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View Full Version : The in's and out's of starting a new business


sweetland
10-18-2009, 09:27 PM
Hi guys I have worked for a grounds crew for three years now and I have always used the biggest and best equipment never having to worry about contracts or billing or anything. I was hoping people could give me some pointers on what equipment I should have to start off and how to collect payment and so on. Just some simple things to get me off to a great start would be great, thanks guys

AzLawnMan
10-18-2009, 11:22 PM
I hope you dont take this the wrong way but, what makes you think that because you have worked in the business, that you can now run one? I mean I worked side by side with my dad for 10 years never having to worry about all the things you also mentioned. When he was ready to leave and I was buying the company, we had a 2 year plan on me learning the books, billing and dealing with customers. I must say I am 3 years in flying solo and am still learning the in's and out's of the business side of this. Everyone thinks that they can mow a lawn, and they can, but not everyone can run a company big or small. I have 8 full time employees, and along with operating the "mowing" side of the company I also do all the books. I must say, I spend around 10-12 hrs a day running the crews, then I come home and spend another 4-6 hours doing paperwork, billing and all the things that come along with "running" my company. I just see alot of guys get into this business and really hurt themselves, either by not being organized, not paying taxes or falling behind that they have to pay some one to get there books back in order, which is very costly. I was lucky enough to have my dad go through all that by the time I came around, it was pretty much written down, I just had to follow the directions.

sweetland
10-18-2009, 11:37 PM
Dont worry i didnt take that the wrong way. I agree that everyone thinks they can just mow laws and thats it and thats not where i am coming from i never said that i thought i could run one just because i have experience. The only thing i know is that i can do a good job quality wise but i need help with where to start on the business end of things which is why i came here asking for some advice. Im also not an idiot who is going to take on a million clients my first week and im not going to hire anoyone just myself and my dad to help out, i want to start off slow and learn the ropes the right way so i can attempt to build it into a fully running company where i wouldnt be the only employee like i am planning on now. I just need some suggestions on things which will send me off to do my research thats all.
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sdk1959
10-18-2009, 11:56 PM
Whether you stay solo or expand to using crews do not start out with monthly billing. Some drawbacks are: Much more record keeping of who paid who didn't, your money is tied up all month, limits cash flow, expense of mailing invoices, deadbeats who don't pay.


Get paid after every service. If you keep a consistent schedule your customers will have a check waiting for you the day of service. Should you get off schedule because of rain a simple phone call the day before service to your customer and they will have a check ready for you.

Monthly billing is much more suitable to a large operation that offers several services (fert, landscaping, snow removal, irrigation) and will bill their customers 12 months out of the year to spread out the payments. Your not there yet.



The K.I.S.S. method works for most business endeavors. It stands for Keep It Simple Stupid if you didn't know. Don't make things more complicated than they should be. Good luck in your business.:)

LB1234
10-19-2009, 12:03 AM
Hi guys I have worked for a grounds crew for three years now and I have always used the biggest and best equipment never having to worry about contracts or billing or anything. I was hoping people could give me some pointers on what equipment I should have to start off and how to collect payment and so on. Just some simple things to get me off to a great start would be great, thanks guys


your best bet is to start with a business plan. Start doing some research on what is needed to put a solid business plan together...you will answer your questions and in good detail.

topsites
10-19-2009, 03:55 AM
I agree, you need a plan.

Stillwater
10-19-2009, 05:10 AM
[QUOTE=AzLawnMan;3237154]I hope you dont take this the wrong way but, what makes you think that because you have worked in the business, that you can now run one? QUOTE]


So you ask what makes him think he can run a business.? Look I am not him and even I can answer that.

It is called old fashioned American drive, a willingness to take a risk and the desire to succeed and make something better for himself, Your post has a negative tone to it it almost sounds like you think he shouldn't even try, The guy has courage enough to ask for help so instead of the beat down why not offer a hand up with some valuable experience you learned from your father. Not everyone has had the good fortune to have had their hand held while riding the learning curve. I certainly didn't.

Stevegotcrabgrass
10-19-2009, 04:18 PM
I bet 95% of most LCO's don't KNOW how to run a business. I bet most of them can get by though. To be honest, the billings and book keeping will be cake in most service businesses. But that is me who has experience RUNNING business which are more complex. I agree with the above post. Work hard and be smart and you will be okay. American drive. Do it legal and keep asking questions.

My advice now:
I only recently started also. 33" troy bilt wb (is it commercial? who knows but it cuts) a weed wacker, a blower, a trailer and a truck. I have a 21" as a backup.
If it cuts you can start with it. Efficiency might be less than desirable, but thats where hard work comes in.

As far as billing, set yourself up on something as simple as an excel spreadsheet and keep track of all expenses as they can be used to offset revenues to arrive at net income (i.e. taxable income) Get insurance and get licensed in your state. Keep it simple. Weekly billing, monthly billing all depends on your business needs. I don't feel a general answer is correct for all businesses as each business often faces its own issues. I bill every 15th and expect payment in 15 days. I asses a late fee for accounts with outstanding balances over 30 days. Keep an open mind and ear though and know your customers. Know that joe the mechanic just lost his job and might need some time to get on his feet. Maybe give him some slack. He might tell 20 people how you helped him out. I can go on forever.

sweetland
10-19-2009, 10:37 PM
thanks guys your imput has been very helpful. How do you suggest I get clients? I was thinking about flyers with my card on it and putting them in peoples mail boxes is this pushing it or a good idea?

