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musician/lawnman
07-12-2009, 09:23 PM
Steve, You do a great job as a moderator, The site is awesome for those starting out & who need to learn the basics. I have often wondered why so many of the great & knowledgeable guys who were on here so often when I started coming on the forum seem to dwindle off? You never see them post anymore. I am betting some of them still check the posts and like me have gotten bored of seeing the same questions asked & the same coversations repeated over & over again so they little by little come on less frequently until eventually they just stop all together. I still check this site daily & have found the majority of days I see either nothing of interest or just the same old posts regurgitated again asking the same questions. I love the forum and was damn near addicted to it at one point but my interest is fading quickly.
At some point a year or so ago I noticed I was no longer the one asking for advice but always the one giving it & am now tired of posting the same advice on the same topics... I may be on a bit less as I have grown too busy & rarely learn (or see) anything new here anymore. Sad realization for me but I guess it's the way it goes.

Steve
07-13-2009, 09:49 AM
That is a fantastic insight.

I don't think it's sad at all actually. I have seen you grow and flourish while on the forum. From working at your other jobs and doing lawn care on the side to going great guns with your lawn care business and having nothing holding you back.

To me this forum's goal is to help educate entrepreneurs get up and running. You are up and running and a shinning example of what one can do when they dedicate themselves and focus on achieving their goals.

To me, I learn something new every single day and I am always taking notes of what I learn on here. There are brilliant insights on here daily.

I can see your point. There can come a time where it's like you got what you needed out of it and you are ready to move on. Kinda like being 20 and still hanging out in the H.S. parking lot after school LOL.

The question I have for you is, what is keeping you now from going to your next step? Or did you hit the mark where you want to be. There is no reason why you can't be just as inquisitive now about pushing on to the next level as you were when you were getting started.

If you found a comfortable spot for yourself, that is great.

I'd love to hear some of your insight into all this.

This is such a great topic, I could go on and on about it and I just might after you respond :)

CHEESE2009
07-13-2009, 01:07 PM
Kinda like being 20 and still hanging out in the H.S. parking lot after school LOL.



LMFAO!!! Steve you kill me!!! :D



In a way as we all learn & become more then what we were, the forum loses some value. Though to me, this is like a group of online best friends?:confused::) :)

Everyone on this forum are the only people that I know who could really understand our work lives & have the experience to help with tons of RANDOM problems, even if it doesn't deal with mowing itself.

Sometimes I see the same post every now & then, but It's still fun to help out. I'm the one posting really stupid things, though I feel like people need a little bit of entertainment. My post "Horror Movies" I thought would be fun. General talk should be abused more often.


It's also especially fun to see the new folks come in & grow their business in ways we never thought possible. If not, we can help them with the tactics we've learned. A lot of possibilities!

Maybe we should have another thread for ... COMPETITIONS? Or something...

Steve can hold a monthly competition where we can all participate... Example:

"Best Stripes"

"Best Hedge Trim"

"Best Equipment"

"Best Uniform"

"Best Drunk Picture" <** LOL, I think we could have ALL sorts of competitions, not just dealing with work!

etc...

We could even make a video page! Where we ALL film how we go about our day!!! Then Steve can take all our videos & make a collab video for his site!

Make a bunch of "how to" vids!



Here is a new forum topic idea...

"If music suddenly started playing out of nowhere every time that you worked, but you could only listen to 4 songs, what would they be?"

... Jaws theme song.... :)

ritchiem
07-13-2009, 09:04 PM
I agree Chuck...the forum can really only take you so far. I guess I am one of the older members still around...I like helping people out and try and re-direct them to older or repeated posts to answer repeat questions.

I do however like the fact that we have a lot of new faces on here now. The talent is building up and this is now the go to forum on the web for people needing help with their green business.

Steve can hold a monthly competition where we can all participate... Example:

"Best Stripes"

"Best Hedge Trim"

"Best Equipment"

"Best Uniform"

"Best Drunk Picture" <** LOL, I think we could have ALL sorts of competitions, not just dealing with work!

Now that sounds like a great idea!

musician/lawnman
07-13-2009, 10:02 PM
Yes I like to help people too but I can't help but feel that I might snap & kick the crap (if only the virtual crap) out of somebody if I read one more "How much should I charge?" post.

