Sammy’s Story, Part 3

If you haven’t been following along with Sammy’s story, please take a few minutes to do so here and here.

After Sammy gave me the sketches of his landscaping plan for my mother-in-law’s yard, we sat down to work out a proposal.   Keep in mind that he’s never run a business and I’ve never run a landscaping business, so it was a bit of a learning experience for both of us.

We finally came up with a proposal for $1200, which included laying a plastic border around the yard, mulching the border, removing some trees and stumps, sanding and painting a swing and barbecue pit, and hard-raking the yard.   He asked if $400 of that could be applied to the car he bought from us.   I said yes, which was a mistake.

Sammy’s plan was to hire guys from the Salvation Army and at-risk kids, giving them a chance to improve their situations.   As it turns out, a significant percentage of those folks don’t really want to work to improve their situations.   The guys from the Salvation Army were all vetted by one of the counselors, but still only worked out about half of the time.    The kids quit wanting to work when they found out it involved…work.

That was an expensive lesson that caused a bit of a cost overrun.   If the crew that finished the job would have started it, we’d have been done weeks ago.  What should have taken 3-4 days ended up taking a month.  Not a 40-hour per week month, but it was still a month.

As we came closer to our garage sale, Sammy had the great idea to tackle the front yard, too.  He wanted to make it pretty as an advertisement for the people coming to the sale.  That inflated the cost.

We used the stacks of bricks that came with the house for the border instead of the plastic roll.   Another price boost, since it involved digging deeper and laying freaking bricks.

The plan was for us to pay $800 out-of-pocket for the work, plus $3-400 in tools and equipment to help launch the business, plus materials.    We ended up paying a bit under $3000 for everything.  Between the labor problems and an expanding project, the price got a bit higher than either of us had anticipated.

At least the yard looks nice.

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    1. Ouch. While it was probably nice to hire the Salvation army people I’d probably focus on a more reliable labor force when trying to get a business up and running. Maybe that is just a preconceived notion though…

    2. that is a shame that the cost overruns came into play. Im sure that part of running a business like that is you need to find guys (or gals) that you trust that will show up and work hard when you need them to, otherwize you’ll be stuck doing ti all yourself. I think this is something that could be figured out in time.
      As for the overruns, it seems like instead of giving the money back, sammy was looking to add value to what you had already suggested – a good business lesson.

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