View Full Version : Part time mowing

08-17-2011, 09:08 AM
I am looking at possibly trying to pick up about 10 accounts that I can mow to supplement my income. I will most likely not try and get this started until next spring as I feel that it probably wouldnt do much good to try and get accounts now. I was thinking of just starting out with my personal stuff I use at home and work from there. I'm wondering what kind of costs are involved with it. Do I need to get a BU number right away or should I wait to see what kind of accounts I can pick up? Should I get insurance right away? I currently do lawn and tree shrub spraying full time but my company doesn't offer mowing, should I ask my bosses if I can solicit my customer base for accounts? What do you guys think? I've been in the green industry for over 15 years and am just now thinking of doing this! Any help would be appreciated!!

08-17-2011, 12:12 PM
Your home equipment won't last long even if you are doing 10 yards a week. (that is 10 times what they are made for). If you ever hit anything with those blades(and you will) they will be bend real easy and maybe even damage your deck.
You could start looking at fall cleanups now. Maybe check with other Lawn companies and see if they have some they want to pass on. I do do that all the time. As I move up I pass on some out of area or smaller ones.

08-17-2011, 07:41 PM
I don't know about using that data base that might mean that if you screw up they will go back to the company.

08-17-2011, 08:19 PM
Get insurance...nothin worse than kicking a rock up and taking out a picture window!
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08-18-2011, 12:32 AM
I started out the exact same way you are thinking. This is my 4th season mowing and I now have 16 accounts. I know it don't sound like much, but when you get a good growing summer with plenty of rain like we have had here it tends to be some good extra money. I would recommend that you try to land some accounts this fall for the leaf cleanup. That is how I started and it worked very well. If I remember right I did about 20 yards that fall and at least 8 of them turned into fulltime mowing accounts the following summer. Like one of the other members said I would definately get yourself a used commercial grade mower at least, you can probably get by with home owner hand helds for now. I started out with a 5 year old John Deere tractor. Plus if you buy a comm. grade mower and after your first year you decide you don't want to mow anymore, you can sell it pretty easy and still get most if not all of what you paid for it back again. Hope some of this helps and good luck with your new venture.

08-18-2011, 12:38 AM
Almost forgot, definately get insurance before you start anything. I waited till the spring before I got my tax number, business name, etc. That is why I suggested you start with some fall cleanups, that way you can get a feel for how much of a demmand there is in your area for mowing next year. Just my 2 cents worth.

08-18-2011, 08:52 AM
Thank you all so much for the replys!! My home mower is a commercial grade honda. I figured I would get that for my home lawn because they had great reviews and it would last me awhile!! I will probably look into something bigger though if I start to pull a few accounts! I will try and advertise for some fall cleanups too!! You guys on here are the best!!

08-18-2011, 12:32 PM
Is this only going to stay part time? I'm getting out from part time lawn mowing as I just dont have the time to do it anymore (family). Insurance, YES, forget the window you just took out how about the kids playing next door and you hit them with a rock!!!....Tax (fed, state, sales if needed)...YES. Do it right. I personally know a few who didn't and it wasn't pretty.

The thing I realized with part time is you need to run the tightest ship you can and be efficient. I'm not sure what accounts you will attempt to do and if you are just using a push mower. Larger accounts will take too much time push mowing and if you hustle too much will look like hell. Commercial equipment costs $$$. If your route isn't real tight fuel will eat away at your money. A successful friend of mine said to me "You need to be in this for the long haul to make money" When I started I had just enough accounts to pay for my commerical mower, but I chose to start with new equipment. Trailer was out of pocket along with trimmers, blowers, hand tools, etc... Still needed to recoup that cost even though it was paid with cash. After getting more accounts I was asked about doing landscaping maintenance. I had the truck and trailer so no problems doing so but needed to purchase more tools to complete those jobs. Oh as a side not you get discounted materials with being licensed because you need to prove you are a business to vendors. I used quickbooks to keep track of stuff and man that is an eye opener if you are true with it. It's amazing how things can add up so quickly and I'm just talking about normal operating expenses. I'm upset that I need to get out of this as things really started looking good this year (everything paid for, referrals coming in) but working 70-80hrs/week isnt all its cracked up to be for extra income, eventhough it was good. I may try and continue to do the landscaping side, but the weekly "chore" mowing had become isnt for me.

So now after that rediculous story here are my thoughts on this.

