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Im done.........Maybe... loooong read...

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  • Im done.........Maybe... loooong read...

    I wasnt sure how to word the title, but you get the idea.. 08 and 09 have been pretty bad for me in both personal and business..Although my personal life is much better, my business didnt do so well..Clients went with cheaper lco's, started doing it them selves etc...So I started working for my Step Dad this past winter installing propane tanks in the ground. The pay sucks and very seldom a full 5 day week. But I look at it as its helping with the bills and Im learning the business(which I enjoy)..He makes anywhere from 80k to 100k a year doing this work...He had throat cancer and its came back 3 times(hopefully gone for good this time). I know Ill get the business if he decides to give it up or something happens to him..

    So anyways, the lawn business sucks and work for my dad has been good. I only have 2 clients left who are doing very well financially.. But working with my Dad 5 days a week, Ive had to mow them on either Saturday or Sunday.. One client said to give it a break and He's mow for September.. The other said NO mowing on Sunday..So for the past week Ive been doing alot of thinking what I should do.Lawn business is sucking, Ive had to move into an apartment, so My trailer stays at a friends untill I can find a place to keep it. My equipment stays in storage a few miles from home and a few more miles from my trailers location. I finally decided I should give the lawn business a break and see how working with my Dad goes..
    After talking with my neighbor about what I did(he thinks I made a bad move).. Im having second thoughts...

    Here are the negatives for working for my Dad..
    1. Its a 100 mile round trip from home to his house.
    2. The pay is daily pay and it doesnt matter what time we are done.
    3. I leave at 5am and alot of the time I dont get home till 8 or 9 pm.
    4. He's very moody and doesnt seem to give a shizit if we fall over dead or not..Its very hot down here and water from the spicket doesnt help much.

    Now for the Lawn Business side..

    Ive been in and around this business since 1986 and went on my own in 1995.. Although from 95-00, I didnt care about being successful.. I did alot of partying and skipped work for sleep and play..I ended up getting really sick and was in the hospital for 2 week's with pneumonia.. I had no one I could count on to take care of my clients.. My wife called most of them, they either stayed or left.. Well most left.. So after I recovered we were forced to move in with her parents.. I kept the few I had and got a part time job with her step father.. That job ended up being full time..Until I became a manager.. Long hours and crappy pay.. I got into a fight with my boss and got fired.. So back to the lawn business I went..I was out of it for almost 5 years and didnt know how the business would do in the county we now lived in..I made 1000 fliers.. Passed them all out in the area I wanted to work in..Got a few calls, landed about 1/4 of those calls...Problem was.. high priced..Well crap, Im using the same pricing I was using 10 years ago..But anyways a few months go by and I do another 1000 fliers in some new areas close by.. I got a few more accounts.. The most I had was 18 in this area.. Still pricing too high.. But i refused to lower my prices as thought they were low enough. My price range was from $85-$110 a month for 1/4 acre lot including hedges and weed control yearly..
    The downfall this time.. It started on Holloween of 08.. I fell through a window and cut up my arm pretty bad.. Had to have alot of stitches and could bend my wrist..But this time, My brother helped me out(when I could wake him up.. LAZYYYY) I lost a few from that injury due to not being able to depend on my brother..I had enough work to keep me busy for 2 full days.. The other days, I either worked with my Dad or looked for a part time job.. I had 0 luck on the part time job..Then working with my Dad one day, I injured my knee.. Had to wear a motionless brace for 3 weeks.. But I only used it for a week.. I had to get back to work..So I bought a decent brace and went mowing the next day.. Took me forever to mow, but I got the job done..During that time, I lost more clients...

    This is pretty much where I stand now..IM not mowing anymore, but working with my Dad isnt a full weeks work.
    One day a week I go out job hunting, but thats getting tough as well with the gas prices hovering around $2.50 a gallon. I still want to do the organic fertilizing, but dont have the start up funds..
    Im kind of stuck right now, not knowing what to really do..

    I hope all this makes sense..


    In Memory of My Dad..1943-2008..Gary "Snuffy" Smith

  • #2
    This is a great post, & I hope everyone will come together & figure out a plan for you.

    I worked for my stepfather a few times, and being family it doesn't make the job easier, it's brutally hard. You pull more hours, make crappy pay with more responsibilities & expectations. It's difficult.

    It sounds like your lacking funds, & it's scary to even suggest creating a savings just to get yourself some equipment to start a new business.

    What if you were able to work for another lawn service company as a foreman? (BOOOO) Though I'm not 100% clear on your injuries.

    Maybe you should lower your prices? You'll be doing double the work for the usual pay, but that pay does come in, right? Maybe a year later you can raise the price & hope most of the customers will stay on board.

    I'm not sure what type of equipment you have, but if you have a sit on/stand on mower, take it easy & just ride through the day.

