View Full Version : How I started my business

Lance Isaacs
01-16-2004, 11:57 AM
My name is Lance Isaacs. I started my business as a freshman in college. (18 years old) My first piece of equipment was $80 craftsmen curved trimmer. A eight year old craftsmen 22 inch cut that was self prop. The back aching hand blower craftsmen series. I hauled everything around in a 2000 chevy tractor in the back with the seats down. It smelled of gas so bad. My parents found a 2wd Chevy Chyenne 91 automatic. I bought a trailor from Lowe's for $500. I thought I was cool as can be with everything. I was mowing daylight to dark for those twelve accounts making about $350 a week for the first year. Then I found a cub cadet hydro walk behind 36 inch cutnew for $3.200. I did the same as cash deal in mid July. Bought a Huskie from Lowe's for $300 and a Ryobi from lowes $180. ( My mowing barely broke even my landscaping and odd jobs paid the little bills that I had.) I have twenty accounts by the end of the year. I bought out a guy for $ 500 for his six lawns.
The next year I had sixty accounts going into the mowing season with no help plus going to school full time. I devolped symptoms of carparls tunnel in my left wrist. Fellows please remember if your mowers or trimmers are vibrating to much fix the problem to save alot of pain. I had to hire two full time employees to take care of my lawns. I lost over $24,000 by not fixing the $200 dollar problem.
I am now 21 with 521 customers includes condos and apartment break down and all other customers. I run 2 walkbehinds with to horrible redmax's.
Thank you for your time
Lance Isaacs Johnson City, TN
30 miles from Bristol Motor speed way

ike in okc
01-29-2004, 01:57 PM
what kind of advertising did you do to grow your buisness

Lance Isaacs
01-30-2004, 07:52 AM
I will tell you a few secrets about lawn care. Do not use the newspaper ads. ( Those are bargain hunters) Do not go door to door. ( That is very annoying)
Buy some cheap business cards with your name on it the services that you provide. My business does almost everything expect for building houses at least for the moment. Let all customers know that you are a small business and that you would like to know if they know anyone who would like a new lawn care service. Most people are happy to take care of someone who spends that extra 2 and a half minutes on their lawn to double check any missed spots.
I went to a place that makes Real estate signs not the metal ones but the ones with that outdoor sealed care board. The sign reads Lance Isaacs Lawn Care with my phone number. I added twenty acres within 2 weeks tripling my income and landing about $40,000 in landscaping with one customer. I can go on all day and I am actually going to be writing a book next winter on secrets in the lawn care business. Please e-mail with any questions that you have? One more thing east tennessee may be different than where you are from.


01-30-2004, 04:35 PM
Lance :

Bristol is an awesome track! How far are you from the Atomic Speedway? We used to run there in the dirt track days, now we are running El Cajon (Jimmy Johnsons old stomping grounds) and Irwindale.
My daughers run thier 1/4 midgets at Barona speedway...I hope Nascar never decides to take away the Bristol speedway, theyb have discussed removing Martinsville...That would suck!

01-31-2004, 01:29 PM
521 accounts, how many employees does it take to manage this?

01-31-2004, 03:01 PM
he says he only has two walkbehinds with 521 accounts this has to be a typo or a lie

Lance Isaacs
01-31-2004, 04:36 PM
I said I had 521 customers not accounts. The biggest lawn care service in my area only has 204 accounts. He runs 15 scags and 5 trucks.I do a lot of landscape maintance. I only mow about 65 acres a week last year. I am looking at maybe 90 acres a this year. I will say this about accounts. If you see each customer as a customer, and treat each one that way it makes your bank account look nice. We do alot of condo complexes and apartments. I only have sixty five resdinetal lawns. We really focus on landscaping now.

Lance Isaacs
01-31-2004, 04:39 PM
Payroll runs on average last year 120 hours a week plus myself when it raind. I have four employees this year. Two picking weeds, with me mowing three days a week with my other two guys.

Kelly's Landscaping
02-07-2004, 10:38 PM
Iv never heard someone count the customers differently then the accounts where does the number 521 customers come from. Are you counting every soul that lives in each house and the apartment buildings? Or is this the number of people you have done odd jobs for over the 3 years plus your regulars.

Kelly's Landscaping
02-07-2004, 10:42 PM
I devolped symptoms of carparls tunnel in my left wrist

This is one of the most important reasons to get a ZTR the difference on your wrists and hands is amazing and you will thank yourself when you go home at night and you feel no discomfort at all in your hands I used WBs for a decade before I got my first ZTR there’s no going back.

Lance Isaacs
02-08-2004, 08:49 PM
could you send me more information on the ztr or where I could search for more info? Thanks

I do pressure washing, cleaning gutters, small roofing repairs, replacing old guttering, mulch, lawn care, shrubcare, irrigation main+ installing, retaining walls, pooper scooper service, clean pools, aeration, fertilzer, seeding, installing sod and seeding lawns, minor masonary repairs, refurbing old decks, staining decks, building new decks, weed pulling service for places that only hvae rock beds, hardscaping, hauling trash off for, tree and stump removal.
You ask how I manage all this simple subcontracting is my best friend and 4 cylinder to check on all these places average over 1,200 miles a week. My acct is very busy. We do also clean basments and not all this goes on at the same time most of it is seasonal, leaf removal sucks so I sub it out.

02-15-2004, 01:42 AM
Chris whats up,
1200 miles per week sh!t we do that with our 3 crews a week. Make sure your chargin alot becasue that 4 cylinder wont last that long with you puttin 150 miles on per hour (8hour day) And 62,400 miles per year for only work purposes! Thats 2080 gallons at $1.50 thats $3,120 per year we spend on the upwards of $1000 per month but this also fills machines and our best mileage vehicle has to be one of my dodge turbo diesel's at 17 miles per gallon to the downwards of 6 with one of our dump trucks. Chris if you found a loop hole in the system about subing work let me know because for subing work by law you cant supply the equipment to them. Also how is your payroll 120 hours per week if you are subing the work out, if your subing it would be more along the lines of a cost to your company per hour from somone else. I had a kid that i went to school that i think is doing it sort of how your doing it he has been doing it for some time know and he got in trouble for paying his employees (subs) by the hour and they pay the taxes and they pay for insurance etc... And he got himself in a whole heep of trouble i wont go into more detail on that unless you would like to know so you dont make the same mistakes. I have 5 spanish guys that work for me know and we left his "company" in the dust. I just want to help you out i dont want toseem like an arse.

Thanks Jason
( I cant wait to pick up my new truck on Wed)

Lance Isaacs
02-15-2004, 11:58 AM
My mowing and landscape crew gets about 120 hours per a week.
Everything else is sub out with their own equipment. I was in a rush when I wrote my last reply. I understand completely about what you area saying about getting into trouble. I pay my guys on payroll. On most days we start about 6:30, that is pulling weeds or doinig mulch. We don't mow until 8:30 a.m. sometimes later or earlier depends on how much it rains and all that other stuff. My guys also get paid for maintance like blades,oil changes.
When I first started out I didn't have many lawns so I did most of the stuff myself or with my workers. Once my lawn care took off I began subing small compaines or individuals who work for someone else.( not in lawn care but wherever.) Its my job to check on each in every job. If any thing goes wrong it is my fault not the sub. Always remenber that. I charge a small fee to the customer for handling this. Usually 40% of the cost of the job. If I do alot of work for them I may lower it to 20% it all depends.
I have to go study for my general contractor's exam.

Thank you for the advice.

02-24-2004, 09:57 PM
I started trying to do too much myself. Wish I had utilized labor earlier.

Lance Isaacs
02-25-2004, 11:45 AM
What I did is that I did not have many lawns at first then it was dry in my area for a few years so we only mowed maybe 22 times for the year not our normal 34 for the people who did not have irrigation. I got in to pressure washing everyhing. After I would pressure wash they would want to pay me by the hours to paintor stain. I got into hauling stuff to the dump for customers. I would charge $50 for a trailor load and $25 for truck bed load. I only charge $ 25 when the trailor was being used being used. Then i got into cleaning gutters, basically if your not busy stay busy by doing odd jobs. That help me keep the money coming in and occupying my time

02-27-2004, 06:10 PM
Wow, You do 20-25 hr windshield time per week. Thats a lot! With paper work and selling do you do labor too or all done by your help. Don't forget to take time off for the 500 in April. BEST RACE OF THE YEAR!!

Lance Isaacs
02-29-2004, 02:01 AM
I always go to the Bristol day race. I only live ten minutes away.I have been to the night races a few times but I like the day better. I go free to the race. My friend's dad is big whig at a local bank called People's that has grown real fast, and he gets us tickects in the nosebleed section but who cares where the seats are if you ask me. I go on a look of weekend trips to ashville n.c. and galtinburg t.n. with the future wife. But the bigger your business is the more overhead. I even got a call on christmas day to mow a lawn. I didn't do but the person was upset that there grass was a little high. I was out of town and had to call anther lawn care business to mow it on the 26. He called me from the location an said that it ddin't even need so he didn't mow it. I got back in town on the 28th and look at it and said that it didn't need it but they said I was wrong. I lost $40 a week year around. Beware of customers who are after image not the true health of the grass.

02-29-2004, 02:08 AM
By "image" do you mean wanting their bushes round and stripes in their grass with emphasis on the presentation aspect?

Lance Isaacs
02-29-2004, 02:13 AM
I have help in the office I hired a local collage girl that wants to make a few extra bucks who does all my billing, payroll,and a few errands. I pay her as sub because its all her own equipment. She loads in on a disk for me to transfer to my business computer.
I do a lot of driving but I use an Acruca RSX 2004 for most of it. What gives me so muck milage is that I travel to six cities. Johson City,Gray,Bristol VA.,TN, Kingsport, Erwin, Elizabethon and some near greene country.

03-09-2004, 05:51 PM
I am just starting out in the landscape business. What if any advice would you give. I am wondering about new vs. used equipment, advertising, pricing, and all the uncertain particulars. I have a lot of experience of managing a businness for others, but none on my own. Any advice to avoid mistakes?

03-15-2004, 11:13 AM
Glad to hear that you are doing so well. I envy you, and wish I had the time to do what you are doing. I am curious, who does your maintenance and repair on your machines? Do you do scheduled maintenance on them?
S.E.R. Small Engine Repair
Naperville, Illinois.

Lance Isaacs
03-15-2004, 11:59 AM
Blades, oil changes, and greasing is done in house. Filters and spark plugs are done in house too for the mower. Trimmers and blowers everything is done in house. If a big problem happens I send it to Boones Creek Power Outdoor equipment. Go to www.scag.com and go to dealer locator type in 37604 for area code.
I drop the oil once a week on the scag and monthly on the push mowers. I used to run to walk-behinds before I got the scag. The scag does more than a cub 36 and a 48 exmart. I run a 48 scag. I am purchasing a 36 inch scag walkbehind. If you have any suggestions on anything please tell me. Blades are changed daily when it is wet out. When dry I change them bi-daily. We use am-soil syn. oil for the kaw. I use shiwdawna oil and I think its one of the better ones. I bought 2.5 mixes and got a good price. I paid $42 + tax for 50. Have you used gator blades before. ( Better than scag mulching blades. You talk about $9 cheaper.

03-15-2004, 01:33 PM
Have you used gator blades before. ( Better than scag mulching blades. You talk about

Lance ... exactly how much better would you rate the gator blades vs scag mulching blades ... details details ... did you have to change out stock deck for mulching deck ... how much $$$ ... please advise .

Lance Isaacs
03-20-2004, 09:44 PM
I have a advantage deck with my scag. I can turn it into a mulch deck by putting a mulch plate on it that cost like $70 bucks. I only use it when its the beginning and end of leaf season. I get the gator blades for the same price as regular scag blades. I rotate them out in and out all season. I change blades once a day when its wet out and every other day when its dry. The average mowing is about 8 to 12 acres a day. We do alot of condos.

I will say this about gator blades without mulch kit is that it cuts a lot better when it is really dry out. They do stay alot sharper.

With the advantage deck its alot easier to clean it and less cleaning. Anther hint is to use pam cooking spray( DO NOT SPRAY THE SPINDLES OR BLADES. SPRAY THE ACUTAL DECK ONLY) make surethe deck is completely clean before doing so.

