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View Full Version : "Part Timers", "Low Ballers" & Self Employed


doug1980
06-10-2009, 12:55 PM
Just wanted to get this off my chest. I have been hearing a lot, and I mean a lot, of complaining about all three of these types of people.
First are the bigger operations whinning about part timers.Why? Why is it such a crime to do this business part time? While I do agree that being legal is the right way to do it, I don't understand how a part timer is less of an LCO than anyone else.
Second are complaining about the low ballers.
Usually these are the ones that are not legal. But there again I believe these type of people are usefull to us. They keep us striving for excellence and providing competetive prices. Without them here to keep things in check no one would care because we would all be the same.
And third are people saying that if you are a solo operation you do not own a business you are just self employed.
I call BS on this as well. As a solo there may be many things that are left out or not practiced, but they have a business license, have expenses and just as much to lose as the big guys. So how is that not owning a business? I'm sure most bigger operations started out solo and grew later.
Sorry for the rant just wanted to get that ou there.

XtreemGreen
06-10-2009, 01:21 PM
I do agree with you.. Although I dont hear much from bigger companies.. Low Ballers around here are pretty much setting a new standard.. I moved to this area 5 yrs ago and brought my prices with me..I was $20-$30 higher per month and most people thought I was crazy..Even the per cuts are dropping.. I use to do them between $20-$25 per cut..Around here there $12-$18 per cut..
being in "business" or 'self employed" doesnt bother me.. they both sound better than "my boss said".. Know what I mean..

Opinion's are like a$$hole's.. We all have 1..

Steve
06-10-2009, 02:34 PM
I am glad you are in business :)

Don't let anyone get to you, this is your dream, make it happen.

MikeO
06-10-2009, 10:03 PM
i just had this talk with someone i talk to about mowing lawns and hes been doing it for a long time so, i tend to take his word. Well, low balling is it really low balling? you come in with your walker mower that cost you 12 grand with your 2500 trailer and lets say the lawn is worth 65 bucks and you go ahead and start cutting the lawn and lets say im down the street and im doing the neighbors house and the person who your cutting the lawn for 65 bucks a cut asks me what would you charge and i say well since im in the neighborhood i can do it for 55. Am i now considered a lowballer?. Because thats what happens. theres always somebody willing to do it for less are they lowballers because they dont have all the toys? Overhead? Insurance? Employees?. I do this part time. im a part timer. i work a full time job and to establish yourself you cant just quit your job and say im mowing lawns with zero clients. i have to build it up. My dad owned a business for 23 years. People coming into his store would always say can i get this for 10 dollars cheaper or if i buy 10 can i get a discount. His response was Are you in the right store? Theres another store right down the street a ways that is somewhat similar with what i have you might want to go over there and ask them. Or hed say no i dont think so why dont you ask one of my competitors because id rather see them lose money then me, i think that would be a better decision for you at this time. very cynical but made alot of money.

XtreemGreen
06-10-2009, 10:09 PM
I see what your saying.. But now what are going to do when the 55 customer tells the 65 customer how much your charging? You know there going to wander why your charging them less..

MikeO
06-10-2009, 10:31 PM
thats a hard rebuttle but however, he can say he has no overhead expenses or the big equipment to charge more with. Just his time. is he happy making 25 bucks an hour and it takes hime 2 hours to complete the job and only has 7 customers for the season instead of 60 customers and all the expenses. i know what ur saying as well. its a hard line to follow but u cant expect to say all the lawns that size are 65 and the smaller ones are 35. theres no rules on that. If you say i can do the job for 17.50 instead of 35 can you afford to maintain?. Maybe and maybe not. depends what your happy with and the amount your getting. Maybe the person has a million dollars in the bank and doesnt care what he/she gets just enjoys it. I dont know...LOL

Steve
06-10-2009, 11:28 PM
To me, lowballing has to do with not knowing your overhead costs and lowballing yourself right out of business. If you charge less than it takes for you to be there and you are losing money on a job then you are lowballing.

turfmaster
06-11-2009, 12:22 AM
Guys, low ballers are the guys running around under cutting the AVERAGE lawn mowing costs for your particular area .

Generally speaking these are people who are new and do not know their true operating costs.