    Focus on houses that enable you to use bigger equipment, so you don't end up stuck with a push mower.

    You know our prices don't go down regardless if we are able to mow a lawn faster than we previously did with a push mower vs ZTM etc, but what if you tried to do that?

    If a lawn is big & takes 40 minutes to do with a push mower, but 20 minutes to do with a ZTM, charge less????

    ANYWAY, It's hard to decide what to do. Personally I hardly practice what I preach. LOL

    WHAT IF you did bids on commercial properties, maybe land yourself a few sports complexes or shopping centers? Even if you give a GREAT price, you'll still make a decent income & not have to travel around. The only expenses are getting there & back, using your equipment, & your time.

    Maybe all of us can write a letter of recommendation towards your company, in order for you to advertise yourself?


    • #3
      There is a lot going on in your life!

      You talked about getting into offering organic fertilization. What kind of money would you need to do that?

      Handing out flyers seems to not really bring many customers. What about an ad in the paper or craigslist?

      Would you like to get more mowing clients again?

      Maybe there are even other things going on in your mind?

      Tell us what you think about some of this.
      - Subscribe to my Lawn Care Marketing Blog Feed and get daily tips sent to you. Free!
      Download your Free trial of Gopher Lawn Care Software.


      • #4
        My opinion is this for what its worth. I can make good money at 25.00 if I use a zero turn or any good rider for that matter. If hungry I would do them cheaper and still profit in my area
        Now there might be some that argue that lowering your prices is a cheap shot and unprofessional. No!
        Chad, we are in a tuff economy and I for one do not look for it to get better and maybe even worse. If you are a smaller company that does excellent quality work you will survive. If you have a rider you will take work from bigger companies because you can. Call it lowballing, I could give a darn as I will do whatever it takes to keep my mower going till times get better... and I will pay the bills. One thing you cannot do is be wishy washy with the mowing. either you are in or out and the customer will know it. Build relationships with clients not whore pretend business men that want to use you up for profit. I also believe if you follow the guidelines here on this forum you will make it.
        I, like you have never had it easy but we will make it

        Good luck & best of times, wolfie


        • #5
          Wow, you guys made me smile...Thanks..

          Working for another LCO? Ive been to every LCO company around.. None are hiring.. Maybe because I have too much experience, or because I dont speak spanish.. I dunno..
          I dont lack any equiptment.. I have it all.. From a 52" ZTR to small hedge clippers..Although my 36 does need some welding on..My injuries to my knee are stable now.. But I still take it easy.. No more running around for me..

          Ive gotten clients from both fliers and Craigslist... Fliers seem better than craigslist..Ive even landed 1 from my website..

          Steve... I figured I'd need about $300 to get started in the organic field.. IM still very interested, but moving, working for my dad alot has kept me from starting it..I also want to get more mowing clients since I have all the equipment and I still enjoy mowing..

          Lawns down here are going for $60 a month..Thats $15 per cut.. I wont go any lower then that..But I also havent tried getting clients at that price either..I have about 250 fliers ready to go..IM just not sure if anyone is going to be looking this late in the season..Plus, I want to go back to my old business name of Chads Lawn Service...

          Steve can you check to see if my Chadslawn name is still here? Id like to go back to it..

          I think what I really need is a good business plan...

          In Memory of My Dad..1943-2008..Gary "Snuffy" Smith


          • #6
            Steve can you check to see if my Chadslawn name is still here? Id like to go back to it..
            It's still there waiting for you

            I think what I really need is a good business plan...
            What kind of things do you feel you need to plan out?
            - Subscribe to my Lawn Care Marketing Blog Feed and get daily tips sent to you. Free!
            Download your Free trial of Gopher Lawn Care Software.


            • #7
              It's still there waiting for you Can you reset the password... I dont remember the pass or the email I used to register with..

              What kind of things do you feel you need to plan out? That Im not really sure of.. Ive never had a business plan.. I just went out and did the work..I use to do all my business using Gopher.

              Replies in blue above Steve

              In Memory of My Dad..1943-2008..Gary "Snuffy" Smith


              • #8

                I think the economy will turn around and we will have another boom in something. I think that almost everyday, we will see some sort of financial releif. I hate giving anything up but...if you walk away you walk away and that business you must own and make it your's. Whats that old saying the farther you get into the harder it is to come back. Something to that nature. Everything seem's to have a two sided sword doesn't it?


                • #9
                  Whats that old saying the farther you get into the harder it is to come back.
                  This reminds me of something I always think about too. You gotta be in it to win it. Things may not be good today but if you are in it, they can turn around and get better.
                  - Subscribe to my Lawn Care Marketing Blog Feed and get daily tips sent to you. Free!
                  Download your Free trial of Gopher Lawn Care Software.


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