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View Full Version : Let's hear some start up stories!


BlueGrassBoy
12-21-2011, 08:55 AM
I just joined this forum today because I am interested in working in the lawn care industry. I would like to hear some stories about your early/beginning days in this business. Tell us the ups and downs or anything else you'd like to share about getting started in this industry. What equipment you had, why you started doing this, etc. Anything goes. Thanks guys.


BlueGrassBoy


:)

ringahding
12-26-2011, 01:39 PM
I just joined this forum today because I am interested in working in the lawn care industry. I would like to hear some stories about your early/beginning days in this business. Tell us the ups and downs or anything else you'd like to share about getting started in this industry. What equipment you had, why you started doing this, etc. Anything goes. Thanks guys.


BlueGrassBoy


:)

Here is a link to my My Story (http://www.ringlawncare.com/about-ring-lawn-care-html/) avoiding a whole page to be taken up.

BESSY12
01-02-2012, 09:20 PM
Interesting thread actually...

I started my company officially back in May of 2011. At the age of 10, I started out with a 200 dollar Canadian Tire special, push mower; your basic, cheapo, B and S 21" mower. I slowly started with a mere 2 accounts, making about 40 bucks a week. But I stuck to my guns, and this past May, I got into a government grant called the "Summer Company Program". I had to write and submit an entire business plan, and had to wait for a yay or nay from the ministry.
When I was ok-ed for the program, I was given the money I budgeted for (about 1300 of the total 1500 available) and I set out to get myself a registered business name, a business license and the rest of the proper paperwork. I went out and spent the money allotted to me. A few weeks before my start date, I had not made some large purchases yet, lucky for me, because my lawnmower died.

I ended up having to spend 1700 dollars of my own money in addition to the 600 I had budgeted for equip. to purchase a new riding mower. Why a riding mower you ask? because I don't own my own truck or vehicle, and the majority of the properties I take care of are within my town of about 500 residents, therefore everything is within biking (or riding lawnmower) distance. I hook up a small cart behind my new JD and go off for a day of work.

I spent the summer doing the usual mowing jobs, working mostly weekly accounts for locals and cottagers alike, and got myself my first public property account which turned out to be a local church. That proved to be a lesson for me in estimating. I quoted them 30 bucks a cut, mowed, trimmed, and blown, just as I would do for any homeowner. I figure the lot was about 2 acres give or take, and included a reasonable amount of trimming. I could finish the property in an hour without too much time. Add on 10 minutes of travel either way, and you have 1.3 hours for the price of 30 bucks. Not much profit there now is there. Soon after, the group doing the program with me had our first meeting, and I was given a wakeup call. "I don't know what you are charging, but I know it's not enough." said a business owner speaking for the group. Boy was he right. I immediately made a promise to myself to up the stakes for my future clients. Don’t waste your time working for peanuts, set a price that is fair and profitable. you will lose clientele, but you will also find the quality clients who are willing to pay for the quality you provide.

I also managed to get a few jobs throughout the summer doing everything from garden bedding and spreading mulch, to rototilling (of which I learned to hate fairly quickly). By the end of the summer, I figure I had a gross income of about 5000 give or take. My net was a 2000 and change after my equipment and bills were up to date.

I continued throughout the fall as best I could, working most weekends and most nights after school and managed to pull in another thousand or so, bringing me to the winter months and where I sit now. With a reasonably well established company, a healthy customer base, and a hunger for money.

The moral of the story is, it’s not about the equipment and it’s not about the money (though it helps). If I had to credit someone with my success, I would have to credit the words of the wise, the experience gained from the SC program, and my own shear stubbornness.

Dr.NewEarth
01-02-2012, 09:31 PM
This site wasn't around when I started up years ago. Thank-you Lawnsite.com

BlueGrassBoy
01-03-2012, 05:49 AM
Thanks for the reply BESSY, I only wish more site members were willing to share their stories.

huntlawncare
01-05-2012, 09:08 PM
i started out in 98 and borrowed everything to start up with , mower , trailer weedeater and blower , and with only 3 accounts . today i have 2 commercial JD 16ft trailer blowers weedeaters and 50 accounts . and trying to grow

BCboy
01-05-2012, 09:21 PM
I bought a established lawn company.
It had a POS (piece of $hit) truck, 2 mowers, aerator, power rake, trailer, blower,and some small stuff.
If I remember it had about 80 client, grossing $55k.
I had instant cash coming in which replaced my previous income.
I started to up grade the equipment. I hate having problems in the field. But my best move was getting a good truck.
By the time I sold the company 5 years later I had over 140 weekly clients and was grossing over $130k. I had 2 employees with me.
The guy who bought it ran it in to the ground. It is now up for sale at $35k. 55 clients and grosses $45k. What a shame !!!

