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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 06-18-2009, 07:50 PM
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I was thinking tonight I have to make some serious changes in this company as it has taken on a life of it's own and I no longer have one. Don't get me wrong I am happy for all the work we have ahead of us and the clients referrals and kind comments but I was thinking while doing payroll this evening, this is insane.

Looking back over the past few weeks, with the exception of rain days which have been few, I am pounding in 12 to 16 hours a day, 6 to 7 days a week, son is hiring staff and we seem to be going further behind.

We agreed to pull any advertising including the newspaper and stop taking on any further business, as it stands we have close to two months work ahead and are running a week behind in all four areas we do.

This was supposed to be a fun retirement type business my son and I could work at during the summer along with a few of his university friends, I signed 19 payroll cheques this evening, that to me is just too much.

I have never had to cut back growth so this will be a real challenge for me as we will cut staff as we finish up jobs which is a shame as I don;t know of one staff member that isn't going above and beyond.

The other serious issue I have is all my staff will be going back to University in September, September and October are prime times here for landscaping and laying sod. I spoke to Chuck from the forum about this the other night, it is something I need to address as time flies, I just can't find people that are willing to do this type of work or if you do, let's just say they wouldn't last long.

On top of all this I have my woodworking business which is suffering, we are about to head into tall ship week and we have little inventory yet we prepaid a booth and we are in the advertisements......

Oh the trials of running companies.....

Thx for the open ear....might be over tired....dunno
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  #2  
Old 06-18-2009, 08:03 PM
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You have 19 employees ?

I know how you feel, I think I worked for 14 days straight due to rain for 2 weeks so far. I'm a solo man, running a tractor. I know I can do as much and more and many lawns with a ZTR way faster but yeah, it's coming.

Keep your head up, something will be for the best
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Old 06-18-2009, 08:36 PM
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You have 19 employees ?

I know how you feel, I think I worked for 14 days straight due to rain for 2 weeks so far. I'm a solo man, running a tractor. I know I can do as much and more and many lawns with a ZTR way faster but yeah, it's coming.

Keep your head up, something will be for the best
Yes, Seth had three more start today and they worked with me all day doing a wood job, they workerd out perfect. His friends from University are asking to work for us and quitting their jobs, I think something like 12 have done this.

I just need to learn to say no to projects and not keep booking stuff, I should have pulled marketing three weeks ago.

My lawyer who is a long time business friend just bought a lot on the ocean, 11 acres, I looked at it last night, he has a designer come in and wants us to do the work, it will take 5 to 6 people 8 to 10 weeks, not sure how to get out of this, I just do not have the people or the additional equipment however he has done a lot of favors for me over the years and we have been business parteners twice, both companies worked out well, they were quick build and flips we did on the side.

The ZTR will save you at least 30%, that is compareing a deck on a ZTR to a tractor, we use both but the ZTR is pretty friggin amazing.
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Old 06-18-2009, 09:09 PM
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This is a very interesting question. It does make me wonder if someone were to come to you for advice on how to scale up to handle all this, what advice would you have for them? What options would they have to choose from?
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Old 06-18-2009, 09:59 PM
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My problem is just the opposite. I had 3 jobs cancel today and 4 that were put on hold. 2 of the three major employers here announced major layoffs this week. The unemployment rate for the county topped 12%. I have bought supplies and new equipment based on what was happening and now wonder how to pay for them. Well, I guess I will have to use savings.

Job layoffs are spiraling out of control;not just the 2 big companies (Specialty Metals and Sunoco) but many other small companies that supply them. The third major employer is Coker College which is on Summer break. Even WalMart announced layoffs today!

People aren't spending, they are saving for the unknown. To top that off, the temps are supposed to over 100 for the next 3 days. The heat index today was 105. Have 3 spray jobs for tomorrow, 1 for Saturday (golf course), but only 4 jobs that haven't canceled or postponed for next week. It's getting scary!

Steve
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Old 06-18-2009, 10:10 PM
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People aren't spending, they are saving for the unknown. To top that off, the temps are supposed to over 100 for the next 3 days. The heat index today was 105. Have 3 spray jobs for tomorrow, 1 for Saturday (golf course), but only 4 jobs that haven't canceled or postponed for next week. It's getting scary!

Steve
Holy crap, i tought it was hot today too, it was 25 (about 75) today, and it's suppose to be 29 (84) Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday...
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Old 06-18-2009, 11:42 PM
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Andy,

I have the same problem that you have in not knowing when to say no. Sometimes I over commit or fill the schedule to the brim. It takes a lot out of you and the money is great but not everything. I am sure that you know that with all the titles you had over the years. I have a business plan and stick to it. Mine is small growth to keep it controllable. I have a partnership in another business that takes about 50 hours of my time a week. I have given other jobs to my friends in the business being it yard clean up, new lawn account, land/brush clearing, mulch and planting. I even gave up a house check (monitor) to a friend of mine, what did that involve? I had to drive to his house and ensure that his alarm was working property and scan the grounds. Total time, 5 minutes weekly, at a cost of $50 per week. This might be a service you all can offer to your clients when they are away from their home on a vacation or a trip. You can throw it in as a perk or charge for this. This can be one thing that stands you apart from the rest. Sometimes we can’t get to the entire things we want to get too, so delegating some out is great.

With the students going back to school in September maybe if you loose some you can downsize or go to an employment agencies to hire you people that are qualified to work for you at your standards. With all the unemployment we are having here and up there in Canada you can find some skilled workers to fill your needs. I think personally that a person who is skilled and paid very well at a job they just lost will be a good candidate to help you out and stay with you for a long time. I think that I remember you pay your staff avg. about $17- 18 per hour, supply work outfits, morning meeting at the local coffee shop and treat your staff well with respect. I think Justin said he would work for or with you and strongly believe that a good person or persons would too.

From listening (reading) to you over the past several months you are an intelligent man with his priorities in check, business plan in hand and the future planned out very well. I think that you will overcome the small fork in the road. Good luck to you.

Sincerely,
John

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Old 06-19-2009, 12:01 AM
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Holy crap, i tought it was hot today too, it was 25 (about 75) today, and it's suppose to be 29 (84) Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday...
You think 75 is hot? You should try the 95 with 70+% humidity (heat index 100+) we have here in Missouri every summer!! I'm sure anyone in the midwest will agree you can go stand outside for 10 minutes and have sweat running down your face.
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Old 06-19-2009, 04:54 AM
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This is a very interesting question. It does make me wonder if someone were to come to you for advice on how to scale up to handle all this, what advice would you have for them? What options would they have to choose from?
This is a learning experience quite different than what I have gone through in the past, what is very different from this and the security business is I invested heavy into infrasture to handle a very large amount of business, hired the people, hired an excellent marketing fellow and then the sales force, I used to say we have size 12 shoes and a size 5 company so lets grown into our shoes. I think this yard care business has size 5 shoes when it needs size 12.

I think hindsight being what it is I should have chosen one or two offerings and stuck to them. When I saw an opportunity I tested the waters so to speak bought additional equipment and advertised it and it took off because I am in a niche market, in excavation we can do things small companies can't and the big guys either can't get into the spots we do or their equipment does far too much damage.

On the wood clearing and chipping side, quite simply I need bigger equipment for the jobs I have quoted. I bought an 8" bearcat chipper, I have other equipment from this company, made in the USA, considered the best and the cost of their equipment is quite high. In three weeks the chipper has been down 5 days, there is a sensor on the main flywheel that is in a very poor location, the dust gets on the sensor eye, scratches then the unit will not feed, Deere has replaced the sensor 5 times, three days ago the fuel pump went, because it's a new brand of motor from Briggs and they have made some plant changes from the little I know, closed one big one in the states, I can't get a replacement pump for three weeks, I have already started jobs based on the fact that we have this chipper and now we have massive piles of brush to chip.

I do have two other chippers a 6" Jinma that has been down for a week as a knife cracked and jammed, did a lot of damage, I ordered replacement parts but only half of what I need is here. Then I have the third unit however it is for smaller stuff, 5" and under, it is 1/2 the speed or less of the other two.

So I returned the Bearcat as I paid close to twenty grand, there is a diesel version however it's close to thirty grand, IMHO it's not worth it, I spent hours searching and calling then doing research to ensure what I found is reliable, dead ends.

I tried renting units from CAT, no luck, all their chippers are in Quebec, or so they say, called everywhere and the biggest I can get is 4", desperate slow using them as they are manual feed, kills the arms so that is a no go.

I got so caught up in the new business coming in that I let things get out of control, I can and will reel this back in, I still wonder though, when you run an ad in the paper, you get lets say 60 calls and they are all withing what you do, you bid, you get 90% yet you have the staff and equipment for 30%, you book this out over weeks and the clients still accept, you bid some of the tougher ones high and the client still accepts, what the heck do you do?

I don't want the company to get the reputation that we are slow getting to jobs, we turn jobs away etc. the world might be big but negative news travels like lightening.

Anyhow I should have probably just stuck to mowing, organic spraying and maybe pressure washing, I would probably be 6 to 8 staff and very easy to manage, now I am in a very difficult position at this point due to equipment. This down time is really cutting into profits as things are going slower, an 8" chipper for 10 days would fix this, I just haven't pulled the trigger for a diesel unit and even if I do I don't know that I won't have issues. I can't research for reports as this is a new line.

Anyhow its almost 7, staff started arriving so I better get going.

Andy
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Old 06-19-2009, 05:41 AM
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Staff meeting is over, seems now I have some tension in the ranks, work crews think the excavator and backhoe operators are wasting too much time, this is the first time I have had staff confrontations, generally speaking it is the supervisor on the crew running the biggest piece of equipment and in the heat, I think everyone including myself would like to be running machinery vs manual labor.....I will get to the bottom of it, I think they are working hard as I look at profitability and what staff need to understand is some rocks take 20 min to move, I have seen other take two hours, same with stumps or when fill is delivered, sometimes the quality is not there and we have no control.

Anyhow it's time for the old guy to hit the road.
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