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Trials & Tribulations - The drama of running a business and of life. It's not as easy as it looks. Running a business is full of drama. Customers, employees, money, family, time. You name it, it's a problem. Share with us your drama and how you handled it.

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Trials & Tribulations - The drama of running a business and of life.

It's not as easy as it looks. Running a business is full of drama. Customers, employees, money, family, time. You name it, it's a problem. Share with us your drama and how you handled it.
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  #1  
Old 06-27-2009, 08:56 PM
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Yesterday, someone I know said their mower caught on fire and asked if I'd mow it for $70, which is more than any of my accounts. He said it was really big, and I knew it was farther than any of my yards, but today I got directions, and was there at 9. It took 40 minutes to get there, in the middle of nowhere. It was probably about 8 acres with trees, palmetto bushes, a pond, a shed, a front gate, etc. Looked like its was mowed about 3 weeks ago, with those long shoots of grass over 2 ft high, and the normal grass about 10 inches. I started mowing, having no clue what was under the grass and hich areas he usually mows, and scraped a bunch of rocks until I hit a good one and bent my blade down so I was carving a rut as I drove. Drove 40 minutes back home, got another blade (from now on I'll bring a spare) then 40 min back to the property, changed the blade and started mowing again. I realized my center blade wasn't cutting, and was dulled from the rocks, so I sharpened it on site with my dremel. Then back to mowing, but soon realized the long shoots were just bending over so I had to go super slow. It was so fustrating! Here I have this fast 50" mawer and I'm backtracking over areas I already did and going a very slow walking speed on 8 acres of grass! Since I was going so slow and backtracking, I ran out of gas and had to drive 15 minutes to the nearest gas station and back. Anyway, after trimming around the trees (only a few of them) and edging the driveway, I was ready for my 40 min drive home. It was 5pm! He asked when I'd make it back to mow again and I said NEVER! Then I was thinking, now that I know where not to mow, so I wouldn't lose a blade, and if I went weekly, so I could go full speed and not waste gas, it might not be so bad, maybe under 2 hours? I'd like a little more $ too but I'm not sure what he could swing. I'd much rather knock out 3 $35 local homes in an hour. Anyway, are there any tricks for those tall grass shoots? Modifying the front edge of the deck for more clearance or something? You should've heard the new and exciting colorful words I was yelling on the way home. I invented new combinations of compound words that were very interesting.
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  #2  
Old 06-27-2009, 11:24 PM
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That sounds like a pain!!!!!!!

I'm pretty ticked off too... I just got a sign made for my lawn, & I put it out...

1 hr... ONE HOUR... and I hear a big BANG...

I go outside & it's knocked over with a big rock sitting by it. .. Damn kids... b**tards...

My trailer was also spray painted by some punks the other day. I had to repaint it.

They spray painted, "NO PARKING" on every side. Though the spray paint job DID look good, it just wasn't the symbol for lawn service, so I was p'd off!
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Old 06-28-2009, 03:18 AM
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Oh I am sorry about that. How long did the job take in total?



Why the heck would they paint no parking? That is nutty
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  #4  
Old 06-28-2009, 05:41 AM
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Boy Andy that was a tough day, but 8 acres....good lord buddy even with my ZTR that would be at least $250., we do one large cottage property that is an estate, it is 2 1/2 acres, good mowing conditions, we charge $185.00, takes about 90 min.

I cringe at new places especially when they are large and especially when they are over grown, we did two last week, one was nothing but problems.

I dropped the guys off, grass was about 18" high, real estate job, about 3,500 square feet, left to do a spraying, got a call within 15 min, the pull cord on a new mower would not engage, told them to just use the X500 and snip the rest, 10 more min another call, head on the trimmer overheated, melted and would not advance, went back to drop off a spare, employee hit a rock and bent a blade, changed it as I had a spare, tractor would not start, took it to deere with the mower and trimmer, bad fuel pump on the tractor, a cog on the device that engages the pull cord on the Billy Goat had to be replaced, a washer was missing on the trimmer causing it to over heat, down time almost three hours with travel. Only upside is we were hired to come back to this site for mulching and weeding, $1,200....I will make back the down time

I could write a list of problems we had last week from an excavator getting stuck digging a pond to hydraulic lines blowing due to poor locations and no guards anyhow although I used some colorful language at the time, I know laugh it off and look for ways to avoid it again.
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Old 06-29-2009, 05:53 AM
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Andy,

How technically proficient are some of your employees? Can they fix machinery problems or do you prefer they not and you fix them?
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Old 06-29-2009, 06:27 AM
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Andy,

How technically proficient are some of your employees? Can they fix machinery problems or do you prefer they not and you fix them?
Good question, while they may think they are proficient, I do not let employees do any maintenance, two reasons, all the equipment is under warranty, more important is safety. As the owner of the company I may fix an issue and if I do I will be responsible, I am by far from perfect but I pay attention to detail, I have been around gear for so may years I notice little things, hear little things and take action if necessary.

An example was yesterday, I dropped in to check on a chipping crew, they were doing a great job, the chipper was being run by the power take off on the back of the tractor, basically spins the chipper, I noticed the drive shaft was rubbing on a hydro hose as the tie strap had broke, no chance of injury however a new hydro hose would have meant three hours of down time and probably $125.00. I fixed it before it became a problem.

I also have a deal with John Deere, 95%+ of our equipment is bought from them and includes other brands, they will come to a site within 60min and repair or replace whatever is broken, I pay a small annual service fee for this level of service which is critical as I can't always go.

I also have access to 24 hour parts from their warehouse in the USA, Saturday night I was digging a drain on my property in the woods, the hydro hose for the front blade became hung up on a stump and I broke a connector, two issues here, there should be a skid plate for this location and I built one yesterday, this is a very specific fitting so I ordered one from the states as I checked local inventory and no one had one, it will arrive this morning at 10 and I will repair myself as it's a 10 min job.
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  #7  
Old 06-29-2009, 10:08 PM
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You know whats awesome? Posting that I had a bad day and hearing everyone elses problems too. Good to know I'm not alone. No matter how much you guys tell me, for some reason I insist on learning everything the hard way. This time, it was more of a favor thing, but when he asked when I'll be back I was shocked, and I actually think he thought he was doing me a favor throwing me 70 bucks. I almost spent that much in gas. I wish I had an accurate acreage of grass for you, but the property has so much going on, with the pond, woods, fence, etc thats its kinda tough. I'm thinking I might be in the 1.5 hour range at full speed and no problems, but since when are there no problems? I'm wondering how bad it would be every other week, and charging $150 so he can afford it (its his girlfriend's place that her e husband bought in case you're wondering why a guy in a million dollar house can't pay to get the yard mowed). If I had to go as slow as last time, it wouldn't be worth it, but if I could zip along, I think that'd be fair. Yeah, its far, but I wouldn't be driving around town to 5 $30 yards either, just driving once and going home so it'd work out even I guess. Thoughts? Should I just forget about it? It would be $300 extra a month. No matter what, even on bad days, this sure beats waiting tables, and telling my kids "No, I can't take you to the fireworks because I have to work".
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Old 06-29-2009, 11:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andyjoneslawncare View Post
You know whats awesome? Posting that I had a bad day and hearing everyone elses problems too. Good to know I'm not alone. No matter how much you guys tell me, for some reason I insist on learning everything the hard way. This time, it was more of a favor thing, but when he asked when I'll be back I was shocked, and I actually think he thought he was doing me a favor throwing me 70 bucks. I almost spent that much in gas. I wish I had an accurate acreage of grass for you, but the property has so much going on, with the pond, woods, fence, etc thats its kinda tough. I'm thinking I might be in the 1.5 hour range at full speed and no problems, but since when are there no problems? I'm wondering how bad it would be every other week, and charging $150 so he can afford it (its his girlfriend's place that her e husband bought in case you're wondering why a guy in a million dollar house can't pay to get the yard mowed). If I had to go as slow as last time, it wouldn't be worth it, but if I could zip along, I think that'd be fair. Yeah, its far, but I wouldn't be driving around town to 5 $30 yards either, just driving once and going home so it'd work out even I guess. Thoughts? Should I just forget about it? It would be $300 extra a month. No matter what, even on bad days, this sure beats waiting tables, and telling my kids "No, I can't take you to the fireworks because I have to work".
$150.00 would be the lowest I would go if you can get it all done in 1 1/2 hours especially with that drive time.
Cutting bi-weekly might slow you down and would be tougher on your mower.
As long as your not killing your equipment I would do it.
I personally prefer larger properties. Less loading and unloading and windshield time.
As long as I average $50-60.00/ hour from arrival to leaving I'm fine.
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Old 06-30-2009, 04:37 AM
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We have a few bi weekly mow jobs and so far they have been fine, our growing conditions are not as good as yours, perhaps I should say the grass probably doesnlt grow near as fast.

Since you know the fellow just explain with the cost of fuel, travel and the size you have to get at least $xxx.xx and see what he says, there is no way he could do a property that size with a push mower and it doesn't sound like he is going to drop the bucks for a ride on so you have that on your side.
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Old 06-30-2009, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by picframer View Post
We have a few bi weekly mow jobs and so far they have been fine, our growing conditions are not as good as yours, perhaps I should say the grass probably doesnlt grow near as fast.

Since you know the fellow just explain with the cost of fuel, travel and the size you have to get at least $xxx.xx and see what he says, there is no way he could do a property that size with a push mower and it doesn't sound like he is going to drop the bucks for a ride on so you have that on your side.
Good point, I'll just lay it out for him on paper and it'll be up to him. It'll save me a lot of swearing. Obviously, I'd like $150/week, I just can't see him springing for $600/ month, but if last time the grass was 3 weeks high, 2 weeks might not be so bad. Like Turfmaster said, it beats loading and unloading at 4-5 different houses, and its really no more driving than I'd do going to that many homes instead, and like you said, other than finding someone closer to mow it for him, what choice does he have? Even if his neighbor had a lawn business, they'd probably charge just as much.
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