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  • What recession?

    I know costs are up & everything is expensive as hell.
    but I am going insane. Busines is so good I'm now turning them away unless they are ideal clients & looking for annual service. I'm getting ready to start dropping many of my pay per service clients, I've gained 40 new clients in the last 60 days. (one of which is a development, 15 homes & all common areas.... the entrance, around the gates, sidewalks, & around the lake).
    I'll do more gross business this week than I did in january & almost as much as I did in december & january combined. My business is just over a year old & It's been going well all along but the snowball has gained momentum & I can't seem to slow it down! Fair prices (NOT LOWBALLING) & the best damn service you can provide is the way to go fellas.

    By the way, I'm adding a 3rd guy to the crew (should be starting tommorrow)
    I'm currently running 18-22 lawns a day with 2 of us (and doing a nice job, no mow & go service here) & each day we have at least some trimming at a stop or 2 also. Can't wait to see what we are capable of as a 3 man team.
    Up until 2 & a half months ago it was just me last summer & fall I was busy,then slow for the winter, & man has it just exploded going into this season.

  • #2
    Chuck,

    Sometimes a person finds there thing in life. Where they finally fit and they have a platform to shine. I think you have found it. You are just rocking and rolling with all this.

    I do look forwards to hearing your thoughts on the difference in going from a 2 man crew to a 3 man crew.

    Let us know your reflections on it.
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    • #3
      Hey Chuck, maybe you could throw a little work my way! haha
      Northern California

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      • #4
        Wow!

        Chuck, congrats on all the sucess, man must be nice, trying to get it going here ( Also in Florida, east coast,central) just so many low-ballers out there, i have not broken down and lowered my prices , but man, seems like there are so many as you put it once " mow for beer money" outfits out there makes it tuff on the guy starting out that pays for Lic,Ins,TAXES,And does a real good job,and every cust i have seems to be cutting back to bi-weekly, aanyway, sorry for blabbing in your thread but i guess just frustratedi have only been at it for 2 months now, have 12 bi-weekly's 2- small commercial, a property management co., and starving still, ugg......good job Chuck, once again sorry about my rantting

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        • #5
          Chuck,

          Since you have been able to make it through that initial tough time, what advice would you have to Sherman on this topic?
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          • #6
            Sherman,

            I know it's tough starting out. In the beggining I accepted the bi-weeklys too. Working harder for some money was better than sitting home for no money. Some of those biweeklys from last year eventually went weekly & then became annual customers of mine this year. Some I dropped when they declined to at least go to a weekly per cut, There are a few biweeklys I kept if they were next to or across the street from another customer of mine but I charge 1.5x normal rate for bi-weekly service. Say maam $30 is our weekly rate during the growing season, the grass grows too fast to service bi-weekly. If you insist on that service frequency I charge it as a cut & a half. After all it will take me nearly twice as long since I am cutting & mulching twice the grass growth, However it does save me a trip here so I do not charge double. I understand your need to save money, but I've got to cover my additional expenses for the amount of time & fuel it will take & for the additional wear & tear on belts, blades, & pullies..... & I stick to it.

            I've had customers say "but you've got that huge machine that can plow thru anything! why do you need to charge me more?" I answered yes my machine can make it through about anything because I spend $8 grand per machine to buy professional quality gear that has a long life expectancy under normal use. Mowing high grass all the time is not normal use & will cause breakage & a shortened service life. (people tend to cringe at the though of 8,000 for a mower & he did, so I continued) If you think that's bad yo should see the repair bills for it, or the bills for the fuel such a monster consumes....

            I won't back down. Business is business, personal is personal. Befriend your customers & build repoir personally. Then help them understand & respect you as a professional. Everything is as expensive for you as it is for them. Your fuels, electric, water, tv, phones, are just as ridiculous as theirs. You need to turn a profit to surive, or the great price for them will only last until you run yourself out of business because you tried to be too nice. Your in business to make money, not to cut grass. That just happens to be how you make money. I've told potential clients "listen I don't need the practice here.... I'm not providing a service to break even at the end of the day"

            Hope this rant helps you!

