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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.

It may just be over


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 10-04-2012, 08:41 PM
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Default It may just be over

So after fighting and fighting for three years I may be bowing out of the property maintenance business. I just don't know what I am doing wrong and don't have much more fight in me. I am sitting at home now, the season is over, it was a terrible season and I have NO work lined up for the rest of the year and all winter.

I am sure after all of this time it SHOULD be pretty steady for me so I am SURE I am doing something wrong. My back is killing me, I have one tractor down and out and another on its way and no money in the bank to fix them, thank god for my new tractor and my day job or I would be really worrying right now.

I was always told a business will turn a profit after a year, After my first year I was upset because it never happened, then I was told that it usually takes 2 years so I jumped back on the horse and went at it, well........ I just closed out my 3rd year and still have not made back my original investment.

Not sure what to do from here, I am considering pulling all of my adds and getting rid of all the equipment that I will not use on my own property but for some reason I am still holding on by a string, hoping I guess...................
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  #2  
Old 10-04-2012, 09:21 PM
Apex Lawn & Landscape Apex Lawn & Landscape is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonw View Post
So after fighting and fighting for three years I may be bowing out of the property maintenance business. I just don't know what I am doing wrong and don't have much more fight in me. I am sitting at home now, the season is over, it was a terrible season and I have NO work lined up for the rest of the year and all winter.

I am sure after all of this time it SHOULD be pretty steady for me so I am SURE I am doing something wrong. My back is killing me, I have one tractor down and out and another on its way and no money in the bank to fix them, thank god for my new tractor and my day job or I would be really worrying right now.

I was always told a business will turn a profit after a year, After my first year I was upset because it never happened, then I was told that it usually takes 2 years so I jumped back on the horse and went at it, well........ I just closed
out my 3rd year and still have not made back my original investment.

Not sure what to do from here, I am considering pulling all of my adds and getting rid of all the equipment that I will not use on my own property but for some reason I am still holding on by a string, hoping I guess...................
Sorry to hear of your hardships man. Do you think it could be your area? I had trouble starting up in my hometown..could not get work for the life of me. Packed up shop and moved out to where my fiancé lived...networked a little with the use of the Internet and have done very well out here. I can't imagine being in the situation your in and heading into winter. Have you thought about going around to the other local landscapers and sayin hey are there any yards your lookin to get rid of..maybe they'll have some sympathy for ya. I hope it works out whichever path you chose..best of luck man.
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Old 10-04-2012, 10:45 PM
willshome willshome is offline
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Could we get a little more info about your problems like
*Are you making money per hour?
*how many lawns do you have?
*how many hours a week are you working?
*Do you have any fall cleanups?
I don't know where you got you should be making good money after one to two years but I have always been told after 3
"3 is the magic number"
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Old 10-05-2012, 05:11 AM
stevef1201 stevef1201 is offline
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Accorking to the IRS, they expect you a new business to turn a profit at the 5 year mark. whaere did you hear 1 or 2. This is the end of my third season and I have jyst barely hit into the black
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Old 10-05-2012, 09:39 AM
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CHEESE2009 CHEESE2009 is offline
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Every year is a learning experience I suppose.

What you can try and do, is condense your days so that you have at least one free day at the end of the week to play with.

With that day you should offer to repair damaged lawns to make some quick money.

I've received so many jobs out of random this year... Usually I decline odd jobs or refer my client to another company... But so far I've taken on what I could when the weather cooled down - realizing what $$$ I've been missing out on.

Every year I usually give away thousands of dollars of work because I'm usually just too uninterested, or just want to relax with my free time... but actually doing the work can make a huge difference in what you will make $$$.

Grass cutting is "ok", it brings in consistent income, but in order to get rich we'll need to offer more, and actually be willing to do the work.

The best thing I can think of, is to hire someone to assist you, or send them out on their own to take care of simple jobs. Advertising is no fun, especially when you're the one stuck doing all the work.

-

Right now is a good time to spread some soil around, throw some seed down, etc... Maybe cut a few pieces of sod and flop it down where the client has a dead patch of grass... The work is actually very easy, but our clients don't need to know that!

If you're like me, you focus too much on grass cutting - fck it, that's what is holding all of us back. This year I've given away 16 hedge trimming jobs, it's stupid. Granted, if you don't feel like doing additional work during the hot months, I understand - but now is the perfect time to get out there and grab what you can. The cool weather will put frost on your balls to keep you going.

