In the landscape business for 20 years, but what is different?

Have you ever wondered what the biggest difference is between a smaller landscaping business and a larger one? Maybe you have no one that is larger you can talk with to find out. In this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, we hear from one entrepreneur who looks back over his past two decades in business and reflects on where he is.

One lawn care business owner wrote “being in business for my 23rd year I have come to the realization that there is no difference between me and the the guy going around with a push mower in a station wagon.

His mower cuts grass and so does mine and regardless of how long it takes either to do the job, the job gets done. When it is all said and done, you can not command any more money for the lawn, whether you are in business for 23 years or 1 day.

Every level of the lawn care business has it’s pro’s and con’s. I remember when I was younger and starting out. I used to think that when I finally had the amount of work I have now and made the kind of money I make now that I would be living on easy street. Sure I am making a good living now but easy street it is not. I have far more things to worry about now that cause me grief. There are 10 times the pressures to keep things going and keep my lawn care employees busy as well as more things to break and repair.

When I was a smaller mowing company and I was cutting grass and doing most of the work myself, nothing ever broke and even though I physically worked harder, things went so much smoother. Now I have to keep up with my mowing customers, lawn equipment as well as always put fires out with my employees and deal with all their personality disorders.

When you have multiple lawn employees, thing break more often as well as disappear more often and even though you can limit theft, it requires your time and constant attention. That all adds up to one more thing to do each day on top of the already many things to do.

Maybe I am old fashioned now or whatever but the biggest thing I see that kills new landscape businesses is a lack of basic landscaping knowledge. I feel that by the time you start a mowing business, there should be nothing in the trade that you would need to learn about how to do on any type of job because you should know how to do it long before you start the business. That is why so many fail. They start the business first and figure it out later as they go and by the time the figure it out, they are broke and done.

No matter how many years I have been in this business, I have come to the realization that we are not considered professionals by the population at large and all that professional mumbo jumbo is only mentioned at seminars and expos. To the general population we are considered lawn monkeys and in their mind, this job is what you do when you failed at getting an education and a real job.

It is not the way I view myself or others but it is the way most people outside the trade do and I have just come to terms with it.

The only real difference between a big guy and a little guy is how big their business is and how organized they are and how much money they make and how many people they hire and how much equipment they have.

The way I see it, the biggest difference between me and a start up is that I am driving down the road with a couple hundred thousand dollars of equipment and all my lawn employees and pumping out $50,000 a month. There are no secrets I have found.

I don’t have a big secret when it comes to pricing either. The answers to what to charge is right there for anyone with business sense to figure out. Operating costs are the determining factor in what to charge and my information as to what my costs are and what determines my price is useless for anyone else.

What I mean is that I have 8 lawn care employee’s plus myself and with all the equipment and insurance and payroll and taxes, it all adds up to a different number than a guy with 20 employees or just working by himself.

We can all charge the same rate that the market will bare and we do but how we use that and convert that to your own particular situation varies greatly.

Let’s say you charge $60.00 per hour, labor rate per man and you go do something by yourself and I charge the same but have my 8 employees and myself. You price the lawn for $60.00 and it takes you an hour, you did well. You worked an hour and got paid your hourly rate. In my situation, with the large crew, will get things done faster but I have to and a $60.00 lawn needs to be done in like 7 minutes if I am going to make a profit.

This may not the best of examples because I do commercial work and would not be sending 8 guys to cut a $60 lawn, but hopefully you get the idea of what I am saying.

New startups need to figure out for yourselves what works best for you and there are no free passes. Sometimes horrible experiences of pricing landscape jobs poorly need to be lived in order to make your business stronger and prosper. If you don’t know what you are doing on a job you are bidding on, limit your exposure. Make sure the job is small and if you underbid the job, the amount you stand to lose is minimal. Don’t overreach and take on too big of a job.

I hope this reflection helps those landscapers just getting themselves started in the new year.”

Read more about Lawn Care Business Bidding Tips, Upsells, And Disasters To Avoid. Learn how to improve your bidding process with this lawn care business book and be prepared before hand by knowing what you should be looking out for before a problem occurs.ā€¯

If you need help estimating lawn care or snow plowing jobs, get these lawn care and snow plowing estimation calculators.

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