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Grass Shark
02-21-2010, 06:21 PM
Florida Guys, the curiosity is killing me. How is the landscaping business in florida? The cost of living seems so much lower that it seems like you get so much more bang for your buck in florida. What are your hourly rates like there. I know I will not get a exact answer but to get as close as I can to figuring this out I will give ranges... so what do you charge?

Do you cut every week?
How many weeks in your season?

General labor rate:
$20-$24 per hour
$25-$34 per hour
$35-$44 per hour
$45 + per hour

General Mow Trim and Edge of a 10,000 sq ft property
Less than $20
$21-$28
$29-$38
$38+

Thanks for your input!

Equipguy
02-22-2010, 10:35 AM
Florida Guys, the curiosity is killing me. How is the landscaping business in florida? The cost of living seems so much lower that it seems like you get so much more bang for your buck in florida. What are your hourly rates like there. I know I will not get a exact answer but to get as close as I can to figuring this out I will give ranges... so what do you charge?

Do you cut every week?
How many weeks in your season?

General labor rate:
$20-$24 per hour
$25-$34 per hour
$35-$44 per hour
$45 + per hour

General Mow Trim and Edge of a 10,000 sq ft property
Less than $20
$21-$28
$29-$38
$38+

Thanks for your input!

There are THOUSANDS of LCO's in Florida from the huge companies like Valley Crest, Brickman & Trugreen to the solo operators. In Central Florida we did commercial accounts every week April through November and then serviced the property every other week. Comes out to about 42 weeks per year. Some contractors are on the property every week. Residential is about the same. As for rates I've seen adds on Craig's list for $15 per cut and some guys on here claim they won't drop the gate for less than $30. A lot depends on the area of the state and the neighborhood. Unemployment is high and it seems that in the past 2 years everyone with a pickup truck is in the lawn business.

That being said there is plenty of work if you do a quality job, it just takes longer to build a book of business than it did 5 or 10 years ago.:)

Grass Shark
02-22-2010, 12:04 PM
There are THOUSANDS of LCO's in Florida from the huge companies like Valley Crest, Brickman & Trugreen to the solo operators. In Central Florida we did commercial accounts every week April through November and then serviced the property every other week. Comes out to about 42 weeks per year. Some contractors are on the property every week. Residential is about the same. As for rates I've seen adds on Craig's list for $15 per cut and some guys on here claim they won't drop the gate for less than $30. A lot depends on the area of the state and the neighborhood. Unemployment is high and it seems that in the past 2 years everyone with a pickup truck is in the lawn business.

That being said there is plenty of work if you do a quality job, it just takes longer to build a book of business than it did 5 or 10 years ago.:)

Thanks for the reply, a relative of mine moved to florida and he owns handyman business. Things have been really slow for him. A couple of weeks ago somebody called him to do what was a day and a half worth of work, he said he told the guy $150 because it has been so slow and he could use the cash flow. Keep in mind that my relative is a hard and fast worker so others may have said 2 days work. The guy said "that's to much". He said he gets that a lot. So this guy did not want to pay $12.50 an hour to get this work done? He lives and works in what seems to be a nice area with nice homes. So if it takes me a half hour to cut your grass do you only want to pay $10? I wouldn't drop my gate for less than 3 times that here!

MikeKle
02-22-2010, 01:00 PM
I think about moving there every winter, but I realize the lawn care industry down there is way too congested, while it may be a great place to live due to the nice weather all the time, but so many other people thought the same thing, and now they are all mowing yards for $10 each.

brucec32
02-22-2010, 01:36 PM
I lived in Fl for about 15 months full time, and then spent a lot of weekends and winters there for 2 more years. Here's what I noticed.

1. There are vast differences in Florida from one area to the other. Even within relatively small driving distances, the atmosphere goes from swanky and elite to trashy, junky, or run down. Where I live now the changes are more gradual. Generally the closer to the beaches the nicer things are, with a rapid dropoff.

2. This means if you move to Palm Beach Co you will find much different conditions than if you move to central florida or parts of the panhandle. You will also find home prices quite different from one spot to another. Generally, any place that looks pleasant will cost a lot. A spread where you can run a lawncare business is going to be inland, and the terrain where I was is scrubby and not all that pleasant in my opinion.