Once they realize what other LCO'S are making and what they should be making they either raise prices, work for low wages or quit.

I have been a part time Solo LCO since the mid 80's until this year.
Yea I have top notch commercial equipment a new truck and trailer my shop is at home so I have no rent and my stuff is paid for. VIRTUALLY NO OVERHEAD.

My mowing rate is $60.00/hour. However I have ample wiggle room in my costs so I can go to $50.00 if I really want the account and still make a awesome profit.

Having low overhead no employees etc. is your benefit for more profit not less because your under cutting to $25.00/hour just to get accounts.

Check out the lawn care price calculators on this site and plug in your information and you will see how much you should be making.

mowman1970
07-16-2011, 11:44 PM
Lowballer's know who they are. It has nothing to do with being an LCO. It has everything to do with taking a job and and making a dollar. So why care, give them long enough and they will mow themselves right out of the business. When comparing prices, if you are $10 off it is no big deal. When you are $30 off, you know you are taking the business a making it nothing more than a mockery. It is a business to be proud of, whether you have overhead or not, and if you are operating with out insurance, Murphy's Law will catch you.

Ducke
07-17-2011, 08:38 AM
Lowballer's know who they are. It has nothing to do with being an LCO. It has everything to do with taking a job and and making a dollar. So why care, give them long enough and they will mow themselves right out of the business. When comparing prices, if you are $10 off it is no big deal. When you are $30 off, you know you are taking the business a making it nothing more than a mockery. It is a business to be proud of, whether you have overhead or not, and if you are operating with out insurance, Murphy's Law will catch you.

I couldn't agree more. I had issue with a couple of guys here that seem to be way below anything that I quoted, at first I was upset but then I started getting calls from their customers, They did poor quality work and were unreliable and now 3 months into the season they are gone.
Lowballer's will come and go but real LCO's will prosper.

CHEESE2009
07-17-2011, 02:43 PM
We're all making some changes - it's a race (I'll explain)

On every street there is a lawn service provider. There is really not enough grass for everyone. Whoever can adjust to running a business at the lowest price will be ahead of the game and able to build up.

We have half-million dollar companies lowering their price from $120/month to $65/month. It's serious.


Just recently, I've seen a guy in business for 25 years who had a complete set up that those could only dream of having, and selling it for a crummy jeep and 5x5 trailer. It hurts to see.


I thought I was the only one having trouble, but everyone around me is getting their arse kicked by the price change. Companies that have provided the best quality possible are now hiring any punk willing to work without proper training. It's not about quality anymore.


****************

Lowballing only sucks when the competition DOESN'T go out of business. That's what's hurting everyone.

We have 5 lawn service providers that I know, who all hate the same small company. They came in, and everything has become warped.

tv_3
07-18-2011, 02:29 AM
well my opinion is we all have to start somewhere i have 8 full time customers and 6 bi-weekly customers one is a real estate agent keeps me pretty busy.And i do it with a 4x6 trailer two push mowers one leaf blower one weed whacker and a full arsenal of hand tools oh and i pull all this with my 2002 mercury sable so like i said we all have to start somewhere.just do a good job and charge what you think your worth..

andersontl2
07-18-2011, 12:16 PM
I do agree with you.. Although I dont hear much from bigger companies.. Low Ballers around here are pretty much setting a new standard.. I moved to this area 5 yrs ago and brought my prices with me..I was $20-$30 higher per month and most people thought I was crazy..Even the per cuts are dropping.. I use to do them between $20-$25 per cut..Around here there $12-$18 per cut..
being in "business" or 'self employed" doesnt bother me.. they both sound better than "my boss said".. Know what I mean..

Opinion's are like a$$hole's.. We all have 1..
and they all stink!

Ducke
07-18-2011, 07:32 PM
well my opinion is we all have to start somewhere i have 8 full time customers and 6 bi-weekly customers one is a real estate agent keeps me pretty busy.And i do it with a 4x6 trailer two push mowers one leaf blower one weed whacker and a full arsenal of hand tools oh and i pull all this with my 2002 mercury sable so like i said we all have to start somewhere.just do a good job and charge what you think your worth..