-

Love,
Cheese xoxoxoxo

Last edited by CHEESE2009; 10-05-2012 at 09:42 AM.
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  #6  
Old 10-05-2012, 09:49 AM
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#1. No.
#2. None, the season is pretty much over, when Spring comes around I might have 2, 1 large one and one small one.
#3. 30 minutes maybe. My one big lawn takes about 3-4 hours once per month, its not really a lawn but rather a large lot full of weeds. That one ends each year once the weeds stop growing. The small one is weekly and only takes 30 minutes but just because of the experience this last part of the season I doubt I will be doing that one next season. The client was one of those that are not happy getting everything for free "you know the type"
#4. No.

My advertising this entire years has yielded a few calls and only one job "the small lawn above" I got my info about "1 year profit" just from reading online, then I actually talked to a business owner who told me it was more like 2 years. On top of that my tax person told me if I don't show some sort of profit by the end of this year the IRS will likely reject my filing because they will call me a hobby rather than a business and no longer let me write off my "hobby" expenses.

My biggest issue is I am finishing up my 3rd year and when I look at the numbers "you see some above" there is no way in hell I will be making a profit or even close to it on my 4th year.

I recently came off of a labor strike at work and one thing I learned from that is this is a make or break situation. I need to get away from that place and finally work for myself. I am already equipped to do property maintenance but can not continue putting time into something that will not pay off.

I am getting older "only 34" but my back is killing me each day, just standing to long causes back pain, I am getting more and more tired each day and more and more poorer every time I have to hook my trailer up there is money flying out of my truck bed. I have had to cut my prices in half because of unlicensed out of town providers mowing lawns for dirt cheap.

I sat and thought about it while talking to a friend the other day who is a state licensed contractor and the way I see it I have it in me to start another business from the ground up but am so wore out this one last time will probably take every last bit of life I have out of me and if it does not work there will be NO next time.

My back has been a HUGE issue, especially as of late, normally it's once every week or 2 but now it's every single day, lucking for me I am set to start getting it fixed next month. One HUGE worry of mine is once they look at it they will tell me it can not be fixed, then what? If that happens there is NO WAY I can lug a weedeater around for the next 20 years. My only option would be to hire others to do the work but local prices are so low and wage expectations are so high there is no way to find good people to do the work at an affordable rate.

I have no given up totally yet but at this point I do not see myself running any new adds at the start of next season. for three years now my monthly income dose not even cover my monthly add costs, To be honest I think the wife is also getting tired of me dumping all of our savings into this as well lol.


Quote:
Originally Posted by willshome View Post
Could we get a little more info about your problems like
*Are you making money per hour?
*how many lawns do you have?
*how many hours a week are you working?
*Do you have any fall cleanups?
I don't know where you got you should be making good money after one to two years but I have always been told after 3
"3 is the magic number"
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  #7  
Old 10-05-2012, 10:18 AM
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After three years, you will learn enough to make the fourth year count.

The first year is just a total mind-fck, so much information is being processed.

The second year, you begin putting things into practice, avoiding the mistakes of year one.

The third year, you know how things should be, and how to run the ideal company... but there is not enough time to prepare for the season.

The fourth year is where you make money, and put final touches on how your company should operate.

-

In my time, I've learned many things that helped me improve:

Year 1
I learned that people generally suck, everyone is cheap and willing to take advantage of me to receive a lower cost. My ads sucked, and I didn't put in enough effort (I just didn't know where to start).

Year 2 (worst year)
I realized my mistakes from year one. I avoided all crap work, and put my foot down and denied service for those who refused to pay on time. It was a bad year, I became 'Hitler' of lawn maintenance. If you missed a payment, you were dead to us. People panicked, and we got rid of a LOT of business. I was generally happier without the headaches, but I had no money.

Year 3.
I realized my mistakes from year 2... I didn't want to lose business by firing ignorant clients like last year, so I had them all pre-pay with post-dated cheques. I no longer had to chase them around for money, or worry!

Because they were all forced to pay properly, I had less stress. I didn't cut lawns thinking, "I'm wasting my time, I'm probably not going to get paid for this"... Instead, the passion for my work came back!!! I felt great cutting grass again, and this made me feel better as a businessman. I was now willing to go after more work.

Year 4 is all about perfecting year 3. Knowing something is working, at taking advantage of it!
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Old 10-05-2012, 12:45 PM
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Jason,

Why are you not making money per hour?

What is your gut telling you as to the reason why this isn't working for you yet? Take a moment and step back from it all and tell me your thoughts on this.
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Old 10-05-2012, 01:37 PM
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I feel your "pain" on this one. Literally. Back in 2006, I was deployed to Iraq, and was hit by an IED. Long story short, I have nerve damage to my neck, problems in my chest (feels like a heart attack sometimes), knee problems, and back problems. Doing 1 aeration job in enough to have me curled up in pain and can't wait to get home and get "high" on my pain meds. I've been dealing with it for a few years now, and have figured out solutions to my problems. Walk behinds = PAIN. ZTR = less pain. I have a guy who trims for me, since I can't hold the trimmer too long. I have to do many other things too, just find out what may work for you. Don't let your pain get to you, find a way to get around it!!

