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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.

What I have learned


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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  #21  
Old 01-01-2011, 01:53 PM
Growing Green Growing Green is offline
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Originally Posted by T.J.F. View Post
Just wanted to say that "What I have learned" thread was very well put. I work full time approx. 60 per week just recently (2009) began a small lawn mowing business...had know idea it would do this well out the gate. I currently have a business plan that covers the next 3 years that covers everything from equipment purchases, future employments, expanding from mowing to fall cleanups and snow removal. Eventualy Taking the plunge going from part time to full time.
I know it may sound old fashioned but I have pain stakingly tried not to get into debt. And believe you me its hard not to buy that new ZTR, or that Walk be-hind when it pulls its magic spell on you wispering "you really need me, C'mon you know you do..." yeah I know this is'nt for those that are well established but listen. I work for an industry that turns over 3.5 trillion (yes, I said TRILLION) dallors a year, and the number one thing they are always watching is their overhead. So my hats off to this chap for his learning experience and sharing it.
Haha that is funny. I feel the same way when I see the ZTR. I'm also really bad when I go to the Stihl distributor. I want everything. I'm like a kid in a candy store.

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  #22  
Old 01-05-2011, 05:47 PM
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I currently have a business plan that covers the next 3 years that covers everything from equipment purchases, future employments, expanding from mowing to fall cleanups and snow removal. Eventualy Taking the plunge going from part time to full time.
Could you tell us more about your business plan and the future steps you want to take to go from part time to full time? I am sure this could help many of the members especially the newer businesses.
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  #23  
Old 02-18-2011, 04:17 PM
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How does everone do all of their bookwork. I have tried bringing a computer in the truck, or doing everything when I get home. Sometimes the end of the week. It really starts to add up if you don't stay on it right away. Quick books or gopher help but trying to put in every expense u have sending out bills, keeping track of people who have paid. All the little things seem to take a back seat.
I start my morning going over weather, yards for the day, best routs possible, bills that need to be paid and repairs if any on equipment. Workers show up we go work 10 hr days with a stop home to get the mail and some lunch. I finish the day sending workers home and now I stat all over, record bills, sharpen blades, get gas, plans for tomorro,make a new schedule, return calls. If I did everything I'm suposed to do everyday I would run out of hours, so it gets put off til a rainy day or when it stops raining and the grass slows down. There has to be a more simple approach. I have been looking into tablets and programs that let u use ur cell to manage on the go, does anyone use a program like this. Maybe I'm in a unique spot, just small enough to do everything but not big enough to hire, but I need to figure out something as spring is approaching.
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  #24  
Old 02-18-2011, 10:51 PM
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Yea im stir crazy over paperwork and books too, actually its my taxes im worried about, i am just now finishing remodelling a reoom in my house into an office, im about 90% done!
So this years taxes are great!
But last years, i have let slip a little and it really tought me to keep up better with my books.
Ill manage to get copies for enough expenses to cover my income as i spent 15k of my personal money into this biz.

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I have a house full of papers, a garage full of mowers, a town full of customers a brain full of ideas and somehow i gotta squeeze a life into that. Does anyone hire an office assistant.
no but i need to lol, i feel like this, minus the town full of customers, i only have a town full of ppl i need to advertise to
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  #25  
Old 02-19-2011, 04:09 AM
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I know a guy who mainly does irrigation systems, i dont have the time for that, and he is the go to guy in town so i stay away, but i have refered a few people to him and he has done the same for me. I ran into him at the gas station and he came over and we got to talking, he said he strugled with new customers calling, if he lets it go to voice mail the people could move on. if he answers he looks around the truck and grabs some old mail and jots down the info. He always gets out to give his estimates and does the work, but when it comes time to send a bill.... that old envelope is long gone.

He told me he hired his mom, and it was the best decision he ever made. she answers the phone and has a copy of his schedule, she knows roughly how long a job should take, so when someone calls she sends him a message with the details and logs all the information. after he finished his estimate, he calls her up, gives her the details and its all saved. his business is a little different, getting new customers everyday, unlike spring and fall being our busy call seasons.