I agree almost
I did not see a business Licence or Insurance in your list of items above,
I believe that these are just as important as your mower or your weed whacker when it comes to being a legit LCO .
Call me crazy but any 15 year old kid can push a cart around with a mower and a blower in it and cut lawns for $10.00 but if its drizzly or the gang is going to the mall so you skip a day or two to goof off at the mall or beach then what the customer pays the price for their bad choices,
If you are serious about running a LCO and making a living out of it You first set up your company you get the equipment and the insurance to cover your butt if something goes wrong. So instead of charging $10.00 (Lowballer) you need to cover your expenses and charge the appropriate price $ per lawn depending on size.
It doesn't matter if you use a old camper trailer or a 1968 Mini or a state of the art Landscape Trailer and 2011 F250 4x4 as long as you charge enough to cover your expenses and make some money for yourself,
But at the same time not driving the price down to the point that everyone
looses out.

tv_3
07-18-2011, 11:56 PM
so you are calling me a lowballer.you have no idea what iam about but your calling me a lowballer.let me just say my customers are happy.i havent lost a customer do to one bad cut or because me and my buds went to the "mall"
also not everyone has the cash or the credit to start out with all the toys and the correct paper work.all that matters is that my wife is happy and iam happy .also my prices are right there with the big insurance,license holding company's for my region .

Fisher
07-19-2011, 12:26 AM
Great, now he's still gonna be upset, not because you're low balling but because you're making up to 15% more profit while charging the same rates as the insured guys in your area. This is of course before the federal and self employment taxes which they can deduct those cost and save a little there.


I wonder of our local guys that don't carry any license at all or insurance and no accounting to the state, county, or city. How many bother paying all the other taxes or reporting all income. I believe these guys can easily do half the gross business income while doing double the personal net income of those running as completely legit as they know to.

tv_3
07-19-2011, 04:01 AM
like i said in my first post "YOU HAVE TO START SOMEWHERE"...its my first season give me a break...

Ducke
07-19-2011, 06:28 AM
so you are calling me a lowballer.you have no idea what iam about but your calling me a lowballer.let me just say my customers are happy.i havent lost a customer do to one bad cut or because me and my buds went to the "mall"
also not everyone has the cash or the credit to start out with all the toys and the correct paper work.all that matters is that my wife is happy and iam happy .also my prices are right there with the big insurance,license holding company's for my region .


I never called you a low baller I don't know you.
But you seem awfully defensive about the subject.
What we would call you up here is a grease ball for towing a lawn trailer with a 2002 Sable. :p
That is something right out of the "Trailer Park Boys":D
Ricky get off my $#@$^)^($## lawn

Ducke
07-19-2011, 07:04 AM
like i said in my first post "YOU HAVE TO START SOMEWHERE"...its my first season give me a break...

Hey its my first season too. But I am legit papers and insurance.
I have a 2004 Chev 1500 Silverado and a 5' x 8' trailer with a 1986 Toro Recycler mower and a Craftsman mulcher that I built from three old one I got off the curb, My weed whacker is a 7 year old Sthil that I picked up second hand for $60.00. I did buy a new Sthil blower $125.00
It cost under $100.00 to register a company that's like 4 or 5 mow jobs .
OK Insurance can be expensive and I understand that not everyone can afford it right away. It took me a month and half before I got mine but I did get it,
It is important for both you and your customer what if you broke a window of heaven for bid a lawn Nome Some one could sue you and what are you going to do ?
I know we all have to start some were and we all can't start with all the toys as you put it but there should be certain standards for all businesses, and licence and Insurance is a big part of a LCO standard.

Fisher
07-19-2011, 07:56 PM
Actually Ducke I think a couple of times I have consider buying my son a small truck, trailer, set of mowers, and hand helds. Just so that when I know I've lost a bid on a residential account he can follow up with the lower cost bids as I know he could make more on less without all the extra overhead. How legit he ran would be up to him and his problem, he would know the risk.

I've seen guys go for years without any insurance, license, etc,. and only pay a small penalty once caught on certain items. Taxes are a must to pay there are no small penalties on the federal side.

