View Full Version : need advice!!
01-14-2000, 12:09 PM
Hey guys, need some advice. In the last month I have decided to start a business in lawncare. I have been reading all the posts in this forum everyday for the past three weeks and have been blown away with all the information listed here. Heres my Question.<br>I can go out and buy brand new equipment and send out some fliers and knock on a lot of doors, and be in business. But it seems to me that it would benefit me greatly working for someone established in the business for a year. Learing as much as possible in every aspect of the business. I would think this would put me far ahead of anyone just starting out. What do you guys think?<br> Thanks
01-14-2000, 12:29 PM
That really is very good advise. Very good. I know of a dozen examples I could point out in our local area. The guys that used to work for the good contractors know how to make things work.<p>With the labor market the way it is, you should be able to get a job with the best local contractor in your market and learn all the good habits, the little things that make a big difference.<p>It also gives you another year to save money to capitalize your new business.
01-14-2000, 12:35 PM
Here is my story...<br>I had wanted to be in the lawn business for a while. Working outside and for myself sounded great. <br>I worked with a guy I knew for a day. I ran an ad in the paper and flyered a couple areas. I was in business. Part-time at first only 10 accounts, but that was all I could do. My other job was 55 hours per week. Within two months of starting in lawns, I quit the full time job, bought a guy out and was mowing 47 accounts. The next year it grew to 60+. At that point I needed help. This past season went from 60 to 112+- with one employee.<br>I was determined to do it. Do not keep the what if I fail in the back of your mind. Keep reading this forum, decide if you are really determined, make a good business plan, and go for it! Good luck
112 accounts within a year or two? Not that I want to grow that fast but how do you guys grow like that and get GOOD customers?
01-14-2000, 04:05 PM
Referrals and flyers. Keep the accounts close together. Travel time cost $.
01-15-2000, 04:21 AM
T--working for someone else for a year will teach you most of what you need to know about the green service buisness, ie. how to run the mowers, and which ones you like, which cuts are undesirable, etc. however, it is doubtful that you would learn about the buisness management end. the paperwork, insurance, taxes, licenses, bookeeping, etc. are as much a part of the buisness as grinding the blades for that first cut of the day. I didn't know about this forum when I started a few years ago. with the good advice posted here, you're already better prepared to start a buisness than I was.<p>my advice: buy GOOD equipment, new or used, buy what will continue to serve you as you purchase additional equipment with out wasting function, and buy what you need. you will learn quickly that time is money.<p>good luck<p>GEO
01-15-2000, 06:12 AM
When starting out, do yourself a favor, do it leagally. This means have the proper insurance and Pesticide license. Don't "*****" yourself out, which means get your price. There are too many out there that think they can go into the business just by undercutting everyone else's prices. This not only hurt you get price increases in the future, it harms the entire industry by cheapening it. Remember, your costs of doing business will never go down, only up. Materials, equipment, insurance will rarily get any cheaper.<p>Good Luck<p>Ken
01-15-2000, 06:35 AM
I don't know how old some of you guys are that are wanting to start a lawn care business but if you are still young and energetic, unmarried, little debt, and have any common sense, go for it! I have worked all my life for somebody else and believe me, if you procrastinate very many years you will be in your mid 30's, in debt, have children, married, all of which is not a bad thing but I wish I would have done something when I was in my mid 20's instead. I will not regret the years I spent "down at the factory" because I was in management and it taught me well how to deal with people. People are what will make your business or break it. You will make it or break it also. Spend some time analyzing you!!!!!!!! If you have an easy going personality and see yourself as being somewhat of a salesman, can back up your claims of good quality, and can take being bitched at by the best of the 65 year old ladys, you'll be alright. If you want to hit the ol' lady, find something else to do. This is just like any other business, it fits some types and some it doesn't. I have had people work with me that couldn't understand why I didn't tell customer x to go to h...! You just have to prepare yourself to take it when it comes flying at you. The point is, after a while anybody with a brain can figure out a mower, trimmer, blower, but you have to have the right attitude towards the public to really last.<p>Homers 2
01-15-2000, 07:50 AM
Great points Homer!<br>My earlier post was too brief. It was not as simple as buying the business and equipment. I spent the previous 15 years in the restaurant business. 10 of those years in management. That experience taught me how to run a profitable biz and to deal with PEOPLE. My help also can't understand how I don't tell some customers to go to h...! You must take the comments from your customers (good and Bad) and learn from it. The ones that complain are doing you a favor. They are educating you as to what is important to them as a consumer. When I have a complaint, the first thing I do is thank the person for telling me. Then work to resolve the problem. Sorry to get off the point.<br>Again, buy good quailty equipment, promise great service, and live up to it.