3. You will find it difficult to run a business out of your home in many areas, as they can be quite zoning conscious. In parts of Boca Raton one could not even park a van or truck in the driveway overnight. But most places I'd want to live were not really going to let one run a business. I wound up buying a home on 2 acres zoned AG. That is not cheap in close-in areas of S. FLA. That house sold for nearly half a million.

4. The heat and humidity is more than oppressive. It's one thing to chill at the beach and think how nice it'd be to work there. But away from the breezes you will soak your clothing multiple times a day. I'm from GA and it is nothing like FL most of the year. Northern FL has seasons, South/Central is warm to very hot most of the time with a short mild winter.

5. The longer growth season is offset by lower general prices. You work several more weeks for maybe a little more income, or maybe the same.

6. The grasses there are "warm season" turf. So while bluegrass would be growing in the winter temps there Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Aug, Bahia really slow down. Again, this varies by area, but don't expect to keep busy in the winter like you'd think.

7. Shrubs and weeds grow like crazy. A much higher percentage of the workload where I was was shrubs and other non-mowing work. Fine if you like that, I don't.

8. My observations of mowing rigs did not support the idea that most of them are making a lot of dough. I saw many many more low-price trucks and mowers on trailers. To me that indicated they were maybe not doing all that great. I see more nice clean rigs in a day here than I did in a year there. The bigger companies hire immigrants and may be able to make it work better than smaller companies, as there is so much hand-work to be done. A $10/hour guy makes sense hand pruning for 4 hours.

9. Housing is affordable IF you don't mind neighbors close by. Because of land prices and water supply and sewage issues most homes are on small lots. You will see vast areas where nothing is, then suddenly clusters of homes on 1/5-1/10 acre lots. For this reason don't expect to run a business out of it as homeowners are wary of property values being damaged by it. This of course varies widely by area and there can be exceptions.

10. Where living is cheap incomes are usually lower, so the client base is smaller. Don't expect Disney workers in suburban Orlando making $25-$40K a year to be big consumers of lawncare. So you'd have to locate on the periphery of a nicer area to combine low home costs with good prospects for business.

11. The demographics are different. Much higher "good ole' boy" to yuppie ratio in PBC or Jacksonville than in Atlanta, for example. So expect stiff competition. Good ole' boys rarely want some other man mowing their lawn, either. So don't expect to pick up a bunch of wide open lots.

12. Small ornately landscaped lots are more trim/edge/blow intensive, which means more time on your feet. Standers can work there, but I didn't see many ZTR's except in the countryside.

13. The good news is the St. Aug in many areas I found very easy to cut, even when growing fast, compared to some of the turf here. Bahia, on the other hand, is a PITA. Sand in some areas will be a problem with rapid blade wear.

14. Weather pattern is lots of afternoon showers, so you have to work around those. The good thing is the sandy soil drains well.

15. Florida makes it hard for outside businesses. They have hoops to jump through for Chemical applicator certification, etc. I hear building construction is even worse. So check on that first.

11. Again, all this varies based on your standards of living and safety (location wise) and I'm sure many would be quite happy there. I personally do not like living stacked up on top of other people.

The Jacksonville area was more pleasant IMO than S. Florida.

MikeKle
02-22-2010, 02:12 PM
Where are the rural parts of FL? like the small farms and such? If they exist in FL at all? I was in St. Augustine and loved it there, but it is true about the areas being so different, we stayed in a nice home that was rented out all year, but just a mile or so down the A1A was a junky trailer park with junk cars and trucks all over, it looked like southern KY! But I guess the good ole boys call that a vacation, since they are close to the ocean.

GravelyNut
02-22-2010, 02:27 PM
Where are the rural parts of FL? like the small farms and such? If they exist in FL at all? I was in St. Augustine and loved it there, but it is true about the areas being so different, we stayed in a nice home that was rented out all year, but just a mile or so down the A1A was a junky trailer park with junk cars and trucks all over, it looked like southern KY! But I guess the good ole boys call that a vacation, since they are close to the ocean.

Down here at the bottom end of the mainland, you can travel 4 miles and go from apartment slums to million dollar homes on 5 acres. It is nothing like it was when we got here in 1962.The slums don't need cutting while the 5 acre sites cut their own. We have an excess of mexican labor so prices for LCOs are low.

billslawn89
02-23-2010, 07:24 AM
ya good post brucec32..just about summed it up! things around here has been REAL slow!

