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View Full Version : Moving to Florida: Advice Requested


FastMan
12-23-2012, 01:35 AM
Hey you Florida guys, I'm moving to your state and plan on starting a lawn care business there. I've been in the business for many years, in Western New York State, and Colorado.

I'll be bringing my 60" Toro G3 zero turn, but want to purchase a 36 inch stander to go along with it. My question is which stander do you feel works best in Florida cutting conditions?

I'm thinking primarily of the cut quality of the deck on Florida grass, but will appreciate opinions on any other equipment topic you think I should be focusing on in making this move.

Not sure yet where we'll end up, but our current radar is on either the Ocala area, or the East Coast somewhere between around Stuart/Palm City.

Any other suggestions you might have for me in making this move would be appreciated. Such as, how cut throat is the competition, where do you think the best/worst areas of the state to try to launch a new business, or anything else you think a dumb northern boy needs to know?

williams lcm
12-23-2012, 07:21 AM
U will have to take what ever you get when you get here. When I started thats what I did. I was happy to be cutting grass and I really didnt care what kind of grass it was. But as you grow you will only take the nice irrigated St.Augustine/ Zoyia grass. At this stage in my business I will mostly turn down bahia yards unless it is well fertilized and watered. Most down here that have bahia grass but don't water or fertilize it. You will have to research the different grasses we have and how heigh to cut each grass. Also when you get down here make sure you bill on a monthly basis and not per cut. Alot of newbies like to do per cut just to grab more business but will suffer during the winter months when they don't get paid much. Alot of compitition out there but you can still get work. Grass is everywhere and it needs to be cut. I think you will find that most of the new standers will all do a good job on the St.Augustine grass. All the new models are pretty up to date with the latest technology that they have and will all do a good job. Just have to find one you like and go for it. You should start to advertise in March because the growing season starts in April. Then it is in really high gear May- October.. Good luck

mowerman90
12-23-2012, 08:50 AM
Before you start loading up the Uhaul you'll have a few things to consider. Are you prepared to:
1. See your competition mow 10,000 Sq FT lots for $12 - $15 per cut?
2. Work in 90 to 100 degree weather with 95% humidity?
3. Have your workday cut short by daily afternoon thunder storms dropping
1" of rain?
4. Have lousy dealer support with high prices.
5. Have to compete against uninsured, unlicensed, fly-by-night services?

I could go on but these things and more are what await you. Just be prepared. The customer base (retirees) you'll be working with have been here for a while and know how to play one service against another. I could go on and on but you'll probably have to see for yourself to believe it.

Florida Gardener
12-23-2012, 08:53 AM
Before you start loading up the Uhaul you'll have a few things to consider. Are you prepared to:
1. See your competition mow 10,000 Sq FT lots for $12 - $15 per cut?
2. Work in 90 to 100 degree weather with 95% humidity?
3. Have your workday cut short by daily afternoon thunder storms dropping
1" of rain?
4. Have lousy dealer support with high prices.
5. Have to compete against uninsured, unlicensed, fly-by-night services?

I could go on but these things and more are what await you. Just be prepared. The customer base (retirees) you'll be working with have been here for a while and know how to play one service against another. I could go on and on but you'll probably have to see for yourself to believe it.

You must be in a depressed area of Florida to get $15 for 10K. I get around $200/mo. For a property like that with a little bit of landscaping. More like $250/mo. With where my prices are now...the rest of your points I agree with though.
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mowerman90
12-23-2012, 09:35 AM
Florida Gardener,

Yep, you're right. Next county up or next county down they get much more. It's been like this since I started in 1989. I only do yearly contracts and no by the cuts. I've always charged more than my competition but my customers know they can count on me being there, on time, week after week and are willing to pay more for that.

Sprinkler Buddy
12-23-2012, 09:49 AM
Many new guys have jumped on the lawn care band wagon here in FL. Be prepared, it may take a few years to build a quality business no matter which location you choose.

