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BBL
05-22-2007, 10:51 AM
Hi all, I have worked for tru-green chemlawn for about 4yrs(aerations/sales) and just quit a landscaping company recently. after being unsatisfied with my previous boss(he had 1 guy there, that could total 5 trucks, almost kill a lady and still work there! talk about job security!) I have been comtemplating if I should even bother with a landscaping company, but have decided it may well be worth it.

however, I have barley any start up money and wondering if I could get away with just a 21", Trimmer, & an edger and build up from there. There is no way in hell I can afford(or finance) a turf tracer or a lazer rider at this time, so it will kind of limit the size of jobs I can take on. around here there are some pretty small lawns, but I also want to add professional lines which isn't going to happen with just a 21" so that may cost me some needed customers.

anyway sorry for the rambling. I am wondering about how much roughly should I need to start up? I am thinking of just buying residental spec mowers at home depot or something and use them until they croak and then upgrade later. is that a good/bad idea?

Thanks in advance,
Michael

bohiaa
05-22-2007, 12:30 PM
that's a wonderfull Ideal......

most of us " if not all" HAVE TO TARGET OUR CIUSTOMERS.... you with a 21"
will only want average size homeowners. 1/4 acer. run an ad in the paper and pass out flyers. in about 3 to 4 weeks you will be turning down work.

Find someone " a company " in your area that does larger mowing. and tell him what you are doing. introduce your self to him and try to get him as a mentor.... ASK him that when and if you get calls for larger jobs can you refer the customer to him.... "he wont turn you down" and ask him to to the same for you... ask him if it's ok if you can use him as a mentor....most people will jump at this chance. and ask him when things are slow for you can you work for him.... here and there.....

once you start this relashionship you will be amazed. dont worrie about adding some professional lines. almost any 21" mower will have a striper on it useally it's a plastic rock guard and you can add some weight to it. to make it better than the next guy's, Your mentoe will tell you what type of advertisement will work in the area, who to talk to and such....

a Mentor has a proven track record, and he has allready made the costly mistakes, he will also already have a customer list to give you... these will be some that he didn't want for what ever reason. useally because he's too big to mess with them.... he knows who's looking for someone " a lawn guy" and who is a PITA customer. when you have 3 to 4 man crews cutting large appartments and such. it just dont pay to cut a homeowner for 40 to 50 a cut. because they dont have 21" mowers.... he " your mentor" gill get calls almost every week wanting this and he can pass it along to you...

Good luck

BBL
05-22-2007, 02:28 PM
Thanks for the tips bohiaa . As far as running ads, and forgive my ignorance here, but can I just put "my lawn care co." on a flyer and send them out or do I have to register the name/business first even if it's just for a few accounts? I want everything to be 100% legit, even if it's just a small weekend side job. I also don't want to make up a name and find out I am getting sued from another business for having the same name hehe.

Thanks again,
Michael

Grits
05-22-2007, 04:23 PM
Thanks for the tips bohiaa . As far as running ads, and forgive my ignorance here, but can I just put "my lawn care co." on a flyer and send them out or do I have to register the name/business first even if it's just for a few accounts? I want everything to be 100% legit, even if it's just a small weekend side job. I also don't want to make up a name and find out I am getting sued from another business for having the same name hehe.

Thanks again,
Michael

You could just stick a name on a flyer. BUT, that isn't very legit. You need to register your business with your county and/or city....everywhere is different so you will need to do some research. You will also need liability insurance. It is not as expensive as you may think. Do your research and do this legit! Also, charge enough to actually make money. A business plan is also a necessity for success. Search around on this site for a while, it is loaded with info.

racer56
05-22-2007, 08:18 PM
Don't forget about the non-compete that you signed before you got your first paycheck with TG. They busted a guy bad here locally for going out on his own. Not sure how long the agreements are but I would check it out first.

ArkansasLawns
05-22-2007, 08:36 PM
BBL

Not to worry guy. I started out with just a craftsman 21 push and a hand held blower. I lucked out and bought a weedeater that was double sided( two strands not just one) that was the best piece of equipment I started with.

Mow on the diagonal and back and fourth for a nice professional cut. Look a baseball field on TV and see for yourself how cool it looks. Mulch the grass unless the customer wants it bagged but remember that bagging is extra $$$.

I ran an ad in the local paper for $17 a week for two weeks. Bingo, word of mouth will keep you busy if you do quality work.

Like Frank Sanatra said, "I did it my way".