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            • #7
              Sherman,

              I know it's tough starting out. In the beggining I accepted the bi-weeklys too. Working harder for some money was better than sitting home for no money. Some of those biweeklys from last year eventually went weekly & then became annual customers of mine this year. Some I dropped when they declined to at least go to a weekly per cut, There are a few biweeklys I kept if they were next to or across the street from another customer of mine but I charge 1.5x normal rate for bi-weekly service. Say maam $30 is our weekly rate during the growing season, the grass grows too fast to service bi-weekly. If you insist on that service frequency I charge it as a cut & a half. After all it will take me nearly twice as long since I am cutting & mulching twice the grass growth, However it does save me a trip here so I do not charge double. I understand your need to save money, but I've got to cover my additional expenses for the amount of time & fuel it will take & for the additional wear & tear on belts, blades, & pullies..... & I stick to it.

              I've had customers say "but you've got that huge machine that can plow thru anything! why do you need to charge me more?" I answered yes my machine can make it through about anything because I spend $8 grand per machine to buy professional quality gear that has a long life expectancy under normal use. Mowing high grass all the time is not normal use & will cause breakage & a shortened service life. (people tend to cringe at the though of 8,000 for a mower & he did, so I continued) If you think that's bad yo should see the repair bills for it, or the bills for the fuel such a monster consumes....

              I won't back down. Business is business, personal is personal. Befriend your customers & build repoir personally. Then help them understand & respect you as a professional. Everything is as expensive for you as it is for them. Your fuels, electric, water, tv, phones, are just as ridiculous as theirs. You need to turn a profit to surive, or the great price for them will only last until you run yourself out of business because you tried to be too nice. Your in business to make money, not to cut grass. That just happens to be how you make money. I've told potential clients "listen I don't need the practice here.... I'm not providing a service to break even at the end of the day"

              Hope this rant helps you!

              Well said

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              • #8
                Thank you!

                As usual Music/Lawnman And all, you have good advice, though tuff i will not give up, will not be a quiter!!...I take what i can get this is true, and will prob this year. This is what iam doing, what i want to do, and to tell the truth, out of all the things i have done in my life for work, this is the one thing i really enjoy doing. I worked for 15 years after colleage for the worlds largest food dist, i managed 168 truck drivers in florida alone, and though i made very very good money, i hated every min. of it, every! i had a small lco when i was in school 20 some years ago, and that is why i am back doing this now, i enjoy it. The truth to the matter though is like you said Chuck, i am doing it for a living, to feed my kids and wife , and i have to do it right.
                I still have so much to learn and you guys have been great ith alot of that. The lawn care buiss has changed alot since the late 80's though, still moving forward as slow as it may be.
                Thanks

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                • #9
                  Sherman,

                  What do you think kept you from starting your lawn care business earlier? How did you justify it in your head that it was ok to hate your job and just suck it up and deal with it?

                  I think a lot of people sit on that fence everyday and are afraid to do anything different.
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                  • #10
                    Sherman,

                    What do you think kept you from starting your lawn care business earlier? How did you justify it in your head that it was ok to hate your job and just suck it up and deal with it?

                    I think a lot of people sit on that fence everyday and are afraid to do anything different.
                    Good Question Steve.
                    Well i only have 2 answer's. There names are Jennifer & Travis,as i mentioned before, i had great benifits, and made really good money, i was able to take care of my kid's and wife without ever any doubt. Always had money, to make sure they always had what they needed with school, or just wanted. Always had food on the table, clothes on our backs, and the vacations for my kids that will give them the memmories they wont forget. I have always been family first and could never bring myself to take the chance while they where still young, and very needy as most kids are. OK, Now this is where it gets funny, Kinda, I turned forty Two last August My son turned 18 last year, my doughter turned 20, ok i tell my self now is the time. LOL make all the arrangements to get my LCO off the ground and guess what, I had a new grand baby girl born on Dec 22 2007, well that's kinda funny huh, well then to to get to the real funny, i had a brand new Baby Girl My New Doughter born on Dec 25th 2007, yep Christmas day. and well i am now a lco, a grandpa, and a father all over again in the same year. Well thats my story, and i am working my butt off trying to make a go of it.