Im sure thats not a spot many people are in, having someone who is available and knoledgeable that isnt going to cost you tens of thousands a year. But i have been thinking of a way to build off that. maybe find someone in town i trust that doesnt have a very busy schedule, I know a guy that runs a computer repair shop, or a lady that runs a daycare, to them its a 5 min phone call away from their day, to save me hours of book keeping hastles later. they will be doing you a huge favor but you dont need to give them 10 bucks an hour, they would probably take 10 bucks a day. I havent done this but its an idea i have been working on, maybe i send my kid to that daycare or i get my computers fixed there.

I love that this site lets people with the same ideas and thoughts get together and really learn from eachother. In my area there is almost a little dislike for the other businesses that i dont understand. there are 2 companies that have been around for 25+ years and they almost look at it as I am stealing from them, or this is there town. so without a place like this my brain would be going crazy with things i want to say but no one loves a nice lawn as much as i do.
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  #26  
Old 02-20-2011, 01:17 PM
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What about hiring a local senior citizen that is retired and looking for something to do?
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  #27  
Old 02-28-2011, 12:38 AM
hansons_lawncare hansons_lawncare is offline
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Yea that's a good idea. As long as they have a little knoledge of what I'm doing and how long it takes to do it. I would need a second cell phone. It might be nice if something comes up to have someone who can run and get something or whatever comes up so I don't have to slow down. I just got a scooter for doing estimates and all the running around. Its hard to compete with gas prices. If I'm mowing a yard for 30 and I need to add for gas, truck, zero turn blower trimmer edger its very easy to use a gallon or 2 of gas, at 4 bucks a gallon I eat over 26% in fuel. If I add a fuel charge I'm afraid of not only losing a customer but also the customer thinking that its just getting to be too much and they buy a mower, hire a neighborhood kid. Now the town loses a customer not just me. So I need to find a way to walk that line. Raise a price so I can still make money but not scare away a customer. It would be ok to make a little less profit for a year if I knew prices would go down but I'm worried that this will be a life long problem. They improve vehicle milage but I don't hear much about mower advancements. Ill wear a soler panel hat. if prices continue I could see that putting a lot of guys out of business
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  #28  
Old 03-01-2011, 05:26 PM
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It would be ok to make a little less profit for a year if I knew prices would go down but I'm worried that this will be a life long problem.
If you think this is the way it is going to go, are there other options you could choose to improve your business?
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  #29  
Old 03-02-2011, 11:18 PM
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Well we have talked before about keeping routs in the same neighborhoods to avoid drive time and fuel, Im looking into some of the stand on or even walk behind mowers with the smaller engines. I have even looked into the idea of push mowing yards, but then it becomes an issue of labor time and the ability to do many yards in a day. I have already eliminate the tailer and use a cube van with a ramp, my pickup was getting about 10 mpg. the bigger stronger truck can do 15 in town easy, and haul everything i could ever need. but theres only so many cut backs you can make before affecting quality. I want to move to a bigger city, where the minimum prices are MUCH better than in my town, but its hard to relocate and try and start over. I suffered to get where im at, i dont want to start from scratch in a new neighborhood with no reputaion or local references. I have considered doing more landscaping or other services that lawn companies provide and they all have large time and expense. I currently have one employee and we usually ride together, unless we are going to other ends of town. I would worry about bringing someone on to work and not have enough work, even as a part time guy people really cant drop everything when i need them, and sit around waiting so i can save money.
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  #30  
Old 03-02-2011, 11:32 PM
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these are a few pictures of where I am today.
1st trailer
2nd Truck during fall clean ups with leaf box
3rd Dump truck
4th making the dump truck leaf box
5th the isuzu, it has a ramp on the back. bad angle

072.jpg

071.jpg

094.jpg

073.jpg

093.jpg
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