1.) How much is enough to supplement your income?? $100, $1000, $10,000?? This changes everything!

2.) Get the right equipment for the customer you would like to potentially service (small yards, large yards, new builds, etc..), used commercial is fine. Efficiency is key here. You cannot efficiently mow larger yards with small equipment.

3.) How are you going to acquire accounts? Thats tricky with your current employer, I cant advise on that. Maybe just advertise (MORE MONEY) or find friends and family. I did a small classified and only got a few good calls, lots of bad ones, and only a couple customers. What if no one calls? What next?

4.) Can you commit to the weekly needs of mowing on top of your current job? You have to keep those customers happy and have to sacrifice other things (family, friends, activities) for that or they'll drop you instantly.

5.) Do you have cash on hand to purchase equipment (mowers, handhelds), trailer, fuel, insurance, advertising, trimmer string, gas can, 2 cycle oil, gloves, boots, safety glasses, equipment replacement/repair (things break and used stuff is not warrantied). I know some of this stuff is cheap or "what if" but it adds up and in reality needs to be reclaimed by your business even if it's your on hand cash. You could have just put that cash in a bank and made interest but now it's gone so it needs to be made back.

6.) Is this a "quick gold" extra income sort of thing in your head? If so I think you are in for a serious wake up call unless a couple hundred bucks a month is a good enough supplement, which it may be. Like my friend said, you need to be in it for the long haul to actually make money. It took me 5 years and now I'm out:hammerhead:. But at least if I wanted back in I have a much better understanding of this business.

Just get it all organized and good things can happen. Sorry for the long post but extra mowing money isnt that simple.

08-22-2011, 09:16 AM
The post was long but great information!! I am looking to supplement my income as much or as little as it can. If I can't get a lot of accounts I will look elsewhere for extra income. I just absolutely love to mow grass and thought it would be a good way to earn a little extra money! I realize it is a lot of hard work and with my full time job I have friday, saturday and sunday to mow.

08-22-2011, 11:01 AM
The post was long but great information!! I am looking to supplement my income as much or as little as it can. If I can't get a lot of accounts I will look elsewhere for extra income. I just absolutely love to mow grass and thought it would be a good way to earn a little extra money! I realize it is a lot of hard work and with my full time job I have friday, saturday and sunday to mow.

It can be done but it's just not instant, unless you have an incredible marketing plan, which costs incredible money. Once everything is paid off and you have the accounts going its not bad extra income, for me it was spending money. I mean you could be in a great position to acquire customers and have a bunch right away if you can work out something with the company you work for. Then you'll be making money right off the bat. The other thing I found with mowing on weekends is a lot of residential customers are throwing parties or enjoying their yard, pool, etc... and appreciate not having a mowing crew on their property at that time. I was able to mow during the week and would only have weekends in the fall. At least in the fall no one was planning any outside parties around here. I just got tired of not having week nights or weekends with my family. Money was great but things changed for me. Who knows maybe I'll be back in it some time. Just be careful if you do a really good job, customers will be knocking your door down and you will start to contemplate doing it full time :)

08-22-2011, 04:34 PM
There is a lot of good information posted in this thread. Please take serious. I have been doing this full time for 4 years and I have way over $20,000 worth of equipment.It takes time to build a good client list.
Think about what yards you want to do and the size of equipment that will fit on those properties. Are they flat?Do they have gated back yards?Does your area have a lot of hills?
Just to give you a idea of operating costs my fuel bill is over $200 a week.Insurance is almost $2,000 a year.I bought a new mower back in the Spring and it was $6,000.Your cost maybe lower but insurance is a must and if you buy a new commercial machine of a known brand they are $5,000 to $12,000.

08-23-2011, 09:30 AM
I was looking at starting with smaller yards that I can just push mow but if the need arose for a big rider I would try and find a used scag or kubota maybe? I realize this isnt a get rich quick kind of thing and there are tons and tons of people out there that mow but I have been doing lawn care applications for over 15 years and thought that I knew the most about this kind of buisness rather than trying to go work somewhere and hope they can give me the hours on the days I have available!!

08-23-2011, 10:38 AM
There are a lot of different brands of machines that will give you good service.Check Craigslist for used machines.Time is money.A 36" will cut your time down on small yards.