01-16-2000, 08:02 AM
To be truthful. If I had it to do over again. I would not go into the lawn service business. Being self employed in a business whereas your are not going to be generating $500,000+ gross revenues is long term scary.<br>I mean out of what you make in yard work. You have to pay your operating expenses plus your retirement, health insurance etc. to significantly lower your health insurance you have to have a large group of people. When you reach 45 and 50 health insurance will start really start taking a financial toll on most of us. We also get no paid vacations. I don't mean to be so negative. But why sell someone thinking about getting into this business a pie in the sky? This is reality. The reality is that you need to marry a spouse that either has alot of money or a good job with good benefits that will cover both of you and your family if you have one. Just becauseyou are young doesn't mean that you should plan way ahead.<br>Charles
01-16-2000, 04:16 PM
I have been landscaping for about 20 years now (since I was a kid), I finished college, decided to continue, and have opened a supply business to go hand in hand with the maintenance and installation business. I'm sure that others who have worked outside of this industry have learned different and valuable lessons. I have learned some lessons by sticking with lawns and landscaping.<p>First of all, the maintenance end of things is, and for the near future, will remain a low barriers to entry field. As we all know, anyone can start up a mowing service. If that is how you come in to the field, without a good business plan for growth, education, and diversification, that is where you will stay. If you treat your endeavor like a business, in addition to something that you do because you like it, you will be able to grow. Then, the business can provide for insurance, pension, retirement, etc. I know a lot of people who enter the business and remain 1 man shows with a couple of helpers here and there. Well, I have learned that there is a ceiling to the amount of income you can make when you do this. You need to get over the hurdle relating to 'I have to do everything myself' if you expect to excel. The longer you stay in the holding pattern of just working for yourself, the closer you will remain in competition with the pool of folks that are just starting out.<p> As your business grows, you need to determine what your niche is. My philosophy is one of diversification. We try different tasks until we find the ones we are good at, then we add them to our repertoire of services. As necessary we add staff to handle these jobs (like spraying lawns, or masonry work, etc.). We then maintain a customer list of active clients who rely on more than just one of our services. This helps to drive revenues up. I accomplish this by investing in quality employees, salarying key men, providing benefits, etc. Sure it costs more up front, but in the long run, it frees up time for me to learn new things, work on quality control, and grow the business according to my plans.<p>In a recent discussion, someone asked me how long is a landscape supposed to last? I didn't have an answer in terms of years, but I know that the clients we work for are constantly doing something to their property. A customer may be a good payer, but we have learned that if the only thing he is paying us for is simple maintenance with no extras, then he/she really isn't a good customer for us. <p>In this or any other business, you need to determine what your goals are, and how you intend to reach them. Simply put, if you want to cut a lot of lawns, then send out a lot of fliers. But don't be surprised when you have a lot of lawns, and you need more trucks and machines just to cut grass. That's when you'll realize that the other crew you send out might do a fine job, but your customers may expect to see you everytime. From early on, folks would call to ask for me, but expect my crews to show up and do the work. This way, I didn't set myself up to be in a million places at one time.