Stay positive, stay hydrated and be happy to work for yourself.

racer56
05-22-2007, 09:14 PM
Please don't advise 17.00 per lawn. Already enough lowballers in the biz. don't need another one. Gas prices are a premium right now and they all stick together as far as price. Not one of them is dumb enough to really drop the price just to get business. Might learn soething from that... but I doubt it :hammerhead: .

ArkansasLawns
05-22-2007, 09:17 PM
Racer,

That was the price of the ad in the paper. Ha! Ha!

What part of Kansas? I was born and raised there. Lived in Derby for 35 years.

mirrorlandscapes
05-22-2007, 09:31 PM
Go for it, that's how I started out. In fact I used my dad's 20" and (believe it or not) hand held grass scissors. (that didn't last long) I moved to an electric weed wacker and then finally to a gas.

Skip the edger, you don't need it. Even now with 60 accounts and a full time mowing crew, I still don't own one. I don't edge enough to justify buying one, just rent one.

Save your money from your first lawns and slowly build. Next move to a walk behind or used Z rider, but dont' waste money on regular riding mower, way too slow.

Good luck. Work hard, be honest and dependable and you'll do great.

racer56
05-22-2007, 11:56 PM
S.W. Missouri area now.

FinerCutslawnCare
05-23-2007, 12:00 AM
Hey i started off with a 21' push and an electric trimmer, as time grew and money was made i bought more things. Now i can hardly keep up!Good luck!

greatlawns
05-23-2007, 01:21 PM
It's very tough to get started with little money to invest. I basically pinched pennies any way I could to build it up. Start by looking in your local paper or ebay for a used walk behind. And only buy equipment that is absolutely necessary. You can get more/bigger/more expensive equipment later. If you target small properties, get a small walk behind to start with. If you get too small a mower (21") you will end up wasting time and not making as much money as you possibly could. You need to register your business and get insurance legitimately and then print yourself up some flyers. That's where I've gotten most of my work from when I started out. If you promote yourself professionally, do what you say you are going to do, and stay in contact with your customers you should have no problem. Once you begin to produce quality work, word will get around and you'll get a lot of referral business. It takes some time, but you can do it.

Also, make sure you have people working with/for you that you can trust. Your best asset is the person that can promote your business in a professional way and help increase your profits.

BBL
05-23-2007, 01:32 PM
wow! thanks for all the good advice and kind words. :)

I also had a quick question about marketing subdivisions. Do you find it easier to start out at newer built subs(300k+ homes) or to older more established subs(150k+ homes)?

most subs around me(within minutes driving distance) are more older neighborhoods/subs and I noticed by my drive-bys I did this morning, that there wasn't really any landscaping companies out there. Is that usually a good or bad sign for you guys?

I am guessing it could be good for less competition but maybe there is no competition cause that neighborhood is not worth it perhaphs?

I want to get a good amount of flyers and start selling hard, but only to specific areas/subs until I have funds to sell to wider areas(I can only afford so much flyers). It could also keep me in the same general area for most of the day. but is that a good idea or would I be limiting myself too much(or wasting money) only marketing at certain subs/neighborhoods?

I want to be able to get a decent amount of accounts from specific subs to save on gas, but I also don't want to spend $200 on flyers and get no return from them either.

How do you guys gauge if a sub or area is worth marketing at or a waste of time? for example, the first sub I went through most the lawns had lots of weeds and tall grass, so I said skip this sub. I figured no one gave a crap about their lawn there, but maybe I am wrong. would you try to get accounts there? :confused: the lawns were fairly small(a 21" would be good for most the houses, save a few corner lots that were decent sized)

Ecoscape01
05-23-2007, 07:44 PM
Ya about the 21". Screw that. It's too small and too slow. Find a used commercial 36" w/b in your area if you can on ebay, craigslist, the local paper, or whatever. You gotta think about efficiency and durability, neither of which a homeowner grade 21" has to offer. I know because I'm in the same boat as you in my first year as far as spending is concerned. I was planning to buy a 21" Toro from Home Cheapo and I'm so glad I didn't. My mower is sooooooooo much faster and obviously cuts more at one time. 400 bucks is all it cost me

backtobasicslawncare
05-23-2007, 08:39 PM
I Started With A Bolens 21" Push Mower And Weed-Eater And That Was It. Now I Have 1 Troy-Bilt Riding Mower And About 6 Accounts. Im Working On Getting More Accounts. I Have Slowly Saved Up Money And Taking Care Of The Equipment. I Understand About A ShoeString Budget.