MarcSmith
02-23-2010, 07:40 AM
Bruce....FWIW I think the Jax area is the armpit of florida...:)

I have always been a fan of the central band of the state tampa across to the space coast.

years ago it was very easy to build a company and keep your routes really really tight. I had three rigs and did not stray more than 5 miles from the shop...and i was able to pick choose the areas i wanted to work in. but that was back in the mid 90's

As others have states if drive across the state you will see million dollar homes, trailers, nice hoods, horse farms, ghetto's, ect. you see all walks of life.


the west coast of Florida seems ot be heavy with folks from the midwest, , Illinois, indiana, ohio, were as the east coast seem to be predominant folks for New york, jersey, Penn, mass. ect. and that diversification is just a result of I 75 and I 95 coming in from two different areas of the country...


It really depend on what you are looking for. I also like the area south of orlando. Lake wales...

freshprince94
02-23-2010, 06:05 PM
Florida is all monthly billing. No per cut stuff here. You pay the same amount every month regardless of how many times your lawn gets cut. You make less in the growing season but make up for it in the winter. It's not hard to build a lawn business here, but turnover is high and your main competition ranges from the unemployed Joe with his Troy Bilt tractor to a huge operation with a F350 3 Dixie Choppers and 5 mexicans to run it all.

CkLandscapingOrlando
02-23-2010, 08:08 PM
Wow, you cats are crazy. Theres money all over central Fl. You throw out 10,000 fliers or hangers and you got a nice route in what ever places you want. I can run 3 whole county's and never take more than 30min to travel. Stay out of the ghetto and you dont have many pitas at all. Small lots at 25-30 a cut. Mainly 100-120 a month. If they take more than 30min you suck and for a low price I'll teach how to get your production on par. My niceiest houses are 1n the 130-150 range and the same 30min. Landscaping has been slow but I get at least a small job a month. I got in with a good GC after landscaping his yard. He's had me working In Disney all week. Good money but they are a pita for sure. Most lrge lots here are owned by Devolpers and they certainly dont cut their lawns. Every one has a Z except the folks in the ghetto. Plenty of low ballers. In the upper end where I'm billing 150 there guy's billing 80. I'll take their work soon. You dont want turn over treat your clients good and do top notch work. If you think word of mouth is gonna grow you like folks claim, good luck with that. That will take forever

Kel Klip
02-23-2010, 09:20 PM
Good post CK . I've lived here all my life and I love it . There are a lot of uninsured lowballers here with there 20.00 per cuts but they come and go. My lowest priced yard is 100.00 bucks a month and I get that YEAR ROUND. It really blows in the summer but them easy winter checks give you something to look forward to . Beats shoveling snow IMO. As for the turnovers I've never had a problem with that each customer I have I've had at least 5 years.
Posted via Mobile Device

CSALawnServiceInc
02-23-2010, 10:42 PM
Florida Guys, the curiosity is killing me. How is the landscaping business in florida? The cost of living seems so much lower that it seems like you get so much more bang for your buck in florida. What are your hourly rates like there. I know I will not get a exact answer but to get as close as I can to figuring this out I will give ranges... so what do you charge?

Do you cut every week?
How many weeks in your season?

General labor rate:
$20-$24 per hour
$25-$34 per hour
$35-$44 per hour
$45 + per hour

General Mow Trim and Edge of a 10,000 sq ft property
Less than $20
$21-$28
$29-$38
$38+

Thanks for your input!

The tri county area (Manatee, Sarasota, and Charlotte counties) has one of the highest levels of unemployment in the state. We have people advertising $12 a cut/ $55 a month year round down here, lot's of uninsured, under the table, lowballers. Stay where you are at.

lawnboy dan
02-25-2010, 10:19 AM
execellent review bruce32- you have it right on the $ for florida

rain man
02-25-2010, 10:50 AM
Agree, Bruce32 is on the mark from what we see of Florida.