<p>I'm sorry to ramble, but I feel that I have a lot of experience in this department. I don't have any major regrets, just lessons learned. Some hard, some easy, all beneficial. In conclusion, If I were starting out today, as the original post mentioned, I would ask myself exactly what kind of work I wanted to do, and what my target client market would be. My answer would be to target customers who expect to pay for service, want full service (including cleanups, mowing, fertilization, mulching, shrub care, etc), and have the money to pay. I would shy away from having a super huge list of lawns to cut, and then trying to pare the list down by picking the 'good' customers. Figure out what customers are 'good' first, then add them to the list. Otherwise you will spend time cutting 120 lawns and find that you make a lion's share of revenue and profits from a smaller group within the 120. In my opinion, you will be able to do better quality work for a smaller client base, not spread yourself too thin, and reach your financial goals. I hope this helps.<p><p>----------<br>Phil Grande - Soundview Landscape Supply - http://members.aol.com/slsnursery<br>Ivy League Landscaping - http://members.aol.com/scagrider<br>
01-16-2000, 06:25 PM
phil--I think you offer the best advice of all the posts on this thread, including my own. good reading.<p>GEO
01-16-2000, 06:31 PM
Phil,<br>I did not start this thread, but do appreciate your comments. I think the last couple of sentences describe what happend to me. So many lawns and not enough time to market other more profitable services. Your comments made me reflect on the past season.<br>We made good money, but like a dog chasing our tails. Time spent with the "good" customers, promoting the add-ons would have increase revenue and reduced the stress of our crazy mowing schedule.<br>Thanks Jeff
01-16-2000, 10:23 PM
I don't know what you would learn by working for another company except how to mow a yard--which really isn't that difficult.<p>I suggest that you recognize the one unique thing about his industry--"production is king". In some fields you try to sell such ideas as quality, experience, reliability,longevity, ect. But in lawn maintenance, you mainly sell price. <p>Let's face it, there isn't much difference between the pimply faced teenager and the seasoned professional mowing a yard. While some may argue this point I think most customers couldn't care less. So, if you want to "make it happen" you should do 3 things: 1) only mow yards in a relatively close proximity; 2) concentrate on productivity--use equipment that will let you do your particular type of jobs in the fastest possible time; 3) don't take on any non-profitable work. <p>Nothing to it...<p><p>----------<br>A and B Lawn Services<br>
01-17-2000, 06:14 AM
A&B<p>I do agree somewhat but...<p>Some guys are making 20g/year working their tail off and others make over 6 figures.<p>Must be something to it.
06-27-2003, 06:39 PM
Working for another LCO in your area is a great way to learn about the buisness. The trick is getting a job from one of those LCO's.
06-27-2003, 07:13 PM
Wow, I saw some old threads brought back to life in the past, but this one sure is an oldie.
I'm curious to know if T SCOTT ever did start a lawn biz, and if he did, how is the biz doing?
06-27-2003, 09:39 PM
Dear T Scott,
I vote you start your busn. right away. We are talking grass here! Not rocket science.
Here's what I did: friend approached me and asked if I would be interested in buying his lawncare busn. Told him it sounded interesting...actually thought of doing it 17 years ago. Tell you what...I'll work for you for a month and learn your accounts and determine the value.
1 month turned into three because the guy couln't bring himself to a). give me three years of tax returns, b). He didn't really want to sell his busn...he just wanted to find someone desperate to run it for him with the promise of a carrott on a string keeping him around.
Got a 25,000.00 line of credit from my banker and started my busn. By 2 months I had enouph to revenue to equal what I had been doing selling software to other Corp.s.
Moral? If you're reasonably intelligent ( and you are since you've been on this site for several weeks) this country was made for people like you. Nothing beats being your own boss.
Oh, go for small to mid-sized commercial accounts. They pay well and give very few head aches.
06-20-2007, 04:11 PM
Hey guys, need some advice. In the last month I have decided to start a business in lawncare. T Scott
T Scott did you ever get that business going?
06-20-2007, 07:14 PM
Hey guys, need some advice. In the last month I have decided to start a business in lawncare. T Scott
T Scott did you ever get that business going?
I doubt it. I looked at his profile. The first post was his only post.
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