I'm only 28, but I've seen A TON of business's go under. The main factors? Costs, and theft. I'm not saying thats why your not doing so well, but have you thought of things you may not need, but want them anyway?

What services are you offering? How are you advertising? Whats your routing look like? Are you driving an hour to service 1 customer? Are you more residential or commercial?

The people in this forum have a lot of knowledge. Let them help you. Do you have a website we can look at? Where are you located? I know I'd like to help as much as possible. I know what it feels like to have a business go under, I had one 3 years ago. We'll all do what we can to get that "spark" back. Give me some info and I'll see what I can come up with, its a slow weekend for me.
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Old 10-05-2012, 08:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonw View Post
So after fighting and fighting for three years I may be bowing out of the property maintenance business. I just don't know what I am doing wrong and don't have much more fight in me. I am sitting at home now, the season is over, it was a terrible season and I have NO work lined up for the rest of the year and all winter.

I am sure after all of this time it SHOULD be pretty steady for me so I am SURE I am doing something wrong. My back is killing me, I have one tractor down and out and another on its way and no money in the bank to fix them, thank god for my new tractor and my day job or I would be really worrying right now.

I was always told a business will turn a profit after a year, After my first year I was upset because it never happened, then I was told that it usually takes 2 years so I jumped back on the horse and went at it, well........ I just closed out my 3rd year and still have not made back my original investment.

Not sure what to do from here, I am considering pulling all of my adds and getting rid of all the equipment that I will not use on my own property but for some reason I am still holding on by a string, hoping I guess...................

i am sorry to hear you are having trouble and considering getting out of business.
with that said and without knowing all the details of what is not working for you i would suggest you keep it going and seek the help to find out what you are doing wrong.
if you are doing something wrong then the signs will be there and maybe you are so consumed by the misery of not being where you want to be that you can not see it but someone else may be able to see the things you are doing wrong more easily and give you the insight to make the corrections to get it going on the right track.

a couple other things you need to consider is, 1. we have a horrible economy right now and most businesses are not doing all that well and growing in leaps and bounds.
2. the general population is struggling and barely treading water right now and as a result people are just not spending money like they did in the past and depending on which state you live in it could be even worse.
3. i don't know where you get your information from but it takes more then a couple years to get a business going and from my experience as well as most of the information i have read and learned from my financial advisers over the last 23 years of being in business the general rule of thumb would be 5 years.
the landscape business is a fickle business and most rules don't always apply because it is a highly competitive business that also requires you to build up a client base that takes years to do.
if you had a retail business in a strip mall where your customers come to you i would say that after a few years if you were still struggling you would probably be in trouble.

my business for example had a couple different life cycles, when i started i took everything i could get and had work but most of my clients were just your everyday run of the mill basic customer who only wanted the bare minimum. then i started to replace them with high end accounts that were full service and i ended up with 150 accounts of high end customers that had gorgeous properties and spared no expense.
i was making good money but i was not happy with the direction i was going and thought i could do better and make more.
i then decided i wanted to get into big commercial properties where i could make more money with larger contracted jobs where i only needed a handful of accounts instead of having to deal with 150 accounts every week and 150 bills to write every month.
when i was in that transition i got to a point where i had to phase out my existing accounts and give up that safety net i spent all those years building up and step back into that grey area of uncertainty.

it was tough and had some brutal moments where i thought i made a big mistake and screwed myself but i held the course and kept plugging away and eventually it all worked out.

the morale of the story is a business is a series of evolution's and it takes a great deal of time to get established and it is like a roller coaster ride and if your season is pretty much wrapped up and you have a job to provide you a income then maybe you should take the down time to assess what you are doing wrong and recharge your batteries and get you equipment back in order and come back next year with all your guns a blazing.

maybe as time goes on you can keep us all posted and better enlighten us as to what exactly you are doing and we can all help you make the right choices to get you going in the right direction.
there are plenty of people here that can give you advice and help you and i am sure that everyone here would be glad to help.

i myself would be happy to help and i am 100% positive that everyone here feels the same way.
i also feel obligated to help a fellow tradesman out because in the end we are all a bad stretch away from calling it quits and we all have so much to gain by helping each other out rather then go it alone and fend for ourselves.

good luck and keep us posted and don't do anything in haste.
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