Landscape Poet
02-25-2010, 11:09 AM
CK has it right - you can make good money down here but it is all about treating your clients right and doing quality work. I know that our rates might seem low to some of you yanks however you have to remember we get paid 12 months a year - and the last couple of years after we got a freeze - you are doing very little work and more less just making noise to let them know you are there.
You also have to remember when you say I would never drop my gate for that - our lot size in the metro areas are so small because of the housing boom that if you have a decent z you can whip a yard out solo in a bat of a eye we are not mowing lots even close to your guys typical lot.
I will have to agree with some of Brucee32's post too - I can attest to the humidity as I was born and raised in the midwest. It gets hot up in MO during the summer - however down here it gets warm in March and by Mid March it is Hot - by June you melt after 9 am and the Gatoraid is flowing frequently. This season it was still pretty hot and humid Thanksgiving week. It did not get were it was really comfortable until about the 2 week of December and then got cold as hell for us. We got a 2 week cold snap in January (lows in the 30's during the night) which pretty much crippled most of the turf. The turf is back to growing now - but at a very reduced rate - some properties are able to go 3 or 4 weeks without having the mower put on them - it the mower is put on it is just to clean up a few random high spots. So winter rocks, just collecting checks and doing very little actual work depending on the client.

Also our areas do go from really nice to really ghetto in a matter of sometimes 1 block (Winter Park? CK LOL). You can go from Multi-million dollar homes to shacks that have been in the family and the land is worth a million in the same block.
My route is super tight all my clients are not further than 3 miles from my home - most are in the same subdivision. I can put $40 in the tank at the beginning of the week and be ok all week long unless I have to make a trip out of town for some supplies.

One last thing - you guys up north always mention how our set up down here are not very nice looking. I would just like to mention I do not see everyones obsession with having the newest and coolest equipment. I always say show me the guy with the nicest set up in town and I will show you the guy with the most overhead and possibly debt in town.




So in review what you could expect if you were to try to move down here.
1. Monthly billing - great year round income even when you are actual doing very little work
2. Rate per cut/lawn are lower - but lots sizes are much much smaller for the most part
3. You will sweat balls - imagine your worst day up north - that will be daily
4. We have hazards u do not have - http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=302190&highlight=found+friends
5. You will see illegals like you have never seen before - and I am not just talking about immigration status
6. You will see lawn disease and issue like you have never seen before - think fungus
7. You mower and equip will get the hell beat out of it by the sand
8. Did I mention it is hot down here?
9. You more will not being laying seed down here - you will not be laying sod, well at least very often. The Spanish run this market - you will not be profitable except for a few of your clients that will pay a decent wage.
10. Chinch bugs will appear in your nightmares at night

billslawn89
02-25-2010, 12:00 PM
^^ #10...that's funny and you're right.lol and of course #3 and #8 is so true, especially last summer... AND #4 :laugh:

lawnkingforever
02-25-2010, 01:34 PM
I have another question for you guys. My wife's aunt and her cousin's family are relocating to St. Cloud from PA in June. What are your thoughts on this area as far as the lawncare business is concerned or otherwise? Thanks

Landscape Poet
02-25-2010, 01:59 PM
I have another question for you guys. My wife's aunt and her cousin's family are relocating to St. Cloud from PA in June. What are your thoughts on this area as far as the lawncare business is concerned or otherwise? Thanks

I am not that familiar with the area to be honest with you. I stick to my little area up here. From a simple real estate looks like the lots are bigger and more inline to the traditional lawn size as it appears to be far enough south from Orlando to be a little more rural. http://www.homes.com/For-Sale/FL/SAINT%20CLOUD/

As far as a business. Look at the red dots on the map here. This are all points of interest when I typed in St. Cloud Landscape companies. Looks like FL

http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&source=hp&oq=&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=landscape+companies+st.+cloud+fl&fb=1&gl=us&hq=landscape+companies&hnear=st.+cloud+fl&view=text&ei=zceGS4TrM4yVtgfU6a26Dw&sa=X&oi=local_group&ct=more-results&resnum=1&ved=0CBYQtQMwAA

Florida Gardener
02-25-2010, 04:29 PM
I live in Palm Beach County and there is so much wealth here it is not even funny. You can make great $ in my area if you do it right. The high turnover that people will tell you about are customers who have weed patches that never take care of their lawns and will drop you in the winter. The answer is to not take on these customers. If you are a mow blow go lawnboy, you will never run a successful business in florida.

