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View Full Version : Just Getting Started, HELP!!!


BeeCreekLawns
01-29-2010, 03:45 PM
Hello. Man this site is awesome. I have learned a lot from this site. Just wanted to introduce myself and tell my situation and see what yall think.

History: I did land surveying for 10 years and got laid off a year ago because of the economy. Since then I have done misc construction jobs that don't provide much income or stability. I have always loved landscaping and have been told by many people for a long time that I should start my own company(just from them seeing what I have done at the house). I have considered many times, but never pushed the gas on it until now. My goal is to end up as a full service landscaping company, but I figure I must start out mostly maintenance and work my way up.

My budget to get started is about $7,000. Current equip.: Chevy Silverado 1/2 ton 4.8Liter truck, Echo PB-230LN blower, brand new Echo 14" chainsaw(never been used, got for my birthday), Echo SRM-210 trimmer, and a (are you ready) Craftsman Briggs & Stratton 6.75 21" mower(with a leaking gas tank that I need to fix). As a homeowner, I always heard Echo was good so thats what I bought. I basically know nothing when it comes to maintenance on equip. I have never changed the oil on a mower, the only service I would do was clean the filter. I know this is bad, but I obviously now will be learning and doing a little more.

My plan is to buy a good commercial mower and use the Craftsman as a back up or to fit in tight spaces. I live in the out skirts of town so the yards tend to be a bit bigger. I am thinking about getting a walk behind with a "sculley." From what I have read, the 34" is a good size to make sure I can fit into gates. Any suggestions on a good starter mower that will be easy to learn to maintain would be appreciated.

My other major expense will be a trailer. It will just be me to start out, so I was thinking about a 5 1/2 x 12' landscape trailer with the cage, trimmer holders, ramp, single axle. The links below show you the ones I am looking at. The 16' one is the one I am considering, but its single axle, 12', and $1600. I keep thinking about double axle and no caged sides because of my wanting to landscape, but I am trying to convince myself that will be down the road. "I need to focus on maintenance??" Anything bigger than 12' seems like it would look silly with just me and my limited equip.
http://austin.craigslist.org/ctd/1576165477.html
http://austin.craigslist.org/ctd/1576361410.html

My marketing plan is to send out a mailer for the area I plan to work in. I will be getting magnetic signs and business cards. I have also started a website, but its still under construction. I am struggling with the "About Us" and experience thing. I really don't have "professional experience", but I am confident if I can get in the door I will earn the trust of my customers. My plan for bidding is to guess amount of time and multiply by $25. I am sure I will misjudge and lose but I have to get started some how (when I was a kid, I mowed & edged everyones yard for $20).

Damn, I could go on forever. Sorry about that folks, but there is so much to starting a business and I usually overkill everything. My head is going crazy. I have my ups and downs about this whole thing, but I know I can do this.
Anything, please let me know. Don't hesitate to speak your mind. Hopefully one day I'll be posting my equip. pics and website and following yalls lead. Thanks.

Rudy Bombick
Bee Creek Lawn & Landscape
(gotta get a logo!!)

BearWise Landscapers
01-29-2010, 06:12 PM
Rudy, welcome to the website!

I have also started a website, but its still under construction.

Let us know when you get the website completed.

Also, feel free to run any insurance questions you may have by me. I will be glad to help provide practical information about coverages and limits and anything else.

Good luck!

catch640
01-30-2010, 12:28 PM
Sounds like you have a plan Rudy. I also am just starting out with the equipment that I use on my own yard for now. But I did buy a small
trailer, that I got a great deal on Craigs list. I to am not sure how to price
the work & am sure I will lose money on my share. But this seems like a good place to get advice & support from. Good luck,
Lou:usflag:

BeeCreekLawns
01-30-2010, 02:12 PM
Hey catch640, appreciate the response. Man I am quickly becoming addicted to this sight. There is so much info. Being that we are in the same boat, lets keep in touch and help each other out. I have pretty much decided to get a 36" walk behind to get started. I am trying to figure out which one, but its gonna have to be one thats gonna be easier on learning the maintainence. What kind of trailer did you go with? Do you have any previous experience in the industry?

catch640
01-30-2010, 04:23 PM
I lucked up & found a 4 x 8 tilt trailer on craigs list in tennessee for only $300 bucks.
It will work for now. As you can see it is big enough for a 43" riding mower plus my push mower. No I have no business experince, but I am pretty good with people & like you I will learn from my mistakes. What part of the state are you from. I am from Blount county.

SchnabelLawnCare
01-30-2010, 08:16 PM
Buy a nice used 36" WB with a sulky. Start off with a small trailer, 5x12 sounds good.