I've also seen crews that were paid completely on 1099 saving a lot on insurance and employment taxes. Up until the right audit proves that they were actually employees and should have been covered under insurance.

Ducke
07-19-2011, 09:07 PM
What ever guys
I could go on all week month year and there is always someone out there wanting to drag the LCO Business down to a bunch of rednecks in wife beaters mowing lawns for $5:00 and $10:00.

Good luck guys.

Liberty Landscaping LLC
07-23-2011, 02:17 AM
This is getting out of hand. My area has soooooo many companies in the area that in 10 min looking at "main St." by my house there will be at least 5 companies drive past. It's insane it seems anyone out of work says hey I will mow lawns for money. I did an estimate the other day. Owner says how much. I did the calculations and said 30 a week or 35 biweekly. He said I just got rid of my guy I was paying him 20 a week but I didn't like his work. I said well you have two options you can use us for 30 a week or 35 bi weekly be happy with your lawn service and have the satisfaction that we are licenced and fully insured or you can go back inside and call up "your guy" and pay him 20 a week to cut the lawn...... He went with me I was in a no BS type of mood today. After he said you sure you can't do it for 20....what about 25? As I am climbing in my truck he goes ok ok I'll use you when can you start.
Some people. I understand trying to get a deal but do you walk into WalMart Home Depot, Lowes, or Shop-Rite and say it says 30 but I want to pay 20. For the love of god people drive me nuts.
To top it off its 108 degrees and I going to cut my lawn (didnt start yet) with my Wright Zero my truck and trailer are in at my storage yard. A guy in a landscaping service goes to me HEY I'm thinking here we go....I said yea. He says if you would like me to show you how to use that I will. I said nah I'm good thanks. Then he says you can give it to me and I will mow your yard this year and next for free. I go this is 3500 mower are you nuts have a good day!!!
Really amateurs.....

Shark1611
07-23-2011, 03:01 PM
What ever guys
I could go on all week month year and there is always someone out there wanting to drag the LCO Business down to a bunch of rednecks in wife beaters mowing lawns for $5:00 and $10:00.

Good luck guys.

I agree with you. I have been doing this for a year and right out of the box I got insurance and tax ID. I do not like paying it out but for me I know I am under the law and taking care of my business.

SECTLANDSCAPING
07-24-2011, 06:32 PM
It catches up with them when they cant bid on commercial projects. I have two commercial properties that make more money then all my lawn care accounts. I also spend less time there, make more profit and can relax instead of getting into a price war with a 18 yr old. I dont have to worry about losing the commercial guy where the homeowners come and go.

I have to laugh when the illegitimate lco says it cost a lot to become legal. It cost less then a push mower. I do know people who arent that have nicer equipment and prettier trucks but so and so property management will never let them on their property without a COI.

The other part that gets me is how do you have a dozen customers and cant afford it?

Steve
01-12-2015, 08:17 PM
Have you found as the economy improves that there is less lowballing going on with pricing or is it always out there at a similar % rate?

biglee
01-13-2015, 03:05 PM
Have you found as the economy improves that there is less lowballing going on with pricing or is it always out there at a similar % rate?

Funny you should ask that Steve. A friend and I were talking about this last week.

The economy is improving slightly and we are not seeing as much low balling around here, work for both of us has been easy to get and we are getting what our time is worth. Our phones are ringing constantly, it seems like this winter was better than last spring. Things are on the up and this is supposed to be the (cough) "Off Season" for us down here. Low balling is alive and well, it is just not effecting us right now, Folks have more money around here and are less afraid to spend it, that equates to more work for my friend and I from the customers we want. Good customers will shy away from low ballers...when they have the cash!

We can hope this little ploy against Russia does not backfire in our faces, if so we will all be low ballers.

Mr. Mow
01-19-2015, 08:22 AM
Low ballers will indeed put them selves out of business. There was a guy running around here mowing lawns for $20... he was busy all the time....you would see him all over town... Well, now you dont. NO ads on CL, no Google ads anymore...He mowed himself right out of business. Then he could have possibly found a "regular" job somewhere..IDK. But all of the $20 people Ive heard of, are now gone. Evaporated into the sunset. I did some $20 cuts too, but I started to see the light. I was like "this aint gonna work much longer". And to the other issue...part-timers are just fine. There's nothing wrong with someone going out and mowing lawns on the weekends and making a few hundred dollars.

jrs.landscaping
01-19-2015, 01:14 PM
We maintain some properties for $15-20, must be lowballing :rolleyes:

rmccutchan
01-19-2015, 10:27 PM
OK Insurance can be expensive and I understand that not everyone can afford it right away.