I have reached a plateau where I am running a 3 man crew at full steam 5-6 days a week. I have worked 7 days a week for over a month now. I have also crunched the numbers out & have decided not to roll a 2nd crew out at this time but to use new customers to filter out the bad ones, slow payers & PIA customers off my schedule. That feels really good to do by the way. To be able to fire customers that I have had to put up with for years because I "needed" the business then. I am in good shap business wise & in a good position (if I wanted) to expand out next year though I don't know if I want the additional headaches of growing bigger than this. I am doing 5 days of maintenence a week & have been doing a ton of landscaping & clean up work over the weekends. I am not advertising other than the website anymore & the phones keep ringing.... I am turning new maintenence clients away unless they are 1 minute or less off of my current routes. I just don't have the damn time to be traveling. I could take a customer today 5 minutes out but know that tommorrow I won't have room in the schedule for my current clients next door neighbor. I now have a multitude of stops where we park the truck & do 3,4,& 5 homes from one stop. It's pretty sweet to have stops where we can rock out $100+ worth of work in a hour, drive 2 minutes & do it again.
If I expand out at all it will be in other directions. I mean If anyting I'd like to add other services & have a dedicated truck to do them & only them, not another lawn service rigg. I sold that other mower, (my Yazoo Kees) last week by the way, so that was sweet to unload & get some cash back as it was paid for.
All is well I guess I just really need some time off. I started this business in June of 07, I was busy right away & working my butt off all summer thinking "it's ok I'll relax in the winter". But I failed to secure enough annual clients to survive that 1st winter on this income alone. So I worked the other jobs Steve was referring to that winter to make ends meet. I ramped up last spring & blew the business up! I figured "it's ok, I'll relax this winter...." I lost the employee I wanted to keep in november & ended up running solo (still full time +) in the off season. Which brings us to now, with work boiling over & out of the pot, trying to keep up & working more hours & harder than I ever have & still thinking......."it's ok, ... I'll relax this winter....".
I love being my own boss & calling all the shots, but man, I also miss just working my 40 hrs & going home when you could just check all the work BS at the door & not think about it again til monday morning. I miss that summer no longer means nice family days at the beach & barbeques out back to me anymore... Now it means working my Ballz off in the heat so many hours a week that the thought of going out in it to sit at the beach sounds like a disgustingly vile idea & my wife want's to know why I don't want to go with her & the kids to "enjoy" the day. I told her " ya know how your stuck in the house all week & want to get out to do something different like.... going to the beach? I am out there all week long.... The couch is my something different. I just wanna go to the couch today."
OK, done ranting for now. That's where I am at.

swstout
07-13-2009, 11:24 PM
Yes I like to help people too but I can't help but feel that I might snap & kick the crap (if only the virtual crap) out of somebody if I read one more "How much should I charge?" post.

I have reached a plateau where I am running a 3 man crew at full steam 5-6 days a week. I have worked 7 days a week for over a month now. I have also crunched the numbers out & have decided not to roll a 2nd crew out at this time but to use new customers to filter out the bad ones, slow payers & PIA customers off my schedule. That feels really good to do by the way. To be able to fire customers that I have had to put up with for years because I "needed" the business then. I am in good shap business wise & in a good position (if I wanted) to expand out next year though I don't know if I want the additional headaches of growing bigger than this. I am doing 5 days of maintenence a week & have been doing a ton of landscaping & clean up work over the weekends. I am not advertising other than the website anymore & the phones keep ringing.... I am turning new maintenence clients away unless they are 1 minute or less off of my current routes. I just don't have the damn time to be traveling. I could take a customer today 5 minutes out but know that tommorrow I won't have room in the schedule for my current clients next door neighbor. I now have a multitude of stops where we park the truck & do 3,4,& 5 homes from one stop. It's pretty sweet to have stops where we can rock out $100+ worth of work in a hour, drive 2 minutes & do it again.
If I expand out at all it will be in other directions. I mean If anyting I'd like to add other services & have a dedicated truck to do them & only them, not another lawn service rigg. I sold that other mower, (my Yazoo Kees) last week by the way, so that was sweet to unload & get some cash back as it was paid for.
All is well I guess I just really need some time off. I started this business in June of 07, I was busy right away & working my butt off all summer thinking "it's ok I'll relax in the winter". But I failed to secure enough annual clients to survive that 1st winter on this income alone. So I worked the other jobs Steve was referring to that winter to make ends meet. I ramped up last spring & blew the business up! I figured "it's ok, I'll relax this winter...." I lost the employee I wanted to keep in november & ended up running solo (still full time +) in the off season. Which brings us to now, with work boiling over & out of the pot, trying to keep up & working more hours & harder than I ever have & still thinking......."it's ok, ... I'll relax this winter....".
I love being my own boss & calling all the shots, but man, I also miss just working my 40 hrs & going home when you could just check all the work BS at the door & not think about it again til monday morning. I miss that summer no longer means nice family days at the beach & barbeques out back to me anymore... Now it means working my Ballz off in the heat so many hours a week that the thought of going out in it to sit at the beach sounds like a disgustingly vile idea & my wife want's to know why I don't want to go with her & the kids to "enjoy" the day. I told her " ya know how your stuck in the house all week & want to get out to do something different like.... going to the beach? I am out there all week long.... The couch is my something different. I just wanna go to the couch today."
OK, done ranting for now. That's where I am at.

