View Full Version : advice
12-10-2001, 10:10 PM
I am seriously thinking about getting into the business of mowing. Can people give me some advice about pricing, advertising, good mowers, etc. Any insight will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
LawnPro in NC
12-11-2001, 12:03 AM
As it has been said many times. Welcome to Lawnsite.
Use the search feature and there's tons and tons and tons of information on just those ?'s.
12-11-2001, 12:09 AM
You have lots of readin.
Try using these search words
Type in what you want to know about, and presto, it should show up.
12-11-2001, 12:15 AM
You have many sleepless nights ahead of you. There is enough reading to keep you busy for weeks.
12-11-2001, 04:25 PM
hey jadams, welcome to lawnsite, like everyone else has mentioned use the search function and plan on doing a bunch of reading, also you didn't mention what you have and don't have, truck, trailer, any of the equipment you'll need. if you've got to buy, try to buy the best comercial grade equipment you can, you'll be money ahead, buy used if you have to, but buy good stuff, being at a job-site with a el-cheapo weed whacker that breaks down is not a good way to build customer relations, and the down time will kill your profit, also the comm. grade equipment will let you do a better job (plus quicker). always do quality work..
good luck and beat wishes, keith
12-11-2001, 04:28 PM
i don't know what beat wishes are, man my fingers need to go on a diet:p
best wishes , keith
12-11-2001, 07:48 PM
Hey Keith we knew what you ment, unless you wanted to beat his wishes up:D
12-12-2001, 01:09 PM
I really liked something Guido said once in response to such a question. Something like" "Don't let anyone tell you you have to do things any certain way."
There's all kinds of people here with all kinds of approaches to the business. Many use giant, expensive mowers, some use 21", many are solo operators, many have crews and fleets of trucks.
I certainly agree that you need to purchase commercial grade equipment. I recommend Honda for 21" mowers. Their 21" commercial models will start at $750-850 and go up to $1200 or so. Toro has good ones too. Snappers are good but I don't think they have blade brake clutches (they shut off whenever you let go of the handle). Good weedeaters are Echo, Stihl, Shindaiwa (all starting at $200-250). I use a Robin because it is 4-cycle (less vibration, less noise, less emissions), Its about $350. Honda also makes 4-cycle weedeaters, a little heavier and around $300. If you just HAVE to buy cheaper equipment, still stick with good names like Honda, Toro, etc. But there is a reason why EVERYONE here will tell you to get commercial quality stuff.
For small tools like loppers, hedge shears, etc. I like to deal with A.M. Leonard. http://www.amleo.com - they will send a free catalog. Get some good loppers - Felco or Sandvik. You won't find this kind of stuff in stores.
There is unlimited work, but you may want to not limit yourself to just mowing, at least at first. There is lots of gardening, weediing, landscaping, tree trimming, junk hauling, cleanup, leaf raking, gutter cleaning, etc that people need done.
You can start with just a truck, a mower, a weedeater, and a broom. You'll figure out what else you need/want.
If you want a chainsaw, I recommend the Echo CS-3000, its cheap ($200.00), small, lightweight, reliable, and you will never need another one unless you really get into heavy tree work.
You can keep the accounting very simple. Just keep track of each job, (date, customer, how much you made), and your expenses. An accountant can help with all that and do your taxes for you. If you have employees, then accounting is a lot more complicated and you need to start talking to an accountant soon. I work alone. There is much discussion here about the headaches of employees.
I just put ads in the classifieds. As time goes by you need to advertise less and less and someday not at all. (Assuming you do good work and develop a good reputation). I was surprised to find that most people are amazed when someone returns their calls, shows up when they're supposed to, and does what they said they would do. Make some business cards.
I charge by the hour, but probably almost no one else does that. Its easy to give a fixed price for just mowing a lawn, especially after you have done that lawn once or twice. I charge $30.00 for the first hour and $15 for each additional hour on the same day. Some people may think that is high for a 1-hour lawn, lots of people charge $20-25. But the recommendation here is to keep the prices up. Things may vary from place to place, but you don't have to have "low prices" to get business. Most people here would probably say my prices are low in general. Most people charging by the hour would probably just keep it flat ($30/hr, etc). If you don't charge by the hour, you still need to estimate quotes based on an hourly amount you are shooting for. If you're using big equipment and doing commercial jobs, you would want to charge more.
Its good to develop contacts - people in the business that you can ask questions of (of course there's always Lawnsite!), good mechanics, etc.
Find out where to take leaves, grass, tree limbs. Some cities have compost sites, otherwise you'll have to figure something out. Of course, for most mowing jobs, you should be mulch-mowing so there is nothing to take away.
Learn to sharpen mower blades. I use a bench grinder. Probably an angle grinder and a vise is better, a Dremel may be good, there are machines just for mower blades ($300-500) if you have that kind of volume. Many discussions here on blade sharpening. Most agree - keep them sharp.
Good to aquire some books. My favorite on lawncare is Down to Earth Natural Lawn Care by Dick Raymond. (Check Amazon.com). There's tons of books on lawns, shrubs, weeds, etc.
There may be a county extension office. They may even have a class on lawn care. There is always more to learn.
Things may start out slow, but the work is out there!
12-12-2001, 02:25 PM
I see you live in Maine, so you probably won't be starting until Spring. Use this time to plan. Set aside some money to advertise with in late Feb. or early March. Bust your butt and see how many accounts you can get. After you see how many accounts you have, you will have a better idea of what you need. If you only get 5 accounts then obviously you dont need a $10,000 z.
If it was me starting over again, I would start with a 36" walk behind. I really like Emark, but there are many others to choose from. I would start with an Echo SRM2100 trimmer. For around $200 they are great machines. I like Echo for blowers as well.
As for 21" mowers, I would not get some expensive commercial mower. You will find that a 36" WB will go almost anywhere. Since you won't be using it as much, you can get away with something for between $300 and $400. People may laugh, but there is nothing wrong with using a Craftsman for your 21". I have a commercial Husky mower 516R I beleive. I have had nothing but problems with. It was the worst $650 I ever spent!
With what you are hauling I would start with a 12' trailer. That will be a lot of room now, but you will grow into it.
Hope that helped.
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