Good Luck To Ya BBL

lawnlubber
05-23-2007, 10:20 PM
I started out using old mowers I bought from the classifieds for 10 - 20 bucks. It is your desire, your determination, that will make this thing work or not. Just do it.

MJStrain
05-28-2007, 11:28 PM
Hi all, I have worked for tru-green chemlawn for about 4yrs(aerations/sales) and just quit a landscaping company recently. after being unsatisfied with my previous boss(he had 1 guy there, that could total 5 trucks, almost kill a lady and still work there! talk about job security!) I have been comtemplating if I should even bother with a landscaping company, but have decided it may well be worth it.

however, I have barley any start up money and wondering if I could get away with just a 21", Trimmer, & an edger and build up from there. There is no way in hell I can afford(or finance) a turf tracer or a lazer rider at this time, so it will kind of limit the size of jobs I can take on. around here there are some pretty small lawns, but I also want to add professional lines which isn't going to happen with just a 21" so that may cost me some needed customers.

anyway sorry for the rambling. I am wondering about how much roughly should I need to start up? I am thinking of just buying residental spec mowers at home depot or something and use them until they croak and then upgrade later. is that a good/bad idea?

Thanks in advance,
Michael

I started this business with my Craftsman mower I used on my own lawn, a trimmer and blower. In one day I had two accounts at 30.00 each. At the end of the summer I had a residential land manager who hired me from a newspaper ad and gave me 14 lawns at 30.00 each. Plus an additional 15 residences from 30.00-45.oo each I picked up from referrals and newspaper ads.

Good luck!

Tim Wright
05-29-2007, 07:50 AM
If you have worked for the other companies for that long, you are in a perfect position to get your fert & squirt license.

Do that and it will put you ahead of the game in the long run, verses just running mower and trimmer. You can take that money and reivest later in a better mower and new clients.

Tim

BBL
05-29-2007, 11:50 AM
Yeah, That's what I am working on now(reading through the book right now). It's not really a hard test at all, so I should have my commericial applicator licence(tree/shrub also)fairly quick, but I just lost my current job, so I am looking for a new one at the moment.

I was planning on just mowing/trimming first though, cause it's steady income(every other week) and with fert some people just want 5apps a year, or 7apps, or even just 4apps a yr, etc, plus some want organic, 0 phosphorus, etc and I have no place to store all those pallets, not to mention I have to fork up the inital money(hard when your poor lol) for different ferts which would be more than a 21" and a trimmer.

ADMIREDLAWNS
05-29-2007, 04:55 PM
I started out working for my dad's lawn service for free 2 days a week just to use his equipment to do my 2 accounts. Once I got 3 more accounts, I had enough to pay a monthly payment for a combo package deal.

gavin478
05-30-2007, 03:10 AM
Hi, I started in this business 6 years ago, with a 1988 JD STX38, a 15 year old trimmer, and a broom. Your best business is by word of mouth, also target neighboring properties, as this will save you valuable travel time. Try to hit up the new developments, as very often these people will be too busy with moving in to deal with the lawn, or not have any established 'lawn guy' and be open to you. Finally, many will be unsatisfied with the builders basic plantings, this is another opportunity for you to sweep in and offer another lucrative service. Also, read the forums on buying used equipment, as you can easily get screwed and end up with a piece of crap. ( I know, as I dropped $2500 on a used lazer, to have the engine blow a cylinder 2 months later,) Look for a machine with under 500 hours, one that was treated well, and maybe even pay your local shop $50 to run a compression test on the engine to see if it is up to par. But start small, take time to talk and create a relationship with your customers. You may not want to spend 20 mins making small talk with a client, but that relationship could land you her neighbors lawn. Also, don't even bother dealing with those customers that are out of your way, extremely picky, or nickel and dimming you. Right now you need to be focusing on MAX profit to launch your business.

MOWEMJEFF
05-30-2007, 02:12 PM
I started with 1 lawn, a 22" craftsman that folded up and went in the trunk of my camry and a weedeater. Now I've got a 99 F-150, a commercial push, 48" commercial w/b, trailer, trimmer and many tools. Don't waste your time with an edger just get a flat edging spade for 7.99 at any hardware store. Anywhere you have yards knock on the doors of neighbors in the area, target the ones with nice cars, they're the most likely to afford your service. And get a push behind that is a 3 in 1, bagging is a must for some customers. The best part about having limited funds is that everything you get will hopefully be paid for once you get it, and when you do finally make it, you can say you started from nothing.