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  • Smaller is better?

    Have you found that when it comes to business size, smaller is better too?

    Kirk Voss is co-owner of an rv-park and he says how he likes his business being small. He likes to be able to have the time to talk with his customers.

    Do you like a small sized business? Do your future business dreams involve keeping your business small or making it much larger?

    Smaller is better at Sunset Landing on the Siletz River - Just a little more than a mile up the Siletz River Highway, past the larger RV parks and the new construction that dots the river, there is a smaller, quieter place: Sunset Landing.

    Which is just how the owners like it.

    "I like being small because I like how personal it is," said Kirk Voss, co-owner of the RV park. "Hopefully, people don't come in, feel like they pay, and then they're lost." With just 35 spaces for RVs and tents, he can see most every spot on the property from his home.
    He especially likes "the one-on-one conversation you can get with somebody and not feel like you're just their paycheck."

    His mother-in-law and co-owner, Chris Terwilleger, said they bought the park because the family wanted to move to the coast from Portland. She, too, however, likes it small, calling it "more friendly and intimate." Indeed, the first thing they did after buying the park was reduce the number of spaces from 41 to 35.


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  • #2
    There are pros and cons to being small. I know that when I was a medium sized company years ago I could take more days off and take on more work. But I also had more headaches and more callbacks from customers. Being small I don't have to worry about employees or payroll, also I never get callbacks from lawn maintenance. I have only had 3 callbacks this year, and that was for just weed control. Yes I admit, I wish that I had the employees sometimes for I could take some days off from work.

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    • #3
      Which direction do you see yourself taking your company in the future? More employees or no and why so?
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      • #4
        I was just thinking about that today (I was sitting home because of rain) and thinking where I should take the business. The last two years I have been seriously doubting myself constantly of what direction I should take the business. Whether it be the size or the services offered I still do not have a clear cut answer.

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        • #5
          For me, I have an ultimate goal for yearly salary. When I can get to that goal and not be in the field anymore, then I'll be happy. That goal is going to take 2-3 maintenance crews. So I'd say I'll still be fairly small.

          I see too many horror stories about guys that are doing great solo averaging $60 an hour or more and then they get employee's and poof they're down to averaging $25-30 an hour with alot more headaches and some are still in the field. My goal is to need one employee after next year, and then the following year get out of the field and have 2 crews running (4-5 guys).
          \"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run\"

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          • #6
            While I can see some advantages of being small, for me it's all about growth. Not for the money or some ego-statistic, I just can't go out and do 150 lawns per week, come home to my money in the bank and be happy. It's about creating and finding new ways to grow, which I believe is our overall means as humans anyway.

            But honestly, If I take a break and just go through the motions I get very bored, very quickly, despite the money.

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            • #7
              I think you all have illustrated very well the two paths business owners' find themselves having to choose from.

              On the one hand they can just go it alone. On the other they can build and grow their business.

              Do you feel there is a correlation between the path choosen and one's desire to be working ON their business versus IN it?
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              • #8
                I would agree. But then again, perhaps I'm older and have held more jobs in my day than some.

                It may sound a tad "E-myth", but there is a fine line in this industry between merely pushing a lawnmower (i.e. having a job) to really building a business and making a profit. Justmowit has called this the biggest bump in the road to get where they're at. I would agree, to a point.

                My point, is that quite honestly I don't mind going out and doing lawns at all. Does it take me away from other tasks that could mean more profitablility to the company? I would say yes, but certainly not for a full day. And the point will come when this definitely needs to happen, and most likely soon.

                But for me to get out of the truck, and just be in the office, I would have to be ok with losing $700 per week, or $2800 per month in money to do so.

                As for a post above regarding people losing money from going solo to a 2 man crew, well there is always what I call that "grey" area in there. I can do 13 lawns max solo profitably, however If I want to get to 30, obviously I need to hire someone at lawn 14. If I don't get agressive to get more customers from 14-18 or so, I may actually lose money or lower my margin.

                You can't just take on more helpers and then not increase revenue accordingly.

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                • #9
                  Very good points Howard,

                  Quote[/b] ]but there is a fine line in this industry between merely pushing a lawnmower (i.e. having a job) to really building a business and making a profit.
                  What's your view on the % of LCOs who are content with "merely pushing a lawnmower" vs. "really building a business and making a profit"?
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                  • #10
                    That is what I feel like I am doing this year and last year. In 2004, the first year that I went back to 90% solo I had an awesome year and marking a huge profit. But the last two years I have been redefining the business and my profit has tanked big time.

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                    • #11
                      Quote[/b] (Team Gopher @ Aug. 03 2006,7:23)]Very good points Howard,

                      Quote[/b] ]but there is a fine line in this industry between merely pushing a lawnmower (i.e. having a job) to really building a business and making a profit.
                      What's your view on the % of LCOs who are content with "merely pushing a lawnmower" vs. "really building a business and making a profit"?
                      I would honestly say, that in all my travels and LCO's I have talked with, that 98% of them will be pushing mowers and entirely ok with that until they sell or quit the business.

                      It is very rare to find people who think outside that box we keep mentioning and are willing to attempt to make those things happen. A lot of it comes down to fear, as in those people aren't afraid to fail. How about taking $1000 of your profits and going with an advertising idea you had without thinking twice? Or using a current one that's been working, and tripling or more the money you put into it, based on statistics of it's success before hand.
                      It can be very similar to a poker tournament. If you want to win big, you need to bet big. But doing this aimlessly without the use of your mind is foolish. Most people don't like straying from their comfort zones, and their results will always match that.

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                      • #12
                        How much of it also comes down to a desire to be left alone? To not want employees because they don't want the hassle. They just want to do what they can by themselves.
                        How much of it is an escape from a boss versus a desire to run a business?
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                        • #13
                          Quote[/b] (Team Gopher @ Aug. 04 2006,11:14)]How much of it also comes down to a desire to be left alone? To not want employees because they don't want the hassle. They just want to do what they can by themselves.
                          How much of it is an escape from a boss versus a desire to run a business?
                          Great point Gopher,

                          Perhaps that's good enough for most people. Just simply making enough and not dealing with a boss. I can most definitely understand that.

                          But far too often a great deal are the same people on forums claiming it's impossible to do more than they've done, and any idea that they haven't thought of that works is simply a lie.

                          Not all, but this is just my experience. It's human behavior to envy what others have that we want.

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                          • #14
                            Quote[/b] ]claiming it's impossible to do more than they've done, and any idea that they haven't thought of that works is simply a lie
                            This possibly could also could be seen, as a defense mechanism to allow us to believe we've done everything we could when in fact there is a lot more we could do.
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                            • #15
                              I know that I could do more, heck I have turned away work after work because I don't want to get tied down right now with too many things. Probably my largest thing that is holding me back right now from growing any bigger is finanical situation. See, I dug myself into a deep hole about 5 years ago with debt and the business, and I am still to this day digging myself out of it. I seriously can not grow very fast because I do not have the capital to support the growth. Until I get my finanical situations in order, my growth will be crawling.

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