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                    • #11
                      WOW That is a great story!

                      Do you think that you are better prepared mentally to deal with running your own business than you would have been when you were younger. Has life experience made it any easier to run it?
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                      • #12
                        Ya,i Beleave so

                        WOW That is a great story!

                        Do you think that you are better prepared mentally to deal with running your own business than you would have been when you were younger. Has life experience made it any easier to run it?
                        Yea, i am more able to run it now, i have more years under my belt. A prime example is in 1984 i started a LCO, as a side gig, as it went in the first month i had14 accts, all commercial, it seemed so much easier then to get the accts. I was 19 and making 2800 a month on these accts.(i also pressure washed the side walks once a month for the resturants) But thought i had to keep with the BIG CO. and use all that learning paid so much for. I had some good accts. The UAW hall, Perkins resturants (5) Pondarosa's (4) and a couple hotels in liss. by Disney, and at that age , when i felt i was stretched to thin, i just stopped doing them, did not go back , call or anything. That i would , could never do now, then young and dumb even with all that college.
                        Just wish it was as easy to get the accts. now as it was for me then. It has changed alot since the mid 80's
                        Last edited by VPS Lawn Care; 07-15-2008, 05:54 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Stick to it Sherman, You'll be fine dude.

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                          • #14
                            Just an update on this post...

                            So I ran all summer with a 3 man crew(2 employees + myself), at 1st it was a situation where 2 guys could no longer keep up, but 3 guys on the team basically ment we could get more done in the day but only little more than enough to cover the 3rd guys labor. As we worked I kept working on different stratagies & found a system that helped make us more efficient once at a clients home. Then I revamped my route again. Then we kept gaining new clients & each new customer within our service area ment the stops were now closer together. Drive time is the biggest killer of productivity & there more guys on the crew, the more it hurts. Cause 3 men can't get there any faster than 2. 10 min of driving with 2 guys is 20 labor, & 30 minutes with 3 in the truck.

                            As this season progressed we got to the point we were doing 28-30 properties a day. So towards the end of the summer we had gotten back to being a more profitable business machine. If your route is tight, a 3 man system works. If you're all over town, your better served alone until business gets better.

                            Going into next season I plan to set up a 2nd truck, I'll probably run 2 employees on 1 truck & go solo on the other, at least for a while, Then I'll add a helper on my crew as things progress. Ultimately the most profitable system seems to be 1 guy per truck, but unless you've got the capital to buy 2-3 full riggs as you expand it's not a practical business model.
                            Say for instance (to explain): one man can probable average around $40-45 average gross per hour. 2 guys can hit $70-75, while 3 were usually say $90- $100. So $100/hr is nice but it's with 3 guys? 2 trucks with 1 man each could collectively hit $80-90 per hour and save an entire guys labor. So either you invest in the equipment, or you invest in unessesary labor.... So I guess that's why most factories are so automated now.

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                            • #15
                              Chuck,

                              That is really very insightful.

                              Say for instance (to explain): one man can probable average around $40-45 average gross per hour. 2 guys can hit $70-75, while 3 were usually say $90- $100. So $100/hr is nice but it's with 3 guys? 2 trucks with 1 man each could collectively hit $80-90 per hour and save an entire guys labor.
                              Do you have any estimates on the profit level for each of these categories? I bet a lot of readers are looking at this and thinking WOW with 3 guys I can hit $100 an hour, but that is not the real full story one should focus on. It's the profitability of it. What's your view?
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