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dwthomas
12-19-2004, 03:08 PM
Hello Everyone,

I have been working on a new business plan for the '05 season and was wondering if anyone has implemented this idea. Currently we run a 52' Bobcat, a 36' Exmark, and a 21' inch Toro. On a part-time basis we handle between 30-40 accounts per week, the majority of my customer's lots are around 9,000 sq. feet. We have a few that are larger acreage sized properties.
We are putting together a plan that would target the numerous sub-divisions that are popping up everywhere. Most of these lots are 7-8,000 sq feet and do not require the larger machines. We are thinking about using smaller sized trucks (s-10's) and 21'inch mowers to reduce costs. We are also thinking of dropping our mowing prices down to $22 for properties measuring up to 10,000 sq. feet. Does anyone run a similar business model, and if so how is it working? Thanks in advance for all of your advice.

B&B Lndscpng & Lwn Srvc
12-19-2004, 03:39 PM
You have to set a base price for what you think your quality of work and time are worth. Don't lower your price to much just to get the work because then it'd hard to raise a price if you find out later you figured a little off. I don't unload a mower for anything less than $25. The lowest price i use is $25. What that covers is a garden home (1400 sq ft) sitting on a 1/4 acre lot with basic mowing and bagging and the trim, edge and blow. Most of these type yards only take about 15 to 20 minutes to work and i have several side by side down the same street. I even put my 61" Scag turf tiger on them as well or my 48" Scag tiger cub. If there are any trees on the lot i go to $30 immediately. I run my same full size GMC Z-71. You might spend more money than you make if you have to buy the s-10's and smaller equipement. If a customer request i use push mowers or smaller mowers i raise the price as well. Anything the customer DEMANDS cost extra.

ALarsh
12-19-2004, 03:49 PM
Justmowit uses 11-15 ford rangers and 43 21" walk behinds I believe. He has done what you are describing and is very successful at it.

Check out this thread: http://lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=84975&highlight=justmowit

coastallandscapesolutions
12-19-2004, 04:15 PM
There is an LCO here at the beach who has a F350 crew cab and a 20' enclosed trailer. All 21" mowers. 6 guys jump out and "run" to cut a yard with the 21" mowers. It is a sight to see. They are fast and do a pretty good job. Just not our style. They also cut it for next to nothing and speak no english.

K c m
12-19-2004, 05:26 PM
There is an LCO here at the beach who has a F350 crew cab and a 20' enclosed trailer. All 21" mowers. 6 guys jump out and "run" to cut a yard with the 21" mowers. It is a sight to see. They are fast and do a pretty good job. Just not our style. They also cut it for next to nothing and speak no english.

how big are the yards?

out4now
12-19-2004, 05:51 PM
The more truck you run the more insurance and gas you'll shell out. I'd say keep your prices up and so fewer. Low balling will eat up a lot in the way of trying to replace customers, track through all the billing etc. Sure fewer lawns will hurt more if you loose one customer but is much requires less expense. Think of all the extra trimmer line, gas for the mowers and extra wear and tear you have to got through to maintain any level of profit. Get a tight route of fewer houses.

coastallandscapesolutions
12-19-2004, 06:19 PM
how big are the yards?


1/4 to 1/2 acres. Most look to be about 1/4.

YardPro
12-19-2004, 06:33 PM
do a search.
the member just mow it does what you speak of check out his web site.
he does $1.4 million/year with little 1/4 ton trucks and 21's

CharlieBingo
12-19-2004, 06:38 PM
This idea is leading to less profits for sure. Switching to less productive machines and then lowering your price on top of that. If you drop your rates some nut will come in even cheaper than you to get accounts. I don't mean to sound harsh but I'd like to see us all make more money not less!

bobbygedd
12-19-2004, 07:03 PM
10k is a little under a quarter acre. you will kill yourself, and the 21"'s on these properties. why not use 36" machines? they are more durable, will cut high wet grass with ease, and will be more productive. i hate your idea. entirely too cheap too

DLS1
12-19-2004, 08:06 PM
Doing something part-time is not high volume. It would take several crews to make decent money for your low cost idea.

