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It may be time for a hard choice

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  • #16
    It seems like this could be a big issue for many lawn care business owners. Especially when you are looking at cash flow.

    You can think you are doing really well but if you don't take into account your expenses, what appears to be positive cash flow can ultimately really be negative cash flow.

    This really can come to light when you have a slow down in work, where the income decreases but the expenses stay the same.

    Expenses can be a stealth killer of businesses, particularly in slow economic times.
    Thats exactly how it works Steve, then you have those expenses like licenses that come out of the blue. I had no idea mine were expiring, they are annual expenses so you dont think about them until they hit you. When you deal with the slow down, operating expenses and then hit with these annual expenses you would be amazed at how fast the money can get sucked away from you.
    White Company

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    • #17
      What is your view on how those reading this discussion should handle such a situation? How do they know if they are just one step away from a disaster, even if the financial picture seems quite rosy at the moment?
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      • #18
        What is your view on how those reading this discussion should handle such a situation? How do they know if they are just one step away from a disaster, even if the financial picture seems quite rosy at the moment?
        Steve. I would love to answer that question but I wont. I worry if I answer it people may use my idea to get out just the same situation and because I am shooting in the dark and have no idea how to get out of it I would hate for my idea to be the demise of someone ellses business. If and when we find a cure that works I will post what we had to doi
        White Company

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        • #19
          All of my lawns came from big companies worried about the big fish

          I had a lady the other day call and tell me her lawn service charges her 50 dollars to mow it bi-weekly and she was looking for someone new. They had started at 25 and just kept going up and up. There lawn takes me 30 min to do so i charge 25. 50 dollars an hour is good enough for me. please don't tell me this is lowballing. customers are not ATM's! Listen to there stories when you can and be that friendly helpful lawn guy and you will go far! I currently don't want anything but small lawns the smaller the better. All about that price point. A big lawn that takes you 2 hours to do no one could see paying you 100 bucks. But four small lawns next to each other done in the same amount of time and these people will adore you 25 dollars is a bargain!

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          • #20
            I agree with you. I have one I charge $50 for but its a half acre lawn and takes me about 1.5 hours to mow and edge. I could get it done a lot faster but they just seeded a hillside and its riddled with rocks so I must go in 1st gear only and watch for rocks. I would normally charge about $52.50 for this as I shoot for $35 per hour but I have never raised my prices with her. I hate people that come in low just to get a job then the quality of work goes down while there price goes up.
            White Company

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            • #21
              Running A Business

              First, I find it hard to believe your bank was overflowing, since now you are limited on your funds. I think you might have thought you had more money than you really did. Not trying to be a jerk just saying.


              If you really want to get your business back on track I would start by reading a multitude of business books,

              1. Marketing, Marketing on a Budget Gurrella Marketing ETC.

              2.Budgeting

              3.Management

              4. Any other business book you can get you hands on.


              I would suggest door to door, dress professional, Dickie's -Nice Shirt ETC.

              Make a monthly budget and don't just buy stuff because you "think" you need it.

              I weigh my priority all the time. And only spend a certain amount of money on expansion each month. Also keeping six month worth of expenses and enough for my license and bond renewal.

              Also Marketing dollars are not even effective if not focused properly. Stop advertising in the phone book and get more online classifieds etc.

              Vinyl on the truck is much better money spent then a yellow page ad.

              If and when you get your money flowing again get some business books and read as much as you can. I hope this helps good luck. !

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              • #22
                Ok I am not making excuses here but I can just about counter everything in your reply. Dont get me wrong I greatly appreciate your reply however. My accounts were overflowing. I dont have a company do my finances. Every day I sit in the office and enter expenses and invoices into the computer myself so I always know whats going on with the cash flow every day. Things got more expensive and income didn't go up so the cash just started disappearing. As far as reading. Trust me I have. I own several books on starting and managing a business. I never really read to many of them but since things have gone down hill they have been getting a lot of use.

                As far as advertising I have paid for door to door fliers to be put out and got 0 results, The advertising on my truck has produced 0 results, the advertising online has produced 0 results. The only business I have ever gotten was from my add in the local buy and sell paper. That runs me about $45 per month for the text add and for the past few months has produced 0 results. Starting this week I am going to a business card size image add that I am told produces better results than text adds, the problem is now the cost is $106 per month so if it doesn't produce results fairly fast I am not sure how long I will want to carry that cost in my personal check book.

                I do agree I spent more on equipment that I needed to. I would always say if I needed something I would just buy it. A good example is the county job I have been doing. To provided all the equipment but I like using my own stuff. I didn't have to but I went out and got what I needed. Maybe I should have used theirs as they have to pay for the gas, maintenance and all.

                From here I still dont know where to go. I just got off the phone with the person with the paper who designed my add and thankfully they are letting my go on a biweekly deal "normally its a 3 month contract" They understand my fear of losing more money though and said we will run it for 2 weeks then check back in to see how things are going. I think maybe that's a good determining factor for weather I continue this or not. If in 2 weeks I still have not even one call then I count my losses and run. If however I do get new business, at least enough to cover the add then maybe I can keep it up for a bit. My fear is just not making money. I started this in June of 2009 and as of today still have not taken any money home. All the money I made went right back into the business accounts. If that's how its going to continue to be there is no point in going any further, after all I got into this to make money and leave my day job but 15 months later I am still working my day job and all I have to show for my business efforts is some nice fancy lawn care equipment.
                White Company

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                • #23
                  I do agree I spent more on equipment that I needed to. I would always say if I needed something I would just buy it. A good example is the county job I have been doing. To provided all the equipment but I like using my own stuff. I didn't have to but I went out and got what I needed. Maybe I should have used theirs as they have to pay for the gas, maintenance and all.
                  I don't want to breeze over this because it could be a big issue.