08-23-2011, 11:17 AM
I have seen a lot of the guys near me using ex mark. I remember way back in the 90's when I mowed for chemlawn that the ex marks were pretty decent mowers. Thanks for the info!

08-27-2011, 05:26 AM
I recently started a small part time yard service & the advice of getting liability insurance is important (typically $1,000,000 policy). I hate to say it but society is sue happy. Also you may find you want to get into commercial or government accounts where they will require this from you. As for buying equipment, it looks like you have a quality commercial mower. I was able to purchase other commercial equipment used for .30 to .50 on the dollar. I purchase a newer used commercial hand blower for $100 from a reputable lawn mower shop. He even gave me 90 days guarantee on it & he knew I was doing commercial work. I know that a lot of people say get a backpack blower, but I find my handheld works great. My lawns are all smaller being typically 5000-6500 square feet (including the house on the lot). I also found on Craigslist a $329 commercial string trimmer for $100. This trimmer was literally used 5 times from a homeowner who liked their electric lightweight trimmer better, so my gain. Since you say you are not opening the business for several months, you have time to shop for a deal. That for me is a challenge but part of the fun finding great deals on quality equipment. There is other great advice given on the board so read on & best of luck.

08-27-2011, 08:44 AM
$1.5 million in insurance cost $385.00 for the year for me. And I have it all. I'm not sure why everyone else is paying thousands. Are you really going to have enough time with a pushmower and a full time job? Ever think of making your wife get a job? I did and it didn't work for me. As for adding 10 accounts, you may have better odds with the lottery. Good luck.

08-29-2011, 09:28 AM
My wife has 2 jobs! Why do you think 10 accounts is unobtainable? I have a few towns near me with a lot of retired folks and people who are too busy to take care of their mowing. I am going to try and start with 1 account and work from there!! I will put up flyers around favorable buisnesses that could net me an account or 2. If it doesnt work then I will try something else. I just love to mow grass and figured I could try this first! I realize the economy isnt the best but it really is not as bad in my area.

ny scaper
08-29-2011, 11:59 AM
Lots of good advice on here, especially from MDL. Thanks for that. 10 Accounts if definitely attainable. Now is not the best time of year to start mowing, but you can get fall cleanups if you want to do that.
-I've been partime for 5 years and only want 10-15 full service accounts any given year. I love side work though. I can tell you as everyone else can here that anybody can get accounts, but its hard to build up GOOD accounts.
-I have found that once I got a trailer and started offering full service from spring thru fall in 2008, I became much busier (started making real money) and I could pick and choose who I wanted to work for as I only want the 10-15 accounts. This has enabled me to weed out the PIA customers. I personally hate mowing and opnly do it because it gets me all the other jobs at a given property, cleanups, mulch, pruning. Just something to think about. It seems that I went from being the "lawn boy" to their "landscaper".
-Now have 90% great customers, with 10% that can be PIA's. Granted I'm on amuch smaller scale than most on here, but it is similar to what you are trying to do.

08-31-2011, 09:34 AM
Great advice from everyone!! I'm not planning on trying to get this kickstarted until next spring. I was going to put up flyers around the local diners and grocery stores to try and get some local buisness and like I said, try and talk to my bosses and see if they would mind if I solicit my lawncare customers as well. If I can get some of those people I have been on their propertys for 8 years and have a pretty good repoire with them. If I need to buy a bigger machine than I have then so be it!! I love that everyone on here is willing to give the advice. It is a great resource that would not have been available years ago!!

09-06-2011, 12:08 AM
I'm in the same boat as you, my company is going on its second year. We're trying to ramp up our business and get around 25 hrs worth of work ( 4 man team.)

We're pretty fortunate and already have nice equipment between me and the guy I partner with. (Scag turf tiger, echo handhelds etc.) and a good client who has multiple lawns for us to do. So its been a pretty easy start up for us.

I would recommend getting something bit bigger than the 21". It will go really slow and very much limit your production but you'll have to way how much more money a bigger mower will make for you vs. the cost, to see whether its the right move for you. Sometimes efficiencies upgrades aren't worth it due to this!

I like the advice of going and doing fall clean ups to try to get potential clients! We're planning on going door to door this fall when we have time to try to get fall clean ups and than will talk about our mowing business in the summer with the folks that hire us for a clean up.

I'm going to start a thread in the picture forum to map my companies progress. Your welcome to tag along and "steal" any ideas you find from there.

Good luck!