JustMowIt makes a good living since they are using several Mexican crews which means the Mexican crews are wearing out their bodies and not the JustMowIt brothers.

Use the biggest mower you can on the lawns to save your bodies. Don't charge less then $25 or $30 per yard if that is going rate in your area.

ALarsh
12-19-2004, 08:09 PM
I think that 10K includes the house. 36" machines cost more, repair costs are more and training takes longer.

Kelly's Landscaping
12-19-2004, 09:29 PM
10k is a little under a quarter acre. you will kill yourself, and the 21"'s on these properties. why not use 36" machines? they are more durable, will cut high wet grass with ease, and will be more productive. i hate your idea. entirely too cheap too

Grrrr I hate when this happens but every now and then I find my self agreeing with bobby. Kind of makes me feel cheap too heheheh.

If you like cutting with 21 inch mowers knock yourself out but you work much harder then you need to and I know there is no way I would switch to that as my main mower. At the end of the day when your feet hurt I will still be riding my mowers and going for another 3-5 hours with out a care in the world.

trying 2b organic
12-19-2004, 09:45 PM
I think the main factor is the size of lawns he is doing. Am I wrong? My lawns are all quarter acre including house. The are hilly and have trees. Even if his are flat I think 21's are an option.

btw, I have found that there is a big big difference in a push 21, a homeowner self propelled, and a commercial self propelled. For instance, it didnt occur to me that the commercial self would not only cut better but would go much faster. U probably knew that but thought I would mention it if you move to the small trucks and 21's.

Kelly's Landscaping
12-19-2004, 10:20 PM
Square footage does not dictate the size of the mower for me only gates do I take my 60 inch deck on lawns under 2000 sq ft. Its all about speed and if you can speed things up your making out better.

Albemarle Lawn
12-20-2004, 12:28 AM
NO MORE SCRUBBING :realmad: :angry: :gunsfirin :gunsfirin :gunsfirin :nono:

HOOLIE
12-20-2004, 12:35 AM
All opinions aside, TJ of JustMowing would be the guy to talk to. Haven't seen him on here lately, might just be in Hawaii or somewhere warmer. Do a search on him, he does exactly what you're talking about.

impactlandscaping
12-20-2004, 02:33 AM
There is an LCO here at the beach who has a F350 crew cab and a 20' enclosed trailer. All 21" mowers. 6 guys jump out and "run" to cut a yard with the 21" mowers. It is a sight to see. They are fast and do a pretty good job. Just not our style. They also cut it for next to nothing and speak no english.


Funny, a guy I worked for 16 years ago did the same thing with 6 guys and an old F 250 ext . cab w/ an open trailer. All six guys would mow, trim , and blow , even on the smallest yards. No one ever sat in the truck. I saw him in a sub division where we were working about two months ago, and now it's just him and one helper. He had a toro Z and 2 21's on the trailer, and said that's all he needs to use now..

dwthomas
12-20-2004, 05:56 AM
Thank you for all the replies, I greatly appreciate your input. I took a look at Justmowit's posts and website, very impressive. Thank you for directing me to this information. I should have been a litlle more detailed in my original question, I would like to clarify a few issues. We plan to continue to utilize the commercial mowers on most of our current properties, this plan would apply to the newer sub-divisions where the total lot size is up to 10,000, not the turf area. The goal is to saturate certain areas therefore cutting costs on driving time. The plan also calls for the hiring of employees, my thought on having the employees run the 21's, and driving smaller trucks without trailers is the liabilty and training issues. Less cost for insurance and less chance of an employee damaging a property using a 21' as opposed to a 36' or 52'.

