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osmann_lawn
12-07-2011, 11:57 PM
Hello, I really enjoy lawn care/landscaping work. I am trying to get a business going. I was just wondering what you all thought on starting in this economy? Also i plan on getting it to be full time career. I have a few residential property's i mow for already. How much am i looking at making a year living in Wisconsin? I would like to get somewhere around 40-50 grand a year is that possible in this industry? (in at least 5 years time). I was thinking about going to a community college for some skilled trade (horticulture & landscaping, or something like welding, carpenter etc.. I thought at least if i had some kind of associate degree in landscaping i could try to get a job at a big local landscaping company, if things don't work out.

Thanks

clc000
12-09-2011, 04:30 PM
Osmann,

Lawn Care or Landscaping is an essential services industry-as long as there are people who are unable or do not want to take care of their own property there will be a market for LCOs. I don't know about your area, but in mine the current barrier to growth is not a lack of paying customers, but an influx of unemployed, illegal, or other small LCOs who do not pay taxes or pay for licenses or insurance and can therefore afford to scrape by charging rock-bottom prices. These oft disparaged "lowballers" have the effect of diluting prices and siphoning customers.

You can get a rough projection of your take-home profit by multiplying the average price per lawn you expect to charge by your anticipated number of customers. Multiply that by the number of service visits you expect for year. This will give you your projected gross. Divide that by three to give a rough estimation of operating profit. Subtract the cost of fixed assets to give you pre-tax net profit. Multiply that by .8 or maybe .75 to account for taxes and you have your take home profit. In other words, to bring home $50,000 you will need to gross about $180,000. In my area that means about 200-250 customers.*

I know many people who make more than that each year but many others who make far less. The key is analyzing your particular market and climate and finding a niche that can separate you from likely boundless competition and then following through by providing great customer service and doing quality work.

Good Luck

*This is a rough formula based on my own and my friends' experiences. It assumes a .3 profit margin and no income from additional services (hedges, landscaping, etc...)

osmann_lawn
12-09-2011, 06:40 PM
Thanks. I HATE factory/warehouse work & that's what i am doing now for a full time job. I love lawn care/landscaping. Just want to hear what people make yearly & # of accounts. I am thinking about going to a 2 year tech school for Horticulture/landscaping & design at MATC. How much do you all charge per lawn residential?

osmann_lawn
12-09-2011, 06:43 PM
How the hell do you get that many weekly accounts?

RGM
12-09-2011, 06:43 PM
Its all about how hard you want to work how much you charge an hour and how many people you have working for you.

coolluv
12-10-2011, 08:31 AM
Osmann,

Lawn Care or Landscaping is an essential services industry-as long as there are people who are unable or do not want to take care of their own property there will be a market for LCOs. I don't know about your area, but in mine the current barrier to growth is not a lack of paying customers, but an influx of unemployed, illegal, or other small LCOs who do not pay taxes or pay for licenses or insurance and can therefore afford to scrape by charging rock-bottom prices. These oft disparaged "lowballers" have the effect of diluting prices and siphoning customers.

You can get a rough projection of your take-home profit by multiplying the average price per lawn you expect to charge by your anticipated number of customers. Multiply that by the number of service visits you expect for year. This will give you your projected gross. Divide that by three to give a rough estimation of operating profit. Subtract the cost of fixed assets to give you pre-tax net profit. Multiply that by .8 or maybe .75 to account for taxes and you have your take home profit. In other words, to bring home $50,000 you will need to gross about $180,000. In my area that means about 200-250 customers.*

I know many people who make more than that each year but many others who make far less. The key is analyzing your particular market and climate and finding a niche that can separate you from likely boundless competition and then following through by providing great customer service and doing quality work.

Good Luck

*This is a rough formula based on my own and my friends' experiences. It assumes a .3 profit margin and no income from additional services (hedges, landscaping, etc...)

Yep that's about right. I hope everyone who thinks about starting reads this and realizes what most really make doing this for a living.

Dave...

coolluv
12-10-2011, 08:33 AM
How the hell do you get that many weekly accounts?

2 ways. Lots of money advertising and low prices.