How much should I charge? I feel you should charge whatever you can get that will keep you in business. Offer a quality service, meet your customer's needs (and sometimes wants) to stay in business. What Joe charges in LA can't compare to me in Hartsville SC where the unemployment rate is over 18%.
As for time spent on "the job", what customers to keep and drop, travel range, and personal time; Only (you) or I can decide. I have always been very active, but I always found time for my family when I was available Military and jobs tended to keep me traveling). Never missed a kids ball game, play, graduation, etc.
Once, when my oldest son wanted to play Little league baseball at one of my posts, he was not chose for any of the teams along with other kids. One of the other fathers and I decided to form a team of our own, found a sponsor for uniforms, etc. and coached them. The kids that nobody wanted on their teams went undefeated! It took time I had very little of, but the rewards I gained from my family (especially my son) were immeasurable.
I want to get away from the hard, hot work and am grooming a team that I will just lead (I am almost 61). I say lead not supervise or boss because I want them to be businessmen (not just employees).
I am running 3 - 2 man crews now but business has slowed so much that I can only work them part time. Of my 5 employees, 3 work another job so it isn't that bad for them. but the other two are struggling.
I am putting in 70-80 hours a week but more and more it is at home bookkeeping, marketing. I spend 15-20 hours a week checking on the crews and customers.
I don't have a couch to spend time on (it's not comfortable). I have a recliner! All I have to do to get a relaxing sleep is wait for a show, sporting event, or special I really want to see. My kids are all gone now and I make special efforts to do things outside the hone with my wife of 37 years. at least once a week. One of our favorite times together is just going out for dinner and a show. I pick the restaurant and she picks the show (I have to give in somewhere).
As for people asking question on the forum, sometimes, the questions can get me thinking about ways to better achieve my end goals. Although posts that have no relevance to the business like movies and "personal"problems tend to fry me.

turfmaster
07-14-2009, 08:30 AM
Being one of the "old dogs" not to the forum but to the business over 20 years.
I know what you mean about some of the repetitive common sense questions that are asked all the time.

I wish guys would use the search feature on some of these questions like "what kind of advertising" or "how to estimate a mowing job". Most if not all of these questions could be answered in the archive posts.

I do however still enjoy some of the posts here in regards to organic fertilization and other services that I'm not currently offering.

By the way Chuck congratulations on achieving the success you enjoy in only 2 years that's phenomenal. :D

Steve
07-14-2009, 11:56 AM
This post is amazing. Nice job chuck.

Maybe we should have another thread for ... COMPETITIONS? Or something...

First off, Scott, you are very creative and there is no reason why you can't go and start this now. Make a thread as you think this stuff up and see which one catches on or not. Have fun with it and spread the joy.


Now it means working my Ballz off in the heat so many hours a week that the thought of going out in it to sit at the beach sounds like a disgustingly vile idea & my wife want's to know why I don't want to go with her & the kids to "enjoy" the day. I told her " ya know how your stuck in the house all week & want to get out to do something different like.... going to the beach? I am out there all week long.... The couch is my something different. I just wanna go to the couch today.

This is an amazing insight. In my mind, it goes under the topic of balance. When you are getting any business started, we know that on average the vast majority of them fail.

So when you are able to get a business going where it makes it through a year and keeps on chugging, that is an amazing feet!