Ideas: Scag, Quick, or Exmark (if you can afford it.)

About the pricing per yard: I didn't quite follow what you meant by multiplying by 25 dollars. You can price by the sq. footage/ by the acre, or you can estimate how long it will take you and multiply it by your man hour price. Feel free to PM me (you get 10 posts first) if you need help with anything.

Take what some people on this site say with a grain of salt; many on here will help, but some just try to tear people down and criticize. Welcome to the site and have a good first year!

James

g21
01-30-2010, 09:35 PM
Welcome Rudy,
I think we can help you with many areas of starting your business off on the right foot!
Good Luck and let us know if you need anything.

Tommy

BeeCreekLawns
01-31-2010, 12:52 AM
I appreciate the response guys. I am near Austin, Texas. The multiply by $25 was my man hours way of coming up with a bid. Is that way off? I haven't had the opportunity to use any of the commercial equip. yet, so maybe my judgement is off. I would have no idea what to charge per sqr.foot or acre.

From reading around the site, I have pretty much come up with getting a 36" WB. I have no idea about the different kinds. From what I have read, it seems like belt drive or hydro is the way to go. Is there a difference on which one is easier to maintain?

Anybody want to offer what they did for marketing in their first year? Was it successful? Any suggestions? I am thinking about doing a mailer. I have no idea what to expect???
Thanks guys.

Outdoor_Maintenance_2010
01-31-2010, 04:40 AM
maybe call another lawn cutting company a ask for an estimate on your lawn,then start from there

SchnabelLawnCare
01-31-2010, 09:14 AM
I appreciate the response guys. I am near Austin, Texas. The multiply by $25 was my man hours way of coming up with a bid. Is that way off? I haven't had the opportunity to use any of the commercial equip. yet, so maybe my judgement is off. I would have no idea what to charge per sqr.foot or acre.

From reading around the site, I have pretty much come up with getting a 36" WB. I have no idea about the different kinds. From what I have read, it seems like belt drive or hydro is the way to go. Is there a difference on which one is easier to maintain?

Anybody want to offer what they did for marketing in their first year? Was it successful? Any suggestions? I am thinking about doing a mailer. I have no idea what to expect???
Thanks guys.

36" Belt drive wb is your best option. It will give you superb reliability. Hydros are considered better by most, but they have much more for a newbie to maintain.

ShooterK2
01-31-2010, 11:51 AM
[QUOTE=BeeCreekLawns; My plan for bidding is to guess amount of time and multiply by $25. I am sure I will misjudge and lose but I have to get started some how

Rudy, I'm brand new to the biz like you, and to be honest, scared to death of over or under-bidding jobs! So what I did was, I went and bought a measuring wheel. I don't plan to use it on small yards where it will usually just be my minimum price, but for bigger areas I feel it will come in handy, at least untill I get into the swing of things and get better at estimating spaces and times. Right now, I'm terrible at estimating large spaces.
The wheels can get expensive, but I found mine at a wholesale tool store for $10. Might be something to consider if you don't already have one.

BeeCreekLawns
01-31-2010, 02:20 PM
Alright, looks like I'll be getting a 36" wb belt drive. I am getting excited about this. Can't wait to see what that baby can do.

So you get the sqr. footage, then what? I definetly think it would look more professional pulling out the wheel.

Hey ShooterK2, just curious how your liking the 16' trailer with the amount of equip. you have. When I went and checked some out, I liked the 12' and thought the 16' seemed way too big for my one man show starting out. I'll be starting with a 36" wb, 21" mower, 2 trimmers, 2 blowers. After reading around, I have been reconsidering the 16' because I have seen how some have added a box on there for leaves and stuff. Plus I have read the room to grow argument. Let me know, thanks.

stormwild
02-03-2010, 06:07 AM
Hey Rudy,

Me and my partners are also new to the business. Like ourselves we were also downsized due to the economy. I would go with the 16 ft trailer. As you grow you will be glad you did. It also allows for jobs that come up that you have not yet considered. We landed a job by offering an aeration that turned into building a wall for the gentleman as well as other services. We have a 16ft tandom dovetail trailer. The dovetail keeps equip. from dragging and is a nice feature. We run eXmark mowers, redmax blowers and edgers. Even though there is more upkeep to the hydro drive mowers I would go with one if you can afford it.


The Rezolve Team

Stevegotcrabgrass
02-03-2010, 09:46 AM
If you are pretty handy with tools and fixing things, I have heard that quick mowers are a good option. They are affordable and they seem to get good reviews. You can search the forum for threads related to them. Make sure you get all your legal stuff done asap. Keep detailed records of expenses and revenues and this will help during tax time.