South Florida Lawns
02-25-2010, 04:40 PM
I have another question for you guys. My wife's aunt and her cousin's family are relocating to St. Cloud from PA in June. What are your thoughts on this area as far as the lawncare business is concerned or otherwise? Thanks

I don't really care much for the st. cloud area.

grillnchilln
02-26-2010, 03:45 PM
Quote: "Theres money all over central Fl. You throw out 10,000 fliers or hangers and you got a nice route in what ever places you want. "[/

I am east of Orlando on the coast. We have a lot of HOA ' no soliciting' neighborhoods around here. There seems to be the, don't piss off the HOA people and the who cares - pass out fliers even if you get bad mouthed about soliciting. What has been your take on this? How have you been received in HOA - no soliciting neighborhoods. This represents every neighborhood i want to be in.
Thanks

freshcut419
02-26-2010, 11:03 PM
The tri county area (Manatee, Sarasota, and Charlotte counties) has one of the highest levels of unemployment in the state. We have people advertising $12 a cut/ $55 a month year round down here, lot's of uninsured, under the table, lowballers. Stay where you are at.

Thats the truth, I moved from Michigan to south west florida in 2005. I now Back In Michigan

Landscape Poet
02-27-2010, 12:53 AM
Quote: "Theres money all over central Fl. You throw out 10,000 fliers or hangers and you got a nice route in what ever places you want. "[/

I am east of Orlando on the coast. We have a lot of HOA ' no soliciting' neighborhoods around here. There seems to be the, don't piss off the HOA people and the who cares - pass out fliers even if you get bad mouthed about soliciting. What has been your take on this? How have you been received in HOA - no soliciting neighborhoods. This represents every neighborhood i want to be in.
Thanks

Not sure what your exact location is, but if you are anywhere near me that is every neighborhood. Everyone has a sign posted at every entrance. Generally what I do is pass out the door hangers unless someone makes it a point to approach me and tell me that there is no soliciting, at which point I thank them for informing me and act like I had no idea and promptly leave that area, at least for awhile:laugh::laugh::laugh:

CkLandscapingOrlando
02-27-2010, 06:40 AM
Agree. The only place I deem off limits are those with a gate. Those You can do aaddresssearchand direct mail with a bulk mailaccount. I got work in st.cloud. A few nice areas but redneck for the most part. The nicier spots are new and alot of forcloser and empty new homes so the market aint as nice. But with our toll roads you can be in the heart of Orlando in 15-30min and run a full day. Some large lots in the cloud as well so if mow blow is what you do then you can charge30-50 for a larger one and be done in 30min

Florida Gardener
02-27-2010, 09:08 AM
Ck, have you done direct mailouts to gated neighborhoods and if so, how successful was it? What time of year did you do it?

I am doing a direct mailout next week to 3 select neighborhoods i want to get into, 2 gated, 1 non-gated but no soliciting. This will be my 3rd time. I did the other 2 last year, 1 in Sept., 1 in November so I think my timing is way better now.....

grillnchilln
02-27-2010, 11:59 AM
Thanks for the input. I picked up a few accounts in areas I want to grow in and plan to pass out fliers here in the next month or so. Any thing I have passed out in the past three weeks (which have been pretty cool for FL) I haven't gotten any responce. Do I just wait until it starts to warm up / grass starts to grow to pass out more fliers? I also don't want to wait to long to get to folks but feel most aren't receptive right now with the weather.

Landscape Poet
02-27-2010, 01:39 PM
Thanks for the input. I picked up a few accounts in areas I want to grow in and plan to pass out fliers here in the next month or so. Any thing I have passed out in the past three weeks (which have been pretty cool for FL) I haven't gotten any responce. Do I just wait until it starts to warm up / grass starts to grow to pass out more fliers? I also don't want to wait to long to get to folks but feel most aren't receptive right now with the weather.

It never hurts to pass out flyers - however when you start seeing the Scott's ads on T.V - that is when Joey homeowner gets the itch. When you see those commercial - get to those doors quick. Then about late June or July - you will maybe be able to pick up some with all the fly by nighters that found themselves not enjoying the humidity down here and there customers not enjoying their service.

CkLandscapingOrlando
02-27-2010, 07:23 PM
I agree with Mike. Homedepot spends millions on target marketing. When those places start pushing spring, you should as well. With our bad winter this year many folks just dont see a need yet. As far as direct mail, never done it. I dont think it would be much better than door hangers though

Landscape Poet
03-02-2010, 11:31 PM
CK,

Did you get that voicemail I left the other day about the Quick Pro at Luka's mislabeled for $29 instead of $129? If I would of thought of it I would of called you while I was there. Hell of a savings.

MyKisa
03-07-2010, 08:17 AM
bruce had a good post...50 years in Jax, 6 years now mowing Villages.....got water front land in Jax I`ll sell ya.....