(On a side note to Albemarle's reply: we are not scrubs by any means, prices in this region are $20-25 per cut. We run professional equipment and are fully insured. This question concerns a specific business idea segmenting a niche market, not undercutting the competition)

Thanks again for all of your suggestions. Have a great holiday!

SpudsM15
12-20-2004, 08:52 AM
If you can bang out a lawn with 21" mowers in 10 min and get $20-25 get a few next to each other keep your route tight! And i think you can make a decent chunk of change.... Hec if something breaks you can just buy a new one without even blinking.

You might want to condiser a 32" walkbehind hydro I cut lawns 2000sqft to 16000sqft with my mower...
Every estimate I've done in the past 2 seasons my mower would fit though the gates...

PaulJ
12-20-2004, 09:01 AM
I use a 48" hydro walkbehind on almost everything from 1200 sqft of turf of to over an acre. The only use I have for the 21" is if a yard has a small gate or other obstacles that prohibit the use of the 48". If a lawn takes 20 minutes with a 21" if will probably take 10 or less with a mid size hydro walk. But use whatever you want. You can spend money on labor or equipment. I would rather spend it on equipment. it's more reliable and doesn't talk back. (usually)

Also a couple of quotes form lawnsite come to mind. Sorry I don't remember who to give credit too for these:

"Cheap isn't good and good isn't cheap, I'm good!"

"I lose a little bit on every lawn I mow but I make it up with volume."

Carolina Cutter
12-20-2004, 09:48 AM
Hello Everyone,

I have been working on a new business plan for the '05 season and was wondering if anyone has implemented this idea. Currently we run a 52' Bobcat, a 36' Exmark, and a 21' inch Toro. On a part-time basis we handle between 30-40 accounts per week, the majority of my customer's lots are around 9,000 sq. feet. We have a few that are larger acreage sized properties.
We are putting together a plan that would target the numerous sub-divisions that are popping up everywhere. Most of these lots are 7-8,000 sq feet and do not require the larger machines. We are thinking about using smaller sized trucks (s-10's) and 21'inch mowers to reduce costs. We are also thinking of dropping our mowing prices down to $22 for properties measuring up to 10,000 sq. feet. Does anyone run a similar business model, and if so how is it working? Thanks in advance for all of your advice.

I DON'T drop my gate for less than $25. PERIOD!

DennisF
12-20-2004, 10:09 AM
Sounds like a bad idea to me. If you drop your price and increase the time it will take to mow... you will be earning less per hour. This business is about time. Time is money!! The faster you can mow a lawn...the more you will earn per hour.

Ask yourself this question.

Why would you want to increase the amount of time it takes to mow a lawn and lower the price at the same time?

To increase profits you must decrease costs and/or increase revenue.

YardPro
12-20-2004, 10:18 AM
he'll make more money if he gets alot of OTHER people out there working for him. especially cheap entry level people.

SpudsM15
12-22-2004, 02:27 PM
Well, lets think of it this way...
Buy a good 21" 750 bucks good trimmer 250, good blower 500 and say a small used s-10... 5grand
6.5 grand of overhead, no workers. bang out 3 lawns an hour work 8 hours a day.
=600 bucks a day 3grand a week, full cutting season 31 cuts= 93000!!!!!!

These are small lawns that take 10-15min to mow and trim 5 min drive time on each...
How is the math not adding up here guys??? It looks good on paper for me.

Soupy
12-22-2004, 03:01 PM
I would change your plan to low cost/high efficiency at a price that is reasonable. To make money in volume, you have to do a lot of it. You could take 100 customers at $20 profit or 2000 customers at $1 profit. The later takes a whole lot more time and money invested.

cutnedge
12-22-2004, 04:21 PM
Well, lets think of it this way...
Buy a good 21" 750 bucks good trimmer 250, good blower 500 and say a small used s-10... 5grand
6.5 grand of overhead, no workers. bang out 3 lawns an hour work 8 hours a day.
=600 bucks a day 3grand a week, full cutting season 31 cuts= 93000!!!!!!

These are small lawns that take 10-15min to mow and trim 5 min drive time on each...
How is the math not adding up here guys??? It looks good on paper for me.
Averaging 24 yards/day? Solo? With a 21"?? He'd better add in a couple pairs of Nike's in the overhead. I agree--it looks great on paper. But that's where it ends. There is no way to average 10-15 min/yard with the equipment listed above and to provide services as mowing, trimming, edging and blowing. Everyday. What about rain? Customers moving? Lowballers?Mechanical problems? The list could go on. With 120 customers there will be, without a doubt, many problems that will eat away at the $93,000 that the paper couldn't detect.

Soupy
12-22-2004, 04:41 PM
Some lawns can be cut fast with a 21" mower. But a small lawn can take more time to trim then a lawn 10 times it's size. I have seen small lawns with so much trimming that it would take 2 minutes to cut but take an hour to trim.

I think the man you need to be talking to is Jim Lewis. He uses small mowers, but he offers quality and charges for it. He has a good customer base, but he doesn't work in volume.

By the way, high volume sales is not achieved with low cost. Walmart does not operate with low cost. You can offer quality at a low cost and charge more for it. I think this is what Jim Lewis does.

DennisF
12-22-2004, 05:19 PM
Well, lets think of it this way...
Buy a good 21" 750 bucks good trimmer 250, good blower 500 and say a small used s-10... 5grand
6.5 grand of overhead, no workers. bang out 3 lawns an hour work 8 hours a day.
=600 bucks a day 3grand a week, full cutting season 31 cuts= 93000!!!!!!

These are small lawns that take 10-15min to mow and trim 5 min drive time on each...
How is the math not adding up here guys??? It looks good on paper for me.


Now all that is needed is 120 customers with very small lawns...very close together...that are willing to pay $25 a pop for a 15 minute mow and trim.

YardPro
12-22-2004, 05:40 PM
Averaging 24 yards/day? Solo? With a 21"?? He'd better add in a couple pairs of Nike's in the overhead. I agree--it looks great on paper. But that's where it ends. There is no way to average 10-15 min/yard with the equipment listed above and to provide services as mowing, trimming, edging and blowing. Everyday. What about rain? Customers moving? Lowballers?Mechanical problems? The list could go on. With 120 customers there will be, without a doubt, many problems that will eat away at the $93,000 that the paper couldn't detect.

i'll disagree with this.

we do quite a few lawns (oceanfront homes) with only 400-1200 sq ft. of turf. we get $35.00/yard, and they only take about 5 minutes with a 21 to mow, trim edge and blow.

before you guys bash the idea, remember, what doesn't work for you, may work fro someone else.

Soupy
12-22-2004, 05:58 PM
i'll disagree with this.

we do quite a few lawns (oceanfront homes) with only 400-1200 sq ft. of turf. we get $35.00/yard, and they only take about 5 minutes with a 21 to mow, trim edge and blow.

before you guys bash the idea, remember, what doesn't work for you, may work fro someone else.

He said he was going to charge $22 up to 10,000. It can be done, but it will take a bunch of crews. I would shoot for $30 a pop though.

YardPro
12-22-2004, 06:16 PM
agreed.
i was more to the "you're a scrub if you use a 21" mentality.

cutnedge
12-22-2004, 06:38 PM
i'll disagree with this.

we do quite a few lawns (oceanfront homes) with only 400-1200 sq ft. of turf. we get $35.00/yard, and they only take about 5 minutes with a 21 to mow, trim edge and blow.

before you guys bash the idea, remember, what doesn't work for you, may work fro someone else.
Who's bashing? Notice that you said "we" in your example. I was referring to the post about a solo operation at $22/yard up to 10,000 sq.ft. Hell, if all of my properties were in the 400-1200 sq.ft. range I wouldn't even bother with a 21" mower.