Our current setup includes a 48" Scag WB Beltdrive, a 33" Troy-bilt WB (alot of people on here do not like that mower, but if you take care of your equipment it works great for us) and a 21" push. We have Redmax blowers and a homelite and redmax trimmers..I don't really care for the homelite...it kinda sucks and is just too little for us. It works thought. We also have a bunch of other crap, chainsaws, bowsaws, shovels, rakes etc..We have all this on a 5x10 open with more than enough room. $0 overhead related to equipment. Only expense is maintenance and repairs, Fuel, insurance, licensing fees (every two years) and taxes all of which are unavoidable.

Asking questions is a great way to learn. Keep doing what you are doing. We get work from word of mouth and we do a few flyer campaigns annually. Pricing is subjective depending on where you live. For instance we get about $35-40 for a 1/4-1/3 acre lawn which takes about 7-9 minutes with me and a partner. You might not get that in your area and your costs to do business maybe higher than ours.

I think I answered most of your questions. Keep reading and educating yourself. The more KNOWLEDGE you have regarding the landscape/lawncare profession and proper business practices you can succeed and have a good time.

Disregard any spelling errors please.

BeeCreekLawns
02-03-2010, 10:59 PM
I appreciate the responses. Trust me, I am reading like crazy. I have had to make myself log out of this site so I can get something done. I went to a dealer today and they have a used Toro 36" 30094 Belt-drive, floating deck for $3200. There was no hour meter, but the dealer says its got about 250 hrs (they are selling it on consignment for someone and the dealer sold and serviced it). It still has a 1 yr. warranty. The new ones are on sale for $4019. Anyone have any opinions on this unit. I don't plan on bagging so I would have to add a mulch kit for $250.

ShooterK2
02-04-2010, 01:14 PM
I will recommend the biggest trailer you can afford. Sure it may look empty when you first start out (mine sure does!), but you have plenty of room to grow, equipment-wise. Plus, if I need to haul something bigger than mowers, I've got a trailer that can handle it. I'll never have to worry about selling it to get a bigger one. And, a tandem is much easier to sell (should I ever want to) than a single-axle.
Now, if parking space is an issue, then you may have to consider something smaller (mine BARELY fits in my garage), but if not then I highly recommend a 16' tandem axle.

HW345
02-04-2010, 11:39 PM
Welcome!

If you'r serious about moving into heavier landscaping in the relatively near future, skip the bigger trailer for now, you'll be wanting a dump trailer (and a heavier truck to pull it) once you start needing to haul dirt, rock, trees, etc, and a compact tractor or skidloader.

12' should be great plenty for a while, you could add a rider and still carry the walk behind on the trailer with it, and the rest of your stuff in the truck bed.

Price per hour is pretty market specific, but I'd say you're working too cheap "here", deduct your costs and you can pretty easily find yourself working for free, especially if you have unplanned major repairs. I do some custom work with my farm equipment, and my rate is based on $20/hour for the operator plus machine cost (I usually go by or close to what it would cost to go to the local dealership and rent similar equipment.)

Call around and get a few quotes for your yard, just to get a feel for what others in your area are charging.

The best way to learn maintenance is by doing it. If you don't already have one, wander down to sears and get a decent tool set (figure on spending $150 or so on a reasonably complete set that will cover most small equipment work), then read your manuals and dig in. Most manufacturers have the manuals on their websites for download if you don't have them. There are lots of people on this board and others like it ready to help if you get stuck while wrenching.

I'd be honest on your website, show some pics of your place to give an idea of the quality of your work, etc.

Hope this helps.

stotts1
02-07-2010, 02:02 PM
i think the toro sounds a little over priced. we can buy a new 36 wb scag for @3200. maybe it just the difference area though.

Darryl G
02-07-2010, 02:19 PM
With a 36 inch mower and a full sized pickup there's no need for a trailer. Just get a good set of ramps. Personally I'd spend the extra money and get a hydro mower. They're so much better than belt drive. Better outdoor products has a nice line of fairly inexpensive hydro mowers. You can get in single or doulbe hydro. Search on Quick 36 here and you will see a lot of guys running them. The only thing is they don't have a dealer network so you'd have to do any work yourself or find a shop that's willing to work on them.

Good luck.

stotts1
02-07-2010, 02:23 PM
i think the toro sounds a little over priced. we can buy a new 36 wb scag for @3200. maybe it just the difference area though.

what i meant was difference IN THE area (oh and thats a belt drive scag)