Dave...

ralph02813
12-10-2011, 02:37 PM
Hello, I really enjoy lawn care/landscaping work. I am trying to get a business going. I was just wondering what you all thought on starting in this economy? Also i plan on getting it to be full time career. I have a few residential property's i mow for already. How much am i looking at making a year living in Wisconsin? I would like to get somewhere around 40-50 grand a year is that possible in this industry? (in at least 5 years time). I was thinking about going to a community college for some skilled trade (horticulture & landscaping, or something like welding, carpenter etc.. I thought at least if i had some kind of associate degree in landscaping i could try to get a job at a big local landscaping company, if things don't work out.

Thanks

Hmmm, Check your local university for maybe a master gardener certification, also check professional associations in your area, join and read.

It really depends on you area and how you want to focus your business as to how many clients you need and what your price point should be. You need to determine what your margins needs to be.
You say you have a few clients now ask yourself:
1.) Are these they type of clients I want and why.
2.) How much do you charge them?
3.) How much goes in your pocket, and how much pays for all your gear and supplies, insurance, permits and license, etc.
4.) divide your profit into $50k that will tell you how many customers you will need.

clc000
12-12-2011, 04:57 PM
Nobody gets hundreds of customers overnight. You have to advertise to get your name out there, build a reputation by doing quality work and network with potential clients or other people who can help you get clients. Look at every job as an opportunity to sell yourself and your business.

osmann_lawn
12-12-2011, 11:15 PM
Thanks guys for all the helpful info. I absolutely hate my temporary warehouse job. Never get time to see family & friends, witch are the most important things in life. That is one reason among many others i want to start my own lawn care business. After talking it over with my mom and dad they both thought it would be a good idea to go back to school. So i was looking around and found some community colleges that offer landscape/horticulture programs. I thought it would be a real good idea to get some type of education just in case i cant make it on my own i could work for a different company.

I have bought some postcards, flyers & door hangers. When do you think i should start handing them out? I live in South Eastern Wisconsin.

jad004
12-13-2011, 04:31 AM
[QUOTE=osmann_lawn;4242268]Thanks guys for all the helpful info. I absolutely hate my temporary warehouse job. Never get time to see family & friends, witch are the most important things in life. That is one reason among many others i want to start my own lawn care business. After talking it over with my mom and dad they both thought it would be a good idea to go back to school.


Don't start a lawn care business if you want to be home a lot more. I had all kinds of free time until I started mine. Well, I guess I do get 1 month off in the winter.

osmann_lawn
12-13-2011, 08:06 AM
I would have nights off i meant. You can't do landscape/mowing in the dark lol! it gets dark around 4:30 here.

jad004
12-13-2011, 08:36 AM
Oh yes you can! I got behind this year and had to do some spraying in the dark. Luckily for me, my Z spray has a foam marker on it so I could see where I was going. Plus, you have to invoice and do book keeping, then you have to fold invoices, stuff envelopes and then you get to spend time with the kids while they lick the envelope glue.

osmann_lawn
12-13-2011, 06:29 PM
How many accounts do you have? do you have a helper?

jad004
12-13-2011, 09:58 PM
I have 108 accounts right now, but I only spray and fertilize (no mowing). I do not have a helper. It is just me. I work a full time swing shift job and do the lawn thing on the side (after work and on my days off). I do know two guys here that own lawn care businesses. One is a large company and one is rather small. Both are divorced because their wives said they were never home and worked too much. I think it's because they are both *#%*# well you know.

osmann_lawn
12-14-2011, 02:11 PM
oh nice 108 isnt that enough to do that full time?

jad004
12-14-2011, 08:45 PM
I wish. On 105 accounts, if you average $75 a lawn, then you only gross $40,000. Bring home about 40% of that after taxes, insurance, materials, and all that jazz. I am not even close to what the steel mill pays me.

osmann_lawn
12-14-2011, 11:57 PM
That's not bad at all for a side job! Why do you do the spraying? Are you trying to make it your full time job? Do you think it will be hard for me to get lawn accounts this up coming season? I am trying to get this business going i have 6 people i mow for right now since high school. I would love to work for my self. My ideal yearly salary would be 30,000 & up. (i know that would not happen right away but in the next few years). That would be more than i would make in a warehouse/factory & i would enjoy the work! I have been putting a lot of time into this (researching, advertising material, equipment etc).

