Here is a classic tale of what can happen when you are too eager for work. Some lawns are unmowed because the cost to mow them is just too high. You always have to visit each and every property you are bidding on, before you submit your bid. If you don’t and you are too eager to bid sight unseen, there is a very good chance you will pay for your mistake. As we will see in this story from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, it’s better to work smart than to work hard.
A new lawn care business owner wrote “I started my lawn care business late in the season so when I got a call replying to a craigslist ad from a property management company that managed 30 HUD properties, I jumped at the opportunity. They were offering me the opportunity to bid on all 30 lawns at $35 a piece every two weeks. After some quick negotiating, I got 10 of the lawns up to $60 per cut due to the distance from my home.
I was so very excited about all this new found work until I saw what I was dealing with. I started the first week of June and almost immediately became aware that none of the lawns had been mowed at all this entire year, and some for two years! They were all jungles. Some of the grass was as tall as me (5′9″). These jobs were better suited for a bush-hog that I didn’t have. But I refused to quit and I grabbed my cheap 25cc curved shaft weed eater and after about three weeks the first brutal round of cuts was complete.
With all that hard work put into those lawns, I tried to renegotiate the pay for the initial cut but was unsuccessful. One day after I had completed the first round, I got an email informing me that the price was dropping to $25 per lawn. I pleaded with the crooks but they knew they had me and wouldn’t budge. But I still refused to quit.
It’s been about two months now and the jobs are much easier. I’ve upgraded my weed eater and am about to get some more equipment. I’m now hiring people to do the larger lawns while still bringing in a small amount of profit from them while I personally handle the smaller, less time-consuming lawns. I now have 33 HUD lawns and I’m enjoying the work. But it’s still not all roses.
The company I have the contract with now owes me about $3,300. They use a net 30 payment process, which sucks. You get paid 30 days after you complete all the lawns, submit before/during/and after photos, and submit a spreadsheet with dates. What’s crazy is that I am still waiting for my first pay check. After inquiring, I was told it was mailed 8 days ago. This is a very big problem for me as I have no credit cards and no money left, so I had to put all the jobs on hold until I get paid.
This whole thing has been very stressful and has required intense physical labor that only a crazy person would attempt for such low pay. I’ve heard many other stories where the people were paid fairly and the jobs weren’t so terrible, I just don’t have one to share with you. Overall, I’m glad I agreed to the deal, I’ve learned a lot and most of my bitterness will fade away once I start getting paid, if I do. I’d definitely take another deal like this if the pay was a little bit higher.
If I had it to do over again I would have done some things different. First off, I would have traded in my minivan and all other valuables for a sturdy ztr mower. With the desperate situation I was in, there wasn’t much else I could do if I wanted to succeed. Starting out late in the season with very little investment money and no credit but bad credit left me in a tough spot. So when the crooks called, I jumped at the offer.
Right now, I’m eating nothing but ramen noodles and eggo waffles. My rent is 3 weeks late, I frightened the postal worker yesterday when I lunged at her from behind the dumpster trying to find my paycheck, and the crooks are pushing me to finish by Wednesday. Also, I owe my helpers a good chunk of change and they’re probably calling me awful names behind my back.
If these management company crooks weren’t so far away from me, I could send somebody over to make them an offer they couldn’t refuse but unfortunately all I can do is beg from my phone.
Be careful who you take jobs from. A lot of smaller clients may ultimately be a better way to go than one big client. At least with a lot of smaller clients, you can pretty much guarantee you will get paid on time by the majority of them.”