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View Full Version : Start-up Costs.......$$$$$...?


John Marsh
03-14-2004, 11:16 PM
Hello everyone.....My name is John and a couple of months ago I was terminated from a company that I worker for 12 years (Downsizing)....well that left a nice bitter taste in my mouth and have been seriously considering LAWN-CARE as a profession that I get to call all the shots at. I have nothing. My homeowners equipment is tired and worn out, I do not have a truck or heavy duty SUV to pull a trailer, but I do have eought "BUSINESS" sense to get this off the ground. My question is (based on used/new equipment, good used 3/4 or 1 ton truck (w/plow) and a new trailer (most used one's around here are worn out from what I can see and it would need to be an ENCLOSED TRAILER for I have no storage space avail at my home)

I'm looking to have about 30-50 customers, residential, 1 acre thru 3 acre parcels.

Sorry for being so "BLIND" in this industry...but that is why I'm here!!!


Thanks!

A-1 Lawn Care
03-15-2004, 10:49 AM
HI, John :)

I'm new to the business too. But I have had a bit of experience in getting started. Do your homework to find out the best equipment to use. Check out prices at your local dealers. Then check the internet. I recently purchased a Skag 48" zero turn mower off of Ebay for a great price and I knew I was saving a bundle because I had checked the current going prices in my area. I also got some great tips for running the business from others who are doing the same thing. Don't be afraid to ask questions. People are very glad to express their knowledge and experience with you!

Have business cards made and always carry them with you. When you are out mowing or working, people will actually stop and ask you if you can mow their yard too. You can give them your card and ask them to call for a time to do an estimate. I was given this tip by the couple I purchased my mower from. They had gotten the majority of their work this way. They also told me that they got a lot of work because they had a mower equipped with a bagger. Most of their clients noticed the clean look of their work compared to a neighbors that wasn't being bagged.

Just a few tips that I got that I think were great ones.

Sorry to hear about the downsizing.....it could be a blessing in disguise! Good luck to you and your business! :)

alpine692003
03-15-2004, 01:12 PM
Well, so far all my profits are invested in equipment misc..

ie) tools from home depot, misc stuff.. it just keeps piling up for some reason, tool rentals ..

mjensen
03-15-2004, 05:03 PM
John,

I can advise you a couple of things that I have learned while opening my own part time lawn care service.

First while some will tell you to stay away from the home improvement centers DON'T they can be a big help for someone starting out. I can tell you that HOmerDepots sells ECHO model edgers and pruners that are commercial grade as well as hedge clippers. They price match your local stores and then beat them by 10%. Also because you purchase the equipment from one of these place they carry a residential warranty and not a commercial therefore you get a 2 year rather then a 1 year.

As for mowers I shop live auctions and found a nice walk behind for 200 bucks. Gravely 150 36" Pay close attention to local sales and take advanatge.

Advertise with business cards, magnetic signes and if the home owner will let you place a sign in their yard for a day or so DO IT.
Most of the time i leave a sign for the day or for a couple of day sdepending no my route and i pick it up. It helps get customer's that are close together.

Good luck.

Matt

lavan
03-17-2004, 06:14 PM
I have to be honest that you need to do your homework before you through your hat in the arena. This is a very competive and very expensive industry and I have seen so many guys come and go. Before you buy anything go down to your local mower shop and talk with some of the guys and the ones that have been in business for awhile to see how things work.
Also sit down and make a spreadsheet with the prices of the equiptment and who has what price before you go out and start spending. If i had to estimate a cost window to start in this business I would say about 3000-4500 dollars. This would get a 21", 36", trimmer, blower, trailer, and some side tools. This cost would not include advertising/marketing which is the most important nor the gas prices. This industry can make you or break you in a short period of time if you do not know how to budget or price your jobs...