Next up as Chuck pointed out, you want to work your *** off when you can get the work so you can then have money saved up to let you have some down time. But sometimes we just aren't able to do that unless we really have things planned out.

Next it seems we can get addicted to work. I think especially to guys, we want to always be doing something, moving around, accomplishing a goal. It feels good and we want to do more and more. In the back of our heads we feel that we need to. We need to take on all that we can as soon as we can because it may not be there tomorrow.

Which brings me to the topic of management. I forgot which book I read this in, but there was a saying that said, 'the man who owns his job, has a lunatic as a boss.'

That basically pointed out, ideally you don't want to own your job. You want to own a business. For instance, when Conrad Hilton was running his hotel, he made it a point to never work after 5pm. He didn't care what was going, he wasn't going to bother with it after 5pm.

In the evenings, he liked to dance and that is what he did.

I think this is part of what made him so successful. He was able to find good people to handle key job positions and not carry the burden of the business on his back alone. Hilton hotels are still a leader in the hotel business today and it shouldn't be a surprise, due to the way he set it up.

So how then can each of us take the business to the next step? How can we relinquish some control in order to free ourselves up to grow?

Another big question is, do we want this? Would we rather be in charge of everything at all times? Do we want a kingdom where all decisions go through us and we are there to do everything?

Some business owners like that. They like knowing they are in ultimate control and are needed for everything the business does. The down side is, you lose all your time. But to many, this is what they want.

What do you want? The world is your oyster. What is your ideal?

I'd like to hear some thoughts on this.

majoe7
07-14-2009, 02:11 PM
As I made my thread "Vacation Time" I thought about how much my family and I look forward to this vacation every year. I do a lot of planning a head of time with both business I have. Time away from "work" is just that. I haven't called my business back home or have had any of my lawn care clients call me either. When I plan time away, I delegate my authority to people who I can trust and know will make smart choices that won't hurt the business I built up to what it is now. I have many

musician/lawnman
07-14-2009, 07:43 PM
By the way Chuck congratulations on achieving the success you enjoy in only 2 years that's phenomenal. :D

Thank you Randy, It's been alot of work to get it here. It's kind of a drag to put the brakes on the growth. The whole concept of slowing it down is kind of a turn off. I have enjoyed building a good business from nothing. The growth is my challenge. I know myself & I know that if I put the business in a stagnant holding pattern it's only a matter of time (probably a year or 2) before I will get bored & frustrated with it. I am already thinking of offering other services in the future under another name or division of the company. Maybe pool service, window cleaning, etc. I don't know yet. The wheels in my head are always turning & looking for a new angle to work.

CHEESE2009
07-14-2009, 11:14 PM
my reply to Steve!

What you wrote was great!

To me, I love to own my business & to have control over everything. The problem is just that, though. Sometimes there is so much going on & I'm the only person who has to take care of it.

The reason for this is because I'm a critic, I have a great worker who does an extraordinary work yet being an owner I can't help but believe the job is never done until I get my hands dirty in their work.

I always have to do finishing touches, sometimes it's not necessary, but I take time out of my day to just try to make it a tad better.

Not sure why, maybe it's a trust issue I have.

I never think something is 100% done, & I have to realize garden weeding is never 100% done. You can't really get every single weed in a garden full of bushes, trees, & large rocks. Though while I'm out there, it's a must!

Perfection addiction lol...

Steve
07-15-2009, 11:32 AM
It's been alot of work to get it here. It's kind of a drag to put the brakes on the growth. The whole concept of slowing it down is kind of a turn off. I have enjoyed building a good business from nothing. The growth is my challenge. I know myself & I know that if I put the business in a stagnant holding pattern it's only a matter of time (probably a year or 2) before I will get bored & frustrated with it. I am already thinking of offering other services in the future under another name or division of the company. Maybe pool service, window cleaning, etc. I don't know yet. The wheels in my head are always turning & looking for a new angle to work.

We have seen on the forum how growth can get away from you. I think one post referred to growing no more than 20% a year. If you grow faster than that, you run the risk of not having the capital to fund the growth, or you can find yourself cannibalizing your business. You can also grow beyond your management abilities.

Another thing that is fascinating about growth is that it can initially cut back on profits as you scale outwards. You make less money per crew that you ultimately need to make up for in volume of having more crews.

Did you ever think about franchising your business model? Would that be something that would help? Or do you feel you would like to have multiple crews? Maybe you could get into some niche services?