Smallaxe
12-15-2011, 06:30 AM
That's not bad at all for a side job! Why do you do the spraying? Are you trying to make it your full time job? Do you think it will be hard for me to get lawn accounts this up coming season? I am trying to get this business going i have 6 people i mow for right now since high school. I would love to work for my self. My ideal yearly salary would be 30,000 & up. (i know that would not happen right away but in the next few years). That would be more than i would make in a warehouse/factory & i would enjoy the work! I have been putting a lot of time into this (researching, advertising material, equipment etc).

The biggest problem with full-time college is the expense and the debt that it puts you in... for some 60% of college grads they will never work in their desired profession...

A friend of mine can't afford to strike out and risk a landscape business venture becuz of the debt... Would have been better off, going into debt to buy a house as long as one is stuck in the dead end job...

$30,000.00/yr. is fine, as long as you're not in debt... There is no magic formula for making money... it's all hustle... sell yourself as a person of integrity with a work ethic... I wouldn't let the Wallstreet Occupiers shovel snow around the mail box, in spite of all their college education...

ralph02813
12-15-2011, 07:34 AM
The biggest problem with full-time college is the expense and the debt that it puts you in... for some 60% of college grads they will never work in their desired profession...

A friend of mine can't afford to strike out and risk a landscape business venture becuz of the debt... Would have been better off, going into debt to buy a house as long as one is stuck in the dead end job...

$30,000.00/yr. is fine, as long as you're not in debt... There is no magic formula for making money... it's all hustle... sell yourself as a person of integrity with a work ethic... I wouldn't let the Wallstreet Occupiers shovel snow around the mail box, in spite of all their college education...

A couple of notes, I hope you are talking net dollars (after all business expenses and taxes) when your talking $30k, its hard to question how much someone needs because it all location location - here in Southern New England - health insurance for a single person can be had for around $5k, a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment/with utiliities $10k if your not picky cell, internet/tv and groceries and a 6 pack of Black Label Kingers $5k and then $4k That leaves you about $6 a year to enjoy the fruits of you labor.

A note about the Wallstreet occupiers - do you understand that the same thing is going on in countries around the globe - whether someone went or is going to college there are no jobs - others on the site have talked about the rediculous prices some low ballers are charging to mow grass - personally, I lost 2 customers, (I am not sad about it, they where pains) they were every other week cuts, I was charging $40 a cut the new guy, does it every week for $20, and only when they call - there are no jobs -think about it some of the occupier used to pay to have their yard done!

Smallaxe
12-15-2011, 08:30 AM
A couple of notes, I hope you are talking net dollars (after all business expenses and taxes) when your talking $30k, its hard to question how much someone needs because it all location location - here in Southern New England - health insurance for a single person can be had for around $5k, a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment/with utiliities $10k if your not picky cell, internet/tv and groceries and a 6 pack of Black Label Kingers $5k and then $4k That leaves you about $6 a year to enjoy the fruits of you labor.

A note about the Wallstreet occupiers - do you understand that the same thing is going on in countries around the globe - whether someone went or is going to college there are no jobs - others on the site have talked about the rediculous prices some low ballers are charging to mow grass - personally, I lost 2 customers, (I am not sad about it, they where pains) they were every other week cuts, I was charging $40 a cut the new guy, does it every week for $20, and only when they call - there are no jobs -think about it some of the occupier used to pay to have their yard done!

So in other words, not a good time to put yourself in debt...

My comment about 'Occupiers' speak to the character issue... In a competitive job market it is good to loose the 'entitlement' attitude... :)

Kelly's Landscaping
12-15-2011, 12:06 PM
No I don't feel sorry for the Occupiers at all they made their beds or sleeping bags as the case may be. It's astro turfing or in other words its a fake movement. Their masters are the Dem party and so they chant and attack wall street rather the the Federal government that forced banks to invent ways to loan too people that couldn't pay it back as part of it's social engineering. Is it really surprising that the banks came up with a way to sell off the crap and it was crap. They had a way to temporary fix credit scores so they could ram bad loans through then they would package them up in 15 million dollar lots and sell them off. What the Occupiers don't get was it was designed to fail and it failed precisely when they timed it too to effect the 08 presidential campaign.

So if you wish to feel sorry for them that's your call as they never should of been allowed to Occupy anything but the left was so desperate for its own tea party they allowed this to happen. Now you got a new mini version of the 60s but in truth had there been proper leadership then the 60s wouldn't of happened either.

Smallaxe
12-15-2011, 12:54 PM
No I don't feel sorry for the Occupiers at all they made their beds or sleeping bags as the case may be. It's astro turfing or in other words its a fake movement. Their masters are the Dem party and so they chant and attack wall street rather the the Federal government that forced banks to invent ways to loan too people that couldn't pay it back as part of it's social engineering. Is it really surprising that the banks came up with a way to sell off the crap and it was crap. They had a way to temporary fix credit scores so they could ram bad loans through then they would package them up in 15 million dollar lots and sell them off. What the Occupiers don't get was it was designed to fail and it failed precisely when they timed it too to effect the 08 presidential campaign.

So if you wish to feel sorry for them that's your call as they never should of been allowed to Occupy anything but the left was so desperate for its own tea party they allowed this to happen. Now you got a new mini version of the 60s but in truth had there been proper leadership then the 60s wouldn't of happened either.

I tend to agree it was a staged event and many people confessed to being paid to go there and add to the crowd.
My main point though, is that when you need something it is time to Hustle, not Whine... :)

osmann_lawn
12-15-2011, 06:50 PM
LOL! so the question is there still money to be made in the lawn care/landscaping industry?

osmann_lawn
12-15-2011, 06:51 PM
and yes i meant 30,000 NET pay. That would be enough for a single guy living at home for a while :D

How many lawns would be considered full time?

How many times do you mow in Wisconsin?

Than i could figure out how many accounts i would need.

Kelly's Landscaping
12-15-2011, 07:00 PM
hehehehe sorry about that i guess I do owe you real answer now.

I run a 4 man company sometimes we throw in a 5th part timer. 2 owners we each get salaries and then the guys are hourly. We do close to 200 lawns and bring in about 225k this year. The pay roll will be over 100k then there are costs rent truck payments fuel you name it its close to 100k there. But where it works out figure about 30k is mine PLUS 4 vehicles completely paid for all insurance fuel and repairs and taxes. Cell phone that's about a 800-1000 a year perk as well. And the rent is on land I own so that's another 15k or so a year perk. So is there money at first glance no but when you take into effect the perks you will get as an owner and we didn't even touch on profits. Then the full package is worth about 50-60k a year. I tell you this though I am banking over 20k a year in savings not many working stiffs can say that.

osmann_lawn
12-15-2011, 07:16 PM
oh wow that is really good for savings! that's pretty good congrats! Do you still pick up new accounts every year? or do you focus more on the landscaping?

Kelly's Landscaping
12-15-2011, 07:49 PM
Break down would be about 140k in mowing 40k in spring and fall clean ups 25k in fertilizer lime work. Then about 10k in shrub and hedge trimming then the rest is mulch and seeding work and perhaps an odd brush job or a fallen tree on one of our accounts. Yes we do look for new accounts each year in fact this year we had fewer then last year but took in a little more. When you start talking 190 plus accounts even a 10% attrition loss is about 20 accounts and I lost 8 in a period of 6 weeks this summer. All were on the market for months to as much as 2 years and they all sold at once. That stung a bit and while was expected it wasn't suppose to happen that fast.

osmann_lawn
12-15-2011, 07:58 PM
How much do you charge for the smallest lawns you do? Sorry to hear you lost accounts.. Why did they decide they did not want your services? Do you mow a lot of commercial property? I'm just going to get started with residential, worry about commercial once i get going! I want to go to school to get a 2 year associate degree in horticulture/landscaping Do you think that would help?