Ocala area has been hit very hard by the economy, many retail businesses have closed up shop, empty storefronts and restaurants everywhere. It does seem to be growing back slowly though here recently.

I would stick close to the coast, at least you could do some fishing too. :-)

Florida Gardener
12-23-2012, 09:53 AM
Many new guys have jumped on the lawn care band wagon here in FL. Be prepared, it may take a few years to build a quality business no matter which location you choose.

Ocala area has been hit very hard by the economy, many retail businesses have closed up shop, empty storefronts and restaurants everywhere. It does seem to be growing back slowly though here recently.

I would stick close to the coast, at least you could do some fishing too. :-)

Good point. I'll also note that if you move to Stuart area, you will need to work in palm beach county. Martin county is a disaster in regards to pricing and competition. Good luck
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FastMan
12-23-2012, 01:42 PM
Thanks for all the info. I'm fortunately in the position of being able to choose where in Florida I go, so your input of which areas are cut throat, and which allow you to charge a bit more reasonable rate is invaluable.

gregory
12-23-2012, 04:40 PM
where do you plan on moving to?

FastMan
12-23-2012, 05:28 PM
where do you plan on moving to?

That's what I'm trying to decide. We have to leave Colorado because one of my family members is have respiration issues with the high altitude. We've decided to go to Florida because we have friends there in several places around the state.

I'd like to go where the potential for real estate recovery appreciation will be the highest, and where the prospects for a new landscaping business will be the greatest.

Plan on moving in the next couple months. Going down house hunting right after the holidays.

ric1
12-24-2012, 08:55 PM
That's what I'm trying to decide. We have to leave Colorado because one of my family members is have respiration issues with the high altitude. We've decided to go to Florida because we have friends there in several places around the state.

I'd like to go where the potential for real estate recovery appreciation will be the highest, and where the prospects for a new landscaping business will be the greatest.

Plan on moving in the next couple months. Going down house hunting right after the holidays.

For real estate recovery appreciation that will be the highest, and the prospects for a new landscaping business will be the greatest will be in Central Florida. The Orlando area is where the recovery is the best in the state. Most anywhere along the I-4 corridor would be good. From Hillsborough County north to Citrus County and across the state I personally would stay away from either coast at least twenty miles just because of the tourist Industry being what it is both coast draw them like flies and it can be a total mess and nightmare on the roadways.

getdown
12-25-2012, 05:00 PM
Good point. I'll also note that if you move to Stuart area, you will need to work in palm beach county. Martin county is a disaster in regards to pricing and competition. Good luck
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Florida Gardener: Interesting point about Martin County. Curious if you can expand a little bit. I live in Stuart and I've thought that things were kind of quirky in regards to household income/pricing...lots of competition and services saturating the market? Curious just as to what exactly your take is on the situation and what causes it as well. Maybe I will look for expansion to the south. PSL doesn't seem much different. Would love to hear more of your thoughts. Thanks!

ric1
12-27-2012, 01:52 PM
That's what I'm trying to decide. We have to leave Colorado because one of my family members is have respiration issues with the high altitude. We've decided to go to Florida because we have friends there in several places around the state.

I'd like to go where the potential for real estate recovery appreciation will be the highest, and where the prospects for a new landscaping business will be the greatest.

Plan on moving in the next couple months. Going down house hunting right after the holidays.

So have you decided when you'll be moving and what part of the state you'll be moving into. The thing is that starting and building your business shouldn't be a big problem, its gotten to the point that its one sub-division or trailer park after another.
I myself am setting in a sub-division that has like 1800 homes and I never leave the place unless I have to buy gas and I stay busy about all year around, and there seems to be plenty of work. What ever location you decide on I'm sure you'll get plenty of work.

Ric
12-27-2012, 05:17 PM
That's what I'm trying to decide. We have to leave Colorado because one of my family members is have respiration issues with the high altitude. We've decided to go to Florida because we have friends there in several places around the state.

I'd like to go where the potential for real estate recovery appreciation will be the highest, and where the prospects for a new landscaping business will be the greatest.

Plan on moving in the next couple months. Going down house hunting right after the holidays.

You might want to rethink Florida's high summer heat & humidity which can cause breathing problems for those persons with problems.

Arizona with it's drier climate might be a better choice for breathing problems.

.

Landscape Poet
12-27-2012, 07:07 PM
You might want to rethink Florida's high summer heat & humidity which can cause breathing problems for those persons with problems.

Arizona with it's drier climate might be a better choice for breathing problems.

.

I would agree with Ric on this, another thought I am not sure if it plays a problem with the person effected with breathing problems but you should consult the doctor about, allergies. Florida is full of Allergens and it is not uncommon for those that have successfully lived in other parts of the country to come here to develop issues with Allergens. Just a thought

In terms of areas that would recover well. I am going to say the Orlando area as although we are based in tourism like most of Florida, we have lots of working class to middle upper class families here. You will not get premium dollars here but should be able to make a comfortable living I would think.

If you want to do top dollar work and get paid for it - look in Florida Gardeners area of Jupiter / Jupiter island where there is a large concentration of wealth. Along with other areas of wealth concentration like Boca, Naples, Sanibel/Captiva - each market has its challenges so be prepared to figure them out and give yourself time to establish into the area and meet those challenges.

the_bug_guy
02-27-2013, 09:43 PM
You might want to rethink Florida's high summer heat & humidity which can cause breathing problems for those persons with problems.

Arizona with it's drier climate might be a better choice for breathing problems.

.

Ric I didn't know you had a ric Jr mowing grass. Ric1

Ric
02-27-2013, 11:50 PM
Ric I didn't know you had a ric Jr mowing grass. Ric1

Dave

I only claim two off spring legally and neither one cuts grass.

.

Nate'sLawnCare
02-28-2013, 02:04 AM
Man, you should move here to NC, we're about 200 feet above sea level where I live. I can be above 5000 feet elevation in about 4 hours and snow ski. It's not Colorado powder, but it's what we've got. We're also about 2-1/2 hours from the coast if you want the beach. Good luck with the move, I grew up on the east coast of Florida, near the space center.

dnc19694339
04-08-2013, 09:24 PM
Is it possible to build up to a few maintenance crews?

I know there are a lot of one man bands down there with no overhead that keep the rates real low so Im just wondering if that is the norm or if there are also plenty of multi crew companies that operate?

Florida Gardener
04-08-2013, 09:40 PM
Is it possible to build up to a few maintenance crews?

I know there are a lot of one man bands down there with no overhead that keep the rates real low so Im just wondering if that is the norm or if there are also plenty of multi crew companies that operate?
A lot of the multi crew companies here are lowballers. The companies that work on the high end stuff do well. I'm not talking the wannabee crowd, but the wealthy crowd. There are a lot of wannabee jokers that live here but have more debt than assets.
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minx
04-11-2013, 07:43 AM
florida gardener has it bang on..
loads of one man bands undercutting, though they usually rap in around august when the going gets tough. The big firms are low ballers and there are loads of wannabbees, talk a good job but poor/late payers, but there are a handfull of upper end great guys.. wish I had more of them.. I am into year two,feel like I am ninety!! its been tough going, but hanging in.
from an allergen point of view, it is not great..

Florida Gardener
04-11-2013, 07:56 AM
The key is finding people that want a nice yard and landscape and actually have the budget for it. I have found the wealthy people or really really well off people to be the best bc they def have the budget for it and usually just want things done right. The key is also finding customers that aren't going to compare your prices to illegals. I've found that to be an issue before.
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dnc19694339
04-14-2013, 04:39 PM
Thanks Guys, I been interested in moving down from Ice Cold NY but only if I could build up a 3 or 4 crew operation and make some decent money. I dont mind being on a crew for a year or so to get things going.

Cant do that if you can only charge $20-$25 /hr for mowing services. Maybe $35, is that possible?

MR-G
04-23-2013, 08:51 AM
we have 3 crews...a commercial crew, a high end resi crew and a mow blow and go crew......honestly the mow blow and go crew make a higher net than both the other crews...less complaints/callbacks and much easier on the equipment and crew...you just have to have a whole bunch of them in a tight route.

Ric
04-23-2013, 10:15 AM
we have 3 crews...a commercial crew, a high end resi crew and a mow blow and go crew......honestly the mow blow and go crew make a higher net than both the other crews...less complaints/callbacks and much easier on the equipment and crew...you just have to have a whole bunch of them in a tight route.

Thank You

You are making a point I have tried to express. Yes in my old age I am doing Mow&Go pest control by offering Fire Ant spraying only. Now as a One man band with little or no over head. I have a much lower Gross sales but a lot more Jingle in my pocket. At one time I had a Nursery and install business and kissed the butts of ungrateful Rich Folks. Now I am working for Good old boys.

.

thomaslawn
02-25-2014, 07:47 AM
I am in the process of moving from Ohio to the Cape Coral / Fort Myers area.
I currently own a Lawn Mowing / Landscape Maintenance company in Central Ohio, which has been in business for over 10 years.
I'm making the move to be with my fiance, and have been researching the industry in the SW Florida region. My fiance has some connections with a few property managers with who I have met with. I can expect rough 12-15 properties to begin with if I decide to move my business.
I also may have some leads in the Naples area for some business.
How is business in the area, is it worth pursuing or should I look into other means of income?

Thank you

Greg78
02-25-2014, 08:10 AM
I am in the process of moving from Ohio to the Cape Coral / Fort Myers area.
I currently own a Lawn Mowing / Landscape Maintenance company in Central Ohio, which has been in business for over 10 years.
I'm making the move to be with my fiance, and have been researching the industry in the SW Florida region. My fiance has some connections with a few property managers with who I have met with. I can expect rough 12-15 properties to begin with if I decide to move my business.
I also may have some leads in the Naples area for some business.
How is business in the area, is it worth pursuing or should I look into other means of income?

Thank you

I'm in Ft Myers/Cape Coral area. You'll want to pick one area. Not many guys are successful at covering all of Lee County let alone Lee County and Collier County.

I love what I do so I didn't want to do anything else. There are tons of guys running around cutting lawns so there is always somebody cheaper. We add new accounts every month though. We've added 5 new accounts this month.

Naples cost of living is much higher than Ft Myers or Cape Coral.

Also some helpful advice I wish I had gotten in the beginning. Don't do by the cut mowing. Get everybody on a year round plan with level billing. Once we changed to this after our first year it has been great, with keeping on schedule and we don't have the fluctuation in customers or cash flow.

Depending on equipment that 12 to 15 lawns would only be 1 to 1.5 days so you'll have a lot of room to fill out your schedule. Most properties in the area are only 80' x 125' unless you get out into the rural areas although they are few and far between and very few of them use lawn services.

Patriot Services
03-01-2014, 12:03 AM
I'm in Ft Myers/Cape Coral area. You'll want to pick one area. Not many guys are successful at covering all of Lee County let alone Lee County and Collier County.

I love what I do so I didn't want to do anything else. There are tons of guys running around cutting lawns so there is always somebody cheaper. We add new accounts every month though. We've added 5 new accounts this month.

Naples cost of living is much higher than Ft Myers or Cape Coral.

Also some helpful advice I wish I had gotten in the beginning. Don't do by the cut mowing. Get everybody on a year round plan with level billing. Once we changed to this after our first year it has been great, with keeping on schedule and we don't have the fluctuation in customers or cash flow.

Depending on equipment that 12 to 15 lawns would only be 1 to 1.5 days so you'll have a lot of room to fill out your schedule. Most properties in the area are only 80' x 125' unless you get out into the rural areas although they are few and far between and very few of them use lawn services.

Agreed. You have to explain it as a year round financing agreement. Even in winter you will get two mowings in, summer sometimes five. Winter brings leaves to mulch and bed edges to recut. They get they're moneys worth. You can't just forget about the yard for 4 months, it will look like azz. It still grows and a few weeds need topping. Hedges and edging need tightening up. Good time to upsell mulch instead of spring when your busy. You can skate by with minor irrigation repairs and holiday\landscapinglights.
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OneLineAtATime
03-19-2014, 11:19 AM
I am in the process of moving from Ohio to the Cape Coral / Fort Myers area.
I currently own a Lawn Mowing / Landscape Maintenance company in Central Ohio, which has been in business for over 10 years.
I'm making the move to be with my fiance, and have been researching the industry in the SW Florida region. My fiance has some connections with a few property managers with who I have met with. I can expect rough 12-15 properties to begin with if I decide to move my business.
I also may have some leads in the Naples area for some business.
How is business in the area, is it worth pursuing or should I look into other means of income?



Thank you

Whats your company name in Ohio?? How did u do in snow this year? I hit 250k... Last year snow was 100k...

Hard to leave so much $$$$.
But i'm making the move

OneLineAtATime
03-19-2014, 11:21 AM
Dosent anyone do grounds for Apartment complexes here?? Everybody talks about $20 cuts..

Complexes are my bread and butter

Patriot Services
03-19-2014, 12:03 PM
Dosent anyone do grounds for Apartment complexes here?? Everybody talks about $20 cuts..

Complexes are my bread and butter

Lots o luck. The H2B companies have had them for years. If you do get one you might have stale bread and forget butter.
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OneLineAtATime
03-19-2014, 12:45 PM
Lots o luck. The H2B companies have had them for years. If you do get one you might have stale bread and forget butter.
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Lol. .. guys dont try or what??
Its the same in Ohio but I beat them out all the time..
My prop. managers love my communication and response time.. not to mention all my english speaking guys.

Way easier to do a $1500 cut than 75 $20 cuts
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Patriot Services
03-19-2014, 12:59 PM
Well you seem to have it all figured out Buckeye. Y'all come down show us how to git er dun then.
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OneLineAtATime
03-19-2014, 01:46 PM
Well you seem to have it all figured out Buckeye. Y'all come down show us how to git er dun then.
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Easy killer. ..

Just wanted some info why everyone chases these little cuts..when I see all this commercial work and nobody talks about it on here.. a lot of guys dont know how to bid large properties. . I wouldnt know were to start in Florida, plants are so different, fert treatment s run all year.. etc. Etc.
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Patriot Services
03-19-2014, 02:08 PM
Everything is different here like we've been saying. Commercial is still a race to the bottom. Remember Villa & Son? I was on an HOA and got voted against over 500 dollars from an unknown company for the landscape. The previous company was in place for 5 years and did great work. It hasn't looked the same since. Its also largely who you know too. You've heard of the good ole boy network right?
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OneLineAtATime
03-19-2014, 02:44 PM
I hear ya... always a number game..

I have a large management company I work that owns half a dozen complexs in Tampa, thinking about calling in a favor. Dont think I want to live in Tampa.. ur right a lot of time its who u know not what u know..
In a perfect world be great To keep my company going and live down here..
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Patriot Services
03-19-2014, 02:56 PM
I hear ya... always a number game..

I have a large management company I work that owns half a dozen complexs in Tampa, thinking about calling in a favor. Dont think I want to live in Tampa.. ur right a lot of time its who u know not what u know..
In a perfect world be great To keep my company going and live down here..
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Wouldn't be the Carlton Arms chain would it?
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OneLineAtATime
03-19-2014, 04:01 PM
McKinley prop management
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