Grease the mowers about every two weeks. Grease all spots mine has quite a few of them over ten. The velke has 2 or 3 on it. Red grease is better. Grease it until the old grease begins showing. Make sure to clean it up.

We change oil once a week with a new filter using amsoil snythetic or val syn or mobil one.

Tire inflation is very important. If one side is flater than the other it will cause your deck to mow slant and give a uneven cut.

Once a week go to a car wash and give it a good clean out. I use a shop vac on mine to get the grass out in between belts, spindles, and around the motor.

Check the air filter weekly. to see if its dirty. I have a prefoam one on mind before the actual filter. I change it about every tow to three months.

Gasing your mowers. I always go at night to fill up directly from the pump. Gas cans are nice to have but pick-up impurites. I always have 2 five gallons on with pre-mix and the other as a back-up. I shiwandwa oil I got 50 2.5 gals for 42 plus tax. I like it the best but everyone has their own. I reccomend stihl and echo too.

I run three weed eaters and each has to back-ups of spool string that we carry in our pockects when on goes out take very little down time. While driving to the next job have your workers restring it for you. Your paying the to sit while you drive.

I have three blowers in which i change spark plugs every three months. ( down time is double time wasted.)

I will say this about a scag, they are expenisve but one scag outdoes the competion. I have own one for a year and I will only only a scag.

I hope this helps some turf professionals out. I do not know it all but I have tried alot of ways. Veterans add some to this post to help out the new guys.

I will not be posting much here soon. Mowing has already started an so has landscaping. Good luck !

04-01-2004, 08:35 PM
lance this is john at chuck mason equipment call me

04-02-2004, 05:47 PM
Lance where did you get your lawn signs and how many did you have made when you first started. If they work as well as you say they do then we might order some. Let me know as soon as possible please. Thanks alot.


04-06-2004, 07:31 PM
This sounds like a "tall tail" to me....but remember who cares about my opinion?!

04-09-2004, 11:48 PM
I used WBs for a decade before I got my first ZTR there’s no going back. [/B][/QUOTE]

Which size ZTRs replaced what size W/Bs?


Lance Isaacs
04-10-2004, 08:39 PM
I bought ten signs mdae of water proof cardboard with the thin medal. I put it on customers lawns that says Lance Isaacs Lawn Care and my number. I got to calls last week from one of them. I always do a little extra for the customer such as pull a few weeds or mulch for free. I would highly reccommend it. I paid like $ 200 with tax and all for ten signs.( Now everyone in town is copying my idea.

Rather Be Fishing
04-19-2004, 02:24 AM
Originally posted by jajwrigh
This sounds like a "tall tail" to me....but remember who cares about my opinion?!

Uh, yeah. Perhaps "Lance" is the notorious "fredsanford" from www.gunsnet.net ? (troll of the strangest order)

I'm not buying it, certainly wouldn't recommend it to any of my customers...

05-09-2004, 07:16 PM
Originally posted by jajwrigh
This sounds like a "tall tail" to me....but remember who cares about my opinion?!

yeh iv'e been around a few years and i can smell b.s even through a computer...

05-11-2004, 02:28 AM
I would have to conclude BS on this story as well. To many variations. Did you pay attention to the times he posted? When would he have time to do the work on line at 10:30 AM, and a girl who does the office stuff. 521 customers or accounts and only 4 crews.

05-20-2004, 02:19 AM
I have a condo property to maintain, 42 buildings a total of 82 units. Maybe thats hows he counting. ??? I personally count it as 1 big customer

06-17-2004, 01:14 AM
This guy has got to be full of bd. He actually askedwhere he could find information on a ztr and yet hes acting like hes running a major lawncare company. He's using funny math to reach his numbers

07-01-2004, 04:02 AM
Hey lance
You is absolutely right on a bad trimmer numbing your hands, i picked up a curved shaft poulan with a saw blade to clear a lot, went thru 3-1/2 tanks of fuel and sho nuff a few days later, :eek: i couldn't play me git box, bumbed me out totally seeing hows im a pro musician, just picked up a pro trimmer for brush cutting, well its pro enuff for me, its a straight shaft toro brush cutter and it came with a string headt too

all degree
07-01-2004, 10:39 AM
BS, BS, BS, BS and more BS. I think he counts the number of people within 5 house of an account as "customers"