BlueGrassBoy
01-07-2012, 10:42 AM
The guy who bought it ran it in to the ground. It is now up for sale at $35k. 55 clients and grosses $45k. What a shame !!!
01-05-2012 10:08 PM



Why did you get out of the business if you were grossing over 100k?

BCboy
01-07-2012, 03:43 PM
The guy who bought it ran it in to the ground. It is now up for sale at $35k. 55 clients and grosses $45k. What a shame !!!
01-05-2012 10:08 PM



Why did you get out of the business if you were grossing over 100k?

Here is the short story.
I have been in construction (drywall boarding) since 1989.
My partner & I hit a slow period around 1999 and I wanted a change
I saw a add in the local paper and bought the company.
I would go back drywalling over the winters and the pay rate (by the sq. foot) just kept getting better.
In 2002 my Mom passed away, I lost a huge commercial cont. ($35k), employees were horrible, and we had the largest forest fire in North America destroy part of our city. Heres the link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_Okanagan_Mountain_Park_Fire
The fire was stopped 50 feet from my yard !http://media.lawrence.com/img/photos/2003/08/23/naTOPIXCANADAWILDFIRES_t440.jpg?9e2a24ba44807f8f9b96aad7c4082bf6ded075dc
All of this took a huge toll on me & my family, so I sold.
My only regret was seeing something I worked so hard on be ruined.

Now...I am back.
I signed my first strata which is like (I believe) a home owners assn. HOA.
Spring/fall pruning & clean up, irrigation maint., and 30 mowings = $23k plus tax. About $3,000 a month over 8 months will replace 1/3 of my drywall wage for the year. I have been asked to price a bigger one which will replace the other 2/3s. And I will only work 2 days a week for 8 months.

32vld
01-07-2012, 10:46 PM
Well decreased customers 31%

Decreased sales 18%

Seems he got rid of the low profit margin pain in the butt customers. Less wear and tear on equipment free up schedule to go after better class of customer

BlueGrassBoy
01-08-2012, 08:08 AM
Very nice BCboy, those were some crazy circumstances. It's good that you made a come back though. I have always enjoyed mowing, even as a child mowing my parents yard for free. My friends thought I was crazy. I hope to be as successful as some of you guys in this industry so I can make a honest and happy living doing what I love.

mowing4rlife
01-08-2012, 03:59 PM
I started in may 2010 with two 10 year old push mowers that my wifes grandpa gave me. I tuned them and used them for a couple of week and sold them. Craigslist.org became my best friend that summer. I started looking for a push mower that i could use commercial or some thing with good power for consitant on and off usage. I found a guy that was trying to sell a 6.75hp 21"troybilt push mower with a bagger. Soon after finding that mower on craigslist i message him and ask him if he would trade my mowering service for the mower. We agree to 5 mows and the mower was mine. Thats when i started to grow my equipment. I then saved enough money to purchase a cheap trimmer and again my wife grandpa gave me another machine a weedeater brand blower. At this point in i had trade my paid off honda prelude for a truck. First truck was a ford f150 4.2V6 2wd regular cab. Later on in the year, i ended up getting another push mower that same way i got the first one and my wife grandpa let me barrow his utility trailer. So, most of what i have for equipment is paid off as you can see. The only expenses i had was a trimmer and payments on my truck. I later bought a used residentail 42" troy bilt riding mower. That was all my equipment i had all year last year wich worked from May-Oct 2010. I did buy a my echo trimmer last year because i wanted something nicer in a trimmer. All my advertisment has been on craigslist and i was able to get 35 regular client that had me mower every two weeks and had my 6 phone calls a week on one time mow. I finished the year making $11,000 with my small operation just mowing. When 2011 came i step it up a level and got a business facebook like page, a google business website, and started to use html code to put pictures in my craigslist ads. All my advertisment has been free from the start. I did buy business card and magnet for my truck. With me being able to get mowing jobs in march of this year i bought a trailer. In may i upgrade my truck to a 2011 toyota tundra 4.6v8 2wd double cab. People were calling me all summer that in august of this year i was already thinking of upgrading my truck again to a 4x4 tundra. I bought a regular ariens zero turn to get familier with how they work this summer. After that i was hooked, i wanted to learn about more equipment. I then sold it and bought my first Gravley 36" commecial walk behind and bought a sulky for it. Love that thing! I upgrade my truck to a 2011 toyota 5.7V8 trd rock warrior 4X4...it had to happen because i got stuck in someone back yard doing some tree removal job and for towing because my business has triple to what i made last year. At this point i am still a solo operation and use parttime help some time, but it really rare. I plan to buy my equipment cash next year becuase i am unable to get finaincing for a new commercail mower. With my job i manage to pay rent, 2 car payment, car insurance and other little bills. My wife is a parttime student a U of A, and she watches my son.
:)
My ultimate goal is to create a business that makes me money for my family even, after i retiring from working. The plan is an LLC, in the next couple of years. This coming year the plans are to possible get a full timer. Right now i am a solo operation with 90-100 client a month (M-Sat work days). I am base out of Bentonville, AR and go as far as 20 mile from my home.This coming year, i want to just keep growing and really don't have a number of what i want just want more clients. When i started i was a parttime student at a community college, but had to drop out with the unforeseen amount of phone calls. I started mowing just to make some money to pay a couple of bill and it turn in to a small business in a couple of month and now into 2 years working for myself.Also, at this time I don't want to hire to many people at once, so i want to hire as need basis til i can guarantee hours. As i have been able to get better, faster, and more powerful equipment, i have been able to do more jobs by myself. It's good to set dream and goal to accomplish things in life.