I know the stuff is not cheap, but I feel that we can't afford NOT to have it, no matter how small our operation is. My opinion is to beg, steal, or borrow whatever it takes to get insurance BEFORE you even set foot on someone elses property. Heck, my son was mowing our OWN front yard and my homeowners insurance had to pay for a neighbors car window after a surprise rock found it's way over there. There are too many sue happy people out there.

Steve
01-20-2015, 04:10 PM
Heck, my son was mowing our OWN front yard and my homeowners insurance had to pay for a neighbors car window after a surprise rock found it's way over there.

How much did that experience end up costing? It would be interesting for others to know what such events can cost them.

rmccutchan
01-20-2015, 10:37 PM
How much did that experience end up costing? It would be interesting for others to know what such events can cost them.

I don't recall....probably about $500 at the time. I'm just glad it was a window and not a person.

I thought about this thread earlier today, and I really want to stress how important it is to maintain insurance. The manager of the properties I mow require me to show proof of insurance before I even show up on the property. I mean think about it; all it takes is the blades finding a small piece of metal or a rock hidden in the grass. Have you seen how fast a hot-wheels car can fly across a yard?! Yes, the customer is supposed to have their stuff picked up, and yes, you can be the most carful person in the world, but accidents DO happen.

Mr. Mow
01-21-2015, 07:35 AM
We maintain some properties for $15-20, must be lowballing :rolleyes:

What part of the country are you in? Prices differ from region to region, but my gosh, $15? People wont hardly hire someone here for $15....if you are TOO low, they wont. They are scared are of what they are gonna get for that price. You must have some steep competition where you are at. I wont even get out of the truck for less than $25 anymore. When I started, I was low priced, but I was also ignorant, because I was running myself to death for what amounted to pocket change at the end of the week. The average around here is $35-$40.

jrs.landscaping
01-21-2015, 10:17 AM
What part of the country are you in? Prices differ from region to region, but my gosh, $15? People wont hardly hire someone here for $15....if you are TOO low, they wont. They are scared are of what they are gonna get for that price. You must have some steep competition where you are at. I wont even get out of the truck for less than $25 anymore. When I started, I was low priced, but I was also ignorant, because I was running myself to death for what amounted to pocket change at the end of the week. The average around here is $35-$40.

You also have to look at total contract value for these properties, one contract is 40k and the other is 18k. I don't really consider it working for peanuts when we are averaging 76 pmh doing these properties.

Mr. Mow
01-21-2015, 06:57 PM
One is 40K and one is 18K, how many hours are you clocking on the mowers, not to mention drive time and truck fuel to GET to said 40k and 18K properties? I will tell you, I'm not trying to be argumentative. I'm only 7 years into the business, and I'm looking to learn from whoever... Tell me, how you do this. From what I just read, you are driving to location "X", and location "Y" for $15-$20 a pop. Thats a sh**t load of trips to the tune of 40K and 18K. I understand total contract value, but damn, how many times do you have to drive there to get that? $58,000? Again, I ask where are you in this country where you drive somewhere to do a job for $15 to $20? You might need to move.

jrs.landscaping
01-21-2015, 07:15 PM
One is 40K and one is 18K, how many hours are you clocking on the mowers, not to mention drive time and truck fuel to GET to said 40k and 18K properties? I will tell you, I'm not trying to be argumentative. I'm only 7 years into the business, and I'm looking to learn from whoever... Tell me, how you do this. From what I just read, you are driving to location "X", and location "Y" for $15-$20 a pop. Thats a sh**t load of trips to the tune of 40K and 18K.

There are other properties as part of each contract. 15-20 is the low end and goes up towards $300 per property.

You have to take the low end properties as well as the larger ones. I've done 55 in one 10 hour day as a solo crew, so do some math.......