Wish you good luck...

jajwrigh
03-17-2004, 07:14 PM
I want you to consider a few harsh realities about the lawn business. For one the weather plays a huge role in your business. From season to season this can really help you or hurt you. What I am trying to say is that income may not always be consistent or predictable at all. Good Luck!

zmak
03-17-2004, 07:43 PM
Have you ever thought of working for a landscaping co. before you start out on your own, working in your yard is a hell of alot different than working 10 hours out in the heat. It would also give you a feel for the business and help with contacts.
Either way good luck.

cutnitclose
03-17-2004, 09:13 PM
John, My situation as diffrent from your, but also similar.. The advice about home work is good... and I think a large part of the home work is right here.. I had already bougth my equipement then I got lucky and found this site.. I have been itching to try this for a while so i put a little back until I could buy mine.. I have looked at the industrie for abour 3 years and over the years I have thought about jumping iin but chickened out, I have call ed numerous adds in the paper over the years to inquire about equipment and 9 out of 10 time the person would tell not to try it and they were selling out in the first year.. I not a professional or a know it all but I can only go on what people have told me.. The main thing I hear is that they went out and financed all of this equipment, and were going to take over.. then the bill for the equipment came which was bad, but on top of that the food, house, electric, and normal llife bills came in, so they were selling the stuff so they could pay the equip off, going out of business and going back to work.. I don't know jack about the industry "other than what I've learned on here", but my job gave ne the oppurtunity to work a Fri. Sun. and Monday scheldule and I finally got brave and took the money I had saved and bougth a 62inch toro z rider, an old Wd john deere, a Commercial weedeater, and A hand held blower, and payed for it, because I didn't want to go broe before I ever started, I'm not saying you should be me, and there are a lot of on here that know a lot more than me, but from the stories I've heard buy the very best YOU can afford, pick up a job working for someone else and let your bussiness grow but don't put yourself in the postion where is had to grow, because I'm afraid You will be no diffrent than any other job that you have to do to survive...

Flipperneck
03-17-2004, 10:50 PM
Get the experience 1st. I have seen alot of people pop up and disapear. The most common mistake is that they think its just like mowing their own lawn 15 - 20 times a day, no it aint people are paying you and they are usually gonna be pretty damn picky. Work for someone else 1st unless you like to learn the hard way. You may get 30 new accounts but next month when 25 drop you because they don't like your work where are you then. This isn't rocket science but it is a trade. I can wire a a new switch and put an exhaust fan in the crapper but I'm not an electrician. If you want to be successful in anything you do you must experience it first. Some reasons to work for someone else include: Learning the right way, finding out what tools to use for what jobs, overhead, estimating, what not to do to a customers lawn, what they like and don't, little things that seperate pro's from homeowners, efficiancy, i can tell you a million reasons but until I showed you you wouldn't understand. I hope this helps you. Just don't rush into it and crash and burn.

Rod73
03-18-2004, 12:55 AM
I got all of the equipment listed below(minus the truck) for under $6,000.

PMLAWN
03-20-2004, 04:58 AM
All used Truck 3-6 k-----Trailer (new??) 3-4 for an enclosed---Mower for 1-3 acre lots and a small trim (21) 2+ ----Misc other stuff 1-2K--- At this price most of the stuff will need a lot of maintenance. Add Insurance -Gas- and all your overhead. If you charge scab pricing, you will not pay for the stuff for a few years and you will need to replace a lot of it before than. (You bought used remember) If you charge the right amount you will most likely not get all 30 to 50 customers in the first year and they may be far apart ( Gas to move BIG truck). What do you need to live on? Do you have a family? Did you get a severance package? DO YOUR HOMEWORK NOW, NOT AFTER YOU BUY THE STUFF! This is a business and like any other business there is a lot of work for little $$ at start up. Just make sure you can live a while on little or no $$$. Not trying to bust your bubble but being realistic. Maybe think about getting a job and starting part time and a little smaller for a year or two. By the way you dont call all the shots, your customers do, You are providing a service for them and you have to do things that please them or they will go elsewhere. I have been providing lawn care for going on 3 years now and I am still learning a lot. Been in home improvements / handyman for many years and this is an extenison of that but been going slow. Still made some costly "scab" mistakes and will only start to show real profit this year (hope). You have a great advantage over me, You found this site It took me 1&1/2 years. Wish I had found it sooner. You said you have business sence so do the math.
Visit this site often. Enjoy , Read through the lines and LEARN. Good luck with your desision and if you make the jump, good luck with the business. It is a great and rewarding field.

John Marsh
03-20-2004, 08:23 AM
Thanks everyone for all the advice given!!!!! This MAY or MAY-NOT be the way for me to go. Everyone has replied with some very valid points that make sense to me....NOW!

Thanks again....you may have saved me some headaches!!!!