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View Full Version : Call me crazy but...... your thoughts:


TheMadOne
04-13-2009, 03:26 PM
OK, so I am a little nuts hence the handle!

I am starting up a small PT mowing business this year, nothing large, no long term contracts right now. I'm just building a small business to work in when I retire from the FD in a few years. I have been doing snow removal for years mostly sub-contract for large commercial contractors, mowed for others with a variety of types of mowing equipment, repaired said same from time to time. Jack of all trades, certified in the 80's as diesel tech, hydraulics tech, heavy equipment & manlift tech, welding fabrication tech. Went PT with some of it after starting career with the fire ems rescue service, but basically stayed pretty busy with the Fire - EMS - Rescue business & training to really maintain all but the welding fabrication tech certs in the vast and various areas of that field.

I am getting a bit windy, sorry..... On to my subject title. Currently I am planning on doing mostly more of a "will call" style of mowing business. Basically putting up some adds and such & doing some "drive by" door to door if I am in an area mowing and see a lawn in need. Think this would be worth the time, I have basically no overhead other than immediate expenses. Insurance is a simple rider on the existing policy due to the snow removal subcontract business I already run. I own everything else up front, including the small Scag Tiger Cub 52" I just stepped up to this year & that was about the only thing I needed to get a decent jump on some mowing business..... Truck, trailer(s), trimmers, blowers, yada, yada, already in the stable, better mower (the Scag) was all I lacked really. Have a smaller mower to do small fenced areas with, but will likely replace it after this year.

Input, Ideals, suggestions?!

Thanks!
Mark Jordan

DLAWNS
04-16-2009, 02:06 AM
First off..welcome to the site and good luck this season. The only thing that I would say is that the idea of a whenever the lawn needs a cut will get old real quick. People will want their lawn cut when it's like 9" tall for $20. Just my opinion. Hope it helps a bit.

TheMadOne
04-16-2009, 12:05 PM
Hi Bill,

Thanks for the input! Yea, I tend to agree with what you are saying and realize there are going to be some less than perfect jobs coming in via this type of add campaign, but I'm not desperate for the work and do not commit to a set price in any adds. On the other side of the coin as you state, most of the folks with lawns in that category have 4 choices. 1.) find some low ball character to come in and do it half Arrssed. 2.) Wait until the health department or local jurisdiction comes in and does it, fining them & charging a high price. 3.) Call someone to do it before that & in my case pay a fair price with out any fines. 4.) do it themselves, likely not applicable or they would have.

Yes you're right there will likely be some dead beats, cheap skates, & less than desirable lawns to deal with, but branching out into this business one needs to start somewhere. Low balling is not a good way as it sets you up to continue to do too much work for too little money even after you have established a customer base. For some the threat of starvation or bankruptcy forces them into this type of failing spiral, they would do better to take up a PT job, stick by their guns & keep the market profitable.

I see folks in here quoting 25 - 35 $$ per hour as their base to price lawns off of, that's going to put you in a hand to mouth business with out much potential for growth or expenses, wear & tear budget. By the time you pay expenses, account for things like depreciation & replacement costs, you are paying yourself less than minimum wage.

On the flip side, just getting things setup without running the first add I've already landed 10 acres of lawns from folks who will be away some during the summer just word o mouth. They will likely amount to a couple of mowings for each property if the weather is in it's normal patterns for those times of year.

Although I must confess one low ball job, my next door neighbor! His regular guy has not showed up over the last 4 weeks & returned none of his calls. His grass was danged near a foot tall in places. He said something to me about it when he saw my Scag out on the drive, asked what I'd charge. He's been a fantastic neighbor for years, doesn't complain, cause problems, except for talking to him once & a while hardly know he's there, he stays busy most of the time, but is slower now due to the 'times'. I told him I'd do the first couple of cuttings for nothing as a "good neighbor", but to find out why his regular guy hasn't showed. I know last season the original contractor had some health issues, there was a much younger guy running his mower towards the end of the season. If it ended up my neighbor was going to need a regular mow contractor for the rest of the year I told him to let me know & I'd catch his lawn with mine for a price. Likely I will only charge him $20.00 or so for his 3/4 acre due to the situation, just enough to cover my expense, wear and time no profit. Known the guy as a friend & neighbor for years, don't feel right charging him a full price is it comes to that, plus I know from observation the times have slowed his business down a bit. Some may do it to me, but I'm not the type to take advantage of a friend's misfortunes.

May the grass grow fast in your neck of the woods!

Mark J.

DLAWNS
04-17-2009, 12:46 AM
Hi Bill,

Thanks for the input! Yea, I tend to agree with what you are saying and realize there are going to be some less than perfect jobs coming in via this type of add campaign, but I'm not desperate for the work and do not commit to a set price in any adds. On the other side of the coin as you state, most of the folks with lawns in that category have 4 choices. 1.) find some low ball character to come in and do it half Arrssed. 2.) Wait until the health department or local jurisdiction comes in and does it, fining them & charging a high price. 3.) Call someone to do it before that & in my case pay a fair price with out any fines. 4.) do it themselves, likely not applicable or they would have.

Yes you're right there will likely be some dead beats, cheap skates, & less than desirable lawns to deal with, but branching out into this business one needs to start somewhere. Low balling is not a good way as it sets you up to continue to do too much work for too little money even after you have established a customer base. For some the threat of starvation or bankruptcy forces them into this type of failing spiral, they would do better to take up a PT job, stick by their guns & keep the market profitable.

I see folks in here quoting 25 - 35 $$ per hour as their base to price lawns off of, that's going to put you in a hand to mouth business with out much potential for growth or expenses, wear & tear budget. By the time you pay expenses, account for things like depreciation & replacement costs, you are paying yourself less than minimum wage.

On the flip side, just getting things setup without running the first add I've already landed 10 acres of lawns from folks who will be away some during the summer just word o mouth. They will likely amount to a couple of mowings for each property if the weather is in it's normal patterns for those times of year.

Although I must confess one low ball job, my next door neighbor! His regular guy has not showed up over the last 4 weeks & returned none of his calls. His grass was danged near a foot tall in places. He said something to me about it when he saw my Scag out on the drive, asked what I'd charge. He's been a fantastic neighbor for years, doesn't complain, cause problems, except for talking to him once & a while hardly know he's there, he stays busy most of the time, but is slower now due to the 'times'. I told him I'd do the first couple of cuttings for nothing as a "good neighbor", but to find out why his regular guy hasn't showed. I know last season the original contractor had some health issues, there was a much younger guy running his mower towards the end of the season. If it ended up my neighbor was going to need a regular mow contractor for the rest of the year I told him to let me know & I'd catch his lawn with mine for a price. Likely I will only charge him $20.00 or so for his 3/4 acre due to the situation, just enough to cover my expense, wear and time no profit. Known the guy as a friend & neighbor for years, don't feel right charging him a full price is it comes to that, plus I know from observation the times have slowed his business down a bit. Some may do it to me, but I'm not the type to take advantage of a friend's misfortunes.

May the grass grow fast in your neck of the woods!

Mark J.

As I read your last post it seems that you obviously have put thought into this and you seem like you have the right idea on how to do things. By the way, helping your neighbor isn't lowballing. :) I help neighbors, friends, and relatives all the time. I just cut my neighbor's yard today for free. He pays me to do his fertilizer and we help each other out when one of us is stuck. I know he's been going through some hard times in his personal life lately so it's the neighborly thing to, plus it only takes us like 5 minutes. Good luck this season and keep asking questions, there is so much great info on this site.