Kelly's Landscaping
12-15-2011, 09:22 PM
Most commercials are about the same size as the residentials I take what comes my way but were about 95% residential. As for why people decide to drop you who knows it's part of the game I seldom remember their names 2 months later. I never forget a property though I can remember places I did one time estimates for 10 years ago and the prices I asked for and why and weather I liked the owners or not. As for the degree it won't hurt but how much use you get out of it is up to you and what you decide you want to specialize in. As for lawn cut prices with the exception of a few old grandfathered accounts our prices are normally 25-35 per cut but as much as 147.50 and we have a lot at 50 and above. Don't get hung up on prices some of my least profitable lawns have been some of my highest price lawns and vice verse.

Smallaxe
12-15-2011, 10:50 PM
If you decide to go Kelly's route, it will take a number of clients to accomplish that... I started as Solo Operater and got comfortable real quick... I have friends in the business who went the route of employees, big equipment, payroll and payments and they spent much more time in the office handling taxes, insurance, banking etc. than I would ever do...

I did tax work in the winter when I started out and fortunately I've been able to quit that. I couldn't imagine doing paperwork during the summer... It all boils down to what you would like to be 5 years from now... Solo Op is my only way... :)

samuel_schumaker
12-21-2011, 09:53 PM
I wish. On 105 accounts, if you average $75 a lawn, then you only gross $40,000. Bring home about 40% of that after taxes, insurance, materials, and all that jazz. I am not even close to what the steel mill pays me.

Please tell me i am reading this wrong. 105 accounts at 75 bucks per cut average gives me a calculation of 7875. Now assuming you mow every week or even if you mow every two weeks from april thru september that is a gross of right at 94k. Maybe you are meaning your gross personal income if you are just paying yourself from payroll. I am just confused i guess

samuel_schumaker
12-21-2011, 09:57 PM
Sorry i did not see where you said that you just do spraying

guitarman2420
12-23-2011, 09:36 PM
Don't get hung up on prices some of my least profitable lawns have been some of my highest price lawns and vice verse.

One of the key things to learn is that your regular weekly cuts is only part of the revenue stream from a client. I have several clients that the monthly cuts are @ $200 a month; but we install $3,000 worth of mulch, $ 2,000 worth of plants, 275 for aeration, and so on. I figure @ $3,000 income for each of my residentials, some more some end up less. I'm lucky that my wife is a landscape designer and we use our regular maintenance crews to attract landscape opportunities, which have a much higher profit margin. We run @ 6 -7 employees during the season and gross @ 400k. My problem is that I owe to much to the "company store", the bank, but I'm getting that paid down. If you have a marketing mind and are willing to call on commercial clients and have a few doors slammed in your face, you can grow as fast as you're able to sustain the growth. Just don't grow it too far too fast - that's the worst thing that I see some people do and their debt catches up to them. Two or three large landscapers in the central Va. area recently went out of business because of too fast of growth.

ralph02813
12-24-2011, 04:31 AM
One of the key things to learn is that your regular weekly cuts is only part of the revenue stream from a client. I have several clients that the monthly cuts are @ $200 a month; but we install $3,000 worth of mulch, $ 2,000 worth of plants, 275 for aeration, and so on. I figure @ $3,000 income for each of my residentials, some more some end up less. I'm lucky that my wife is a landscape designer and we use our regular maintenance crews to attract landscape opportunities, which have a much higher profit margin. We run @ 6 -7 employees during the season and gross @ 400k. My problem is that I owe to much to the "company store", the bank, but I'm getting that paid down. If you have a marketing mind and are willing to call on commercial clients and have a few doors slammed in your face, you can grow as fast as you're able to sustain the growth. Just don't grow it too far too fast - that's the worst thing that I see some people do and their debt catches up to them. Two or three large landscapers in the central Va. area recently went out of business because of too fast of growth.

Exactly! One of my bigger customers I know I should charge more for the cut but the extra's far out weight the mowing.

GARDENGATE
01-09-2012, 05:29 AM
awsome thread guys keep the knowledge flowing.