BCboy
01-09-2012, 02:28 AM
Very nice BCboy, those were some crazy circumstances. It's good that you made a come back though. I have always enjoyed mowing, even as a child mowing my parents yard for free. My friends thought I was crazy. I hope to be as successful as some of you guys in this industry so I can make a honest and happy living doing what I love.

Thanks BlueGrassBoy.
As a kid my Dad made me mow the law with a crappy Sears mower.
It wasn't even self propelled, except by me.
My wife even thought I was crazy for buying the company because I complained about mowing our lawn.
It's funny how good equipment and getting paid to mow can change a fellas perspective.

BCboy
01-09-2012, 02:35 AM
Well decreased customers 31%

Decreased sales 18%

Seems he got rid of the low profit margin pain in the butt customers. Less wear and tear on equipment free up schedule to go after better class of customer

Actually it is down almost 66%.

140 weekly plus some one time cuts down to 55 so about 1/3 of the client list.
And all the commercial are gone. That was about $600/day.
I grossed over $130,000 plus all the one time cuts would be much more. They now gross $45,000. Again about 1/3 of what I was bringing in.

Just some more info.
I always changed my blades every week.
A sharper blade cuts better and faster and they were always sharpened by a professional.
The guy who is selling told me he changes the blades every 2 months. DUMB ASS !!!
I guess he must sharpen them on a grinder himself.!?!

BlueGrassBoy
01-09-2012, 08:42 AM
" When i started i was a parttime student at a community college, but had to drop out with the unforeseen amount of phone calls."



I must ask how much you were charging to get business flowing in like this lol
:)

mowing4rlife
01-09-2012, 12:48 PM
" When i started i was a parttime student at a community college, but had to drop out with the unforeseen amount of phone calls."



I must ask how much you were charging to get business flowing in like this lol
:)

Its really not just price to be honest. I live in an area where there is alot of competition and scammers. This past two year i have learned the people out there that are trying to run a business are not very honest or they are too expensive. I have recieve phone calls with customers telling me all there bad experiences. This year i had a lady call me and tell me that a guy said he was going to mow and asked for the money up front.This lady was very trusting that she left the guy the money under a door mat and the guy said i will mow for you every two weeks. The second week came and there was no show. She called the guy and he says he got backed up and after that he kept ignoring her phone calls. At this point she call someone else (my small company). I told her i would meet her in person the first time and that she did not have to pay me if the services was not as asked. While the previous guy got a cheap prices of $25 for the basic service, i was able to convince her to pay for my quality work and my honesty $35. It not hard to get people to pay more when you do good work.
:usflag:
Most of my success is the link below, plus word of mouth. This year i want to try door hangers.
:)
Check out this thread below to help you with some free advertisment:
http://lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=367045

Grant11
02-28-2012, 07:21 AM
When I was 12 my Dad's friend gave me all of his business's to cut for the summer. There were 6 accounts and I cut them all with two free push mowers that I got from my neighbor. Every year since I keep adding on yards and upgrading equipment. Now i'm about to graduate high school with my LLC a truck, trailer, and commercial grade stuff to get me off the ground. 25 accounts right now and hopefully growing soon!