to put her out not paying rent. Just giving you a snap shot of how things happened.

Steve
06-18-2008, 09:51 PM
That is all very very insightful.

I am sure having two houses must be a huge drain right now on you. In an ideal world, I would say have one house. Get rid of the other one. But I can understand if it is tough to sell it now because of the market.

I think a lot of this comes down to time.

If you can afford to keep the two houses being paid for now and you can't sell the other without taking on more of a loss than you are willing to take, then just keep plugging along with the fulltime job until your husband retires. The market should improve by then and you should be able to sell it.

If however you are absolutely at your wits end, you can't stand working the fulltime job anymore and you want out and out right now, then I would do what ever it takes to dump the second house and just move on with life.

This is such a very good question because I think the answer really lies in what do you want? Where do you want to be now. Where do you want to be in a few years. What are your dreams.

It's got to be next to impossible to quit a fulltime corrections job because of the steady pay and all of the benefits. However on the flip side, I have friends who are correction officers and I have seen them over time, deteriorate. Their minds and their bodies. I know I am not telling you anything new when I say it is a rough rough job.

I have a friend who quit his job in corrections and went on to a lot more business failures and is still looking for his path. I asked him last time I talked to him if he would take the job back and he said he liked the benefits but he hated the job so he would never go back.

I think such jobs can grind you down to the point where the shorten your life. Me personally, I don't think it's worth it. I want to be around for as long as I can and living an enjoyable life is more important than anything.

So when you sit and take a moment to reflect, what is it you want?