Stevegotcrabgrass
10-19-2009, 11:08 PM
My recommendation is word of mouth. Start with your neighbors and do a great job and pay attention to detail. Take pride in what you do. Treat every lawn as if you were cutting the lawn of the girl you really wanted to bang in high school. If you do good work your business should grow on it's own. Get your name out there too. Look professional. Decal your truck nice. Operate clean equipment and keep a polished look to yourself and your crew (if applicable)

AzLawnMan
10-20-2009, 01:29 AM
\ If you do good work your business should grow on it's own. Get your name out there too. Look professional. )

Enough Said.

I wasnt trying to be negative, I am from Az, the state where grass and bushes grow YEAR ROUND. Where every John and Bob think that they can have a "Lawn Mowing" business. Like I said, I have been around this business a long time like most of you. I have helped others get there start, I have showed them the "ways" and have watched a majority of them fail. I think your on the right foot, your willing to do the work instead of trying to hire a complete crew right off the bat.Avertising is key, you have to spend money to make money. Like the others said, make a business plan and budget in some advertising. I do around $500 a month in various places, word of mouth is good but can only get you so many new leads. Like I said I wasnt trying to be negative, oh and no one held my hand either.

sweetland
10-20-2009, 10:04 AM
Dont worry about being negative cause it helps snap reality into people. I also have seen many people fail including in my own family so it makes me even more dertermined. Right now im just worried about getting too invested before i even have clients. Ive been shopping around for equipment and trailers for days when i cant even start until spring really. Ive been thinking either an ariens or toro 22in walk behind, and echo trimmer and a handheld blower? Any suggestions on what equipment is good because ive always used an exmark lazer xp, toro groundsmaster 4000, jacobsen, and other higher priced equipment i cant afford now so any helpful hints are great.
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LB1234
10-20-2009, 04:35 PM
Treat every lawn as if you were cutting the lawn of the girl you really wanted to bang in high school.


very professional advice.:laugh:

flatlander42
10-20-2009, 05:02 PM
I think he ment......Cut really fast on the pass going away from the back porch where she is laying out in her swimsuit....then slow waaaaaay down on the way back! Don't worry, the speed difference will even out to a nice even pace! haha

txgrassguy
10-20-2009, 06:50 PM
This topic has been beat more than Rodney King.
Do a search and read all of the responses.

g21
10-20-2009, 09:47 PM
Big Irish.
AZ was indeed harsh - not sure if he really meant it that way? But Stillwater said it well. I commend you for taking the risk. This business isn't rocket science. It's having personal integrity, an eagerness to serve and a good work ethic that will bring you success.

Not sure how old you are, but it really doesn't matter. Just get some full color business cards for around 45 bucks and get out there and shake as many hands as possible. Don't be affraid to "ask for the work." One of the biggest mistakes people make is they go out and pass out flyers or cards, but they don't look the person in the eye and actually ask for the job.

If you need any help with any part of the business, don't hesitate to ask.

Good Luck!

Tommy

Stevegotcrabgrass
10-20-2009, 09:54 PM
That is what I do. Go door to door and talk to people. Sell yourself. Hey I will do a better job than anyone. Let me show you. Don't let your work slip.

AzLawnMan
10-20-2009, 10:14 PM
As far as your equipment, buy what you need for the work that you have. Meaning if you dont have a property that you need a rider, then why buy one? Push mowers will do. I remember when we started out we had 6 honda push mowers! We used to push mow 4 houses that were each an acre. So when we were able to afford a Walker, we bought a used one and were able to save money and time cause we only had to send 2 guys instead of 4 to those houses. I just bought my 4th Walker and fought with myself for about a month on wether or not we really needed it. Talk to your local dealer or the mom & pop shops and see if the can open an account for you with 30 to pay. That should ease your equipment costs and allow you to make the money faster with the right stuff. But if you dont need it now, then wait till later. Have someone make you a custom letter head and have that match with your card.

sweetland
10-20-2009, 11:42 PM
Just wanted to say thank you to everyone you have all been very helpful and are putting me on the right track. I think i have one last question, people say it doesnt matter what mower you get as long as it cuts but yet everyone else makes a big deal out of it. I know some are better than others so i was wondering what yall recommendations are for push mowers. I was leaning towards a 22in toro self propelled real wheel drive personal pace which is $349 but now im hearing mixed things. Just a tad but more help please and im good. Thanks
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AzLawnMan
10-21-2009, 12:57 AM
Honda Commercial. non self-propelled. They are light and will last you forever. Very well built. Regular service and they will last forever, those things are awsome. I pay around $400. Its the only mower I will buy.

EcoGreen Services
10-21-2009, 11:55 AM
Welcome ..... :waving:

sdk1959
10-28-2009, 07:15 PM
As far as your equipment, buy what you need for the work that you have. Meaning if you don't have a property that you need a rider, then why buy one? Push mowers will do. I remember when we started out we had 6 honda push mowers! We used to push mow 4 houses that were each an acre. So when we were able to afford a Walker, we bought a used one and were able to save money and time cause we only had to send 2 guys instead of 4 to those houses. I just bought my 4th Walker and fought with myself for about a month on whether or not we really needed it. Talk to your local dealer or the mom & pop shops and see if the can open an account for you with 30 to pay. That should ease your equipment costs and allow you to make the money faster with the right stuff. But if you don't need it now, then wait till later. Have someone make you a custom letter head and have that match with your card.

Excellent advice.

Refreshing to hear this advice then the mantra of some posters that you should just run out and buy all new expensive equipment "you think you'll need on credit" before you landed your first lawn account. Because of course they say they started in business that way but what they don't tell you is that they may still live at home with parents paying the bills, or have a executive wife who is the "real breadwinner" paying the bills, or they were laid off from a long term high paying job & got 2 years severance pay (golden parachute) plus unemployment benefits. So brave & optimistic of them.......LOL

But alas that equipment bought in haste usually ends up on Ebay or Craigs list on the cheap so the rest of us get great buys....:cool2: