View Full Version : How can you make money in mowing

06-16-2003, 11:02 PM
Hello all,

I have been reviewing this site for weeks. And find it very informative. I have been playing with the idea of starting a LCB. But i'm having a hard time making the numbers add up. If i was to go after just resid. lawns and maybe get $30 to $35 a lawn and complete 10 of them a day. (seems to be a little high talking to homeowners that are currently using LCB) Thats $1500 to $1750 a week for 35 weeks ($52,500 to $61,250 a year) Minus another employees wages, taxes, equipment, gas, etc, etc etc how do you make money. With my figures i would have to get commerical work to stay alive. unless i'm looking at this wrong. I've thought about the fact that mowing is just a service to get an upsale. But i would like to start the business on mowing and master that before providing more services. I do not want to hire 2 crews and trucks and equipment and become a manager to make any money starting out. i know volume is the key some times but would like to make quality the key from cradle to grave. I would like to make $80,000 to $100,000 a year within the second to third year and move on from there. But with my figures on a 2 man crew at 10 a day for five days i need to average i need an average per cut cost of $50 to $60 I know you can get this on some lots in the country that have large lots. but i live in a very upper class area that has a high rate of paid services per homeowner on 1/3 to 1/2 lots. How can i make money with these people. thanks for all your insight and help in advance.

06-16-2003, 11:05 PM
A two man crew should be able to cut 10 lawns before lunch.

06-16-2003, 11:11 PM
Like YLG was saying, your numbers are not right. I'm a single operator and can easily do 12 lawns of that size in a day, but most of the time its significantly more than that.

06-16-2003, 11:11 PM
wish I could cut 10 of my lawns before lunch, but then again my days sq foot can be up to 700,000 :)

06-16-2003, 11:11 PM
I probablly won't answer this to suit you, but one problem is that it should not take a two man crew to do ten lawns a day. I do that many a lot of times and have day time left over. If I was going to run a two man crew they would have two be bringing in a bare minimum of $300.00 a piece more like 400.00 to 500.00 a piece everyday. Some may think that I'm stretching it, but I run over 400.00 a day easy being solo.

06-16-2003, 11:16 PM
Thanks for your thoughts. maybe i'm not figuring enough lawns a day. what equipment would i need to complete that type of work in a day. and what is your idea of a day. 8 hours 10 hours 12 hours?

i'm currently looking at a 48" exmark turf tracer HP and the stihl trimer and blower. too start out with.

Thanks again

Envy Lawn Service
06-16-2003, 11:20 PM
Originally posted by yourlawnguy
A two man crew should be able to cut 10 lawns before lunch.

This is true....

Also, you should be able to get the $$$ you want and need on those 1/3 to 1/2 acre lots. If you can't find a way to get that....well then, you just got to figure out where he cheese is. Maybe it's out in the country or over in the next neighborhood.

Sometimes, you just have to jump in and get your feet wet in a business to see what it's all about, what you have to do and if you can make it work for you somehow. Any business is more than scratching some numbers on a scratch pad and making some projections.

However I do think you are seeing a little of the realities though. At least you can see there is much more to it than finding a few lawns to mow and making some quick cash. That's a start!

General Grounds
06-16-2003, 11:21 PM
:blob3: your also not taking into effect that you will also be doing side work for these people, you should also get your pesticide license theres more income that 50-60 K is now like 100-120. tony

06-16-2003, 11:26 PM
6/12/03 I did ten lawns in a little over eight hours $440.00

Equipment : toro 52" Z Master, toro 21" proline, stihl trimmer and,edger was used for this days work

06-16-2003, 11:46 PM
I have a 52" Stander for front and large lawns, and a 36" Stander for back yard gates. There's only two of my accounts that I even have to fire up the 21" push-mower on. In a 10-hour day with plenty of breaks between lawns, 30-60 minute lunch, and time to shoot-the-bull with some of the customers; I can finish ten $40-class lawns. It only takes about 20-30 of actual work on one of those lawns once I drop the gate.

With the equipment you've specified, ten or more $35-class lawns in a 10-hour day is possible once you get your system down and learn your lawns. Its the wrong time of year, but if you could find a used 32" Walk Behind (WB) for backyards, that would really cut your time. Even if its a junky WB that you sell next season.

Starting out, you may want to go solo until you get plenty of work to justify a helper, much less a crew.

06-16-2003, 11:58 PM
we did 26 in one day..no lunch break and there were some big ones in there. We humped it to beat the rain. On one day we do 11 but they are huge. If you got a bunch of postage stamp yards 2 people with the right equip can do roughly 30. That is if you don't have customers that want to talk while handing you a check. I have found that productivity went up when I started billing EVERYONE instead of collecting after the job. It is well worht the wait to get the check in the mail every 2 to 4 weeks

06-17-2003, 12:18 AM
I myself can cut 8-11 lawns per day, all my lawns are large most are around 30k with a bunch, i mean a bunch of trimming, but thats what i look for, my schedule is full i cut 6-days a week and do over 500.00 per day and im 53yrs old been doing this now for 14yrs and make a very good living.......Marks Mowing Service

06-17-2003, 12:35 AM
Here is how I started. I have a day job from 4:00am to 1:00pm. I have a craftsman 15.5hp and 42" cut. I have an old pushmower and all the hand tools I need. I started out putting this in the back of one of my trucks. The old cratfsman(10 years old this fall) I bought new for 1058.00 with money I made from my first tobacco crop years ago. It is worn slap out from me wanting a four wheeler and not having one so I would take the deck off and ride wheelies and ride on trails in the woods. This thing still cuts perfectly. Best riding mower a fellow could have for just cutting besides a commercial mower. I just started out by getting some business cards made up(25.00 for 500) and gave them to a few big wigs at work. One woman took me up and the same day she told her friend and I got her too. I just put cards in peoples doors who didn't have their yard cut or was in bad shape. I also told everyone I know and they tell others. Now I have 9 properties, 2 of which are commercial @ 125.00 per cut and two in the most elite golf course around here. I wanted a Super Z but couldn't justify one until I got my first big property. I have had it about a month now and I bought a new blower, trimmer, and edger to go with it. I also bought a new 6.5'x16' tandem to haul it on. All of this started out 4 months ago, figure that out. I have come to the conclusion that you can use junk equipment and do a good job, but in order to enjoy yourself and make money and save time, you need good reliable equipment. Don't go out and spend 10,000 on new epuipment until you have the clientel to pay for it. This business is doing great for me so far. Where you really rack up is fertilizing, plugging, reseeding, and mulching. If you do a good job for the ones who only want a one time deal, most of the time they want you to come back and do everything including mowing. The best advice I can give is to put the word out to everyone, give everyone a card, and do twice as good a job as the best guy in town for the same price. If that don't get you jobs, then nothing else will. Some of these guys here will only **tch, moan, graon, complain, and put down but the only thing to do is trial and error. Learn from your mistakes and get better. Everyone here has made as many mistakes as the next guy so its all up to you. Good luck and sorry for the long reply, just trying to tell you what I would have liked to heard myself.

Hillside Lawn & Snow
06-17-2003, 12:49 AM
I have to ask, are you guy's using 48" mowers? I'm running 21" mowers and my crews are lucky to do 10 a day, (we only work 8hrs though)

The problem I have with 48" decks is that we have to bag. and I think the baggers on them are pretty small.

06-17-2003, 12:53 AM
Not to down by no means, but how do you have enough work to do to run "crews" and only run 21" mowers? That boggles my mind. The baggers on a 48" are no where near as small as the ones on a 21". Maybe you should explain better.

06-17-2003, 12:53 AM
Well, I will start by saying that what you've found is fairly correct. You don't make a lot of money being a solo act with one helper. Eventually, you CAN make decent money by picking and chosing over the years. That is, keeping the Super-profitable customers and weeding out the less profitable ones. Still, there's a limit. And one helper doesn't make you a whole lot more $.

The answer is duplication. You make a little off of each worker you have. We aim for $35 per man hour for maintenance work. And with drive time, going to the shop, taking lunch break (paid), etc. we still usually make around $25-$39 per man hour per day. Now, my entire labor burden and expense burden may be near $20 / hour. So I am only maybe making $5 per hour per employee at times. Other days we're making $19 per man hour. But you multiply that times 6 guys or 8 guys and it ends up being a decent chunk of change.

If you get into this business I'd say you have two basic choices; stay solo and just realize that you'll always have a limited income (albeit, it can be a fairly decent income eventually). OR try to build a big business and make money off of duplicating your own efforts. You just have to take care that each job and each hour the employees work is profitable. That's micro-management.

Hillside Lawn & Snow
06-17-2003, 01:00 AM
I have about 100 clients and run 3 crews of 2. with the big lawns I just put all six guy's on it. (exp. 1 lawn that I have pays $100 wk, I put 6 guys on it and they're done in less than an hour)

So what your saying is that the bags on the 48" are bigger than on the 21's?

06-17-2003, 01:03 AM
Are you talking about a wb or a "lawn tractor"? If your have that many clients, you should buy two ZTRs and fire three people. That would make the most sense to me. You would get twice as much done and would have twice the money in your pocket.

Hillside Lawn & Snow
06-17-2003, 01:09 AM
No kidding, as much work as I'm turning away I would be a happy camper.

So are the ZTRs John Deere? The problem I have is that even as expensive as this equipemt is, I still have to add another $400 for shipping.

06-17-2003, 01:16 AM
ZTR stands for zero turn radius. There are many different companies that make ZTR mowers. I have a Hustler SuperZ 60" cut 25hp Kawasaki. I love it. I don't see why you should have to pay shipping. There should be a dealer, maybe not a Hustler dealer, but a dealer who sells commercial mowers around your area. I only have 9 properties and I couldn't do it w/o a big mower. Maybe you should regroup and buy some equipment. Click on the Hustler icon at the top of this page and you will see a ZTR mower.

Hillside Lawn & Snow
06-17-2003, 01:20 AM
You may be right, I use nothing but John Deere (they are the best dealership/service shop up here) and I looked into buy a couple of riders with the ZTR but because they didn't have them up here I had to pay shipping.

06-17-2003, 06:37 AM
I dont know if you have the experience and know how to do other services. We're only a couple years old as a full time operation. About 40% of our revenue is mowing ..the rest is landscape related...installs, mulch, bed creation, stone installs etc etc. I personally make a very good living...but ..if youare a small operation like we are with a couple grunt workers on for 6months or so, you will find it VERY hectic at times tryong to balance all the different balls in the air....but...my goal when I started the biz was:
1. offer mowing service to pay the business overhead and to get our foot in the door of residential and commercial.
2. offer as many other land services as possible and do them better than the competition.

Just this week we are finishing 25 ton stone install for which there is a significant ...and I do mean significant profit to me after wages and expenses are paid. Personally if I were you I would try to offer other services....allot of us are getting older and also people just dont have the time to do their own properties. Many guys here appear to have very profitable mowing only operation but it does take years to build that. We're only in year 2 full time and my revenue is 40% higher than I projected. The net profit on non mowing jobs is far higher...but then the work is harder and you need some experience to do some of the tasks...but if you take the time you can learn them in a reasonalbe time....just my opinion. Good Luck

Doc Pete
06-17-2003, 07:20 AM
Originally posted by ImprovementsGuy
i'm currently looking at a 48" exmark turf tracer HP and the stihl trimer and blower. too start out with.

Thanks again

If you want to stay solo, make money and come home without being tired, try looking at an H bar WB. For what it's worth, I do 6 to 8 lawns day just after work. My third friend just bought an H bar and increased his work rate buy 35%.

06-17-2003, 11:46 AM
I got 32 done in one day last week(14 hrs) they were all smaller size properties and not to much drive time. I have all toros 36-44's and a bobcat and snapper backups.

06-17-2003, 10:35 PM
25 in 1 day by my self in a long 14 hr day. Some small, more acre+. With my worker we are able to do usually 15 - 25 lawns per day depending on location and size.

06-17-2003, 11:36 PM
because of vary sizes of our lawns we usually knock off around 15-21 lawns in a day.

06-18-2003, 12:50 PM
If you just expect to make that kinda money that fast its hopless it takes time to build a successful business I sure as hell ain't makin no 80 or even 50 grand a year yet now 5 years down the road I want to support a family but you can't expect to make loads of money your first few years. You will probably even take a loss your first year I sure did.