                  What equipment did you buy for this job and how much could you have saved if you would have used theirs?
                  - 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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                  • #24
                    [QUOTE=jasonw;76627]

                    As far as advertising I have paid for door to door fliers to be put out and got 0 results, The advertising on my truck has produced 0 results, the advertising online has produced 0 results. "



                    I would not pay for someone else to put out fliers at this point, the best approach to that is to do it yourself with business cards and just tell them you work in the area. Knock on their door. I have got lots of jobs this way politicians do the same thing.

                    What does the ads on your truck look like. I remember you posting a picture with some small letters and a number. For about $70 you can go to a fast signs and get a vinyl sign large enough to draw some attention. Signs on the truck that look nice ad to marketing also as you look "professional"

                    I would post nice HTML ads learn to code HTML and post some nice ads, you think about updating your web page with the same info as well since you already pay for hosting. Just some thoughts.

                    Oh yeah, don't BUY business books, I have read tons and tons of business and selling/marketing books for free I even listen to them as I drive on my routes there is this little known place called the library.

                    If you do the things I advised you to do you'll get some business.

                    Knock doors all day if you don't have any work. Offer to weed planting beds, mow lawns, trim Hedges ETC.

                    I hope I was helpful! Good luck.

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                    • #25
                      Alan b

                      In doing your advertising I would consider trying your own company uniform. If other ways have not worked in the past try something new. The uniform shows you take pride in your business and you take effort in furthering your business. Also in bidding an hour and a half job for 50 bucks is way under what you could possibly get. I would suggest writing down everything you do, from cranking your truck to turning off the mower to leave what all did you use. You just need once all is said and done you need to profit something. Your doing quality workget rewarded for it.

                      Good luck with everything

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                      • #26
                        I don't want to breeze over this because it could be a big issue.

                        What equipment did you buy for this job and how much could you have saved if you would have used theirs?
                        Steve as of now I am not that bad off with this current job, just a couple few hundred bucks. They even want e to take a county truck home so they cover the gas and everything. I just dont like using other peoples things so I use my own truck and equipment.
                        White Company

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                        • #27
                          [QUOTE=Yard Elements;76683]

                          As far as advertising I have paid for door to door fliers to be put out and got 0 results, The advertising on my truck has produced 0 results, the advertising online has produced 0 results. "



                          I would not pay for someone else to put out fliers at this point, the best approach to that is to do it yourself with business cards and just tell them you work in the area. Knock on their door. I have got lots of jobs this way politicians do the same thing.

                          What does the ads on your truck look like. I remember you posting a picture with some small letters and a number. For about $70 you can go to a fast signs and get a vinyl sign large enough to draw some attention. Signs on the truck that look nice ad to marketing also as you look "professional"

                          I would post nice HTML ads learn to code HTML and post some nice ads, you think about updating your web page with the same info as well since you already pay for hosting. Just some thoughts.

                          Oh yeah, don't BUY business books, I have read tons and tons of business and selling/marketing books for free I even listen to them as I drive on my routes there is this little known place called the library.

                          If you do the things I advised you to do you'll get some business.

                          Knock doors all day if you don't have any work. Offer to weed planting beds, mow lawns, trim Hedges ETC.

                          I hope I was helpful! Good luck.
                          Thanks for the comments, they are getting my brain working. I thought the same thing about the lettering on my truck so I had it replaced with 4" lettering. This was fairly costly as when we took the old lettering off the paint came off to so I had to repaint my tailgate and doors. I only paid to have fliers delivered because I am far to busy to do it and it was an employee I paid to do it so I know he knew our business however he was lazy and has since been fired so maybe he was not the best option, he probably just put the fliers in the trash then turned in his time saying it took all day. Your library recommendation is a good one but a day late and dollar short with me. When I started my first business in 2006 I purchased a plethora of books, the good thing is I own them all so can reference them any time. Going door to door personally is a very hard thing for me to do, you see this property maintenance thing is only on venture for me, I have 2 others I work on as well as a day job so after my 20 hour 7 days a week work day is done I am left with little option but to hire someone to get some work done for me. I know I need to start freeing up more time but when I look at the big picture even though this has made me more money to day than the others at the current time my other venture are showing much more promise than this which is why this one is the first to be considered for the chopping block.
                          White Company

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                          • #28
                            In doing your advertising I would consider trying your own company uniform. If other ways have not worked in the past try something new. The uniform shows you take pride in your business and you take effort in furthering your business. Also in bidding an hour and a half job for 50 bucks is way under what you could possibly get. I would suggest writing down everything you do, from cranking your truck to turning off the mower to leave what all did you use. You just need once all is said and done you need to profit something. Your doing quality workget rewarded for it.

                            Good luck with everything
                            Thanks a uniform may be a good idea but maybe a better idea once I determine weather this is a losing battle or if we will be able to pull out of the slump. To date I have used a dress code but it mainly consists of jeans and a button up khaki shirt. Today my new advertisement came out, the bad news is its costing me 3 times more for this as apposed to the last one but its bigger and brighter and I am told by the advertiser it will produce great results. The thing I worry about it it has been out for 5.5 hours now and the phone has yet to ring once so my OCD kicks in and I worry that now I am tossing out over a hundred a month is advertising costs instead of $40 like I was before. I did decide to run it for 2 weeks and if it produces 0 results then no more.
                            White Company

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