55 x 17.5 average = 962.50 or 96.25 PMH in one day doing these properties. Granted I ate on the run and took no breaks other than driving :(

The smaller properties take between 5-15 minutes to service. I've said it before that volume can be profitable, I used to say the same as you, "I won't drop the gate for less than $30 per visit :eek:" Then I crunched the numbers, so personally if grossing $96 per hour is lowballing I'm fine with that :p

On a side note I clock 0 hours on the mowers, I use a string trimmer and blower for these properties.

Mr. Mow
01-21-2015, 07:58 PM
$1000 gross in one day is pretty amazing..but again, its seems like you are running the crap out of your truck, your trailer...your BODY ( your main tool)....all the things that seem invisible until they break. But if you are telling you are running a grand a day, or even $750 a day, even during peak season, I'll tell ya, you are full of it. I'd really like to see your net. Ive got a "gross" total as well... During working hours, I can come close to your $96 PH, doing HALF as much running around as you, on the gross. But come the end of the year, when we do the "reciept shakedown"...trimmer string, blades, plugs... FUEL, tires, truck parts...wheel bearings..insurance, bonding..advertising....etc..etc..etc...mosquito spray...sunscreen..water.... (yeah, ALL that little stuff too), another story unfolds.

jrs.landscaping
01-21-2015, 08:15 PM
I'm pretty sure I know how to compile a p&l. I'm also not here to get acknowledgment from someone via the internet. You can believe me or not, doesn't phase me either way. You asked how it could be done and I responded.

biglee
01-21-2015, 08:20 PM
$1000 gross in one day is pretty amazing..but again, its seems like you are running the crap out of your truck, your trailer...your BODY ( your main tool)....all the things that seem invisible until they break. But if you are telling you are running a grand a day, or even $750 a day, even during peak season, I'll tell ya, you are full of it. I'd really like to see your net. Ive got a "gross" total as well... During working hours, I can come close to your $96 PH, doing HALF as much running around as you, on the gross. But come the end of the year, when we do the "reciept shakedown"...trimmer string, blades, plugs... FUEL, tires, truck parts...wheel bearings..insurance, bonding..advertising....etc..etc..etc...mosquito spray...sunscreen..water.... (yeah, ALL that little stuff too), another story unfolds.


He is obviously working for a property preservation company. Yet and still I don't see how the heck one can do 50+ in 1 day....And 1G per day....come on man, I worked for a big outfit for many many years and most crews never made that in a day.... the ones who did were multiple men on a truck doing large contracts. Im not calling you a liar dude but if what you say is true you are doing better than most large franchises on a per crew basis. I have made 1,000.00 in a day numerous times, just not mowing.

jrs.landscaping
01-21-2015, 08:36 PM
No it isn't preservation work, that day was my record. Even at 25 per property per day that's still 500, you couldn't blow out 25 1k sq ft properties in a day?

biglee
01-22-2015, 02:09 PM
No it isn't preservation work, that day was my record. Even at 25 per property per day that's still 500, you couldn't blow out 25 1k sq ft properties in a day?


I don't want to do 25 per day.... tho I could. That's just me. I get what you are saying tho.

avetslawncare
01-27-2015, 07:59 PM
50+ properties in a day.....nottttt possible. I don't care if you aren't taking breaks..eating on the run....especially not possible if you are not even mowing (just weed eating)... now, I have had days that I have made over $700 mowing by myself..but not by doing 50+ properties in a day....maybe a 4 man crew could pull this off.

jrs.landscaping
01-27-2015, 08:21 PM
50+ properties in a day.....nottttt possible. I don't care if you aren't taking breaks..eating on the run....especially not possible if you are not even mowing (just weed eating)... now, I have had days that I have made over $700 mowing by myself..but not by doing 50+ properties in a day....maybe a 4 man crew could pull this off.

Why would you send a 4 man crew to do 400-1200 sq ft properties?

avetslawncare
01-27-2015, 08:52 PM
I never would...was just making a point. I would never send more than 2 for residential.

jrs.landscaping
01-27-2015, 09:01 PM
I never would...was just making a point. I would never send more than 2 for residential.

Point taken, I'm not talking about residential properties in my example.